Perks and Hitchcock

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These past few years I’ve not seen many films in the cinema. I’ve seen plenty of movies and watched seasons of many series’ at home, but I’d say that generally I would have been able to count the number of times I’d set foot in a cinema on one hand. I think 2013 is going to be the year in which I venture to the big screen more and more, if these first two weeks are anything to go by.

This weekend alone, I’ve been to the movies twice. Last night, I saw Hitchcock and this evening, The Perks of Being A Wallflower. So I thought I’d gather a few thoughts and pen them to page – or type them or whatever you’re supposed to say when press keys down and magically your thoughts appear on the screen in front of you.

***Potential spoiler alert***

Sadly/shamefully/oddly, I knew almost nothing about Alfred Hitchcock before last night. I knew he’d directed Psycho, and that was about it. I knew the screeching Psycho music but would not have necessarily associated the sound with the silver screen. Hitchcock is directed by Sacha Gervasi, a journalist-writer and a relative newcomer to the directorial scene. The story is thought to be a biographical story of the lives of Alfred Hitchcock and his wife, Alma Reville, yet is based on Stephen Rebello’s book, Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho.

Anthony Hopkins is a portly Hitchcock, with intriguing lips and a waddle to be applauded for what must have been the result of in-depth character development. Hitchcock, or ‘Hitch’ as he is more commonly known, is an avid eater, a charmer and a risk taker, who believes in himself and his work so much that he will mortgage his house to make a film will very little backing from producers or distributors. Yet he has undoubted support from his wife, Alma, a stubborn, hearty and dedicated Helen Mirren, who portrays her character with great integrity. I can only imagine the real Alma, had she lived to see this production, would have been proud and satisfied with Mirren’s performance. Ultimately, it is a story of relationships (aren’t they all), but more specifically of the strength of a woman who dares to live her own life while standing by her husband and all of his endeavours. 

The film also features Scarlett Johansson, James D’Arcy, Toni Collette, Jessica Biel and Danny Huston, who to my eye, looks like he’s just jumped out of a Walt Disney picture. His face is so huge and animated, it consumed me almost as much as it filled up space on screen.

All in all, it’s not a must see, but definitely is well-directed, well-cast, and acted thoughtfully and thoroughly (if that’s even a ‘thing’). I kind of wish it were nominated for an Oscar or two, best supporting actress being the stand out pick, if any.

On a completely different note, Perks was something I’d been wanting to see since hearing it was coming out as a film, many months ago. While Hitchcock was seen on a whim, this had been in the pipeline for a long time. I feel slightly unauthorised to speak about this film considering I haven’t read the book, which I feel indebted to read even more as a result of seeing the film. I always think it’s best to read the book first, but for some reason, I didn’t get around to it. Let’s say it’s now etched into my ever-growing To Read list.

The story is directed by and the screenplay, adapted by Stephen Chbosky, author of the original novel. With a young yet all-star cast, he has done a wonderful job of portraying youth through relationships, sadness, conflict and self-doubt. Coined as a coming-of-age novel, it has a cult-like following and this group will no doubt have grown since stars Ezra Miller and Emma Watson have jumped on board.

A narrative spoken by Charlie (Logan Lerman) tracks his growth from a shy freshman with many secrets and no friends, to his time as a young man with knowledge of love, experiences of beauty, fun and an ability to speak the truth and be heard, without shame and free from judgement. Charlie is introduced to drugs, sex, pain and honesty through his friendship with Patrick, (Miller) and his step-sister Sam, (Watson). The film deals with issues that could have been brutalised and vulgarised if not handled with appropriate care, including gay relationships, mental illness, sexual disturbance and violence. But it is a testament to the story, the acting and the greater direction and production of the film, that each of these occurrences are told with authenticity and respect. The depiction Charlie’s inner torment and his time in hospital is delicate, as are the subtle yet powerful references to various characters’ sexual abuse.

A stand out performance award must go to Ezra Miller, previously best known for playing the title role in We Need to Talk About Kevin, one of my favourite films. In Perks he is Patrick, a queer/queeny, enthusiastic spark with a confidence sure to be envied by teenagers and adults alike. Apart from his distinctive physical features, his acting is impeccable. The first Rocky Horror scene is possibly the one of the best moments in theatre ever. You have GOT to see it, words cannot describe… Other casting is also superb, including Paul Rudd as Mr Anderson and Mae Whitman (whom I love from Parenthood) as Mary Elizabeth. Additional familiar faces include Joan Cusack, Kate Walsh and Dylan McDermott.

I would highly recommend Perks to people of any age. It is an eclectic mix of romance, drama, teen-fiction and simple, raw emotion. It will make you feel something. And whatever that feeling may be, is special in itself.

Maybe these are summaries more than reviews, or thoughts rather than star ratings, but I felt compelled to write something about my hours in front of the big screen this weekend. If nothing else, I hope you too, might now venture out to see either of these films, and do let me know what you think of them. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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1 comment
  1. KuriousKat said:

    Thanks for these film commentaries. I agree about ‘Hitch’, much better than I expected, thoroughly involving, entertaining, with excellent performances by all the leads. Not a great film but hard to fault.

    Didn’t know anything about ‘Perk’s before reading your piece but am (of course) very curious now!

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