There is nothing better than a good documentary about the movie making process. And "De Palma" about the legendary director...wait for it...Brian De Palma is certainly a good one. And it's terrific in its own simplicity.
Indeed, filmmakers Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow simply take a camera and place it in front of De Palma and let him talk. There are no other talking heads in this film. Just De Palma and he takes you on a linear journey through his life and his 30-or-so movies. It is a fascinating watch.
Now, mind you, Brian De Palma is an acquired taste. Most of his movies are pretty violent and bloody. There's some really good stuff like "Carrie," "The Untouchables," and the very first "Mission Impossible." And there's some garbage, too. It's often been said that De Palma was a poor man's imitation of Alfred Hitchcock. Well, De Palma pulls no punches talking about that comparison. He admits to stealing some of the master's ideas and putting his own special spin on them. As a result, a De Palma movie may suck, but it certainly holds your attention visually.
While this documentary lays out as "and then I made..." fashion, the director is not shy telling stories out of school. He gives you some wonderfully funny anecdotes about the various productions. It's the juicy, seedy stuff that Hollywood is made of and I certainly couldn't resist this gossip. I mean, the section where De Palma discusses what a shithead Cliff Robertson was while making the movie "Obsession" is worth the price of your popcorn. And you also learn that George Lucas and Brian De Palma actually held casting auditions for "Star Wars" and "Carrie" simultaneously from the same pool of actors.
This documentary, which is really nothing but a one-on-one conversation that you seem to be having with Brian De Palma, made me want to go back and revisit his films. From the very first one that starred, in his very first on-camera appearance, Robert De Niro to whatever was the last De Palma film that I missed.
Again, his work might not be your cup of blood. But, if you're a film devotee, you'll not want to miss "De Palma." Like him or not, he is movie history.
LEN'S RATING: Three-and-a-half stars.
Dinner last night: Chicken and prosciutto tortellini.