For me the technical and stylistic achievements are enough to carry it into the archives despite the wretched lead performance by Nic Cage and some of the plotting issues and just generally weak overall narrative
The 13 minute opening shot (it’s not 20 like most RT critics say it is) is a stunner- It’s impossible for me to think of snake eyes with the oner- opening and not think of bonfire of the vanities– which also has a dazzling opening shot and then is just pretty putrid for the remainder
A fair critique of the film is that they had idea for the set pieces for this film first and then hurried through the script later
Again, parts of the film, especially those involving Cage going way over the top are at or near camp. Him ordering a pizza is a riot. You have the ending “you got snake eyes” (aka you’re screwed), you have the “their job was to give you a boner”… the tacked on faux “Richard Santoro appreciation day” ending… really bad stuff—the film would be better as a silent movie—not kidding
That said- we have many gorgeous rolling tracking shots, POV camerawork that makes the camera the star of the film
Although De Palma says rashoman and all the point of view narrative work there was the inspiration—the style is pure Hitchcock. We have a vertigo stairwell, we have a McGuffin plot device (navy rockets), and the fact that De Palma gives you Sinise so early as a guilty part is Hitchcock. Hitchcock didn’t want a who-done-it. He wanted suspense and suspense as he defines it is letting the audience in on there being a bomb below the table—not the shock and surprise of it going off
Cage’s character is very much the average guy (sort of- haha) who was at the wrong place at the wrong time
Glorious de palma split screen
John Heard as Donald Trump here basically in Atlantic City
JFK and Manchurian candidate with the lone shooter
I see parts of blow out here- the surveillance camera at the Casino capture much of the details
The storm in the background adds to the character and atmosphere of the film. I guess a big hurricane set piece finale was cut
The rolling tracking shots overhead going from room to room (like taxi driver) are solid here. Would be borrowed again in minority report by Spielberg—de palma’s buddy
Once i heard someone say that this movie has one of the best beginnings in the history of cinema, only to collapse, along with Cage’s bad acting. I completely agree with the analysis.
Do you think that person was right?
What are some of your best de Palma movies? Best place to start a study? I have only seen untouchables yet. What should I watch next?
I’d be surprised if you still haven’t seen Scarface
You should see Scarface, Carrie, Carlito’s Way, Dressed to kill and the last Blow out
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