De Palma (documentary)


Brian De Palma, the eager New Hollywood director who emerged with Spielberg and Scorsese in the 1970s, whose 29 features include “Carrie,” “Scarface,” and “The Untouchables,” is often dismissed as a hack (albeit a talented one) who copies Hitchcock and is overly fond of over-the-top sensationalism. “De Palma,” a new talking-head documentary covering the man’s entire career, reveals those charges to be true but irrelevant in the face of such creativity, and serves as an irresistible peek behind the curtain at how movies get made.

Interviewed by unseen directors Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow, who take him chronologically through each of his films, De Palma is a garrulous bear of a man, an enthusiastic film lover whose exclamation of choice is “Holy mackerel!” Far from the potty-mouthed pervert you might expect after watching, say, “Dressed to Kill” or “Femme Fatale,” De Palma proves an engaging and humble storyteller, speaking frankly about his successes, his failures, and his inspirations. (Yeah, he steals from Hitchcock. Why wouldn’t you? Hitchcock is the best.) De Palma fan or not, anyone who loves the movie business will find his anecdotes, revelations, and observations both enlightening and entertaining. Believe me, De Palma loves movies as much as you do.

B+ (1 hr., 47 min.; R, some profanity, nudity, and violence seen in clips from De Palma's movies.)