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MOVIE REVIEWS: HITCHCOCK

November 23, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

During his lifetime, Alfred Hitchcock often drew wildly mixed reviews from critics. Psycho, now considered among the great film classics, was damned by several notable critics when it was released in 1960. Bosley Crowther in the New York Times dismissed it as “this obviously low-budget job” and remarked that the climactic “denouement falls quite flat.” C.A. Lejeune, the critic for London’s Sunday Observer, not only was so offended by the movie that she walked out of a screening but quit her post as the paper’s film critic. So it is quite apropos that the new movie Hitchcock, which stars Anthony Hopkins in the title role and takes place at the time the director was filming Psycho, is receiving wildly mixed reviews. Manohla Dargis of the New York Times writes it off as “fluff” and “silly,” taking “extravagant liberties” with Hitchcock’s life by reading him “through his work, as if his movies were a direct reflection of his mind, soul and deepest, darkest desires.” On the other hand, there’s Rex Reed of the New York Times, who regards the film as “one of the best movies of 2012” and concludes his review by commenting that it represents “a high-water mark in the annals of wit, charm and entertainment value.” In fact, the major critics are split pretty much down the middle. Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal comments that it “rings false from start to finish” and damns it as a “lifeless botch.” But Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle suggests that like a Hitchcock movie, Hitchcock “isn’t ambitious or complicated. It’s simple, does what it sets out to do, and gets out before anyone even thinks about checking the time. More movies should be made in its image.” Most critics, who have greeted the movie both pro and con, seem to agree on one thing: as Hitchcock, Hopkins is thoroughly believable. “He makes this part his own with the sort of showy enthusiasm that has defined his most iconic performances,” writes Elizabeth Weitzman in the New York Daily News. David Germain, like several other critics, complains about the make-up that fails to make Hopkins look like Hitchcock but only “like Anthony Hopkins with prosthetics on his face.” Nevertheless, he writes, “the spirit of Hitchcock comes through in Hopkins’ sly performance.” Kyle Smith of the New York Post says that Hopkins’ performance is the sort that seems “precision engineered to win an Oscar nomination, and probably will.” A handful of critics disagree. Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times writes that “Hopkins is unable to push his Hitchcock past the point of impersonation and turn him into a character we have an interest in spending quality time with.”