Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


DO YOU LIKE HITCHCOCK? (aka Ti piace Hitchcock?/2005 Italian telefilm). Director: Dario Argento.

Dario Argento was once a very popular director of stylish and gory Italian thrillers such as Deep Red, Suspiria, Phenomena and Trauma, and he may still have a large following in Italy [in the U.S. he's more of a cult favorite]. But this lame telefilm, even if Argento were hampered by TV's restrictions, is a real come-down, just another in a long line of bad films that invoke Hitchcock without displaying one fraction of the Master's genius -- or ability to entertain. When film student Giulio (Elio Germano, pictured) learns that the mother of a pretty young woman named Sasha (Elisabetta Rocchetti) has been brutally murdered, he becomes inexplicably convinced that she "traded" murders with another woman a la Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train. In scenes that remind one more of De Palma's Dressed to Kill than anything in Hitchcock, Giulio follows around this other woman apparently in the hopes of discovering which of her acquaintances is supposed to be murdered by Sasha. There's a prologue involving witches' rites in the woods when Giulio was a boy that seems to have nothing to do with the rest of the movie. The only "style" to the film is that Argento seems obsessed in delivering extreme close-ups of tumblers turning inside locks. At one point Giulio breaks his leg like Stewart in Rear Window -- that's the only similarity, really, to the work of Hitchcock. There is a tense rooftop climax, but --- and Hitchcock could have told Argento this after the former's experience with Saboteur -- it's the wrong person dangling from the roof! Neither Argento nor composer Pino Donaggio [who did some fine scores for thrillers by Brian de Palma] seem very inspired by their material this time. This becomes positively tedious after awhile.

Verdict: Even Four Flies on Grey Velvet was better than this. *1/2.

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