June Blind Spot Review: Vertigo (1958)

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“Here I was born, and there I died. It was only a moment for you; you took no notice.”
– Madeleine

SYNOPSIS: A San Francisco detective suffering from acrophobia investigates the strange activities of an old friend’s wife, all the while becoming dangerously obsessed with her. – via IMDB

Ha, finally another Hitchcock off my list, and this was another one of the good ones. I enjoyed this one quite a bit, and will admit initially it was like just a little mystery, like what is going on, and then the last thirty minutes devolved into a nice, creepy type, so that definitely works.

I really likes James Stewart, and think he is a great actor. He definitely fits here and brings a lot to the table, and works really well with Kim Novak, who is truly beautiful and suits this strange role rather well, though her eyebrows are absolutely insane. There, I said it. I found them to be super distracting.

The story is not rushed, and is well paced. The movie doesn’t feel as long as it is, and gets things going from explaining John’s vertigo, and then moving on to his task of watching over a friend’s wife, and where an unhealthy obsession begins. I didn’t feel like the movie dragged anywhere, so that is cool. Vertigo features a pretty cool trippy scene, which is so old school, but it works so well with this. The music, too, works and succeeds at building tension.

I liked the friendship between John and Midge, though it was sad to know that she was so in love with him and his feelings certainly weren’t mutual, but they were close. I feel that the romance was rushed in the beginning (typical of these films, maybe people just feel in love different back in the day), but it grew into something else later, and watching John’s obsession and controlling behaviour later was certainly creepy.

Maybe not my all time favourite Hitchcock (and I still have many to see), but overall I thought it to be engaging and done really well. Stewart and Novak truly fill out this movie, and push that tense darkness through the whole time, never missing a beat. It is shot well and keeps you interested throughout, so all in all, well worth the watch.

Blind Spot Series 2017 Rankings

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So, another year gone, another twelve movies crossed off of my Blind Spot list. For the most part, I had particularly good movies this year. For the most part…

Anyway, as always, I decided to rank them all here.

12. Deliverance (1972)

Well. This. Fuck this movie. I will say it again, fuck this movie. Yep, totally hated it. I am sure you all remember the Shitfest-worthy meltdown I had about this. If you don’t, you are more than welcome to head on back to the review linked above to see how I raged. Ugh…

11. Once Upon A Time In America (1984)

Certainly not an underrated gem as I was led to believe, I was so amped to finally watch this gangster movie and was totally let down by it. What a waste of nearly four hours of my life!

10. Cronos (1993)

While I am always up for Guillermo Del Toro’s Spanish works, this one was not nearly as great as I was hoping it would be. It was not a bad movie by a long shot, but it does not stand equal to The Devil’s Backbone or Pan’s Labyrinth.

9. The Road (2009)

Dark, depressing, apocalyptic, The Road definitely paints a super depressing, far more realistic apocalyptic future than these movies usually portray. Viggo Mortensen is exellent, and Kodi Smit-McPhee also holds his own in the bleak movie. Worth the watch!

8. Say Anything (1989)

So pleased to have seen this –  it is one of those movies that is referenced all over the show, and I have never really known how it all fit in. Man, Lloyd Dobler is absolutely adorable and the boombox over the head scene finally makes sense now. Say Anything is sweet, but not to soppy your stomach churns. Enjoyed this one!

7. The Help (2011)

Okay, so right off the bat, this is not unpredictable, but that doesn’t make it bad. The Help is rather formulaic, and shies away from some of the sick history it is steeped in, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t find other ways to run home the story. There are terribly sad moments, moments that will make you mad, and some great sections with some fantastic humour, and the movie has heart. The cast, too, definitely sold this one.

6. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

I didn’t really know what to expect going into this, but I really liked this one. I thought it was funny and shot really well and rather strange, but it all worked. I would like to rewatch it and see if it holds up as well. I must admit, this is where I finally understood Tom Hiddleston’s appeal to the world – before he was just a decent actor. After this? Impressed. Plus I liked the humour in this. So deadpan. Swinton and Hiddleston make this a treat.

5. The Orphanage (2007)

Another one of those cult classic type movies I have vowed for years to get to and just never did, 2017 was the year that changed. The Orphanage is haunting, sad, beautiful and creepy, and has a solid story as a strong psychological aspect to it, making it a movie that gets under your skin and lingers long after, not just a typical, generic horror movie at all.

4. JFK (1991)

Conspiracy theories galore! Naturally this was totally going to be my cup of tea, and it totally was. There were some solid performances and I was particularly interested in how Stone would set out his case for JFK’s assassination. While I feel that it was heavy handed in forcing his interpretation of events down the viewer’s throat, if you watch this as a theory and not as the gospel of the answers to JFK’s assassination, you are in for a good time. Great starting point for those not too familiar with the intricacies of the infamous case.

3. City of God (2002)

I can see why this movie is so popular – it is so not an easy watch, but it is engaging, gritty, violent, realistic, and truly gets you thinking. It tells a super solid story and it draws you in, getting you invested in some characters from this nasty slum. It is depressing and yet completely enthralling, something I can see myself revisiting.

2. Rear Window (1954)

James Stewart man, what an actor. The man is amazing, and with Grace Kelly at his side, the duo was bound to impress. Hitchcock, too, weaves a tense one-room story, which is carried and fleshed out completely by a talented cast. The tension is palpable, the story is smart and engaging, and the pacing is just right. Rear Window is a well-crafted movie and definitely worth the time.

1. Atonement (2007)

Ah, Atonement. Where do we even start? My goodness, what a watch. While it is not completely perfect or shocking, and it is predictable in places, it is handled so well and is shot brilliantly – truly, what beautiful shots. James McAvoy is absolutely perfect here, sweeping us all up so completely in Robbie. Keira Knightley, too,  managed to not work on my last nerve. The two work together well, and Atonement tells one hell of a story, a journey I both loved and resented in equal measure. I thought it was told so well, and some details were handled with such aplomb. What a movie, though certainly not a light, easy watch.

May Blind Spot Review: Rear Window (1954)

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“I’ve seen bickering and family quarrels and mysterious trips at night, and knives and saws and ropes, and now since last evening, not a sign of the wife. How do you explain that?”
– Jeff

SYNOPSIS: A wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder. – via IMDB

So I finally, finally watched this. I quite liked Disturbia when I saw it, and learned after the fact that it was based on Rear Window. I have vowed for years that I would get to this, and it has finally happened folks. I am so damn proud of myself. That being said, let’s talk about the movie, a film I particularly liked for a variety of reasons and can finally understand why it is so revered.

Rear Window faces the challenge of taking place in pretty much one place. I am not usually bothered by this even remotely, provided that the story is solid and there is method to the madness. One set is fine with me. This is a prime example of how to handle a single area. You are constantly wondering about Lars Thorwald and all that Jeff is seeing, wondering if there really is an issue, or if Jeff is so bored from sitting there the whole time and his mind is getting awfully creative. The performances from both the stunningly gorgeous Grace Kelly and James Stewart are exceptionally important for the implementation of the film. Because we essentially only have one area the story is taking place in, their chemistry is important, as well as the delivery of their roles. You buy into their obsession – it starts slowly with Lisa, initially dismissive, and then they are hooked, both of them. This obsession also forces them to come together more – they are also so into each other and dancing around it because Jeff is a fool that thinks Lisa is just some finicky fashionista with no real depth. Idiot.

I enjoyed the dynamics between Jeff, Lisa, and Stella. I was not overly keen on Detective Doyle and his distinctly sexist views on things, but it must also be noted that this movie did touch on feminism. Lisa is a strong, independent woman who totally does not fit the mould Jeff would like to place her in, and Stella is also quite the entertaining woman. I also truly appreciated the dialogue of the film – it is fast, witty and sharp.

The way that the movie was shot is also impressive – the voyeuristic feeling you get while Jeff watches the courtyard and the neighbours lingers. It really comes across as curious, and then moves right into creepy territory, which adds to the suspense and unease you feel when watching this, which is awesome. It is masterfully handled. The runtime for this is rather long, but you never feel like time is being wasted while sitting around and watching it. Instead you are hooked from the off and desperate to see what happens.

Rear Window is a rewarding watch, something I can say I am pleased to have finally gotten to. It is masterfully created, the suspense sets in from the off, it is visually appealing to watch and carried by fantastic performances from our lead. It is engaging and fascinating and well worth the look see.

December Blind Spot Review: It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

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it's a wonderful life poster

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
– Clarence

SYNOPSIS: An angel is sent from Heaven to help a desperately frustrated businessman by showing him what life would have been like if he had never existed. – via IMDB

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Ah man, I can’t believe it took me so long to get to this! I enjoyed every damn minute of it immensely, and thought it was one heck of a film. There is just so much to like here, and not much to fault. Seriously not even remotely what I thought it was going to be about, and that was not a bad thing. I thought it was going to be about some grouch who found love and acceptance and Christmas spirit by the end. Boy, oh boy, was I wrong, and I am totally down with that.

James Stewart really was such a handsome man in his youth, and he played the ever so charming and incredibly well-liked George perfectly. From the moment the film opens with a young George to when you see him as a man, he is just a character you can’t not root for. He is sweet, dutiful, loyal, a dreamer, and a all-round nice dude. Pity that everything he ever wanted to do in life was put on hold, which he put aside to further his brother and help his town. Except that, even while doing all that, he had a fine and full life anyway. Only he didn’t always see it, and it is really interesting to see this young man constantly readjusting his expectations of life.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching James Stewart and Donna Reed together, I thought they had wonderful chemistry together, and what a beautiful couple! Seriously, Reed was gorgeous! The movie touts a lot of humour and good vibes, and I was seriously impressed how modern the movie felt, like it was way ahead of its time. It is old, but movies of this time, even before, and plenty after, felt so much more stiff and formal. This one was feel good, had a lot of elements we recognise in modern movies, and the pacing was excellent. The dialogue was on point, and the characters were people we could relate to.

its-a-wonderful-life-dancing

I cannot believe it took me so long to see it! It’s A Wonderful Life is put together wonderfully, without anything coming across as tacky or crude or out of place. It is shot well, it is engaging, the performances were all solid, and the movie draws you in from the off, and ultimately feels like a rewarding experience. It’s a really pleasant film, and as you can see, left me feeling happy. I would highly recommend checking it out – it has some drama, some humour, a great romance, and a sweet story.

Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon: Rear Window (1954) – My Mind Reels Through Film

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Joining us today is Lee of My Mind Reels Through Film, who runs a neat little blog you should totally pop on over to check out! With a variety of reviews and opinions of his own as well as some interesting discussions, he definitely runs a blog worth following.

Rear-Window-Poster

Rear Window is one of Hitchcock’s best! I only recently came across it in my James Stewart collection box set not realising it was there. It plays particular resonance with me as I have been in a situation very similar to the James Stewart character. I had months of just sitting around at home. Not being able to do anything due to a shattered knee cap. My neighbours will be pleased to know that a very large bush which obscures any view of their houses. I have lost count of the times I’ve said the simplest storylines are often the best. This is a very simple storyline with very few characters and a not much in the way of a set. The set was built in the studio which is quite amazing and they purposely built the set down into the ground. This was all part of Hitchcock’s vision as was the case in all his films.

The basic storyline is about a man with a broken leg with not much to do. In his boredom he starts to look through his “Rear Window” at his neighbours, he gives them all names and follows their daily routines, which are pretty simple and not too exciting. This is until something very sinister occurs, but not blatantly so. It’s the sort of thing that happens where you could easily think your imagination is running away with you because it surely cant be true. As the film develops the events start to become clearer and the result almost unquestionable. James Stewart has a lovely girlfriend in the shape of the beautiful Grace Kelly. He is not too sure about the relationship, which to us mere mortals, sounds quite ludicrous! But it is the case, although their relationship develops with the mysterious neighbours. she is his legs and puts herself in a dangerous position which gets your heart pumping and you almost want to scream out even though you know you cant save her. The tension brings you out in a sweat and the close camera work makes you feel as if you are there. James and Grace are the stars and they bring about an amazing performance during the film in such a closed set and where you do not see them in the outside world, Raymond Burr is terrifying as the man involved in these sinister act. It is hard to believe that he went on to play ironside. His presence in front of the camera is huge and you feel that you cannot escape him even though there is a screen between you and his large figure. The fact that you are peering from the wheelchair makes him look even bigger.

I don’t want to give to much away, but this film is unique in the way it is filmed and the way that you only get to see a few characters close up. You live through James Stewart’s eyes almost throughout the whole film. Hitchcock and Stewart got on really well as did Grace Kelly with her talent and beauty. This shows in the way the actors deliver. This is not in my top 10, but is number 1 in my Hitchcock collection. Films like this can still work as we have seen in films like Locke, where there are very few characters and only one set. As an English man I am proud that Hitchcock had such an influence on film although sad that British film is no longer what it was. He really was a genius and very clever in the way he used the camera along with his great choice in casting. This is a must see film especially now it has been remastered for DVD and looks amazing.

Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon: Rope (1948)

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rope poster

SYNOPSIS: Brandon and Philip are two young men who share a New York apartment. They consider themselves intellectually superior to their friend David Kentley and as a consequence decide to murder him. Together they strangle David with a rope and placing the body in an old chest, they proceed to hold a small party. The guests include David’s father, his fiancée Janet and their old schoolteacher Rupert from whom they mistakenly took their ideas. As Brandon becomes increasingly more daring, Rupert begins to suspect. – via IMDB

The premise is pretty interesting, and I think the movie does incredibly well seeing as it essentially takes place in three rooms, of which the main room is the study, where Brandon (John Dall) and Phillip (Farley Granger) murdered David Kentley (Dick Hogan). Rupert Cadell (James Stewart), their mentor, is definitely more suspicious of the strange dinner party as well as the inside jokes and insinuations made by Brandon to Phillip, as well as Brandon’s excitement over a seemingly dull party.

rope dinner party

The views expressed by Brandon (more vocally than Phillip) seem to be ideas that were discussed in depth and detail with Rupert. Their perfect crime, having disposed of an inferior being, shows Brandon play many games, including bringing David’s girlfriend, Janet (Joan Chandler) to dinner to spend time with her ex, Kenneth (Douglas Dick), to attempt to bring them back together again. It would seem it would be for reconciliation, but soon it becomes evident that everything is just an elaborate game for Brandon. Phillip is having a meltdown about what they have done, displaying a conscious, whereas Brandon really is the psychopath.

The movie kept me engaged for the duration of it, no matter the fact that it was in an extremely closed environment. The grisly concept of a dinner served from a coffin was heavy, as well as the views which Brandon expressed, and the fear that seized Philip, and Rupert sniffing around, growing more and more suspicious of David’s absence from the dinner party, a point that is highlighted over and over again throughout the duration of the evening. The movie was shot well, and I enjoyed the colour used for the lighting outside, as well as the pulsing green and red of the neon signs when night officially falls. The conversations that were shared were also interesting, and I enjoyed the humour that arose from time to time, too.

rope rupert philip brandon

An interesting film to check out no doubt, and very well done for its time. However, if you are not into very talkative movies or anything like that, I would recommend that you skip over this one (yes PSC, that was thinking of you)!