Phantom of the Paradise ★★★★

Two weeks ago I watched "Phantom of the Paradise (1974)" for the first time during the highly informative 'Brian de Palma centered' Summer Film School. It was a rewarding experience for this fellow cinephile. I learned so much throughout the well constructed lectures by renowned film experts Adrian Martin and Cristina Álvarez López. Could've listened to them talk about movies for several more hours. The screenings were held at a local arthouse theater. I can also confirm that the picture quality of the recently digitalized films looked superb. Prior to this festival I had only ever seen De Palma's "Sisters (1973)" and it floored me. Before I get to my thoughts: the cast of Phantom of the Paradise includes William Finley (Sisters), Paul Williams (Smokey and the Bandit) and Jessica Harper (Suspiria). Paul Williams (also the composer) received an Academy Award nomination in the category Best Original Score. There were many things I loved about Phantom of the Paradise. The parallel as to how De Palma was treated by Warner Bros when he lost creative control of his own movie in the early 1970's is cleverly depicted. The acting performances are great even though some actors were more leaning towards over-the-top. The late William Finley is almost as creepy here as he was in Sisters. Such a talented character actor. Paul Williams is better known for his music, but he's also a brilliant actor in my opinion. Jessica Harper (in her big screen debut) is simply a dream. She captures a certain level of screen presence and looked fabulous in every shot. Her singing voice is angelic and pure. Brian De Palma never fails to use original camera angles and his trademark split screen effect. The production design and art department are outstanding for a $1.3 million picture. The songs are catchy and I dug the queer vibes. The final act is loaded with hysteria, madness and chaos. My only real complaint is the fact that it's a bit all over the place in some areas. I couldn't draw a line between the serious moments and tongue-in-cheek humor. Phantom of the Paradise is still a fascinating mix of different genres. Highly recommended!