Alfred Hitchcock is noted as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time and rightfully so — his body of work comprised of over 60 films is skillfully composed highly dramatic and eclectic from beginning to end. So pulling back the curtain on the legend in his own medium was only a matter of time a how'd-he-do-it biopic that could pay respects to the collected works while revealing the master's process. Hitchcock directed by Sacha Gervasi (Anvil: The Story of Anvil) pays its respects but also reveals another unexpected quality of the auteur's behind-the-scenes life: it wasn't all that dramatic.
Anthony Hopkins slides into the silhouette of the recognizable director and does a reasonable job nailing his cadence and posture. Side by side with his wife Alma (Helen Mirren) who as the movie reveals was the director's close collaborator Hitchcock strides confidently into the world of independent cinema for the first time balking at studio heads who demand something more audience-friendly than the gruesome Psycho. Investing his own money into the film Hitchcock risks everything to turn the story of murderer Ed Gein into a high art horror picture. He finds a leading lady in Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson) a script in a screenwriter with mommy problems and a closeted actor to portray the sexually exploratory Gein.
And that's about it. Hitchcock disguises the usual stresses of moviemaking as major hurdles even representing Gein as a specter who haunts Hitchcock's every decision. Aside from the brief suspicion that Alma abandons him mid-production for charming writer Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston) which feels stuffed in and meandering rather than intrinsic to the making of Psycho there's little explanation for Hitchcock's anxiety and downward spiral. The film even dabbles in Hitch's well-known infatuation with his leading ladies — explored to a terrifying degree in last month's The Girl — but places the director on too high a pedestal to ever dig deep.
The real star of the show — and perhaps one who would have made a better subject for feature film — is Alma a complex second fiddle overshadowed by the greatness of Hitchcock. Mirren once again delivers a lively performance as a woman desperate to live her own life; the scene when she lets loose on Hitchcock is easily the high point of the movie. But like the audience who unknowingly appreciated her work behind-the-camera Hitchcock is too obsessed with the man at the center of it all to open up and give the character or Mirren the spotlight.
Hitchcock's time period flourishes and camera work are presented simply (Gervasi keeps hat tipping to the auteur's oeuvre to a minimum) while Danny Elfman whips up a score that riffs appropriately on longtime Hitchcock collaborator Bernhard Hermann's works. But there's no hook to elevate the film from a puff piece and even the biggest Alfred Hitchcock fan will be grasping for something more.
While promoting her new film Crossroads in London, pop darling Britney Spears told reporters at the news conference that she was not in "an intense relationship with anyone at the moment." Does that mean she and 'N Sync wonderboy Justin Timberlake, her beau of two years, aren't "intense" right now but are still together? Or that she and Justin are a done deal? The question of whether the two have officially split up still remains a mystery, even though several U.S. and British tabloids, as well as US Weekly magazine, have reported the relationship is over. Spears is maintaining that her private life is her own and will not answer any questions pertaining to it. Until it comes from the babe's mouth....
Ms. Pop Queen also angered her fans at the premiere of Crossroads when she did not make an effort to greet the masses and sign autographs. Those who had waited several hours in London's Leicester Square booed the singer/actress as she arrived at the premiere an hour late and went directly into the movie theater. "How does Britney expect people to go and see her film if she can't be bothered to say hello to her fans?" one fan told Sky News. Geez, people, give Britney a break, will ya?
The new musical We Will Rock You, based on music by the rock band Queen, promises to be spectacular, says backer Robert De Niro and the remaining Queen band members, Brian May and Roger Taylor. (Lead singer Freddie Mercury died of AIDS in 1991.) The musical, written by British comedian Ben Elton, is a futuristic tale in which musical instruments are banned, but people are starting to fight the power. It will premiere in May in London.
Oscar-winning actor William Hurt makes his way back to the big screen in Blue Butterfly, a new film by Swiss-Canadian director Lea Pool. The film is based on a true story about a terminally ill boy who asks a famed entomologist (Hurt) to capture the rare Blue Morpho butterfly, which is said to have curative powers. The butterfly can be found only in the jungles of Central America. Shooting starts in Costa Rica April 1.
The theatrical film business boomed this winter, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The national box office take was approximately $1.74 billion, an increase of 9 percent from last year's record of $1.59 billion. Just as Tom Cruise said during the Oscars ceremony, apparently we still need movies now "more than ever."
Rosie speaks out again. On the Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell said she didn't participate in the Sept. 11 fundraiser telethon Tribute to Heroes because most of the celebrities who helped out did not actually donate money themselves, which "stunned" her, the New York Post reported. O'Donnell gave $1 million to the Red Cross.
Madonna will act only at night. Period. The singer/actress will be making her London stage debut in the comedy Up for Grabs but will not be doing any matinee performances because of her recording commitments. Her evening performances, which begin May 23 for a 10-week run, will go on as scheduled.
Celine Dion is back! The 33-year-old singer has released her first album since taking her two- year sabbatical, playing mom to her son, but she's not worried about the competition. "I'm very competitive," she told USA Today. "But I'm competing with myself and nobody else. I'm not better than Mariah or Whitney or Madonna or Alicia Keys. There's a place for all of us." The album A New Day Has Come will hit stores today.
Musician John Tesh has a bone to pick with sports commentator Bob Costas. Tesh is still stinging from Costas' apparent negative comments about Tesh's commentating during the 1996 Summer Olympics gymnastic events. Tesh told the Associated Press, "I think Bob Costas needs a spanking." And who would be administering this to Costas, exactly?
Have no fear, supermodels are allowed to walk around in their underwear on national television. After complaints of indecency from ABC's Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, which aired last year, the FCC ruled the network did not violate indecency regulations. Whew!
ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill married his girlfriend of 10 years, actress Charleen "Chuck" McCrory, Saturday in Houston, Texas.