AFI Fest 2012 opens with a "bang!" or should I say a "knife slash!" with the Gala Opening Premiere of Hitchcock, the biopic of Alfred Hitchcock's life as he was making the movie Psycho in the 1960's. Hitchcock stars Oscar winner, Anthony Hopkins well disguised as Hitchcock and Oscar-winner, Helen Mirren as his long-suffering wife, Alma. The film is directed by writer-turned-director, Sacha Gervasi in his first feature directing role. Gervasi broke out in a big way as the writer of The Terminal which starred Tom Hanks and he also wrote Henry's Crime which starred Keanu Reeves then he went on to direct Anvil: The Story of Anvil. Gervasi seems to have a nice, quirky take on things plus I've loved Alfred Hitchcock since childhood so I was eager to see this movie.
I went to the AFI box office at Hollywood and Highland at 10 in the morning and snagged tickets to see Hitchcock. I was late arriving but I got to see some of the red carpet arrivals. Then I handed my tickets to the event staff and I was told the tickets were only vouchers which lead me to a long serpentine ticket line. Thankfully, I was blessed that the line was a fast-moving line so I sat and chatted for 30 minutes then we got tickets and were allowed inside.
We were seated in the over-flow theater Chinese 6 not the main viewing theater which was Graumann's Chinese Theater, where the director and the movie's stars usually do a brief intro with thank yous etc. Unfortunately, both Hopkins and Mirren were not able to attend because they're filming the movie, Red 2, together in England. However, they taped a brief video which was played for us prior to the start of the movie. Hopkins and Mirren apologized for their absences and then they talked about their support of the film, the film studio and of their fondness for director, Gervasi.
I'm on the fence about Hitchcock actually. It wasn't the acting that didn't work for me because Hopkins did his best to inhabit Hitchcock by mimicking his slow speech, his mannerisms etc. and Mirren is always solid though I might have casted someone a bit softer in style to be Alma. Scarlet Johansen was so-so for me but she didn't detract from the film. Jessica Biel was good and the guy who played Anthony Perkins looked eerily like him.
The real problem with the film for me was with the source material from the book and resulting script which made me leave the film feeling that Hitchcock was a pervert and mentally unwell instead of the amazingly creative, quirky humorous person that he was. The pacing was a bit off, too and some of the dream sequences didn't gel. I also didn't feel the love between Alma and Hitch at all either and I can't imagine which woman would consider this film a love story as advertised.
In fact, here were so many depictions of Hitchcock being down-right hateful and abusive to women that I was secretly hoping that one of the women would grab the "shower scene knife" and let him have it. It seems that other women in the theater felt that way as many women left the theater looking puzzled yet all the men left happy and smiling. So if you're a guy you'll probably love Hitchcock but, girls, I'd say miss it.
Sunday Nov 4th 2012
Rise of the Guardians (3D):
I was blessed to get a gala ticket to Rise of the Guardians, a new animation from Disney studios. There was a brief wait then they we were ushered past the red carpet and seated in the Graumann's Chinese Theater. Jeffrey Katzenberg was asked to stand and be acknowledge for his hard work at Disney and everyone applauded for him loudly. Then there were brief comments by the film's director, Peter Ramsey and Alec Baldwin, who plays a broad-shouldered sword carrying Russian Santa Claus along with Hugh Jackman who voices a muscled Ausssie Easter Bunny in the film.
Alec Baldwin exited down the center aisle then walked right behind me. He stood there for a bit then they ushered him to an exit to my right.
After getting over my 3D glasses headache, I sat back in my seat to enjoy this film. Unfortunately, the film did not hold my interest at all. The problem again was with the source material and the script. The Jack Frost storyline was boring and I wanted to know more about the back story of the other Guardians like Santa or the bunny instead. I loved the elves and the abominable snowmen though and again I wished the movie featured them more. The literal "nightmares" were also a nice CGI effect and Sandman was way cool, too. So "see it" if you want to see what's up in CGI effects but don't expect a story. Consider a "miss it" if you're taking young kids because at times the movie's themes were too dark.
AFM 2012 : Nov 6th 2012 Election Day
I finally dropped by the American Film Market (AFM) at the Loew's Santa Monica Hotel at 1700 Ocean Avenue and AFM seems the same as the past few years. The Asian contigent (especially the Chinese) seemed smaller this year but that may just be my biased assessment as I hung out with some Chinese filmmakers at AFM in 2010. I didn't schedule any conferences or pitches this year so I just grabbed some trade mags and strolled about the beautiful hotel. It was turning dusk so everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves in the lobby as filmmakers and buyers from all over the world networked as they drank cocktails.
AFM Update: Twilight's Breakin Dawn and the Virgin Islands Film Office:
Twilight: Breaking Dawn 2 cast shoot scenes in St. Thomas
Interested in shooting in the Virgin Islands? Go to http://www.filmusvi.com/