Archive for July 23rd, 2017

De Palma and Me!

I have had something of a strange and strange relationship with the director Brian De Palma. I remember watching his movies as a teenager, movies like: Carrie, Obsession, The Fury, Dressed to kill, Blowout, Body Double, The Untouchables, Casualties of War, The Untouchables, Carlito’s Way, and of course Scarface. I enjoyed all of these movies, however, I was immersed enough in a in film to see some of the problems with some of them. This however, did not detract from the filmmaking skill on display. But then things changed. I went to university and started studying film. De Palma was persona non-grata. He was considered something of a hack who had built a career on ripping off Hitchcock. As an impressionable student I quickly took on this mantle too. But then I watch Carrie again and realised this is a dam good movie. And started evaluating and questioning what I’ve been taught.Brian De Palma

Then something even stranger happened, De Palma directed the first Tom Cruise, Mission Impossible movie.  This was before the Bourne movies and before Sam Mendes had made a film, let alone a Bond film.  Given the gig to direct the first in what turned out to be a hugely successful franchise, De Palma had suddenly gained credibility by directing what was essentially an action adventure popcorn movie. The hugely successful Tom Cruise vehicle started asking questions about other similar movies within the genre. The suggestion was that James Bond maybe better if it is listed top big-name directors like De Palma.Carrie Blow Out Scarface Body Double

Little did I know this was the beginning of the end for the director as his output began to slow dramatically he has today’s only made six movies in the 21 years that followed Mission Impossible. These movies have been varied to say the least. Snake eyes is a bit of a mess but a tremendous fun of a mess largely thanks to an over the top performance by Nicolas Cage and the stylish long tracking shots and use of split screen. Of the other five movies only femme fatale is interesting. It is clearly not a great movie, it is clichéd and a little disjointed; the plot is unnecessarily convoluted, having said all of this it is actually an enjoyable and fun movie to watch. And this is what De Palma its best that. His films may not be as good as those of Hitchcock but they are largely of the time and very watchable. It is difficult to imagine what more we can expect other filmmakers. True, we want to be challenged and maybe even educated but ultimately we want enjoyable entertaining experience and that is what De Palma has always given us.The Untouchables Mission Impossible Snake Eyes Femme Fatale

Why am asking these questions and making these points now? Very simply I have just watched the documentary entitled De Palma. Hearing him talk passionately about the films he has made has reminded me how much I am enjoyed many of them and really should watch some of them again. In this age of movies that are contrived with the bottom line more important than the entertainment and artistic merit of the film we really should be embracing directors like this, directors who love what they do, directors who love movies.

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