78/52 Screen 9 articles

78/52

2017

78/52 Poster
  • What makes the viewing experience of 78/52 so impressively frustrating is that the sense that Philippe has no idea whose arguments and analyses are actually worth following, or how his film’s subjects might play off each other to form a compelling narrative.

  • Before the close-read, there’s a lot of generic rhapsodizing from marquee-ish names (Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Saw/Insidious screenwriter Leigh Wannell). Most of this information is relatively familiar and the topical engagement is relatively facile: if you’ve ever wanted to hear voyeurism explained for the umpteenth time by Mick Garris, Stephen King’s TV director of choice (The Stand, Bag of Bones), now’s your time.

  • It’s refreshingly light on the pseudo-sociology and heavy on the nuts-and-bolts shop talk, the interviewees being mostly editors, sound designers, and—sure, why not?—Elijah Wood, breaking down the scrupulous detailing and patterning built into Hitchcock’s movie, all of which can be found in miniature in its central setpiece. I left thoroughly convinced that, yes, Hitch was very good at doing that sort of thing...

  • Phillipe dissects a classic without embalming it, then, which is a significant achievement of visual-essay criticism. The filmmaker highlights the primordial savagery of Hitchcock's sounds and images, parsing their origins and resonances while acknowledging their ultimate bottomlessness... In his transcendently obsessive doggedness, Philippe understands Psycho as a work of both genius and serendipity.

  • Shot in black and white and generous in its use of clips from “Psycho” and other movies, “78/52” looks at virtually every aspect of the shower scene—including the staging, the production design, the music and sound effects, the camera work, Saul Bass’ storyboards, etc.—and marvels at how brilliantly integrated they were. The word “genius” is heard more than once, and the more the film shows us, the less even hardened skeptics will be likely to demur.

  • The result is a semester or two's worth of film theory packed into an hour and a half of expertly paired imagery and insights. However, like the praise heaped on this documentary, the interviewees' adulation for Psycho and its most famous scene borders on hyperbole. No one dares to dispute the film's greatness and impact, and only one lobs a complaint: the killer's head, bewigged and shadowed during the slashing, looks too much like a mushroom. Nevertheless, Philippe's geekiness is infectious.

  • ++

    Film Comment: Laura Kern
    March 03, 2017 | Sundance | March/April 2017 Issue (p. 64)

    Within the [Midnight] sections's mire, redemption was found in just two titles. The first was Alexandre O. Philippe's hugely enjoyable dissection of Psycho's infamous shower scene, 78/52. The doc features an impressive roster of film notables from behind and in front of the screen.

  • Philippe had the not-so-original idea of looking at why Psycho, and particularly the shower scene, are such enduring cultural artifacts. His exhaustive examination of this question, however, is anything but ordinary, and though I’m generally not a fan of talking heads, Philippe’s curiosity ranges so far and wide in placing the historical, artistic, and societal significance of Psycho in context that he won my admiration.

  • This doc could have been a mess, frankly. But Philippe has put the film together smartly... In an interview I did with him..., he told me that he “structurally wanted the film to be a mirror image of Psycho. In the sense that you spend the first 40 or so minutes setting up that scene, and what it did for culture, and then right around the 40-minute mark, which is where the shower scene happens in Psycho, you essentially get into the deconstruction of it.” The results are hypnotic.

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