Friday, September 04, 2009


Way back on July 31 Tom Sutpen, the visionary genius and perfectly keen gentleman who presides over the blogosphere’s visually arresting and frequently mind-blowing If Charlie Parker Were a Gunslinger, There’d Be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats, unveiled a post entitled ”Frames Within Frames (Part One)”, a gathering of brilliant movie imagery which highlights the director and/or cinematographer’s eye for creating, as the title suggests, frames within frames, worlds within worlds, on the screen. Ever since luxuriating in this post at Tom’s site, my own sense of appreciating when directors create these playful visual patterns and schemes within their frames has been heightened, and this heightened awareness has contributed greatly to my understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of every movie I’ve seen, among them Inglourious Basterds, The Small Back Room and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, since I first looked at Part One. “Frames Within Frames (Part Two)” quickly followed. No dummy me, I sensed from the title that Tom was hinting at further installments, and as rich with possibilities as this great idea was I hoped they’d be coming soon. I even put in a request that Tom devote his eye in one of those upcoming installments to the films of Brian De Palma and that director’s practically cubist rendering of single frames into multiple fields of imagery which often comment upon, contradict or add information to the already complex interweaving of the strands of his narratives.

Well, like a kid walking into the world’s greatest candy store (better even than Wonka’s), Tom has granted my request an laid out a spectacular gallery of images derived from De Palma’s films to comprise his ”Seminal Image Friday: Frames Within Frames (Part Three): Brian De Palma” post, which is up and running today. What’s great about Tom’s site, and this post in particular, is not only the high quality of the images he has obtained (much better than the ones I use here, which illustrate the concept effectively but are not high-resolution), quality which is, at If Charlie Parker…, standard operating procedure. Tom also excels in his De Palma gallery by highlighting and emphasizing some of De Palma’s lesser known, earlier films, which provide an entry point to them for the casual fan but also illustrate in broad strokes the genesis and development of De Palma’s visual sense, his tendency toward suggestive imagery and visual narrative strategies, his compositional emphases, and of course, those mysterious, multilayered windows into other worlds within the frame. It’s a beautiful overview, and it will open a few eyes to titles in De Palma’s oeuvre, like Wotan’s Wake, Dionysus, Home Movies and Murder a la Mod that may still be off the radar for even more serious devotees of the director’s work. Brilliant job, Tom, and thanks for taking my request!


And on the subject of De Palma, just a reminder that Tony Dayoub’s Brian De Palma Blog-a-Thon gets underway this coming Monday, September 7 and runs through the following Wednesday, the 16th. If you have De Palma pieces you’d like to post in order to participate in this event, next week is the time to do it. And be sure to keep up with Tony’s site for a comprehensive list of where all the good reading on De Palma will be taking place over the course of the week.