Review: Double Take DVD

STUDIO: Kino Lorber | DIRECTOR: Johan Grimonprez
RELEASE DATE: 12/14/2010 | PRICE: DVD $29.95
BONUSES: Hitchcock casting sessions, Karen Black audio interview, more
SPECS: NR | 79 min. | Mock documentary | 1.85:1 widescreen | stereo

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Belgian filmmaker Johan Grimonprez’s Double Take, a fictionalized documentary that blends together a selection of carefully chosen archival clips with newly shot material, is reminiscent of the collage films that avant-garders Bruce Connor and Jonas Mekas were cranking out in the 1960s. And like those earlier seemingly abstract efforts, there’s a method and pattern beneath the montage madness.

Double Take‘s story revolves around Alfred Hitchcock (Psycho), using footage of the famed filmmaker introducing his TV shows and movies and inter-cutting it with early 1960s’ TV commercials, educational films and Cold War-era newsreels featuring Nixon, Khrushchev, Sputnik, Kennedy, Cuba and more).

In this way, the art house film tells a story of how Hitchcock was once visited by his doppelganger from the future, creating a tension and paranoia in the filmmaker that’s mirrored by the troubled times in the world depicted in the archival footage. “If you meet your double, you should kill him,” Hitchcock says at one point (he’s portrayed in the new footage by well-known Hitchcock impersonator Ron Burrage). Together in the montage, the theme of doubles and parallel lives is underlined and the tension (personal and global) that accompanies it.

The adept editing and overall pace of the documentary work better than the narrative, though many of the best moments are swept away too quickly by the next wave of images and ideas. That’s the nature of a montage film, I suppose. But Double Take is intelligent, precisely constructed and certainly worth a look-see if you’re a Hitchcock fan or interested in an artier-than-usual narrative construct.

Special features include one of the nuttiest extras of the year: a 20-minute audio interview conducted with Karen Black (Stuck!) in 2009 in which the actress puts on her Norma Desmond act to talk about her experiences with Hitchcock while shooting 1976’s Family Plot, the director’s final film.

Black’s stream-of-conscious riffs find her doing throaty impressions of Hitch as she relates how they exchanged dirty limericks on the set and how a friendly kiss led to the director shoving his tongue down her throat. By the halfway point, she’s on to other things, mainly her work in Airport ’75 (“People thought it was campy,” she exclaims) and the 1975 TV cult favorite Trilogy of Terror. We’re not sure why this interview is on the DVD, but we suspect that the producers think it’s as funny as we do.

 

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.