Friday, June 24, 2016
DE PALMA (2016)
Directed By: Noah Baumbach & Jake Paltrow
Cinematography By: Jake Paltrow
Edited By: Matt Mayer & Lauren Minnerath
A documentary About Writer/Director Brian De Palma
One of the exciting things of watching this film is knowing how reclusive director Brian De Palma usually is. It's amazing to hear him speak about his craft and life as well as behind the scenes stories of his career.
He is also speaking and telling his stories, while looking right at you. So it's not the usual talking heads type documentary. So while you watch it, it feels like he is speaking directly to you.
The film offers a masterclass in filmmaking and also let's him speak for himself for once. Rather then seeing or reason an evaluation of his films. Here he will admit his mistakes, but also make us re-evaluate some of his work which has been accused of being more controversial or just bad filmmaking.
As the film gets to the end it does wind down as his later career films seem to be the most disappointing for audiences, critics and fans. So that some won't care as much to here which is why they are more brief when it comes to those films. As throughout the film he addresses each film on his resume as well as we get to see scripts from each of these films.
This is one of those films you hope they have a longer director's cut as it could go on longer and you would still be entertained. He is direct and methodical, but allows for a sense of humor also. So the documentary doesn't feel didactic.
He does address the critics and themes of his work. The accusations of his film promoting violence against women or being misogynistic. While his film more or less seem to worship women and let's them appear all the more human. while also worshiping the beauty of them not only physically but emotionally.As in most of his film they seem to inspire the protagonist and lead them to his doom or help to bring the best out of him. Usually helping to define the protagonist. When the female character is not the protagonist herself.
He also briefly talks about the influence of Alfred Hitchcock as obviously he has a similar filmmaking style and he even argues as filmmakers always tend to either copy or borrow from their influences and favorite films. Why wouldn't he use the style of one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. As even i will admit that through watching Brian De Palma films. I got turned on to as well as awakened to the cinema of Alfred Hitchcock. now while i can see the similariities. He uses that same technical style and inventiveness to tell the stories he brings his vision to. He is more interested in the technical and visual aspect first and foremost and seems to build the plot and characters around that aspect. Luckily he has skill and talent around him that makes his films enriching even past the technical.
I might be partial to his cinema as they are more voyeurs films and also the fact that they are more modern and closer to age. When i was watching cinema. Where as Hitchcock will always be a master but the time period that seperates us. makes it that i will always look at all of his work as classics due to style and age. So they are more like historic documents that are hard to argue about or criticize. Whereas with De Palma it feels more contemporary and can debate about his films easily.
Paltrow and Baumbach filmed Brian De Palma for one week in 2010, collecting about 30 hours worth of interview footage. De Palma, sitting in Paltrow's living room and talking about his career, wore the same shirt every day for continuity's sake.
Brian De Palma said, that initially there was no plan for a documentary feature, only an interview: "Noah and Jake were interested in this new digital camera, so Jake bought one. They wanted to make a record of all these stories that I'd told them over the years when we'd had dinner together, so they sat me down in Jake's living room. Jake operated the camera, Noah did the sound, and they would just ask me questions."
Do yourself a favor if a fan of his or movies in general. Seek out this film as it is quite a treat.