Monday, June 01, 2009


Dear Mr. Hitchcock,

Hi, sorry to bug you, but I just wanted to drop you a note. I thought of you the other night while I was watching this movie. It’s called Bound, and it’s pretty clever in the way that it borrows some little touches from you. The directors are a couple of brothers named Andy and Larry Wachowski, and they’ve crafted a brilliant twisty thriller here. I know you never got around to making a movie about a pair of larcenous lesbians, so consider that to have been rectified.

The thieving pair meets in the first seconds of the movie. Corky (Gina Gershon) is an ex-con just out of prison and working as a handyman. Violet (Jennifer Tilly) is a gangster’s moll, and they first lay eyes on each other as they enter an elevator together. Violet strikes you immediately as a woman who has always used sex to get what she wants, and there’s no mistaking the fact that she fixates on Corky right away.

And wouldn’t you know it – They are next-door neighbors! It doesn’t take long for Violet to come over with a cup of coffee, and again, she’s on the prowl. Her body language is unmistakable – She stands as close as she can to Corky while making flirty small talk. Y’know what? It was a bit like Tippy Hedren hitting on Rod Taylor at the start of The Birds. For her part, Corky is not unreceptive, but she is more guarded.

The second visit is where things really get moving. Violet comes over ostensibly to get help retrieving an earring from a drain. The fact that she is wearing lingerie tells Corky that she is there for more than just plumbing, and the two fall into each others arms.

There’s a third major character that we haven’t really met yet. That would be Violets’ gangster boyfriend Caesar (Joe Pantoliano). Caesar was in that elevator, too, but there was nothing about him to draw attention. When we meet him for the second time, it’s when he almost walks in on Violet and Corky in a clinch. He initially mistakes Corky for a man. This scene is funny, but it also reveals him as being quick-tempered and dangerous, as we will soon see.

I thought of you during the scene when Caesar and a couple of others torture a gang accountant. It all happens in the bathroom of Caesar’s apartment, and Corky hears the whole thing through the wall. First, she hears the muffled sounds of a struggle, then we see the water jiggle in her toilet. Then we see a splash of blood, as the action switches to the other bathroom. It’s a beautifully set up scene, one of many in this film.

The accountant, it turns out, has stolen 2 million dollars from the mob, that’s why he was getting worked over in that bathroom. Violet goes to Corky one night with the idea to steal the money. Corky thinks that this is suicidal, and says so, but as Violet talks, the idea starts to become more possible. They hatch a plan where they will steal the money, and frame one of the gangsters for it. Caesar will have to run, since the mob will believe HE stole it. It sounds perfect.

This, Mr. Hitchcock, is where I really start to love Bound. As Corky explains the mechanics of the robbery, we see the actual event play out for us, and it all goes according to plan. Up to a point. The problem is that instead of running, Caesar thinks he can work his way out of it. This culminates in an astonishing sequence where Caesar has three dead men in his apartment and the cops in the elevator on the way up, and he somehow manages to bluff his way through it.

Do you remember that great sequence in Strangers on a Train where Robert Walker drops the lighter down the sewer grate, and although he’s the bad guy, we end up WANTING him to recover it? It’s part of what you once said about transferring our sympathy to the bad guy. – Playing the audience like a fiddle. Well, the Wachowskis do it here, too. After Caesar hastily re-arranges the apartment and hides the three bodies in the shower, he seems to be home free. Then, one of the cops asks to use the bathroom, and as he relieves himself, we (but not him) see blood dripping on the floor. Again, we suddenly realize that we want him to get away with it.

Watching Pantolione as Caesar try to frantically worm his way out of this mess is an absolute delight. It would have been easier for him to just run like the women wanted, but he’s smart, stubborn, and nervy. Hell, he even meets the cops with a gun tucked into the back of his pants. No damn way is he taking the fall for this, and his mind never stops working. It’s a brilliant performance.

This whole drama, of course, is being listened to by Corky from the next apartment, and Caesar exposes the plot in a brilliant little set piece. I’m not going to give you any details, just to tell you that it involves a redial button. I could have easily seen you coming up with that one, Mr. Hitch. I could have also seen you dreaming up the sequence with Caesar and the white paint at the film’s climax.

So, as you can see, you were a pretty good teacher. Bound uses a lot of the methods that you used, but it doesn’t rely on them. The movie just emerges naturally as a taut thriller – It never feels like a gimmicky homage.

Well, I guess I’ve kept you long enough. I got some other stuff I should do, and then I might just sit down and watch Strangers on a Train again. Take care. We miss you down here.





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