ONE GUY'S "GREAT" IS ANOTHER GUY'S "EH", ETC.
Two random rankings of the films of Brian De Palma have popped up on the web within the past few days. While there is some consensus between the two as to the greatness of films such as Carlito's Way, Body Double, and Hi, Mom! (give or take a few degrees), the lists are probably more interesting for their differences. Alex Winthrow, who rated every De Palma film for a directors series at his blog, And So It Begins (those are some of his rankings pictured here to the left), ranks the "Be Black, Baby" sequence from De Palma's Hi, Mom! as "masterful" (he gives the movie as a whole a C+), while The Boar's David Pountain ranks that film at number two on his "Top 10 Brian De Palma Films" list, writing, "No other work from this director does a better job of exploring his beloved themes of voyeurism and the relation between life and art. Watch this film and you’ll see it staring right back at you."
Winthrow is tone deaf to The Fury, stating that it "is two different movies needlessly cut into one," and wondering why "the film shows its climatic moment thirteen times." But he is passionate about De Palma's Snake Eyes, writing, "I love Snake Eyes. All of Snake Eyes. Not an opinion shared by many, I know, but I just can’t help it. I love the amount of detailed trickery it took to pull off its opening shot, I love Nicolas Cage’s showy, but dedicated performance, a sneaky Gary Sinise, a curiously sexy Carla Gugino – there’s simply nothing about it that I don’t enjoy. In many ways, Rick Santoro is the perfect role for Cage. He’s gaudy, dirty, but equipped with solid morals, albeit ones buried deep. The character allows Cage to be his most, well, Cagey, while also providing him moments of great torment. Cage’s character anchors the film, so I suppose if he doesn’t work for you, the film won’t either. To say it still works for me would be an understatement."
And while Winthrow is disappointed by Mission To Mars, Pountain, ranking the film at number nine, feels that it is "in serious need of reappraisal." Pountain writes, "A film giddy off the wonders of life, Mission To Mars is an absorbing tribute to man’s potential for self-discovery through outward exploration. It’s also a testament to one man’s ability to take a Hollywood hack job with a corny script and turn it into a personal project with truly kick-ass results."
Another film they disagree on is The Black Dahlia. Winthrow calls it "one of the worst films everyone involved has been a part of. The plot is needlessly complicated, the execution of the story is puzzlingly clunky, and the acting is universally stiff." Meanwhile, Pountain, who generally seems more in tune with and more enthusuastic about De Palma's cinema, mentions The Black Dahlia as a "pretty great noir fever dream."
Pountain is also passionate about De Palma's latest, Passion, a film Winthrow feels is "too frenzied for its own good." As a remake of Love Crime, Pountain contrasts it with Kimberly Peirce's Carrie remake. "It isn’t just a film directed by Brian De Palma," writes Pountain. "It’s A Brian De Palma Film. This is evident in its formal detachment, its intense Pino Donaggio score, its indulgence in his pet themes such as voyeurism and sexual obsession, its inspired use of split screen, its playful references, its lack of true closure, its disorienting use of dreams and also, unfortunately, in its financial failure."