"If victory favors me, I will protect your child with my life."

"I ask you not to worry about that possibility. Because my son and I live on the Demon Way in Hell, we're prepared to descend into Hell through the Six Realms and Four Lives."

Passion

tn_passionHoly shit, Brian De Palma made a new movie. It’s a remake of the 2010 French thriller LOVE CRIME, but it’s still a new Brian De Palma movie. Rachel McAdams from MEAN GIRLS plays Christine, a grown-up mean girl high up in an advertising firm. Isabelle (Noomi Rapace, DEAD MAN DOWN) has a big career opportunity coming to Christine’s place to work on a smart phone campaign. She’s nervous but they get along well. Christine seems to be a cool boss and collaborator until she brazenly takes credit for the ad that Isabelle came up with and created entirely without her. Even worse she convinces Isabelle that it was okay to do that to her because they’re a team and one’s success makes the whole team look good or some bullshit like that.

You want to feel sorry for Isabelle, the movie sets you up to side with her, even though it turns out she’s fucking Christine’s boyfriend Dirk (Paul Anderson – an actor, not the director, or the other director for that matter). And recording it on her phone. Wrong and stupid.

mp_passionThere’s alot of sexual tension going on between all the women here. Christine often seems to be trying to seduce Isabelle, both sometimes look like they’re jealous of Dirk being with the other one, also Isabelle has a faithful assistant named Dani (Karoline Herfurth, THE READER) who is clearly in love with her and hates Christine partly out of jealousy.

Christine often behaves like a cruel bitch, especially at the employee party where she plays security camera footage of Isabelle having a mental breakdown and pretends like it’s a hilarious sports blooper tape or something. But there are signs of a possible soul. At one point Isabelle softens to her when they spend some time together and Christine tells her the sad tale of her twin who died. This is tragic and also makes the sex game where Dirk has to wear a mask that looks like her seem even more psychologically troubling.

I’m glad Rapace got all these roles out of her DRAGON TATTOO stint. She’s a weird combination of elements that I really enjoy watching. She’s about equal parts good looking and strange looking, with her round head and flat nose. She can seem very feminine and sexual even though she’s kinda broad-shouldered and athletic looking, making her good for more action roles. She can switch from naive innocence to implied dark side on a dime, which is why she’s perfect for this.

I like that I didn’t have any idea where this would go. Halfway through it really seems like it might just be about treachery and duplicity and lust between these two women and a couple men on the periphery. A portrait of the combination of hate, attraction and obsession that happens between women working together and competing in the corporate world, at least according to movies like this.  And I was fine with that.

But at a certain point that top shelf De Palma filmatism kicks in, and you can feel the R-rating’s promise of “some violence” circling like a shark. Or I guess teetering on the edge of spilling like a slow motion bucket of pig’s blood. There is split screen and classical music and a long drawn out build up to a sudden murder. Later there are reveals of withheld information, some ambiguity about who has been lying, what we were really seeing, what was a dream, etc. If you ask me there’s one too many rug-pullouts right at the very end, it feels a little cheap that one of the more outrageous and classically DePalmian elements might not have really happened, but maybe I read it wrong. For the most part it’s a well-controlled boil of all the ingredients here.

Other than THE COUNSELOR, the movies I reviewed this week (MAN OF TAI CHI, REDEMPTION and PASSION) all had very limited theatrical releases in the U.S., available at the same time or earlier on video-on-demand (and later on disc). Considering how much I liked all three of these (as well as the MANIAC remake, which had the same type of release) I think it tells you something about the types of movies that they’re doing this with. These ones all have a combination of genre elements and artfulness. I hope it’s working out for them business-wise, because this seems like a good place for this category of movies that I love so much. It’s a way to get it to the audience that wants it without having to please everybody else. Although, of course, I would’ve seen this on the big screen if I’d had the chance.

Can you believe De Palma hasn’t made a movie since 2007? And that was REDACTED? Between that and DIARY OF THE DEAD, 2007 was the year of my favorite directors embarrassing themselves with heavy-handed found footage movies where the fake-realistic visual style horribly clashes with the broad, melodramatic dialogue and acting. At least Romero’s had a guy shooting arrows at zombies, though. REDACTED made you almost want to apologize for being against the war.

Both De Palma and Romero were really taken with the modern technology, that people were filming everything now with small digital cameras, and sharing their lives on Youtube. They were way more impressed than I was that they could make movies that look like home videos and security camera footage. With PASSION, De Palma was able to get over his fascination with re-creating those sorts of videos, stick with his expertise in cinematic style, while heavily featuring technology in the plot of the movie.

The first shot zeros in on the Apple logo on the laptop that they’re watching videos on. These characters are constantly texting, video conferencing, emailing. They make sex videos and record incriminating footage on their phones. They’re working on an ad campaign for a smart phone, they record a commercial on the phone itself, and when it gets rejected by the firm they upload their version to Youtube. Christine takes bubble baths with a special shelf to sit her laptop on. Crucial thriller elements include a printout of a threatening email (that’s actually kinda quaint) and a disposable phone programmed to upload incriminating videos to an inspector.

PASSION is not as masterful or as audacious as the last great De Palma film, 2002’s FEMME FATALE. Maybe doing a remake kept him shackled, his feet too close to earth. But it’s a really entertaining movie that somebody else probly wouldn’t make, that lets him play with alot of his favorite themes and still, at the age of 75, try out some new filmatistic techniques. The one I can’t remember exactly seeing before is in the scene where she’s supposed to be confused because of sleeping pills. The police are questioning her, but the camera keeps drifting its focus away from them, it can’t seem to pay attention. It puts you into her perspective, but also makes you feel unsure and insecure yourself just when the story is trying to leave you confused in the dark. I haven’t seen the original, so I don’t know if that was in there or not. If it was, thanks for revving De Palma’s engine for him, guys.


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52 Responses to “Passion”

  1. And suddenly Karoline Herfurth is a tag at Vern’s websight. I didn’t expect that at all.

  2. Saw this one last winter at Lincoln Center (the swanky theater with the attached restaurant, perfect for such a classy, operatic film) with a director Q&A afterward. It’s not quite nasty enough to be one of my favorites, but it was great to see an old school DePalma movie in the theater for the first time. Plus I was thrilled to see him in person. The guy’s getting up there in years, so I don’t know how many more opportunities I’d have. Sadly, I never got to ask my question: After decades of war with critics, how does it feel to be a respected old master? Do you miss being disreputable?

    But yeah, good movie. I’ve already forgotten how it ends and I’m not sure how many times I’ll rewatch it, but it was a great experience.

  3. I just had the original French version recommended to me by Netflix, but now that I know it’s been remade by DePalma I’m torn about which to watch first. Thanks Vern. As though my life as a well to d middle age white guy wasn’t complicated enough.
    Anyone who has seen both your suggestion would be most welcome.

  4. Haven’t seen this one yet and I love DePalma, although I wasn’t a big fan of redacted I love pretty much every other movie by him. I even revisited The Fury recently and nothing can beat that scene at the end. Since it sounds more like classic DePalma, I think I’ll check it out. Vern, you gotta review some more DePalma when you get a chance. I’m specifically thinking about Body Double. Great movie in every way.

  5. I`m not really sure if this was actually a good movie, but I was laughing all the way through the last 30 minutes. Totally De Palma, over the top, kitchy, weird, sexy and so goddamn cinematic, that I left the cinema feeling high.

  6. Brian DePalma stinks.

  7. why does he stink?

  8. is it a personal hygiene issue you have with him?

  9. I’ll give you CARRIE, which is pretty great until the split screen nonsense, but otherwise he’s just an exploitation filmmaker who violates the first rule of making exploitation: he’s boring. He takes forever to get nowhere. SCARFACE is an embarrassment for everybody involved, and BLOWOUT and DRESSED TO KILL are equally dull. He hasn’t made anything I’d call great, despite his reputation.

    But I’m probably wrong.

  10. Carlito’s Way is a fantastic film. And dare I say both Pacino and Penn bring top shelf performances.

  11. Part of what I love about BDP is for that very reason, that he does take his time, like foreplay, building to a climax. He may not always succeed in blowing his load, but you got to give him points for the effort.

    I don’t think CARRIE went ‘nowhere’. The payoff was pretty awesome. The bucket of blood and the mayhem was the money shot.

  12. I like Brian De Palma films and actually liked this film although I don’t think it is as good as, say, Femme Fatale. It didn’t carry any surprises to me. (this may be due to the fact that I have seen every twist in the film beforehand, probably too jaded by now) Maybe if I was younger and have seen less films I’d have been more into it.

  13. – chopper

    I love De Palma. I think he is one of the most underrated directors ever, mostly because people can`t get over that he is ripping of Hitchcock, and has a cinematic style that borders on pastiche. And like Tarantino, there`s so much going on under his surface that the audience overlook because of the exploitative elements in his style. Even if a De Palma movie fails, it still more interesting than everything else that gets released in the cinema (imo). At least if you`re interested in the language of cinema.

    Just take the beginning of Carrie, and how it perfectly communicates the mental state of it`s main character. The gratious slowmotion dollyshot through the girls locker room with naked nubile girls makes the viewer feel both aroused and a bit dirty (especially after the “eat shit” line). Cut to Carrie touching herself under the shower, feeling aroused and dirty. In one single shot De Palma has communicated her feelings, and made the audience feel what she feels, and established the theme of the story (a religious girl´s mental breakdown, caused by shame over her sexual awakening). That`s pretty good filmatism in my opinion.

  14. Chopper isn’t alone. There are a lot of people who really hate De Palma. I find his work hit or miss, especially in recent years, so I can kind of understand where these people are coming from, even if I mostly disagree. Most of his films are movies about movies, and I think that rubs people the wrong way. There’s always some ironic distance in his work, but this irony isn’t as out in the open as it is in something like a Tarantino flick. At least that’s my theory.

  15. DePalma has a formula, kinda, but it’s a good exploitation gimmick and he’s stylish as all Hell. Sisters, Raising Cain and Body Double are favorites of mine. The first two get performances out of the leads that are laugh out loud insane. So DePalma’s OK.

  16. Rbatty

    I dunno if his movies are about movies, but he definitely uses genre-movies as tools in telling his stories. I havent`t thought a lot about it, but Blow Out comments on horror movies, how silly they are, in order to communicate something about real-life horror. I love the last scene, where Travolta uses his girlfriends real scream in a cheap horror movie, and sits squirming in his seat while it plays again and again. It kinda shows death as a horror, that a piece of fiction never could reproduce. Or how he uses our perception of porn in Body Double, (sex without emotional consequences), to point out that it does. The last scene in Body Double, with a fake vampire ( a sexual predator), standing in a cold shower for minutes with a pornmodel, who complains about her tits hurting because of her period, has more interesting subtext on male sexuality, prostitution and female sexuality than most movies that actually adresses this subject. Body Double has as much depth as Vertigo, but people can`t see it because of the gore and nudity on the screen.

  17. DNA – I don’t want to boil down all of De Palma’s work into a single theme. He’s obviously a more complex filmmaker than that. When I wrote that he makes movies about movies, I immediately started thinking about Blow Out. A large portion of that film is devoted to John Travolta’s character cutting a film together in order to solve the central mystery. I also think that De Palma’s over the top style indicates to the audience that they are watching a movie. For me, this works as a self-conscious choice, but for a lot of people they just think it’s absurd or corny (and in some of his latter movies, they’re right).

    He was also regularly accused of just being a Hitchcock clone early in his career, and I think that’s mostly because De Palma is okay with wearing his influences on his sleeves. I’ve read that there are a ton of allusions to other films in his movies, and while I can pick up on some of them, I’m not always knowledgeable or smart enough to pick out as many as some people have. (The first obvious allusion I noticed in a De Palma film was the baby carriage in The Untouchables, which was taken straight out of Battleship Potemkin).

    I do think that this creates a self-consciousness to his films that bothers some people, because there is a large chunk of the movie going public (and by that I mean movie critics and cinephiles) who really do hate his work.

  18. rbatty

    I dunno if that`s what makes critics hate him. I mean, it`s an easy way to criticise him, but lots of famous directors are clearly ripping of their favourite directors and movies. I think De Palma hits a raw nerve in the male psyche. He is clearly a pervert, who enjoys oogling the female flesh as next as the next fella, but at the same time a feminist. Just think about Dressed To Kill. Explicit sexscenes, a bored housewife who gets killed because she is sexually active, a young (and intelligent) hooker as the heroine, and a sexually repressed male who kills women who arouses him. And at the same time is the movie a comment on gender in thrillers, with it`s obvious homages to Psycho. It`s like telling the audience that they enjoy watching women getting killed, because they are threatened by female sexuality.

  19. “BLOWOUT and DRESSED TO KILL are equally dull.”

    Two of my faves right there. To each his own, I guess.

  20. It´s kinda weird how his female main characters are always unfaithful wives, strippers, pornmodels or prostitutes. Even the love-interest in Mission Impossible is screwing Tom Cruise for money, and gets killed by her jealous
    husband.

  21. His leading ladies may be women of ill repute, but I’ve never once gotten an anti-woman vibe from DePalma. He seems to sympathize far more with his sluts, tramps, and bimbos than he does with the boring, earnest dudes who tend to populate his films.

  22. I LOOOOVE DePalma, so I’m right there with Vern. I never got the negativity shown to him… I mean, watch BODY DOUBLE and PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE in one night. If you come away hating him, I dunno, man… do you even like movies? I wish I could be more open-minded about this, but I just don’t get it. I’m also the guy who liked REDACTED, though. Or maybe I should tell people that I [REDACTED] REDACTED.

    @MAJESTYK I was at a Lincoln Center screening too, I think when it was at the NYFF. We had the same deal, that there was going to be a DePalma q+a. Then the movie ends, and they tell us he “got stuck in traffic” and couldn’t make it. Later, I read an interview where he reveals that he missed the event because he was watching a very old, apparently unavailable title on TCM, and he couldn’t tear himself away. In this age of being SUPER-connected with the fans and being put in a position to over-explain your own movies, sometimes going shot-by-shot on your own damn trailers like Bryan Singer recently did for the new X-Men, it struck me as refreshing. De Palma doesn’t need friends or fanboys. He’s in it for the movies.

  23. De Palma made two of my all-time favorite films, and a couple more films that I couldn’t even get through half an hour of. And unfortunately, “Passion” looks like it’s in the latter category. I really, really don’t have time for another film of mean women doing horrible things to one another. And it really doesn’t matter how “good” the film was, as “Young Adult” proved.

    You guys know that I consider both “Mission: Impossible” and “Carrie” to be just about as good as films of their genre can possibly get. (Well, “M:I” had a kind-of-unnecessary dumbing down at the very end, and “Carrie”‘s mid-section occasionally drags, but those two facts don’t even come close to spoiling the movies for me.) Has he made any other film that’s even close to being as great as either of those?

  24. Hey Paul,
    I’m officially offended. He made much more then two great movies:
    SISTERS
    CARRIE
    FURY
    DRESSED TO KILL
    BLOW OUT
    SCARFACE
    UNTOUCHABLES
    CASUALTIES OF WAR
    CARLITO’S WAY
    FEMME FATALE

    to name a few. I think that REDUCTED and PASSION are underrated too. So please show some respect is all I’m saying.

  25. @Sherrif Chance- Absolutely right but I would add Body Double and Snake Eyes. Both are flawed but both have some excellent sequences. The begging of Snakes Eyes is great in every way and Nick Cage is way over the top in that movie in a good way.

  26. I think DePalmas got that distinctive auteur style thing happening, like Argento, where if you walked into a cinema not knowing what you were going to see, and his film was playing, you would know who directed it. Scorsese has the same thing. That’s why I would call DePalma a master. And he knows how to draw out the suspense, like the train station shootout/baby in pram scene in Untouchables.

  27. And I might add that Raising Cain was a great trashy movie in every way with a John Lithgow also over the top in a good way.

  28. I agree. I’m not even sure that Body Double was flawed. Haven’t seen that one for a while, but Melanie Griffith, OMfG, I still remember her.

  29. I just recently watched it and I’m trying to get Vern to review it. I really forgot how good that movie was. Watching it in Blu Ray was a great reminder

  30. Damn, I think the only De Palma movie I ever disliked was Casualties of War, and the only thing wrong with that picture is the horrible, horrible soundtrack. I don`t need the composer telling me that war and gang-rape is horrible.

  31. I never really paid much attention to the critics who said DePalma was ripping off Hitchcock. Even if he was obviously influenced by him, which shows in Dressed To Kill for example when the main character gets killed off early, as in Psycho, so what? John Carpenter quotes and borrows from Hawks. Influence and inspiration is necessary for creative people. If you’re going to emulate and muse off someone, why not set the bar high? Hitchcock wasn’t a nobody.

    And yet, BDP found his own unique style through that inspiration. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t think of another director who has successfully borrowed DePalma’s style and made it their own. His films stand as ‘A Brian DePalma Film’. On their own merit.

  32. It’s also not like DePalma ever tried to hide his thievery. A lot of his early films (after the beatnik comedy era, of course) function on one level as responses to other movies, rhyming certain themes or sequences and subverting others. The homage isn’t just an in-joke, it’s built into the basic design of the movie. Yet critics used to act like they caught him cheating on a test.

  33. Yeah, critics schmritics.To quote Gabe T earlier above…”If you come away hating him…do you even love movies?” That about sums it up for how I feel about the thievery argument. Which reminds me the great Tarantino riffed on DePalma in Kill Bill Vol 1 in the hospital scene. The whistling theme, the slo-mo. QT knows how to homage also. And in DePalmas case, homage is due.

  34. The thievery argument is really weak. De Palma learned to speak the language of pure cinema and became a poet in this language himself. It’s the language others have developed before and he developed it way further. How many living director’s can direct a movie at this level of craftsmanship? And how great is it that he used this talent and knowledge to follow his artistic instincts instead of selling out? There are so many reasons to love this director, even if you don’t care about the movies he makes.

    Does anybody think that their favorite director »stole« less while he developed his own style, his own voice in this language? And how many directors have the talent to even develop a strong voice? Most of the are happy when they can speak this language fluid and tell their stories, not many of them can become poets, can develop a style that inspires others.

    But it’s easier for the people who have superficial knowledge about movies to spot a shot they’ve seen in a Hitchock movie and shout »Bingo« than to understand how De Palma has used this shot and made it his own. Also it says much about the film and art knowledge of these guys when they can only name Hitchock as De Palmas inspiration – it’s the most obvious.

  35. Sheriff – you understand I’ve only actually watched (or tried to watch) four De Palma movies in total, right? That’s why I’m ASKING the question. It wasn’t meant to be insulting the guy!

  36. The Original... Paul

    November 9th, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Is Body Double the one with the private detective that mostly takes place on boats? If so, I’ve seen it and I liked it.

  37. BODY DOUBLE is the one with the greatest end credits shot ever: a pair of tits with blood spilling over them for three minutes straight.

  38. The Original... Paul

    November 9th, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Yeah… not the same film then. I’d probably remember that.

  39. let it be known that I fucking love BODY DOUBLE, it’s the only 80’s movie I’ve seen that seems to already understand how cheesy the 80’s are, it’s the only “self aware” 80’s flick if you know what I mean

  40. That group of young directors who came from the 70’s – DePalma, Scorsese, Spielberg – The Bearded Fraternity, are still making great films. Lucas had a beard but my childhood Star Wars memories are where they belong, in my childhood, so I can’t include him. John Milius also had a beard, but he peaked at Conan.

    I just wonder if we have a similar group of younger ones from the nineties and noughties who will go on to leave that kind of a mark. Tarantino obviously. But who else? Fincher maybe. Soderbergh seems to have wrapped up his career.

    Hell, I’m going to miss these older dudes when they’re gone. Hopefully they’ll be like Vern’s man Clint and just get better and more prolific with old age.

  41. Griff: I think BLUE VELVET demonstrates quite nicely that the “cheesiness” you see in the 1980s exists largely on the surface; dig a bit deeper and all sorts of weird shit comes up. Granted, BLUE VELVET isn’t a horror movie. But, to my tastes, that just makes it scarier.

    Majestyk: I actually was so intrigued by how they set up the whole body double part of the shower shot shown in the credits – measuring everything, for example – that I forgot to be aroused by the naked chick. But then I’m a photographer. Naked chicks are just part of the job.

    I don’t actually like BODY DOUBLE – or much of de Palma, for that matter (I utterly hate FEMME FATALE) – but credit where it is due: Having Frankie Goes to Hollywood pop up in the middle of the film to perform a music video with the lead actor was Young Jareth’s first genuine What the Fuck? moment as a film goer.

  42. Jareth— I respectfully disagree about Blue Velvet; it IS a horror movie, but certainly not in the traditional sense. There’s no vampire/werewolf/big ugly lurching dude created by a mad scientist, no bloodlustful killer armed with a machete/chainsaw/bigass kitchen knife wearing a hockey/Bill Shatner template mask, no slimey critter from outer space. Nope, just the pleasant, generic normalcy of suburban America corrupted beneath that well-tended lawn/carpool/dinner party exterior by some very depraved, sociopathic people.

    In his excellent (and still relevant, perhaps even more now) book about horror Danse Macabre, Stephen King pointed out that audiences are more comfortable when they (so to speak) can see the zipper running up the monster’s back. It’s a safety valve, a backup parachute, and there’s a part of you who relaxes JUST that tiny little bit to take the edge off the fear. But when it’s set in a familiar context, a place just like home… then, all bets are off. The only modern movie I can equate to Blue Velvet is We Need To Talk About Kevin, and those are two of the only three movies (Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer) that truly shook me the first time I watched them.

    I kinda feel sorry for Noomi Rapace at present. Among this movie, Dead Man Down, and Prometheus… I don’t know that she’s ever gonna fully connect with American audiences. She’s certainly attractive and doesn’t lack for acting ability… but I get the impression that she’s maybe too downcast in her demeanor to venture outside of drama. Am I the only one to notice that both she and costar Rachel McAdams respectively sparred with RDJ in the two Sherlock Holmes movies? McAdams (who IMO is a lesser quality actress than Rapace) got it done in the first movie, but Rapace seemed a bit out of her element in the second. Weird. There’s a lot to be said for levity.

  43. Larry: I certainly agree that Lynch deploys elements of horror in all of his films, especially LOST HIGHWAY. The way in which Merrick is revealed in THE ELEPHANT MAN is classic monster movie stuff too (though Merrick himself refuses to comply; he is as horrified of being seen as people are of seeing him).

    There’s always so much else going on in Lynch. BLUE VELVET could be just as accurately be called a crime movie, a coming of age story, a psycho/melodrama. That scene behind the restaurant in MULHOLLAND DRIVE is horrifying, but the movie itself has one of the funniest scenes I’ve ever watched: the botched hitman scene.

    I figure that’s why they came up with the word “Lynchian”: no one can figure out how to reconcile the utter silliness of those little people crawling under Naomi Watts’ door with how terrifying they end up being.

  44. Jareth— Yeah, right there with you. I neglected to mention that particular, complimentary adjective (Lynchian). Between him and Albert Hitchcock, no one else has ever merited that, and rightly so. Trying to place his films in any one genre is a fruitless task. I’m guessing he (at the time) took that as both a compliment and an albatross ’round his neck when he directed The Straight Story, perhaps JUST to thumb his nose at whoever thought to narrow him down.

    Sadly (and maybe embarrassingly), I’ve never seen Lost Highway. Strange to think that Bill Pullman stepped off from the bitchin’ commercial success of ID4 to a Lynch movie. I take that back; it makes perfect sense.

    One (of the many) things I like about Blue Velvet is that, upon its release, Ebert hated it (much indignation on his part about Isabella Rossellini being “exploited”), yet Pauline Kael judged it purely for its artistic merits, and praised it to high heaven. That’s all you need to know there.

  45. Darren- Paul Thomas Anderson obviously belongs in that group. And Wes Anderson. David O’Russell too.

    The Coens are in-between, but they belong in their own category anyway.

  46. Chopper— OK, I’m goin’ spontaneous/instant Rorschach inkblot here:

    PTA: Slightly morbid, tinged with cynicism and humor.

    Anderson: Whimsical, yet misguidedly still thinking he’s making a valid statement about human nature.

    David O. Russell: Misanthrope inverted.

    The Coen Bros.: Everyone is guilty in some way, shape, or form.

  47. Chopper – yeah good picks.

    I forgot to mention Coppola in the Bearded group of greats. Though he seemed to peak with Apocalypse.

  48. Larry- I think you’re wrong about Wes Anderson. I don’t think his films are about defining human nature. He’s just telling fairy tales that are grounded in real emotion. You could knock him for a lot of things, but to suggest he thinks his films are some important commentary on people seems like you just projecting.

    I’d like to add Terry Zwigoff to the new film brat list as well.

  49. Chopper— Points taken. It’s not as though I’m totally opposed to Wes Anderson; far from it. Bottle Rocket was a solid debut, Rushmore was terrific in its own right, as well as giving Bill Murray the role most appropriate to his movie persona. But IMO The Royal Tenenbaums kinda straddled the line, and he’s been lost in The Forest Of Whimsy ever since. I have nothing against second generation hippies per se, but he fact is they can’t be counted upon to evolve… into adults… into adult filmmakers. No offense, but he AND Whit Stillman AND Noah Baumbach need to go group hug, and go the fuck away entirely.

    Did that seem too harsh? I hope not. I don’t consider myself a total bigballs alpha male, but I’ve got little tolerance for sensitive filmmakers these days.

  50. MOONRISE KINGDOM was my favorite movie of last year. What you consider sensitive, I consider honest. I never felt that Anderson was telling people how to live, just reflecting what his experience is. You saying he should go the fuck away entirely is too harsh, because I still love his movies, flaws and all, and if you don’t, stop watching them. It’s ok bud, we can work together, but don’t try and take my Wes Anderson away.

  51. Passion is De Palma’s Expendables 2 to Love Crime’s Predator, if that makes sense. Watching them both in a row, it’s kind of sad and depressing to see De Palma strip the original of little things like character development and a coherent plot in favor of wink-nudge self-referencing and callbacks to his own greatest hits. I love a good split-screen/POV sequence as much as the next guy, and i did have a big grin on my face during the ridiculous finale, but the whole thing feels empty and pointless and the defense of “it’s supposed to be campy! McAdams’ acting is supposed to be terrible!” is valid but feels more like a cop-out since it’s harder to actually make a good movie. I finally get Vern’s disdain for the Expendables series.

    *SPOILERS* In case you haven’t seen Love Crime (which I saw second) – it’s basically the same movie, except the assistant character is a man and there’s no twin (even though I’m still not sure if the twin really existed or what she had to do with anything). The huge difference is Love Crime shows you immediately who the killer is, while Passion tries to make it a Shyamalan-style “unreliable narrator” mystery. Yet weirdly, LC is the more involving mystery – we see the killer planting the seeds of the murder, immaculately setting up random pieces and the joy is watching everything fall into place. It’s immensely satisfying to see a plan come together, A-Team style, but Passion thinks the audience would be more interested in groaning “it was all a dream!” mindgames.

    *DON’T READ IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN SIDE EFFECTS* – Anyone notice the extreme plot similarities in both movies? Main character, under the influence of drugs, stabs somebody but turns out she was faking the drug’s effects the whole time and the real motive was money/power. Gets herself arrested on purpose with a plan to vindicate herself but shit goes wrong. Throw in “edgy” lesbian subplots involving blackmail and cast the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo(!) and you pretty much have both movies.

  52. And it’s not like DePalma CAN’T do story and character well either – see CARLITOS WAY and SCARFACE. I just think with certain types of films like PASSION, he likes to make them in the ‘trademarked’ DePalma style. Maybe just to show off, who knows? I’m certainly not complaining. He can show off all he wants. I’ll be there to enjoy it.

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