The polarizing, dexterous 75-year-old (still not calling it a career yet) director with his highs and lows (he's kind of faded from the limelight since Femme Fatale a while back with output like The Black Dahlia and Passion) is the subject of this untraditional self-titled documentary from Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow. Brian DePalma was enamored by Hitchcock (especially from view his exemplary Vertigo) and the French New Wave movement and started independently with movies like 1973's Sisters.
It's basically just an extended interview session (done in 2010) at Paltrow's home that plays like dinner conversation and isn't meant to be highly cinematic in fascinating talk with DePalma interspersed with film clips and other current features. Which make some wonder why it just wasn't released on Blu-ray and DVD. There is some personal stuff when it comes to familial surveillance and how it may have influenced certain characters in his extensive oeuvre. From a man who studied physics and is the son of a surgeon while married for a spell to Nancy Allen who was in one of his most memorable works listed below.
Baumbach handled the sound and Paltrow the digital camera with no other commentators as thirty hours of material was whittled down as the subject made sure he had the same shirt on for continuity purposes. A long, yet well-paced interview is turned into a retrospective that is highly informative, alternately abstract and amusing, a must-see for wannabe filmmakers and DePalma aficionados.
How he butted heads with studio executives and actors and scorned for his way with violence and eroticism despite tough prolific pundits like Pauline Kael praising him is part of a retrospective (coming up the ranks with peers like Scorsese and Spielberg) that invites opinions on the current state of Hollywood with the exponential growth of technology.
While there was many a flop like Bonfire of the Vanities, Raising Cain, Mission To Mars, Snake Eyes, and the arguably misogynistic Body Double, there was successes like Carrie, Dressed To Kill, The Untouchables, as well as the enormous cult power of the ultra-violent, pervasively profane Scarface.
Some interesting recollections include a very tan Cliff Robertson's jealousy and sabotage on "Obsession", besides Sean Penn giving Michael J. Fox an initiation on the set of Casualties of War. DePalma proves quite riveting from the many anecdotes as some may wish there could have been more so perhaps Baumbach and Paltrow will include some of the material left on the cutting room floor when it reaches ancillary status.
It's quite a pleasure to see the intensity and energy of a man who used long takes, tracking and overhead shots very tautly as perverse as some of his visions were perceived to be. Just to see archival material of his student films with a very young Robert DeNiro who would later prove troublesome as Chicago tycoon Al Capone (with Bob Hoskins on stand-by) elicits the aura and dynamism of the vicissitudes of achieving high standards in a challenging, yet rewarding medium.