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MOVIES (GFF 2023): My Name Is Alfred Hitchcock - Review

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Somewhat unique but limiting for a documentary; My Name is Alfred Hitchcock, the opener to Glasgow Film Festival 2023, fires up the film by introducing us to Hitchcock through his own voice, narrated by Alistair McGowan in a form of a visual essay from Mark Cousins, that’s using a first person point of view to explore a reflection of his own films with nods to the camera about modern technology and how it has changed since the time of the Hitch.

The concept on its own is interesting as it allows for a first person perspective; rare in documentary film – but there might be a reason why it’s rare. It feels entirely afraid to critique Hitchcock; and as a result it can lead to a feeling of him talking about how great it is, telling the reader that they know this one, like Psycho or Rear Window, but refreshingly, the film knows at the same time that you know these two and instead opts for deeper dives, Torn Curtain, The Lodger, films that you may or may not have seen.

Hitchcock uses the sense of suspense and creation to escape and you learn through him his different sorts of escapes that are present through his movies; obviously you’ve got the chase sequence in North by Northwest, but the film goes deeper into the staging of the shots, showing how he liked to pull away from the action in Foreign Correspondent, showing a chase scene underneath real umbrellas in the rain – you the audience are observing society being disrupted; a man escaping from society and both his fame in The Lodger, and this only ads to its suspense as a result – The Lodger in particular, bold for a silent film of its time – the film uses the fame of Ivor Novello at the time to cast him as a man who is as on the run from society in real life as in the film itself, a bonafide movie star.

My Name is Alfred Hitchcock, yes, may feel grating at times in the sense of its narration but the film attempts to tackle some observations from others; Hitchcock offers up an opinion on Raymond Chandler’s take on his work midway through. If you haven’t seen all of his work you can still get something out of this film as there’s a lot there that shows the true expanse of his career; I would’ve liked to see more on the production of the films rather than a discussion of the shots; the casting, that angle – with Tarantino briefly covering Hitchcock in a recent read, Cinema Speculation, it’s interesting to go back from the likes of his take on De Palma to Cousins’ take on Hitchcock – which to its credit, is masterfully researched and for all the films’ faults, it does feel like Hitchcock is speaking to you from his heyday. The things he would’ve done with a cell phone, he says: a bomb in a pocket, a ticking time bomb…

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