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There is little need to introduce the glorious Alfred Hitchcock. He's
as famous as the best of his films, and few directors would dare to
question his standing. Sadly no longer with us but this homage pieces
clips from his TV show introductions, films and interviews to give us a
glorious and charming overview of the man.
The background is the sixties arm race and this film intersperses political & presidential scenes with the clips from Hitchcock and The Birds. It all seems messy but it's actually not and works well. What you get is a charming and at times curious mock documentary paralleling Hitchcock's the Birds with the political environment of the US v USSR arms race.
It's not too long and at 80mins is easy for anyone to digest. Admittedly it does tire at times but the creators of this film have made it entertaining. What stands out is the wonderful character and humour form Hitchcock and that is what you will remember at the end.
It's fun, interesting and as cerebral as one of Hitchcock's movies itself. Worth a viewing.
I'll start with an apology. I am unsure that I will be able to provide a meaningful description of this film. In saying that, I'm not sure I would have known I would have enjoyed this as much as I did, regardless of anyone's opinion. Truly, this is a film that is difficult to conventionally define that's part of why I liked it so much. The film intertwines the classic cinema Alfred Hitchock created in his long distinguished career, with the significant historical events of the same time. So...have the classic imagery of birds, shower scenes, dead bodies...interspersed by Nixon's encounter with Khrushchev, JFKs televised presidential debate and the space race. The underlying theme is about doubles, and Hitchcock's double both lookalike and soundalike feature. The voice over is hypnotic, and the film would have never had the same impact without the vocal performance of Mark Perry. I also felt myself hypnotised by the original soundtrack music of Bernard Hermann, and Double Take is a film I would watch at least twice.
Pre-titles, the Hitchcock impersonator Mark Perry recalls Hitchcock's
'MacGuffin', the story of no consequence which precipitates the thrills
of the suspense wound around it. Double Take seems to be a fantasy of
two Hitchcocks, one in 1962 releasing The Birds for the first time and
one in 1980, his last year, meeting one another.
Grimonprez's subject though is not this metaphysical slight of imagination. Rather it is the strangely apposite superpower leaders during the Cold War. Grimonprez has clearly seen disparate yet resonant parallels between Nixon and Kruschev, Kennedy and Kruschev - indeed, Hitchcock and Kruschev - and the relationship of all four to the prevailing media of the late 1950s, television. Once the purpose of the montage style has coalesced (the opening fifteen minutes appear wilfully aimless) I was drawn in - and not least as Hitchcock's own style often used visual montage without script or music to make its point.
In addition to Grimonprez's collage there is a some really fine music from Christian Halten. I have mixed feelings about the coda of the film running concurrently with the credits, which seems to try to position the film in a broader context about the disingenuousness of powerful leaders, invoking the 2003 war in Iraq. This seems to me to dilute its focus somewhat; additionally, the conceit of adding this to the credit sequence makes it seem like an afterthought.
Still, the aesthetic of mixing old and specially shot footage opened my imagination to think on other doppelganger films: Tarkovsky/Soderbergh's Solaris and Chris Nolan's masterpiece The Prestige, the latter of course fully consonant with Hitchcock's other invocation that on meeting one's double you should kill him lest he kill you. The premise of time-shifting across pan-global nuclear disaster also echoed that of Chris Marker's La Jetée, itself also an homage to Hitchcock's own Vertigo. And, of course, the global holocaust threatened by the facing down of world leaders so close in make-up despite their opposing political ideology is a remarkable scenario to see in a film released as CERN's Large Hadron Collider begins to search for the 'anti- matter' - the double of all visible matter - that many predict has the potential to annihilate the universe.
The film is crucially not without wit. I'll never buy Folgers instant coffee should it still exist. You'll need to see this fascinating conflagration in order to find out exactly why. 7/10
It's amazing what you can do with computer technology and a good voice impersonator. The film makers were able to take actual clips of Alfred Hitchcock from his movies, movie promos, his "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" introductions and archival footage and create an odd documentary-like film about the Cold War and a doppleganger for Hitchcock. I was concerned, however, as the idea of taking famous dead folks and putting them into your film without their permission brings up a HUGE ethical and legal question. I have no idea whether or not they obtained permission from his daughter--I sure hope they did. But even then, it seems wrong. However, putting this debate aside, what did I think of the film? Well, frankly, after the initial interest wore off, I found all the clips very disjoint and the film a bit dull....no, very dull. Plus, why, exactly, did they choose to use Hitchcock other than they had a great impersonator and the clips?! An interesting experiment but a film that I think would satisfy only a very small group of film viewers. I would prefer to see the original clips strung together--as Hitchcock's movie promos and other appearances were often brilliantly funny.
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