Brian De Palma's headed to China!
I am hoping that 2016 is a year of celebration for De Palma. After all, Noah Baumbach's documentary “De Palma,” which played to adoring festival audiences this year, will be getting a theatrical release next year, and now it appears that there's a chance we'll get an actual new film from the filmmaker, and I'm going to preemptively cross all of my fingers hoping that it's a return to form for him.
While I thought his last film “Passion” was strikingly made in places, it's been almost twenty years since the last film he made that's actually a complete movie, and that was “Mission: Impossible,” where he was a (very stylish) gun for hire. I think “Snake Eyes” has some fun stuff in it, and it's certainly a De Palma film, visually speaking. There are plenty of visual flourishes that remind us just how powerful a visual storyteller De Palma can be, and even when the script seems silly, it works as a slick thriller. Since then, though, he's either been hobbled by unacceptable screenplays (“Mission To Mars” and “The Black Dahlia”) or simply off his game in every way (the awful “Redacted”). Both “Femme Fatale” and “Passion” have reminders of De Palma at his best, but in some ways, that only makes them more painful for me.
I always hold out hope that filmmakers can reconnect to the best part of their talent, and in De Palma's case, that means clever thrillers that are shot with enormous wit and style. Now it looks like he's signed to direct a film for Huace Pictures, which is a major Chinese distributor. Here's the description of the film from the official press release this morning:
LIGHTS OUT tells the story of a blind Chinese girl unknowingly caught in a plot to expose a top-secret assassination program. Destined to become a feminist icon for the ages, LIN SHEN raises unsettling questions about government secrecy and what can and can”t be seen – while keeping audiences on the edge of their seats.
Casting is currently underway for top roles, including with an A-list Chinese actress to star as the female action hero lead.
Simple description, but what really matters when De Palma is cooking is how he shoots it, and a thriller about a blind girl caught up in an assassination plot seems like a great opportunity for him to work his particular magic. It's going to be a major international affair, with Australian company Arclight Films and the Canadian company The Film Farm also in the mix.
I can't wait for the Baumbach documentary to come out. It would be nice to celebrate De Palma while he's still around to actually enjoy the celebration. And in the meantime, I'll be hoping for the best with “Lights Out.”