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|Also Known As:||Brian Depalma, Brian Russell De Palma||Died:|
|Born:||September 11, 1940||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Newark, New Jersey, USA||Profession:||director, screenwriter, producer, editor|
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"Rear Window" (1954) which transforms itself implausibly into "Vertigo" (1958). Once again tackling the theme of voyeurism, while also featuring his trademark graphic violence and overt sexuality, De Palma helmed one of his more critically maligned movies, though "Body Double" gained a small cult following over the years. At the time of its release, however, womenâ¿¿s groups were up in arms over the misogyny run rampant, particularly the murder of one woman who is graphically killed by being drilled into the floor by an assailant who uses the power tool as a phallic extension. As usual, De Palma was unrepentant for his art.Following this disappointment, De Palma had his greatest triumph with "The Untouchables" (1987), a violent, meditative and well-acted look at a young Elliot Ness (Kevin Costner), who partners with a gruff Chicago police officer (Sean Connery) to take down notorious crime boss Al Capone (Robert De Niro). Filled with lush period detail, though riddled with historical inaccuracies, "The Untouchables" was hailed by critics while earning a significant take at the box office. The film also earned four Academy Award nominations, and earned Connery a Best Supporting Actor statue. Despite...
"Rear Window" (1954) which transforms itself implausibly into "Vertigo" (1958). Once again tackling the theme of voyeurism, while also featuring his trademark graphic violence and overt sexuality, De Palma helmed one of his more critically maligned movies, though "Body Double" gained a small cult following over the years. At the time of its release, however, womenâ¿¿s groups were up in arms over the misogyny run rampant, particularly the murder of one woman who is graphically killed by being drilled into the floor by an assailant who uses the power tool as a phallic extension. As usual, De Palma was unrepentant for his art.
Following this disappointment, De Palma had his greatest triumph with "The Untouchables" (1987), a violent, meditative and well-acted look at a young Elliot Ness (Kevin Costner), who partners with a gruff Chicago police officer (Sean Connery) to take down notorious crime boss Al Capone (Robert De Niro). Filled with lush period detail, though riddled with historical inaccuracies, "The Untouchables" was hailed by critics while earning a significant take at the box office. The film also earned four Academy Award nominations, and earned Connery a Best Supporting Actor statue. Despite all else that followed, "The Untouchables" remained one of De Palmaâ¿¿s finest achievements. The director turned to another period of recent history, this time the Vietnam War, with "Casualties of War" (1989), a compelling, true-life story about a group of American soldiers led by a battle-scarred sergeant (Sean Penn), who takes his frustration out on his squadâ¿¿s new recruit (Michael J. Fox). Perhaps a little reminiscent of Oliver Stoneâ¿¿s "Platoon" (1986), "Casualties of War" nonetheless did a good job portraying the dark and complex psychological landscape of war.
With two critically acclaimed efforts in a row, De Palma was poised for greatness with his next effort, but instead produced one of the decadeâ¿¿s most notorious flops, "Bonfire of the Vanities" (1990). Adapted from Tom Wolfeâ¿¿s novel of the same name about racism, politics, wealth and greed, De Palmaâ¿¿s film was plagued practically from the start, when he was unable to land an actor to play one of the main characters and instead was forced to accept the studioâ¿¿s choice, Bruce Willis. Also starring Tom Hanks and Melanie Griffith â¿¿ making a trio of stars who failed to embody the characters from Wolfeâ¿¿s novel â¿¿ "Bonfire of the Vanities" suffered from a slow pace due to efforts to make Hanksâ¿¿ unlikeable character more sympathetic. The result was a mess of a movie that was nearly unanimously blasted by critics on its way to becoming a financial disaster. Though in the years since, De Palma managed to put the debacle behind him, there was no doubt that he directed what became one of the more storied bombs in cinema history. De Palma followed up with "Raising Cain" (1992), a stylistic, but ultimately convoluted thriller about a child psychologist (John Lithgow) with multiple personalities, who hatches a bizarre plot to kidnap his own daughter.
De Palma bounced back from his previous two failures with "Carlitoâ¿¿s Way" (1993), which reunited him with "Scarface" star Al Pacino, who starred as a Puerto Rican ex-con trying to retire from his life of crime, only to find himself pulled back in by his sleazy cokehead lawyer (Sean Penn). Though billed as an aesthetic follow-up to "Scarface," the film was far less indulgent in its violence, while becoming something more lyrical in its handling of a gangster trying to grow old gracefully. De Palma returned to big budget studio filmmaking in fashion with "Mission: Impossible" (1996), a big screen updating of the classic 1960s television spy drama that starred Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, an Impossible Missions Force agents whose team is wiped out by a mole within the agency. Though convoluted in its plot, "Mission: Impossible" was a stylistic tour-de-force that provided plenty of action thrills, particularly when Hunt â¿¿ on the run as the suspected mole â¿¿ assembles a team (Ving Rhames, Jean Reno and Emmanuelle BÃ©art) to break into the computer server room at CIA headquarters. Despite dividing critics, the movie became De Palmaâ¿¿s most successful to date, earning over $450 million worldwide and generating equally profitable sequels, none of which he directed.
With a financial hit like "Mission: Impossible" under his belt, De Palma presumably had his pick for his next film. Which was why his choice to direct "Snake Eyes" (1998), a conspiracy thriller starring Nicolas Cage as a corrupt detective trying to solve the assassination of the Secretary of Defense (Joel Fabiani), caused some to scratch their heads. Though full of his usual stylistic excesses, including a fast-moving camera, detailed scenery and rhythmic editing, "Snake Eyes" suffered under the weight of Cageâ¿¿s penchant for over-acting, which in this movie reached new heights. The movie also underperformed at the box office, demonstrating once again that De Palmaâ¿¿s ability to generate financial hits was inconsistent. Even more poorly received was "Mission to Mars" (2000), a not-too-futuristic sci-fi adventure which contained a handful of powerful kicky images that were in line with his bag of visual tricks. But De Palmaâ¿¿s flourishes and the filmâ¿¿s top-flight cast of Tim Robbins, Gary Sinise, Don Cheadel and Connie Neilson were not enough to pump life into the longwinded, uninspired script.
Continuing to reaffirm his reputation for adding visual panache to clearly inferior material, De Palma returned to the familiar ground of the erotic thriller with his self-penned "Femme Fatale" (2002), a trashy and lurid noir starring Rebecca Romijn as a former jewel thief whose reinvented life as a powerful politicianâ¿¿s wife is turned upside down by an intrusive photographer (Antonio Banderas).Despite the sizzling onscreen chemistry between Romijn and Banderas, "Femme Fatale" earned only $6 million at the box office. De Palma tackled Los Angelesâ¿¿ most notorious and grisly unsolved murder for his next film, "The Black Dahlia" (2006), a flashy, but badly flawed adaptation of James Ellroyâ¿¿s opening salvo to his famed L.A. Quartet. Ellroyâ¿¿s novel was a complicated and richly-textured noir thriller about two hard-edged cops (Josh Hartnett and Aaron Eckhart) who descend into obsession, corruption and sexual degeneracy as they investigate the brutal murder of would-be actress Elizabeth Short (Mia Kirshner), found vivisected in a vacant lot. Always one to choose style over substance, De Palma honed down the dense novel to its bare essentials while using his usual visual trickery to add heft to a thinned-down storyline. Some scenes stood out â¿¿ namely the black-and-white screen tests of Short performing for casting directors â¿¿ but overall, De Palma disappointed, particularly with an unbelievable ending that left audiences confused. Poor reviews and general disinterest translated into a poor showing in theaters.
The following year, De Palma once again demonstrated his knack for polarizing critics with his so-called fictional documentary, "Redacted" (2007), a look at the rape and murder of an Iraqi schoolgirl by U.S. soldiers. While De Palma maintained the stance that his film was a fictional accounting of what happened in March 2006 in Mahmudiyah, where a 14-year-old girl was gang raped and murdered following the execution of her family, he nonetheless presented his story using real images and news footage. Attacked by the right-wing media for allegedly portraying the troops in a negative light, De Palma and producer Marc Cuban were able to fend off the criticisms, though in the end their film was overwhelmingly ignored by audiences despite positive showings at various film festivals, including the 2007 Venice Film Festival, where De Palma earned a Silver Lion for Best Director.ne of many memorable quotes from the film. He next directed his third Hitchcock homage, "Body Double" (1984), his take on
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A film by De Palma is never accidental in any detail. He can offer a financier a precise prospectus: "Those are the actors, there's every shot of the picture, there's the script. You get exactly what you see there. I'm not a director like Francis Coppola or Marty Scorsese, who shoot so much material and work variations on a theme, trying to discover something as they are shooting. That's fine. but that's a whole different way of working. For Francis and Marty, their movies are almost created in the editing. For me, it's just finishing the design." --From The Movie Brats by Michael Pye and Lynda Myles (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1979) p. 142.
"I think I first saw the irony when I was out on a publicity tour for "Greetings," he says. "I am in the midst of a society that is very capitalist, and whose values I completely reject. But I, too, became a capitalist. The problem is that by dealing with the devil, you become devilish to a certain extent. You need the machine. And once you use it, you are a tainted human being. . . . You can make message pictures, you can lead a Simon-pure life, but the very fact that you are in that world at all makes you a compromised individual. People who think they're going to sanitize this business, make it straight and honorable, are absolutely crazy." --From The Movie Brats by Michael Pye and Lynda Myles (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1979) p. 153-154.
His example, still, is Orson Welles, the master he cast as a magician and teacher in "Get to Know Your Rabbit". "Just look at our gods," he says, "Look at Welles. He's the greatest director in the world, and he can't get a job and he's sold out. Totally. Orson Welles on the Johnny Carson show doesn't give us much to hope for. That is the story of this business." --From The Movie Brats by Michael Pye and Lynda Myles (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1979) p. 153-154.
"There is a self-conscious cunning in De Palma's work, ready to control everything except his own cruelty and indifference. He is the epitome of mindless style and excitement swamping taste or character. Of course, he was a brilliant kid. But his usefulness in an historical survey is to point out the dangers of movies falling into the hands of such narrow movie-mania, such cold-blooded prettification. I daresay there are no 'ugly' shots in De Palma's films--if you feel able to measure 'beauty' merely in terms of graceful or hypnotic movement, vivid angles, lyrical color, and hysterical situation. But that is the set of criteria that makes Leni Riefenstahl a 'great' director, rather than the victim of conflicting inspiration and decadence." --David Thomson, A Biographical Dictionary of Film (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994).
"De Palma's eye is cut off from conscience or compassion. He has contempt for his characters and his audience alike, and I suspect that he despises his own immaculate skill. Our cultural weakness admires and rewards technique and impact bereft of moral sense. If the thing works, it has validity--the means justify the lack of an end. De Palma is a cynic, and not a feeble one; there are depths of misanthropy there." --David Thomson, A Biographical Dictionary of Film (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994).
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