Friday, December 10, 2010

'Do You Like Hitchcock?'; if your answer is 'yes',you're better off not seeing this film

Do You Like Hitchcock? (2005)
Starring: Elio Germano, Ivan Morales, Elisabetta Rocchetti, and Chiara Conti
Director: Dario Argento
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

A film student (Germano) with voyeuristic tendencies finds his world turning into a real-life mash-up of classic Hitchcock thrillers when the shrewish woman in the apartment across the street is murdered and he suspects her daughter (Rocchetti) made arrangements with another girl to "swap murders"--each of them having perfect alibis for when the person they wanted dead was killed, while they aren't suspects because they have no motive for the murders they did commit.

"Do You Like Hitchcock?" is Dario Argento, after 30 years of disavowing the label "The Italian Hitchcock," demonstrating that he is indeed NOT the Italian Hitchcock and that he is barely capable of emulating Hitchcock.

In fact, I think it's safe to say that if Dario Argento is the Italian Alfred Hitchcock, then Uwe Boll is the German Terence Fisher.

Made for Italian television as the first installment in an eight film series that paid homage to Alfred Hitchcock, "Do You Like Hitchcock?" incorporates and outright lifts elements primarily from Hitchcock thrillers "Rear Window" and "Strangers on a Train". Argento also pays homage to Argento by swiping from his own earlier films, primarily "Deep Red", but there's a bit of "Cat of Nine Tails" in the mix here as well. Unfortunately, Argento is unable to conjure up the energy that crackled through Hitchcock's movies, nor is he capable of creating that easy mix of suspense and humor (if not outright absurdity) that Hitchcock did. When he tries, all he comes up with is an embarrassing and over-long sequence where our hero tries to escape on his scooter after breaking his leg during a peeping-tom adventure gone bad. The only vaguely suspenseful bit in the film comes at the end, when, in "Rear Window" fashion, our hero watches his girl friend risk running head-long into the killer. A roof top encounter that ends with a nod to "Vertigo" is also very nicely done.

I've seen this film referred to both as a "homage" or "sly tribute" to Hitchcock. I suppose it could be considered either. The descriptors I would use are "vapid pastiche"; it's not exactly bad, but it isn't all that good. I might even go so far as to say that Argento seemed more interested in paying homage to himself than Hitchcock, as exemplified by the fact the neighborhood video store was plastered with posters for other Argento movies and the aforementioned echoes of other Argento films in this picture.

As for the technical aspects of the film, the tone is consistent throughout, even if that tone is more drab that thrilling, and the acting seems to be pretty decent. It's hard to tell, because we're dealing with not just the Italian actors but New Zealander (I think) voice actors doing the English dubbing. That crew wasn't the best I've come across, but the screen presence of the leads still shine through.

The script itself is just solid enough that it passes muster as a low-average thriller. It might even have worked a little better if extraneous side characters such as our hero's mother and new boy friend had been excised, and if the writer and director had actually managed to capture that Hitchcock feel, but it's interesting enough.

If you like Hitchcock, you can spend your time better than watching this movie. Allow me to recommend "Charade", which is the best Hitchcock movie that Hitchcock never made. Other good choices would be the homages/spoofs "The Girl Who Knew Too Much" from Mario Bava and "High Anxiety" from Mel Brooks, two directors who seemed to have a far better understanding of what made Hitchcock movies work that Argento does. Or, even better, check out some of Hitchcock's great black and white movies you may not have seen, like "Strangers on a Train".


Simon said...

This movie is such shit, I love it.

Steve Miller, Writer of Stuff said...

For me, it falls in that zone where it's neither good enough nor bad enough for me to love it.

What is your favorite crappy part about it?

Simon said...

When the main characters trying to run from the rapist boss after spying on him and the girl, and he's broken his leg, so he's trying to get steady on his scooter, but keep falling off and screaming and crying and meanwhile, the boss is just kind of strolling, and the whole scene is so fucking ridiculous. And yours?

Steve Miller, Writer of Stuff said...

That would be the same... and the scene goes on and on and on and on and on and on. :)