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De Palma

De Palma

Released 7 October 2016
Director(s) Noah Baumbach, Jake Paltrow
Starring Brian De Palma
Producer(s) Noah Baumbach, Jake Paltrow
Origin United States
Running Time 110 minutes
Genre Documentary, biography
Rating TBC
80

De Palma’s Way.

The business that they call show is full of interesting, enlightening and eye-watering stories. Brian De Palma, a director who began his career with avant-garde shorts, discovered Robert De Niro and spent a career clashing with the ratings board for his often lurid work, is uniquely positioned to shine a light on many of these stories. This documentary, from Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow, takes the director on a scenic tour through his career as he brings the audience into the complicated and often frustrating world of making movies in Hollywood.

The style of the movie is simple; De Palma faces the camera and speaks directly to the audience, as if he were holding court in the local pub. To make proceedings more dynamic, the film is illustrated with copious clips – from De Palma’s own films, from the films of his idols and some rare behind the scenes footage. This is an essential prop for those in the audience who may not be familiar with the director’s lesser known work and the clips are well chosen to illustrate De Palma’s anecdotes. These anecdotes are refreshingly honest; De Palma has no problem admitting his foibles and eccentricities. He strikes an intriguing balance between high-mindedness (his experimental background and love of Alfred Hitchcock) and commercial nous; his desire to have a knockout box office hit led him to direct Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible.

Crucially, Baumbach and Paltrow make no comment, simply leading De Palma down memory lane. The resulting film will not dissuade any of De Palma’s dissenters (and he has many within the critical community) but even those who criticise the director’s work will find something to enjoy here. That being said, this is definitely a film for cineastes. This is a documentary about filmmaking, rather than an expose of Hollywood scandal and as such, will perhaps only appeal to those who are familiar with De Palma’s work. Nevertheless, whatever audience that the documentary captures will find something to chuckle about in this conversation with the controversial auteur.

- Linda O’Brien