Precocious I

film 5 of 6

Murder a la Mod

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 16, 2015

He’s certainly precocious, and metatextual, and an inveterate show-off right, from the very start. Brian De Palma tropes are fully in evidence, if not quite fully developed. (But then again, does he ever fully develop them?) It’s fair to note that though Hitchcock is almost certainly the origin for most of the ideas, Murder a la Mod actually isn’t all that Hitchcockian. What it looks like is film school (Godard!), deeply and brilliantly processed in the way you wish more students would do.

But now I’m looking past the quotations and homages. I’m thinking of prefigurations. The very opening features some unidentified bully with a camera trying to get a number of girls to take off their clothes. (Compare with George Kuchar’s poignantly vulnerable Hold Me While I’m Naked, q.v.) Note that the girls nearly or actually do so. We might say that this leads us to consider the way that the film apparatus does violence to women. It leads us to consider our complicity—buy that burger, and you’re destroying the rain forest. Or it leads us to Fight Club, and A Clockwork Orange, and the fact that being open about the rotten thing that you’re doing still leaves you doing a rotten thing. In other words, it leads to Brian De Palma.

That’s William Finley! His muse, it would seem, or his mascot. Certainly a ghost in the often futurist/annihilating machine of his filmed output.