Friday, June 10, 2016

De Palma revisited

It's a DePalma kind of week in New York, with most people giving their two cents on the auteur after having seen the new Jake Paltrow/Noah Baumbach doc "De Palma". I'll join the party by chiming in a bit on Brian DePalma and his endless, messy ambitions. 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- "Blow Out"is a smart, hallucinatory take on voyeurism & is more relevant now than it was 29 years ago. John Travolta with his sound equipment evokes to me an image of what DePalma do truly do with cinema - it's his only perfect movie and succumbs to the Hitchcockian tradition in the best ways imaginab;e. It's also the best John Travolta performance I've ever seen - maybe even better than his "Pulp Fiction" comeback. "Blow Out" is slightly more superior than his other Hitchock rip-off/hommage, "Dressed To Kill", which has the kind of kitsch overcooked superficiality I love in his movies.

"Carrie" does not have that. From the get go you know it's a horror delight, featuring the greatest prom scene carried out on celluloid. 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 lustful blondes. DePalma has tendency to overstylize everything & bring a `Hitchcockian queerness` to it all. This is one of the rare times when he takes a back seat and paves the way for a towering, menacing performance. There's an abandon in the filmmaking that I don't think he ever achieved again - a fearless, joyous abandon that makes you realize how talented the man truly is.

It isn`t the towering Pop of "The Untouchables" or the assaultive brilliance of "Scarface", but "Carlito`s Way" is a personal favorite that is everything his "Scarface" could have been. 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. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Cafe Society is one of the most beautifully shot movies this decade

Vittorio Storaro's photography in The Conformist is known as possibly the greatest ever. For good reason might I add. However, the last 15-20 years haven't been kind to Storaro, he's pretty much decided to stay out of the spotlight or just been forgotten because the films he's been photographing have been mostly foreign and with no cultural impact whatsoever. His last Hollywood film was 1998's Bullworth. That's fine, I don't really agree with promoting your art via mainstream fare when there is so much more freedom on the other side of the spectrum, but Muhammad, Kingdom Come, Dare to Love Me and The Trick in the Sheet? Those are the last few films he's worked on. I've never heard of them and that's saying a lot because I hear about most titles, even foreign.

Well I'm here to say that Storaro's talents have been put to good use by Woody Allen in his latest film Cafe Society. The candy-colored shots that infuse almost every frame of Allen's 1930's Hollywood romance are deliciously rendered by Storaro's Lens'. The film opens in July, but I caught a sneak peek at Cannes and, although very slight, it's a lovely film and I look forward to seeing it again stateside.

Blog Archive