BFI London Film Festival: Hitchcock/Truffaut

With some morning press screenings starting at 0845, the LFF must think it’s Cannes or something. Early starts are fine if you’re staying ten minutes from the venue, but who lives that close to Picturehouse Central, where all the press shows are taking place?

Anyway, it felt like Cannes again today, because I went to see Hitchcock/Truffaut, a film which I’d first tried to see back in May at Cannes only to be scrimmaged out. This is just the sort of film doc that has a pandemonium of a queue at the Palais.

Thankfully, not so much here. It’s directed by US critic Kent Jones and focuses on the legendary interview between the film makers that has become a touchstone for so many directors and critics.

Luminaries such as David Fincher, Richard Linklater, Peter Bogdanovich and, of course, Martin Scorsese, line up to give the American view; Olivier Assayas and Arnaud Desplechin supply the French point of view.

The interview itself is reconstructed using the original taped recordings, complete with the voice of the interpreter, and the photos of the occasion, in Hollywood, over 7 days in 1961. Jones edits sequences of Hitch’s movies in, so it’s a very useful primer and illustration of his much-examined skills, as well as, occasionally, those of Truffaut.

Fincher is the best talker. Pretentious – “there’s an umbilicus to his subconscious” – but revealing. Actually, it was also revealing how shit Fincher’s jeans are – the sort that have an elasticated waist, from like Walmart or something. You’d have thought he’d have more stylish denims. I mean, he of all people could probably get a sponsorship deal with 7, no?

Someone else pompous, and I fear it might have been that self-acclaimed auteur James Gray, says that Kim Novak coming out of the bathroom in Vertigo is “the single greatest moment in the history of cinema.” What bollocks.

I enjoyed the film in a studenty kind of way and it’s always a pleasure to watch bits of Hitchcock brilliance, such Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman’s kiss in Notorious, or to have Scorsese talk you through the opening sequences of Psycho, with much focus on Janet Leigh’s bra.

But it all felt very old school and staid. If Truffaut and Hitchcock were alive today, they’d want something rather more daring, one feels. And given that a great segment of the doc is given to exploring Hitchcock’s PoV, it might have been useful to include other points of view, such as that of, I dunno, maybe a woman? At least a blonde…