Sunday, January 20, 2013

Cape Fear. B

The suits, the lighting, the Elmer Bernstein-revised Bernard Hermann score, the production design by legend Henry Bumstead, the Saul Bass opening credits-all blatant indications that Martin Scorsese is in full-on Hitchcock mode with Cape Fear. Add that this is a remake of the 1962 film of the same name, that it has small roles from the original's two stars, Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum, and that there are a handful of nods to The Night of the Hunter, and it hardly feels like a Martin Scorsese picture at all. One of the things I love about Scorsese is that he's almost as interested in movie history as he is in making them, and yet in his major body of work he's been able to establish an original vision. His best movies hardly ever feel derivative. And thus I have no problem with him every so often splurging and letting his love of old movies seep through every frame. Cape Fear is just that, and it's pretty great in its own limited way. Scorsese has no aim at transcendence, and thus he can embrace the pulpy nature of the story and take Robert De Niro's whacked out villain to exaggerated extremes. The result is a beautiful film to look at (thanks, Hitchcock) that never looses tension and at one moment becomes as terrifying as anything I personally have seen. Scorsese rarely makes a film that's not weighty and serious, yet here he shows a kind of obsession for a particular visually grand, intellectually slight cinematic style and lets it permeate his entire picture.

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