Does it really count as a documentary if its just two hours of a man sitting on a chair talking about his career? Normally, I’d say no, but the thing is that man is Brian De Palma and his filmography represents one of the eclectic group of films any American filmmaker has to offer. This is a man from the Age of the Movie Brats who’s seen Hollywood go through a transform into a billion different things, he know what its like to be at the bottom and the top, Brian De Palma is a cinema icon and the fact that Baumbach and Paltrow have captured him discussing his extensive filmography is a gift to every cinephile out there.
As most documentaries, De Palma starts at the very beginning, when De Palma was a little kid interested in physics. It was then that everything changed when he was introduced French New Wave cinema and integrated into a small clique which Robert De Niro also happened to be a part of. De Palma then continues by discussing his early films and how Greetings and High Mom! became cult hits as they were able to tap into political themes that just weren’t being discussed by any other films out there. These cult hits allowed to move to Hollywood where he’d get to make his first big budget film, Get to Know Your Rabbit. Never heard about it, that’s because it was a complete failure that sent De Palma spiraling down to the indie movie scene where he was able to do some of his best works such as Sisters and Phantom of the Paradise. He was then able to return to Hollywood where he was able to make Carrie and we all know what happened next: Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, Scarface, Body Double, etc.
You get the it, De Palma is just a documentary where De Palma goes through his entire career. Yes and no, because how boring would that be, let’s rephrase it. De Palma is a documentary where cinema icon Brian De Palma goes into in-depth conversation about the ups and downs of his career as a filmmaker, providing us with some amazing stories about the filmmaking process and some incredibly interesting commentary on how’s Hollywood has evolved over the years. Yeah, that’s more like it, De Palma is an awesome extensive history course of Brian De Palma. He acknowledges not everything he did was great and opens up about films like Mission to Mars with his distinct clever wit to make the process not seem rueful but rather like something that happened in the past. On the other hand, De Palma also takes about the success he had on films like Carrie, Mission: Impossible, and The Untouchables. And in between those moments of triumph and failure talks about all of his films that were met with controversy such as Scarface and Blow Out which we now look back at as masterpieces that we’re misunderstood in their time. With that said, De Palma is a great documentary on the cinematic life of Brian De Palma and what his films mean for the ever-evolving Hollywood.