A feast for film buffs and nirvana for fans of Brian De Palma (count me among them since the late seventies!) the documentary DE PALMA is a knockout film experience.
It's deceivingly simple.
Filmmakers Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale) and Jake Paltrow (Boardwalk Empire) have become friends with the legendary De Palma. They ask him many questions but the genius of their film is that you never see them or hear their questions. You just sit across from De Palma as he tells riveting stories of every film he's made, along with his background and his battles with the studio system.
Hundreds of clips feature his greatest hits and his most obscure works with equal care.
As a key member of the seventies Hollywood vanguard alongside George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorcese, De Palma shares insights into the way they all changed the movies.
Digging film by film into revealing stories of interaction with his stars and crew for each film, he lets film buffs peek behind the curtain.
I loved his glimpses into stories I had never heard about "Dressed To Kill" and "Carrie".
One of my favorite films of his, "Blow Out" with John Travolta yielded funny and dramatic insights into his battle with the studio over a movie I love to this day, but flopped at the time.
De Palma is disarmingly frank about doing his biggest hits for money and exposure (Mission Impossible, The Untouchables) while laboring over his smaller, independent films.
I love the fact that he addresses the fact that many critics ravaged him for "mimicking" Hitchcock, while other directors copied famous styles and adapted them to applause and support. It's a great and winning argument he offers up.
Clips of his very early films with a very young Robert DeNiro are a blast and by the time they circle back decades later for him to appear as Al Capone in "The Untouchables", DeNiro's costs have gone WAY up!
This is like a two hour film lecture from one of my generations best, most controversial directors.
For anyone that thinks De Palma was done making great films in the 80's, check out the little seen 2002 film "Femme Fatale". It's everything that De Palma's films have oozed for decades, violence, sex, mystery and danger.
De Palma still has great films living in him as he approached 70. Kudos to his documentarians for capturing the man and his talent up close and in depth.
DE PALMA gets an A.