Happy November everyone! Or should I say Noirvember, ha ha. Like the previous month, most of my rewatches are Hitchcock films. This month we finished up the 50s with Vertigo and North by Northwest and headed into the 60s with Psycho. I got a few other rewatches in as well, some of which were reviewed as part of Noirvember, along with two totally random rewatches of movies that couldn’t be more different: Blue Jasmine and Dirty Harry.
Wednesday, November 4: Vertigo
I felt really bad after the last time I saw Vertigo, which was on the big screen. That should have been amazing, but unfortunately I was still super jetlagged after returning from my China trip and I slept through the entire middle of the film.
So even though I had recently “seen” it, it felt like I hadn’t seen it in a while thanks to that jetlag. Since it was for class, it was on a moderately big screen, not on film of course, but still. I think it was the same DVD I have, which is restored, but still some of the scenes have more vibrant color than the others. I’m not sure if that’s a restoration thing or if the film is just like that, but nevertheless it was disappointing on this rewatch of it.
Vertigo is not a film I like watching with other people. If they are not into it, a case which is usually true in a classroom/mandatory screening setting, it really just pisses me off hearing everyone else’s reactions. This time wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the time I saw it with film society as a freshman, where people were basically laughing through the whole thing. Though based on the reactions I heard during/after the movie, I am not going to be a happy camper next week when we discuss it. This is the part where I wish it didn’t have the Sight and Sound legacy to live up to; people would go a lot easier on it if it wasn’t named the best film ever. It’s dumb but it’s true, unfortunately. But anyway, it might be sacrilege, but I’d rather watch this on my laptop, completely by myself, with no one else being dumb in the audience to get in the way. I guess I should just get my own private theater and Howard Hughes this movie at some point (heh heh heh).
On a last note, what I really appreciated this time around from a film making standpoint is how they cut the music in the penultimate moments of the film. There is so much score in this film, when it drops out as they are climbing the tower it really focuses your attention on the characters. Then it comes back for a final punch in the gut at the end. I must say, Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Hitchcock are one of my favorite artistic collaborations in film history, for sure.
Wednesday, November 11: North by Northwest
North by Northwest was the first movie I watched after seeing Spectre in the theater, so you can imagine how many comparisons I drew between James Bond films and this classic Hitchcock thriller. If I remember correctly, they wanted Cary Grant to play him mainly on the basis of his performance in this film. It really is quite like an early Bond film, except all around more fun and better paced. The more I watch this movie the more I appreciate it for its near perfect execution. Sure, it’s not the deepest film out there, but in terms of watchability it’s hard to beat. No real new observations this time around, other than the general feeling that this movie out Bonds Bond before Bond was even brought to the screen, and it’s just so damn entertaining.
Thursday, November 12: The Lady from Shanghai (listing for completeness)
Wednesday, November 18: Psycho
Psycho is a movie that always seems to have diminishing returns for me. It’s so weird that I feel this way, Hitchcock fan that I am, but for some reason I do. It seemed every time I try to watch this movie I end up getting really sleepy somewhere in the middle. Not entirely sure it’s the movies’ fault, but there you have it. It’s my fourth go around with Norman Bates and the gang, but unfortunately it still doesn’t match up to the first time.
Thursday, November 19: In a Lonely Place (listing for completeness)
Sunday, November 22: Blue Jasmine
A weird choice for a rewatch, true, but it’s mainly because of this line, relateable for every college student:
I wasn’t super paying attention to the movie on this rewatch, it was more just playing in the background. That said, I realized a few things. One, Cate Blanchett is amazing in this movie. Two, say what you want about Woody, he knows how to put together a soundtrack. Three, Michael Stuhlbarg is quickly making a name for himself this year with Steve Jobs and Trumbo but he was also in this movie! So I guess maybe he already had name for himself, I’m not sure, but it was fun to see him here at least.
Thursday, November 26: Dirty Harry
Nothing says Happy Thanksgiving like Clint Eastwood violating some civil rights (I guess). I don’t know why we decided to watch this for movie night on Thanksgiving, but we did and I still really like this movie. It’s so 70s I can’t help but love it, even with its questionable morality. Watching it this time around (I saw it once on TV a LONG time ago), I really couldn’t tell how the film feels about Harry’s character and what he does. On one hand, he is most definitely the hero as he gets the bad guy in the end, but he’s also a violent outsider, one who does the right thing but not in the right way. It’s a very destructive view of masculinity that seems to have been pretty popular in the 70s, he definitely bears more than a little resemblance to a character like Travis Bickle. Even if the side it comes down on is unclear, it at least gives Harry opposing characters to brush up against. But regardless, Eastwood gives a good performance and the film looks pretty great in a 70s sort of way. I’m sad I really didn’t have time to fit in an entire review.
I rewatched 7 films this month, and most of them held up pretty decently. Psycho for some reason still doesn’t get to me the way it did the first time around, but Vertigo definitely held up and North by Northwest may have even improved (though initially I didn’t like it much, which helps). It was good to see Blue Jasmine again if only for the soundtrack, and Dirty Harry was fun to see again as well (especially that now I’ve seen Zodiac so I can reference that while watching it ha ha). The noirs kept just as I remembered them, and it was good to write full reviews for them finally. Next month I’ll have a couple of final Hitchcock films (The Birds and Marnie), and who knows what else. Tarantino retrospective finally? Perhaps. Thanks for reading and stay tuned to find out.