FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Alfred Hitchcock |||
Alfred Hitchcock

This is perhaps an obvious choice, however, most people tend to overlook the Master of Suspense’s early work as well as the relevancy of his last film as a key element in the continuing transition and development of the genre he defined.

One of Hitchcock's early triumphs, this predecessor to the mistaken identity man on the run scenario Hitchcock turned to time and again, stars Robert Donat as the innocent wrongly accused of murder and pursued by both the police and enemy spies. This is the first example of Hitchcock’s mastery over the suspense tale, giving us a glimpse of the greatness to come.

Considered to be one of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest works, this story of two men who meet by chance on a train and frivolously discuss swapping murders is a prime example of a common Hitchcock theme of the man who suddenly finds himself within a nightmare world over which he has no control. You can easily see how this film lays the ground work for the more popular “North by Northwest”.

Alfred Hitchcock's final film is a light-hearted thriller involving phony psychics, kidnappers and organized religion, all of which cross paths in the search for a missing heir and a fortune in jewels. Here, Hitchcock has brilliantly developed his signature form to include the now common, and often overused, device of plot twist, after plot twist, after plot twist. Widescreen!

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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The Perfect Man

By BrianOrndorf

June 20th, 2005

Hilary Duff returns to screen again…with exactly the same type of film she’s been making for the last two years. “The Perfect Man” is redeemed somewhat by Heather Locklear’s interesting performance, but the rest is Hollywood at its most manipulative, tedious, and flavorless.


Holly Hamilton (Hilary Duff) is a frustrated teenager constantly moved around the country by her mother Jean (Heather Locklear) in an effort to find a good man she can love and marry. Finding a new home in Brooklyn, Holly takes it upon herself to create a perfect “secret admirer” for Jean, using a restaurant owner (Chris Noth, “Sex and the City”) with a special feel for women as her template. When Jean becomes wrapped up in this mysterious man, Holly quickly gets in over her head, and is soon looking for a way to let her love struck mother down without breaking her heart.

One cannot blame tween superstar Hilary Duff for strip-mining her appeal with film after film of forgettable quality; however, “The Perfect Man” is a cry for help. This mild, vanilla concoction, that doesn’t have a desire in the world to color outside the lines, is reason enough to start thinking that playing mildly perturbed teens is all Duff can do.

“Man” is the kind of softball Hollywood audience-pleaser that completely fails to register on any type of emotional or entertainment level. It’s hardly an attack on the senses, and the way it slowly takes a lap around cliché after cliché is maddening. The film clearly doesn’t understand it has no substance, no matter how hard it tries. “Man” is too creepy to be a thoughtful romantic comedy, for its foundation is poured with lies and deception, which the picture tries to pass off as tough love and devotion. And “Man” hardly works as a comedy. When faced with supporting cast of Mike O’Malley, Carson Kressley, and Caroline Rhea as the comic relief, it shouldn’t shock that “Man” doesn’t even contain a simple titter. The rest of the film is a maudlin mush from the screenwriter of “Coyote Ugly,” which should give you an indication of the quality and shameless, flavorless manipulation “Man” contains.

Inside this hollow creation does lay some interesting performances, none of which belong to Hilary Duff. The young star (teaming again with her lackluster “Cinderella Story” director Mark Rosman) has simply gone to this well of well-dressed adolescent awkwardness too many times, and “Man” asks nothing of her aside from some odd facial gesturing and to ignite some impossible chemistry with her bland love interest (Ben Feldman). Duff relies too much on her known persona. She needs an acting challenge right away, or she’ll morph into the new Sandra Dee before she knows it.

Keeping “Man” compelling the best she can is Heather Locklear, who not only bravely embraces her age with this role, but is also able to manufacture a lifeline behind the cartoonish screenwriting she’s given. Locklear seems to be the only human character on display here, exploring her character’s passionate feelings of insecurity and fear of future loneliness with unusual clarity. Frankly, losing Duff and her brand of Teen Beat nonsense in favor of following Locklear around would’ve done the movie a world of good. Locklear survives the material (even when faced with lame Styx jokes), but only barely, and provides the real reason why anyone should view “The Perfect Man.”

My rating: D+