I’m of two minds about Brian De Palma’s Raising Cain (1992), thanks to

Arrow Video’s spiffy three-disc dual format edition—specifically, about

what’s called Raising Cain: The Director’s Cut on disc #3 (“limited edition

Blu-Ray exclusive”), “a De Palma-endorsed recreation of the film by Peet

Gelderblom, re-ordered as originally planned”.




One of my minds agrees with Gelderblom that this is a

(slightly) more satisfying edit of a film I reviewed in the

Chicago Reader as follows: “Brian De Palma’s 1992 thriller

perform stylistic pirouettes around a void, it’s full of sleek

and pleasurable moments. If I’m right about the story,

which is mainly composed out of loose pieces of Psycho

and Peeping Tom, a warped child psychologist (John

Lithgow) kidnaps his own granddaughter to avenge the

adultery of his son’s wife (Lolita Davidovich), and

frames her lover (Steven Bauer) for the crime. But

maybe I’ve got it all wrong and it’s the son’s evil twin

who’s doing the kidnapping; Lithgow also plays this

character, along with the son and other personalities

too numerous and obscure to fathom. Produced by

De Palma’s wife Gale Anne Hurd (The Abyss); with

Frances Sternhagen, Gregg Henry, Tom Bower, and

Mel Harris. R, 91 min.”


The other mind of mine says, “Wait a minute: Both versions of

Raising Cain are sleek and pleasurable, but only if you agree

that the genuine passions underlying Psycho and Peeping Tom

are inessential appendages to their status as mindless

entertainments, and that De Palma’s ingenuity largely consists

of how many narrative and stylistic elements from the two

pictures can be welded together into a single mechanism.The

grotesque phoniness of De Palma’s slow-motion sequences in

both versions and the irrelevance of the characters’ behavior

to recognizable human beings as opposed to generic props are

parodies of such passions, delivered not as artful

expressiveness of any kind but as cynical sops to our standard

genre expectations. And all the extras in the world (and those

on discs #1 and #2 come close to this exhaustiveness, including

interviews with half a dozen of the film’s actors, but none with

either Lolita Davidovich or De Palma) can’t compensate for

this lack of genuine passion, even while it provides plenty of

old-fashioned jolts, swerves, and bends, like those of a theme-

park ride. All of which encourages me to conclude that insofar

as one can legitimately distinguish between entertainment and

art, something Pauline Kael was generally reluctant to do,

Raising Cain is an excellent example of entertainment,

not art. “ Nuff said. [2/19/17]

RC - Nix

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