Category Archives: the girl

Clear History

Clear History ~ I stumbled onto this movie blind and with caution. Blind because I didn’t know anything about it other than it starred Larry David and Jon Hamm. With caution because HBO movies, with very little exception, have been very bad to me in the past. Whether it’s The Girl, Behind the Candelabra, or Phil Spector, it hasn’t been all that pleasant. In the case of Clear History, this might be a new beginning.

The story is one of bad judgment and revenge, starring and co-written by Larry David, with all the style and idiosyncrasies of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” What a surprise. Larry David, at first in stealth mode looking very Unabomber-like, plays a man who jumps ship on a billion dollar electric car idea, then lives as a hermit under an assumed name after the world thinks of him as a total idiot. While he’s hiding out in Martha’s Vineyard a decade later his boss comes to live. With his new life at stake, LD plans his revenge.

Larry David is at his finest here. Michael Keaton is a surprise here, he’s funny and even uses his Beetlejuice voice to good effect for the first time in decades. Liev Schreiber is good too, even though he’s uncredited because of his contract with rival network Showtime. This is also the first time I have enjoyed Danny McBride in anything.

Clear History is a very good, very funny movie, recommended, especially if you’re a “Curb” fan. Keep it up, HBO.

HBO’s Phil Spector

I was completely taken aback by the title card that preceded HBO’s Phil Spector. Here’s what it said: “This film is a work of fiction. It is not “based on a true story.” It is a drama inspired by actual persons in a trial, but it is neither an attempt to depict the actual persons, nor to comment upon the trial or its outcome.”

What?? Wow. I wonder how many lawyers between HBO and Phil Spector it actually took to write that nightmare up? I understand it’s worded to keep either party from suing the hell out of each other, but it also seems like open season to make up whatever the hell they want about real people and not get sued. Wow.

The facts: Phil Spector, perhaps one of the world’s greatest music producers, shot model and actress Lana Clarkson in his home in 2003. Spector claimed it was suicide, was tried twice for murder, and finally convicted to serve nineteen years in prison.

This film: Helen Mirren plays defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden who enters Spector’s madcap mental ward world in an attempt get him out of the murder charges. Jeffrey Tambor as attorney Bruce Cutler provides occasional comedy relief.

Al Pacino plays Spector as subtle but completely insane, sort of like a sedated homeless clown person with voices in his head and a violent streak. His home is like cross between a museum, a circus, the Addams Family house, and the Psycho house. And oh, those wigs. Sadly the wigs were real.

The film’s soundtrack, like the performances of Pacino and Mirren, is one of its few saving graces. HBO’s Phil Spector is a wonderful example of a few diamonds hidden within a piece of dog crap. If I didn’t know about the case, and Spector’s career, I wonder if this movie would even made sense. It seems built for footnotes.

The film is surprisingly and unrecognizably written and directed by David Mamet. What was he thinking? And what did Phil Spector ever do to David Mamet? These are the mysteries I would like solved. I love Mamet, and this was a major disappointment.

As the tagline for this flick says, ‘the truth is somewhere in the mix.’ Unfortunately, I think that mix has been erased and taped over multiple times. This is a mess. This is two down in my book as far as HBO movies go. Between this and The Girl, I think they should stop making movies about real people, it’s just not working out. I’m dreading the Liberace biopic coming later this year now.

The Girl

The Girl ~ Wow, what a piece of crap. That’s what I’m tempted to say about HBO’s pseudo Lifetime movie of the week about Alfred Hitchcock and Tippi Hedren, The Girl. The story is obviously one-sided, vengeful, and is about as fast and loose with facts as a Presidential candidate on the losing side of a national debate.

Here are the facts. Hitchcock was one creepy dude, and a control freak, but was a loyal husband and one of our greatest directors. He definitely had a thing for blondes. And he certainly treated Tippi Hedren like crap, both with scenes he made her shoot and not letting her out of her contract. He might have made advances on her as she alleges, or she simply may have just been difficult to work with and he wanted to hurt her career. There are cases for either option, but The Girl is simply Tippi’s revenge filled side.

All of that out of the way, Sienna Miller is an adequate Tippi Hedren, suitably mediocre for the real actress. Toby Jones, on the other hand, is absolutely stunning as Hitchcock. Much like his Truman Capote in Infamous, Jones’ Hitch is hypnotic. It’s also a fascinating look at how The Birds and Marnie as movies may have been made. Again, this is a matter of perspective, and who is telling the story. The nice thing about making a movie about events that happened fifty years ago is it’s not easy to find folks to disagree with what’s truth and what’s not.

The story of Marnie is used as a plot device in The Girl. I really wonder if screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes actually understood what Marnie was really about before she used it here as Hitch’s revenge on Hedren. It’s plausible but I think unlikely. The film’s last words, “Marnie is now hailed as Hitchcock’s final masterpiece.” Wow. Really? Again it’s a matter of history being written by the victors, I suppose, or those who live the longest.

The Girl is not for anyone with a good memory, a sense of history, or who is a Hitchcock fan. I am reminded of Oliver Stone’s JFK and Nixon where we have scenes where everyone involved is dead, so who knows really what happened in that situation. That said, like all HBO productions, it is top tier television, just in my opinion, short on facts.

The Girl is worth seeing for the great performances of the actors, nothing more. This is simply Tippi Hedren’s revenge on Hitchcock. I wonder what fellow blonde and Hitchcock actress Grace Kelly would have had to say about The Girl?