7:00 PM, 13th April, 2013
The story of the greatest filmmaker who ever lived creating his most infamous masterpiece is brought to life in Hitchcock. Alfred Hitchcock was well known for his ability to ‘play the audience like a piano’, crafting thrillers about innocent men wrongly accused, often featuring the gruesome element of murder. 1960 billboards for his newest film, Psycho, demanded that audiences see the film from the beginning (not then considered important), and warned them not to reveal the film’s ‘dark secrets’. Though controversial on release, Psycho has since achieved near universal acclaim, considered the apex and the genesis of the slasher genre.
In Hitchcock, Anthony Hopkins portrays the titular filmmaker as he struggles; first with artistic frustration, and later with the development of the film. Helen Mirren plays Alma Reville, Hichcock’s wife and close collaborator. The two deliver excellent performances, creating a great on-screen chemistry. This is fortunate, as the film is chiefly about their relationship as he deals with the pressures of production without the support of his studio or many of his colleagues, while she works to support his efforts knowing his reputation and their livelihood ride on the success of the picture.
Director Sacha Gervasi captures the tone of the time, as the audience and the press wait with bated breath for the newest Hitchcock film, knowing the man is pushing 60 years of age. There are some great shots and dramatic sequences that unfold and give the film a ring of suspense not unlike the works of the man himself.
8:54 PM, 13th April, 2013
In 1865, as the American Civil War draws toward its conclusion, President Abraham Lincoln (Day-Lewis) endeavours to unite the States and pass the landmark constitutional amendment to forever ban slavery within them. However, if peace comes before the amendment is passed, the returning southern states will prevent it becoming law. Lincoln must, by almost any means possible, obtain enough votes from a conflicted Congress before it is too late. Yet an earlier peace would save thousands of lives. As the nation confronts its principles over the freedom of its entire population, the president faces a personal crisis of conscience.
I was admittedly nervous that Steven Spielberg was at the helm of this story, given the director’s tendency to get a bit sentimental. The period the film covers is an easy one to romanticise, particularly the abolition of slavery. However my expectations were greatly surpassed; Spielberg and Day-Lewis have given Lincoln his due without forgoing the dirty business of civil war politics and the moral compromises involved in ending both slavery and the war. Daniel Day-Lewis is excellent, as always, providing Lincoln with gravitas but also complexity, portraying the real man not the legend. He is supported by superb performances from Sally Field as his troubled wife and Tommy Lee Jones as a fervent abolitionist. Of course it’s not an exact history, but it captures the uncertainty of the time brilliantly and shows just what a triumph Lincoln achieved despite political opposition and during a family crisis.
Definitely worth watching.