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Satsuki Murashige

'Raising Cain' (1992)

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Just watched this 1992 Brian De Palma film for the first time a few days ago on Netflix. Shot by Stephen Burum, ASC. I had seen the famous long steadicam shot in isolation before, but not the whole film. It's so over the top and tongue in cheek, basically an homage to 'Psycho.' Not sure what to make of the uneven tone, it doesn't feel like Mr. De Palma is taking the story too seriously and just having fun with a few set pieces. Those are the only memorable bits. Most of the characters feel like pieces on a chess board, just moving along as required by the script. An interesting choice to reveal the main character's secret up front, John Lithgow is having a blast. It's kind of amazing that he went from this film and the psychopath in 'Cliffhanger' to an adorably innocent alien in 'Third Rock from the Sun' just a few years later.

A lot of it appears to have been shot in the Bay Area with place names altered, I noticed a few of my colleagues in the credits and a few familiar locations. I wonder why they decided to shoot it on location, given that it doesn't seem to add much to the film? Kinda feels like the film could have been made in and around Los Angeles without losing anything. Anyway, glad I finally watched it but don't think I will revisit it. Does anyone have a different take or a special attachment to this film?

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Pretty sure he was living in Palo Alto (with Gale Anne Hurd maybe?) at the time, so it was almost a work from home thing. 

The movie doesn't rate too many pages in editor Paul Hirsch's bio, but that book does cover all of Hirsch's DePalma work to some degree or other, and has some new stories about many popular and some classic flicks.

On 8/18/2020 at 1:13 PM, Satsuki Murashige said:

Just watched this 1992 Brian De Palma film for the first time a few days ago on Netflix. Shot by Stephen Burum, ASC. I had seen the famous long steadicam shot in isolation before, but not the whole film. It's so over the top and tongue in cheek, basically an homage to 'Psycho.' Not sure what to make of the uneven tone, it doesn't feel like Mr. De Palma is taking the story too seriously and just having fun with a few set pieces. Those are the only memorable bits. Most of the characters feel like pieces on a chess board, just moving along as required by the script. An interesting choice to reveal the main character's secret up front, John Lithgow is having a blast. It's kind of amazing that he went from this film and the psychopath in 'Cliffhanger' to an adorably innocent alien in 'Third Rock from the Sun' just a few years later.

A lot of it appears to have been shot in the Bay Area with place names altered, I noticed a few of my colleagues in the credits and a few familiar locations. I wonder why they decided to shoot it on location, given that it doesn't seem to add much to the film? Kinda feels like the film could have been made in and around Los Angeles without losing anything. Anyway, glad I finally watched it but don't think I will revisit it. Does anyone have a different take or a special attachment to this film?

 

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12 minutes ago, KH Martin said:

Pretty sure he was living in Palo Alto (with Gale Anne Hurd maybe?) at the time, so it was almost a work from home thing. 

The movie doesn't rate too many pages in editor Paul Hirsch's bio, but that book does cover all of Hirsch's DePalma work to some degree or other, and has some new stories about many popular and some classic flicks.

Ah, that makes sense. It definitely feels like that kind of situation. Thanks KH.

I wonder if he had the idea to do the Steadicam shot first, then built the movie around it...

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In some ways, talking to Stephen Burum prepared me for shooting "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel".  I asked about the Steadicam oner at the start of "Mission to Mars" which goes inside, outside, and all around a house at night during a party, I was wondering if he found that intimidating to pull off, but he said he pretty much goaded DePalma into doing it as a oner by asking if he really wanted to cut each moment up or whether he'd be happier not cutting, and as they discussed each scene at the party, Burum said "would you like to keep going to the next moment?", DePalma would ask "can you do it?" and Burum said "sure."  The other thing I learned a lot from and respected is when I asked him about doing so many split-diopter shots in anamorphic, using both ends of the 2.40 frame for important information, whether he was worried about the (then) 4x3 TV pan and scan version, and his response was "I figured the worst the 2.40 composition looked panned and scanned to 4x3, the stronger it must have been for 2.40."

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Lol, that’s amazing. Funny that DePalma asked that after they had already done ‘Snake Eyes’ together, which has some spectacular oners.

Your framing anecdote reminds me of a shoot once where I had to fill in for an ill cinematographer last minute. I was setting up an interior shot and accidentally stopped the unfamiliar lens down by about 5 stops. The director who I had just met said ‘whoa, I like your style. That’s ballsy.’ The image was basically black except for the practical jewelers lamp over the subject’s head. 

I should have just gone with it, but I chickened out and opened the lens back up. I always wonder what would have happened if I was braver in that moment. There’s something to be said for being creatively fearless at times.

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