De Palma

10 Overall Score
Directing: 10/10
Writing : 10/10
Clip Compilation : 10/10

Contagious love|Immersive|Enlightening

Short running time (honestly that was about the only bad I could think of).



De Palma

Starring: Brian De Palma

Directed by: Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow



Brian De Palma has been making movies for over forty years. Getting his start with self-financing and distribution, De Palma has a storied career that ranges from cult hits (Phantom of The Paradise/Carrie/Scarface), to box office smashes(The Untouchables, critical darlings (Carlito’s Way/Blow Out/Sisters) franchise starting monsters(Mission:Impossible), to controversial Hollywood flops (The Bonfire Of The Vanities/Mission To Mars). In their new documentary on De Palma, directors  Noah Baumbach (The Squid and The Whale, Greenberg, Frances Ha) and Jake Paltrow ( many episodes of Halt and Catch Fire, Boardwalk Empire, NYPD Blue) give a the subject the rare chance to be the lone voice in a retrospective on his entire career. The result is a fascinating documentary that mainly eschews the typical behind-the-scenes and personal drama theatrics of many documentaries, and instead gives it attention 100% to the man and his work instead.

Right from the begging, we as the viewer are addressed by De Palma himself, who is an excellent interview subject. He is exuberant, motor-mouthed and candid.  He talks briefly about his early life as a science nerd (including personal anecdote where he used his burgeoning audio/visual skills as a teenager, to follow and expose his father’s infidelity). The film quickly dives into his first feature, Murder A La Mod, and doesn’t let up. Interspaced with corresponding clips regarding the movies being discussed in great detail, we are taken through his entire catalog, up to and including works currently in pre-production.

This is a film fanatic’s movie. It’s obvious Baumbach and Paltrow are fanboys. But their fandom is infectious, not smothering.  De Palma himself is a film freak first as well, so it feels like a machine gun with grenade launcher attack of film geekiness. And that is a hello to a big compliment, my friend. This has been a great year for film documentaries (HBO’s Hitchcock/Truffaut and Richard Linklater: Dream is Destiny are both also great), but De Palma holds one captive with just one talking head; the subject himself and that makes it both intimate AND academic.

Some of my favorite segments include the much maligned (by some critics and De Palma’s own peers) cynical ending of Blow Out. The merry-go-round, years in the making nature that dropped Scarface into and out of and into his hands (the making of which seems to have been as explosive as protagonist Tony Montana himself). And the vastly different direction his films and career have taken in Europe (particularly in France, where De Palma is revered as a genius and celebrity).

So if you are a film fan, the movie is a must see. Due to its intimate nature, even De Palma devotees will find something new here. All be told straight from the horse’s mouth.

De Palma is now available on Blu-ray and DVD



Author: Manny Gomez View all posts by
Manny Gomez is a freelance writer based out of Florida's west coast. He obsessively reads interviews, binge watches TV shows, loves comics, movies, punk rock, hip-hop, stand-up comedy, detective novels and the mythology of baseball. His best friend is a dog. Follow him on Twitter @Manny1138

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