CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.
Film Review: ‘Hitchcock’ at its Heart is a Relationship Film
CHICAGO – The great director Alfred Hitchcock had morphed to legend rather than a man, so it’s interesting that two films have recently been released about his all-too-human foibles. The feature film, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins as the director, gets inside the man’s relationships in “Hitchcock.”
Those relationships are the determining factor and centerpiece in the film, taking place around the filming of Hitchcock’s 1960 thriller classic, “Psycho.” The performances are also king in the narrative, as Sir Anthony, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel, Danny Huston and James D’Arcy portray the movie stars and personalities in Hitchcock’s world with a flair that brings them all back to life. The story suffers a bit with too little behind-the-scenes elements of “Psycho,” and too much focus on the married life of Hitchcock and his wife, but the film is an enjoyable holiday treat regarding the show business culture history of a half century ago, and the complex interaction of the director and his wife.
The film opens with the movie premiere in Chicago of “North by Northwest,” the latest triumph from the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock (Hopkins). The director immediately begins the process of weeding out his next project, and comes upon a novel called “Psycho.” Along the pre-production process, there is Hitch’s loyal wife Alma Reville (Helen Mirren), who is his adviser, script supervisor and main consultant.
“Psycho” is considered a bit vulgar by Paramount Pictures standards (Hitch is in the midst of a contract deal with them), so the director decides to finance the film himself. The filming begins with movie star siren Janet Leigh as Marion Crane (Scarlett Johansson) and Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates (a stunning James D’Arcy), while neglected wife Alma begins writing a script with a collaborator named Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston). Between the film and his suspicions regarding his beloved wife, Hitchcock may become the Master of Paranoia.
Photo credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures