This summer at TIFF Bell Lightbox, one of American cinema’s all-time greatest auteurs is being honored, with the retrospective Split/Screen: The Cinema of Brian De Palma.
Coinciding with the new release of Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow’s documentary De Palma, the series contains twenty five features, ranging from well-known like Mission: Impossible (1996), Scarface (1983), and The Untouchables (1987) to lesser-screened films such as Murder a la Mod (1968) and Wise Guys (1986).
De Palma has been characterized for being packed with thrilling set-pieces, voyeuristic obsession, heavy violence, and above all else suturing the spectator into environments of danger and despair. Even more interesting, is the way in which De Palma’s work has included a range of genre-specific undertakings; most notably the cult horror musical Phantom of the Paradise (1974), period-noir The Black Dahlia (2006), and Vietnam war epic Casualties of War (1989), which kicks off the series.
The series itself is not in chronological order, though it beckons patrons to take a closer look at the filmmaker from project-to-project, creating a conversation as to the myriad of techniques on display and the way each film presents callbacks to one another. Above all else, what’s remarkable about Split/Screen is charting the evolution of De Palma through nearly 50 years of work. Some of his earliest features, including Greetings (1968) and Hi, Mom! (1970) (both starring a young Robert De Niro) and Dionysus in ’69 (1970), are hard to see in most contexts, making their presentation a rare treat for local cinephiles.
The series also makes for a good companion to TIFF’s “Hitchcock/Truffaut” series, also running through the summer, as several of De Palma’s works [most notably Sisters (1973), Obsession (1976), Dressed to Kill (1980), and Body Double (1984)] were heavily influenced by Hitchcock and his tactics of suspense.
Split/Screen: The Cinema of Brian De Palma begins on June 18th and runs until September 3rd. A full listing of the series can be found here.