Steven Soderbergh took the original Hitchcock Psycho and the shot-for-shot exact remake that Gus Van Sant did and edited them together into one whole, then put it up for free on his website. (The link under the name of this movie will take you there, not to imdb.) The character of Marion Crane will enter a room as Anne Heche, then when she leaves she will suddenly be Janet Leigh. Norman Bates is sometimes Anthony Perkins and sometimes he’s Vince Vaughn. (Although he isn’t often Vince Vaughn in dialogue scenes; Soderbergh must have really hated his performance, because he gets the least screen time of any of the actors from either version.)

The film reminded me, oddly enough, not of other arthouse experiments or of other Soderbegh or Van Sant or Hitchcock movies but of Bob Saget’s movie the Farce of the Penguins. You probably haven’t heard of Farce of the Penguins, so I’ll explain: when March of the Penguins was released internationally it was mostly un-narrated footage of waddling birds, but before it hit theaters in America a voice-over by Morgan Freeman was added to make it more commercial. After March became a big hit Saget had the idea of buying the rights to the movie and then adding his own voice-over track – but one which was unrepetently filthy. They wouldn’t sell it to him, so he just bought hundreds of hours of stock footage and edited it himself into a full length movie.

When you watch Farce, at first it’s funny because it’s such a dumb idea: who would look at a penguin and think “that’s the perfect vehicle for a dick joke?” But then it wears itself out fairly quickly, because it’s about as clever as your average youtube video but much longer. But then the rake effect kicks in and it’s funny that it goes on so goddamn long. But then it becomes an endurance test, because the rake effect can only keep you going for so long and the movie is longer than that.

Psychos is similar. At first it’s interesting to  see the juxtapositions between the acting styles; older actors seem more stiff, somehow, but that also helps them deliver dialogue that doesn’t sound naturalistic more convincingly. But then you realize: ok, I get the joke of this, but it’s still going. Then the shower scene happens – which is one of two times that the footage of both films are directly overlaid on top of each other, and one of two times the movie breaks into color – and that gooses you up. But then you’re still only halfway through.

I’m not saying that this movie is bad. But I am saying it reminded me of a movie where someone took stock footage of a penguin trying to mate and then drew an animated wiggling cartoon dick on top of it, so buyer beware.

Winner: Push

Psychos on Steven Soderbergh's website