Updated RankingsMurder à la Mod
Interesting watch so soon after Cronenberg's debut
, Crimes of the Future. Again, the director's trademarks are there: the overt stylization of voyeuristic camerawork, multiple identities, murders and the illusion of murder, wholesale ripoffs from other filmmakers, William Finley. (You only know Finley if you've watched De Palma.) There's also inexcusable misogyny as the film opens with a montage of seemingly improvised scenes of a director behind the camera trying to talk young women into taking off their clothes. (The women are credited in a group as "The Birds".) As a narrative it makes slightly more sense than the theatrical cut of Batman vs. Superman, but is of interest to De Palma fans as a first dive into the director's bag of tricks.Woton's Wake
I added this short because the plot description sounds like ideas that would come up later. A junk sculptor with a disfigured face (William Finley, of course) dresses in cloak and mask and stalks couples to burn them with a blowtorch. One day, one of his creations transforms into a young woman with "soft, yielding flesh." Frustrated at being her intellectual superior, he chases her with the blowtorch. So first of all... ick. Seriously, De Palma has no defense for the way he regards women, but he also seems to have no understanding of them as humans. Beyond that, the short is an overly-arty college project that gives up about halfway through.Raising Cain
(1992)*"Hickory, dickory, doc. Cain has picked his lock. I'm outta here.
The cat's in the bag and the bag is going in the river."
That is some of the worst dialogue ever written.
I'm sorry I can't give this a longer review. Raising Cain was released during the height of my De Palma craze and I enjoyed it immensely, watching it twice in the theater and owning the laserdisc. Now, I'm rethinking every nice thing I ever said about the director. (Luckily, I did an Essentials re-watch last year. So I don't need to fret about a full re-apprasial because the great ones hold up.) So much silliness, with a convoluted plot buried in dream sequences and fantasy scenes... or maybe not. Maybe De Palma just didn't care about having the actors play real people. (The Phantom Menace has better characterizations.) I went from thinking it's never good to let John Lithgow go Full Lithgow to finding that is the least of this film's problems, (until that godawful but nicely composed final shot.) Things set up to build or enhance suspense are just laughable. What's with the two hicks at the end drinking beers while the amble over to maybe help? What's with the tow truck that has a giant lethal sundial sticking out of the back that spends the entire scene backing in and out of a space over and over? Passion
If Raising Cain showed De Palma as a filmmaker with his bag of tricks now empty, Passion shows him shredding the bag to try and hold his once-noteworthy career together. Every attempt at style - and there are shockingly few - is questionable or an outright fail, with most of the film looking like an airbrushed fashion spread. This thriller doesn't contain a single thrill for an hour, unless you're content gazing at the faces of Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace, and Karoline Herfurth. Largely unknown Herfurth played a key role in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer and she easily matches the two brighter stars here. There's finally some action in the last 10 minutes, but again the logic never has a chance to hold together. By the end, De Palma has turned to ripping off himself with the last two shots being direct lifts from other works, including that final moment in Raising Cain.