Let me tell you, the page is awesomely color-coded this week:
... green for the DocYard series, reddish-orange for "The Legacy of Psycho", pink for the Boston Film Festival, plus the various excursions outside of theaters.
It figures that Saturday had what looked like the most promising day for the Boston Film Festival - mostly for Conviction, which had Sam Rockwell in attendance to push a role that is apparently getting him some long-deserved awards buzz, although I'd have liked to see Miss Nobody; I like Leslie Bibb and the rest of the cast is nice, too - because that was the day of my brother Matt's bachelor party, which was pretty mild: Go to casino, eat at what is basically a family dining chain restaurant, and gamble. I didn't, because my high school math classes were heavy on probability and thus beat any notion that I could beat the house out of me, but my brothers and dad did. Go to stand-up comedy show, be mildly amused, gamble some more, take the bus back to the hotel because casinos are pretty dull - even the folks playing were just sort of going through the motions; it reminded me of nothing so much as playing solitaire on the computer and finding it had devoured an evening during which I could have been reading, writing, or just generally giving my entire attention to something engaging, with the added benefit that it's also likely to involve losing money. Plus, folks are smoking inside. It boggles my mind that either activity has any appeal.
Not that missing a night of the Boston Film Festival is much of a big deal in recent years; I'll be writing more about the festival in upcoming posts, but it's been fairly unexciting. Sure, only a couple movies have seen have outright sucked, but there's also no "you've got to see this" film to mention, either.
* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 14 September 2010 in the Brattle Theatre (Legacy of Psycho)
This one got bounced around the Brattle's schedule in some odd ways - originally scheduled for the 8th, bumped to a matinee on the 14th when the print failed to show, given evening showings when a preview screening was canceled - but I'm glad I got to catch up with it. It's a simple, stripped-down thriller with a pair of great performances by Terrence Stamp and Samantha Eggar. Director William Wyler and his writers set up a series of alternating escape attempts and potential Stockholm Syndrome situations that become increasingly tense and clever.
I also kind of like what the actors do with their characters' accents. Both start by speaking with a so-called posh London accent, and while for Miranda (the kidnapped girl), it's something she has grown into although the traces of her original mode of speech are still there, Freddie's is a thin veneer; Stamp reveals that there's something much rougher and coarser behind his attempts to sound sophisticated. Maybe one doesn't notice it right away, but when he finally lets his pretense drop, it's much more clearly something that's been there all along.
Dressed to Kill
* * * (out of four)
Seen 15 September 2010 in the Brattle Theatre (Legacy of Psycho)
It's a bit amusing that Dennis Franz would appear in Psycho II a couple of years after appearing this, which cribs liberally from the Hitchcock masterpiece. It hides just how much pretty well, but the nobody-is-safe structure is a direct life.
Still, Brian De Palma isn't just doing a remake; this is very much his own movie, with plenty of tension and voyeurism and utter unflinching delight taken from the sex and violence. Nancy Allen and Keith Gordon are a hoot as an unlikely crime-solving duo (a hooker suspected of murder and a nerdy teenager), while Michael Caine and Angie Dickinson are perfectly smooth in their roles.
As can often be the case with De Palma (and many other directors), there's a thin line between excess (whether it be of sex, violence, plot twists, and Hitchcock homagery) being fun and being wearing, and toward the end of the movie, Dressed to Kill at the very least has a foot on each side of the line. De Palma's certainly neither the first nor last guy to extend his movie too far seeking one last jump, though, and the nature of his films must make going for it almost irresistible.