Wednesday, July 14, 2010

1992 - RAISING CAIN, De Palma makes fun of De Palma films

Frequently criticized for not having much of a sense of humor the director Brian De Palma actually does have a sense of humor although kind of a sick one.

Its hard to know what De Palma had in mind with Raising Cain the convoluted and pretty ridiculous plot has something to to with stealing toddlers for weird mind experiments, a theme that Michael Powell examined in Peeping Tom.

The acting is to put it mildly stilted and also over the top.  John Lithgow gets to play multiple roles as twin brothers and their father.  Lithgow had worked with De Palma in a couple of films and I'm sure it's fun for an  actor to take on a challenge like this, but he seems pretty hammy even resorting to a lame European accent at times.  The rest of the cast isn't much better, the woman playing Lithgow's wife is sickeningly sweet and she seems unreal.  The two cops assigned to the case are so stiff they wouldn't pass muster in an episode of Dragnet. Was all of this intentional?

Then there are the usual quotes from Hitchcock films, particularly Psycho.  De Palma literally recreates the sinking of the car into the quicksand scene but adds his own sick twist on it.  De Palma has always been accused of stealing from Hitchock and in this instant it almost seems like he is giving the finger to his critics with this bit.  De Palma even steals from himself quoting from the train station sequence of The Untouchables complete with the baby carriage rolling around. 

Brian De Palma is famous for his wandering camera, particularly effective in the museum scene in Dressed To Kill.  In Raising Cain he recreates that scene and spoofs it at the same time.  The climax of the film involves one of those famous set pieces he likes so much incorporating elaborate camera movements and slow motion but somehow not his famous split screen technique.  Even this seems played for laughs with ridiculous coincidences happening throughout. 

De Palma appears to have enjoyed himself orchestrating this nonsense.  However I'm not sure a viewer watching this film would know that the film is primarily a joke.

 91 minutes.

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