Nina Paley’s exhaustingly energetic essay film plays much like a Jewish Sesame Street episode devoted to the story of Passover. Framed by an interview between Paley and her father, the film offers plenty of visual variety and an eclectic soundtrack but gets somewhat muddled as it juggles its energies between its various personal, historical and folkloric threads and its jukebox musical aims. Paley’s feminist critique is blunted by the playful tone of the film, which generally reduces human suffering to Tom and Jerry-level sight gags.
Hitchcock’s masterwork, better than any other, reminds us of two truisms of cinema: to look is to remember and to remember is to impose. The hypnotic spirals that haunt every facet of the visual design and even the trademark dolly zoom effect take us deeper into the image, to the point that it threatens to swallow us, much as the past threatens to engulf Scottie. Of course these geometrical chasms are metaphorically vaginal, making Vertigo the great masterpiece about sexual…