geezer cinema: the vast of night (andrew patterson, 2019)
breaking the quarantine

by request: raising cain (brian de palma, 1992)

Serves me right, I guess. I've been going on and on about directors who know what they are doing, and here is Brian De Palma, who knows what he is doing, but what he's doing is worthless.

Now, I like Brian De Palma. I liked The Untouchables, which was popular. I liked Dressed to Kill, which wasn't everyone's cup of tea. I liked Casualties of War, which no one saw. I even liked movies such as Femme Fatale and The Fury, which are often treated as trash. The only one I really hated before Raising Cain was The Black Dahlia, which at least gave me an excuse for some of my most overheated writing ("Holy shit, did this movie suck.... if they showed this movie in heaven, even Pauline Kael's corpse would give it a bad review").

The thing about De Palma is that I'm never certain why his stuff works in something like Dressed to Kill and fails in something like Raising Cain. Because his bad movies feature some of the same De Palma dazzle as the good ones. But he occasionally makes films that are too stupid for his dazzle to overcome. And Raising Cain is stupid. Once you realize that, the thrills just aren't there. (Admittedly, some people find the movies of his I like to be stupid, as well.)

There's an impressive long take of a little over four minutes that moves up a couple of flights of stairs and includes a ride in an elevator as well. That's about it.

Raising Cain is pretty incoherent, perhaps because De Palma reedited it, changing the structure. A fan got ahold of De Palma's screenplay and re-edited the film in line with the original structure. De Palma liked the re-edit enough that it ended up as a "Director's Cut" extra on a Blu-ray. I haven't seen that version, but it says a lot that it took a fan to fix what De Palma had done.

I like most of his movies, it's true. But I've never loved one. He's had some 8/10s, and several 7/10s, but never anything higher. He has never made a classic. And Raising Cain is definitely no classic.


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