Rated PG-13 for sexuality, violent images and mature themes
Delightful Docudrama Recounts Shooting Of Horror Classic Psycho
It wasn’t long after the Hollywood premiere of North By Northwest in July of 1959 that Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) was already searching for his next project, since he was at his most content making movies. After passing on all the scripts being pitched by Paramount, the master of suspense became curious about a recently published novel inspired by the gruesome exploits of a Wisconsin serial killer (Michael Wincott).
Hitchcock found the book Psycho captivating, and acquired the rights to the pulpy page-turner over the objections of his agent (Michael Stuhlbarg), accountant (John Rothman), assistant (Toni Collette) and studio’s president (Richard Portnow). He even had a hard time convincing his skeptical wife, Alma (Helen Mirren), whose support was always critical as his longtime collaborator and sounding board.
But once the couple decided to finance the picture themselves, they turned their attention to casting. They settled on relatively-unknown Anthony Perkins (James D’Arcy) in the pivotal role of Norman Bates, while opting for Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson) over a fading star (Jessica Biel) as their ill-fated leading lady.
However, pressures continued to mount after the filming got underway, with concerns ranging from the director having to massage actresses’ egos to having to figure out how to get the graphic shower scene past the censors. Unfortunately, Albert’s flirtatious behavior on the set would take a toll on the relationship with a fed-up Alma disappearing with a friend (Danny Huston) to a beachfront pied-à-terre he hid from his wife.
Will she cheat or choose to reconcile with her rotund hubby, despite his roving eye? That is the real tension at the heart of Hitchcock, since everybody knows that Psycho was completed and went on to be feted as a cinema classic.
Directed by Sacha Gervasi, this delightful docudrama is based on Alfred Hitchcock And The Making Of Psycho by Stephen Rebello. What makes the movie so compelling is the badinage between Alma and Alfred as capably played by Oscar winners Helen Mirren (for The Queen) and Anthony Hopkins (for The Silence Of The Lambs).
Who knows whether their alternately acerbic and admiring interaction is accurate or pure fabrication? It almost doesn’t matter when delivered ever so convincingly, ostensibly allowing the audience a rare “flies on the wall” opportunity to watch a genius and his better half weave movie magic together.
A cinematic treat offering rare peeks behind the scenes and behind the closed doors of a legendary director and the love of his life.
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 98 minutes
The Loving Story
Civil Rights Documentary Recounts Landmark Supreme Court Decision On Interracial Marriage
Soon after Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving tied the knot in Washington, D.C. on June 2, 1958, they decided to move back to their tiny hometown of Central Point, Virginia to settle down and start a family. The groom, a bricklayer by trade, even purchased a plot of land where he promised to build his bride a house.
However, Virginia was one of 24 states where interracial marriage was still illegal because of racist laws designed to rob minorities of their dignity and to keep them in a lower social and economic status. Since Richard was white and Mildred was a mix of black and Native American, it was just a matter of time before the local sheriff would catch wind of their illicit liaison and crack down on the felons like a ton of bricks.
And in the middle of the night, he and a posse broke down the door, dragging the newlyweds off to jail while threatening to rape Mildred. Given that this was Virginia during the disgraceful days of Jim Crow, the Lovings were, of course, ultimately found guilty and each given a one-year sentence for the crime of marrying across the color line.
As their appeal dragged on, Mildred wrote to then Attorney General Bobby Kennedy for help avoiding incarceration. He declined, but suggested she approach the American Civil Liberties Union, which did decide to take the case.
“Just tell the Supreme Court I love my wife,” Richard directed the ACLU attorneys as they prepared to argue before Chief Justice Warren and his associates. In the historic Loving v. Virginia decision handed down on June 12, 1967, the Lovings’ convictions were overturned and their union finally garnered the blessing and government protection that had so eluded them for almost a decade.
All of the above is recounted in heartbreaking fashion in The Loving Story, a combination biopic and courtroom drama directed by Nancy Buirski. What makes the film so touching are the reams of archival footage of the unfortunate couple at the center of the controversy.
For the lovebirds are so young and so innocent, it’s hard to fathom why anyone would even seek to separate let alone imprison them. A moving, must-see documentary about the Lovings’ belated vindication and the elimination of one of the last vestiges of segregation.
Could it be more fitting that the litigants in the landmark case eradicating the crime of loving a person of a different color would be named Loving?
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 77 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening December 14, 2012
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (PG-13 for epic battle scenes and scary images). Peter Jackson (The Lord Of The Rings trilogy) directed this adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy novel about a human-like creature with furry feet (Martin Freeman) who is prompted by a wizard (Ian McKellen) to embark on an epic with 13 dwarfs to wrest control of a lost kingdom from the clutches of a fearsome dragon. With Richard Armitage, Ken Stott and Graham McTavish.
Any Day Now (Unrated). Courtroom drama, set in the ‘70s, about the custody battle waged between the state and a gay couple (Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt) trying to adopt a boy with Down syndrome (Isaac Leyva) abandoned by his mother. Cast includes Frances Fisher, Gregg Henry and Don Franklin.
Consuming Spirits (Unrated). Animated adult drama revolving around the exploits of a trio of intimate strangers living in a mythical Rust Belt town nestled deep in the Appalachian Mountains. Voice cast includes Robert Levy, Nancy Andrews, Chris Sullivan, Judith Rafael and Mary Lou Zelazny.
Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet (Unrated). Documentary demonstrating the indomitability of the human spirit about a once-promising rock and roll prodigy who is still making music 22 years after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Let Fury Have The Hour (Unrated). Counter-culture documentary chronicling how a generation of outspoken artists began challenging the status quo in reaction to the rise of conservatism in the ‘80s. With appearances by comedian Lewis Black, rapper Chuck D., playwright Eve Ensler and novelist Edwidge Danticat.
Save The Date (R for sexuality, profanity and brief drug use). Romantic comedy about a young woman (Lizzy Caplan) who turns to her sister (Alison Brie) for support when she rushes into a rebound relationship right after declining her boyfriend’s (Geoffrey Arend) marriage proposal. With Mark Webber, Martin Starr and Melonie Diaz.
Saving Grace B. Jones (R for violence and brief sexuality). Tatum O’Neal plays the title character in this psychological thriller, set in Missouri in the ‘50s, about a couple (Michael Biehn and Penelope Ann Miller) whose quiet life turns chaotic when the husband’s sister comes to live with them after being released from a mental asylum. With Piper Laurie, Liberty Smith and Evie Thompson.
Trashed (Unrated). Eco-documentary, narrated by Jeremy Irons, examining the extent of the global pollution problem.
Yelling To The Sky (Unrated). Dysfunctional family drama about a biracial 17-year-old (Zoe Kravitz) forced to fend for herself in a rough neighborhood due to an absentee mother (Yolonda Ross) and a father (Jason Clarke) given to violent mood swings. With Gabourey Sidibe, Tim Blake Nelson, Antonique Smith and Adam Tomei (Marisa’s brother).