Rope

Rope. This was pretty good, but not quite high enough suspense levels with all the dinnertime distractions. There are some great side characters, though. I like the novelty of having the movie run in real-time with one camera tracking around the room. It’s based on a play of the same name, which leads to a big downside for me: walking standing talking walking standing talking walking standing talking. That’s one of the reasons I’ve never gotten into theater that much. Only so many things you can do when you’re trapped in a room, and this is no Rear Window. My updated Hitchcock rankings:

  1. Rear Window
  2. To Catch a Thief
  3. Notorious
  4. Vertigo
  5. Rope
  6. Psycho
  7. Sabotage
  8. North by Northwest
  9. The Man Who Knew Too Much

James Stewart has a pretty good track record for me. I’ll need to see some more of his movies. And I think I’ve had my fill of Hitchcock for a while, unless there’s something really awesome I still haven’t seen…?

The American

The American. It seems that critics are a bit mixed, but I’m with Ebert: I loved this one. It got billed as a semi-action-thriller. Yeah, there’s some killin’, but this is really more of a slow-burning mood piece like Le Samouraï. Or, say, a Sergio Leone western – there’s even a scene with the Once Upon a Time in the West McBain massacre playing in the background. This is not (just) about assassins doing jobs, but about an existential crisis–I detect some parallels in In Bruges, and in film noir like Blast of Silence and my beloved Out of the Past. Except this is set in sunny Italy. Great photography, absolute minimal soundtrack.

Some obvious detractions are the heavy-handed dialogue with the priest and also the–yep–hooker with a heart of gold. But still. Master craftsmanship from Anton Corbijn. I’ll probably watch it again soon. Coincidentally, the only movie I watched twice last year was Clooney’s Michael Clayton. The guy’s got great taste.

Sabotage

Sabotage. I’ll give Hitchcock credit for starting off in a snappy manner without much preamble, but my attention drifted a good bit here and there. Especially after the heartless, classic package delivery scene, which is both an impossible-to-beat mid-story climax and a colossal waste of time. It’s also really effective, even if you know what’s coming. I kind of resent Hitchcock’s skill at jerking my emotional chain for a few minutes, and then leaving me not caring very much when the moment passes. To his credit, he came to regret the scene later in his career as he developed as a storyteller.

My updated Hitchcock rankings:

  1. Rear Window
  2. To Catch a Thief
  3. Notorious
  4. Vertigo
  5. Psycho
  6. Sabotage
  7. North by Northwest
  8. The Man Who Knew Too Much