Posts Tagged ‘Brian DePalma’

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This week’s DVD offerings included sexy lesbian noir thriller Passion, starring Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace.  This feels like a film they don’t make anymore.  DePalma is the product of a bygone era, and he’s also been hit-and-miss.  Passion is mostly hit, as the drama escalates and the noir fetishism ramps up steadily from start to end.

What struck a chord with me was the surveillance aspect.  Lives today are in jeopardy of exposure at every juncture.  The story plays with this constant surveillance in several ways.  The two main characters, Christine and Isabelle, work in advertising to sell more smartphones.  They do so in a viral styled ad that covertly records strangers on the street, their behaviors captured and then exploited to sell more of the surveillance.  The video enabled smart phones are a key factor and present throughout the plot.

Passion clip: watch Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace in the new film from Brian De Palma

Beyond embarrassment, pressure, psychological button pushing, there is the inevitable blackmail, something we’ve talked about vis a vis the NSA. Blackmail, the erosion of privacy, constant surveillance, we may have moved beyond the kitchy “post 9/11” motif and well into the post-privacy environment, the post Snowden world.  This makes the film relevant for its many tentacle connections to the age of Youtube and nosy neighbors, co-workers, private mercenary firms and intelligence agencies.  The seething cauldron of exposed lives that cannot escape the surveillance cameras’ gaze boils here and simmers.

While Passion may not have lived up to its title, it does offer a journey that is relevant today.  With DePalma’s grandiose camera setups and orchestra, the film feels like some classic old Hollywood cautionary tale of a future dystopia that turns out to be 2013.

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There is a lesbian aspect to the characters, although I’m not quite sure if that was all that important to the story.  The titillation and the eye candy of it all amounted only to bait the hook.  The plot is a straight murder thriller, like many that have come before.  A mindfuck moment occurs at the climax, and we aren’t certain what really happened, and that was interesting.  It’s good to throw the audience off-kilter and even better with crooked Dutch angles and extreme Venetian blind shadows.  So – it’s that kind of movie.  Not great, not bad, but somewhere in the middle.

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Directing a hot, lesbian murder mystery…

DePalma on Passion

“First we were going to set it in London, but then we were going to do the interiors in Germany. But after looking at some of the stuff in Germany that was supposed to be London, I said, “Why don’t we just shoot it all in Berlin?” It’s an international corporation. So that’s what we did, and we had to find particularly interesting locations, which is always something that I’m a stickler for. If it doesn’t look good in a photograph, then why is it in your movie? Because a movie’s trying to put the camera in a place that’s perfect for a particular action taking place. I think about it all the time.”