It’s been four years since the last Brian De Palma movie, and I’m pretty sure nobody even saw that one. It was the Iraq War film Redacted, which actually feels a bit ahead of its time because of the style of the movie. Before that De Palma directed the widely disliked by everybody but me The Black Dahlia, and before that it was the nobody realizes how brilliant it actually is Femme Fatale. So it was a slow 2000s for one of the best directors to come out of the 70s.
I wonder if there’s about to be a shift in thinking about De Palma. Criterion released Blow Out, probably his best movie, this year. There’s a stacked Blu of Dressed to Kill also coming. Getting these movies in front of a new generation of film nerds who did not grow up on De Palma’s work (and who also did not grow up on Hitchcock’s work so they won’t immediately knee jerk into ‘ripping off Hitchcock’*) might be the key to protecting the legacy of a man whose legacy should need no protecting.
But De Palma shouldn’t be just rediscovered. He is still vital as a filmmaker - even if you don’t like what he’s doing, he’s doing strong, passionate work - and now it looks like he has his next project nailed down. He’ll be directing The Key Man, which is described only as a ‘paranoid thriller’ in the vein of Three Days of the Condor and Marathon Man. Blow Out more or less fits into that genre, so it’s De Palma coming back to something he’s proven he can do well.
The film is about “a single father who’s targeted by U.S. government agents because his body contains answers to important national secrets.” The logline doesn’t excite me too much, but that De Palma is directing is exciting enough.
* I’m reading Shock Value by Jason Zinoman and he makes the wonderful distinction that De Palma wasn’t aping Hitchcock, he was in cinematic conversation with Hitchcock.