Vertigo and Iris

What do men want…to know about women wanting stuff?

Characters? In a movie?????
Reported on 28th of November, 2016

I saw Vertigo (a sentence I write just now as the awesome and very recommended Laika and the Cosmonauts cover of the Hermann theme comes on the playlist) when it was reprinted in 1984, and it made a big impression. It was considered the best movie of all time for a few decades, and it was so good I liked it despite that. Though Naked Lunch and Gilda are probably a bit more fun (fine, and Aliens), Vertigo being in my top four is certainly what Hitchcock was seeking all those many years ago.


13 October 2016 @ The Castro

$146.00 or, if one must be quotidian, and one must... 
★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Having seen it again at the Castro – and an actual film print to boot – it holds up. Vertigo is an astonishing piece of work, vastly more than the sum of its parts. It somehow, and I have no idea how but that won’t stop me from having an theory anyway, manages to be a solid piece of genre filmmaking as well as a near mystical meditation on space and color. The long scenes of tailing Ms. Kim Novak through 1950s San Francisco should bore beyond belief, but with Mr. Bernard Hermann’s score, it feels instead like a visually induced trip, or more the point in the case of filmmaking, a dream.

Of course I asked for a ticket instead of the computer printout. Then I lost it. Then I recreated the computer printout by using the darken overlay in photoshop. It's no Peter Hyams.

Of course I asked for a ticket instead of the computer printout. Then I lost it. Then I recreated the computer printout by using the darken overlay in photoshop. It’s no Peter Hyams.

I’d be hard-pressed to think of a film that captures the R.E.M. state better. Some, like Speed Racer and Nostalgia tie, but for that quality of not being sure you’re awake, Vertigo is the real deal.

Moving past the more etherial qualities, which are going to be a matter of taste in any case, it’s a pretty good story. After Mr. Stewart lets the first Ms. Novak die, the inquest is near Freudian comical, as Mr. Henry Jones repeats, over and over, the ways in which Mr. Stewart failed to measure up.

The fact that this scene is also more dream stuff as well as genre in turn makes it even more dreamy. This is what the freudians very evocatively call overdetermined, that quality that one object or action in a dream, especially in whatever blackboard vagina brown bag context it’s seen in, doesn’t just have two meanings, but meanings that seem to multiply as you try to pick them apart.

The film is full.

Vertigo: The Take

To get what I’m talking about, there’s a very lazy reveal when the second Ms. Novak keeps the distinctive necklace from the first Ms. Novak. This is cheap story-wise, and one could argue that the ‘dream like’ stuff helps the film get away with it. It doesn’t. What DOES let the film get away with it is the way the necklace, from the close-up on the painting to the very wide dolly back to the whole scene of her sitting in front of it. It’s an epic, poetic visual in live motion, in a film full of them.
Being that my version of the film takes place within his/her/my/your unconscious (hey, that’s all movies!), one of the last lines has that overdetermined quality: ‘You shouldn’t have been that sentimental.’ Is it an accusation or recrimination? It’s a film about everything at once.
I have actually seen the film in the theater at least twelve times, so
Total Profits
The film is too compressed to be perfect. If it was perfect, it wouldn’t be as good.
Total Losses



19 November 2016 @ The Vers Le Large

-$8.00 or, if one must be prosaic, and one must... 
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆


This leads us, as all sentences, thoughts and words do, to why I’m right. Iris is a non-existent remake of Vertigo, but it reveals oh so clearly what does not work. It does not reveal, at any time, what does.

Okay, there were some boobies, but no penis. Which means, for my definition of film nudity, means that there were no boobies. Damn.

It was watching this tepid straight to time vortex and thereto Cinemax thriller that I realized why I hate surprise films so much, or maybe, being that Vertigo is a surprise film, why they rarely work.

Late, and with the chocolate stores closed on Monday, I went the €5,20 Ben & Jerry's Cookie dough. I should have known: value for money.

Late, and with the chocolate stores closed on Monday, I went the €5,20 Ben & Jerry’s Cookie dough. I should have known: value for money.

I like characters. So do you. Generally, it’s the characters rather than what happens to them which causes us to return to a film. In Iris, as nothing is revealed, the characters remain inscrutable. We read into them, not their behavior, but what the various tidbits the filmmakers have decided to show us.

Of course that their behavior is contradictory and nonsensical is annoying, but this is besides the point. The surprise structure means they can never embody any qualities. We’re too busy figuring out who they are, what they want or even, as in the case with such incompetent filmmaking on display here, what the hell is going.

What is especially depressing here is, despite her prominent use in the trailer and poster, that Ms. Charlotte LeBon is not even enough of a character to be a femme fatale. You can make arguments that femme fatales are problematic for feminism, just as I can make arguments that the word ‘problematic’ makes me sleepy. But, having agency, they are certainly more existent than Ms. LeBon, who appears randomly and seems to want nothing unless she does, but then it turns out they she was in on it the whole time unless she wasn’t.

Walking out of Vertigo, Sarah (Hi, Sarah! You’re the only one reading this!) made the case that the reveal (that the second Ms. Novak is in fact the first Ms. Novak) is the part of the film that she would take out. I disagreed, as I would do even if I agreed.

What’s so great about this film, and depressing about the arrival of Iris sixty years later, is how far the female character has fallen, at least in genre cinema.

In the case of Vertigo, knowing that Ms. Novak was in on the con means that Mr. Stewart dressing her up as the virgin Blonde is a choice that she makes. It gives the femme fatale agency, via, weirdly, Mr. Hitchcock’s desire to create tension. This feeling exists only through our knowledge as audience members.

Mr. Hitchcock, unsure if he’s making a misogynist film, a film about misogyny or even that misogyny is a word or a concept, cannot help to make a thriller. Whatever his ulterior motives, he needs a character for that. And it only works with the female, who makes a choice to stay. This further gives actual weight to the Mr. Stewart’s perverse transformation, because we know that she is making a choice to go along.

Not knowing this would kill the movie story-wise, but it further reveals the great con of the film, a con Hitchcock may have pulled on himself: that this film is not a male fantasy, it is about a male fantasy. Mr. Stewart’s dress-up comes off creepy because it fucking well is.

Iris, both the character and the film, may be a male fantasy, but it’s a sad one indeed. The S&M stuff is laughable, Beardo’s penis discretely covered in a shiburu codpiece. It makes us long for the eroticism and in-depth research of Fifty Shades of Grey.

But if Ms. LeBon is what men want, scratch that, of course Ms. LeBon is what men want. It’s why I saw the movie. But if Ms. LeBon’s character is what men want, this is pale and fearful male sexuality. Shiny boots and an occasional wee on the toilet, a fantasy that doesn’t know what it is. Freud would love it, but he wouldn’t enjoy it.

Iris: The Take

Say something good. Say something good. Right. There’s a scene where Ms. LeBon gets Patsy to untie her in order to use the bathroom. As she gazes seductively from the toilet, the peeing is supposed to be sexy. I imagined a better movie, where she would have taken a massive, noisy and squirty dump. I give THAT movie…
Total Profits
As with Inferno, the time jumping conceals an idiotic plot. She’s the double for the wife, and they set up the Patsy for the fall. That’s fine. But then it’s revealed that Ms. LeBon killed the wife in self-defense (again, not wanting her to have agency). So either somehow they knew what going to happen, or they really don’t know a lot about decomp. Given that Patsy inexplicably digs up the body days later, and that Beardo inexplicably then buries her on his estate, carrying a gun that he didn’t have until now, where the police are waiting…Jesus, I’m getting stupider just talking about this.
I almost forgot: the first two lines of the film, translated directly, ‘I love you.’ ‘Me, too.’
It ain’t exactly Dan Brown.
1/2 stiffies out of 4
Total Losses


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