(Greta Gerwig, 2023)

(3) Famous Barbie doll gets on a journey to find more than the meaning of her space in little girls' lives. A comedy that has a more depth and flavor than the saccharine and saturated pink that comes with its packaging. Outstanding performances from Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling.


Psycho (1960)

Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
>Psycho (1960) on IMDb
A Phoenix secretary embezzles $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.

Psycho is probably the film that represents Alfred Hitchcock the most in popular culture. With the proto-slasher killer and the now legendary shower scene where Janet Leigh gets butchered naked. Psycho is now encrusted in the common minds as Hitchcock’s masterpiece and his trademark of Horror.  Well that is part right and part wrong. First, Hitchcock was not a dedicated horror filmmaker has much as a storyteller that mastered thrills and suspense. Is Psycho his masterpiece? We can count at least five films as his masterpieces; Rear Window, North By Northwest, Vertigo, Psycho, and The Birds. However, is Psycho his ultimate masterpiece? Some might say yes to that answer but recently, 2012, Vertigo was recognized as the greatest film of all time by the Sight and Sound poll held each decade since 1952. However, is you ask me, and I believe that if you are reading those lines you are asking me, Psycho might be the most personal masterpiece Hitchcock ever directed. With the floating sexuality from the beginning of the traveling in the hotel bedroom where Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam are having an affair to the shower scene, sex is present. Then you have the thrill, the build-up to the first murder, the fear of the policeman that suspects Marion of getting away in a hurry and follows her to the point where seh trades car, Hitchcock was affraid of cops since a childhood memory that his father asked the police to jail him for a moment so he would behave. There are themes of Hitchcock’s obsessions that are recurring but also completely succesful in their execution.

Let’s now discuss the thing that is almost synonymous with Psycho, the shower scene. In his discussions with François Truffaut, Hitchcock admitted that it was the only reason he wanted to do the film. I doubt that a bit since the film is so perfect in every one of its elements that, yes the scene is outstanding and his use of montage, jump cuts, traveling into Leigh’s eye to show us she looked at the money before life gets out of her, and the shot of the knife entering the flesh that was shot in reverse so that the knife never penetrates the wet skin, but still the build up leading to that scene is a lesson in cinema. That scene took many days to shot and the use of many angles makes it geometric and puts us into the shower side by side with Marion. As if we were taking the shower with her and witnessing the scene getting soaked. When the killer gets in and attacks then kill Marion, the story shifts from the point of view of Marion to Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) that comes and washes meticulously the crime scene. This long afterwards of cleaning and getting rid of the body and the car is also as interesting as the assassination scene itself. When he gazes the car slowly sinking into the swamp, the montage from the car to his face has a comic mesure that makes us his acolytes.

Janet Leigh
Anthony Perkins

Saul Bass 


Frank Shirley in Christmas Vacation - 2017 Great Villain Blogathon

 Frank Shirley in Christmas Vacation

Editor’s note : this piece is a part of the legendary Great Villains Blogathon (2017Edition) and an informal return from my semi-retirement as a film critic.


Awards Season They Say...

My contribution to the blogosphere has been discreet lately and appart from posting a movie review here and there I haven’t participated in Blogathons or other events. So it was quite a surprise to be nominated for an award.

With a bit of surprise and recognition from Barry of Cinematic Catharsis, I am proudly accepting this award and give it a spin.

As for the nominees, you do whatever you want with this and it is just a way to tell you all that I appreciate your good work and you deserve every drop of the winner’s champagne. However, if you choose to accept, there are some rules that are part and parcel to the nomination:

Post the award on your blog.
Thank the person who nominated you.
Answer the 11 questions they sent.
Pick another 11 bloggers and let them know they are nominated.
Give them 11 new questions.

My responses to Cinematic Catharsis’ questions:

 1.      Name a favorite overlooked film that you can’t stop yakking about (even though other people probably wish you would).
Ingmar Bergman’s The Magician. It was done in the director’s most prolific era (Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal, The Virgin Spring) but doesn’t get the recognition it deserves as one of the master’s masterpieces. At least it got the Criterion treatment!

2.      What book would you like to see adapted into a movie?

The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I am currently reading it and it reminds me of The Name of the Rose. Slow paced but so well written it would be a great adaptation and I think maybe David Fincher could do impressive work with this novel.

3.      Why do you write about movies?

Blogging is more or less a mandatory exercise I force myself to achieve that helps me keep a road map of the films I’ve watched and relieves a creative side of my personality that my day job is not doing.

4.      What’s one of your true passions outside of films or blogging?

Since the mid 1990’s I’ve been snowboarding and skateboarding and more recently surfing. So I would call it standing sideways as a passion for board sports and getting my mind on one thing that helps me to forget about the monotony of adulthood and all the responsibilities for a couple of hours at a time. When carving a huge line in snow I have to be concentrated only on pushing on my edges correctly and perfecting my technique. Then, I can forget about my 200 things that are on my home improvement list.

5.      Going to the movie theatre: Is it a necessary component for enjoying films, or just a big hassle?

It is not necessary but it is the best way to watch a film if you ask me. However, we seem to never have the time to plan for a night at the movies anymore. But I will bring my daughter soon to share the passion with her. Since she gets hypnotized with Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig I bet she would love to go watch an animation flick on the big screen.

6.      What’s one of your fondest childhood memories of going to the movies?

To be honest, my family was not really wealthy and we would not be going to the movies that much. However, my parents would rent VHS on Saturday nights and we would be watching one or two movies in the evening. I remember being in our pyjamas and watching family movies like Beethoven and Tom Hanks comedies like The Money Pit and Big.

7.      If you suddenly became unstuck in time like Billy Pilgrim, what era would you want to live in?

Had to do a little search to remind myself who was Billy Pilgrim. Although, big fan of Kurt Vonnegut here. I would be split between the late 1980’s when snowboard was becoming what it is today and everything was simpler that time. Also a fan of 1980’s Horror and cult films of that time.
As a professional Historian there is not really a time I would be that willing to go back to because it seems to never have any perfect time to live in but I would explore Ancient Egypt and Ancient Rome as a curiosity. Medieval times seem too difficult and dark. The roaring twenties in New York City would be great too with Jazz and all those post Great War excesses.

8.      Where do you stand on the physical media vs. streaming debate?

For the accessibility and the spreading of the media I think that streaming is ideal but as a professionnal archivist I still have a soft spot for the physical media and a huge library of DVDs and Blu-Ray films at home.

9.      What’s your least favorite film genre?

Probably Fantasy and Superhero films because the pattern is often repeated ad nauseam and I think that there is not enough substance other than special effects.

10.  Name a favorite film that’s not in the Criterion Collection, but should be.
The Shining, since there are already some of Kubrick’s films in the Collection they should all be there and this is my personal favorite.

11.  Name an acclaimed film that you’re ashamed to admit you haven’t seen.
Zhang Yimou’s Raise The Red Lantern might top that long list of acclaimed films I still need to watch.

Here are my nominees for the Sunshine Blogger Award:

Virginie Pronovost, The Wonderful World of Cinema

Kevin Laforest, Extra Beurre

Philip Concannon, Phil on Film

Barry, Cinematic Catharsis (because it’s my turn and I can do whatever I want with it)

And my questions for you, dear bloggers:

Name three films you would bring with you on a desert island.
Name the current or classic movie stars you would 1. marry, 2. kill, and 3. spend a night with?
Name a film you hated the first time you watched it and that you learned to love with time or after rewatching it?
Are you a Sports fan? If yes, what sport and which team is your team?
Do you make an event of watching the Oscars or you find it dull? If you do something special what is it and who is with you?
Could there be too many Blogathons?
Do you have blogging goals?
They announced an adaptation of your biography, which director should direct it and who should portray yourself?
What is your opinion on biopics?
Are you able to dissociate an artist and his personal life? (read here : the charges on Roman Polanski for example)

What is the blog post you are the most proud of?


The Big Short

The Big Short (Adam McKay, 2015)

Four denizens in the world of high-finance predict the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s, and decide to take on the big banks for their greed and lack of foresight.

As Hollywood is telling financing success (see The Wolf Of Wall Street) and crisis (The Big Short), we are propulsed in a world that is as unclear who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. A bit like we you are watching a gangster flick and the cops are as full of shit as the bad guys. In Adam McKay’s The Big Short, almost every person wants his piece of the pie and everyone is at some time a bad guy.



Spotlight (Tom McCarthy, 2015)

The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.


The Trip

Editor’s note : a big thank you to Olive Films for the promotional copy of this Blu-Ray release of this cult classic.

The Trip (Roger Corman, 1967)

Paul Groves (Peter Fonda), a television commercial director, is in the midst of a personality crisis. His wife Sally (Susan Strasberg) has left him and he seeks the help of his friend John (Bruce Dern), a self-styled guru who's an advocate of LSD. Paul asks John to be the guide on his first "trip".

Often cited as the worst film of all time, The Trip is a gem that reflects the spirit of its time. This experiment, cause filming those kaleidoscope drug trips permitted to lead to Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider also starring Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson who wrote The Trip. Fonda’s performance is interesting and well nuanced in this extravagant film that has a look of the 1960’s of Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blowup with the depiction of free sexuality and rock music.


It's a Wonderful Life

It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)

An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.

The great American classic of Christmas movies that is It’s a Wonderful Life is like the Casablanca of holiday films. Almost everyone has seen it and some adore it while others, let’s call them the naysayers, call it overrated. Loosely based on Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol, Frank Capra’s film has passed through the ages like a classic novel that lustre the nostalgia of the old-fashioned Christmas.


The Monster Of Piedras Blancas

The Monster Of Piedras Blancas (Irvin Berwick, 1959)

The monster, which looks like a nastier version of "The Creature from the Black Lagoon," invades a sleepy lighthouse town. The superstitious lighthouse keeper is worried for the safety of his beautiful teenage daughter, so he leaves food for the monster, who dwells in a nearby cave. When bodies wash up ashore, the locals take notice.


Remembering Robert Altman

All of my films deal with the same thing: striving, socially and culturally, to stay alive. And once any system succeeds, it becomes its own worst enemy. The good things we create soon create bad things. So nothing is ever going to be Utopian, and when I make films like Nashville (1975) and [Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson (1976)], it's not to say we're the worst country in the world, or God, what awful people these are. I'm just saying we're at this point and it's sad. – Robert Atman

November 20th will mark the tenth year anniversary of the American directors’ death. Often regarded as one of the few American auteurs of Cinema, Altman was part of the great decade of 1970’s film of the New Hollywood of the Penns, the Scorseses, the Ashbys, the Coppolas, the Spielbergs, the Lucas, the Rafelsons, the De Palmas, and many others.

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