Brian De Palma: Junk Art
In truth, De Palma is neither a misogynist nor a feminist: women are often his camera’s subject and its object, and his films trade on the Hitchcockian fascination with the cinematic image of woman as a locus of desire and violence, attraction and disturbance
Graceful in its nearly clinical impersonality, Mission to Mars (2000) is De Palma-for-hire supreme: a CGI-dappled amusement flickering with faded traces of Spielbergian pathos but boasting a smooth, splendiferous surface and moving in an impressive array of ASC-amiable glides.
Considering that Brian De Palma’s oeuvre is so crammed with bravura set pieces and “Mind if I rewind that?” spectacle, the fact that Snake Eyes (1998) contains so many of his most thrilling moments alone qualifies it for something higher than the lower-tier lumping it generally receives.
Wise Guys contains nothing to rate with the dizzying heights of which De Palma is capable—everything from Carrie through Blow Out has at least one or two fantastic bits—but it inspires a kind of affection that the rest of the director’s cold-blooded canon rarely manages.
The story goes that De Palma got extraordinarily sick of his buddies Spielberg and Lucas making the big bucks and tired of Coppola and Scorsese being exalted to the Olympus of cinematic auteurism, and that his response was a big “fuck you” to Hollywood in the shape of Body Double.
The greatest focal point of contention surrounding the film is just whose fantasy the film is; already from the steamy, softcore opening shot, which slowly peeks around the corner into an open-doored bathroom, De Palma has established multiple possibilities of point of view, which only become further confused and repeated and doubled.
For those familiar with the concept of a De Palma film, this early-Seventies independent curio is at once a complete departure from his barely more “mature” work and a perfect example of the ambivalent countercultural origins that fed New Hollywood’s eventual “maturity.”