5 items from 2016
Is this Brian De Palma’s only dull film? Very possibly yes. Released in 1986, this post-SNL Joe Piscopo vehicle (you read that correctly) feels incredibly standard. The plot concerns two low-level gangsters, Moe and Harry (Piscopo and Danny DeVito, respectively), who lose their mob boss’ money at the race track. Said mob boss (Dan Hedaya) orders the two schlubs to kill each other. Hijinks ensue.
In spats, it plays like De Palma trying out slapstick. Select moments — a close-up shot that pulls out to reveal Harry being drowned inside of a fish tank or Moe testing out a bulletproof suit jacket for his boss — highlight the fascinating hybrid of De Palma’s visual style with broad, studio comedy. If only it worked a bit more frequently throughout the film’s bloated 100-minute runtime. One can only ponder what additional mileage the director may have achieved from DeVito’s deliciously terrible hairpiece, »
- The Film Stage
With a seemingly endless amount of streaming options — not only the titles at our disposal, but services themselves — we’ve taken it upon ourselves to highlight the titles that have recently hit the interwebs. Every week, one will be able to see the cream of the crop (or perhaps some simply interesting picks) of streaming titles (new and old) across platforms such as Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and more (note: U.S. only). Check out our rundown for this week’s selections below.
Belladonna of Sadness (Eiichi Yamamoto)
It all begins with Once Upon a Time. Such a simple introduction for Belladonna of Sadness, a 1973 Japanese animated feature whose newfound legacy includes a decades-long disappearance, a dramatic re-emergence, and a growing reputation as a frenzied, pornographic freakout. The final entry in anime elder statesman Osamu Tezuka‘s erotic Animerama trilogy has remained largely unknown to even the most die-hard cult cinephiles, »
- The Film Stage
When it comes to telekinesis and gory visual effects, the movie that generally springs to mind is David Cronenberg’s 1981 exploding head opus, Scanners. But years before that, American director Brian De Palma was liberally dowsing the screen with claret in his 1976 adaptation of Carrie - still rightly regarded as one of the best Stephen King adaptations made so far. A less widely remembered supernatural film from De Palma came two years after: De Palma’s supernatural thriller, The Fury.
The Fury was made with a more generous budget than Carrie, had a starrier cast (Kirk Douglas in the lead, John Cassavetes playing the villain), and it even did pretty well in financial terms. Yet The Fury had the misfortune of being caught in a kind of pincer movement between Carrie, »
Debut features are often some of the most interesting cases one comes across when undertaking the deep-dive of an auteur’s filmography. Oftentimes, signature aesthetic tics are nascent, not developed, and these premiere outings are less than fully formed visions. However, there are plenty of impressive first films that present a filmmaker’s particular fixations as more or less formulated, a clear direction leading to the later canonical landmarks. Such is the case with Brian De Palma’s Murder à la Mod, which bares the thrillmeister’s genre proclivities in full view. Although Murder is technically the second film De Palma made, it was the first to get released, as 1963’s The Wedding Party wasn’t distributed until six years after its production. (It also stands as the man’s first solo feature effort.) Indeed, Murder à la Mod is less aligned with De Palma’s pre-Sisters satires than the »
- The Film Stage
Bringing up Brian De Palma as if he’s still some kind of marginalized or misunderstood figure is now heavily contentious, not just in the sense that “the discussion” has, with the presence of the Internet, become so heavily splintered that every figure has at least seem some form of reappraisal, but in that this is being discussed on the occasion of a new documentary and retrospectives in New York, Chicago, Austin, and Toronto (the lattermost of which this symposium will be timed to). Yes, the line has probably tipped past “divisive,” but that doesn’t mean there still isn’t room for debate.
It’s not hard to understand why De Palma’s work strikes a cord with a new cinephilia fixated on form and vulgarity. Though, in going film-by-film — taking us from political diatribes against America to gonzo horror to gangster films your parents watch to strange European »
- Ethan Vestby
5 items from 2016
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