BRIAN DE PALMA THRILLS US!
Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow’s new documentary De Palma combines interviews and film clips to take us deep into the life and work of Brian De Palma, master of the contemporary thriller and one of American cinema’s most expressive, eclectic, and personal filmmakers. In his New York Times review De Palma, critic A.O. Scott writes “It’s almost hard to believe that he could have made so many wild, haunting and provocative movies, but by the end of the documentary, you may want nothing more than to see them all.” While not a complete retrospective, this series provides you the opportunity to see the first theatrical screening of De Palma in Madison, plus 10 of Brian De Palma’s very best features, several of which will be shown on original 35mm prints.
- Fri., Aug. 26 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
Shortly after visiting her shrink (Caine), a frustrated housewife (Dickinson) impulsively sleeps with a stranger, and, soon after, is brutally murdered. A prostitute (director DePalma’s then wife Allen) who witnesses the crime faces her own perils when she teams up with the victim’s son (director-to-be Keith Gordon) to trap the killer. De Palma’s operatic riff on Hitchcock has, in the 30 years since its first release, become a classic in its own right.
- Fri., Aug. 26 | 9:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
Travolta plays a sound-effects man with proof that a politician’s death was the result of a labyrinthine blackmail plot. De Palma’s mix of Antonioni, Hitchcock and the Zapruder film has been cited by Quentin Tarantino as one of his biggest cinematic inspirations. “It’s hallucinatory, and it has a dreamlike clarity and inevitability, but you’ll never make the mistake of thinking it’s only a dream. It’s a great movie” (Pauline Kael).
- Fri., Sep. 2 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
One of American cinema’s most expressive, eclectic, and personal filmmakers, Brian De Palma speaks at length about his own work in this wonderful new documentary. Illustrated with numerous clips from his 50+ years of directing, De Palma explores a singular and tumultuous career. “Catnip for passionate fans while also serving as a primer and a goad for the skeptical and the curious” (A.O. Scott, The New York Times).
- Fri., Sep. 2 | 9:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
In the ultra-stylish first screen version of Stephen King’s pop novel, Spacek gives an Oscar-nominated performance as the much-abused adolescent who uses her telekinetic powers to exact revenge on her tormentors. De Palma elevates the teen-horror genres to operatic levels with an arsenal of visual tricks including split-screen and slow-motion photography.
- Fri., Sep. 9 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
In what might be De Palma’s first fully-realized effort, reporter Grace Collier (Salt) witnesses a brutal murder. When no evidence of the crime can be found, Grace’s investigation leads her to model Danielle Breton and her murderous sister Dominique (both played by Kidder), conjoined twins separated at birth. De Palma’s own script borrows liberally from Alfred Hitchcock (Psycho and Rear Window in particular) and the movie even features a chilling score by regular Hitchcock composer Bernard Herrmann. Print courtesy of Academy Film Archive.
- Fri., Sep. 9 | 8:45 PM4070 Vilas Hall
After The Bonfire of the Vanities’ box-office disaster, De Palma returned to familiar thriller territory with spellbinding results. In a tour-de-force performance, Lithgow plays multiple roles, most notably a pair of twin brothers who are carrying on with the criminal experimental work of their demented psychologist father. Paying homage once again to Hitchcock, but also Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom, De Palma delivers a dizzying parade of shocks, twists and delirious visual flourishes.
- Fri., Sep. 16 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
A wealthy New Orleans businessman (Robertson) loses his wife to kidnappers. Still overcome with grief and guilt 15 years later, he meets her double in Venice, Italy. Working from a script by Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver), De Palma has crafted a stylish and loving homage to Vertigo, right down to the lush original music composed by Bernard Herrmann.
- Fri., Sep. 16 | 8:45 PM4070 Vilas Hall
An out-of-work actor with crippling claustrophobia (Wasson) becomes a witness to a horrific crime and enters the world of porno movies to catch the culprit. Not content at being merely an elaborately perverse Vertigo/Rear Window mashup, De Palma finds time to present a sharp satire of Hollywood filmmaking (both mainstream and adult), slip in a Driller Killer homage, and take an intermission to offer up a Frankie Goes to Hollywood music video. (BR)
- Mon., Sep. 19 | 7:00 PMMarquee
De Palma’s once-controversial-now-canonized remake of Howard Hawks’ gangster movie tells the saga of Tony Montana (Pacino), a foul-mouthed Cuban criminal who briefly rules a cocaine empire. Like the main character, De Palma’s visual approach is gleefully excessive but “the violence grows out of the lives of the characters; it isn't used for thrills but for a sort of harrowing lesson about self-destruction” (Roger Ebert).
- Fri., Sep. 23 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
Cruise, De Palma, and a murderer’s row of screenwriters (David Koepp, Steven Zaillian, Robert Towne and others) set about turning the long-running television spy series’ formula on its ear. Filled to the brim with spectacular set pieces (including an homage to the heist sequence in Rififi) De Palma’s Mission established a new baseline standard of thrills and twists for a franchise that has since yielded four sequels, although arguably none have bested or even matched this first go-round. (BR)
- Fri., Sep. 23 | 9:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
In this update of the classic TV series, US Treasury agent Elliot Ness (Costner), with the help of Chicago cop Jimmy Malone (Connery) assembles a small, elite squad of law-enforcers in order to take down mobster Al Capone (De Niro, appearing in his fourth De Palma movie). Working from a script by David Mamet, De Palma adds innumerable visual grace notes to this gangland saga, including a now legendary slow-motion sequence filmed at Chicago’s Union Station.