Phantom of the Paradise ★★★★★

At first glance, people might look at "Phantom of the Paradise" as being a "Rocky Horror Picture Show" ripoff, or at least something less than the acclaimed rock opera, but beneath the campy costumes, elaborate set design, and out-of-this-world performances, "Phantom of the Paradise" manages to remain textually better in every way and among the greatest films of the 1970's, as well as being one of De Palma's many, many achievements - I wouldn't argue with anyone saying that this was the best De Palma: it very well could be.

No film, save maybe "A Star is Born" (the George Cukor/ Bradley Cooper ones), manages to perfectly understand the music industry and how corrupt and manipulative it is; sure, it's overdramatic and completely goofy, but "Phantom of the Paradise" operates as an attack on the industry, breaking down every stereotype and idea that it surrounds itself with: the robbery of content, masking talent for an image, drugs (and the overuse and force of them), and the tragedy that so many talented voices have been shelved for other unimportant people.

Besides that, there's not a De Palma movie that moves this chaotic and free and that's something admirable; the camerawork and editing really play into each other, especially in regards to the Phantom and how he moves, acts, and plots. This is a symphony of talent, as De Palma's command with the screen, mixed with the performances and camerawork, editing, and score, showcases the best of each medium.

This is De Palma at his most energetic and De Palma energetic should be feared: that man is insane.

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