By: Oberst von Berauscht (Two Beers) –
Director Brian De Palma’s career is one characterized by independence, even in cases of large-budget projects. De Palma spent his life making movies in pursuit of a singular, operatic vision of the world. This retrospective documentary explores the filmography of the director in painstaking detail one by one, through the eyes of De Palma himself.
Directors Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow create the perfect conditions for a deep and honest conversation with one of the most influential late 20th century filmmakers. De Palma freely offers up his decades of film knowledge and experience for the benefit of the viewer. Paltrow and Baumbach are never present in the film, instead, they allow De Palma to speak for himself, and edit around their own questions, which immerses the viewer into the conversation.
What makes De Palma such a compelling documentary isn’t the way it chronicles his successes, but in the way it covers his failures, either artistically, commercially, or both. The film delves into this in great detail, talking most notably about De Palma’s lifelong struggle against mainstream critics, who often dismissed films that would be reevaluated years later.
Perhaps the film’s only real fault dramatically is that it chooses to approach De Palma’s career chronologically, and can end up feeling like reading the IMDB page of the filmmaker at times. They touch on just about every single film in his career, and perhaps it might have benefited by not feeling the need to hit everything. Some of the smaller films end up feeling like afterthoughts in the discussion.
For those looking to go in-depth with the history of De Palma’s career, and curious as to his thoughts on his work and his philosophy as an artist, this is required viewing.
De Palma (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every mention of critics hating his movies
Take a Drink: each time a new movie is referenced
Double it: if you’ve seen the movie they talk about
Do a Shot: when De Palma talks about his failings