PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE
1974, 20th Century Fox, 92 min, USA, Dir: Brian De Palma

Director Brian De Palma’s vivid reimagining of The Phantom of the Opera is at once camp, surreal, dazzling and heartbreaking. Cutthroat record producer Swann (Paul Williams, who also wrote the fine score) steals both the music and the girl from composer Winslow Leech (William Finely). Horribly disfigured in an attempt to reclaim his artistic credit, Leech becomes the Phantom at Swan’s new rock palace, the Paradise. Jessica Harper, contributing her creamy alto, plays Leech’s love interest, and Gerrit Graham is hysterical as glitter-rock star "Beef." De Palma turns what could have been a lightweight indulgence into clever pop-culture commentary.


FEMME FATALE
2002, Warner Bros., 114 min, Dir: Brian de Palma

Jewel thief Laure (Rebecca Romijn) gets more than she bargained for when she tries to double-cross her partners and start a new life in this fast, funny, deliriously sexy thriller. From its classic De Palma opening set piece (an erotically charged heist set against the backdrop of the Cannes Film Festival) to its provocative playfulness with the concept of “reality” and its elegantly constructed network of visual motifs, this is one of the director’s best and most underrated films. Antonio Banderas is terrific as the photographer who alternates between nemesis and love interest over the course of Laure’s adventure.


BODY DOUBLE
1984, Sony Repertory, 114 min, Dir: Brian de Palma

Director Brian De Palma has always openly expressed his admiration for Hitchcock and has used various tropes common to the master in a number of his pictures. This is one of his most jaw-dropping, melding influences from REAR WINDOW and VERTIGO as well as giving a vigorous nod to the delirium of 1970s Italian giallo shockers. When a claustrophobic and cuckolded actor (Craig Wasson) finds himself suddenly homeless, he house-sits for a theater workshop acquaintance (Gregg Henry). But he finds himself going from the frying pan into the fire after witnessing the murder of a beautiful neighbor. To make matters worse, he falls for sweet, dysfunctional porn star Holly Body (Melanie Griffith), who may have been tricked into doubling for the victim.


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