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Double Take
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.4 stars

Double Take is well worth at least one viewing, and maybe a few more. It's a truly one-of-a-kind melange, mid-late 20th Century geopolitical documentary merged with a meta-backstory of Alfred Hitchcock and his imaginary double. All of this is turned into a startlingly strange and compelling meditation on fear and how it's used by politicians to manipulate the public of many and maybe all nations.

The film is mostly in black and white, in keeping with the many archival newsreels used from the start of the Cold War, etc. These are cleverly and seamlessly mixed with the Hitch/Hitch's doubles footage, and writer/director Grimonprez's theme of fear is heightened by his juxtaposition of Hitch's genius at creating fear and fright in viewers with Nixon, Kennedy and Reagan et al doing it to the American public.

The score is gorgeous---perfectly malevolent a la Bernard Herrmann at times---and while the film moves slowly, it raises so many vital questions in the viewer's mind that one is grateful for its occasionally semi-glacial pace. I knew nothing of this going in and was surprised in almost all the right ways, but then I don't mind trading crisp plot movement for visual artistry and intelligent, thoughtfully manipulated images. If you need lots of storyline or a boy-girl plot, this is not your film, but then if you needed that all the time you probably wouldn't be reading this.

The masterful editing and use of cinematic devices work perfectly together and by the time the film's 90 minutes are up, I'd done more thinking about politics and film and how they shape our perceptions of reality than in quite a while, and felt better for it, and refreshed in that certain way that only good art can accomplish.

Double Take creates its own special world, and if you like to think while you watch a movie, and are at all interested in Hitchcock, 20th Century history, or how fear is used as the key motivator in global and local politics, you're bound to find this film fascinating.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Let me preface my review by stating that if you're not a big fan of Hitchcock (both the man and his films from the mid-50's to mid-60's), didn't grow up with or have exposure to Cold War politics and a media-instilled fear of Communism and the Red Menace newsreels (Sputnik, the Cuban missile crisis, JFK, the Nixon-Khrushchev Kitchen debates, Fidel Castro's rise to power, nuclear proliferation and the insanely justified concept of MAD - Mutually Assured Destruction), then I don't honestly think this highly original mélange is for you. Not to say that you have to be a boomer to enjoy this, but it certainly helps. Otherwise you're at a decided disadvantage - you'll always be on the 'outside looking in' at details you have little or no familiarity with, which ultimately detracts from the overall experience concocted and expertly executed by filmmaker Johan Grimonprez.

Grimonprez draws a surprising and sarcastic parallel between the anxieties of the Cold War and the Master of Suspense in this fusion of documentary and black comedy. In 'Double Take', he explores the paranoia of America during the Cold War while using clips and Hitch's hammy spoken intros of his classic television series 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents'(which ran for eight years) as a commentary on America's household mood during the late 1950s through the mid-'60s. As Grimonprez ponders the symbiotic nature of politics, popular culture and eastern (Russian) vs. western (American) ideology, he also presents a fictional narrative (inspired by a short story by Jorge Luis Borges) in which Hitchcock (played by Ron Burrage and voiced by Mark Perry), while on a studio lot, encounters a man who looks exactly like him, a situation that's cropped up several times in the great director's films. Hitchcock once said, "If you meet your double, you should kill him," but is that the appropriate advice the great man takes himself? And how do these doppelgangers reflect a world in which fear, consumerism and nationalism have taken center stage? The often (in hindsight) ludicrous legacy of the slippery politics that beleaguered the nation back in that era coupled with the conformist reinforcement of coffee commercials (Folgers was a sponsor of Hitchcock's TV series for years), where we hear husbands harshly telling their wives they can't make a proper cup of coffee, one going as far as to claim to his office pals, "I can't believe a woman that pretty makes a cup of coffee that bad", and then when the wife switches to Folgers, that night over a candlelit dinner, after hubby samples her new brew, he blows the candles out, insinuating that mama gets some sugar as a result of this switch in java brand, is absolutely hysterical. (Maybe you do have to be a boomer to get the humor in places...).

A fever dream collage patched together with love, expertise, cynicism and a severe reverence for the man who is arguably considered to be the greatest director who ever lived, Johan Grimonprez has achieved something truly unique with 'Double Take', a fascinating if imperfect film that's galvanizing and has won awards at Sundance, Berlin, and London film festivals. To sum up with a Cold War credo, "Better dead than Red..."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2011
Double Take
This film is interesting on multiple levels. The first and most obvious is locating a body double for the Master of Suspense Alfred Hitchcock. Then, it may take a while, and the timing may be different for each individual, but there is a distinct moment in Johan Grimonprez's film Double Take when American history and Alfred Hitchcock's film career merge so closely that the two can't be separated. So skillful is the blending of historical footage with Christian Halten's provocative musical score that a viewer is tempted to conclude the Cuban missile crisis was really an episode in a Hitchcock thriller. Finally, some of the Cold War newsreel footage reproduced in the film is so bizarre it seems to have come from Hitchcock's storybook.

Hitchcock had such a long film career it's not immediately clear why Double Take seizes on the year 1962 to make its point. He was producing classic films like The 39 Steps and The Lady Vanishes in the 1930's. In 1939 he moved to the U.S., and produced a string of classic hits including Rebecca in 1940, Suspicion in 1941, and Notorious in 1946. By 1962 he had redefined the term "suspense film" with movies like Rear View, Vertigo, and Psycho. In cinema, he was a virtuoso. Politically, JFK was untested. The mismatch between the expert moviemaker and political beginner gives Johan Grimonprez the basis for making Double Take. It's a mismatch he exploits to full advantage in making this beguiling movie.
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on May 22, 2014
This is a clever and haunting film. I'm sure Hitchcock fans will enjoy it, though I'm not sure the man himself would.
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on April 15, 2014
Confusing and muddled. Couldn't get through much before turning off. Nothing interesting to keep me watching.
Whatever the directors intent was I totally missed it.
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on September 28, 2014
It worked - I like it!
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