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De Palma, Brian


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#1 sexy rancheros

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 08:20 PM

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"Is Brian De Palma cursed? From a purely populist perspective we might conclude in the affirmative, but this would be to deny the development of a career now in its fifth decade and still provoking the most divisive of viewer reactions. I don't think it's a stretch to say that De Palma is the most visible American director now working to inspire such passionate, often violent, choruses both pro and con. Yet in the face of these critical tempests one simple fact is conveniently ignored: De Palma continues to work steadily through it all. Whatever one's opinion of the man's output, his sheer dedication to his art form, regardless of those praising him to the heavens or condemning him to an early grave, is reason enough to take a closer look at a varied career, one fascinating in its complexity, themes, and obsessions." - Opening paragraph of Keith Uhlich's Great Directors Entry on Sense of Cinema

Especially Recommended:
Body Double
Femme Fatale
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#2 Moe Dickstein

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 12:11 PM

I would add Blow Out (in the CC) and Dressed To Kill to that list of great DePalma works. But generally you can't go wrong with any film he's done as even the worst of them have something interesting going on.

I'll add Snake Eyes to the list as well - and if you come across Bonfire of the Vanities - It's not too shabby.
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#3 cfkane

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 11:55 AM

I have always been partial to Wise Guys and I am totally serious. I like many of DePalma's films, but Wise Guys is the only one I currently own on DVD. The scene where DiVito is being interrogated in the water always cracks me up. :

Castelo: Whose idea was it.....to rip me off......to steal food from the mouths of my wife and children?

Harry Valentini: Mine! It was my idea.Those were my exact words. I said: "Moe, let's steal food from the mouths of Mr. Castelo's wife and children.


I know the film is not a masterpiece, but it is one of what I call a "guilty pleasure" film. We all have those, I guess.
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#4 Moe Dickstein

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 12:21 PM

Then you must know where my username comes from
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#5 clydefro

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 08:55 PM

I became perhaps the last person on the planet to see Scarface today and I didn't think much of it. I've never seen a De Palma film that I felt like I could passionately defend and I generally dismiss him in my mind. 

 

Ranchy, what do you think of Scarface



#6 Moe Dickstein

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 09:48 PM

Scarface isn't one of my favorites either. That was a work for hire. What others have you seen Clyde? Have you seen Blow Out at least?
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#7 clydefro

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 09:56 PM

Yeah, I've seen Blow Out, Sisters, Carlito's Way, Femme Fatale, Dressed to Kill, Mission: Impossible, and The Untouchables

 

Don't. Like. De Palma. 

 

Not that this is necessarily fair but I almost feel like I can't be bothered or he doesn't deserve a full-on, impassioned criticism. I'm consistently amazed to see people, even ones I respect, hold him near and dear. There is nothing in his cinema for me. 



#8 Moe Dickstein

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 10:15 PM

I suppose. I can understand as there are plenty of directors people revere that don't interest me either. For me the way DePalma shoots is something that speaks to me, it's something that brings me literal joy and excitement to watch.
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#9 clydefro

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 10:26 PM

Oh and The Black Dahlia too, which he ruined. I fail to see any cynicism in De Palma's work yet he tries sometimes to be violent and dark. That's something I can't identify with in cinema. I need either pure romantic idealism or sharp, critical cynicism. I want one and experience the other. I miss the substance in De Palma. It's like there's no subtext and that bothers the heck out of me. 



#10 Moe Dickstein

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 10:48 PM

Yeah I can agree that we are definitely looking for different things in our cinematic enjoyment, which is why it's great that there are so many different kinds of films!
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#11 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 03:28 PM

Brian De Palma's Films, Ranked by Peter Sobczynski

 

Nicely timed article.  I have not seen as many of his films as most of you guys have.  My two favorites are The Untouchables and Carrie.  I was revisiting a review I did for Scarface 15 or so years ago and I didn't like it so I'm not posting it.  I have not rewatched that film and was not overly fond of it so I do not know when I'll watch it again.


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#12 Moe Dickstein

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 06:17 PM

I sometimes wonder if "Blow Out" would get more respect if DePalma's preferred title had been kept - "Personal Effects"

If you've not seen that one Master, it's a great place to start. That and Dressed to Kill make an excellent pair.
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#13 sexy rancheros

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 01:13 PM

I think Scarface is awful. By the time Tony had his big speech about how there always has to be a "bad guy" that people can point their fingers to, I was completely done with the movie. Entire thing is one overblown moral mess. I can't deal with gangster movies that try to make the gangsters a victim by a force other than him/herself, unless we're talking about "The Wire" or some shit. It's a reason why The Godfather movies bug me. Maybe, Scarface doesn't pose Tony much of a victim, but I think the film holds him as morally superior as everybody else in the movie, especially in regards to the car bomb incident, which is his "tragic" downfall.

The appeal for me about De Palma is his humor and his use of screen space. I don't think his films necessarily look that good, but De Palma has his moments with camera movement that are simply astounding. The crane shot at the end of Phantom of Paradise is a good example of him using the camera in an emotionally perfect way. Then there's the humor of De Palma, which I guess, for me, is basically that of what one would now call a "troll." I kind of lump him and Godard in the same category in this regard, where I think the humor is just recognizing that they're fucking with the audience for the hell of it a lot of the time. I think of the plot twists in Femme Fatale, especially towards the end, and how they're too ridiculous to take for face value, but De Palma makes them funny and enjoyable because he plays them straight in a slightly off-kilter that makes you realize, "Yeah, he's aware that this is stupid, but who cares." I just saw Passion and I think the last ten minutes are a good example of him fucking with the audience's sense of the film's reality and the final shot in that is a good example of his mastery of mise-en-scene in its dark and humorous glory. I also think his recycling of Hitchcock's themes and plot elements and often turning them more lurid and dumb is part of his humor as a filmmaker, but I'm sure people would disagree with that. I get a kick out of it, though.

If I would say what his best films are, from what I've seen at least, I'd say Phantom of the Paradise, Body Double, Femme Fatale, Carrie, and maybe Mission: Impossible or Dressed to Kill.

I need to give Blow Out another shot because lots of people consider that his best. I think it just didn't appeal to me as much as the films I listed above because his playfulness and humor is what appeals to me and that film didn't seem to have a whole lot of that.
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