For those with in interest in De Palma's films and long career, or just cinema in general, this is a highly entertaining and informative visit with one of the most interesting, controversial and eclectic American film makers of the last 50 years.
The form couldn't be simpler. Just Brian De Palma sitting in a chair telling stories about each of his films in chronological order, from his first shorts in the mid 1960s to "Passion" in 2013 – an amazing span of almost 50 … mehryears. His comments are interspersed with well chosen clips from his own work, and – when he makes a reference – those of other film-makers as well.
What makes this form work so well is that De Palma is a terrific interview subject. He's funny, thoughtful, insightful, and sometimes very entertainingly snarky. He is also tremendously honest. He saves many of his toughest criticisms for himself, analyzing with surgical precision why certain of his films could have been better, and his part in those lapses. Very few directors are willing to talk at length about choices and moments they regret, usually choosing only to blame others for artistic goals falling short. But by acknowledging his own choices that didn't work out he makes himself very human, empathetic and trustworthy as a subject. He's not interested in self-glorification as much as he is in sharing a lifetime of wisdom won by mostly hard experience (few of De Palma's films got the support and attention they deserved at the time of their release – some, like 'Scarface' only became iconic years later). And he also talks with a touching wistfulness about those films he is truly proud of that never got the support – critical, commercial or both – that they deserved.
Overall you end up with a real sense of what it's like to be tremendously talented, protean, rule-breaking film-maker over 50 years – the ridiculous highs and lows, the multiple struggles, hard times and occasional triumphs of a high-profile artistic life in the weirdness that is the American film scene. weniger