Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow’s fleet and bountiful portrait covers the career of the number one iconoclast of American cinema, the man who gave us Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, and Carlito’s Way
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A superb gateway into De Palma's influence on American cinema. From his love of Godardian radicalism to Hitchcock's deconstruction of dysfunctional male voyeurism, De Palma's craft was rooted in film history and the pragmatic nous of camera operating. He did not merely create a pastiche or an homage to past auteurs, he reinvented their oeuvre in a post-modern US in flux. Many of his films deserve revisionist acclaim.
About the cinema and the figure of one of the greatest stylists of contemporary cinema it would be expected and logical a film with an intelligent editing that would clearly exceed a mere interview's direct illustrations. It's not the case, that leaves us with the comfort of an encounter with this higher personality, much higher than his objectors. But, alas, no pleasure of the text.
Definitely giving it (at least) one more star than it is worth, simply by virtue of the fact that I like De Palma and enjoy listening to him (even (especially?) when he courts hubris). But it's funny: as Baumbach has been in charge of two recent special feature Criterion interviews w/ Mr. D., what we have here is basically more of that w/ just way less specificity or detail. Greatest hits. Yeah, dude. I'm aware.
De Palma reflects on each of his films chronologically with a fair amount of candor and humour that make the film enjoyable but a little tedious at times. De Palma is of course a great visual stylist but his misses have far outnumbered the hits over the years sometimes due to a feckless public but often due to their compromised nature. Yet De Palma is a natural storyteller as one discovers here.
This is absolutely essential viewing for any DePalma fans and even casual cinephiles. It's a true pleasure to hear the master talk about his life and career. Still, it's not a particularly inventive or gripping documentary. Baumbach and Paltrow could have injected some creativity and dynamic to the film's rhythm.
Underwhelming, speaking as someone who grew up watching his parents' bootleg copies of Carrie, Dressed to Kill, and Blow-Out. Most interesting bits are in the first third: watching his surgeon father work in bloody operating rooms, father's infidelity and his subsequent stalking/surveillance of him, early experiments at Cinema 16 and Sarah Lawrence, activist elements in films made in the late 1960s, etc.