Thursday, September 10, 2009

DePalma (3 Movies)



It's a DePalma kind of week in New York, with a Blogathon hosted by Cinema Viewfinder. I'll join the party by chiming in a bit on Brian DePalma and his endless, messy ambitions. I`m gonna name my 3 favourites of his in a sort of mini essay that will contribute to what Tony Dayoub is doing over there at Cinema Viewfinder. DePalma is one of the more polarizing filmmakers around- one day he makes an incredible piece of filmmaking such as the 3 listed below and then the next he pulls out a Mission To Mars or the unwatchable Femme Fatale.

His best movie- (1) Blow Out- is a smart, hallucinatory take on voyeurism & is more relevant now than it ever was 29 years ago. John Travolta with his sound equipment evokes to me an image of what DePalma can do truly do with cinema- it's his only perfect movie and succumbs to the Hitchcockian tradition in the best of ways. It's also the best Joh Travolta performance I've ever seen -safe from his Pulp Fiction comeback- in fact I think Blow Out is far superior work than his trashy Dressed To Kill, which has the kind of kitsch overcooked superficiality I despise in the some of his other movies.

(2) Carrie does not have that- from the get go you know it's a horror delight, featuring the greatest prom scene carried out on film. Sissy Spacek is the perfect match to DePalma's weird ways- her face is not that of supermodel & very much out of sync from DePalma's usual choice of females. DePalma has the tendency to overstylize everything & bring a sort of what I`d like to call `Hitchcockian queerness` to it all. This is one of the rare times that DePalma takes a back seat and paves the way to a towering performance. There's an abandon in the filmmaking that I don't think DePalma ever achieved again- a fearless, joyous abandon that makes you realize how talented the man truly is.

2 predictable choices that will likely solicitate yawns but the third one is a less conventional choice. It isn`t the towering Pop of The Untouchables or the overrated assault of Scarface. My third choice is (3) Carlito`s Way, a personal favourite that is everything his 1983 Scarface was supposed to be. Sean Penn is amazing -tell me when he isn`t- & the overall excitement is palpable. It`s pure DePalma with a story that grabs you as if -Taking a cue from the honorable Glenn Kenny- you`re being cuckolded. I guess we can end this mini essay with that.

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