Hitchcock/Truffaut

Filmmakers discuss how Francois Truffaut's 1966 book "Cinema According to Hitchcock" influenced their work.

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  • ★★★★ review by Sean Gilman on Letterboxd

    A movie directed by a film critic (Kent Jones) about a book of film criticism in which none of the talking heads are film critics. One of the things (just one) that makes the book so essential is that its a discussion of the craft of filmmaking from two (very different) filmmakers. In adding commentary from a wide variety of other directors, Jones highlights that element of the book while widening and updating its focus: it isn't just a conversation between Hitchcock and Truffaut, but between those two men and David Fincher, and James Gray and Kyoshi Kurosawa and Arnaud Desplechin etc. Rather than a mere supplement to the book, a video essay adding moving pictures to the book's conversations, Jones's film builds something new and on-going upon it. One of the things (just one) that makes Hitchcock great is that his films (especially the two that get the most extensive treatment in the film, Vertigo and Psycho) contain endless depths, you can get lost in them forever. Nothing is ever finished with him, as the book and now the film illustrate, the mystery endures.

  • ★★★½ review by Katie on Letterboxd

    white men nutting over white men, next

  • ★★★½ review by Truman Segal on Letterboxd

    Interesting enough documentary, now I gotta check out some more Hitch films.

    Really makes me want to read Truffaut's book.

  • ★★★½ review by loureviews on Letterboxd

    A record of the conversation which took place between veteran director Alfred Hitchcock (just after he had made his fortieth feature, 'The Birds'), and French new blood filmmaker François Truffaut.

    The interview took six days and covered every title the Master had filmed up to that point. As Truffaut knew no English and Hitch no French, there was a mediator and translator involved, which makes the success of the enterprise all the more staggering.

    A seminal book came out of the interviews, and this film takes that book as a stepping point to show some fantastic scenes from his work, while asking modern filmmakers to give their view on the movies themselves.

    Having seen all his sound features again myself over the past couple of years, and about to move again to the silents, I feel I have an intimate knowledge of the director's style, and certainly an interest in the links and tropes which are present in his work.

    "The Man Who Knew Too Much" is stated to be the first 100% Hitchcock picture, in 1934. Earlier, "The Lodger" was the first film to show his style. And then, Hollywood, which had 'no interest as a place', although he would stay there for most of his remaining career.

    This film is not essential, and gives short shrift to the films before the 1950s, but the book it is inspired by is still the last word in film discussion, and Hitch is probably still the director who casts the longest shadow.

  • ★★★★ review by Scott Pfeiffer on Letterboxd

    I am such an easy mark for this documentary: I love Hitchcock, love Truffaut, love "Hitchcock/Truffaut" the book. Further, by my lights you could make a film of just Scorsese sitting there talking for a few hours and I'd happily sit and watch. This engrossing documentary not only gives us Scorsese talking (hey, automatic "A"!), but gives him a fascinating subject to talk about as well. Then it tosses in discussions with directors (and only directors) like Arnaud Desplechin and Paul Schrader and Olivier Asssayas and Richard Linklater and Peter Bogdanovich and Kiyoshi Kurosawa, all talking about Hitchcock, Truffaut, and "Hitchcock/Truffaut," that book wherein the young polemicist went deep with his master, casting his keen, critical eye across the entire body of work to create nearly 30 hours of taped conversation redolent of the spirit of respect-and-sometimes-tweak your elders, combined with the idea that their work deserved to be considered carefully and closely, which must have surprised and moved the directors of Hitch's generation, the sort of film-by-film, shot-by-shot analysis that was emblematic of the approach of the Cahier generation of cineastes, the first whose movies would be about movies. I sound a bit breathless!

    Karolyn and I caught this at CIFF, where director Kent Jones himself was on hand. His voice was familiar to me from some of the Criterion work he's done: I think of his visual essay for the Criterion edition of Pialat's "L’enfance nue (Naked Childhood)." When asked during the Q&A afterwards why his documentary didn't touch on such-and-such favorite, Jones replied, well, there are a lot of films, and the tension defuses after 80 minutes of so. (This could have been longer and I'd be happy.) Come to think of it, this film could be considered an extended version of one of Jones's visual essays: Hitchcock had a precise, mathematical, geometrical sense of space that Jones illustrates well. Hitchcock deployed all the tricks of cinematography that make movies "magic," to use David Fincher's memorable word. The doc was co-written by Jones and Serge Toubiana.

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    Incidentally, Jason Bailey did a fine write-up on Flavorwire and I like his formulation thus: after quoting Bob Balaban's narration to the effect that “[Hitchcock's] films are made in a dialogue with the audience,” Bailey adds, "And in that audience were these filmmakers, who continue that dialogue today — as his audience, as directors talking to their own audience, and as interpreters breaking down his work. Cinema is a discussion, a process of learning from one filmmaker and teaching to the next, and in that wonderful way, Hitchcock/Truffaut isn’t just about that book. It is that book."

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