a list that is trying to contain every horror film made that is not lost and is found on the…
New Orleans businessman Michael Courtland’s life is shattered when his wife and daughter are tragically killed in a botched kidnap rescue attempt. Many years later whilst visiting Italy he meets and falls in in love with Sandra Portinari, who bears a striking resemblance to his wife.
I was enjoying this as an essay about itself/about remaking VERTIGO (and probably some other stuff I missed while in the bathroom), then that masterful final sequence hit and the needle went from 3 1/2 to four stars, because I realized I kind of cared about these tragic characters too.
If the critics and nerdlingers who decried this for being "nothing but a Hitchcock knock-off" only knew what the popular cinema landscape was like now, they would probably kill their own wife and daughter for something even remotely as technically well executed and idiosyncratic as this.
DePalma's Hitchcock films >>> DePalma's Gangster films.
It's played for pure sensationalism, but wow, just take the opening for example: the cuts come hard and fast, the shots are incisive close-ups. This is De Palma working much more abstractly than Hitchcock, his focus is on creating poignant and indelible images that seem to have the singular purpose of driving towards striking horror (perhaps more purely achieved in his next film, The Fury). Of course, the structure is complex and plot perhaps overwrought, but that's what defines this as a De Palma fim complete with self-aware irony and smiling nods to its influences. A stylish and bold piece of thriller.
What's good film criticism anyway if not love distorted by memory and private fears?
I've got a problem with John Lithgow.
The thing is that whenever he's in a film where he starts off as a good guy, I just spend the whole film waiting for the moment where he does something despicable. Because it WILL come. It has to. Because he's John Lithgow and he's ALWAYS a bad guy.
Now I'm not saying whether he undergoes that transformation in Obsession. That isn't even the point. The point is that I've seen him play so many villains that I thought I was going to sit watching Obsession thinking to myself, "Yeah yeah, John, you're a lovely guy, now just stab Cliff Robertson in the face and get it over and done with,…
A: Why did Brian De Palma cross the road?
A: Because he saw Hitchcock do it first.
I like when De Palma hits a lurid showboat stride and drags Hitchcockian thriller psychoses screaming into the gauzy light. So, I was a little disappointed Obsession plays mostly straight and understated (by De Palma standards at least). But that helluva twist! And slow motion airport running and forced perspective shrinking and camera circling like a hysteric who uncovered a deep dark secret. The movie feels like a baby step toward more outre and heightened psychodramas like Dressed to Kill and Body Double. But we all gotta start somewhere, right?
Also, I loved John Lithgow as a Cajun fine art lover! Him and his 15-years-later salt'n'pepper stache got me through the bumpy patches.
Brian de Palma is the closest one can come to a new Hitchcock. A thriller with some nasty emotional twists and a lovely bit of Italian travelogue thrown in. I don't want to say too much about it to avoid giving anything away, but I found it gripping.
There's a lot in here that works, there's a lot in here that doesn't. Bernard Hermann's score is one of the best parts.
Uncle Ben also plays up the dangerous madness of the character a lot more than loveable old Jimmy Stewart did.
Take overcooked direction from De Palma, a half-baked script from Schrader, and Cliff Robertson acting his arse off to make it all somehow seem just right. It really shouldn't work, and by the end it kinda doesn't, but it never fails to be interesting.
There seems to be a lot of negativity directed at this film and at Brian De Palma in general and I don't quite understand why that is.
Consider this: it was 1976, the year "Family plot" - the last Hitchcock film was released. The master was putting his rifle away. Meanwhile, a young Brian De Palma was already making movies and he wasn't even hiding his fascination with Hitchcock's work. According to some, he was a hack, a copycat, a knock-off. But I beg to differ. And "Obsession" proves it perfectly.
From the "Vertigo" vibes to details like scissors firmly embedded in a dead body, De Palma wasn't merely ripping off the master, nor was he simply paying homage. He was letting him know that the baton had been passed and that Hitchcock's legacy shall live on. Through "Obsession", De Palma was saying 'Worry not, Hitch. I got this.'
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Man, I was so fuckin surprised when it turned out that John Lithgow was the bad guy. It's not like it was fuckin obvious from his first scene or anything.
Although Obsession is textbook De Palma in the way it doesn't bother hiding its narrative similarities to a Hitchcock classic, it is uncharacteristicly De Palma in the sense that for the majority of the run time, this is a restrained and classy affair. Even with a third act reprisal of the ludicrousness he's beloved for, this might be the only time where the Hitchcock movie he's imitating (Vertigo) is somewhat sleazier than the movie he's created based on that influence.
De Palma is the creepy uncle of American cinema- the most vulgar of all vulgar auteurs. To see him restrain himself and focus on a potboiling narrative without any of the usual queasy eroticism makes this a fascinating movie in…
Because there's nothing quite like De Palma doing Hitchcock.
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
The more I delve into Brian De Palma's earlier filmography, the more I find him to be a frustrating director. Most of his movies have at least a few, if not many moments of cinematic brilliance, but narrative uneveness is a frequent problem (especially true of much of his post Mission:Impossible work).
There's an issue when after watching our protagonist (?) tragically lose his wife and daughter I didn't feel much of anything for him. Cliff Robertson here is guarded to the point of ineffectiveness outside of the few instances his emotions bubble to surface. And that's well before he goes into full creeper mode which made caring for him an impossible task.
On that note, 15 years later he…
Every film that has ever been nominated for an Academy Award in any category. Enjoy!