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De Palma (2015)

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A documentary about writer and director Brian De Palma.
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Storyline

In the annals of Hollywood film since the artistic glories of the New Hollywood era, few have a better reputation and body of work in the field of suspense films exploring the contemporary darkness in American life than Brian De Palma. Here, the great film writer and director takes, us in his own words, through his professional life and a career that redefined film horror and suspense. All the while, he also confesses the challenges of working in Hollywood and the price even the great artists pay for being a part of it. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

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Being a director is being a watcher


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violent images, graphic nudity, sexual content and some language | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

23 September 2016 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Де Пальма  »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$30,355 (USA) (12 June 2016)

Gross:

$163,359 (USA) (29 July 2016)
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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Co-director Jake Paltrow on who he made De Palma (2015) for: "For us at first, since we didn't even know if it would be a movie. I think we just spent so much time with Brian and our friendship grew in a way where we realized this would be so valuable if he spoke to us on camera the way he speaks to us at dinner because what he's talking about, and the way he talks about it, is so compelling. I think in the beginning it really was for us. And once he turned it on in a way that was just as compelling and electric on camera as it is in person having dinner with him did we realize this is movie-grade stuff. This is beyond just us recording this thing selfishly, this is probably something that lots of people would be interested in, even if they don't necessarily know Brian's movies." [2016] See more »

Goofs

Femme Fatale's release date is incorrectly listed as 2000. See more »

Quotes

[repeated line]
Brian De Palma: Holy mackerel.
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Connections

References Lawrence of Arabia (1962) See more »

Soundtracks

Dressed To Kill (Main Title Theme)
from the motion picture DRESSED TO KILL
Written by Pino Donaggio
Conducted by Natale Massara
Published by Harlene Music Publications
Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Music Inc.
Under license from Sony/ATV Publishing
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User Reviews

 
No hitch in the delivery
4 July 2016 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. A self-inflicted career retrospective … that's my most fitting description of this project from co-directors Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow. Rather than line-up a slew of third-party observers and collaborators, we get the famed director himself walking us film-by-film through his resume. That's right, Brian De Palma discusses the De Palma film canon … and we movie lovers couldn't ask for anything better.

Beginning with a clip of Vertigo, the doc leads with the Hitchcock influence, almost as a form of disclosure. It's as if everyone associated is saying, Yes we admit it … Director De Palma has been heavily influenced and inspired by the works of Alfred Hitchcock. Now pay attention to what he's done with his career – some really good, some not so good, some downright awful. "Underappreciated" might be the best label for De Palma. He was part of the "New Hollywood" with Spielberg, Scorcese, Coppola, and Lucas, yet they are worshiped, while De Palma is mostly ignored.

Mr. De Palma speaks directly to the camera and seems to thoroughly enjoy this opportunity to analyze (and at times defend) his career, providing a self guided reflective approach - a chronological retrospective that doesn't shy away from his inability to put together a streak of successful films. This is direct talk (describing a particular bomb as "one of many disasters") with no apologies from a filmmaker who has worked for five decades. He tells behind the scenes stories in a matter-of-fact manner, not always complimentary of himself, actors or the industry.

The stories and recollections are the highlight here. De Palma speaks highly of Wilford Leach (his mentor and professor at Sarah Lawrence), composer Bernard Hermann and Robert DeNiro, with less than flattering tales of Cliff Robertson (Obsession), Sean Penn (Casualties of War), and Oliver Stone (Scarface). It's fascinating to hear De Palma explain the box office failure of his version of The Bonfire of the Vanities, address the scandal of Body Double, and describe in detail the simultaneous casting (with Spielberg) of Star Wars and Carrie. Even more eye-opening is his reminiscing on the back-and-forth with director Sidney Lumet as they played hot-potato with Scarface and Prince of the City.

Brian De Palma was Columbia University educated (math and physics), and has directed some of the most creative, colorful and controversial films – some of which never received their "due". This may be mostly a film for those who want more inside-industry scoop, but it's a man who takes pride in the fact that famed film critic Pauline Kael was a fan of his work, and that few directors have a more varied canon of film.

His patented "holy mackerel" is on full display as he takes us on the journey of De Palma films, and it's a reminder that "talking head" documentaries can still work … provided the talking head doing the talking is saying something worth listening to.


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