Courtesy The L Magazine
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a la Mod:
De Palma: I don't like to get into that kind of reading into things. I remember talking to Robin and asking him questions about this. I finally said, look, that wasn't what I was doing when I made the movie; you may see these things but it's beyond me. But I do feel in a sense that I deal with contemporary feminist characters... Most of my women characters are very active, very strong; they dominate the action for the most part. In Sisters all they do is dominate the action. In Dressed To Kill all of the men are practically like women in normal films. So whether they're prostitutes or girls making money on the side by setting up candidates or actresses or newspaper reporters-- to me they are contemporary women and are aggressively pursuing their goals.
In this chapter, I consider the original account by Lang and De Palma's cinematic rendering of it, which I view as the synthesization of several key themes in his oeuvre, especially the failed heroism of American manhood. I examine De Palma's film as a representation of American homosociality, providing a historical contextualization of it that illuminates American misogyny and homophobia, the latter no less a key factor in the events as described in the Lang account and De Palma's film. I provide a theoretical framework of the homosocial that allows us to consider De Palma's film as a critique of the normative codes of American manhood and what Gayle Rubin, following Levi-Strauss, calls the "traffic in women." The association of Eriksson, the man who opposed the kidnapping, rape, and murder of the woman, with homosexuality by the ringleader of the group, Meserve, is analyzed as a crucial component of the narrative. I explore the ways in which the film represents homoeroticism as both a galvanizing and threatening element in homosocialized manhood, which inculcates misogyny and homophobia. Further, this film represents a strong corrective to the particular forms of nationalism in the Reagan era, carried over into the Bush era. I also examine the film's staging of a masculine battle between a "negative narcissism" and a "heroic masochism."
Arnold would have loved to have seen Brooks and De Niro work together in the seventies.
Above is video of Richard Schechner discussing the filming of his play Dionysus In '69, following a screening of the Brian De Palma-directed film this past Sunday at Austin's Alamo theater. Schechner said that just as when he adapts a play and makes it his own, he felt strongly that the film was De Palma's, and that he could (and should) make it any way he wanted to. He said that De Palma rearranged some of the chronology of the performances via editing, so that the film (in De Palma's view) would play better dramatically. Schechner revealed that he and De Palma decided to make cameos at the beginning of the film: Schechner is a "kind of chubby moustached guy at the door," while De Palma walks in as a "sleek-looking young mafioso in a suit," according to Schechner. Schechner also confirmed that a gong heard on the soundtrack was added for effect during editing. The video here comes courtesy of the Austin Film Society's P.o.V. journal-- see more videos at their site.
Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere posted a bit about Brian De Palma's Carrie Tuesday night, saying that he was "half taken and half irked" when he originally saw the film in 1976. Wells writes that the ending, with the hand jumping up out of the grave, "made me jump out of my seat, and I was thereafter sold on the idea of DePalma being a kind of mad genius." Wells then continues:
I was gradually divested of this view in subsequent years, sad to say. Actually by The Fury, which was only two years later. To me De Palma was at his craftiest and most diabolical in Greetings, Hi, Mom, Sisters, Phantom of the Paradise and Carrie. Bit by bit and more and more, everything post-Carrie was one kind of problem or another (except for Scarface).
"FACE ON MARS IS ACTUALLY AN IMAX THEATRE -- SOUNDS LIKE DE PALMA TO ME"
Wells' readers then chimed in throughout the next day and beyond, with widely differing views on De Palma's oeuvre. Everybody has their favorites, and most seemed to agree that there was something extraordinary in every De Palma film, whether they liked the entire film or not. There were staunch defenders of Femme Fatale, Dressed To Kill, Blow Out, and Carlito's Way. Mission: Impossible was also given props, with one commenter suggesting that the film will age quite gracefully throughout the coming years. A vague consensus seemed to emerge that De Palma's two most recent films, The Black Dahlia and Redacted, form a combined letdown, although The Black Dahlia also found its defenders. The most widely derided movie in the comments, though, seemed to be Mission To Mars, although that film had its defenders, as well, including this gem of a decscription from Sean: "It's a creation myth story where handsome actors [go] and discover that the face on Mars is actually an IMAX theatre -- sounds like De Palma to me."
Later in the review, White gives praise to the homecoming bar scene in Redacted, before reiterating his opinion that Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker is "now overrated":For Moverman, Iraq soldiers are already dead. The Messenger is a requiem for zombies at board and overseas. Moverman isn’t skilled enough to convey complex grief like Redacted’s homecoming bar scene; he leaves his actors hanging with specious dialogue all over their faces. Full-bodied Morton has a needful, open gaze but there’s no believable sense of her character’s social reality—she’s playing a conceit. So is Foster, who is always prone to over-acting; Foster confuses making pass at Morton with showing desperation. Or is that Moverman’s confusion? Moverman can’t keep up with his actors’ misguided intensity; his camera roams over the scenes’ emotional values.
At least Kathryn Bigelow’s now-overrated Iraq War requiem, The Hurt Locker, was skillfully directed—noir tropes disguised as a war statement. Yet Bigelow’s skillful film let slip a similarly obnoxious suspicion of its characters—as in its “War is a Drug” conceit that, like The Messenger, critiques masculinity but fails to understand the depths of human commitment. It’s a sorry state when morally befuddled political tracts pass for drama.
BLOG CRITIC SAYS REDACTED ALMOST BURNS THE WAR MOVIE DOWN TO THE GROUND
Meanwhile, This Island Rod's Roderick Heath states that "Redacted almost succeeds in burning the war movie itself down to the ground, as it keeps the spirit of enquiring, experimental narrative as defined in '60s art alive and relevant." Heath feels the "cultural memory of Vietnam," along with De Palma's earlier films about that war, looming over Redacted. Heath further makes the distinction that in Redacted, De Palma is not concerned with reproducing reality, but instead, "turns realism into a mode of expression."