De Palma revisited

It's a DePalma kind of week in New York, with most people giving their two cents on the auteur after having seen the new Jake Paltrow/Noah Baumbach doc "De Palma". I'll join the party by chiming in a bit on Brian DePalma and his endless, messy ambitions. DePalma is one of the more polarizing filmmakers around- one day he makes an incredible piece of filmmaking such as the 3 listed below and then the next he pulls out a "Mission To Mars" or the unwatchable "Femme Fatale".

His best movie- "Blow Out"is a smart, hallucinatory take on voyeurism & is more relevant now than it was 29 years ago. John Travolta with his sound equipment evokes to me an image of what DePalma do truly do with cinema - it's his only perfect movie and succumbs to the Hitchcockian tradition in the best ways imaginab;e. It's also the best John Travolta performance I've ever seen - maybe even better than his "Pulp Fiction" comeback. "Blow Out" is slightly more superior than his other Hitchock rip-off/hommage, "Dressed To Kill", which has the kind of kitsch overcooked superficiality I love in his movies.

"Carrie" does not have that. From the get go you know it's a horror delight, featuring the greatest prom scene carried out on celluloid. Sissy Spacek is the perfect match to DePalma's weird ways - her face is not that of supermodel & very much out of sync from DePalma's usual choice of lustful blondes. DePalma has tendency to overstylize everything & bring a `Hitchcockian queerness` to it all. This is one of the rare times when he takes a back seat and paves the way for a towering, menacing performance. There's an abandon in the filmmaking that I don't think he ever achieved again - a fearless, joyous abandon that makes you realize how talented the man truly is.

It isn`t the towering Pop of "The Untouchables" or the assaultive brilliance of "Scarface", but "Carlito`s Way" is a personal favorite that is everything his "Scarface" could have been. Sean Penn is amazing -tell me when he isn`t- the overall excitement is palpable. It`s pure DePalma with a story that grabs you as if -taking a cue from the honorable Glenn Kenny- you`re being cuckolded.