Vertigo, voted the greatest film ever made in the 2012 Sight and Sound poll, has previously been shown at Bangkok Screening room in 2016 and at Cinema Winehouse in 2018. Persona was screened twice in 2014, at Thammasat University and Jam Café.
23 February 2021
Vertigo, voted the greatest film ever made in the 2012 Sight and Sound poll, has previously been shown at Bangkok Screening room in 2016 and at Cinema Winehouse in 2018. Persona was screened twice in 2014, at Thammasat University and Jam Café.
23 November 2019
Following this month’s Judy Garland Focus, next month will be Epic December at Bangkok Screening Room. The season begins with Cleopatra, the last gasp of the Hollywood studio system and one of the most expensive films in cinema history. Another highlight is Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, winner of a record eleven Oscars. And no epic season would be complete without the ultimate Hollywood classic, Gone with the Wind.
Cleopatra is showing on 1st and 28th December. Ben-Hur will be screened on 21st and 29th December. Gone with the Wind is playing on 7th and 15th December. Back in 2010, Gone with the Wind was the last film ever screened at Siam Theater; it was also shown at Scala in 2017, and at Lido (with Ben-Hur) in 2007.
Aside from the Epic December season, Bangkok Screening Room will also be showing a few other classics next month. Marcel Carné’s poetic realist Children of Paradise (Les enfants du paradis) will be screened on 8th and 14th December. Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller North by Northwest is showing on 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th, 10th, 11th, and 15th December. The action movie Die Hard is on 20th December, as part of a short season of Christmas films.
01 April 2019
The Psycho Legacy Collection Deluxe Edition was released in Germany earlier this year. It includes an uncut version of Psycho that has been broadcast on television in Europe but has never previously been available on any video format.
02 July 2018
This month, Bangkok Screening Room will show Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Monrak Transistor (มนต์รักทรานซิสเตอร์) and Alfred Hitchcock's Rope. Both films will be screened on 10th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 21st, 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, and 31st July.
Monrak Transistor is one of Pen-ek's most accessible and entertaining films. Like Wisit Sasanatieng's Tears of the Black Tiger (which is extracted in Monrak Transistor), it both celebrates and critiques the nostalgic idyll it depicts.
Rope, inspired by the Leopold and Loeb murder case, is most notable for its experimental editing technique: it was filmed entirely in ten-minute takes, and takes place in real time on a single set. Hitchcock's characteristic suspense is combined with an unconventional theatrical style. Rope was also Hitchcock's first independent film, after his Selznick contract ended, and his first film in colour.
28 May 2018
Bangkok's Cinema Winehouse is showing three classics this week. Apocalypse Now is showing this evening; The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo) is on Wednesday; and Hitchcock's Vertigo is on Friday.
26 March 2018
This week, Cinema Winehouse in Bangkok will be showing two of the greatest horror films ever made. Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece Psycho will be screened on 29th March, followed by George Romero's zombie classic Night of the Living Dead on 31st March.
31 December 2017
The title of Alexandre O. Philippe's documentary 78/52 refers to the (supposed) seventy-eight camera setups and fifty-two shots in the shower scene of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. (It could have been called A Long Hard Look at Psycho, but that title was already taken by Raymond Durgnat's book.) After an introduction to Psycho's cultural significance, the documentary analyses the shower scene shot-by-shot: the painting covering the peephole, the "calm before the storm", the three jump-cuts as Marion screams (echoing the monster's first appearance in Frankenstein), and the montage as she is attacked.
Talking heads, all filmed in black-and-white, include Hitchcock scholars Stephen Rebello (author of Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho), Bill Krohn (author of Hitchcock at Work and Masters of Cinema: Alfred Hitchcock), and David Thomson (author of The Moment of Psycho). Philippe's greatest coup is his interview with Marli Renfro, Janet Leigh's body double, who has rarely spoken about her role before. The most revealing contribution comes from Walter Murch (editor of Apocalypse Now), who meticulously deconstructs Hitchcock's editing and camera placement.
This is not the first study of Psycho's shower scene: Philip J. Skerry's book Psycho in the Shower also includes a detailed analysis of the sequence. Surprisingly, Skerry isn't interviewed in 78/52, though his book (like Rebello's) is essential, especially if read alongside Richard J. Anobile's book of Psycho stills. (Leigh has written her own memoir on the film, Psycho: Behind the Scenes of the Classic Thriller; and Hitchcock is a lightly fictionalised account of Psycho's production.)
78/52 includes plenty of clips from Psycho, though it clearly couldn't secure the rights to the original Bernard Herrmann score. It also features short extracts from Laurent Bouzereau's documentary The Making of Psycho. The DVD includes a fascinating extended interview with Philippe, and a booklet with a short written statement by him.
12 November 2017
After showing Wisit Sasanatieng's Tears of the Black Tiger (ฟ้าทะลายโจร) earlier this year, Bangkok Screening Room will be showing Wisit's Citizen Dog (หมานคร) next month. The cinema will also be screening Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds later this month.
The Birds will be shown on 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 28th, and 29th November; and 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 9th, and 10th December. Citizen Dog opens on 28th November, and continues on 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 12th, 16th, 17th, and 21st December.
27 August 2017
Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho has been available in multiple formats since its original theatrical release in 1960. I've seen it on 35mm, DCP, laserdisc, DVD, blu-ray, VHS (open matte), as an in-flight movie, and on television (in an extended version). The film's script has been published, as part of The Film Classics Library. Hitchcock wrote a publicity booklet, The Care & Handling Of Psycho. There are plenty of books about it, including Alfred Hitchcock & The Making Of Psycho (which inspired the film Hitchcock), The Moment Of Psycho, and Psycho In The Shower.
But Psycho's soundtrack has never had an official release. There have been albums of orchestral performances of the score, some even conducted by composer Bernard Herrmann, though these were recorded many years after the film was made. There are also recordings claiming to be from the original master tapes, though these are poor-quality bootlegs. The closest to a legitimate release of the original soundtrack was Universal's Signature Collection laserdisc, which featured an isolated music track as a bonus feature.
Psycho, a new 7" single from Stylotone, is the first Psycho soundtrack released under licence from Universal. It contains only two tracks (the opening titles music, Prelude; and The Murder, from the shower sequence), though they are sourced directly from the original master tapes. The record was produced in collaboration with the Hitchcock and Herrmann estates, making it as official as they come. It is limited to 1,960 copies, and comes with a postcard featuring a still from the film.
Categories: Alfred Hitchcock
27 December 2016
Saul Bass: A Life In Film & Design, the first book devoted to the work of Saul Bass, is a comprehensive monograph on one of the greatest graphic designers of the past century. Alongside Paul Rand, Bass reinvented American corporate branding, though he is best remembered for his groundbreaking film title sequences: "With his work in titles, Saul would elevate the opening of Hollywood films to the status of an art form."
The title sequences and posters for Otto Preminger's The Man With The Golden Arm and Anatomy Of A Murder were revolutionary. For each film, Bass created a deceptively simple graphic silhouette: a hand and forearm for The Man With The Golden Arm, and the outline of a body for Anatomy Of A Murder. His poster and title sequence for Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo maintained the concept of a single motif (in this case, a spiral), though Bass achieved a kaleidoscopic effect in the animated opening titles.
Bass also designed the title sequence for Hitchcock's Psycho, and he received an additional credit as 'pictorial consultant'. The extent of his contribution to the film has been in dispute ever since: Bass drew storyboards for the shower scene, and later claimed that he was largely responsible for filming the sequence, though Hitchcock's other collaborators have refuted this. (Bass's sketches are reproduced in The Art Of Movie Storyboards; for more discussion of his contribution, see Stephen Rebello's Alfred Hitchcock & The Making Of Psycho, Bill Krohn's Hitchcock At Work, and Psycho In The Shower.)
In the Bass/Hitchcock debate, the book sides squarely with Bass - "It is time for Saul's contribution to the shower scene to be acknowledged" - even suggesting that he had artistic control over the scene: "After the sequence was shot, Hitchcock insisted on two inserts... Trusting Hitchcock's vision Saul agreed." In a long footnote, the authors rightly criticise Hitchcock for downplaying Bass' contribution to the film, though they're less critical of Bass' ambiguous claims of creative input.
The book, written by Pat Kirkham and designed by Bass' daughter Jennifer, includes a preface by Martin Scorsese, who explains how Bass could "penetrate the heart of a movie and find its secret. That's what he did with Vertigo and those spirals that just keep endlessly forming - that's the madness at the heart of the picture, the beautiful nightmare vortex". Kirkham interviewed Bass for Sight & Sound magazine (February 1994) and wrote a thirty-page article on Bass and Hitchcock for the journal West 86th (Spring 2011); she also co-edited the magnificent History Of Design.
01 December 2016
Bangkok Screening Room, which opened in September, is showing two classics this month: Casablanca (arguably the greatest example of classical Hollywood cinema, directed by Michael Curtiz) and Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window. Both films were also screened last weekend: Casablanca on 26th November, and Rear Window and Casablanca on 27th November.
Rear Window will be shown on today, and on 3rd, 6th, 9th, 11th, 14th, 17th, 20th, 21st, and 23rd December. Casablanca continues tomorrow, and on 4th, 7th, 10th, 11, 13th, 16th, 18th, 21st, 22nd, and 24th December. Casablanca was previously shown (in 35mm) during the Festival of Classic Movies in 2007 at Lido.
15 September 2016
A new independent cinema, Bangkok Screening Room, will open next week. The venue, in Silom, will have a 4k projector and fifty seats. Its inaugural programme includes both Thai and Hollywood classics.
Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives will be shown on 23rd to 25th, 27th, 28th, 30th September; and 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th to 9th October. Carol Reed's The Third Man, starring Orson Welles, will be screened on 22nd, 24th, 25th, 29th September; and 1st, 4th October. Ishiro Honda's Godzilla (which played at the 22nd Open Air Film Festival) is on 5th, 8th, 30th September; and 2nd, 5th October. Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece Vertigo will be shown on 6th, 8th, 11th, 20th, 22nd, 25th, 27th, and 30th October.
01 July 2016
Later this year, the Scala cinema in Bangkok will screen seven classic films to celebrate King Rama IX's seventy-year reign, in a season titled เมื่อครั้งเสด็จฯ ทอดพระเนตร ภาพยนตร์. The selected films were all apparently seen by the King when they were originally released in the 1950s and 1960s.
The season includes Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece Psycho (showing on 9th October), and two historical epics: Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus (4th December) and David Lean's Lawrence Of Arabia (5th December). The Scala, the last of Bangkok's movie palaces, is the ideal venue for this series of vintage classics. The concept is similar to the excellent Festival Of Classic Movies at Lido in 2007.
29 December 2015
François Truffaut's book Hitchcock is one of the best books ever written about film. It was the first time that such an extensive interview with a director had been published, and it helped to popularise the 'auteur theory'. (Hitchcock was released a year before Andrew Sarris wrote The American Cinema.) It inspired many other in-depth interview books, notably those by Peter Bogdanovich (This Is Orson Welles and Who The Devil Made It) and Richard Schickel (The Men Who Made The Movies, Woody Allen: A Life In Film, and Conversations With Scorsese).
In articles for Cahiers Du Cinema, Truffaut and other critics maintained that directors, rather than producers or script-writers, were the true authors of the films they made. His most famous essay, Une Certaine Tendance Du Cinema Francais (1954), was a "deliberately pessimistic examination I have undertaken of a certain tendency of the French cinema". Truffaut also directed one of the key films of the French New Wave, The 400 Blows.
Truffaut interviewed Hitchcock in 1962, though their book was not released until 1966. It was first published in French, as Le Cinema Selon Hitchcock, and the first English edition appeared the following year. The interview tapes were broadcast by France Culture in 1999, in twenty-five episodes, and they reveal significant discrepancies between Hitchcock's recorded answers and the printed transcript. (Janet Bergstrom discussed "the lack of correspondence between the interview as spoken and the interview as published" in her essay Lost In Translation?, published in 2011.)
Robert Fischer made a short documentary for German television, Monsieur Truffaut Trifft Mr Hitchcock (1999), about the background to Truffaut's book. A feature-length documentary by Kent Jones, Hitchcock/Truffaut, was released this year and features directors such as Martin Scorsese and David Fincher discussing their love of Truffaut's book and Hitchcock's films. Peter Bogdanovich also appears, and his This Is Orson Welles is the nearest equivalent to Truffaut's book.
Hitchcock/Truffaut features detailed discussions of Vertigo and Psycho, though it presumes some prior knowledge of Hitchcock's work: major aspects of his modus operandi, such as his definition of the MacGuffin, and his distinction between suspense and surprise, are excluded. His famous remark that "actors are cattle" is included, though not explained.
The documentary exists in two versions: English and French. The talking-head interviews are the same in both, though shots of pages from Truffaut's book feature the English and French editions respectively. (I've seen the French version, as this is currently the only one available on DVD.)
14 May 2015
After the successful inaugural Silent Film Festival last year, the 2nd Silent Film Festival In Thailand will take place next month. The Festival will open on 10th June in Bangkok, and will close on 17th June.
Last year's event included several films by Alfred Hitchcock, and his first sound film, Blackmail, will be screened this year (on 12th and 14th June). Blackmail was intended as a silent film, though during production Hitchcock was given the opportunity to add spoken dialogue. Because of actress Anny Ondra's Czech accent, her dialogue was spoken by Joan Barry while Ondra mouthed the words, a situation that was later parodied in Singin' In The Rain.
This year's Festival includes two of the greatest silent films ever made: The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari (10th and 15th June) and Man With A Movie Camera (13th and 16th June). The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari is the Festival's opening film; it will be shown at Lido, as will Man With A Movie Camera, Blackmail, and six other films. The closing film will be screened at Scala. All screenings will include live piano accompaniment. All films will be screened as DCPs, except Man With A Movie Camera, which will be shown on blu-ray.
The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari, directed by Robert Weine, was the first German Expressionist film, and one of the earliest examples of avant-garde cinema. Caligari's painted scenery and stylised performances create a distorted and appropriately hallucinatory atmosphere. Dziga Vertov's equally experimental Man With A Movie Camera is a 'city symphony' documentary about everyday life in Moscow, using techniques such as split-screen, double-exposure, trick editing, stop-motion, and freeze-frames to constantly remind the audience of the camera's presence.
27 March 2015
Tomorrow, the Pridi Banomyong Institute in Bangkok will screen two films by Alfred Hitchcock: Rope and The Trouble With Harry. The screenings are free. (The Institute was also the venue for Design Nation in 2012, and Flashback '76 in 2008.)
Rope was Hitchcock's first colour film, and his first independent production. It was filmed in a series of long takes in order to create the illusion of continuous action (more than fifty years before Russian Ark, which was actually completed in a single take). Rope is also notable for its matter-of-fact treatment of homosexuality: the two male leads share a bedroom, and the film was based on the notorious Leopold and Loeb gay murder case.
12 March 2015
Hitchcock On Hitchcock: Selected Writings & Interviews Volume II has been published twenty years after the first volume of Hitchcock On Hitchcock appeared in 1995. Like the first volume, it's an anthology of interviews and articles written by Hitchcock (or "articles with his byline", as authorship of publicity material is hard to verify). Editor and Hitchcock scholar Sidney Gottlieb wrote one of the best essays in 39 Steps To The Genius Of Hitchcock.
The texts have been transcribed from newspaper and magazine articles published between 1919 and 1978. Highlights include two newly translated interviews by Francois Truffaut from Cahiers Du Cinema, and A Lesson In Psycho-logy, in which Hitchcock explains Psycho's marketing campaign. There are also a few previously unpublished pieces, including an extensive transcript of a conversation between Hitchcock and Stage Fright's production supervisor Fred Ahern.
Hitchcock has been written about more than perhaps any other director. Paul Duncan's Hitchcock: Architect Of Anxiety is an illustrated summary of Hitchcock's career. François Truffaut's book-length interview Hitchcock, and Donald Spoto's filmography The Art Of Alfred Hitchcock, are both essential reading. There are shorter Hitchcock interviews in Who The Devil Made It (Peter Bogdanovich) and The Men Who Made The Movies (Richard Schickel). Bill Krohn wrote the concise Masters Of Cinema: Alfred Hitchcock and the excellent Hitchcock At Work. Spoto's The Dark Side Of Genius is the standard Hitchcock biography, and John Russell Taylor wrote Hitch, an authorised biography. Laurent Bouzereau's Hitchcock: Piece By Piece and Dan Auiler's Hitchcock's Notebooks both contain material from the Hitchcock archives.
02 July 2014
Next month, Thailand's first Silent Film Festival will be held in Bangkok. The Festival, organised by the British Council with restored prints supplied by the BFI, begins on 7th August. Most screenings will take place at Lido, though the final screening will be at Scala.
Three silent films by Alfred Hitchcock will be shown: The Pleasure Garden (his directorial debut; 7th and 10th August), The Ring (an atypical Hitchcock production, and his only solo screenwriting credit; 8th and 10th August), and The Lodger: A Story Of The London Fog (13th August, at Scala). All film screenings will be accompanied by a live pianist, to recreate the original silent cinema atmosphere. (The acclaimed composer Somtow Sucharitkul will be one of the pianists for The Lodger; previously, the BFI commissioned an orchestral score for the film by Nitin Sawhney.)
The Lodger, an Expressionist thriller based on 'Jack the Ripper', is certainly Hitchcock's greatest silent movie, and arguably one of his masterpieces. It's the first truly Hitchcockian film, and the Silent Film Festival provides a rare opportunity to see it on the big screen. (The lodger's arrival at the boarding house influenced a similar scene in The Ladykillers.)
24 January 2013
Hitchcock, directed by Sacha Gervasi, was one of two films made last year about Alfred Hitchcock. (Toby Jones starred in the other Hitchcock biopic, The Girl.) Hitchcock dramatises the filming of Psycho, whereas The Girl covered the making of The Birds and Marnie.
Hitchcock ends with a shot of a bird on the director's shoulder, effectively setting up The Girl as a sequel. Hitchcock is generally a much more sympathetic portrayal of the 'master of suspense' than The Girl: Anthony Hopkins plays him as a director fighting for artistic integrity and (in a sub-plot presumably invented by the script-writer) jealous of his wife Alma's interest in another man.
Whereas Toby Jones in The Girl was noticeably shorter than Alfred Hitchcock, Anthony Hopkins has a more suitable stature. In contrast, Jones gave an uncanny vocal impersonation, whereas Hopkins sometimes slips back into his own accent. In one sequence, when he's narrating the script while Marion Crane is driving, Hopkins goes into Hannibal Lecter mode, as if he were psychoanalysing Clarice Starling.
Helen Mirren, playing Alma Hitchcock, is an excellent actress (especially in The Queen), though she is far too tall for this role. (Imelda Staunton, in The Girl, had a remarkable physical resemblance to the real Mrs Hitchcock.) James D'Arcy, playing Anthony Perkins, gives a practically perfect performance, almost indistinguishable from Perkins himself.
Hitchcock was based on Stephen Rebello's comprehensive book Alfred Hitchcock & The Making Of Psycho. (Other books about Psycho include The Moment Of Psycho and Psycho In The Shower.) The production of Psycho is dramatised reasonably accurately, though - presumably for copyright reasons - Psycho's dialogue is always paraphrased.
To add dramatic tension, several nightmarish fantasy sequences show the director becoming obsessed with the serial killer Ed Gein. These are not necessary, and they undermine the film's credibility, though they're fortunately quite brief.
Hitchcock is one of several fictionalised films about the making of real films, including My Week With Marilyn, Gods & Monsters, Ed Wood, RKO281, and Shadow Of The Vampire. Laurent Bouzereau's documentary The Making Of Psycho goes into more depth about Psycho's production, but Hitchcock is extremely entertaining and great fun. It demonstrates one of the director's famous maxims: films should be slices of cake, not slices of life.
28 December 2012
The Girl is a BBC/HBO co-production dramatising the making of Alfred Hitchcock's films The Birds and Marnie, and Hitchock's relationship with his leading lady, Tippi Hedren. Toby Jones stars as Hitchcock, and Sienna Miller plays Hedren.
Directed by Julian Jarrold, it premiered on HBO on 20th October and was broadcast on BBC2 on 26th December. It's one of several fictionalised films about the making of real films, including My Week With Marilyn, Gods & Monsters, Ed Wood, RKO281, and Shadow Of The Vampire.
It's not the only Hitchcock biopic this year: Anthony Hopkins also played him, in the film Hitchcock, about the making of Psycho - a film that The Girl refers to both directly and indirectly. The Hopkins film takes some liberties with the facts, suggesting that Hitchcock's wife Alma contemplated adultery, and making tenuous connections between Hitchcock and Ed Gein.
In contrast, The Girl aims for more authenticity. Its screenplay was based on Spellbound By Beauty by Donald Spoto, who also wrote the authoritative The Dark Side Of Genius and The Art Of Alfred Hitchcock. Tippi Hedren herself was a consultant on the project, and we have to rely on her account of what happened on the film sets and in her dressing room.
Hedren's screen test, however, is easy to verify, and its atmosphere is misrepresented in The Girl. The screen test recreated in The Girl presents Hitchcock as a voyeur, making an uncomfortable Hedren kiss an impassive Martin Balsam, played by an older, unattractive actor. In the real screen test, however, Hitchcock can be heard joking with Hedren and Balsam, putting them both at their ease, and Hedren and Balsam - both New Yorkers - have a friendly rapport.
Whether Hitchcock was really guilty of sexual harassment, as The Girl alleges, we will probably never know for sure. Precisely what he said or tried to do remains unclear, though his awkward lunges and advances are plausibly portrayed in The Girl. Presumably he was more forward with Hedren because he felt that he had discovered her, in contrast to the untouchable icons (such as Grace Kelly and Ingrid Bergman) he had previously worked with.
Toby Jones is too short, though he captures Hitchcock's voice flawlessly. Anthony Hopkins made little attempt at a vocal impersonation, though he had a more appropriate stature. Jones is an increasingly prolific actor: in the past few years, I've seen him in Snow White & The Huntsman, The Hunger Games, The Adventures Of Tintin, My Week With Marilyn, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Captain America, The Rite, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows I-II, Frost/Nixon, and The Mist.
The supporting cast includes Imelda Staunton, entirely convincing as Alma Hitchcock, in contrast to Helen Mirren's miscast role in the Anthony Hopkins version. Penelope Wilton plays her standard drippy character, ideal in Shaun Of The Dead, though inappropriate for Hitchcock's sharp assistant Peggy Robertson.