Film In 2009, I undertook to watch all of Alfred Hitchcock's films in order and somewhat review them on this blog. That endeavour is all posted here, including a brief survey of my favourite, Rear Window, which even more than the director's consensus best, Vertigo, seems to be a near perfect film in that it contains all of the suspense and psychological rigour but also a modicum of humour and Grace Kelly. It's also the film I relate to most given my highrise living and proximity to other buildings through which you can see other lives even though you must not, also making you conscious that people might just be able to see how you conduct yourselves. It's a conspiratorial privacy augmented with blinds and curtains when absolutely necessary.
This need to work through lists is born of a restless, distracted interest in culture which requires taming, of being, as I say in my Twitter profile of being intensely interested in everything and so needing guidance so as not let the entirety of culture topple in on me. So there I am watching acting and directing careers in order, the adventures of a Time Lord across media, visiting art institutions and the boxed sets of television, the endless boxed sets. At the moment, in what I intend to the list to end all lists, I'm working through 1001 films to watch before I die, which typically is actually more like a thousand and a half due to annual updates and of course I'm trying to see them in chronological order, one per day. I'm in the 1940s now. I've been at this nearly six months.
Every one is a challenge and there always moments when I hit the wall. There are abandoned projects. There was a moment whilst listening to In Our Time in order when I realised that my interest in everything didn't stretch to evolutionary psychology or literary modernism and that indeed my inability to really understand what any of these people were saying was making me depressed. Attempting to follow This American Life from the start also foundered at the end of the Your Radio Treehouse era because that was the moment when show re-emerged fully formed and I was falling behind on new episodes. That's also a factor. These projects tend to work best when there's an obvious end point or a single body of work. Part of me wishes Woody Allen would stop for this reason.
None of these are achievements exactly. My personal Everest was returning to a red brick university for an MA and I'm quite content that being my great achievement, at least for now. But there's still a sense of pleasure at completing especially if you feel like you've learnt something. Only until I watched my way through Hitchcock's career did I notice that he utilised roughly the same plot over and over through much of his career, of the wrongly accused on the run but that it wasn't until he shifted away from this that his true classics emerged. So perhaps there is something to be said for not relying too much on linear thinking.