Category Archives: Entertainment

Hitchcock’s Works: The Slow Burn

April 29th, 1980, the cinema world lost one of its most influential figures in the world of grim and tense storytelling. And since, I believe, that man wouldn’t want to let a good death go to waste, today we’re going to take a look at some of the thrilling mastery of Alfred Hitchcock.

A noted mastermind in the cinema universe, a mere mention of Hitchcock’s works usually evokes the grisly shower scene of his classic Psycho. It’s an eruption of screams, sharp cuts and shrill string instruments (courtesy Bernard Hermann).


And while that vignette of fear and violence is considered one of cinema’s most iconic moments, it’s the scenes that surround it that exemplify what Hitchcock was truly the master of: slow-burning suspense.

Today we’re going to take a look at several scenes where Hitchcock employs camera techniques to create suspense. Some of the clips we’ll be sharing may spoil the plot of their respective movies and, while these films date back to the 40’s, much of their effect is lost if you know what happens, so consider this your SPOILER WARNING.

Close Shot:


Taking another look at Psycho, Hitchcock employs various framing techniques with the close shot to build tension in the dialog between Norman Bates and private investigator Arbogast on the trail of our unfortunate shower victim, Marion Crane (played by Vivian Leigh). The use of this close-up exaggerates the smaller actions and behaviors and emphasizes the feeling of claustrophobia as our investigator closes in on the truth. As Arbogast peruses the guest book, the smallest expressions of doubt, distrust and fear cross the face of Anthony Perkins in his career-defining turn as Norman Bates. 

Long-Take: The Entirety of Rope!

One his earlier films, “Rope!” is not often cited as one of the Hitchcock classics. This is often attributed to story concerns, however when it comes to cinematography, “Rope!” does things a bit differently: it starts off with the murder. We see it done, know who does it, and why. It’s how Hitchcock frames the entire piece that makes it so tense: it is one, long shot with no cut aways. While there are some camera tricks employed to change film reels and set pieces, the action and progression of the story plays out in real-time.  The continuous unraveling of the plot leave little to no breaks for the viewer, ever present as the drama plays out and stakes get ever higher.

Dolly Zoom/Vertigo Effect/Hitchcock Shot :


The dolly zoom is one of the most influential shots on this list as it was Hitchcock who brought it to the forefront with Vertigo. This shot is performed moving the camera closer to the subject while simultaneous zooming the lens out. It creates a kind of stretching effect as it widens the background. It is often referred to as the “Vertigo Effect” or the “Hitchcock Shot” due to it’s iconic effect in the film.

We’ve only glanced the surface Hitchcock’s rather extensive library so if you’re feeling up to more punishment, we’ve got a few recommendations for you.

  • Matt – Strangers on a Train for the implications of “What would you do?”
  • David – Notorious for “Claude Reines turn as a somewhat sympathetic Nazi”
  • Dan – The Birds for “Just an impressive number of birds”
  • Tim – Rebecca as it was his first ‘American’ film

There are plenty more to choose from so take your pick and cozy up tonight to watch a classic suspense artist at work.

Always make the audience suffer as much as possible. – Alfred Hitchcock

The Cult of the Six-Sided Die: Luck Culture & Games

Recently, I’ve been fortunate enough to get together with a few friends and try out the latest and greatest edition of Dungeons and Dragons. It has been some time since I’d crafted a character, fought dragons and rolled some oddly shaped dice. And it’s those odd dice that left me wondering a few things about luck, randomness and chance.
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Acquisitions Inc. – Dungeons, Dragons and a Live Studio Audience

It’s April 13th around 2:00pm at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Thousands of attendees of the Penny Arcade Expo: East (a convention better known as PAX East) have been in line for the past two hours or so for an event in the biggest theater the center has to offer. PAX East being a games-themed exhibition, you wouldn’t be faulted if you thought that this must-see event was showcasing a big-budget video game announcement or Q&A session. (There were a few of those as well.) However, the event that had so many folks lined up for so long consisted of five people sitting at a table and rolling some dice. Continue reading Acquisitions Inc. – Dungeons, Dragons and a Live Studio Audience

Culture, Taste, and What We’re Thankful For


What we like can say a lot about us. As sociologist Pierre Bourdieu said, “Taste classifies, and it classifies the classifier.” The claim is that you’re born into a certain milieu, and that ends up influencing what you like. More interestingly, though, these tastes end up “classifying you” through your attitudes toward the tastes of others. You defer to those whose tastes you view as superior and look down on those who can’t match your own cultural cred. When this plays out, we have ourselves a class system.

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