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Joe Vitus
Posted: Fri May 08, 2009 7:04 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 14498 Location: Houston
billyweeds wrote:
Marc wrote:
Who in the forum has now seen SISTERS?


Me.


And me, if you count previous viewings. I've seen in several times, but not recently.

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Marc
Posted: Fri May 08, 2009 7:47 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 19 May 2004 Posts: 8423
I'm going to get a copy of SISTERS to Earl tomorrow.
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Marc
Posted: Fri May 08, 2009 7:48 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 19 May 2004 Posts: 8423
If everyone who has seen SISTERS wants to begin, go for it.

I am going to eat dinner and I'll be back shortly.
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Marc
Posted: Fri May 08, 2009 7:53 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 19 May 2004 Posts: 8423
"Where would Brian De Palma be without Alfred Hitchcock? Forget that oft-asked question. Where would De Palma be without Abel Gance? After all, while De Palma stood a great deal of his early film career on the shoulders of the esteemed Hitch and his flair for stylish suspense, such cannot explain his fascination with the split-screen technique, which Hitchcock (and virtually all cineastes of his generation) ignored completely. Enter Gance, a pioneering French filmmaker whose monumental 1927 Napoleon was filmed in something called "Polyvision," one of the first widescreen processes (invented by Gance himself), which employed three separate cameras. When the process was used for panoramic effect, massive battle scenes in Napoleon sprung to life in an ultra-wide aspect ratio. But with a battery of three cameras to play with, Gance also enjoyed creating triptych effects, blending a simultaneous montage of separate images that broadened the scope of any given scene. Some film fans may tend to discredit De Palma for drawing as much from Hitchcock as he has during his hit-and-miss career, but we are glad he has been a proponent of the split-screen, a technically challenging component of cinema that almost died with Gance before its resurrection in the 1960s and total exploitation by De Palma a few years later. And one of the best places to see De Palma's technical genius is in his 1973 Sisters. Margot Kidder stars in Sisters as Danielle Breton, a French Canadian model living in New York, where she's pursuing an acting career. On one job (a funny and appropriate game show about peeping toms) she meets the handsome Philip (Lisle Wilson), and their first date leads to his spending the night at her apartment. In the morning Philip learns that Danielle has a twin sister, Dominique, and that it is the ladies' birthday. But upon returning to the apartment with a birthday cake, the erratic Dominique (who is visiting from a local asylum) disposes of her sister's new boyfriend via the business end of a butcher's knife. Enter investigative reporter Grace Collier (Jennifer Salt), who saw the murder from her window across the courtyard. After persuading the cops to investigate, she is convinced that Danielle has a twin sister. What she doesn't suspect is that the girls were born as Siamese twins, and surgically separated only recently.

* * *

De Palma's Sisters was a popular suspense-horror upon its release, and it even had some hyperbolic studio advertising (which insisted there would be a "shock recovery" period for audiences after the film). And while it never matches the greatest films from the Hitchcockian oeuvre, it has become more and more significant over the years as De Palma has made increasingly erratic films (yes, the guy who did the brilliant Blow Out also directed Mission to Mars). Sisters, with its blend of classic suspense, '70s horror, and a relentless focus on mutants and freaks of nature, is a film designed to make you very, very uncomfortable, despite the everyday nature of the lead actors. Kidder, who may be laying on that French Canadian accent a bit thick, nonetheless makes for a credible lead with her airy, superficial quality, and Salt is relentless as the no-nonsense muckraker. Charles Durning has a few fun scenes as a private gumshoe, but only William Finley, as Danielle's ex-husband Emil, is an obvious creep. Toss in an unmistakable score by Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Hermann and those awesome split-screen sequences, and Sisters is unmistakably one of the best products from De Palma's career to date." JJB
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Marc
Posted: Fri May 08, 2009 7:59 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 19 May 2004 Posts: 8423
Some of the images and themes in SISTERS include: the use of the color red (blood, the red doors in Danielle/Dominique's apartment building), crucifixes/crosses, castration, the issue of race, guilt, split personality, references to Hitchcock's PSYCHO, dreams, Fellini....
SISTERS is chock full of psychological mischief, surrealiism and grade-B horror
devices. It's a smart movie in exploitation drag.
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Marc
Posted: Fri May 08, 2009 8:04 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 19 May 2004 Posts: 8423
Another influence on De Palma and SISTERS is Roman Polanski, particularly REPULSION and the dream sequence in ROSEMARY'S BABY.
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Marj
Posted: Fri May 08, 2009 8:12 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 10497 Location: Manhattan
I think my take on Sisters is perhaps unique considering I am an identical twin. I had hope that the film wouldn't have as strong a freak feel to it the second time around but it did. I'll probably have lots of dreams about it, just as I did when I saw it in the theater.

The problem is I've always been afraid of so-called freaks. I never could go to the side show as a kid and still wouldn't. Siamese twins are lumped in with other circus freaks and that alone frightens me. That it still does, made Sisters even more frightening.

The film obviously pays homage to Hitchcock. DePalma says as much. I think the biggest flaw in the movie is the Bernard Herrmann score. He was clearly too old to still be composing for film and though the score made me jump numerous times, it also got in the way of the plot. It simply had too much score and a lot of it reminded me of junky fright films.

I also agree with DePalma that the film would have been better with stars, utilized the way Hitchcock used them. He said he would have loved to have seen Sidney Poitier as the young suitor. I'm not a fan of Poitier but I agree. And Jennifer Salt was simply a screamer. A good screamer, true. But he needed a star as Grace Collier too. The only person who was perfectly cast was Margot Kidder. She wasn't a star but she was perfect.

I'll stop now, and allow someone else to continue or voice their perspective. I am curious to see if others were as frightened by this film as I was. And how much my being an identical twin colored my viewpoint.
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Marj
Posted: Fri May 08, 2009 8:20 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 10497 Location: Manhattan
SISTERS is chock full of psychological mischief, surrealiism and grade-B horror devices. It's a smart movie in exploitation drag.

Well put, Marc. Very much how I felt. And I loved DePalma's tip of the hat to Polanski and the Rosemary's Baby dream sequence.
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Marc
Posted: Fri May 08, 2009 9:19 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 19 May 2004 Posts: 8423
Marj,

As I was watching SISTERS the other night, I got up to get a pen and paper to take notes. I changed my mind thinking it was better to experience the film without being too analytical. I planned to re-watch it with pen and paper at the ready. I am going to do that tonight. I am particularly interested in analyzing why De Palma has Danielle wearing a cross necklace and then later has a crucifix hanging from the wall in the room where Grace Collier is being held against her will. There's also the twin nuns that appear in the Felliniesque black and white segment of the film. I want to see if I can find more Catholic stuff in the movie. As someone of Italian descent who was probably raised Catholic, what was De Palma getting at with the crosses? I'm also interested in why De Palma cast a Black man in the romantic role, the interracial sex element, the satirical scene in the African nightclub with Black waiters in tuxedos and grass skirts. And, among many other things, the whole concept of voyeurism. The game show was called Peeping Toms. Was this a sly reference to Michael Powell's movie about voyeurism called PEEPING TOM. Also, the murder by knife was not only a reference to PSYCHO and REPULSION but the way it was witnessed by Gail was clearly an homage homage to REAR WINDOW. The film ends with a man looking through a pair of binoculars. People watching people. Voyeurism. I need to see SISTERS again and take notes.

One other thing, the game show PEEPING TOMS features a peeping Black man. Is this a peeping Uncle Tom?
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Marc
Posted: Fri May 08, 2009 10:17 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 19 May 2004 Posts: 8423
Marj,

I've mentioned this briefly before, but I am going to elaborate a little on the first time I saw SISTERS.

SISTERS was playing in a small town in Southern Colorado. I was living in a former mining town turned funky vacation destination in the mountains about 35 miles from the where SISTERS was being shown. It was 1973. I was 22 and my girlfriend, Lola, was pregnant with my daughter Ama. Being a big horror movie fan and knowing that SISTERS was getting very good reviews for a movie of its type, I just had to see it. So, I drove down this lonely unpaved mountain road to see SISTERS. I was behind the wheel of a beaten up Volkswagen bug. It was winter. The loneliest of seasons.

Seeing the movie completely unnerved me. The fact that I was about to be a father made the experience even more disturbing. The opening credits with the fetus that is revealed to be co-joined twins was more than enough to give me the creeps and the damn film hadn't even really begun. I sat through the movie in a state of increasing agitation that blossomed into full blown panic. I left the theater disoriented, paranoid and nauseous. The scenes in the loony bin had taken me right over the edge. I got in my VW and it started to snow. My little bug had no heat. I began the long trip home. As my car crawled up the mountain, the snow storm was turning into a blizzard. I was freezing cold: body shaking, teeth chattering and all the while images of Siamese twins, men with seal-like flippers, dancing nuns and psychopathic French women with sharp-edged cutlery were bombarding me like demonic bloodstained snowflakes. I was a mess. The headlights of the bug were bouncing off the wall of snow, blinding me. The silence was, as they say, deafening. The only thing I could hear was Bernard Herrman's screeching violins boring into my skull. Suddenly, a dark presence lurched in front of my headlights, its blackness silhouetted against the snow. It was enormous and my car was about to hurtle into it. What was this monster?! I screamed, stomped the brakes to the floor and prepared to be engulfed in certain death. The monster leaped. I had just missed crashing into it. I looked out my side view window and saw a deer disappear into the woods. This was turning into the longest 35 mile trip I'd ever experienced. My paranoia was at full boil. I didn't think I'd ever get home. When I finally did get to my mountain cabin, the wood stove was cranking and Lola was in bed. I undressed, curled up against Lola and and placed my hand on her 8 month pregnant belly. I kept my hand there for the entire night waiting for something to kick and hoping it would be the kicking of no more than one pair of feet.
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Marj
Posted: Fri May 08, 2009 10:45 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 10497 Location: Manhattan
Marc,

Thank you so much. Your story has finally convinced me that my reaction is not unique. That we all have our fears about children, freaks, twins be they Siamese or otherwise. You have no idea what a relief it is to know that. And for both of us, it's been over 30 years! But I am sorry you had such a horrific experience. I suppose because I'm a twin I kept my reaction to myself. I don't know if I even told my sister. So, rather than get it out of my system I was plagued by nightmares for some time. But thanks to you, I doubt that will happen this time.

But I'll let you know.
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Marc
Posted: Fri May 08, 2009 10:49 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 19 May 2004 Posts: 8423
Quote:
But I am sorry you had such a horrific experience.


I'm not. A horror movie should be horrific. And, in their way, horror movies help to shine a light on our own phantoms and demons. The same is true of Grimm's fairy tales, the paintings of Bosch and the music of Yanni.
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Marj
Posted: Fri May 08, 2009 11:01 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 10497 Location: Manhattan
Quote:
One other thing, the game show PEEPING TOMS features a peeping Black man. Is this a peeping Uncle Tom?


Marc,

It's an interesting guess but I don't think so. I think it had more to do with DePalma's desire to utilize various film techniques, hence the TV show and his desire to cast Sidney Poitier.

There is an extra on the DVD which includes an interview with DePalma. It answers a lot of questions and confirms that he realized he made some mistakes. For example: He realized too late that the ending was unclear. I thought it worked but I understand why he felt that way.

As to his use of voyeurism, I'll leave that to your second or third viewing. You mentioned his main influence. Now just whittle it down a tad.

What I need to do is go back and read your Wiki article on DePalma. Maybe that will answer some of your crucifix questions. Or not.
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Marj
Posted: Fri May 08, 2009 11:05 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 10497 Location: Manhattan
Marc wrote:
Quote:
But I am sorry you had such a horrific experience.


I'm not. A horror movie should be horrific. And, in their way, horror movies help to shine a light on our own phantoms and demons. The same is true of Grimm's fairy tales, the paintings of Bosch and the music of Yanni.


Which maybe why you like horror films more than I. I like the kind where I can sigh afterwards, even though the film scared the Hell out of me, than laugh at my own reaction.
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Kate
Posted: Fri May 08, 2009 11:05 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 1397 Location: Pacific Northwest
Hey guys - I have a bit of a family emergency and have to go to Denver for the weekend. Nothing of a health issue, just some crazy family shit I have to deal with. So, I might not be around this weekend, but will watch on the way down and try to add my $.02 when I can. Sorry.
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