Monday, January 30, 2012

Murder a la Mod

I know I said in my Blow Out review that I wanted to watch more Brian De Palma films, but this isn't what I meant. Murder a la Mod was one of De Palma's very first films. It was possibly a student film. I don't know, I couldn't find out for sure. Anyway, I'm going to keep this one short and sweet, because I really only watched this because it was a special feature on the Blow Out Blu Ray.

Murder a la Mod is not very good, but you can see throughout early versions of a lot of the techniques that eventually come to be known as De Palma's "style". Some scenes with an unsettling sense of voyeurism, some of his weird, hit or miss (mostly miss in this case) sense of humor, and importantly, much of the second half of the movie is the same sequence of events repeated from several different characters' perspectives.

Like Blow Out, Murder a la Mod is a tale of murder set in the world of filmmaking. A key sequence involves the swapping of a real ice pick and a movie prop ice pick that retracts into the handle. The lead guy from Phantom of the Paradise, William Finley has a pretty big role as a weird prankster character who spastically narrates everything he does in his mind. It's pretty bad. But he also wrote the theme song, which is a pretty rollicking piece of 60's garage rock. In fact, the theme song was my favorite part of the movie.

There are a couple of interesting moments, but Murder a la Mod is, like a lot of directors' first films, really only relevant due to what came after them. The seeds are there. It's definitely De Palma. But I see no reason for anyone to watch this unless they're a completist or something.

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