Sixty-One Years On: Marveling at Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window’

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Rear Window is just one of those movies: it has left an indelible imprint on the cultural landscape. And it will forever remain not only one of Alfred Hitchcock’s best films, but one of the most recognized and respected filmmaking achievements of all time.

In my couple of prior viewing experiences, the film had been presented to me as a thriller. One of the best thrillers of all time, in fact. In those other viewings, I think I was taken with the thrilling aspects, though perhaps only slightly given their comparative lightness to modern-day examples of the genre. The narrative is straight forward, the bad guy is the bad guy, and save for the climactic finale (which makes such excellent use of the protagonist and antagonist’s sensory experience) there is very little in the way of fear or anxiety. This is thriller-lite by Hitchcock’s standards.

At a recent screening—the first of those Fathom Events I’ve ever been to, though not for lack of interest—I was struck instead by the film’s singularness, by the limits and advantages of its restricted shooting style, and, most delightfully, by its humor.

So, rather than think of Rear Window as a straight thriller, I’d like to sit with its oddness, its off-kilter delight in the horror of its conceit, and its perfectly executed claustrophobia. In fact, I’d instead like to think of Rear Window as Hitchcock’s unique brand of homebound relationship dramedy-turned-horror. Let’s explore what makes this film so strange! Continue reading

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Review(s): ‘The Godfather’ and ‘The Godfather, Pt. II’

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Let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of the Museum of the Moving Image. I live just five blocks from this fabulous institution (shout out to Astoria, Queens!) and have a membership that allows free entrance to the exhibits and whatever happens to be screening that day. The theater itself is beautiful, with a whacked out curtain (scroll down and you will see what I mean) and crazy blue lighting. But most of all, I love the MoMI because of its various film series.

The latest, “See It Big!” is a tribute to the late cinematographer Gordon Willis, who had estimable partnerships with Woody Allen as well as Francis Ford Coppola. In a nod to the latter director, the museum decided to host back-to-back Saturday-Sunday screenings of both The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II. The boyfriend and I decided that now was the time to catch up on two classic films that we had somehow missed (or watched too early to truly appreciate).

I had heard tell, of course, of the majesty of the twosome. A crime family saga, an American epic, a true feat of acting prowess for all involved: needless to say we were a little excited.

By Sunday night—when we sat on our couch watching the Super Bowl ads we’d missed while at the second film—I admittedly found myself slightly flummoxed and confused. Part One? Huge thumbs up. Part Two? Eh. Did I miss something? For whatever reasons, most likely among them our age, this film has never been a huge topic of conversation between my film-obsessed friends and myself, so please, jump in anytime and prove me wrong about them.

But first, let me explain a little further (spoilers ahead)…

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