Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Ill. Fri. - Neighbor
Two new movies - "Disturbia" and "Civic Duty" - are explorations into paranoia about who our neighbors are and, as Tom Waits sang: "What the hell is he doing in there?" They are of course modern takes on Hitchcock's "Rear Window", and I thought that might be an appropriate subject for the IllFri challenge this week.
For the most part I've always enjoyed watching "Rear Window", but there are so many aspects to it that I've always found so wierd and creepy, even for Hitchcock, that its not my favorite of his. (For what its worth, I'm partial to "North By Northwest", "Shadow Of A Doubt" and "Saboteur")
Wheelchair-bound Jimmy Stewart, with his big phallic telephoto lens, seems too old and entirely too cranky for the luminous, if a bit icy, Grace Kelly. His obsessive spying on his neighbors - a thoroughly recognizable human frailty though it may be - has always felt to me like it crosses a certain line of believability. It certainly makes Stewart's character less appealing, and the relentlessness of it it actually makes one a little sorry for poor, beleagured, lumbering Raymond Burr, as the killer Thorvald. He's loathsome, yes, but I can also understand his desire to just be left alone.
As for slimy character definition, I think the most successful scene in the movie is where Jimmy Stewart's character is watching his girlfriend getting strangled by Thorvald and he seems more worried about being found out as a peeping Tom than he is for her safety. Hitchcock and Stewart got that part creepily pitch perfect. It all makes you wanna close the curtains a bit tighter.