Richard and CP24 anchor Nneka Elliot talk about the weekend’s four big releases, including “Finding Dory,” the buddy comedy “Central Intelligence” with Duane Johnson and Kevin Hart, and a duo of documentaries, “De Palma,” an unflinching look at the films of Brian De Palma and the self explanatory “Raiders! The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made.”
Richard and CTV NewsChannel morning show host Todd Van der Heyden chat up the weekend’s big releases, including “Finding Dory,” the literary bio “Genius” with Jude Law and Colin Firth, and a duo of documentaries, “De Palma,” an unflinching look at the films of Brian De Palma and the self explanatory “Raiders! The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made.”
Tracking shots. Split screens. Eighteen-minute Steadicam sequences. Visually spectacular set pieces. All are part of the Brian De Palma canon, but absent from a new, comprehensive look at his career. “De Palma,” a love letter to the director from filmmakers Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow, makes up for its lack of visual pyrotechnics with De Palma’s storytelling prowess.
“Many of movies were considered great disasters at the time,” says the director of “Phantom of the Paradise,” “Dressed to Kill” and “Body Double.” Now, decades after his commercial peak, many of De Palma’s films are considered classics. This new talking head documentary chronicles them all, warts and all.
From his early days as an indie filmmaker, working in the shadow of better known friends like Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, to his critically reviled (“You are always being criticized against the fashion of the day,” he says.) but commercially successful period to a brief era when reviews and audiences lined up in tandem, he holds nothing back.
We learn how the director kicked “Scarface” screenwriter Oliver Stone off the set for talking to the actors, that in “The Untouchables” Robert De Niro wore the same kind of silk underwear Al Capone wore (“You never saw it but it was there,” says De Palma.) and how the studio loved the controversial “Body Double” “until they saw it.”
There’s more, told in De Palma’s bemused, colourful way—“I love photographing women,” he admits. “I’m fascinated by the way them move.”—but the real meat of the doc comes when he auteur talks about being a square peg trying to fit into Hollywood’s round hole. “The values of the system are the opposite of what goes into making good original movies,” he says.
“De Palma” is a simple film about a complex subject. “The thing about making movies is every mistake is right up there on the screen,” he says. “Everything you didn’t solve. Every shortcut you made. You will look at it for the rest of your life. It’s like a record of the things you didn’t finish.” It’s a master’s class not just in De Palma’s life and career, but also in how movies were made in the latter half of the twentieth century.
Giant labyrinthine puzzles are almost as old as mankind: Prehistoric mazes were built as traps for malevolent spirits, while in medieval times the labyrinth represented a path to God. But recently, the idea of people struggling through a complicated network of paths has made for some striking visuals in movies.
This weekend, The Maze Runner sets much of its action inside a gigantic maze where frightening mechanical monsters called Grievers wander, tormenting Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) as he navigates the maze to pick up clues that help him piece together memories of his past. The sci-fi story is just the latest to feature a maze as a major plot point, but just as Labyrinth’s Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) is warned, “nothing is as it seems” in these movie puzzles.
Remember Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? Like Thomas in The Maze Runner, the boy wizard has to make it through a maze (in this instance to find the Triwizard Cup), but instead of fighting magical creatures, this hedge maze is magical; shape shifting to make the journey extra difficult. The 1972 horror film Tales from the Crypt contained an even more sinister maze.
Made up of five stories, the film culminated with the tale of a labyrinth told with razor-sharp wit. Set in a home for the blind, the patients get even with the institute’s cruel director by placing him in the centre of a maze of narrow corridors lined with razor blades. It’s a cutting edge story, that, according to besthorrormovies.com “rivals the ‘death traps’ of Saw and ‘tortures’ of Hostel while only showing a single small cut of the flesh.”
In The Shining, the axe-wielding father Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) chases his son Danny (Danny Lloyd) through the Overlook Hotel’s hedge maze. The quick-thinking boy escapes by retracing his steps, confusing his maniacal dad. The documentary Room 237 offers up a number of interpretations of what the maze and Danny’s escape represents. One theory suggests it reflects Greek hero Theseus’ slaying of the Minotaur and escape from the labyrinth, while another speculates it’s a metaphor for conquering repression. Whatever the subtext, it remains one of director Stanley Kubrick’s most tense scenes.
And finally, Francis Ford Coppola’s version of Dracula sees Lucy (Sadie Frost) sleepwalking through a garden maze, chased by Dracula (Gary Oldman) in wolfman form while Pan’s Labyrinth features a maze as a place of safety for Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) to evade her attacker.