Venice Film Festival: De Palma (2015) - United States

Venice Film Festival: De Palma (2015) – United States

Venice Film Festival: De Palma (2015) – United States

Reviewed by: Andrew Chan

Directed by: Noah Baumbach, Jake Paltrow
Produced by: Eli Bush, Jake Paltrow, Scott Rudin
Starring: Brian De Palma

Reviewed at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival

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Venice 2015 honors Brian De Palma, director of two of my favourite films in “Scarface” and “The Untouchables” with the “Glory to Filmmaker” award as well as the Gala screening of “De Palma”. This is a well-made documentary capturing essentially everything you need to know about the ups and downs in a career of an extremely talented director that may or may not have fulfilled his true potential.

What I liked about directors Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow approach are the way they simply allows De Palma to sit down and talk through each of his films, the reasons behind each one, the special scenes, the characters the scripts and the actors. In between, we get some interesting facts, such as Sean Penn whispering to Michael J Fox’s ear, saying “Television actor” to slur him up a little. Others are more about how “Scarface”, his greatest film, nearly was not his to make and the fact that he kicked out Oliver Stone off the set for talking to his actors.

His use of split screens in “Sisters” was explained via his deep influence from Hitchcock films and how he is one of the few filmmakers that is inspired by the man and ultimately improvised the techniques to become his own distinctive style. What is great about this documentary is that De Palma is clearly a character and a human as he were once touted as better than George Lucas, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, but all of them became great directors with major career hits. On one hand, De Palma have had his share of success, but his inconsistency lead to films like “Mission to Mar”, “Body Double” and the disgraceful “Passion”. Perhaps, De Palmer sums it up well, “you got to realise that a director goes through trends and it depends of what kind of material you are given at the time.”

All in all, “De Palma” is an interesting documentary about a man that is extremely intelligent, made some great films and poor ones along the way, but at the same time he is just like us, flawed human characters that go through their ups and downs in life. De Palma himself phrased it extremely well, “a director most creative eras is during their 30s, 40s and 50s and after that the physical energy required is enormous and draining.” De Palmer is a man approaching 80 and acknowledges this fact and for what he has achieved, he should be a proud man and so he should be.

Recommended film and endorsed by HK Neo Reviews.

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