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An intimate conversation between filmmakers, chronicling De Palma’s 55-year career, his life, and his filmmaking process, with revealing anecdotes and, of course, a wealth of film clips.

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De Palma movie full length review - More like a cliff notes version of De Palma's career

This is perhaps the most mundane film ever about a most colorful filmmaker.

Watching "De Palma," one gets the sense of a home movie more than a professional retrospective of a director's career. The interviews are insightful, and he tells some good stories -- but he is filmed and edited so ineptly the stories lose much of their impact.

The film clips are also choppy and badly cut -- that is, badly incorporated. De Palma's famous long takes are sliced and diced and jammed into the narrative without ever allowing one the pleasure of just enjoying the man's craft. His narration also seems rushed and jammed together. I read that this film was put together from 30 hours of interview footage. It shows. One can tell his many hours of speaking have been condensed and shortened and jammed into 100 or so minutes. And because only a single camera angle was used, the editors apparently re-sized the image occasionally just to create a bit of variety.

It's also very much of an insider's film. De Palma speaks of friends and colleagues using nicknames the general public isn't aware of. And yet we're supposed to understand. For example, most audiences don't know who composer Bernard Herrmann is, and fewer still know his industry nickname, "Benny." When De Palma starts referring to "Benny," it's not clear who he's talking about. This could have been cleared up in the editing -- but apparently the film's two editors -- who have never edited a documentary before -- and the directors, who have never directed a documentary before -- felt clarity wasn't important.

The film is at its worst near the end, when De Palma's final words, summing up his life as a director, are played off-camera. This clearly illustrates the inexperience and ineptitude of both directors and editors.

It's a pity someone with a fraction of De Palma's talent and skill wasn't entrusted with telling the life story of one of our greatest filmmakers.