Wednesday, June 15, 2016


FR/US 2015.
Ohjaus/Director: Kent Jones
Käsikirjoitus/Screenplay: Kent Jones, Serge Toubiana
Kuvaus/Cinematography: Nick Bentgen, Daniel Cowen, Eric Gautier, Mihai Malaimare Jr., Lisa Rinzler, Genta Tamaki
Leikkaus/Editing: Rachel Reichman
Ääni/Sound: Robin Aramburu, Matthieu Cochin, Paul Cote, Matteo Liberatore, Mark Patino, Steven Robinson
Musiikki/Music: Jeremiah Bornfield
Esiintyjät/Cast: Mathieu Amalric (kertojaääni/narrator), Wes Anderson, Olivier Assayas, Peter Bogdanovich, Arnaud Desplechin, David Fincher, James Gray, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Richard Linklater, Paul Schrader, Martin Scorsese
Tuotanto/Production: Arte France, Artline Films, Cohen Media Group (copyright 2015)
Tuottajat/Producers: Charles S. Cohen, Olivier Mille
Esityskopio/Print Source: NonStop Entertainment
Esitysformaatti/Format: DCP
Kieli/Language: englanti/English, ranska/French, japani/Japanese
Kesto/Duration: 79 min
    Finnish subtitles: Mikko Kinnunen.
    Midnight Sun Film Festival (MSFF), Sodankylä.
    Finnish subtitles.
    Cinema Lapinsuu, 15 June 2016

Markku Koski in the MSFF catalog: "François Truffaut's legendary interview book Le Cinéma Selon Alfred Hitchcock was published fifty years ago. It was also published in Finnish in 1983. To mark the anniversary, Kent Jones had a veritable stroke of genius to make a documentary film about the book. Surely books are adapted to the screen all the time, but never such books on cinema. Still, it is appropriate for this era, when film journalism and criticism have gone through tough changes. Despite there having been many documentaries made about Hitchcock, this one isn't about revelling on history and its controversies, but rather placing the emphasis on cinema itself."

"In his film, Jones makes good use of the original interview recordings and the still images selected for the book by Truffaut. Above all, he talks to film-makers like Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader, Wes Anderson, David Fincher and Olivier Assayas, in whose work Hitchcock has left a deep mark. On the sly, Truffaut's value, deflated for a while, also gains new appreciation. In other words, this film offers a veritable film-making masterclass, an ideal fit for this festival that has offered similar moments many times before."

AA: Kent Jones's acclaimed documentary found an ideal audience at Midnight Sun Festival. There were many among us who could identify with the directors interviewed who reported that their copies of the Truffaut Hitchcock interview book have been in such heavy use that the pages by now only hold together with the help of a rubber band.

The idea to make a feature film about an interview book is mad and inspired. It is inspired because of four reasons.

Firstly, we now hear the voices of Truffaut and Hitchcock as the original tape recordings have been preserved. From a technical point of view we get to witness here the smooth operation of consecutive interpreting within the team: Truffaut spoke French, Hitchcock spoke English, and Helen Scott instantly translated everything sentence by sentence. It is interesting to observe how articulate Hitchcock is on these unedited tapes, and how polished his vocal delivery is even here. There is no real difference with his performances in his television shows and film previews. Two of the most memorable moments in the movie are ones where Hitchcock asks Truffaut to turn the recorder off. The first one is where Truffaut asks whether it is justified to see Hitchcock's work as a case of a Catholic confession of faith. The second one is when Hitchcock starts to explain the sexual allegory of Scottie dressing Madeleine in Vertigo in a sequence which is really about undressing her; he is inspired to tell a risqué joke.

Secondly, Philippe Halsman photographed the interview sessions, and his great photographs are displayed here in extenso.

Thirdly, the Truffaut Hitchcock book was the best illustrated film book that had appeared so far. In this film we get to see the real movie excerpts of key moments discussed. Which also helps to understand that the photo montages of Truffaut's book were not mere illustrations but also illuminating analyses which revealed aspects of the scenes that are not obvious while watching the films proper.

Fourthly there are the many film directors interviewed, all inspired by Hitchcock, all great. Martin Scorsese's remarks are among the most memorable. He comments that after WWII there was a new focus on the actor, a new kind of actor that was more expressive than before: the actor became the main instrument. (Which in my opinion is on the surface in contrast to Hitchcock's approach to the cinema). The Truffaut book is also about Hitchcock learning from experience, but sometimes you learn the wrong things from failure or success. About Psycho Martin Scorsese states that it was ahead of its time, that it anticipated the turbulence of the 1960s.

Memorable passages in the film include: - The discussion of contracted and expanded time in a movie. - The discussion of the original sin, the sense of guilt, and the transference of guilt: we can here sense better than in the book how serious Hitchcock gets until he asks to turn the recorder off. We have entered into private territory. - There was no need to abandon the silent film technique. - Most seriously, Hitchcock contemplates his dedication to the well-made narrative film, the rising dramatic curve. There is the temptation to experiment with a looser form. "Then what happens is that the character takes me with him. There has always been a conflict. I have limited myself to a certain field." (These quotes are approximate and condensed).

When the film ends we have a feeling of having experienced a new and different view of Hitchcock (with Truffaut as the respectful and insightful guide). A real human being who hated phoniness and was passionate about what he did.

The Finnish subtitles should be revised.

Especially in the beginning the film has been edited in regular dvd bonus material mode with rapid cuts and sound bites. I hope Kent Jones and Serge Toubiana would return to this material and produce a longer version with more extended passages from the priceless Hitchcock Truffaut symposium.

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