Hot Docs 2016: De Palma

Brian De Palma talks about his career in De Palma. Brian De Palma first got interested in filmmaking while he was studying Physics at Columbia University during the 1960s. De Palma was heavily influenced by the films of Alfred Hitchcock, particularly Vertigo, and even hired Bernard Herrmann to score his early films, including as 1973’s Sisters. While utilizing a wide variety of filmmaking tricks, such as split screen, De Palma also received criticism for the violent content in many of his films.

Directed by Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow, De Palma is little more than a long form interview with Brian De Palma, accompanied by clips from his films. De Palma talks about his entire filmmaking career from his 1962 short film Woton’s Wake to his 2012 feature Passion. De Palma considers himself one of the only filmmakers to follow in Alfred Hitchcock’s footsteps and he addresses the criticism of his films, stating that he was criticized against the fashion of the day, with many of his films now considered to be classics.

From a film history standpoint, De Palma is a quite in-depth biography of the filmmaker, as told by the man himself. There is enough in this film to satisfy both fans of Brian De Palma and those who want an introduction to the filmmaker. That said, the film has a very monotonous presentation, consisting entirely of single a talking head interview with De Palma sitting in front of a fireplace. The film would seem more complete if it also had other people talking about Brian De Palma’s career. However, as it stands, De Palma is still a satisfactory look back at the filmmaker’s career.

7 / 10 stars


Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).