Combustible Celluloid
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With: Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, Julianne Moore, Viggo Mortensen, William H. Macy, Robert Forster, Philip Baker Hall, Anne Haney, Chad Everett, Rance Howard, Rita Wilson, James Remar, James LeGros, Steven Clark Pachosa, O.B. Babbs, Flea, Marjorie Lovett, Ryan Cutrona, Ken Jenkins
Written by: Joseph Stefano, based on a novel by Robert Bloch
Directed by: Gus Van Sant
MPAA Rating: R for violence and sexuality/nudity
Running Time: 105
Date: 12/04/1998

Psycho (1998)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Twist of Bates

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Gus Van Sant's notoriously savaged shot-for-shot remake of Hitchcock's 1960 classic Psycho actually deserves closer consideration than it received. Most critics simply compared it to the original and found it wanting, but that's not the point. Rather, Van Sant's Psycho works as a grand, bizarre experimental film. I would imagine that it took even greater concentration and dedication to walk in the Master's footsteps -- setting up all his shots in precisely the same way, with the same depth of field, same rhythms, and everything -- than it would take to make a new, original film. But it must have been highly revealing and educational to Van Sant, as it can be to an audience that pays attention to both films. Aside from the color and more graphic footage -- such as Norman Bates (Vince Vaughn) clearly masturbating while watching Marion Crane (Anne Heche) through his hole in the wall -- the differences lie in the idea of cinematic voice, the fact that each director chooses his or her own shots from their own training, experience and instinct. Van Sant deliberately not choosing his own shots turns out to be a strange new form of expression all in itself. Certainly it has more to offer than the boatload of lazy, mindless horror remakes that followed it.

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