Phantom of the Paradise is a unique accomplishment. Directed by a pre-fame Brian DePalma, starring the ever-talented and beautiful Jessica Harper (the lead actress in Suspiria) and the truly unique William Finley (in a career best performance), and featuring the amazingly multi-talented Paul Williams (balladeer, Smokey and the Bandit scene stealer, and Daft Punk collaborator), the film is if nothing else a one-off. Watch it for DePalma’s visually ambitious directing, its hilariously cynical plot or Williams’ pitch-perfect send ups of Jan and Dean-esque surf and Alice Cooper-era glam, and you won’t be disappointed.
Jessica Harper singing Old Souls.
William Finley singing Faust.
Phil Brown wrote a worthwhile piece in online magazine the Toronto Standard on the Phantom‘s unique appeal.
The Phantom of the Paradise was never a mainstream hit for a reason. To appreciate the movie requires a background in all of the high-and-low-brow cultural obsessions that tickled De Palma and Williams in the ’70s, as well as a healthy sense of camp and irony. The film is an assault on the senses in a delightfully excessive ’70s way. If it speaks to your guilty pleasures, there are few films out there more riotously entertaining. If not, there will be no film you find more irritating. However, I choose to ignore the screaming voices of the latter audience on this one. The film is a riotous explosion of ideas, goofs, and images, its two collaborators given a blank cheque by a studio to bring their wacko vision to life.
Anyone who is interested is urged to see it tonight or Monday at the Bloor Cinema.