November 30, 2012, - 3:57 pm

Weekend Box Office: Hitchcock, Anna Karenina, The Collection

By Debbie Schlussel

I did not particularly like any of the new movies at the box office, this weekend, but if you must see one, it should be . . .

* “Hitchcock“: Despite a star-studded cast (and a cameo by Ralph Macchio of all people), this movie is mostly slow and boring, the exact opposite of Alfred Hitchcock’s tremendous body of work in the creepy and thrilling. Sadly, little of that is captured in this dull, nutty, bizarre “portrayal” of Hitchcock. Anthony Hopkins (who said I was his favorite personality on the “Howard Stern Show”–not sure if that’s a good thing) looks ridiculous in his fatsuit and makeup and more like a caricature or cartoon character than the legendary filmmaker he plays. Sorry, Sir Anthony. It gets even more absurd because the movie shows repeated scenes of Hitchcock talking to the ghost of Ed Gein, the Wisconsin serial killer on whom the “Psycho” story was based. Those scenes are just stupid.


The movie focuses on Hitchcock’s making of “Psycho” and his rocky partnership with his writer wife (Helen Mirren). But it goes off key when it spends too much time on a side story of the wife’s writing relationship with another writer who Hitchcock sees as a sort-of competitor. The parts about the actual making of “Psycho” were interesting, if they are accurate. The movie shows Hitchcock’s fight with the studio and censors to make such a dark movie . . . dark and shocking for that time. He fought the censors for the right to make the shower scene with its multiple stabbings. And he fought the studio to make the movie and get it distributed. After betting his savings and home on the movie, it was interesting to see what he had to do to make it a success. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t show enough of that stuff and focuses, instead, on esoteric, likely fictional stuff.


Unfortunately, the movie chooses to make Hitchcock as both a creepy weirdo who stares through peepholes of actress’ dressing rooms and as a pathetic, whiny, emotional manchild. Methinks they did this brilliant Hollywood mind a huge disservice with this dumb–and failed–attempt to be campy. As a Hitchcock fan, I wanted and expected better, but didn’t get it. I’m being generous when I give it . . .

HALF A REAGAN
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* “Anna Karenina“: This is one of those movies that ruins a great novel. You’d be best off just reading the book, which has already been made into several eponymous movies and didn’t need to be made into yet another. This was long, slow, very boring, and I felt like I’d seen this story a gazillion times before, including with one of the same actresses–Keira Knightley, who plays the lead role. She’s played this before: the wife in a period piece who is married to a noble man and has the good life of a rich woman, but wants to leave him to live with her real love, her extramarital paramour with whom she’s pregnant. In fact, Knightley played this exact type of character in 2008’s “The Duchess” (read my review).

Also, the filmmakers use a technique that doesn’t quite work here. They use a stage and moving stage sets to make it look like a Broadway play. They also have some scenes in which the characters move in unison, almost as if they’re about to break out in song and dance, like a Broadway musical. It seems gimmicky and takes away from their attempts at getting the audience to pay attention and take the movie seriously. I didn’t. I just couldn’t wait for it to be over, so I could take a bathroom break.

This movie is high on style and should win a lot of Oscars for hair and makeup, costumes, and set design. But as for substance, there’s little here. And, yet, they managed to stretch that very little into over two hours. It’s stretched quite thin.

HALF A MARX

Watch the Trailer . . .

* “The Collection“: That they greenlit a disgusting, bloody, violent movie like this makes me sad for America. This was so full of sickening, nauseating killing and dismemberment, that it didn’t just make me sick. Someone literally threw up on the way out of the screening I attended. Oh, sure, this kind of torture porn attracts a cult following and tries to be “campy.” But it isn’t. It’s just sick, warped, tortured. Oh, and it’s grisly, graphic, and all-around gross.

This is, sadly, a sequel to what I understand is an equally disgusting first movie, “The Collector,” which features two of the same characters. In this movie, the daughter of a wealthy man sneaks out with her friends to a party at a secret underground disco at the dark side of town. Soon, the serial killer who wears a mask and was featured in the first movie, murders most of those who are dancing and partying, using devices resembling a giant lawnmower and huge sling blades. People are beheaded, dismembered, and otherwise bleeding to death.

One guy, who has been trapped in a trunk–Arkin–escapes. The killer keeps the daughter of the wealthy guy alive and takes her to an abandoned hotel, where he keeps others inside trunks and also has a menagerie of body parts and human bodies in various severed states on display, as well as some insects. There he tortures people in unspeakable ways. While Arkin is in the hospital, recovering from his wounds from being tortured, the police question him. Then, a man working for the rich girl’s father blackmails Arkin into helping him find the daughter and rescue her, so they go to the abandoned hotel and fight it out with the crazed serial killer and get caught in his booby traps and torture devices.

The movie has very little of a plot, never explains who the serial killer is or why he is doing this. But a plot and explanations aren’t the point of these sick, twisted movies. The point is to give people two hours of unspeakable, unwatchable, mind-numbing disgusting blood, gore, killing porn, and torture porn. We are really dead as a society, when mainstream Hollywood puts more and more of this kind of sickening “cinema” out there, and even has screenings for movie critics like me. I was going to walk out on this a million times and wish that I had (but studios do not allow me to review movies unless I’ve watched the whole thing). That I was able to sit through this (albeit with my hands over my eyes for a good part of this) tells me that I’ve unfortunately become desensitized to this brutality as I’ve sat through more and more of this horror as a movie critic.

If there was one redeeming thing about this movie, it was that the audience at the promotional screening I attended still rooted for the good guys and cheered when the bad guys got theirs. But that was hardly a “saving grace” and wasn’t enough to justify this depraved crap. Not even close. And I fear that a day is coming when they cheer for the torturers and murderers against the innocent victims and their would-be rescuers. Making movies like this hastens the arrival of that day. (In fact, we’ve already reached that point, as I’ve seen it at other movie screenings I’ve attended.)

I wonder how many real-life future serial killings and torture this sickness will inspire. Thanks, Hollywood. You have blood on your hands. What a great service to America. Whoever dreams this stuff up ought to be locked up and given a lobotomy.

Maybe the lobotomy has already taken place.

In any event, the guy who says, “Hey, I’ll make a movie with a lot of shocking torture, dismemberment, and killing, and make a ton of money,” is a traitor. The trailers for this movie tell us it’s about escaping “pure evil.” But the real pure evil is the people who made this.

Remember the good old days . . . when snuff films were considered uncivilized?

FOUR MARXES PLUS PLUS PLUS
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Watch the trailer . . .

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30 Responses

Wish you could have done “It is no dream”, the docu about Hertzl and narrated by Ben Kingsley (i know you’re no fan of his)..
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2094856/
I’m going to watch it today here in TO hoping it’s not a liberal bashing fest of our Zionist leader…
maybe next week Debbie?

Yossi on December 1, 2012 at 10:09 am

I have read many, many times that Hitchcock had a very dark side and was definitely peculiar with many of his Leading Ladies as well as having affairs with most of them. If you look at some of the most important ones; Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly and Tippi Hedren, Janet Leigh to a lesser extent, they all bear a startling resemblance to his wife. In many ways he WAS a man-child which takes nothing away from his artistic genius.

Italkit on December 1, 2012 at 11:51 am

Nice to have the movie critiques done BEFORE I spend the dough and waste my time. Sad, most every remake and movies taken from books are always disappointing at least to me. I guess I am getting old…I just want to stay home and watch “real movies” on TCM…over and over and over…I never tire of any of the longtime greats..seems my movie/film tastes have become akin to my political leanings….slim to narrowing?

Jack Kates III on December 1, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Of course I am a Hitchcock fan. I used to read his books at the library when I was a kid. I have always been drawn to the dark side of things…reading and watching that is. I never had the lack of intellect to partake in anti-social darkness (other than punk rock).

This is the second movie on him that shows him to be so weird & freakish. I’d be interested in the truth. Is it real of is Hollywood having a go at him now he is dead? I’d be interested in the truth.

I agree with Anthony Hopkins. You are definitely my fav personality from the Howard Stern show. I listened 1993-2005 (or when he left terrestrial) and now I don’t listen to him anymore (because I don’t have time and don’t wanna pay the extra for my satellite). I have learned much from this blog and that’s a great thing!

Skunky on December 1, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Yes, Hitchcock was a rally dark, odd interesting guy. If you really want to get to know what his was like read ”
    Hitchcock” by Francois Truffaut. Truffaut interviewed Hitchcock for hours before writing this book, it’s man’s story from his own mouth.

    pete bone on December 2, 2012 at 11:16 am

Yes, 1960 was the year that degeneration in movies really took off. The key event was the release of Spartacus a few months after Psycho, which infamously broke the blacklist keeping Hollywood free of open Communists.

Although I enjoyed Psycho, I would rather have had the shower scene censored if it could have been coupled with keeping Hollywood free of open Communists. All things considered, the censorship of the 50s would have been more beneficial for our country in the long run than what developed soon after 1960. Considering the depravity of society, maybe some constructive censorship is needed.

Little Al on December 1, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    I might be missing something (save it Skunky, it ain’t worth it) but what dose the Communist ban have to do with the shower scene?

    I kind of agree with you about 50’s censorship, not so much because of the censoring of ideas, but because writers had to think more and write subtext to get things by the censors. They really had to create deeper stories that weren’t always what they seemed at first blush.

    I don’t think writers, in general, work as hard at creating stories about things bigger than the basic plot.

    pete bone on December 2, 2012 at 11:28 am

      The shower scene and the lifting of the Communist ban occurred within months of each other, and were two events that greatly weakened censorship/oversight of Hollywood movies.

      Together, they were key in ushering in the present era.

      Little Al on December 2, 2012 at 12:18 pm

        I see your point, but part of the genius of the shower scene is that there isn’t anything in it that could be censored. Everything people thought they saw in that sequence was all in their heads. Spartacus well…that’s a differant story.

        pete bone on December 2, 2012 at 3:06 pm

      What is worth pointing out, Cockroach, is that you are again posting on an esoteric thread (as opposed to the hardcore political ones because you’re not smart enough to) and are taking a contrarian stance. As you always do.

      What is worth pointing out, Cockroach, is that you seem to read read almost all the columns but the truth and the reporting never seem to permeate your empty, Liberal brain. That means your mentally ill and stubborn in your ignorance.

      It’s worth pointing out, Cockroach, because in 2012 and where we are in America and what has happened to this country…it is important that REAL Conservatives know their enemy. As for me, I have no desire to be nice to stealth idiots like you who think you know more than learned Conservatives who have actually done their homework and know what the TRUTH is.

      If I have done that and neon lighted you as such, my work is done.

      Skunky on December 2, 2012 at 12:28 pm

        So your not interested in the book, then?

        pete bone on December 2, 2012 at 3:12 pm

i don’t watch most hollywood crap.

bruce on December 1, 2012 at 1:44 pm

We STOPPED going to movies many years ago. PURE TRASH since Hollywood was taken over by the radical leftists who want to destroy America. They are doing a great job so far. Movies made since the 60’s have progressively gone down and this is no accident. BOYCOTT ALL HOLLYWOOD, HBO AND SHOWTIME.

Fred on December 1, 2012 at 2:21 pm

The ghost of Ed Gein? Ed Gein only died in the 1980s. His ghost wasn’t around in 1960.

dee on December 1, 2012 at 5:02 pm

I love a good slasher flick…. you know the one where the dumb blond girl dies in the first scene and the rest of the movie every one tries to expose the killer.

“The Collector” is just garbage! Hollywood can no longer make a decent horror film!

NormanF on December 1, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Alfred Hitchcock directed the greatest thriller films in American cinema, many of which define our culture.

There is no one like him today in Hollywood. Any one who has watched “Rear Window” – with Jimmy Stewart – that is the quintessential American thriller – two hours of pure escapist entertainment.

No one seems to have Hitchcock’s touch anymore.

NormanF on December 1, 2012 at 7:03 pm

I may have seen Hitchcock’s complete filmology (always enjoyed trying to spot his “hidden” cameos)or close to it, but “The Birds” has always been my favorite.

I’m not sure Hopkins was the right choice to portray him. I think Philip Seymour Thomas would’ve been better.

DS_ROCKS! on December 1, 2012 at 9:15 pm

I guess we are the new Babylon.
Hollywood has been making psychopathic behavior sexy for so long it’s no wonder people have started cheering for the bad guys. Hitchcock was a seminal director but I doubt he was the kind of quirky,interesting, engaging guy next door I’m assuming Hopkins is trying to portray him as in this biopic.
I think the ghost of Ed Gein probably fills in as a sort of premonition for the reality of people like him. Serial killer flicks are the logical progression of what Hitchcock did in psycho so you’ll get a nice introduction to the inner workings of both him and them here.
As usual Hollywood will invite you to open the door and get up close and personal all for the modest price of some entertainment value.
If we live in a “clockwork orange” pop culture universe and to me it’s starting to feel like that a little I wonder sometimes if it’s not really because guys like Stanley Kubrick didn’t have the emotional intelligence to imagine anything better, notwithstanding his other talents which are plastered all over the screen.

Frankz on December 2, 2012 at 12:42 am

    Frankz, your post had me thinking. I agree with you about Hollywood making psychopathology sexy. That’s queerstreet if you ask me. But what COULD be done didactically is that people who make movies COULD craft them as to warn the general public of the danger of psychopaths (most are not of the homicidal sort but all are capable of being so…). For every 100 people FOUR are psychopaths. People should know they should be able to identify and protect themselves from them.

    And this is in my mind this week because I got to see “We Need To Talk About Kevin” and it was a strange film. I didn’t NOT like it but the ending was typical Hollywood BS. The movie took pains to portray the psychopath as evil from day one BUT in the end left it dangling as IF the psychopath COULD be redeemed or had some remorse. This pissed me off because it is NOT true and people are too naive on this issue as it is. It does society no good to act as if these freaks can be redeemed. They can’t.

    I don’t like garbage like “Funny Games” but I do enjoy films that are didactic on psychopathology and/or if they are horror films for a cheap thrill. I did not like Rob Zombie’s “The Devil’s Rejects” and I consider myself a fan. I liked the original “The Vanishing” because it ended in a way that was more truthful (no matter how morbidly depressing) than the dumb American version (done by same director BTW).

    Skunky on December 2, 2012 at 12:45 pm

“Hitchcock wasn’t so much a master of suspense as he was a poet of anxiety.” Can’t remember which critic it was who really hit the nail on the head with that description.

lee, of the lower case "l" on December 2, 2012 at 1:22 am

“Psycho” was not based on Ed Gein. In Robert Bloch’s (author of “Psycho”) autobiography, “Once Around the Bloch”, he said knew virtually nothing about Gein and he did not base “Psycho” on anyone from the Gein case, and, if I recall correctly, that he wrote the book to explore the idea of what would happen if a quiet serial killer lived in a small community and people didn’t know it.

MH on December 2, 2012 at 2:19 am

Debbie,

I attended the screening of Hitchcock this past week. I have a different take on his speaking with the “ghost” of Ed Gein. As another person put it, Gein died in jail in the 80’s.

Could this have been the director’s attempts at showing Hitchcock trying to get into his brain to create Psycho?

As you are aware, being a Hitchcock fan, the story is based off the serial killer Gein. I agree the fatsuits were silly, if he was truly a method actor he would have done like DeNiro in Raging Bull and added th weight for the movie.

I enjoyed it, and found humor in many of the scenes.

Paul on December 2, 2012 at 10:18 am

Skunky, I think the problem with sociopaths is that they are very difficult to detect even for trained psychologists.
They’re usually very socially adept and so are very capable of acting in any way they perceive as acceptable.
I also saw “We need to talk about Kevin”, it didn’t make much impression on me either. The only thing I can remember about it is that it blurred the moral lines so much that by the end it was more like watching a traffic accident than a murderer at work. But I think that’s par for the course these days.
Liberals basically see human beings a complicated machines and psychopaths are simply machines that are defective in some way.
So guilt and morality are outmoded concepts for them although they do have a lot of touchy feely sentimentality to soften the blow if you know what I mean.
The point they’re trying to work to now is to have sociopaths seen as struggling members of society who need assistance. There’s been murder cases where its been accepted as a form of partial legal defense.
To me there’s and undercurrent in Hollywood movies I’ve noticed for a long time now where there’s tendency to trivialize sociopathic behavior. 7 Psychopaths although it’s a comedy would be an example of what I’m talking about.

Frankz on December 3, 2012 at 7:00 am

There’s no point arguing with ignoramuses who insist that Hollywood sometime around 1960 was “taken over” by the radical Left. As for the blacklist so beloved by certain posters here, it ruined careers, turned industry people against one another, and diminished the quality of movies — oh yeah, a real achievement! Repeating a lie hundreds of times over doesn’t make it any more true than if saying it only once. I have seen literally thousands of old, mid-period and recent movies, so I know something about whereof I speak.

By the way, the latest “Anna Karenina” is a British, not a Hollywood production. It was shot in England with an English cast and was directed by an Englishman, Joe Wright (“Pride and Prejudice”). Not every film can be filed under “Hollywood.” “Anna Karenina” is long all right, but definitely not “slow” or “boring.” Some films require patience on the part of the audience.

Seek on December 3, 2012 at 11:38 am

Thank you for your movie reviews.

I have been a quiet fan of AH since I was a teen and “Psycho” was a hit. Also, watched his TV show regularly.

I recently picked up a collection of some of Hitchcock’s older movies. Some are short and some are full length. He used trains as a set in several of them, and trains coming out of tunnels to shock the viewer visually and with sound in several of them. Two of the movies had women removing their silk stockings, which presented a sensual side. He was a presenter of the dark side but did it in a somewhat humorous way. His movies ware exciting and fast paced too keeping the viewer on “the edge of his seat” until the twist at the end.

I do not think I will see any of these including the AH movie.

panhandle on December 3, 2012 at 12:19 pm

I saw the The Girl with Tobe Jones playing Hitchcock. I thought he did a pretty good job. What I’ve seen of Anthony Hopkins playing the part doesn’t compare well with Jone’s performance.
The portrayal of Hitchcock in The Girl is pretty negative. I think the fact that he refused to let Tippi Hedren out of her contract with him proves that he was, at the very least, a very vindictive person.

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