Movie reviews: Hitchcock

“A nice, clean, nasty piece of work — that’s what I’m looking for,” declares our eponymous anti-hero at the beginning of Hitchcock (12A).

Movie reviews: Hitchcock

Set in 1960, it follows Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) as the famous director attempts to follow up North by Northwest with something a little more challenging. The result was Psycho, which is today considered a groundbreaking triumph, but Sacha Gervasi’s film details the many hurdles that Hitchcock had to negotiate in order to bring his pet project to fruition. Gervasi’s film offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the making of Psycho, but also aims to get behind the Hitchcock myth to uncover the many demons that drove his creative impulse. It also explores the relationship, personal and professional, between Hitchcock and his wife Alma (Helen Mirren), the woman who was credited by the director himself as owning a half share in his canon due to her writing and editing. When Hitchcock, who has mortgaged the family home in order to finance Psycho, falls ill here, Alma slips seamlessly into the director’s chair and takes the helm. Hopkins — barely recognisable under his Oscar-nominated make-up — is a superb blend of ice-cold passion in this intense psychological study, and he receives very strong support from an excellent cast of Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Toni Collette and Jessica Biel. Packed with delicious throwaway one-liners (“Call me Hitch, hold the Cock”) and intriguing nuggets about the creative process, Hitchcock represents an absolute joy for film fans.

Voiced by John C Reilly, Wreck-It Ralph (G) is the villain in the arcade game Fix-It Felix. After 30 years of playing the bad guy, however, Ralph is fed up of type-casting and dreams of escaping his fate. “You can’t mess with the program,” he’s told at an AA-style meeting for video game baddies, but that’s exactly what Ralph does when he exits Fix-It Felix and winds up in a candy-based road-race game. Can Ralph prove his true worth by becoming a hero to the ostracised little girl Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) and redeeming himself in the ‘candy-coated heart of darkness’? A very clever animated tale that bears strong comparisons to the meta-fictional Toy Story gambit, in which toys come alive when humans aren’t watching, Wreck-It Ralph combines fabulous graphics with a gripping story. Fleeting glimpses of ‘real-life’ game characters such as Pac Man and Mario root the film in a kind of recognisable reality, but the joy of Rich Moore’s movie is in the way he brings the two-dimensional characters to three-dimensional life. The larger-than-life characters, pell-mell pace and day-glo colour scheme will appeal to the younger kids, while adults will appreciate the arcade game in-jokes.

Set in a post-apocalyptic near future, Warm Bodies (12A) opens with a voiceover from the undead R (Nicholas Hoult) as he describes the difficulties involved in being a zombie. That he’s mainly missing a hug or two becomes clear when he sets eyes on Julie (Teresa Palmer) whilst on a feasting expedition and subsequently saves her from falling victim to his fellow zombies. Can two hearts beat as one, especially when one isn’t beating at all? Written and directed by Jonathan Levine, Warm Bodies is an offbeat, irreverent take on both Romeo and Juliet and the conventional zombie flick, the twist here being that we’re supposed to empathise with the walking corpse with a taste for human flesh. Unfortunately, and even allowing for the high concept premise, the characters behave too improbably to allow us to fully believe in either their plight or their possible future together.

I Give It A Year (16s) follows Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall through their difficult first year of marriage while friends and family predict that their romance is doomed. Writer-director Dan Mazer struggles to accommodate an ensemble cast that includes Stephen Merchant, Simon Baker, and Minnie Driver, all of whom soak up screen time that might have been more profitably devoted to persuading us to care about star-crossed lovers who aren’t particularly likeable or interesting in a tale that is as flimsy as it is predictable.

Hitchcock *****

Wreck-It Ralph ****

Warm Bodies **

I Give It a Year **

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