IN THEATERS (SF) – “78/52”

78/52 (2017; Dir.: Alexandre O. Phillippe)

GRADE: C-

By Daniel Barnes

*Opens Friday, October 27, at the Alamo Drafthouse at New Mission; now playing on VOD services.

Superficial cinephilia from The People vs. George Lucas director Phillippe, a wide-ranging non-examination of the infamous shower scene from Psycho (the title of the documentary refers to the 78 shots that comprise the 52-second sequence).  Bloviating dude after bloviating dude gives their mostly unnecessary takes on Hitchcock, naturally leading to spurious claims about how Psycho was the first film to ever do everything.  Obviously, I’m interested to hear what film scholars and qualified experts like Janet Leigh body double Marli Renfro and ex-critic/contemporary Peter Bogdanovich have to say about Hitchcock (although Bogdanovich appears especially grumpy here, possibly the victim of an overly tight ascot), but not narcissistic windbags like Eli Roth and Richard Stanley.  Not Bret Easton Ellis.  Not Elijah Wood.  Not Danny Elfman and not even Amy Duddleston, the editor of the Psycho remake (although this does lead to a marvelous story about a tense moment in the editing room, when she and Van Sant realized their version of the shower sequence wasn’t working, even though they were following the original film shot-for-shot…that was the only time this concern came up?!).  Most irritating: Phillippe’s overuse of shoddy re-enactments and chintzy black-and-white cinematography, while actual clips from Psycho are sparingly seen.