Movie Jail: This week’s defendant is…Brian De Palma!

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

Movie Jail

This is Movie Jail, a unique maximum security prison that houses some of the worst writers, directors, actors and producers from Hollywood and beyond. Their crimes? The offenses vary from convict to convict but most of these inmates have contributed negatively to the film world to some capacity and his or her misdeeds have covered a long enough period of time that the authorities had to intervene. In each column a defendant is put on trial, arguments are made, and then it is up to YOU, the jury, to decide if the person is guilty or not guilty of crimes against cinema. Their lives are in your hands, dude.

The Defendant

The Case

The Prosecution: Wise Guys, Scarface, The Bonfire of the Vanities, Snake Eyes, Mission to Mars, Femme Fatale, The Black Dahlia, Redacted, Passion

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, at the risk of receiving angry e-mails, the prosecution has decided to bring Brian De Palma before you today. Yes, he's directed classics such as Carrie and The Untouchables, but ask yourself this: what was the last film from Mr. De Palma that was really spectacular? There may have been a couple of scenes that you liked or a performance by an actor, but in the prosecutions opinion that the director has been slumming it a bit too long.

One could argue that it's been seventeen years since Mr. De Palma's last great film (Mission: Impossible), although Snake Eyes and Femme Fatale do have their fans. But both films are very uneven, and his other movies since Tom Cruise's first adventure as Ethan Hunt are Mission to Mars, The Black Dahlia and Redacted. That's a very weak recent filmography for a director that is usually mentioned in the same breath as Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott and Francis Ford Coppola. (Although the prosecution was also thinking about going after Mr. Copolla this week. Maybe next time…)

What's really sad is how several of these films had so much potential to be remarkable. Mission to Mars could have been really special, but was bland and filled with some terrible dialogue. The Black Dahlia had all the makings of being the next L.A. Confidential, but it was a huge disappointment that bombed with critics and in theaters. In fact, all his films post M:I have received mixed to poor reviews. But there were red flags even before Mission: Impossible: The Bonfire of the Vanities is completely embarrassing for everyone involved, and the prosecution feels Scarface is incredibly overrated.

A few underwhelming films aren't usually enough to send a defendant to Movie Jail, but the prosecution feels expectations are much higher for Mr. De Palma, as they should be. His last film Passion has the director firmly working in his wheelhouse, yet it's a listless film that lacks the energy that is in his older projects. Mr. De Palma shouldn't be left to rot in Movie Jail, however the prosecution feels the director should spend some time behind bars. It's been far too long since Mr. De Palma has really knocked one out of the park, and a couple of months in the slammer should help him clear his head so that his next film, whatever it may be, will be a return to form for the director.

The Defense: Sisters, The Fury, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, Carrie, Body Double, The Untouchables, Casualties of War, Raising Cain, Carlito's Way, Mission: Impossible, Snake Eyes, Femme Fatale

Ladies and gentlemen, my client is one of the most well-known and accomplished directors working today. Only a few directors have a filmography as impressive as Mr. De Palma's. Because of how well his classic films were received like the previously mentioned Carrie and The Untouchables, some people (i.e. the prosecution) expect every film from Mr. De Palma to be universally acclaimed. But has Mr. De Palma ever really directed a completely bad movie? Even the defense states that there may be some aspects of his film that are appealing, even if the movie as a whole doesn't work. Femme Fatale has developed a cult following and Snake Eyes is actually a very good film with a great performance by Nicolas Cage. Mission to Mars might be one of his weaker films, but it's still better than 90% of the shit that is released year after year and is it really that much worse than say Prometheus?

Mr. De Palma also has giant balls: he films what he wants, how he wants, and for the most part it's worked very well for the director. Controversies have surrounded many films from Mr. De Palma for multiple reasons (violence, subject matter), yet it never seems like Mr. De Palma is in it for the ink, meaning he doesn't try to get a rise out of people just to sell tickets.

This might be an odd comparison, but think about director Lars Von Trier. Like Mr. De Palma, he's directed several outstanding movies that have been controversial and many of his films have received mixed reviews. However, it's usually more about personal taste when it comes to opinions on movies by Lars Von Trier and Mr. De Palma: you are either a fan of his work or you're not, especially if you took away the director's more accessible, audience friendly movies from his filmography like Mission: Impossible.

Mr. De Palma should not spend a second in Movie Jail. It'd be one thing if he was directing way below his skill level or working as a hired gun, but he still crafts the vision he wants (for better or worse) for his movies and his projects are always interesting.

Oh, and for what it's worth the French really f*cking love Brian De Palma.


What do you think? Has Brian De Palma lost his touch? Should we be expecting better work from the director, or do you think his latest films are as good as his previous ones? And who's going to lynch the prosecution for thinking Scarface is overrated? Most importantly though, is De Palma GUILTY or NOT GUILTY?


*The cases for and against a defendant going to Movie Jail by the author are not necessarily his views and opinions but they are some of the beliefs that one would use to effectively make an argument for both sides. Not quite a devil's advocate but you get the point. Anyways, this is all in fun so don't take it too seriously. We have a separate jail for those people called "Troll Tower" and believe me you do NOT want to go there.



After reviewing last week's case, the jury shouted "Long live the D!" and gave Jack Black a NOT GUILTY verdict. His performances in Nacho Libre, High Fidelity and of course being a part of Tenacious D helped the actor stay out of Movie Jail, but it was his work in Bernie that many pointed to as to why he does not deserve to go to the slammer. To celebrate, Mr. Black enjoyed a schnitzel, visited City Hall and (with karate) kicked the prosecution's ass.


GUILTY Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy, Vince Vaughn, Tim Burton, The Farrelly Brothers, Michael Bay, Jessica Alba, Ice Cube, Gerard Butler, Halle Berry, Marlon Wayans, Julia Roberts, M. Night Shyamalan , Katherine Heigl , Cuba Gooding, Jr. , Tyler Perry, Cameron Diaz, Kate Hudson, Ashton Kutcher, Happy Madison Productions, Jennifer Lopez, Bruce Willis, Paul W.S. Anderson

NOT GUILTY Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, Nic Cage, John Travolta, Oliver Stone, Ben Stiller, Jim Carrey, Wes Craven, Matthew McConaughey, Robert Rodriguez, Kristen Stewart, Roland Emmerich, Kevin Costner, Sandra Bullock, Hilary Swank, Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves, Kevin Smith, Channing Tatum, Jennifer Aniston, Owen Wilson, Anna Faris, Robin Williams, Charlize Theron, Ray Liotta, Jason Statham, Paul Walker, Will Smith, Salma Hayek, Michael Cera, Johnny Depp, Ryan Reynolds, Milla Jovovich, John Singleton, Jon Voight, Jack Black


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