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Author Topic: Paul Phoenix's List of Shame  (Read 22747 times)

Paul Phoenix

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Re: Paul Phoenix's List of Shame
« Reply #220 on: April 03, 2016, 05:13:52 AM »
Another shame entry knocked down.


Film can be a fantastic visual medium that warps your perspectives in ways other mediums often couldn't. The artists who demonstrate such a quality are often considered as auteurs, and the "Master of Suspense" deserves every recognition with such a title. Over the past few days, I have had my expectations toyed with by certain films, but Hitchcock was unique in this particular artistry, in that he often utilized the visual elements of film to their full extent when performing such a feat. As opposed to relying on the more abstract elements like confusing symbolism or even the current political climate to support his films, Hitchcock relied on what comes naturally to the mind. He simply counted on our human nature.

It's probably why I find it so easy to enjoy most of his films. Just about anyone with a pair of working eyes could understand his films. Between Spielberg and this guy, they are some of my favorite directors in history. Had Spielberg stuck to his guns of mainstream suspense, I would have still worshiped the guy as well.

As it is standard with Hitchcock's playful humor, Rear Window opens with a jolly music sequence with the name of James Stewart plastered across the big screen, the guy from "It's A Wonderful Life". If I didn't recognize him from Vertigo as well, I would have probably wondered if I had stepped into the wrong movie. The camera shifts from photos of race tracks to fashion magazines, beginning its cunning manipulation of your perspective. Why was Jeff in a cast? Did the race track had something to do with it? Was he a race car driver? I love that, throughout the film, a lot of what you see seems to play against you. Seems to, anyway. It's a bit of a shame that the ending of the film turns out just as I had expected, rather than having some kind of plot-twist. Lars Thorwald was indeed the wife-killer we had suspected him to be as opposed to being just Jeff's paranoia (along with our own) working against him. Why play with our expectations if the result is that predictable?

That's not to say that a plot-twist always makes thrillers better. It just seems a bit odd to explore the theme of voyeurism and not remark on the likely consequences that come with it. Sure, Jeff got caught spying on our killer, but the way that plays out in the film, it addresses as much about voyeurism and spying on your neighbors as Gone Girl addresses cheating on your wife. It's a coincidental consequence by circumstances of the plot. Jeff got caught not because of his voyeurism, but because of his carelessness. I know I'm probably nitpicking at this point, but that whole ending just makes no sense to me what it has to do with rear windows and spying on neighbors. Jeff could have caught the murderer in action in a tunnel and it wouldn't have made much difference. There is a thematic inconsistency with the ending itself. It's like telling the audience a story about kids talking to strangers only to end it with the kids catching the stranger in a pickpocketing incident. There's no rhyme or reason to the morality of the tale.

The strange third act aside, the rest of the film plays on the idea of a flawed perspective very well. The whole concept of retrieving information based on what you see is fascinating. There's an untold story in this movie about the real story that Jeff couldn't see from his rear window. Following the discovery of his newfound hobby, Jeff allowed external information to influence the decision about marriage with Lisa. In another window, a newly, happily married couple slowly degrades into your standard unhappy one. All these little bits of information felt like they belonged in another script, as past the point where Lisa began to agree with Jeff's supposed delusions, the more interesting story of flawed perspectives had stopped being told.

"We've become a race of Peeping Toms," says Stella. Were this movie released today, her statement could not be more relevant than ever. The Internet has information on everyone, and yet, has a flawed perspective on everyone. We stop seeing people as humans, but as perspectives. Fincher addressed this point beautifully with "Gone Girl", and even Coppola took a jab in "The Conversation". "We're two of the most frightening ghouls I've ever known," says Lisa of the ethically immoral acts they've been committing. With all the early setting up of themes at the beginning of the movie, I guess I had a flawed perspective myself as a watcher thinking that this was an entirely different kind of story. Whether that puts me or Hitchcock at fault, I'll leave to your discretion.

I think much of this dissatisfaction of mine is due to Hitchcock's record. Two of the films I've seen of his had a disturbing revelation (Psycho and Vertigo). With Rear Window, the only disturbing revelation was that Jeff got away as a criminal voyeur. Nice lesson to teach the kids. By the way, did you know that back in the '50s, having a woman in her lingerie was considered the equivalent of being nude? That's what passed for dirty mags back then, women in lingerie. So Jeff was essentially committing the heinous act of spying on a nude woman. Yikes.

Hitchcock would come to correct this mistake in inconsistency later on when he directs "Vertigo", a far better insight as to how the truth could be distorted by what he sees. It's not a coincidence that it also stars James Stewart as the protagonist.

3/5

Notice what I did there? Set up the praises, ended with a criticism.
"I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone." - Lance Clayton (played by Robin Williams), World's Greatest Dad

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verbALs

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Re: Paul Phoenix's List of Shame
« Reply #221 on: April 03, 2016, 05:22:14 AM »
I don't know when Hitchcock/ Truffaut is dropping around here, but it will be interesting to compare with what you write here. Truffaut definitely attempts to establish Hitchcock's auteurial credentials, whilst Hitch shrugs a little like a good South London boy would. "Yeah I suppose so".

Having some understanding of what Truffaut thinks would help watching him speak to Hitchcock. Oh yeah again mea culpa. I read "Hitchcock/ Truffaut" its a brilliant essential book. I read Sidney Lumet book on directing too. I'm not sure about critics or academics but when you are truly great, and all 3 directors are certainly that in my book, you deserve to be listened to. Alex Garland? Hmmm. Not so much. Maybe later. :D

{People keep talking about my fave films; 2001, Fight Club, Miller's Crossing. Rear Window is number two (or 3, Point Break is bobbing around in there). Difficult to stay out the conversation}

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Had Spielberg stuck to his guns of mainstream suspense, I would have still worshiped the guy as well.
Boom


You'll notice the tyre is flying straight at the camera. But look at racing drivers flailing around in the picture. ha weird detail.

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Why play with our expectations if the result is that predictable?
Because playing with expectations is very entertaining.
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that whole ending just makes no sense to me what it has to do with rear windows and spying on neighbors.
Jeff is punished for peeking on his neighbours. He gets thrown out of the window he was spying on people through. Perhaps its a cultural thing to be so amused by inherent ironies. Jeff gets his leg broken standing in front of a flying tyre. He then gets his leg broken standing in front of a homicidal maniac. Thrill seeker.

The irony of explaining a film post facto is not lost on me at all.

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There's no rhyme or reason to the morality of the tale.
Its amoral. Life is amoral as an entity. The Universe doesn't care. There's a point of view that says that the universe is actually trying to kill you. It certainly balances the moral viewpoint that we should all be nice to each other. You end up with a balance. Its a zero sum total.Lets look after each other because the universe is out to get us. Life isn't moral or immoral. Its amoral. If you standing front of a flying tyre though you really are asking for the crappy end of the stick, that is life.
I think you have absorbed the auteurial premise and are looking for theme and a moral to a tale. In the same way Truffaut goes looking for it. Hitchcock's making an entertainment. Its why he was derided as not a serious director in the same way as Hawks and why Chabrol and Truffaut etc sought to change that view. Because they are French and the French understand the underlying existential crises as a philosophy, the same way they understand it in noir and why noir is a French not an American invention. The English shrug and get on. Truffaut French/ Hitchcock English. But watch"The Bride Wore Black" and see what Truffaut does with a Hitchcock premise. Its really a marvellous redefinition English to French translation.

My answer to the redefinition of Hitch as an auteur, which implies theme, apparently, is; is the theme of "The Birds" that "look out the birds are out to get us!".

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We've become a race of Peeping Toms
Watch Peeping Tom. Watch Almodovar. I think Matador actually has direct references to voyeurism plastered on the walls of an apartment.

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I guess I had a flawed perspective myself as a watcher thinking that this was an entirely different kind of story.
How about waiting till the film finishes and then start to draw conclusions. There's quite a lot of films that force that conclusion. Some of them are Hitchcock films. Varda's Happiness.Try working out a message in that film before it finishes and see what a mess you get into.

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Jeff got away as a criminal voyeur
Did he? He gets thoroughly defenestrated. The man is tortured by not being ale to get back out in the world to start taking photos again. He gets sentenced three more months of house arrest because he was nosey.
Funnily enough I had the same thing happen. I had my leg rebroken so I spent twice as long cooped up in doors when I was 13. I sympathise very much with Jeff but its his own fault.

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It's not a coincidence that it also stars James Stewart as the protagonist.
Like DD Lewis gets the juicy parts now? Not coincidental either. Stewart brought a certain charisma with him. Just like Cary Grant did. Grant is perfect for North by Northwest and To Catch a Thief. Stewart was made for RW and Vertigo. Hitchcock had his pick. He picked from the best. His output goes slightly off course at the point he gets Tippi Hedren and not Grace Kelly. Funny that he only works with Paul Newman when the drop off has set in.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2016, 05:58:27 AM by verbALs »
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Paul Phoenix

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Re: Paul Phoenix's List of Shame
« Reply #222 on: April 03, 2016, 05:49:17 AM »
He gets thrown out of the window he was spying on people through.

Oh right, there was that. I've always had trouble catching subtleties like that. Guess Hitchcock's films are not as simple as I thought.

It's not lost on me that Jeff did get punished in a way by being caught in the act of spying. The problem is that, he was correct in his questionable act of spying because it helped solved a crime. The contradictory tone kinda distracted me a little, the way his action of voyeurism is uplifted with a sense of justice. I just felt it was a bit jarring. That reduces the movie's tone to a comedic one, telling about how one man's mischief ends up putting him in a misadventure, and it ends up transforming it into more of a dramedy adventure film than a thriller, which caused me not to like it as much because the ending felt like it has very little to say other than just making a hearty joke about how silly Jeff looks with two casts now. Worst of all, the rear window is still open. Is he going to continue spying?

I like to imagine that his true punishment comes in "Vertigo" when the main character also played by James Stewart, who coincidentally suffers from a fear of heights, gets into a relationship with a cheating woman.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2016, 06:43:31 AM by Hermit »
"I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone." - Lance Clayton (played by Robin Williams), World's Greatest Dad

Eternally seeking variety. 'Tis the spice of life for me.

Paul Phoenix

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Re: Paul Phoenix's List of Shame
« Reply #223 on: April 03, 2016, 05:54:33 AM »
Did he? He gets thoroughly defenestrated. The man is tortured by not being ale to get back out in the world to start taking photos again. He gets sentenced there more months of house arrest because he was nosey.
Funnily enough I had the same thing happen. I had my leg rebroken so I spent twice as long cooped up in doors when I was 13. I sympathise very much with Jeff but its his own fault.

Yeah, and he gets to not make a decision whether to force Lisa to move away with him or not. He gets free nursing by a lovely woman for several more months. Not exactly punishment in my opinion. I would have loved to trade places with him.
"I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone." - Lance Clayton (played by Robin Williams), World's Greatest Dad

Eternally seeking variety. 'Tis the spice of life for me.

verbALs

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Re: Paul Phoenix's List of Shame
« Reply #224 on: April 03, 2016, 06:00:57 AM »
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Is he going to continue spying?
Yeah.

He might save someone's life next time. Miss Lonely Hearts is saved by listening to a piece of piano music. Maybe she shouldn't have been nosing around listening to others people playing piano's. Sound pervades but nobody sticks their fingers in their ears anymore than they shut their eyes.

Jeff gets his leg broken. Miss Lonely Hearts gets a boyfriend. Amoral universe.

That fact of the cheating woman in Vertigo is not established at all. Its a tale told by a man who kills his wife and implicates Scottie as a witness. Perspectives. What Hitchcock shows you and then how he pulls the rug out from under you. Its not a layer or a deeper understanding. its a tale to be understood as a whole. Hitch doesn't let on that the husband is a murderer until the film is finishing does he?. That knowledge effects every detail of what has happened before. It changes the entire story. Scottie has been used because he has Vertigo. He is set up to fail because of it, and the man who does it knows this. That man is an unreliable narrator of sorts. Hitchcock is an unreliable narrator who at least admits it, but maybe only in the final seconds of the film.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2016, 06:08:23 AM by verbALs »
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Paul Phoenix

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Re: Paul Phoenix's List of Shame
« Reply #225 on: April 03, 2016, 06:03:59 AM »
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Is he going to continue spying?
Yeah.

He might save someone's life next time. Miss Lonely Hearts is saved by listening to a piece of piano music. Maybe she shouldn't have been nosing around listening to others people playing piano's. Sound pervades but nobody sticks their fingers their ears anymore than they shut their eyes.

Jeff gets his leg broken. Miss Lonely Hearts gets a boyfriend. Amoral universe.

That's an unfair comparison. Miss Lonely Heart didn't force the songwriter to play the piano loud enough that she could eavesdrop.
"I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone." - Lance Clayton (played by Robin Williams), World's Greatest Dad

Eternally seeking variety. 'Tis the spice of life for me.

Paul Phoenix

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Re: Paul Phoenix's List of Shame
« Reply #226 on: April 03, 2016, 06:07:34 AM »
That fact of the cheating woman in Vertigo is not established at all. Its a tale told by a man who kills his wife and implicates Scottie as a witness. Perspectives.

And James Stewart in Rear Window isn't the same character as Stewart in Vertigo. Leave me to my imaginations. :P

And besides, he gets involved with another man who kills his wife yet again? I'd say that's some karmic justice right there.
"I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone." - Lance Clayton (played by Robin Williams), World's Greatest Dad

Eternally seeking variety. 'Tis the spice of life for me.

verbALs

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Re: Paul Phoenix's List of Shame
« Reply #227 on: April 03, 2016, 06:10:23 AM »
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Is he going to continue spying?
Yeah.

He might save someone's life next time. Miss Lonely Hearts is saved by listening to a piece of piano music. Maybe she shouldn't have been nosing around listening to others people playing piano's. Sound pervades but nobody sticks their fingers their ears anymore than they shut their eyes.

Jeff gets his leg broken. Miss Lonely Hearts gets a boyfriend. Amoral universe.

That's an unfair comparison. Miss Lonely Heart didn't force the songwriter to play the piano loud enough that she could eavesdrop.
Yes but that's a literal comparison. The universe, amorally, doesn't care. Fate goes one way for one person and the other for another. You win the lottery or you get run over. Both are lucky just in different ways. ;D

I said Hitchcock isn't being thematic but dramatic. Voyeurism is a dramatic device not a didactic lesson. "DONE SPY AT WINDOWS!" He's making a film; having fun with a certain subject. The search for meaning in Hitch is a secondary, personal journey. Hitch knows he is recording life and life has lessons to teach. He makes a film about a nosey parker. He shows you what can happen. Good and bad. If you think there are lessons then good. Learn them. Hitch hands are clean though. He just made a really good film, which was good precisely because he draws so much from life. If you ask Hitch directly if he was teaching you something. He would, I imagine, put on an angelically innocent expression and go "it wasn't me guv"

I dont imagine actually. Truffaut asks these questions and Hitch shifts uncomfortably in his seat somewhat. Like I said (and why I started there) Hitchcock/ Truffaut will be fascinating. Hitch was an entertainer himself. An eternal wink on his face.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2016, 06:16:26 AM by verbALs »
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Paul Phoenix

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Re: Paul Phoenix's List of Shame
« Reply #228 on: April 03, 2016, 06:15:29 AM »
I said Hitchcock isn't being thematic but dramatic. Voyeurism is a dramatic device not a didactic lesson. "DONE SPY AT WINDOWS!" He's making a film; having fun with a certain subject.

Yeah, and I get that, which is why I gave the rating a 'fun' film rightly deserves in my opinion. I'd only offer higher ratings to films that offer me something more to say in terms of didactic philosophies. Or at the least, just being really amazingly creative (Shoot 'Em Up). THAT's having fun for both the director and the audience.
"I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone." - Lance Clayton (played by Robin Williams), World's Greatest Dad

Eternally seeking variety. 'Tis the spice of life for me.

verbALs

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Re: Paul Phoenix's List of Shame
« Reply #229 on: April 03, 2016, 06:17:28 AM »
I think I've explained how much fun Rear Window is. I've seen Shoot em up.

Now as far as rating films highly because they say something. They might say something very important but they don't say nothing as brilliantly as Hitchcock says nothing. I'm being rhetorical. Hitch is saying lots just by mirroring life in a way that is so exactingly honest in a way that is completely beyond 99% of other directors. I'm underestimating. We have Kurosawa and Kubrick and Bergman, who are that incisive. If you want to say that Bergman is "better" because he "says stuff" in his films, that's fine and a matter completely of taste. Nobody made a film like Hitch. OK Kurosawa. Hawks...erm Spielberg early on. I won't be silly to make a point. Lets say its a finite exclusive club. Melville. Wilder......I'll stop. ;D
« Last Edit: April 03, 2016, 06:47:06 AM by verbALs »
I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art; I don't do that so much anymore. - Banksy