Screening Room: Hitchcock, Playing For Keeps

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KANSAS CITY, Mo --- Welcome to the Screening Room. I'm Russ Simmons. Shawn Edwards will be back next week.


Although Alfred Hitchcock was a heavyweight champion of filmmaking, the movie “Hitchcock” is surprisingly lightweight.

Anthony Hopkins dons a fat suit and heavy makeup to portray the famed director as he tackles considerable obstacles in his attempts to make the classic 1960 thriller, “Psycho.” Helen Mirren plays his longsuffering wife Alma, who was also his closest artistic collaborator.

These two Oscar-winning actors are fun to watch as they chew up the Hollywood scenery. Scarlett Johansson, Toni Colette and Jessica Biel show up in small supporting roles.

Shawn says, (QUOTE) “Too bad the movie doesn't play for keeps. It's tepid and tame and only makes Hitchcock seem like a weird old dude that made good movies.” (UNQUOTE)

He’s right. While it is well acted and beautifully produced and photographed, “Hitchcock” is an oddly timid portrait of the “Master of Suspense.”  You’d be better served watching any of Hitchcock’s old movies. Film buffs may love it, but others may find it for the birds.

RUSS: 3 Popcorn Bags

SHAWN: 3 Popcorn Bags


The busy Jessica Biel shows up yet again in a breezy romantic comedy called “Playing for Keeps.”

Biel portrays the ex-wife of a down and out former Scottish soccer star, played by Gerard Butler. Butler returns to Biel’s small Virginia town to visit her and their young son. He takes on the coaching duties of his son’s soccer team while trying to woo Jessica back. Trouble is, the soccer moms all have their eyes on Gerard, too.

A very likable and talented cast is wasted in this cliché effort. Really, what are Dennis Quaid, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Judy Greer doing in this movie? Plus, some of the scenes are so awkwardly shot that they look like they could have been captured on somebody’s smart phone.

Shawn says, (QUOTE) “Playing for Keeps plays it too safe. Never have so many talented big name stars been in such a bland movie.” (UNQUOTE)

Once again, Shawn and I are in agreement. Because if its utter lack of originality, “Playing for Keeps” should have been called, “Playing By the Numbers.”

RUSS: 2 Popcorn Bags

SHAWN: 2 Popcorn Bags

Also opening this week:

“The Flat” is a documentary from Israel, “Lay the Favorite” is a comedy with Bruce Willis, “The Comedy” is drama starring the guys from “Tim & Eric’s Awesome Show,” and “We Are Superman” is a Kansas City focused documentary about Troost Avenue, our city’s racial and economic dividing line, and the attempts of individuals and community groups to bridge the gap.

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