2016. Directed by Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow.
Easily one of the most interesting films of the year, De Palma is a film fan's dream come true.
The director's literally put a camera in front of De Palma and let him rip. For the entire duration of the film, De Palma waxes poetically about the brutal struggles of his career in making films. It dissects each of his films, allowing him to give extremely candid and emotional anecdotes about how each of them was made.
This is the chronicle of a man who has had to fight for virtually every project he wanted to make. At first, he comes off as conceited and contemptuous, but as the film builds momentum, the viewer gains a very clear picture as to why. Despite many of his films being considered iconic, his divisive subject matter, rogue techniques, and bristling personality have lead to De Palma never receiving an Oscar nomination for Best Director. Should this film receive one this year, it would be the definition of ironic.
The film offers some amazing insights into not only the craft of making films, but also how their creation is often dangerous for the participants and roiling with conflict between the cast and director. Each story told by the master pulls back another layer of the onion, taking the viewer deeper in De Palma's mind. One of the most important themes of the documentary is how directors like De Palma have to make concessions in order to get their dream projects picked up by the Hollywood regime. He reminisces on how during the 70's him and other notable directors made films that would never see the light of day in modern times because the money machine had not fully awoken.
The final strength of the film is in its emotional conveyance. It's very clear when De Palma was heartbroken about a film's reception, or the loss of a friend, and even more importantly, when he believes his work was sub par. Many movies goers are often puzzled when actors reveal that they don't watch their own films. De Palma's sardonic recitation of the worst films in his career brings clarity to this mystery. It's painful to watch and yet still holds your attention for the duration.
Available now for digital ownership, De Palma is a pure delight for cinema devotees. Never before have I witnessed such a vulnerable, unabashed look into the world of film making. If you have a passion for cinema, a love for De Palma's work, or even a general curiosity for how film's get made, then this is the film you're looking for.