AND KEVIN COURRIER ESSAY ON DE PALMA'S "NEGLECTED GEM"
Brian De Palma's phenomenal Phantom Of The Paradise screens at 12:05 tonight (Saturday) at Brooklyn's Nighthawk Cinema. (So if you happen to be lucky enough to be heading to tonight's 9pm screening of De Palma's Passion at the Walter Reade Theater, you could make it a De Palma double feature, with a nice break in between.) The Principal Archivist at The Swan Archives notes that it will be a DCP screening, which, despite all the troubles with the DCP [non-]screening of Passion a week ago, should make for a pristine cinematic experience. "DCP," the Archivist adds, "provides a super high quality, scratch and splice free presentation with remixed sound...the [Phantom Of The Paradise] has never looked or sounded better." Phantom also screened last night at midnight at the Nighthawk.
Meanwhile, as if on cue, Critics At Large's Kevin Courrier has done a nice write up of this "neglected gem." Although he seems to have confused the lyrics for Paul Williams' Phantom's Theme with those of Williams' Faust, Courrier provides a brief history of artists' intrigue with the Faust myth throughout the years, leading up to Courrier's disappointment with Randy Newman's 1993 musical Faust, which the critic felt was too literal. "De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise, by contrast with Newman, has an imaginative power that links our associations with the legend of Faust to what we've already stored up from popular culture."
In his opening paragraph, Courrier mentions that he screened Phantom in a class on Alfred Hitchcock and De Palma: "Director Brian De Palma has accumulated a long list of neglected gems (The Fury, Blow Out, Casualties of War, Redacted), but the one whose neglect makes the least sense is his ingenious satirical rock musical, Phantom of the Paradise (1974). Fiendishly clever and percolating with film-making fever, De Palma provides ingenious allusions to Phantom of the Opera, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and The Picture of Dorian Gray. (Last year, while teaching a class on Alfred Hitchcock and Brian De Palma, I had more angry responses to this picture than some of De Palma's more inflammatory work.) But this pulsing musical comedy is an exhilarating modern retelling of the Faust myth (with roots in Dante's Divine Comedy) wherein a man becomes so consumed by his thirst for divine knowledge that he sells his soul to the Devil. In Phantom of the Paradise, though, the thirst is for something perhaps a little less lofty: rock immortality."