I caught Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow‘s De Palma (A24, 6.10) last night on Rodeo Drive, and pretty much loved every second of it. So much so that I intend to see it a second time at the Aero on Sunday night. It put me into film-maven heaven. It’s basically MCU footage of Brian De Palma sitting and talking about every film he’s ever made (process, personalities, politics, technique) and regaling the viewer with whatever anecdotes come to mind. No personal revelations or intimate details are offered — the film is strictly about nuts and bolts and personalities.
My only gripe is that De Palma moves too briskly and is over way too soon. (I would have preferred a running time of 120 or even 160 minutes rather than 107.) I’ve shared plenty of complaints about De Palma’s films over the years, especially the ones made after Snake Eyes, but they were all magically set aside as I watched the doc. I just sat there and kind of melted. The film is so much fun if you know the terrain.
I was touched by De Palma’s honest recountings of his ups and downs. He admits to his failures (he really doesn’t care for The Fury), is proud of his successes and quite specific about why this or that film didn’t work out. But he doesn’t address the constant criticism about so many women being disrobed and taunted and stabbed and sliced in his films — he only says that women are much better at playing victims than men.
De Palma‘s story is my own in a sense, the story of a film-worshipping life that’s been going strong for 40-plus years. I started out as a huge fan of the guy in the ’70s, and then an in-and-outer in the ’80s, and then I began to fall away in the late ’90s.