Monday, January 7, 2013


Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is unhappy with her life. But when she has the chance to embezzle $40,000 from her boss, Marion thinks that she has finally found the chance to be happy. On the run from her life and cops in Phoenix, Marion spends the night at a deserted motel and meets the introverted motel owner and manager, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). That night Marion is murdered and her body dumped into the swamp.The mysterious and bloody history of Bates Motel is revealed when people start visiting the motel in search of Marion and the lost money.

In short: this movie is brilliant. If you've ever wondered if Psycho will live up to the hype. It will. Thanks to a brilliant cast, an effective use of lighting, and a ear-splitting soundtrack, Hitchcock was able to maintain a sense of suspense throughout almost the entire film. But while the murder scenes in 1960 were bold and unsettling, those same murder scenes 60 years later are scary yet comical at the same time. Probably not quite the reaction Hitchcock was hoping for but it's a testament to how American movies have changed over the years--and also to the extent to which our culture has become desensitized to images of violence. A slasher movie without any images of a knife puncturing flesh? Boring! [Just kidding. I'm a baby when it comes to horror films and I am perfectly content watching a movie without a ton of gore.]

It would be an understatement to say that Psycho has become a cultural icon. EVERYONE knows the iconic killer shower scene whether they know that it's a scene from Psycho or not. But surprisingly when the movie was first released critics panned the film criticising the blatant sexuality and violence. Obviously Hitchcock knew what he was doing because the formula of sex and violence in today's market equates to box office gold. If anyone would dare to argue with the statement above, I enter into evidence all three of the Transformer movies. Let us be honest. Megan Fox and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley were not casted for their Academy Award winning actor abilities.

Critics also were not impressed with the performances in this film to which I must cry out in outrage. The fact that Anthony Perkins was not nominated for --much less didn't win--an Academy Award for his role as Norman Bates is a travesty. His performance from the first moment he steps onto the screen to last image of him sitting in the jail cell, wrapped in a blanket, with a fly on his hand is perfection. Perkins created a character that is alluring and disarming while at the same time unsettling and off putting. Perkins single-handedly created the image of a Psycho in American pop-culture.

In conclusion, Psycho is perfect for a informal movie night with friends. Wrap yourself in a blanket, make some popcorn, and laugh or cringe when the murderer is revealed. It is more suspenseful than scary so even scaredy-cats can enjoy this film.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies Challenge

I am a self-proclaimed American and Foreign Film Enthusiast (Yes. I even put that on my college application because...well, it's true). I think that is pretty obvious because I have an entire blog dedicated to film and book reviews. But as much as I love movies, I feel that I don't appreciate the great classics of the past as much as I should. This is due, in large part, because I haven't seen many of them.

I want to sound educated when I talk about film--drawing comparisons to other works of great cinematography and acting. But watching old movies can be a bit intimidating. Not every old movie is a great--or even good--movie. Where to start? That was the question I asked myself. There are so many old movies out there and it quickly becomes hard to pick a starting point. So rather than just shoot an arrow into the dark, I decided to take the advice from others. I thought about using the Academy Awards as a spring board but quickly decided against it. The Academy Awards tend to be a biased towards films that deal with dramatic and dark subject manner. A comedy can be a great movie--one of the best--but it doesn't receive the same attention as an equally good drama. In this upcoming year, I wanted to watch a wide variety of films.

That is why I chose the AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies list (the original 1998 edition) as my own personal tour-guide through good film making of the last 100 or so years. And then I figured that if I wanted more, I could always continue on with the 100 Thrills or 100 Laughs list. I'm excited about this challenge. It's part of my New Year's Resolution. I will watch each film and then write a review on this blog by December 31 of 2013. Here is a link to the list--just in case you were curious. Wish me luck!

P.S. I sort of cheated a bit because I watched and posted a review for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner because it was required viewing for my history class. I hope you will not hold this against me. At the end of the challenge I plan to make my own list and re-rank all the films in the order according to which films I most enjoyed them. If you want to join me on this challenge write a comment below letting me know and include your blog (or vlog) link as well! My first "official" review will be up within the week.
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