Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

So Tony Dayoub over at Cinema Viewfinder has a blog-a-thon up and running today, all about everybody's favorite/least favorite Hitchcock riffer/satirist, Brian De Palma. I fully intend to participate (it runs from today through the 16th, so I have plenty of time), but I'm stuck on which film to write about. While I've seen most of his movies, I'm not versed enough in De Palma to do some umbrella piece on the guy, so I want to stick to a particular film, but nothing's jumping out at me. So here's a list of possibilities, and I want anyone who reads this to help me choose. I want about a thousand comments.

The Untouchables - A big film for me when I was a kid, but one I have since cooled on, at least a little. On the pro side is that I know the movie very well, but on the con side is that David Mamet wrote it, and I talk about him an awful lot already.

Carrie - Pros, it's one of De Palma's better films. Not sure what the cons are yet, other than that between the film and King's novel, there can't be much more left to say.

Dressed to Kill/Blow Out - Probably my favorite De Palma films. Probably. You can only pick one, however!

Mission to Mars - I think this movie deserves some sort of mild defense, so maybe I'm the guy who can do it. Or one of the guys. I bet it's been defended before. But hey, why not me, too?

Man, what a half-assed post. Anyway, remember, one thousand comments.


Tony Dayoub said...

If my comments count for anything, I'd love to hear what you have to say on Carrie, Dressed to Kill or Blow Out. They've been underserved in the submissions I've received so far.

bill r. said...

Really? That's odd. I figured all three would have been snapped up at least once each by now.

Tony Dayoub said...

No... ignored. Everyone seems to be aiming for the unusual ones.

bill r. said...

I would have aimed for more unusual ones myself, but I'm trying to stick with ones I own. Which actually doesn't include Mission to Mars, but I've never understood why that filmw as so hated. Unfortunately, I don't think it's exactly a masterpiece, so my defense would be sort of middlin'.

Ryan Kelly said...

Yeah, I too am trying to be special and unique with my choices... which means I'm being just like everyone else. I fail again!

My vote would be with Carrie, if only because it seems to be not too highly thought of; is it too entertaining and 'disreputable' to be thought of as the classic it is? I think it's one of the most honest movies about growing up, in addition to being hell-a scary and suspenseful. Plus, I'd love to hear you talk about how it differs from King's text, which I honestly am not familiar with.

Alright, I'm # 5. You're well on your way to crackin' a thousand here.

bill r. said...

Ryan, do you really think that Carrie isn't highly thought of? I'd always been under the impression that it was considered maybe second-tier De Palma by its fans, which would mean under his "masterpieces" like Blow Out, Dressed to Kill and so on.

It would be nice to compare it to King's book, yes, but I haven't read that thing since high school, so I don't know that I could do a very good job of it.

bill r. said...

I should have added that Carrie is considered second-tier in the sense that it's only "very good".

Patricia Perry said...

"Carrie" is considered "disreputable"? Boy,I didn't know that. Back in my day (and I'm old enough to have seen it at the theatre when it was first released) it was a huge hit and even got a couple of Oscar nominations.

Bill, I say you should write about "Carrie." I'd love to know what you thought of it.

Krauthammer said...

I thought that Carrie was the only DePalma that there was any sort of consensus on. I mean, even I like it.

bill r. said...

Yeah, what Pat and Krauthammer say is what I, too, believe. I've never heard an ill word spoken of Carrie.

Ryan Kelly said...

I've never heard an ill word, per-se, but most people I know are 'eh' on it, even the De Palma fans I know. And I think it's pretty great, so I don't get it.

Nice to see love for it!

Brian Doan said...

I'd love to hear what you have to say about any of them, but I'd be especially intrigued by your defense of MISSION TO MARS, because I've never really heard anyone defend it. It might provide you a unique perspective on why it's disliked, and what that says about our overall image of De Palma.

In a related way, I know you're worried about overdoing the Mamet, but I actually think that would make a piece on THE UNTOUCHABLES interesting-- is it possible to separate out the Mamet from the De Palma? Did the big success of the film shape Mamet's future work in any way (i.e., his crime thrillers like HOMICIDE or THE SPANISH PRISONER?). It's often held up as an example of a rare big commercial success for De Palma, but it's also that for Mamet, so looking at it from the screenwriter's perspective might be interesting.

What, no love for BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES? (:

Ryan Kelly said...

Brian, I adore The Bonfire of the Vanities, and it's (kinda) one of my subjects for this blogathon.

Tony Dayoub said...

Carrie is awesome. Don't forget, Stephen King was made by Carrie end of discussion. I remember that King was unknown until that movie came out. He became a household word overnight.


I'd also like to encourage you to think about a negative piece to submit. There's no reason you can't write a highly critical piece about a De Palma film if you're so inclined. I wouldn't mind mixing things up a bit.

Brian Doan said...

Ryan, I have to admit I've never seen all of BONFIRE, and I'm really curious to get your take on it. Have you read THE DEVIL'S CANDY? It's a really nice book about the making of the film, and just how crazy the whole experience was (it also has a wonderfully slow-building, funny anecdote about everyone trying to take credit for a single shot in the film. Won't spoil it if you haven't read it).

bill r. said...

Man, if I'd responded to each of these in a timely fashion, I'd be close to 1000 comments by now! Stupid work and home life!

Brian - I see Tony already has a Mission to Mars piece up, so maybe I'll bag that idea. But I didn't get the hate for it. I thought it was WAY too dependent on the existence of 2001 and other classic SF movies -- and De Palma didn't do anything interesting with those old movies, just sort of aped them -- to be truly great, but I thought it was a solid bit of straight SF. It didn't deserve the slamming it took.

As I said, The Untouchables was a big film for me. It introduced me to Mamet, and helped begin my interest in the crime genre. So I should probably do that one, but 22 years later, I'm honestly a little bored of the film

Ryan - Bonfire is wretched. You're drunk. Quit drinking.

I know film adaptations of books are supposed to stand on their own, but I'd just read Wolfe's brilliant novel before seeing the movie, and I thought that film was a joke. A bad one. Sorry.

Tony - I don't really know why I feel set on doing a positive piece on De Palma, since I'm highly ambivelant about the guy. Maybe I don't want to rewatch a movie I know I hate.

Adam Zanzie said...

We kind of have been selecting the oddest De Palma films to write about. Ryan chose to write about Mission to Mars, I chose to write about Redacted, and I've already seen two or three articles on Body Double. Nobody's bothered to claim his more popular films- not just Carrie, but also Sisters, The Fury, Dressed to Kill, Mission: Impossible, even Scarface! I guess people are trying to be special, hehe.