Last night I knew I was going to the movies. I had initially planned on seeing “Finding Dory” but then I became intrigued on the documentary “De Palma” about director Brian De Palma. I figured I had the whole summer to see “Finding Dory” in the theater but even living in Los Angeles I was going to have a very limited amount of time to see “De Palma” in the theater so I decided to see the documentary and put the animated blockbuster on the wait list.
I made the right decision. “De Palma” is a very good documentary. There is a touch of Brian De Palma’s personal life that is incorporated into the film but make no mistake this documentary is about his filmmaking. From that perspective it is very interesting.
Prior to seeing the documentary I was not familiar with his earliest films and it was fascinating to hear about how he got his start. It was also wonderful to hear how he was starting off at the same time as so many other great filmmakers like George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. I loved hearing how often the careers of these men intersected at different points. I also liked hearing about how get was starting out with some great actors when they were very young like Two Time Academy Award nominee Jill Clayburgh and Two Time Academy Award Winner Robert DeNiro.
Naturally I was most interested in what he had to say about the films I have seen. It is amazing to think that Academy Award Winner Sissy Spacek almost didn’t do the screen test for “Carrie” because she had a commercial booked that day. It’s hard to imagine how different that film and Sissy’s career would have been if she hadn’t gotten that role.
I like that he doesn’t shy away from addressing the criticisms he’s gotten for the violence some of his films have shown towards women, like “Dressed to Kill” and “Body Double”. I had to laugh at how the pointed out the difference in working with Robert DeNiro in the early 70s vs working with DeNiro on 1987’s “The Untouchables”.
Any kind of artistic career is an unpredictable one and I feel like this documentary really takes you on the ride that has been Brian De Palma’s career. He, of course, celebrates his high points like “Dressed to Kill”, “The Untouchables” and “Mission: Impossible”.
However, he doesn’t shy away from the low points like “Bonfire of the Vanities” and “Mission to Mars”.
I highly, highly recommend this documentary for anybody who truly considers themselves a film buff. Even if you haven’t seen many of DePalma’s films or you aren’t a fan of his work it’s worth seeing just to hear a little bit about his personal journey, listen to him talk about the process of making each of his films and get a little bit of Hollywood gossip along the way, like how awful Sean Penn was to Michael J. Fox on the set of “Casualties of War”.
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Here is a description:
Justin Gomez and his sister, Terri, have never been close. Separated by nine years and distant in adulthood, Justin and Terri have little in common, except for the love of her three children. In the days before they embark on a road trip to visit the father that once abandoned them and their now deceased mother, both Terri and Justin are dealing with unexpected changes in their lives. Justin surprisingly realizes he might want more than a series of one night stands after a first date goes unexpectedly well. After a lifetime of being a strong type A personality, Terri is forced to confront the reality of the end of her marriage. As they hit the road, with Terri’s children in tow, they find themselves forced to rely on and confide in each other following a devastating event. Confronted with memories from the past and challenges from the present, Terri and Justin must dig deep and unearth the truth about themselves and their parents in order to build a new family based on their love for each other.