Thursday, August 12, 2010
Black & White Friday: Body Double
Brian DePalma uses two "not everything is as it seems" devices within the opening minutes of this Body Double, including this one here right as the title is on screen. He's hardly the most subtle director out there. Softly softly, Mr DePalma. I recently just watched Body Double for the first time and I really didn't know much about it other than what I had, ahem, learnt about from Jason (<-Spoilers), but I kinda loved it. Totally conducive of me screaming "WHAT THE FUCK?!?" several times, but love it nonetheless.
I can't tell if the rear projection here is bad because it's bad or bad because its 1984 meant to look like 1954.
Blah blah Hitchcock blah blah modern day blah blah. I don't care if DePalma is ripping off Hitchcock, paying homage to him or simply being influenced by him, but I love his shots and the way even a blatant "duh! hitchcock!" moment such as this feels uniquely DePalma.
The Hitchcock project that Body Double reminds me of most is, actually, the resurrected Alfred Hitchcock Presents of the 1980s. That series was a modern day (for the time, 1985) update of the Alfred Hitchcock Presents series of the 1950s, and that's sorta what Body Double feels like. It's not quite authentic enough to actually pass as Hitchcock, but has all the elements you can see why its called "Hitchcockian". Having said that, I can only wonder what Hitchcock would have done with the 1980s with architecture like this!
Of course, the other thing that pops into my mind when I see this shot is Troy McClure!
The character of "Gloria Revelle", played by Deborah Shelton, is so '80s! She looks like she just walked off of the set of Dynasty via LA Law. It's kinda why I really enjoyed Body Double; in spite of all the "look at me! hitchcock!" stuff, the movie is still incredible of its time and the juxtaposition between the two elements are fascinating. Strange though to discover that Shelton's voice was dubbed!
These two shots actually reminds me of a moment I captured during Shutter Island with its multiple levels, playing with architecture, mind games and ideas of logic. Uh-huh. Of course, no amount of black and white can make anybody believe that first shot is anything other than Rodeo Drive in the 1980s.
Aah yes, a sudden onset of some debilitating phobia. It's hardly done with as much visual panache as Hitchcock did in Vertigo, but not many movies have the visual panache of Vertigo, do they?
This is all I am going to show of the infamous powerdrill sequence because you truly have to discover it for yourself to get the hilarious stupidity of it all (Shelton's "Gloria" is such a wet fish in this scene - damn woman, do SOMETHING!)
This is the first time we (technically) see Melanie Griffiths. It is over an hour into the film! Now that's my kinda Melanie Griffith movie! I'm not as repelled by her as some people, whose idea of a good Melanie Griffith movie is one in which she doesn't appear at all, but she's hardly the most exciting presence on screen, is she? She's not as bad here as she became in later movies - I think it was around the time of Pacific Heights? - but the less we see of her the better, I say!
From here on the film goes... well, you know where it goes if you're at all familiar with Brian DePalma's work. I must admit I was taken by surprise at how suddenly it detoured, but there you go. Of course, all of this was kinda pointless since the three key Hitchcock movies that DePalma was referencing/homaging/stealing from - Vertigo, Dial M for Murder and, most obviously, Rear Window - were all filmed in colour. Hell, Dial M for Murder was in 3D! I think 1984 just missed the mini 3D revival of the 1980s, actually. Melanie Griffith in 3D is something I can live without.