Friday, August 23, 2013

DePalma's best

This ranking of Brian DePalma's films points up just how many I either haven't seen or need to watch again. The surprisingly low-ranked Casualties of War falls into the former category. (
23) "Casualties of War" (1989): Based on a true story that was chronicled in a 1969 article in The New Yorker, the film recounts the horrifying saga of a squad of American soldiers in Vietnam, led by Sean Penn, that kidnap, rape and eventually murder a young native woman and the efforts of the one member who didn't participate (Michael J. Fox) to bring the others to justice despite overwhelming odds. Although regarded by many as a surprisingly mature work from a filmmaker more often prone to providing lurid thrills, I must confess that it is one that has never quite worked for me that well. De Palma spent years trying to get it made and, like so many other long-standing pet projects from other filmmakers, it feels as if he had no more energy to give to the project when he finally got it off the ground. I also have a problem with the story's framing device that tries and largely fails to end the story on a slightly redemptive note instead of in the emotionally shattering manner in which it should conclude.

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