This movie, are you kidding me? 100 percent awesome. Sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, split screens, mobile long takes and a shower scene with a knife. It could only be Brian DePalma’s parody-tribute to Phantom of the Opera.
Winslow Leach is writing a rock cantata of Faust and auditions it for Swan, the hugest most important record producer in the industry. Swan steals Leach’s cantata and adapts it for his new theater (Paradise), auditions some girls (Leach meets one briefly, Phoenix, falls in love, thinks she has a perfect voice for his songs, etc), then gets Leach falsely arrested and sent to prison, where his teeth are removed and replaced with metal ones for some reason I forget.
Leach escapes, returns as the Phantom of the Paradise, and kills the dude hired to sing his stuff (“Beef”). But Swan finds Leach and signs a lifetime deal with him to keep writing stuff that Swan will produce… a bad deal for both of them, I guess. After a life/death struggle for creative control and the love of the girl, they both end up dead dead dead.
Good music, good story, great movie. What in the world happened? Why have I never heard of this before? Why haven’t my coworkers heard of it?
Best part: the phantom stabs himself in the heart, but can’t die because he’s still under contract.
The missing link between Bonfire of the Vanities and Carlito’s Way.
Movie’s chugging along fine for a half hour, then helloooo awkward voiceover. Something must’ve gone wrong in the editing process, or maybe test screening audiences were confused.
I love how De Palma keeps trying to make artful tributes to Psycho, then Gus Van Sant just up and remakes Psycho, the dummy. Killing the female lead 40 minutes in… check. Same shot in the police station from Dressed To Kill, also in a police station. Characters named Dante and Cain, heh. With the knife to the hand, the wig/dress costume, the elevator scene and the multiple personalities, this thing has Dressed To Kill written all over it. De P. is referencing himself more than Hitch this time around.
The fun is to figure out which characters are John Lithgow and which aren’t (spoilers: his twin brother and the kid at the restrooms are, his dad is not). Whole movie is worth it for the awesomely choreographed long-shot slow-motion finale at a hotel.
DVD box says: “When Jenny cheated on her husband, he didn’t just leave… he split”. But he was split from the start, and the cheating only got him to try to blame her new guy for one of Lithgow’s murders (it only stuck for about 10 minutes).
Looked for a second opinion but it’s (the only one?) missing from Reverse Shot’s De Palma discussion page. Maybe I’m alone, but I think it’s a real cool movie.
aaaaand John Lithgow:
Sissy Spacek is tormented daily (most memorably in a shower-room scene full of naked high-school girls), then just when she’s made to feel special (via rigged prom queen vote), down comes the pig’s blood and out pours the psychic rage (school fire), which later also takes out her tormentors (car crash) and her mother and herself (collapsing their house). A classic for obvious reasons. Spacek was memorably nude in Prime Cut also, and probably in Badlands but I don’t remember. She was 26 in this so it’s okay to get naked.
Hooray! Angie Dickinson decides to have an affair after walking around a museum forever, gets killed in an elevator 30 minutes into the movie in an obvious and great shower-scene homage. The killer is psychiatrist Michael Caine’s transsexual alter-ego, and it’s up to witness Nancy Allen and Angie’s son Keith Gordon (the director!) to bring Caine to justice (using KG’s high-tech toys like a bicycle-mounted time-lapse camera), since crappy detective Dennis Franz won’t help. Must’ve made transsexuals angry. Neat movie.
Was this a great movie, or just pretty good? Were Scarlett Johansson and Hilary Swank good in this or not? Was the movie full of style or very straightforwardly told? My answers keep changing, so I guess I’d better see it again sometime.
Josh “Bucky” Hartnett and Aaron “Lee” Eckhart are boxers (“Ice” and “Fire” respectively) turned detective-partners. Lee becomes obsessed with the Black Dahlia murder after the body is found while he’s on a stakeout shooting someone involved with the money he stole from somewhere else I forget, and abandons his wife who I think is a former prostitute who has a crush on Bucky and was disfigured by a guy who’s about to get out of jail and when he does Lee wants to kill him but ends up killed himself by shadowy rich Hilary Swank I forget why exactly while Bucky watches helpless like he so often does. At the end Bucky ends up with Scarlett of course, but still haunted by this Black Dahlia who actually doesn’t play a big part in this (and doesn’t look one bit like her lookalike Swank). There’s more to it I’m sure. Oh, and it’s all told through Bucky’s eyes so performances are actually colored by his memory of them – a cool touch.
Was fun to watch anyway, never dull, and was neat to look around the opening-night theater as the lights came up at the big WTF expression on everyone’s faces.
Man and woman are contestants on game show, go back to her place after. She argues with her ex-husband in the evening, her “sister” in the morning, then her “sister” kills the man with a big knife. Neighbor Reporter sees the killing, bring the cops, they don’t believe her. She hires private eye, then investigates on her own. Finds out woman had siamese twin who died. Gets trapped, brainwashed at woman’s ex-husband’s suspicious psychiatric house, then twin kills doctor/ex-husband. Cops now believe brainwashed reporter, but she won’t help them anymore, only repeats that there was no body because there was no murder.
Amazing that in such a hitchcock-referential movie, IMDB and I can only think of three direct sources:
– Rear Window, for the obsessive voyeurism
– Rope, for the body in the couch that everyone walks around and sits upon
– Psycho for the killing the “main character” 30 minutes in and switching focus to someone new, and for all the psycho-babble.
I guess Sisters just intensifies the sources, makes you all-too-aware of the references if you’ve seen the original movies. Strange then that Sisters itself is getting a remake.
Best visual gag: the cake decorator tool, which in close-up looks like a long dagger dripping blood.
Has that extreme-70’s-interiors look and red red fake blood of the early David Cronenberg movies sometimes. Cronenberg must’ve seen this at some point before making Dead Ringers.
Love the Bernard Herrmann score, love the split screen scenes. Movie’s far from a perfect thriller, but it’s definitely satisfying. Great, great ending (private eye on phone pole still watching the couch at a train station).