*** ½ out of four
Basically, the documentary De Palma, directed by Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow, is a rare sit-down interview with the master filmmaker behind such suspense classics as Carrie (1976), Dressed to Kill (1980) and The Untouchables (1987). No other subjects are interviewed – it's just De Palma recounting stories behind all of his own films. Of course, his remembrances are accompanied by clips of those movies. He also discusses his personal filmmaking style and his love of Hitchcock. The presentation here is simple but effective, especially because De Palma, himself, is affable, humble and a very funny storyteller.
Among the stories we get: The lawsuits against his 1974 cult classic, Phantom of the Paradise; actor Cliff Robertson's unprofessional antics on the set of Obsession (1976); De Palma kicking screenwriter Oliver Stone off the Scarface (1983) set for talking too much to the actors as if he were the director; Sean Penn antagonizing Michael J. Fox on Casualties of War; working with the brilliant but cranky music composer Bernard Herrmann; and why De Palma likes to use split screen and the split diopter lens.
The filmmaker doesn't do many interviews and doesn't record DVD commentaries, so this documentary is a real treasure, and I implore every up and coming filmmaker to see it.
De Palma opens Friday, July 8th at Chalmette Movies.