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Brian De Palma 
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Post Brian De Palma
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One of the biggest for me (which I mentioned in the 'Worst Endings' thread, making Kunz swoon) is The Untouchables. Of all the films Brian De Palma has made, including the magnificently flawed Snake Eyes and the criminally misunderstood Femme Fatale, James is trying to tell me that The Untouchables is his best film? That of all the films this semi-brilliant/semi-daft auteur has brought to the screen this lazy, half-assed, silly, cash grab remake of a forgotten television show is the seminal work of art in De Palma's canon of work? PUH-LEASE! The direction is a workmanlike patchwork of De Palma's style and influences, the acting is too campy to be legitimate but not enough fun to be truly campy (of all of Sean Connery's roles, he got an Oscar for this? Not to mention Kevin Costner, who renders his character a complete tool... to be honest everyone just sucks here), the weakest and most annoying Ennio Morricone score I've heard and one of the STUPIDEST endings in the history of STUPID FUCKING ENDINGS! I gave the film a two out of four stars but of all the films I saw last year, this film left the worst taste in my mouth along with the only half a star worthy Dune. The fact that this is indeed one of De Palma's most heralded films along with the campy fun but overrated and empty Scarface is a damn shame to a director who has made some damn good films.


Jjoshay's comment on the disagree with JB thread got me to thinking about Brian De Palma and his films. I like his work a lot and I would definitely cite him as an influence. However, viewing him sans rose colored glasses forces one to admit that he has made his share of misfires (some might say more than his share.)

Personally I like The Untouchables and Scarface more than Jj did. I also agree with him that Femme Fatale is extremely underrated. Another one of his lesser known ones that I like a lot is 1981's Blow Out with John Travolta. Redacted was also misunderstood. Casulaties Of War is one of the more underrated Vietnam films. Carrie, Body Double and Dressed To Kill have all earned their cult classic status.

On the other hand Bonfire Of The Vanities bombed big time. That one was a classic case of book that just doesn't work in cinematic form. Black Dahlia was a noble failure. The De Palma films that really didn't work for me were Mission Impossible and Mission To Mars. Those came off as too commercially designed to really work. They didn't feel like De Palma films. They felt like ANY director could've made them. De Palma is one director who's at his best when he takes risks and pushes the limit as far as he can go.

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Thu Apr 14, 2011 1:42 pm
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Post Re: Brian De Palma
The Untouchables is my favorite De Palma film. Actually it's his only film I like aside from Casualties of War and Phantom of the Paradise. But I'd still sat The Untouchables is overrated based on how some people talk about it. To me it's always been a really fun not that great movie.

Scarface is a steaming pile of poo. I really hate that movie.

De Palma in general does nothing for me. When does homage become a crutch?


Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:40 pm
Post Re: Brian De Palma
Brian De Palma might not be one of the all time great directors, but I do like some of his movies a lot.
The first De Palma movies I saw were Sisters (theatrical re-run around 1975 - nice use of split screen), Carrie and Obsession. Even though he worked with different cinematographers there was consistency to the atmosphere he created. This was later conformed with Dressed To Kill and Blow Out.
I have yet to see Body Double.
I wasn't such a big fan of The Untouchables (Kevin Costner can't act), Casualties of War (Michael J. Fox is horribly miscast IMHO), Mission to Mars
[Reveal] Spoiler:
(we humans were created/seeded by aliens? Please not again!)
, Snake Eyes (great idea - later re-used in Vantage Point and even, to a degree, in Source Code - with Snake Eyes having a horrible ending) and Black Dahlia, the latter looked nice but that's about it.
All in all from what I have seen De Palma is a very decent filmmaker. I like his fondness for (by now oldie-) technology: like the boy investigating the murder of his mother constructing a stop-motion Super8 camera in a box on a bycicle (Dressed To Kill); or Sound engineer John Travolta transferring screen shots in a magazine to 16mm film and syncing his recording to it thus discovering a conspiracy (Blow Out). Nowadays it would be done with digital hi tech gear - but the charm and craftsmanship would be lost.


Thu Apr 14, 2011 5:45 pm
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Post Re: Brian De Palma
Bondurant wrote:
The Untouchables is my favorite De Palma film. Actually it's his only film I like aside from Casualties of War and Phantom of the Paradise. But I'd still sat The Untouchables is overrated based on how some people talk about it. To me it's always been a really fun not that great movie.

Scarface is a steaming pile of poo. I really hate that movie.

De Palma in general does nothing for me. When does homage become a crutch?

I agree about De Palma. He has a very, very high trash-to-quality ratio, and his trash is noxious enough to outweigh his few accomplishments (Casualties of War, Carrie).

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Thu Apr 14, 2011 7:40 pm
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Post Re: Brian De Palma
I generally detest De Palma movies. The Untouchables is the big exception, and I don't mind Carrie and The Fury. I really hate Femme Fatale and Blow Out.

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Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:35 pm
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Eh, he's alright I guess, Scarface, Snake Eyes and Mission Impossible were his best films for me, Mission To Mars was pure garbage, the rest either did very little for me or I haven't seen yet, I do plan to watch Femme Fatale sometime next week though.


Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:10 pm
Post Re: Brian De Palma
I don’t know why De Palma’s movies attract so much dislike – I generally enjoy them. He’s got a cinematic approach that puts pedestrian directors like Clint Eastwood and Ron Howard to shame. Granted, he's made some mediocre or bad ones (Wise Guys, for example, is terrible), but that could be said for most directors.

His mid 70s to early 80s period is probably his most consistent run - Sisters, Carrie, Obsession, The Fury, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out. And although his 2000s films seem to attract the most universal loathing, I liked both Femme Fatale and The Black Dahlia.


Fri Apr 15, 2011 3:28 am
Post Re: Brian De Palma
domani wrote:
I don’t know why De Palma’s movies attract so much dislike – I generally enjoy them. He’s got a cinematic approach that puts pedestrian directors like Clint Eastwood and Ron Howard to shame. Granted, he's made some mediocre or bad ones (Wise Guys, for example, is terrible), but that could be said for most directors.

His mid 70s to early 80s period is probably his most consistent run - Sisters, Carrie, Obsession, The Fury, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out. And although his 2000s films seem to attract the most universal loathing, I liked both Femme Fatale and The Black Dahlia.


Agreed: De Palma definiitely attracts a lot of dislike - IMHO undeservedly considering his very decent early output. Perhaps people find his better movies a little too "pretty". Not sure.

I wouldn't call Clint Eastwood pedestrian though. I think he is great. Eastwood never indulged in fancy lighting, editing and other, often unnecessary, "cinematic embellishments", he knows how to tell a story about characters we care about - his cinematic approach is often "lean and mean" - and I like that a lot. (BTW: Natural Born Killers is the prime example of "embellishments" gone way too far and being about themselves rather than serving a story - Oliver Stone does have talent, but he simply doesn't know when to stop and keeps on jerking off).

Ron Howard on the other end IS pedestrian. He seems unable to leave a personal imprint. If a big budget movie looks as if a freshly graduated, unambitious film student directed them, chances are high you are watching a Ron Howard movie....


Fri Apr 15, 2011 10:22 am
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Post Re: Brian De Palma
Threeperf35 wrote:
domani wrote:
I don’t know why De Palma’s movies attract so much dislike – I generally enjoy them. He’s got a cinematic approach that puts pedestrian directors like Clint Eastwood and Ron Howard to shame. Granted, he's made some mediocre or bad ones (Wise Guys, for example, is terrible), but that could be said for most directors.

His mid 70s to early 80s period is probably his most consistent run - Sisters, Carrie, Obsession, The Fury, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out. And although his 2000s films seem to attract the most universal loathing, I liked both Femme Fatale and The Black Dahlia.


Agreed: De Palma definiitely attracts a lot of dislike - IMHO undeservedly considering his very decent early output. Perhaps people find his better movies a little too "pretty". Not sure.

I wouldn't call Clint Eastwood pedestrian though. I think he is great. Eastwood never indulged in fancy lighting, editing and other, often unnecessary, "cinematic embellishments", he knows how to tell a story about characters we care about - his cinematic approach is often "lean and mean" - and I like that a lot. (BTW: Natural Born Killers is the prime example of "embellishments" gone way too far and being about themselves rather than serving a story - Oliver Stone does have talent, but he simply doesn't know when to stop and keeps on jerking off).

Ron Howard on the other end IS pedestrian. He seems unable to leave a personal imprint. If a big budget movie looks as if a freshly graduated, unambitious film student directed them, chances are high you are watching a Ron Howard movie....


I agree about Eastwood. I like his approach, which tends to use few takes as opposed to Kubrick's and others' use of huge numbers of takes. It can produce a more organic feel. Eastwood is very good with smaller, more personal stories. He struggles when he tries to enlarge his focus. In regards to Howard, I'd say that he's competent, just nothing special. It works fine when he has a decent story to tell. Howard is basically like a journeyman QB: he won't make any big mistakes, he won't do anything special. If you have lots of talent around him, he'll guide you to a winning product.

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Fri Apr 15, 2011 11:25 am
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Wow, Eastwood is pedestrian and DePalma directs steaming piles of poo

On DePalma, I've seen 20 of his movies and think he's made some really interesting films, though no masterpieces. Even though I'm a huge Hitchcock fan i have no problem with his films that many think owe more than a small debt.

My faves are:

Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Mission Impossible
Blow Out, the Fury, Obsession, Untouchables

He has had more than his share of bombs
Mission To Mars, raising Cain, Wise Guys, Redacted, Femme Fatale, Black Dahlia, Snake Eyes

I'm no great fan of his Scarface. It's not awful, certainly entertaining, but very self indulgent for himself and his star.

Rob


Fri Apr 15, 2011 1:56 pm
Post Re: Brian De Palma
Robert Holloway wrote:
'm no great fan of his Scarface. It's not awful, certainly entertaining, but very self indulgent for himself and his star.


Better to watch the original, which is essentially a 90 minute tutorial on how to be a badass director.


Fri Apr 15, 2011 2:12 pm
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Post Re: Brian De Palma
firefly wrote:
I agree about Eastwood. I like his approach, which tends to use few takes as opposed to Kubrick's and others' use of huge numbers of takes. It can produce a more organic feel. Eastwood is very good with smaller, more personal stories. He struggles when he tries to enlarge his focus. In regards to Howard, I'd say that he's competent, just nothing special. It works fine when he has a decent story to tell. Howard is basically like a journeyman QB: he won't make any big mistakes, he won't do anything special. If you have lots of talent around him, he'll guide you to a winning product.


I agree 100% on Howard. Eastwood is a genuine auteur. Sure he doesn't actually write screenplays himself. But he (like David Fincher) always manages to take material and put enough of his own stamp on it that it becomes his own. Your organic feel comment is spot-on. Howard is basically (like Joel Schumacher and Tony Scott, albeit slightly higher in terms of quality) a director for hire. He merely takes pre-existing scripts and makes movies out of them. He can do a good job. But he's totally dependent on the material he chooses and that's why his overall body of work is as inconsistent as it is. Eastwood is an auteur. Howard's a craftsman.

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Cinema is a matter of what's in the frame and what's out-Martin Scorsese.

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Fri Apr 15, 2011 2:45 pm
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Post Re: Brian De Palma
De Palma is a strange fellow. The people who love him, really love him. His base in the United States has shrunk, but look at a country like France. His movies still routinely make the Cahiers year-end lists. Me? Like most people on this board, I either tend to like or hate his films. Not too many are merely mediocre. The Untouchables is probably the best that I've seen and I actually think (or used to think) that it was a great movie. However, I've since realised that my favourite part of that film comes from Eisenstein and not De Palma so I'm due a re-watch. Call me crazy, but my next favourite is probably Mission: Impossible. I actually think he did a really good job with that picture and elevated the source material. Scarface and Carlito's Way also fall into the "Like" column. The former is nowhere close to being a great film though. It is, however, a lot of goofy fun.

On the other hand, you have complete junk like the dreadful Mission to Mars and Black Dahlia. Both of those are more recent efforts and I'm pretty sure that De Palma's little skill is more or less gone. You might find a little visual interest, but otherwise his stuff has become dreadful.


Fri Apr 15, 2011 3:37 pm
Post Re: Brian De Palma
ed_metal_head wrote:
De Palma is a strange fellow. The people who love him, really love him. His base in the United States has shrunk, but look at a country like France. His movies still routinely make the Cahiers year-end lists. Me? Like most people on this board, I either tend to like or hate his films. Not too many are merely mediocre. The Untouchables is probably the best that I've seen and I actually think (or used to think) that it was a great movie. However, I've since realised that my favourite part of that film comes from Eisenstein and not De Palma so I'm due a re-watch. Call me crazy, but my next favourite is probably Mission: Impossible. I actually think he did a really good job with that picture and elevated the source material. Scarface and Carlito's Way also fall into the "Like" column. The former is nowhere close to being a great film though. It is, however, a lot of goofy fun.

On the other hand, you have complete junk like the dreadful Mission to Mars and Black Dahlia. Both of those are more recent efforts and I'm pretty sure that De Palma's little skill is more or less gone. You might find a little visual interest, but otherwise his stuff has become dreadful.


I don't call you crazy. His Mission movie was rather good!
Rob


Fri Apr 15, 2011 4:00 pm
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Post Re: Brian De Palma
Blow Out is coming out on a new Criterion tomorrow.


Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:17 pm
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Post Re: Brian De Palma
calvero wrote:
Blow Out is coming out on a new Criterion tomorrow.



I Know :-)
It will be straight into my Netflix queue. Hard to justify buying that one
Rob


Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:25 pm
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Post Re: Brian De Palma
Been away for a while, now I'm back.

De Palma, I believe is a director you'll mostly love or mostly hate. There doesn't seem to be much middle ground with him. Personally, I like a lot of his stuff; much of it adds up to style over substance, but I've never minded much if that style is great.

Femme Fatale is my favorite De Palma movie. I think he'd been working up to that film his entire career, and it was every single thing that makes one of his films great all rolled into one film. But if you don't really care for De Palma's work, naturally you won't like it.

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Tue Apr 19, 2011 2:40 pm
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Post Re: Brian De Palma
It's been 4 years since Redacted was released, so I'd been wondering when De Palma might make another movie. Here's an article that was posted in January, which says his next one will be Passion, a remake of a French movie called Crime d'amour:

http://www.slashfilm.com/brian-de-palma ... -thriller/

Can't say the thought of another remake is great news, but it does look like the story is on De Palma's home turf. After Redacted, which was innovative but unpleasant to watch, it'd be good to see one that's made to entertain.


Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:20 am
Post Re: Brian De Palma
De Palma's style can get in the way, it's true. I watched Casualties of War last night, and it almost seemed as if he was really very worried that people wouldn't know when bad things were happening. Whenever something displeasing occurred (soldier dying, farmgirl kidnapped/raped, etc) there would be intense, emotional musical flourishes, closeups of Fox reacting and saying things like "I'm so sorry" and "Oh my god." I felt like De Palma was trying to lead me to an emotion I would have felt myself, and thus negated it.

Overall, I'd still say it was an okay film. The performances were good, to be sure.


Wed Apr 20, 2011 11:01 am
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Post Re: Brian De Palma
Quote:
It's been 4 years since Redacted was released, so I'd been wondering when De Palma might make another movie. Here's an article that was posted in January, which says his next one will be Passion, a remake of a French movie called Crime d'amour:


here's a trailer for Passion

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaSVR4pCKT4


Tue Aug 28, 2012 8:12 pm
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