Wednesday, February 3, 2010

De Palma A la Mode - Part Six: The One that Rips-Off Everything....

Ok, so you guys already know how big of a De Palma fan I am now...I mean I've done five posts in a row on films that he's written and directed and in a few of them I even did a bit of film school essay analysis.  However, even I have to admit that there are films of his that are indeed what the critics say they are...namely, ripoffs.  Now when I say that, I don't mean that he has totally cribbed an entire plot-line for a movie, though in places it comes very close to several Hitchcock films and even his own previous films.  However, if you think that will stop my blog from commenting on it, you're dead wrong.  So hold on to your hats folks, because tonight I'm reviewing Raising Cain!

Carter Nix (John Lithgow) is a child psychologist who is obsessed with the development of his young daughter obsessed is he that he even begins kidnapping other children so that he can observe them and their development of identity.  To help him with this is his brother Cain and his father, Dr. Nix (also Lithgow)...who may or may not be just manifestations of Carter's own mind.  Meanwhile, Carter's wife Jenny (Lolita Davidovich) is beginning an illicit affair with a man from her past...which sets off the jealous killer in Carter.  That's about all you can really say about the plot without giving away any of the big surprises and thrills...but you can bet there will be some cooky murders, a whacky camera shot or two, and a big suspense set piece when its all through.

You may wonder why, if I've written so much on the other films, I've chosen to write less about this one?  Well, the truth is that there isn't much to say.  Raising Cain, for all its complications, is a very simple film that isn't trying to do much besides provide a few thrills and showcase the versatile talent of John Lithgow...who has been a three-time De Palma creeper now.  Lithgow plays the multiple roles so well that it almost makes you forget that there isn't much story crammed into this hour and a half thriller.  Lithgow plays five roles in this (and no, I'm not telling you who the two mystery guests are) and each one is different from the other.  However, there are the flaws to look at.  Time jumps about so much in the middle that its hard to figure out what's really going on...also there are so many similarities to Psycho that even I, as an avid De Palma fan can't ignore them.  The scene where Carter dumps a car in a lake/swamp is one of the main culprets...but he isn't just ripping off Hitchcock this time...he's also ripping off himself.  The affair plot is cribbed from Dressed to Kill and all the camera moves are reuses from other films.  Even the slow-mo finale is a repeat of the train sequence from The Untouchables.  Why did a director, who had made such original films in the past that were unfairly called rip-offs, decided to go and make a rip-off for his big early 90s thriller?  Well, the answer lies in the reasons for making Body Double....he meant to.  Tired of everyone calling his work unoriginal and a rip-off, he decided to actually make a film that was cobbled together from familiar pieces of other films to show them what a rip-off really looks like.  Once again, no one got the joke, and they went on calling him a cinematic charlatan...and this time they even had proof.  Does this mean I like the film?  Of course!  Nothing is more fun to me, than watching one of my favorite artists have the time of his life making a movie just for the fun of it.  Is it a good film?  That depends on the person watching, but for me its just a real hoot and a half.  The last shot of Lithgow alone is worth the time spent watching the whole movie.  So give the trailer a peek and see if this movie is for you.  I'm willing to let this one go without a full recommendation.

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