Steven Soderbergh may have "retired" from feature filmmaking with last year's Behind The Candelabra, but he's done the opposite of retiring from creative life. When the acclaimed director isn't writing novellas on Twitter or directing and executive producing upcoming Cinemax show, The Knick, apparently he's been dabbling in a little weekend editing with other people's movies—specifically Psycho. Both versions.
The new Psychos combines Alfred Hitchcock's classic, which induced fear-comas at the time of its release, and Gus Van Sant's notorious version, which is almost hypnotic in its pointlessness (rarely has the creation of a film felt more like performance art, and the product itself an afterthought, than this shot-for-shot remake, which was released in 1998). Although the latter film was shot in color, Psychos is black-and-white throughout—except for its two most shocking scenes, where in the color is restored to the new version, which is layered over the original.
The credits include both Vince Vaughn and Anthony Perkins and the major players from both cats. Then we begin with a very famous crane shot that feels like a magic carpet ride over Los Angeles that's slowly losing steam as it heads toward a hotel window. Inside, a post-coital Anne Heche and Viggo Mortensen lay in bed, although in the next scene, Anne Heche morphs into Janet Leigh, and everyone talks with a noticeable difference in cadence.
Signifiers of the time difference occasionally ring out, like Tom Cassidy flaunting his $40,000 in the 1960 version, a figure that might not have incited Marion to embezzlement at the latter date. As a reminder of the inexorable march of time, however, the $400,000 that this sum was updated to in 1998 doesn't have quite the same ring 16 years on. (But if anyone has a $400K grant for internet writers, please contact me at email@example.com)
Watch the full version of Psychos at yet another Soderbergh project, his website, Extension 765