Listen to this: they are making a movie about the making of a movie.
In this case, the movie concerned is Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock’s pioneering slasher classic from 1960. Scarlett Johansson is to play Janet Leigh, who starred as the short-lived Marion Caine, Anthony Hopkins is to play Hitch and Helen Mirren is to play his wife and collaborator, Alma. It has not yet been announced who will play Mother’s corpse, though the role could give Sean Penn’s flagging career a much-needed lift.
This raises the question: Dear Lord, why?
Anyone who has spent any time on a film set as an observer knows that film-making is a mind-numbingly tedious experience for those not directly involved. Even the making of a three-minute pop video – just the shooting of which often takes up to a week or more – is hardly filled with the jump-cut, flashy excitement that ends up on MTV or Viva.
The Telegraph quotes Variety magazine as saying the makers of Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho think they’re on to something “because it will concentrate on a specific untold story in the life of the director”.*
Yeah, right. What would that “specific untold story” be, do you think? Maybe that Hitch didn’t actually direct Psycho, or any of the other films bearing his name, but they were all really directed by the Earl of Oxford, or Walt Disney or even the painter Francis Bacon.
Might it have something more to do with the self-absorbed navel-gazing of some of the more conceited Hollywood types (and there are plenty of those) who think movie-goers are as fascinated with the tedious black arts of film production as film-makers are themselves?
With luck, the renowned “Curse of Psycho” will strike this production as surely as it struck Gus Van Sant with his vanity project, the doomed frame-by-frame remake of Psycho in 1998.
Further upcoming movies:
Evelyn Waugh and the Writing of Brideshead Revisited
Jack Vettriano and the Painting of The Singing Waiter
Phillipe Starck and the Designing of His Unusable Lemon Squeezer
* Actually, I couldn’t find that quote on the linked Variety story, so perhaps the Telegraph that bit up.
By now you will have read the latest instalment in the rollicking pre-Christmas pantomime, Snow Beardies and the 40 Pampered Middle-class Shitheads, which has been playing to sell-out crowds at that traditional Home of High-Priced Farce, St Paul’s Cathedral, and which has been adding so much to the gaiety of the nation over the last week or so: the Dean of St Paul’s, the Rt Rev Graeme Knowles, has resigned.
By chance, I happen to be re-reading The Diaries of Evelyn Waugh (fantastic value at £2.50 with free p&p from Amazon).
The entry for 1 April – 11 April 1942 reads:
… Next day I was due to speak at the BBC as guest of the Brains Trust… The other guests were Sir William Beveridge, don-civl servant, and an inconsiderable clergyman, the Dean of St Paul’s [the Very Revd W R Matthews].
Being inconsiderable* has remained an essential “skill” needed on the CV for anyone applying for a job in the higher echelons of Wren’s masterpiece, it seems.
* OED: inconsiderable: Not to be considered; unworthy of consideration; beneath notice; of no consequence, unimportant; insignificant, trifling. The opposite of considerable (1712 Steele Spectator. No. 302 A trifling inconsiderable Circumstance.)
One of my greatest disappointments with Twitter, as used by media-types when tweeting other media-types, is that it has utterly failed to revive the great legacy of telegraphese when it comes to news alerts.
On the face of it, it is the ideal modern communication mode to do so. The 140-letter limit forces you to be brief, concise and clear, just as the financial restraints did with the telegram. Twitter actively reins in prolixity, unlike emails and blogs. And unlike textspeak, there’s enough room within 140 characters to be inventive, clever and occasionally funny in formulating words.
Alas, that’s not the way media-type Tweetspeak has evolved. Instead, it’s either merely a subset of textspeak, complete with OMGs, LOLs and other abominations, or it’s little more than a cut’n’paste job of prosaic web headlines, complete with the ever-essential keywords all lined up “like cavalry horses answering a bugle”, as Orwell had it in another context.
Of course, media outlets using Twitter to inform their twittering public of the latest headlines have to use concise language which those readers can understand. That’s not what I’m on about. But I think journalists and media commentators whose audience is primarily other journalists and media-types are missing the opportunity to revive a great journalistic telegraphese tradition. And we’re missing out on a great opportunity to add to the gaiety of our profession which, let’s face it could do with as much gaiety it can get these days.
Consider the recent example of Daily Star reporter Richard Peppiatt’s melodramatic “open” resignation letter to Richard Desmond.