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 it 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" / "we make-a your nightmares come true!" 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-ARGGG!
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, "up!" 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 now think of the moon. They don't look at the moon anymore at all; 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, which is really just a roundabout way for the artisans of Hollywood to do their best work in a self-aggrandizing showcase setting, to score the desired Oscar nominations that will boost their careers incalculably. Who needs anything to say about the actual moon, the one that started it all, when the finger is so perfectly lit?
We're all trapped in our private prisons
The process of shooting movies is interesting, but it's hardly relevant to the final product and its effects on our national psyche... it's a bit like saying the Mona Lisa wouldn't be art if 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. PSYCHO was a lot more than a shower scene. You can shoot the shower scene all you want, over and over--and they have--but it won't mean a thing. There's so much more going around the shower scene, and that's what makes the shower scene so potent. 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.
"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 with pills? Better they should remake LA CHIEN ANDALOU as a color Hitchcock film, starring Naomi Watts... as the eyeball...
As always with the great films, no matter how many times you see them, last night's re-viewing of PSYCHO (that I undertook in protest) 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 a portly (therefore sexually unthreatening)." - that's the HITCHCOCK promotional subtext. I can bring diegesis encoding down to earth too. Get ready, here we go!
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 the opening scenes of him running along rooftops might be the last ones we really see him alive? Hitch doesn't have to spell it out except to show Jimmy Stewart looking down once or twice from high up and freaking out. Well, that kind of overlay is all through PSYCHO, from the skull-like shades of the Charron-like cop gatekeeper, who wakes up Marion from her nap by the side of the highway, 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 --prefiguring her later black pupil death. In good prints you can see why and even how this was done (she's got so much mascara on her lashes if she closes them she'll never get them open again). This is what I mean; every pattern and motif repeats, encoded throughout. In other words it's a work of powerful 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 all ready.
If you must be self-referential, go for something outre, or still-controversial: RICHARD CUNHA AND THE MAKING 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, with a real message of some sort, like FRANCES, or I'LL CRY TOMORROW. Keep it controversial. Exhume new gold rather than polishing the stuff already so polished we've forgotten the moon and only see the polished gold finger. Don't just flatter yourself by aping an established master in twilight-of-their-career DP and AD Oscar-bid golden hues to something long ago established as a canonical yet accessible work of genius! That cop up there above this paragraph with the skull eye shades, ask not for whom his siren tolls! Whoop Whoop!