Vertigo (1958)

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Food: 

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Sprawling Gothic red wallpaper and matching crimson chairs, elegant candlelight and off-set by Novak’s lavender dress, the food is almost the last thing I noticed – but there is is! To match this moody meal, a big Ribeye steak, mashed potatoes and mixed greens with the works… red wine and dinner rolls.

I am not much of a cook (yes, I still decide to blog about food), so I have decided to compile a spread from all over the East Village:

  • Steak from Bowery Meat Company
  • Garlic mashed potatoes from The Copper Still
  • Goat cheese mixed green salad from Cornerstone Cafe (it has pears, walnuts, dried cranberries, red wine vinaigrette dressing)
  • Tortino ai cioccolatto from Cocoa Bar
  • Bottle of wine from Motorino Pizza (VIGNETI MONTEPULCIANO 2017 ABRUZZO ITALY is my preferred choice)

Voila!

Film:

“Vertigo” (1958) is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s timeless thrillers, seen through the eyes of a young, ex-police officer who is forced to resign because of his intense fear of heights, a fear that has created problems in his past. As he is looking for work that can better accommodate his anxieties, a friend presents him with a private investigator type solicitation: keep an eye on my wife who seems to be contemplating suicide and work to prevent her from doing so. A strange and ominous proposition, but perfectly Hitchcockian.
John Fergusson (Jimmy Stewart) is our lead and he perfectly portrays a vulnerable man on the edge of demise, skirting through his new “job” with a stealthy demeanor and a palpable curiosity. The woman he is tasked with following is Judy Barton (Kim Novak), a stunning bombshell in a clean cut blazer. She is shrouded in an air of mysterious, slinking along museum walls, wandering along the river.

 

This film is brilliant and twisted in all the right ways. As Roger Ebert reveals (giving away possibly too much), ” A man has fallen in love with a woman who does not exist, and now he cries out harshly against the real woman who impersonated her. But there is so much more to it than that. The real woman has fallen in love with him. In tricking him, she tricked herself. And the man, by preferring his dream to the woman standing before him, has lost both.” Is the film, then, Hitchcock or is it really Shakespeare? But what he also calls out is the fact that this film condones itself. Alfred Hitchcock condones his own male gaze, by articulating it right in front of our eyes. His leads were often blonde, peculiar, distant, well-dressed. They were depicted through the eyes of men, who were notably weaker (handicapped in “Rear Window” in 1954; unhinged in “Psycho” in 1960; criminal in “To Catch A Thief” in 1955). It is believed that Hitchcock used this film to address his own willingness to obsessively control the image of women in his art – to make a caricature of them, to fetishize them, to make an archetype of a woman that coincided with his name.

“Vertigo” – like much of Alfred Hitchcock’s work – is multi-layered and easy to analyze. He uses motifs throughout the film, lingering on pieces of artwork that may or may not represent something deeper, extrapolating human weakness to its core, watching alliances shift and plots emerge from those shifting alliances. It is the kind of script that could still woo an audience with a simple, ineloquent reading, but becomes all the more beguiling when it is brought to life with stunning cinematography and gripping performances.

This film is so brilliant that words seem to minimize its worth. It is one, large self-fulfilling prophecy. It is a fever dream of a love struck loner. It is a warped fairy tale, a sinister thriller, a character study. It is all of these things at once. Further, the film introduced what became known as the “Vertigo Effect” based off it’s namesake – where the camera is zooming forward while pulling the camera backward, in the memorable scene that focuses on Jimmy Stewart’s face. It is a fantastic must-see and arguably one of Hitchcock’s best.

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