52 SONGS

...the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Vertigo

128 min. dir. Alfred Hitchcock NR

Supposedly, Hitchcock’s rage at his beloved Grace Kelly for leaving Hollywood led him to try to remake her with a series of cool, aloof blondes, beginning with Kim Novak. She stars here as the object of Jimmy Stewart’s obsession, but the casting is, happily, a little off. Unlike the brittle Kelly, Novak fills her dress with fleshy concupiscence. You understand why Stewart goes from detective tailing her to man under the influence: His appetite has been whetted. Aside from the garish dream sequence, the images in this movie are understandably iconic: a woman falling into San Francisco Bay beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, the pallid face of Carlotta Valdez staring out from a museum canvas, a habited nun un-merging from the inky night. However memorable such images are in themselves, they serve the story by imbuing what is essentially a boilerplate mystery with an aura that is deep, strange, and enchanting. The ending may seem unsatisfyingly abrupt, but give it time. Our obsessions do not resolve--they are ended, and not by us. (Sunday, at the Egyptian in Hollywood.) // CHRIS DAVIDSON

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