Snake Eyes
dir. brian de palma
st. nicholas cage, gary sinise, carla gugino, joel fabini

The Sun-Herald's Rob Lowing is now officially beyond contempt. In her scathing review of Snake Eyes, she wheels out her biased and commercially blinded opinions once more in an attempt to smother every great film that has been released in Sydney so far this year. Funny Games and Hana-Bi have both been written off as worthless, and in her most recent piece of lobotomised drivel, De Palma is once again labelled as the king of hype and plagiarism, of Mr. Hitchcock if no-one else. When will you open your eyes? When will mainstream critics see the utter joy that Brian De Palma can provide. The oft repeated claim of mindless imitation is an easy line to swallow, an effortless journalistic cliche.

To point out cinema's debt to Hitchcock is tired and obvious, especially when dealing with a filmmaker as overt and celebratory as De Palma. De Palma respects Hitchcock and goes beyond mindless awe, embodying his spirit more than any other modern filmmaker. Spiral staircases and Kafkaesque (thankyou TIME) heroes are just "touches" that can be used for knowing effect, but in Snake Eyes we are located in a complete recreation, a universe. All those tilted angles are self-conscious surfaces which deceive, and underneath pure form lies rigirous structuralism.

Long and virtuoso opening sequences are cinematic mainstays in our day and age, yet with Snake Eyes De Palma ups the stakes not aesthetically but morally. His work is now at a rejuvenated point where one shot contains all the information, passion and truth the cinema can seem to handle. The opening shot lives out all the vital points and closes in on itself. The film will unwind from this point to an apparent close, and unfortunately wind on thus for a little while longer. Masters can be forgiven however... After Mission: Impossible De Palma had a bit of space to move, and he has used every possibilty to make a film of precise hysteria. Cage is Sailor once more, aided and abetted by split-screen effects, tilted angles and a glorious vertical pan along four hotel rooms... In such depressing and solitary places, cling tightly to a film such as Snake Eyes.

adam rivett
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