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Phoenix, December 11, 1998: Marion Crane (Anne Heche), desperate to find a way to be with her lover, Sam Loomis (Viggo Mortensen), embezzles money from her boss, then goes on the lam, leaving a wide trail. She ends up at the out-of-the-way Bates Motel, where the shy-but-kind manager, Norman Bates (Vince Vaughn), offers her a room, a meal, and a sympathetic ear. During their conversation, Marion resolves to return on the following morning to give back the money. Events of the night, which involve violence and the jealous rage of Norman's twisted mother, put an end to Marion's plans. Soon after, others arrive at the Bates Motel looking for her, including a private investigator named Arbogast (William H. Macy), and Marion's sister, Lila (Julianne Moore). They all make horrifying discoveries.

"Perhaps, it can be argued, remaking a film classic is not so terrible, but to try and redo the same film, scene by scene (and despite what you may have read it's NOT shot-by-shot), is a foolhardy exercise. The audiences that lapped up the Scream films enjoyed the jolts, the humour and the way in which cinema language today manipulates the audience. The original Psycho (1960) stands out because it was daring and compelling at the time, and Hitch's mastery of the camera was scintillating and compelling. Some of that has been retained in the new Van Sant version, but it seems so creaky, so overly written for a sophisticated youth audience. The film has some fine moments, and even some beautiful visual touches, but it also has some noticeable flaws, the major one being the miscasting of the central figure in the film: Norman Bates. Anthony Perkins was so perfect for the role; he conveyed a simple innocence that the character required in order to prepare audiences for the film's shocking denouement. Here, Vince Vaughan looks like a killer from the moment we see him, and his silly, hyper-mannered performance doesn't help much. The moment we cease to believe in Norman, the film falls apart. Here, he's a sexual pervert, whose room is filled with pornography and who masturbates while watching the hapless Marion Crane (a nice turn by Anne Heche) undress. Like the film itself, this scene is irrelevant. There are some deft performances by the always solid William Macy as the unfortunate private eye, and Julianne Moore delivers as Marion's sister. There's also that wonderfully effective Bernard Herrmann score which continues to deliciously permeate throughout. But as I left the cinema, a couple was buried in each other's arms, asleep and oblivious to what was happening. That, perhaps, says it all."
Paul Fischer

"Given the frequent doubling of characters and situations in Hitchcock's work, it's appropriate that his films have generated such a host of copies, parodies, and mirror reflections. Gus Van Sant's hyper-faithful remake of Psycho is possibly the ultimate in this tradition. By shooting in color with some updated touches, Van Sant aims to replace the low-budget, trashy menace of the original with a different kind of willed cynicism: a languid Pop Art sheen, seductively empty. Ace cinematographer Christopher Doyle makes the colored landscapes and actors look pallid and oddly edible - especially Anne Heche, a petite imp in a candy-pink dress and boyish cropped hair. Conceptually, the effect is teasingly perverse. (Just why are an openly gay director and star fooling with this lurid story about a neurotic mama's boy?) And there's some interest in the way we get to experience elements of Hitchcock's style - such as editing, framing and pacing - in a modern context, letting us feel very directly some of the differences between this style and current thriller conventions. As drama the film rarely works at all (except for the disruptive murder scenes, which still pack a punch). Struggling to make 1960 dialogue sound natural for the '90s, the performers seem mannered and self-conscious, 'guest stars' mouthing lines. It's Vince Vaughn who really sinks the movie - a broad and lazy actor who's way too hunky and imposing to suggest vulnerability. Leaning against a doorway in a turtleneck sweater, he's more like a male model; his campy swagger and deranged laugh are showy rather than convincing. Still, the main point about the film it that it exists, Hollywood's most bizarrely literal adaptation since...what? Mars Attacks? Starship Troopers? The Avengers? Moderately interesting to talk about, mostly tiresome to watch, this new Psycho takes the shortest possible route to the junkyard of useless images - like almost every commercial movie made now."
Jake Wilson

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(1998, US)

CAST: Vince Vaughn, Julianne Moore, Viggo Mortensen, William H. Macy, Anne Heche

DIRECTOR: Gun Van Sant

PRODUCER: Brian Grazer, Gus Van Sant

SCRIPT: Joseph Stefano based on the novel by Robert Bloch

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Christopher Doyle

EDITOR: Amy Duddleston

MUSIC: Bernard Herrmann


RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes



VIDEO RELEASE: August 18, 1999

Sell-through: March 29, 2000

$$P: $19.94


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