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Showing posts from July, 2013

Key Films #18

Dionysus in '69 [Brian De Palma & Richard Schechner, 1970]:
A highlight of De Palma's early, counter-culture period, of which the furious and very Godard-like Hi, Mom! (1970) remains a brilliant pinnacle.Many of the sequences here recall the infamous "Be Black, Baby" segment from that later film, with the improvisation, black and white cinematography and the influence of cinéma vérité combining both the hedonism and the tension implicit not just in this theatrical production, but in the era itself.Through capturing this performance, De Palma obliterates the dividing line between theatre and film, drama and documentary, performance and actuality; engaging the audience not just through the action on-screen, but through the disorientation of the split-screen effect. This technique forces the audience to connect with the drama - this filmed adaptation of a play by Euripides ('The Bacchae') as performed by these actors - as well as the no less significant appro…

Key Films #17

Femme Fatale [Brian De Palma, 2002]: The film plays with the recognisable conventions of a thriller - the suspense, the intrigue, the encounters and deception - but beneath the hectic surface, it's a morality tale; a film about actions and their consequences.This may prove problematic for viewers expecting a straight riff on the films of Alfred Hitchcock, as the narrative throughout swerves off into unpredictable, often dreamlike sequences that show the psychological (as opposed to the physical) journey of its central character as she questions the personal and professional choices that have led to her current state. Throughout, De Palma acknowledges the influence of images, making them central to the way the characters identify themselves.The images used, both as a means of recording (in the conventional cinematic sense) and as a form of projection; where the characters see themselves (and others), not as how they really are, but as how they want things to be.The emulation of the …