Thursday, 29 September 2016


Eschewing the sprawling, abstracted, multi-perspective approach to a tribute doc preferred by many who assume the task of helming such a project, Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow's de Palma opts for a leaner, simpler style, sourcing its analytical commentary from one voice alone: the director himself. We hear enough of what everyone else regards of a filmmaker's work, but what of the filmmaker's own opinions? In strictly linear fashion, with attention paid to each and every film in his canon to date, Brian de Palma walks us through his career, shedding a little light on aspects of each feature that may not be evident in their content, or offering up a subjective take on their meaning and significance, both as individual works of art and as fragments of an oeuvre that is arguably either among cinema's most under- or over-praised. It's de Palma's show, as each of his films invariably are too, and Baumbach and Paltrow wisely let him loose - a septuagenarian reclined in a chair for the vast majority of the film, he is revealed to be as active and as brilliant an artist as ever he was, until a brief epilogue casts a somewhat sombre shadow over this depiction; consideration toward the decline in his output in recent years is likely related to other factors, possibly even more unfortunate. Baumbach and Paltrow can't take much of the credit for the film that de Palma is, then - theirs is the concept, which is undeniably sound, and much of its success ought to be attributed not to the directors but to the editors, Matt Mayer and Lauren Minnerath - though it's entirely fitting that its subject should claim the lion's share of that credit. A genius both behind and before the camera.