"KEEP BUSTIN'."

Raising Cain

August 7, 1992 brought us the release of not only best picture winner UNFORGIVEN and feature length movie 3 NINJAS, but also one of the most joyfully deranged thrillers of the era, Brian De Palma’s RAISING CAIN. I reviewed RAISING CAIN a few years backoh jesus actually it was 18 years ago what the fuck… and it’s an okay review as far as describing what the movie is like, but I could not in good conscience do a series on the weirdness of Summer ’92 and not revisit it. This is one of the top achievers in the field.

Five years earlier, De Palma had had a huge mainstream success with THE UNTOUCHABLES, a well-reviewed hit movie that nabbed four Oscar nominations and won best supporting actor for Sean Connery. He’d already cashed that in to make the acclaimed war drama CASUALTIES OF WAR (1989), and then his attempt at a big zeitgeisty literary adaptation, THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES (1990), had been one of Hollywood’s most notorious fiascos. So it might’ve seemed at a glance like a shrewd move to return to the genre he’d originally been known for – the amped up Hitchcockian thriller.

Except nothing is safe about RAISING CAIN. It opens with doting father Dr. Carter Nix (John Lithgow in his followup to RICOCHET – whatever you’ve done in your life no offense but it wasn’t as good as that man doing those two movies in a row) and his young daughter Amy catching a ride home from the playground with another parent, Karen (Teri Austin, THE VINDICATOR). In a 2 1/2 minute conversation while driving they joke around about parenting, and there’s some odd exposition about Carter’s father being a pioneering child psychiatrist, then he starts talking about sending Amy to a hospital in Norway to be part of an experiment, and tries to convince Karen to do the same with her kid, much to her befuddled amusement. Then he starts sneezing uncontrollably, which turns out to be cover for him to blow some kind of powder in her face to blind her, pull the car over and chloroform her so he can kidnap her son.

All right. We’re already in Weirdoland. Then all the sudden a second John Lithgow character approaches the car, wearing a leather jacket and sunglasses, smoking a cigarette, acting like he thinks he’s a real fuckin badass, laughing at Carter, giving him advice about how to murder this poor lady and get away with it. Some real DARK HALF George Stark type shit. This is the titular Cain, it’s implied that he recently got out of prison, and he claims they’re twins, but as I pointed out in the other review I think that’s De Palma fucking with us, because he knows we know it’s a split personality but wants us to not know if he really expects us to believe it’s twins. (Another fun trick is that Lithgow plays a third character who we assume is also a personality, but he turns out to be a separate person!)

11 minutes into the movie, moments after Carter has put Karen in the trunk of the car, we meet his loving wife Jenny (Lolita Davidovich, ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING). They almost have sex and by his movements and expressions we know he’s Cain – it feels like a violation even though we know it’s the same person. Anyway, he goes to check on their daughter but instead takes Karen’s son and drives to a hotel to drink and argue with his heavily accented mad scientist dad (Lithgow).

This has been some strange, feverish shit and then 18 minutes in there’s a scene with a show-offy steadicam shot from Jenny’s POV shopping for a Valentine’s Day gift while Carter is outside holding the kid. Suddenly she’s approached by super fuckin handsome Jack Dante (Steven Bauer, GLEAMING THE CUBE) who turns out to be an ex who ghosted her after a personal tragedy but now has his shit together and is still in love with her. He accidentally drops his hotel key in the store and she picks it up but hides it from Carter. And also buys gifts for both Carter and Jack. And then goes to the hotel.

So after several minutes you realize oh shit, this is a movie about Jenny now, and she’s being tempted to cheat on her husband, which seems wrong except we know her husband is a murdering kidnapping child experimenter. So actually not that wrong. But that makes us much more nervous about her getting caught. I just love this big shifting of gears. Carter’s multiple personality disorder is obviously an evolution of PSYCHO, but this kind of switches the order of the chapters – we start with the reveal of the seemingly nice guy being a murderer, then switch to the lady who’s sneaking around but who we want to survive. I haven’t seen that before.

There’s a direct reference to PSYCHO when he puts her body in a car, rolls it into a swamp and watches it slowly sink. But then he De Palmas it by having her float up to the back window just as the sun is coming up, making him nervous someone will see her – and then she wakes up, still alive, and freaks out as it finally completely submerges. Intense!

Before that, though, the ultimate don’t-give-a-fuck filmatistic swagger: Jenny jolts awake at 3 am (implying that she’s been dreaming something that later turns out to have really happened) and then all the sudden, nearly a half hour into the movie, we hear a voiceover of her thoughts! Introducing a new, defiantly unfashionable cinematic technique a third of the way into the movie. Soon the voiceover shifts to narration and we get a little flashback explaining that she fell in love with Jack while she was the cancer doctor for his sick wife, and that the wife jolted awake just in time to see her kiss him at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, and that was what killed her.

So at first it seems like Jack is this guy trying to steal someone’s wife, but a little understandable because they were in love before the marriage. But then we realize Jenny was the one making moves on a married man, and said moves caused the wife to die of shock. What the fuck, Jenny.

Most filmmakers would think it was a bad idea for the extramarital affair to have a narratively unnecessary backstory that’s super fucked up and makes the protagonist look horrible. Luckily De Palma would never take advice from those stupid assholes. They should stay out of this and go make their boring movies where shit like this would never dream of happening.

There are more wild, disorienting swerves, including a fake out death, a Chekov’s wig, and maybe my favorite De Palma joke ever, a whole climactic slo-mo setpiece that telegraphs someone’s gonna get impaled on a sun dial but then it doesn’t happen. Beautiful.

The two main things I associate with this movie, actually, are the sun dial and a completely bizarre part where a little boy snaps at Carter outside of a public restroom and it’s very clearly dubbed over by an adult man trying to speak in a high voice. I guess I didn’t realize when I wrote that review that it’s Lithgow’s voice (the kid is later revealed as another of Carter’s personalities). But understanding the meaning of it doesn’t take away how wonderfully deranged it is.

I suppose it wasn’t unusual in the ‘90s for thrillers to have really twisted, macabre premises behind them – especially post-SEVEN when everybody was trying to come up with the most fucked up serial killer idea. But in the sicko ideas department this one is up there just for the premise of a doctor intentionally traumatizing kids to give them split personalities. You know, as a way to study split personalities.

There are lots of little touches that I like precisely because I don’t really know what exactly they’re about. For example, there’s the retired detective (Barton Heyman, THE EXORCIST) who hangs around headquarters still trying to work cases. Not-retired lieutenants Terri (Gregg Henry, BATES MOTEL) and Cally (Tom Bower, ACES: IRON EAGLE III) seem really annoyed by him and keep ignoring him and telling him to leave until he’s gone enough into detail about his theory that they can’t deny it anymore, so they finally start being nice to him. In another scene, Terri and Cally walk downstairs conversing with a witness (Frances Sternhagen, DOC HOLLYWOOD) and she keeps almost going the wrong way and they will lurch and grab her to stop her. I can’t tell if they’re worried she’s gonna see something she shouldn’t or if it’s a joke about the complicated tracking shot or what, but it’s one of those odd details that give a movie personality. Even though this is one that would have plenty of personality without those details. It’s fair to say this one is distinct.

I don’t know of another summer of ’92 movie to compare it to. The thrillers we’ve looked at so far have been ONE FALSE MOVE, POISON IVY, ZENTROPA (aka EUROPA) and UNLAWFUL ENTRY. All at least pretty good, some of them great, none of them remotely as wild-eyed, sweaty and unpredictable as RAISING CAIN. I guess one connection to another ’92 movie is that last week’s BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER had Luke Perry in it, and this one has his Beverly Hills 90210 co-star Gabriel Carteris. It’s a smaller part than Perry’s but it’s memorable because she randomly hits on “for a man of your age still pretty cute” Carter/Cain while holding a baby, smoking, very loudly chewing gum and waiting for access to a public restroom to pee. (He kills her and steals her baby.)

I love that DePalma was enough of a brand name that they made him the tagline!

RAISING CAIN did okay at the box office. $37 million on a $12 million budget. Nobody lost money. But many reviews were negative, and I remember it having a reputation for being terrible. The Associated Press review said, “It seems the filmmaker just can’t decide where he wants to go with this movie,” a common criticism I tend to hate, because often it’s saying this: normal movies focus on a few obvious things, but this does a whole bunch of strange things, and I wanted it to be a normal movie, so this guy must be confused. But it turns out maybe they were a little bit right – De Palma was torn about how to tell the story, and later had second thoughts about the (absolutely perfect) way he settled on at the time.

That’s why since 2016 the movie has been available in two versions. I’m reviewing the original theatrical cut for historical purposes, but then I checked out what De Palma now calls his director’s cut. It started as a fan edit by Dutch director Peet Gelderblom, who read in an interview that De Palma had changed the order of the scenes from his original script, and decided to re-create that earlier idea De Palma had thought better of. His version starts with Jenny clock shopping, running into Jack, having the affair, and only after Carter smothers her do we learn about his split personality and experiments and stuff.

When De Palma saw Gelderblom’s cut on Indiewire he wrote, “It’s what we didn’t accomplish on the initial release of the film. It’s what I originally wanted the movie to be,” and he arranged to have a restored version of the cut included on the blu-ray. Based on the comments about it on my original review and the response I got writing about it on Twitter, many people seem to think the director’s cut is superior. The most persuasive explanation I got was from @TubaPeter on Twitter:

I like that description but the thing is, the way it was released in theaters is way more wild! Making it clear Jenny is the protagonist from the beginning, starting out more reasonable and building up to the delirious shit, having Carter’s reveal be the standard pillow murder instead of the bizarre sneezing of powder into a woman’s face (!) – these are all things that make the director’s cut play more normal, more conventional, less feverish, less thrilling. In a video essay explaining his recut, Gelderblom says he always liked the movie but his girlfriend didn’t, so he realized that “Something about the way the story unfolded was perhaps more peculiar than it needed to be.”

Let me stop you right there, sir. No. Absolutely not. Peculiar is the whole reason for this movie. You don’t make this movie less peculiar. Maybe it’s not illegal, but it’s unethical, immoral, dishonorable. This is Weird Summer. We respect the peculiar here. We honor the peculiar. What the fuck are you doing to me, pal? What kind of party do you think this is?

I’m against it, I find it offensive, I’m considering a lawsuit, but I respect that even when they attempt to chain RAISING CAIN down and train it to sit up straight and be acceptable and go to church on Sundays and tuck its shirt in, it refuses to fit in entirely. It’s still the wild movie TubaPeter describes above, and that’s wilder than most. I’m a guy who likes De Palma with the pedal to the metal, so RAISING CAIN and FEMME FATALE* are my two favorite thrillers by him. And even in this version I don’t like as much, it’s a great fuckin movie.  And a major release from Universal Pictures! Thank you, 1992, for letting movies like this through. You gotta be grateful.

 

*Don’t get any ideas. If anybody tries to normalize FEMME FATALE I swear I’ll sneeze powder in their face while they’re driving or run up to them in a kid body and talk in an adult voice.

This entry was posted on Monday, September 19th, 2022 at 7:19 am and is filed under Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

45 Responses to “Raising Cain”

  1. I’m… not the biggest DePalma fan. Yet I almost liked Raising Cain because it sort of plays like a DePalma parody.

    Sort of…

    I did find it to be an educational viewing because it ended up being a textbook example on ‘losing an audience’. I saw it with about 20-25 people, and nobody was really paying attention anymore by the time the credits rolled, myself included. And I realized when everybody and everything in your movie is a twist and/or reversal, the audience becomes irritated and disengages.

    Or to put it another way: after having the carpet pulled out from under you over and over again, you eventually stop standing on that carpet.

  2. Man, this is one of those movies that I would love to rewatch with my mind erased.I don’t think a rewatch will ever be able to give me that “What the fuck is that movie?” feel that I got from watching it completely unprepared for the first time.

  3. I’m Team Director’s Cut. The theatrical version is memorably disorienting but it really only works the first time. Once you know where it’s all going, the recut rolls the story out better. The transitions between scenes are more elegant and purposeful. What you lose in WTF you regain in intrigue and assuredness.

  4. Ugh, Brian “Didja see what I did there? Didja? Didja?” DePalma. Not a fan *at all*. I remember trying to like BODY DOUBLE when I was a teenager because, you know, Melanie Griffith. But everything about it was so cheesy and over the top and “Nothing is what it seems to be, get it? Get it? Here, I’ll show you one more time”… This is one of those movies where the only reason DePalma is trying to get you emotionally involved in any of the characters’ lives is so he can flip it around, show you how and why you were bamboozled, and laugh at you for falling for the trick. In its way, it’s as actively viewer-hostile as FUNNY GAMES.

  5. Yes! I’m Team Recut as well. 1) It was the artist’s original intention, and I like when original intent can be honored. 2) It plays smoother. There’s still all the same wild shit, but the viewer (or this particular viewer, anyway), has a more enjoyable experience.

    Either way, RAISING CAIN is a top 5 De Palma for me. And he’s my favorite director so that’s high praise in my book. I love this movie.

  6. They’re equally good cuts, but I would prefer the theatrical, it’s more entertaining instead of starting with a kind of dull 30 minutes of soap opera.The big reveals might have landed harder then, but still…they land pretty hard in the theatrical. I love how this is DePalma basically taking the piss out of himself, he does a parody of his usual tracking shot, the big crazy climax with a million things happening all at once that’s both funny and really exciting. It’s full on ridiculous and basically came too early. I don’t think a movie based on endless reveals can’t work, Knives Out just did it recently, The Prestige did it. Gte Out kind of did it. Fight Club for sure. But the tone and the story of this one is all over the place unlike those movies where things don’t obviously connect (I love it for that). The early 90s weren’t ready for that shit, especially to a mall audience going to see what they thought was a standard psycho thriller.

  7. (My “Yes!” was meant to be in response to Mr. Majestyk, not to burningambulance.)

  8. Gotta say I’ve never got a “he’s laughing at us” vibe from DePalma. Playing with us, yes. Sometimes Lynch gives me the “laughing at us” vibe.

    I’ve seen RAISING CAIN (theatrical) twice, first time I thought it was dreadful, second great.

    Looks like the pre-Blu-Ray recut is still on Gelderblom’s Vimeo channel for anyone curious. I know I am.

  9. Come on, I have no idea how anybody would watch THAT movie and get “Oh, this is just some Haneke-esque pseudo-intellectual audience belittling bullshit” out of it. This is obviously a work of someone who had fun throwing the most ridiculous stuff, wrapped in the shiny packaging of a serious thriller at the audience and hoped they would get the joke. At some point we have a 5 minutes long shot-in-one-take walk & talk that ends with a grotesque shot of a corpse’s face. That’s not “I am so much smarter than the audience”, that’s “Hell yeah, do you have fun? Because I sure have!”

  10. This is exactly what I think is the misconception people who don’t like De Palma have about him. They perceive him as sneering down at them or being superior. It baffles me. At what point exactly do you think the guy who is blatantly repurposing the staging of the sinking car from “Psycho” is pretending to be smarter than you, if the joy of it is that he assumes you have enough basic cinematic literacy to recognize what he’s doing? He’s having a blast and wants you to join in & have a blast too. The reason he’s my favorite director is that he delivers the goods AND he’s having a merry old time doing so. If someone doesn’t like that or want to get on board with that, it’s their loss, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s the equivalent of throwing toys out of a pram while yelling “I HATE HAVING FUN!”

  11. I’d say the difference between DePalma and Haneke is that DePalma expects you to be in on the joke, whereas, to Haneke, you ARE the joke.

  12. The long take is the perfect example of it. We have to hear a bunch of long winded bullshit explaining the past hour of the movie, so he treats us to this fun take…knowing even if people don’t consciously get that it’s all one shot, subconsciously they do…but when they keep pulling the doctor back into frame he’s letting everyone in on the gag, and then when the picture almost goes sideways to keep them all framed, it’s really funny. That’s just using cinematic tools to have a good time. I saw this one in theaters (a college rerelease showing) and remember people laughing, and not in a bad way. Like they got it.

  13. Of course an audience going to a rerelease showing is more of a targeted audience so maybe doesn’t count, but I have some friends who saw it in the original showing and they said people had liked it, and they’re not really cinefiles more than the average person. But definitely, it’s not exactly a movie for everybody, almost shocked it got financed.

  14. The idea that De Palma is just an empty showman has always been strange to me. He’s able to rework the language of Hitchcock and Godard in such a searing, romanticized way precisely because he has real human interests (at least in his movies – I’ve heard he can be a somewhat prickly personality irl).

    I still need to see the recut version of this.

  15. I saw this one in theaters (a college rerelease showing) and remember people laughing, and not in a bad way. Like they got it

    And that’s what I meant in my first post about an object lesson of ‘losing the audience’. For about 20-30 minutes, the audience laughed (with it). Then the the laughter got more and more sporadic, even though the hi-jinks continued. Then by the last 10-15 minutes they were scarcely paying attention anymore.

    If you expect an audience to engage for two hours, you have to give them a reason to care.

  16. And yet, here we are talking about how much we love it all these years later. In my opinion, that audience was wrong.

  17. But jojo what I said is the audience I saw it with DID get it. And he did give a reason to care..crazy twists, weird shit happening, scummy thriller details, amazing Lithgow. Now maybe that doesn’t work for a 90s mall audience, but THIS audience of me loves it!

  18. Borrowing from old masters like Hitchcock and Chabrol should never be considered a bad thing when you’re making a thriller. They more or less invented the modern version of the genre, so it would be like saying Leone copied Ford because he had horses in his westerns.

    RAISING CAIN got some headlines in the papers over here because Lithgow’s character has a Norwegian father and he sings in Norwegian.

  19. But jojo what I said is the audience I saw it with DID get it. And he did give a reason to care..crazy twists, weird shit happening, scummy thriller details, amazing Lithgow. Now maybe that doesn’t work for a 90s mall audience

    I dunno, as I said, I was right there with them. Perhaps mob mentality. Perhaps I’m just your typical ’90s mall audience. I can’t say. I just know the whole thing got increasingly tiresome/dull. To the point that I would have had trouble with a quiz on the last 15 minutes of the movie even though I just saw them.

    I think of other directors that get accused of being ‘smart alecks’ and Joel/Ethan Coen come to mind. Like DePalma, they got gags. But they also know if you don’t throw in a seemingly genuine human emotion from time to time, people just lose interest. I think that’s why I think their movies generally play better despite a similar level of smarty pants antics.

  20. And yet he, though admittedly not RAISING CAIN, has had a lot more general audience appeal than the Coens.

  21. jojo I’m not saying your audience turned on the movie…but you gave an object lesson on what a movie can and can’t do, and I’m basically saying “not necessarily.”

    Cannibal Holocaust does everything a movie shouldn’t do to keep an audience, and yet it’s still getting constantly rereleased while something that plays by the rules like, say, Out of Africa is long forgotten. And similarly, Cain is still fun to talk about, who remembers Jennifer Eight?

  22. Out of Africa is long forgotten

    I watched it on TCM about four months ago.

    It was decent. A little better than I remember it being, probably because I’m older therefore a lush adventure/romance between two middle-aged protagonists is a bit more in my wheelhouse today than when I originally saw it. And seeing that I’d prefer to watch it again today than to re-watch Raising Cain even a second time makes me suspect I’m the typical 90s mall audience you originally accused me of being.

  23. Guys, what are you even fighting about? Obviously RAISING CAIN isn’t for everybody. If it was, it wouldn’t be RAISING CAIN.

  24. Raising Cain is great. It’s a wonderful, crazy film that can be serious and tongue-in-cheek at the same time. I am Team Theatrical cut. The recut is fine but starts to get a bit dull as it goes.

    I interacted with the guy who edited on a DePalma forum in the early 2000’s. He struck me as a bit self-serious, which is a problem I have with the recut. It’s trying to impose traditional seriousness on a film that to its core doesn’t want it, that rejected it during the inital post-production phase. It’s the polite cut, which is dull.

    The cut structure DePalma started with (now in the recut) is going towards the structure of Dressed To Kill with a bit of Sisters thrown in, which I don’t think quite works, as the lead actress isn’t strong in the part, which was the initial problem, creating pacing issues. This resulted in DePalma making the original structural changes to the film, to get the tone of craziness, which is what a lot of people now love about the film. DePalma focuses us all on Lithgow and starts fucking with the audience scene to scene, which is wonderful.

    I think DePalma went along with the recut as he never felt he got the film right originally, based on his initial ideas and its critical reception. But as we’ve seen with other recuts, sometimes the artists can’t see what’s good in their own work as they are too close to it. I think DePalma never saw what was so good about his improvisations to his initial problem. This recut now suggests these corrections were flawed rather than brilliant. That’s what now bugs me about the recent recut.

  25. TCM showed Out of Africa four months ago, that must mean it’s still a movie with a vibrant following, just like the movie Fearless Fagan.

  26. I love this flick something fierce. I had the ultimate double header of Unforgiven and this in the theaters. It was glorious but trying to explain it to friends and family got me a lot of weird stares.

    (Plus, I had a massive crush on Andrea from 90210 back then, and this only sealed the deal)

    Still, Lithgow gave us the hat trick of Ricochet, Cain, and Cliffhanger and for that we should be ever so grateful!

  27. Yeah he was the go-to smarmy villain there for awhile…I think he said it was a big part of why he did Third Rock, to get out of that cause he didn’t want to get stuck, plus of course the content was gonna be good but hard to judge when it’s not on it’s feet how things will turn out.

  28. TCM showed Out of Africa four months ago, that must mean it’s still a movie with a vibrant following

    Yeah, old people like it. I think it’s properly graduated to ‘modern classic’ status (probably because it could have been filmed in 1955 without really changing anything). I was coincidentally at a theater that was having a fathom screening right before the pandemic. And it seemed… busy. But as stated, it’s a good movie.

    I mean, I know you were implying that there aren’t campus screenings with 19-year-olds whooping it up, therefore implying it was forgotten and/or irrelevant. But if that was case, The Big Lebowski and Rocky Horror would be vibrant and relevant cinema personified. Which certainly isn’t the case, and I guess I fail to see how belittling other movies makes it so.

  29. You talked about it being showed on TCM as meaning it’s still relevant to people. I’m saying that’s not necessarily a real metric. How much do you like the movie Kidnapped, which is a flick I saw on TCM and is actually pretty good? Did you have to look it up to see what it was cause you’ve never heard of it? I sure hadn’t. In general that movie is not part of a broad conversation about flicks, not necessarily college screenings.

    You mostly seem mad that I compared you to a mall audience…but I bet you did see it in a mall, right? And I’m saying is you talking about what does and doesn’t work is…sort of maybe true sometimes. It depends on the audience, and Cain is not really a movie playing by the rules, which doesn’t play to general audiences a lot of times. Tarantino didn’t give the audience what they expected and came off his culture-changing hit Pulp Fiction with the relatively low box office Jackie Brown. I don’t judge all movies that way, and Cain has stood the test of time. It’s nice that Africa had some revival screening somewhere, but someone cared about about Cain to recut it, it got a ton of views, and got released on Blu Ray.

    And I named a number of movies that did exactly what you said don’t work, that worked quite well even to mainstream audiences, liek The Prestige (over a hunny mil).

  30. How much do you like the movie Kidnapped, which is a flick I saw on TCM and is actually pretty good?

    Uh, there’s like three movies named Kidnapped that play on TCM on a pretty regular basis (all based on the same Robert Louis Stevenson book called… y’know). The one with Freddie Bartholomew is good, the Roddy McDowall one less so (but not bad by any stretch), the third was being presented by Leonard Maltin so I’m assuming it was a Disney production (since that’s his thing). But I didn’t watch it (since it’s not mine). I have NO idea what this has to do with anything.

    Did you have to look it up to see what it was cause you’ve never heard of it? I sure hadn’t. In general that movie is not part of a broad conversation about flicks, not necessarily college screenings.

    -No.
    -Uh, you probably heard of the book when you were young enough to read treasure Island and shit but forgot because you grew.
    -It depends what kind of movies you’re talking about. If you’re discussing family adventures I could see it coming up.
    -And no.

    Still no idea…

    You mostly seem mad that I compared you to a mall audience…but I bet you did see it in a mall, right?

    I don’t really care since you don’t know anything about me, but I certainly don’t think I’m different than a mall audience. I’m part of an audience and if I lived near a mall that’s probably where I’d watch them. And no, there aren’t many malls in nyc. Mahattan and Fulton street are the only I can can think of opened at the time and neither have theaters. I think I saw Raising Cain at the Center on Queens Blvd (rip) because it was a Brian Depalma movie and even in ’92 I knew that meant ‘don’t pay full price’. You ask A LOT of fucking questions btw…

    Heh, and as I say that, you finish…

    ALL OF THAT to question the crowd at the CENTER?? It’s a fucking second run house in Queens! I’m sure you can figure out what kind of crowd it was. One with highly tuned bullshit detectors. It wasn’t educational because it was a room of rubes. And WHAT does that have to do with Kidnapped??

    but someone cared about about Cain to recut it, it got a ton of views

    Well, some famous director did the same thing to Heaven’s Gate. I’m sure it would have been released on blu-ray to if Heaven’s Gate didn’t completely bankrupt UA back in 1979…

    I read your last sentence like four times, and I’m sorry, I don’t understand it.

  31. As Majestyk said, it’s obviously a divisive movie, not for everybody and not designed to be. It did not go over well with general audiences at the time, and now has many fans, including me, but not jojo. There’s not much to debate there, so this argument seems to me to really be about some other unstated factor, but I’m not sure what. I hope we can stop the violence, increase the peace, etc.

  32. I do have to mention though, that jojo did successfully name three versions of Kidnapped…unfortunately he did not seem to know the one that starred Michael Caine, which was made in 1971.

  33. “De Mented De Ranged De Captive De Palma” Ha! I can’t really imagine a movie poster selling the movie around the director THROUGH THE TAGLINE today. Yes, you might get a The Fourth Movie by Quentin Tarantino but that’s…um…boring. The “De Mented De Ranged…” part does tempt me to make a Scott Snyder joke or rather one about his fundamentalist fans(possibly with the emphasis on “mentalist”: “Praise the Lord Our Scott’s films or we will kill you and eat you! He is one of the defining voices in the medium. Renoir, Hitchcock, Keaton, Hawks, Powell, Truffaut, Godard, Kubrick, Altman, Spielberg, the directors of Lambada: The Forbidden Dance and Vegas Vacation, Snyder. Kneel before Scott!) but I shall refrain. Some people have no sense of humour!

    Mr Majestyk is totally correct with his De Palma/Haneke comment (I’m sure he’ll be happy that a complete nobody says he is right). “(T)o Haneke you *are* the joke”; Majestyk speaks the truth! Haneke’s chill smarminess and sense of moral superiority is like a template for a lot of what we see now from people who should know better even as they mirror the behaviour and attitude of their fundamentalist enemies (Boo to extremists!). At least Haneke doesn’t merely parrot his holier than thou rubbish while attempting to control language and expression. That’s admirable in its way. I suppose. A leetle bit. De Palma on the other hand does expect the audience to be on the joke. It’s just that he’s got a rather sick and twisted sense of humour. Hitchcock regretted blowing up a child (on film, not in real life. Times weren’t *that* different. Hee!), De Palma homaged the scene (I should mention Mamet here I suppose but the Untouchables opening sequence is very Brian). He WILL smack the audience around. This applies to his more serious features too (Carrie, The Fury, Obsession, Blow Out, Redacted et al) and gives them a queasy and disturbing power. Yet sometimes he shows no acknowledgment that there might be such a thing as TOO far.
    Speaking of “going too far” but in the best possible way, just look at John Lithgow’s performance(s) here. Holy Moly! This really is a malevolent precursor to his benign Third Rock from the Sun nuttiness. Watching that again recently, it is a lot of fun and the whole regular cast are great (Fuck Friends! No, I don’t mean have sexual Congress with your buddies) with Lithgow, French Stewart, Wayne Knight, Kristen Johnson, Joseph G-L, Jane Curtin all doing hilarious work. Even guests such as (especially) the late great Jan Hooks are perfectly nutty.
    Back to Raising Cain. The “Director’s Cut” (more a screenwriter’s cut but whatever) has the effect of making the movie more Psycho-like in structure which is – arguably – not a good thing and a bit too on-the-nose. Y’know, even with the embedded homages and the whole movie being part-homage to Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom.
    One more thing: Gabrielle Carteris in that still? Yum. (That her character gets killed off? Decidedly NOT yum. De Palmaaaaaaa!)

  34. “De Captive”?! I didn’t notice that spellchecker changed that. GAH. Stupid invention! “De *Ceptive*”.

  35. Oh sorry, I was more/less just trying to distract myself while the Mets got slaughtered, which is the only reason I was engaging at all. Sorry. if it came off as “debate” or whatever. I have no idea what the point is even supposed to be, so I can’t really debate it.

    ALTHOUGH, I do (sorta) understand the really odd mention of Fearless Fagan (which is a completely cute and innocuous escaped lion comedy/musical by Stanley Donen, director of such challenging and divisive po-mo mind-benders as Singin’ in the Rain and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers). As I now see it’s playing TCM tomorrow afternoon in a series of ‘escaped jungle cat’ movies. So (I guess) they were just grabbing random titles from TCM (like one of the many versions of Kidnapped) and going “This movie is playing TCM, does that mean it’s any good?? What about this movie?? Or This one??”

    Of course, the answer is always the same when you choose things by random “maybe??”
    (I still don’t know what ANY of that has to do with Raising Cain being half-parody/half-not, and ends up being just boring. But at least I know where Fearless Fagan came from, and at least fuzzy intention)

    (I like how we have to address each other through moderator now. Well, I don’t know if we have to. But it seemed like it was being done, so I wasn’t going to be the one to fuck it up…)

  36. So out of curiosity, I looked up some viewing stats on Letterboxd, where the membership skews younger. 71,000 members have seen CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST — more than I was expecting. 42,000 have seen OUT OF AFRICA. 21,000 have seen RAISING CAIN. 6,681 have seen JENNIFER EIGHT.

    (I like JENNIFER EIGHT. It got lost in the glut of post-LAMBS serial-killer movies, but it’s more of a throwback to earlier thrillers like SEA OF LOVE. There’s nice wintry photography from Conrad Hall, and John Malkovich has fun playing an absolute prick. Whatever happened to Bruce Robinson, anyhow? Used to be you’d often see double bills of WITHNAIL AND I with HOW TO GET AHEAD IN ADVERTISING. Nowadays people only remember WITHNAIL.)

  37. Wow, the OUT OF AFRICA vs. RAISING CAIN figure really surprises me.

  38. Why I picked Fagan was simply that jojo said Africa being on TCM meant something, and I was saying not necessarily, This is pretty A to B stuff.

    And don’t know what was hard to understand about that once sentence about The Prestige…where I said it does all the things jojo says doesn’t work to an audience, and it made 100 million. So like many times with DePalma, he was probably just ahead of the curve. Many movies have pulled twist after twist, and done quite well. And Prestige went way crazier than even Cain…once I got there were twists it’s like cool, I didn’t see random sci-fi twists coming.

  39. Yeah Vern, I was loving this too. It’s like Out of Africa is the ‘Cain-Wife subplot’ of this comment thread. I just wanted to pop on to encourage anyone who hasn’t, to read Vern’s original review too. It’s one of my favorites. Nothing wrong with this update, but his OG Cain review, I remember nailing what, still to this day, gets me really excited when I watch this one. The opening is unlike any other opening in De P or otherwise (probably because it wasn’t meant to be an opening). It’s strange, vivid, dense, bold, wry, funny, demented, deranged, etc… The structure of Raising Cain (theatrical) has continued to inspire, amuse and tickle me. Sorry, I can’t get behind any recut.

  40. My guess is Africa has been watched as much as it has on Letterboxed is because it won the Academy Award…and the people who write reviews on there are the types who would be obsessive to want to see all of the Best Pictures/nominees. I know some film geeks who have done that. Although sometimes they watched so many and eventually tapped out. Life’s short, who needs homework like watching The Blind Side?

  41. It’s like Out of Africa is the ‘Cain-Wife subplot’ of this comment thread.

    and unfortunately just as interesting…

  42. Is OUT OF AFRICA becoming the middle-brow AVATAR? “No one can sincerely like it anymore, it has been decreed!”

  43. It’s weird. It’s always been my go-to example for how the Oscars always miss the actual best movie of the year and pick some middlebrow piffle that nobody actually watches a year later. I don’t remember ever getting this much pushback on it, but if people sincerely like it, who am I to say they’re wrong? I’m not the Like Police.

  44. OUT OF AFRICA had a higher domestic gross than ALIENS. Romance is a popular genre!

  45. I run hot and cold on DePalma, but I liked this one. It’s just fun.

    Given how much you people like his “OH NO YOU DIDN’T!” cheekiness, thought I’d echo an older thread where someone recommended Pedro Almodovar’s movies, if you haven’t seen any of them. Maybe not as crazy as this particular movie, and more grounded, but still. His stuff tends to be more in the camp/soap opera corner than DePalma’s more genre-friendly stuff, but with a similar sense of crazy/playfulness- at least the older stuff.
    The Almodovar movies I do like (All About My Mother, Volver) I tend to like more than the DePalma movies I like (which there are admittedly more of). The two tend to associate in my mind.

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