Only a cinephile as passionate as Mark Cousins may have gotten away with this movie, in all its hilarious presumption and cheek. It’s a research of Alfred Hitchcock’s work, illustrated with clips chosen with great perception and connoisseurship – and supposedly narrated from past the grave by Hitchcock himself, stating strategies, resonances, photographs, meanings and infrequently breaking off to examine one thing with Cousins who will reply, off-mic: “Sure Mr Hitchcock.”
Nonetheless, the script is Cousins’ personal and the grasp himself is faked by the comedian Alistair McGowan, whose vocal impersonation is simply so eerily good that after some time I assumed Cousins actually had made this by sitting alone in some darkened Edwardian parlour along with his tape recorder and Ouija board. However after all the voice is pure Cousins – which is to say, marvellously well-informed and critically agile. (He did one thing related along with his movie The Eyes of Orson Welles, during which Welles (voiced by Jack Klaff) is imagined to have written a supportively good letter to Cousins. It’s also attainable he was influenced right here by the Hitchcock doppelganger mashup film Double Take by Tom McCarthy and Johan Grimonprez. As I say, with anybody else, this sort of insouciant appropriation can be jarring. With Cousins you purchase it, although there may be some naivety, of which extra in a second.
With nice elan, Hitchcock/Cousins breaks the flicks down to 6 themes: escape, want, loneliness, time, fulfilment and top. You see characters escaping from hazard or unhappiness, wanting pleasure or intercourse (the escape impulse working the other method) in an infinitely deferred consummation, declaimed in ecstatic closeups, which is shrewdly known as chaste-arousal. You see Loneliness, though typically Cousins conflates solitude and loneliness a bit too simply: the only determine of Marnie – trendy Tippi Hedren on a railway platform – just isn’t precisely “lonely” in the identical method because the second Mrs de Winter, performed by Joan Fontaine in Rebecca.
Then there’s time, and notably time working out, the race in opposition to the clock: Janet Leigh in Psycho high-pressuring the salesperson to part-exchange her car earlier than it’s recognised, and Ray Milland in Dial M For Homicide realising that his watch has stopped and desperately searching for an empty telephone sales space to make his deadly name. In fulfilment, we take a look at Hitchcock’s apparently placid residence life, and in top we’re proven the director’s nice love of stratospheric overhead photographs, not merely for the dizzying euphoria-slash-terror of Vertigo, however for the pure pleasure concerned within the mastery and energy of the shot itself.
Hitchcock/Cousins sheepishly apologises for the cumbersome psychiatrist speech on the finish of Psycho (although not for the tacky back-projections in The Birds). However having made Hitchcock’s personal life and his completely happy marriage a part of the story within the fulfilment part, the movie will get a bit sucrose. It’s now well-known that Hitchcock turned obsessive about Hedren and sexually assaulted her. Possibly there isn’t any straightforward method for McGowan’s jovial cod-Hitchcock to admit to that right here, however when he had earlier talked concerning the darker facet of want and want turning into rage in Jamaica Inn as Charles Laughton threatens Maureen O’Hara … nicely, it must be mentioned there’s an apparent and related real-world parallel. The loneliness part might need been the purpose to debate it.
Nicely, point-by-point, clip-by-clip, this movie stays good. As ever, there may be actual evangelism in Cousins’s work and in My Identify Is Alfred Hitchcock there may be a lot to be taught and luxuriate in. You come away from it together with your senses fine-tuned.
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