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What do Alfred Hitchcock, doppelgängers, and Cold War paranoia have in common? That’s the head-scratching question posed by director Johan Grimonprez’s opaque experimental film Double Take. Borrowing a conceit from the Jorge Luis Borges story “August 25th, 1983,” the film imagines a factious conversation between Hitchcock and his younger self juxtaposed with the macabre events of the late ’50s and early ’60s: Nixon and Khrushchev’s Kitchen Debate, the Bay of Pigs, and the “golden age” of advertising. From there, Grimonprez makes connections both obvious (Hitchcock lookalikes waddle about) and murky (The Birds as a metaphor for what exactly?). Yet even when Double Take loses the plot—if it ever had one—it creates an atmosphere with the palpable tension and droll gallows humor that have kept Hitchcock embedded in our cinematic consciousness. “If you ever meet your double…kill them,” Hitch coolly remarks. Fortunately, outside this film, no one has come close to replicating the Master of Suspense.
The film shows at AFI Silver Theatre, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $11.