Nicholas Rombes’s Art Film Roundup #5


Not usually a fan of these mash-ups, but this one—the great museum sequence from Brian De Palma’s Dressed to Kill (1980) set to Brian Eno’s song “Third Uncle”—works just fine. Oh Angie! (The music kicks in at around 40 seconds.):

In 1966, De Palma directed a short film documenting The Responsive Eye exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. There are some syrupy tracking shots here, as in Dressed to Kill, especially at around 32 seconds and at the 9:10 mark. You can’t help but wonder if De Palma’s experience filming in the museum, two years before the release of his first feature film, somehow influenced the languorous long takes in his films from the 1960s and 70s.

Last year at a yard sale I picked up a copy of the Partisan Review, from 1968 (I also got a cat-urine stained copy of Stephen King’s weirdly great novel Under the Dome). The issue contains Susan Sontag’s famous essay on Jean-Luc Godard, where she mentions Made in U.S.A. several times. Although it screened at the New York Film Festival in 1967, it was not theatrically released here until 2009, although private prints were available. Although nominally a gangster film, Made in U.S.A. persistently and sometimes savagely conspires to destroy its own plot; the film is so self-aware of itself as a film that you can’t imagine something like Blazing Saddles (1974) being possible without it. When Marianne Faithful sings “As Tears Go By” the whole film shudders to a halt and it’s really, really hard to know where to slot those two minutes in the categories of your life.

Nicholas Rombes can be found here. More from this author →