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290 Ratings

De Palma

United States, 2015
Documentary, Biography


Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow’s fleet and bountiful portrait covers the career of the number one iconoclast of American cinema, the man who gave us Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, and Carlito’s Way

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De Palma Directed by Noah Baumbach, Jake Paltrow

Awards & Festivals

Indiewire Critics' Poll

2016 | Nominee: Best Documentary

National Board of Review

2016 | Winner: Top Five Documentaries

De Palma holds court, going through his films chronologically, one by one, relating some terrific anecdotes, and overall being a surprisingly genial guide. The result is an aesthetically impoverished documentary about a great visual thinker—a disconnect hard to get over—but more detrimentally, his perspective on his own work’s merits is mostly tied to financial success (as is the case with many American filmmakers, including Spielberg).
January 16, 2017
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While Paltrow and Baumbach never explicitly argue for the value of De Palma’s work in an increasingly polarised media landscape, preferring instead to highlight his formal and technical prowess (which, as the film convincingly argues, carries forward a visual language pioneered by Hitchcock), allowing the director to speak for himself for 110 minutes makes the case in a way that is powerful – and plain enough – to see.
October 07, 2016
What makes De Palma an exciting and instructive film in its own right is that its subject is able to analyse his films from an emotional remove. He’s like a mortician conducting a series of autopsies. That’s not to say that he isn’t proud of what he made, or that he’s overly self-critical. But he’s very rational with regard to what they are, what they achieved and how they have matured.
September 19, 2016
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What are people saying?

  • HKFanatic's rating of the film De Palma

    I'm not sure how this would play for the uninitiated—my guess is not very well—but as a longtime fan of Brian De Palma's psycho-sexual thrillers, I was more than pleased to watch the man himself sit in a chair and talk through each of his films for two hours. And I'm not so cultivated that I'm unable to enjoy catty bits of gossip about Cliff Robertson being a diva and Robert DeNiro failing to memorize his lines.

  • Henri de Corinth's rating of the film De Palma

    Underwhelming, speaking as someone who grew up watching his parents' bootleg copies of Carrie, Dressed to Kill, and Blow-Out. Most interesting bits are in the first third: watching his surgeon father work in bloody operating rooms, father's infidelity and his subsequent stalking/surveillance of him, early experiments at Cinema 16 and Sarah Lawrence, activist elements in films made in the late 1960s, etc.

  • smndvdcl's rating of the film De Palma

    A superb gateway into De Palma's influence on American cinema. From his love of Godardian radicalism to Hitchcock's deconstruction of dysfunctional male voyeurism, De Palma's craft was rooted in film history and the pragmatic nous of camera operating. He did not merely create a pastiche or an homage to past auteurs, he reinvented their oeuvre in a post-modern US in flux. Many of his films deserve revisionist acclaim.

  • josé neves's rating of the film De Palma

    About the cinema and the figure of one of the greatest stylists of contemporary cinema it would be expected and logical a film with an intelligent editing that would clearly exceed a mere interview's direct illustrations. It's not the case, that leaves us with the comfort of an encounter with this higher personality, much higher than his objectors. But, alas, no pleasure of the text.

  • Jason's rating of the film De Palma

    Definitely giving it (at least) one more star than it is worth, simply by virtue of the fact that I like De Palma and enjoy listening to him (even (especially?) when he courts hubris). But it's funny: as Baumbach has been in charge of two recent special feature Criterion interviews w/ Mr. D., what we have here is basically more of that w/ just way less specificity or detail. Greatest hits. Yeah, dude. I'm aware.

  • msmichel's rating of the film De Palma

    De Palma reflects on each of his films chronologically with a fair amount of candor and humour that make the film enjoyable but a little tedious at times. De Palma is of course a great visual stylist but his misses have far outnumbered the hits over the years sometimes due to a feckless public but often due to their compromised nature. Yet De Palma is a natural storyteller as one discovers here.

  • Filipe F. Coutinho's rating of the film De Palma

    This is absolutely essential viewing for any DePalma fans and even casual cinephiles. It's a true pleasure to hear the master talk about his life and career. Still, it's not a particularly inventive or gripping documentary. Baumbach and Paltrow could have injected some creativity and dynamic to the film's rhythm.

  • Sean Patrick Stevens's rating of the film De Palma

    Great to hear this interview full of anecdotes but it would have been a better documentary if Baumbach had been more critical of his subject.

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