Alfred Hitchcock was a larger-than-life figure who trafficked on his image. His famous silhouette was iconic and his visage and rotund form were familiar to smarter-than-thou audiences who eagerly awaited his regular cameos.
And when he died, I'm sure Alfred Hitchcock's spirit -- go with me here -- was able to float around in some other plane of existence confident that he had been both unique and, more importantly, unreproducible. Nature generated just one Alfred Hitchcock and the only man gifted enough at cinematic sleight of hand to create another was... Alfred Hitchcock.
We live in a glorious age of movie magic. You can put Brad Pitt's face on a baby. You can erase wrinkles and make Jeff Bridges young again. You can create armies of zombies, with their flesh rotting off. And if you bury a reputable actor under enough latex, you can finally recreate Alfred Hitchcock in a way that calls attention to prosthetic craft without insulting the intelligence of the audience.
And with that, the floodgates have opened this fall, with a pair of biopics intending not to tell Hitch's life story, but merely to capture the auteur in one particular moment of his career, directing one of his most famous movies and dealing with one of his most famous blondes. Most remarkably of all, neither of them stars Andy Serkis in a mo-cap suit.
It's fairly easy to sense the objectives for each project, merely by looking at their titles and the profile of their stars. I haven't seen it, but all indications are that "Hitchcock," featuring Anthony Hopkins under pounds of makeup, will be straight-up hagiography. And I have seen it and I can verify that HBO's "The Girl," featuring Toby Jones under pounds of makeup, is straight-up iconoclasm.
It's great that technical proficiency has allowed us the leeway to make these Hitchcock biopics, but as fictional chaos theory expert Dr. Ian Malcolm would be sure to remind us, just because you *can* do something doesn't mean you *should*. The Season of Hitchcock kicks off on Saturday (October 20) night with "The Girl," a rather superficial portrait of the artist as an icky man that makes its point within 10 minutes and then runs on fumes for an extra 90.
Because of stars Jones and Sienna Miller, there are reasons to watch "The Girl," but the one-dimensional approach defeats any chance that any serious film fan will revise their opinions on much of anything.
[More after the break...]