De Palma (2015) – A Review


A review of the 2015 documentary De Palma, a sit down interview with director Brian De Palma discussing his films

Brian De Palma documentary interview 2015

Director Brian De Plama sits down and reflects on his career. He tells stories that follow his earliest work, his influences, his artistic decisions, his major cinematic successes and his misfires.

De Palma is an extraordinarily simple film. It’s essentially De Palma being interviewed by friends and directors Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow (while sitting in Paltrow’s living room from what I read).

From there we only hear from him as he recounts his film career with some truly fascinating stories. It doesn’t try to get fancy. We listen to De Palma talk about his films and watch clips of the topic onhand.

All his films are covered and he shares some insight and tales about all of them. I ended up learning a lot about the productions and behind-the-scenes stories from him – which I won’t list. I was also reminded that he directed the 1986 comedy Wise Guys! That seems like such an odd entry on his resume.

His most popular films are not surprisingly given attention – Scarface, The Untouchables, Carrie – but equal time is also given to his lesser known and less popular films. Bonfire of the Vanities deserves its own ‘making of’ documentary. Until then the book The Devil’s Candy that recounts that wild production will have to do.

Fans of De Palma will certainly enjoy it and will never be bored as he looks back on his films with his personal insights into them. This could have been a much dryer film had the subject been reluctant to talk, but fortunately DePalma is quite the verbose storyteller and doesn’t hold back. He offers up some tantalizing anecdotes and also his techniques for creating suspense.

It’s not necessarily a fancy documentary, but it is very engaging. The only downside is that I wished he could have spent more time talking about certain films – it seemed like he had much more to say than what we get to hear and I was eager to keep listening!

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