As I read the comments I can't help wonder how is it possible nobody thought this movie is an essay on cinema as well as a re-read of De Palma's own creations and obsessions. The questions on the board suggest that almost nobody pay attention even to the plot. 21 years before, "Blow Out", De Palma's most transparent reference to cinema craftsmanship and the relations between cinema and reality, and, what is most important, to cinema as knowledge (or even revelation), merged from an almost hopeless vision of the world: at the end of the film, Jack Terry, the character played by Travolta, had found the truth, but the price he paid for it is loneliness and madness maybe (just like Hackman at the end of Coppola's "The Conversation"); revelation is for him a sort of curse as he lost his second chance (one of the director's recurrent themes) as far as reality made the grade with its web of lies and corruption. "Femme fatale" shows that De Palma get older and wiser: even though reality is as corrupted and plenty of lies as two decades before, his faith on cinema as knowledge (what is cinema but a dream?) is stronger than then. He also has change his point of view about women. This turn, that started with "Carlito's Way" and even more on "Snake Eyes", is evident here, as he shows his own change of mind through a character that goes from his old kind of female character to the new one. (And those who wonder about the snake, read the Bible --Genesis.) At the very beginning of the movie, Laure's reflection on the tv screen reunites she and Barbara Stanwyck as the summa and the evolution of the femme fatale kind of character. That "DOUBLE indemnity" starts a game of doubles along the movie. Later, when the character of Lily appears, there's a choice to be made: Laure (of course, the reference is to Preminger's "Laura" though the film pays clearer homage to Hitchock's "Vertigo") has to decide to became Phyllis Dietrichson or to became Lily. The "dream strategy" is full of risk; in fact, when a writer/director uses it as a solution, the task is condemned to failure. But De Palma uses it masterfully, because dream is not a solution but a way: there are ten minutes of movie left after it to give that "dream strategy" a new sense and a justification that any film ever gave. As I wrote before, that dream is built as a movie watch by both audience and Laure. But the collage made by Banderas character is also a movie: a frame by frame (or scene by scene) construction of a reality that is out-of-time of that reality. De Palma, at the end of the film, tell us: that is what cinema is made of -different scenes shot under diverse lights in separate times, joined under one look and put together to make sense. We, as spectators, are the ones that can contemplate that work finished, and this final revelation, as the one at the end of "Citizen Kane", ask us to be able to join the pieces and reach knowledge cinema can give. There is a lot to write about this movie; these are only silly notes compared to the type of study "Femme Fatale" deserves. For those who are not interested on analysing a movie and just want to know if they will have fun watching it, I can only say that you can enjoyed the movie, with its twists and its suspense, even if you don't notice what I am talking about. "Femme Fatale" is an underrated masterpiece. Long live Brian De Palma (even if he has to live in France).
"Más allá del olvido" (Beyond Oblivion) is one of the best films made in Argentina and the best Hugo Del Carril directed ("La Quintrala" and "Amorina" --even more than the best known "Las aguas bajan turbias"-- are close to deserve that almost silly "best-of" heading). Based on a novel by Georges Rodenbach, the film tells the story of a man (Del Carril himself) obsessed with the woman --and the love-- he lost. This obsession leads him to an other woman (the haunting Laura Hidalgo) who resembles him his dead wife and pushes him to an obscure framework of deceit and ambition. The first astonishing thing on this movie is that one of the central themes of the plot (a man who tries to make a woman into a dead one) is very similar to that absolute masterpiece called "Vertigo". But "Más allá del olvido" was shooted on 1956... and "Vertigo" on 1958. Yes, it seems to be a case for Borges ("Kafka and his Precursors"). Apart from this, the film deals with love and betray, madness and decieve, Argentina and France (a long, ambiguous cultural relationship that once was an axial debate on different circles of argentinian intelectuals), and a lot of other themes, all of them delivered into a masterful mix of suspense and melodrama, with superb acting and a production style that is now missed in Argentina --in both ways of the term: because argentinian films (and econnomical situation) can't afford that luxury and because every moviemaker from that country dream with the possibility of making a movie with those means. And for those who doesn't care for anything but the plot: sit there, watch the movie, let you be driven by the thriller, by the illness of that passion and the weakness of that will, and enjoy the mood, like you do with those old black and white films that you let yourself discover --and love it.
Sublimity is the way we have to reach for The Beauty. And sublimity is the stuff this film is made of. If not his best, it's my most loved of all Bogdanovich movies.
This unique masterpiece remind us, as most of the other films from the director, what life is (or should be) about: love, lost (or failure) and hope and faith and charity. As the song from whom the films takes its title (Gershwin's well known composition) the film makes the impossible true, and tries to make us aware that no-one is able to judge anybody; all this with the lightness of a comedy and the timing of a masterful direction (the first ten minutes, with the detectives following the ladies, almost without a line of dialogue, constructed upon the looks and views of the characters --with that "Bogdanovich touch" based on the point-of-view-- is a class on Cinema Language, something that P.B. learned well from his admired directors from the Golden Age of the Movies). With a superb cast and a glorious soundtrack (including the best of Sinatra's "Trilogy"), this movie, full of self-consciousness and compassion, and far away from self-indulgence and emptiness (as some critics wrote), deserves a better place on the History of American Cinema than where it have been placed. It's not "long on style, short on substance": it is complex in its simplicity, and beautiful, absolutely beautiful.
A fascinating and complex --under the simplicity of its surface-- fable of good against evil and a coming-of-age tale, with excellent performances by Duvall and Brandauer and a superb direction by Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski, here in one of his best films --along with "Moonlighting" and "Deep End". Simply: an enjoying and rare gem.