There's a reason PSYCHO should stay off the Academy-self-congratulatory Oscarbait table: as the bloody mile marker between 50s repression and 60s drive-in liberation it needs its disreputable patina, what Pauline Kael would call it's 'dirty kick' to stay relevant, and the makers of HITCHCOCK have turned it into a family-friendly "aren't we being naughty" pasteurizing. Give it a few more years and Hollywood will be nominating films about the importance of the Oscars as an American institution, eventually strangling itself to the point where it can only award Oscars to films about the awarding of Oscars to films about the award, and then finally it will crash through the mirror screen floorboards and behold its hideous heart!
You can't buy off unhappiness with pillsI understand the need for vainglory and idolatry and don't judge so much as sympathize because it's universal. Anytime there's a Zen master pointing a finger at the moon, Hollywood makes a film about a finger... on an incredible journey! The finger gets paid millions and the moon is forgotten. Or at the very least, the beauty of the moon as seen by the Zen master is forgotten. The moon is way up there and doesn't take direction so they hire a young actor named Tyler Zachary to wear a moon head. He's such a hit that his moon make-up and angular face are how people think of the moon from then on. They don't look at the moon anymore at all. Why would they? They have Zachary. The moon is just so.... I don't know, Zacharyless? They try to project Zachary's face on the moon but it's just too far away. Is there somehow we could block the moon from the sky, sue it for copyright violation?
'...they all cluck their thick tongues...'
But then they make a movie about the beautiful dreamers who made this movie about the moon all those years ago, and in it Hollywood celebrates itself in a showcase galleria setting, in search of the desired Oscar nominations that will boost their careers incalculably, like politicians whose biggest concern is always to get re-elected. Who needs anything to say about the actual moon, the one that started it all, when the finger, in its trajectory of upwards pointing, is so perfectly lit?
We're all trapped in our private prisons
The process of shooting movies may be fascinating but it's hardly relevant to the final product and its effects on our national psyche. Would Mona Lisa still be a masterpiece if we learned it was painted in some haphazard way? We'd have to watch the artist through every step to adequately judge the final result, to make sure Da Vinci wasn't on steroids, or ergot. If we forget that need to analyze the making of vs. the need to experience the film as a film in and of itself, then we forget PSYCHO was a lot more than a shower scene. We forget the movie and just think of the one image, the one iconic shot that makes it to the postcards, T-shirts, Oscar montages and DVD reissue covers. You can shoot the shower scene all you want, over and over--and they have--but it won't mean a thing without the surrounding scenes, and the movie as a whole. Without the slow weird fake-out embezzlement afternoon tryst build-up, the shower scene is nothing. It's like you're half asleep watching TV's ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS and suddenly a phantom TV signal (from Samara's art film repertoire in THE RING, or the VIDEODROME channel, or the eye-slitting sections of PERSONA, LA CHIEN ANDALOU) comes through, shattering the peaceful broadcast and ensuring entertainment will never be the same. That's what the shower scene should be, not a ride, damnit. It defeats the whole purpose!
"You can't buy off unhappiness with pills" Marion says to Pat Hitchcock early on, and isn't that what the makers of HITCH are doing, trying to buy off Oscar and anonymity with pills? Better they should remake LA CHIEN ANDALOU as a color Hitchcock film, starring Naomi Watts... and with liquid pianos oozing from the bullet holes
As always with the great films, no matter how many times you see them, my recent viewing of PSYCHO brought new things to my attention, namely the way the events of the film's progressive diegesis are encoded throughout its framework. What, is that kind of talk too fancy for reductivist Oscar? "PSYCHO's about Addams Family-style ghoulish delight in sadistic killing, but it's okay because the ghoul is portly and thus sexually unthreatening." - that's the HITCHCOCK promotional subtext. I can bring diegesis encoding down to earth too. Zachary, get ready!
You know how, in VERTIGO, you get the feeling that Stewart is somehow always still on the ledge, all through the events of the rest of the film, that it's all a nether region between life and death, that his hanging corresponds to an ancient alchemical realization about the true nature of life and death? From the skull-like shades of the Charon-like cop gatekeeper, who wakes up Marion from her nap by the side of the highway (into the dream!), to the shower curtain-like bars on the hotel headboard behind Marion in the opening sexy scenes, or the way Marion goes through a whole shot without blinking while driving, Hitchcock's every shot reflects the whole like fractals. Every pattern and motif repeats, encoded throughout. A story of murders and crime is revealed as an example of kaleidoscopic genius, about so much more than "the ladyfingers.... made from real fingers." It's about the impossibility of linear time, and how if you're going to die sometime over the course of your life--even if only at the very, very end--then you are dead already. You can take as many MULHOLLAND DRIVE pictures as you want, Jake-- it's snake eyes.
If you must be self-referential, go for something outre, or still-controversial: RICHARD CUNHA AND THE MAKING OF SHE-DEMONS; THE RISE AND GLORIOUS FALL OF JOHN AGAR; MAE WEST VS. THE CATHOLIC LEGION; THE CRUCIFIXION OF CLARA BOW; OF COURSE YOU UNDERSTAND LAST NIGHT WAS ONLY A COMEDY, something genuinely transgressive or genuinely ambitious or at least subversive and eccentric, with a real message of some sort, like FRANCES, or I'LL CRY TOMORROW or ED WOOD. Keep it controversial and not so much this weeping with joy over the magic of the movie makers. Exhume new gold rather than polishing the stuff already so polished we've forgotten the moon and only see the polish bottle and rag, preserved at MOMA. Don't just flatter yourself by aping an established master in twilight-of-their-career; don't try for associative glory in portraying the making of a film firmly established as a canonical yet accessible work of genius! Make your own, little brother, stop copying me! That cop up there with the skull eye shades, ask not for whom his siren tolls! Whoop Whoop!