Frenzy and the British Humour

In the Hitchcock Studies class yesterday, we discussed Frenzy, Vertigo and Rebecca.

Unlike Vertigo and Rebecca, I was the only one who said I really enjoyed Frenzy.

The rest of my cohorts disregarded it as “shallow” or “jarring” to watch.

Frenzy was the second last film by Hitchcock. It was back to his hometown in England. No more James Stewart, Cary Grant, or his blonde female celebrities.

True, the rape/murder scenes “objectified” those women. But as a pure viewer, I had a great time watching it — as it was, a film to enlighten, a film to entertain.

Frenzy seems to me a hybrid of Corgi and Husky. I haven’t watched another film that combines suspense, thrill, crime so well with (dark) humour.

My film cohorts didn’t appreciate the hero saying that he seemed pathetic. But isn’t that the case with the British movies? An Average Joe’s adventure in his mundane life. My year-long sojourn in England lent me this perspective.

The Brits want someone they can recognize on the street. They root for the underdogs. They despise wisecrackers, quite the reverse to the American audience.

That’s why the Brits created Mr. Bean. That’s why they have heartfelt little story like The Full Monty, a group of unemployed men strip off to regain their manhood.

I certainly don’t dream of persuading my opinionated cohorts. But as true in film as in life —

There is not but one right answer, one right taste.

What qualities are you looking for?

I am no longer “fresh.” I was assigned two mentees from the incoming students.

I got hold of their surveys first before I reached out.

The last two questions were interesting.

What qualities are you looking for in a mentor?

What’s the first question you want to ask your mentor?

I think these two questions are almost more important than those asking opinions about a certain taste. These two questions reveal a person’s character. I certainly don’t think there is just one answer. But I do find some are a bit better than the others.

One student was looking for a cane while the other was looking for a gate.

What’s the difference?

  • The cane student wants to know all the right answers to all the questions.
  • The gate student needs to know just enough towards the goals.

Wait, I thought this is grad school. Aren’t we responsible for our own success and failure?

We are. Mentors or not, we are the ones who do the heavy-lifting.

Nobody else.

Last year when I just arrived, I didn’t try to seek all the answers all at once. I was acutely aware of my mentor’s time, so I didn’t badger the guy all that much. All I know is this — the work won’t get done by itself. No matter how I tell you about my own writing habits and schedule, you won’t get a quick fix.

There are many different ways to frame a question. But behind those questions, there lies the fundamentals of our understanding towards the task.

I then looked into my survey from last year. The quality that I was looking for in a mentor is this —


Thank you, Mr. Duncan

I never liked San Antonio Spurs.

I couldn’t bear watching them playing against my favorite teams over the years, namely, Los Angeles Lakers (Kobe Bryant), Dallas Mavericks (Dirk Nowitzki), Phoenix Suns (Steve Nash), and winning time and time again.

I thought they were cowards who preyed on their opponents’ errors. I thought they were the most uncreative bunch who could even dunk properly. Most of all, I never thought highly of the center of the team — Tim Duncan.

Yes, I know he held probably the highest degree in the league. But still, he seemed so beige to me.

That was probably until then I read the news about his retirement. I suddenly realized that the man had been with the same team as long as I could remember watching NBA.

When everyone was shouting for attention in this world of social media, he focused on just one thing — basketball in addition to family and friends.

I tried to imagine what kind of life that was. So simply. And yet, so profound.

Isn’t it his persona? This quietness. This resilience. This focus.

I find myself reading about the guy at the verge of his retirement. We need more heroes like Duncan, who led without seeking for attention, who played his part and no more and no less.

Don’t you love the guy when he says —

I’m just a basketball player. I play the game. I go home.

I didn’t. But I do now. Thank you, Mr. Duncan, for all those “beige” years.