Phantom of the Paradise ★★★★★

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From the opening song, Goodbye, Eddie, Goodbye, a song about a singer who kills himself to boost record sales, Phantom has an acute sense about how death effects how we view pop culture. One would only have to look at the boost in sales following the deaths of Whitney Houston or Michael Jackson to see how true Goodbye, Eddie, Goodbye still is today. After the Phantom has taken out a musical act mid-performance, the audience is ecstatic. Swan tells his lackey, “Look at them. They’ve really been entertained. They never want the show to stop.” This only inspires Swan to stage an assassination during the next night’s performance which will be broadcast nationwide on television. When giving his reasoning, Swan says what countless producers of trashy reality shows have said as well – “That’s entertainment!”

If there’s only one reason to watch Phantom of the Paradise, it’s the sequence to the song Upholstery. A split-screen with 2 cameras filming simultaneously, it’s an homage to the Orson Welles classic, Touch of Evil. The Phantom places a bomb in the trunk of a prop car while one of Swan’s groups, The Beach Bums, rehearse their new song. One side of the screen follows the bomb, the other following the group. Already an impressive shot(s), nothing is as impressive as the fact that De Palma got it in one take. De Palma tosses in other nods to classic films, like a shower scene in reference to Psycho and Expressionistic sets like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Phantom is one of a many De Palma films that perfectly illustrate why he’s been a favorite among cinephiles for decades – sharp commentary, tightly constructed, proper use of extreme wide-angle lenses.

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