Brian De Palma Paul Schrader - Essay

Paul Schrader

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

"Greetings" [is] the funniest and most contemporary American comedy since [Kubrick's] "Dr. Strangelove." This comparative judgement is less indicative of the excellence of "Greetings," than it is of the general irrelevance of American comedies. "Greetings" isn't a very great film, but it certainly is a rarity. It shines out like a gas lantern in an amphitheater….

When "Greetings" first flashes on the screen, the young viewer is taken back: they really are talking about things he cares about. American comedies—even the funny ones—are notoriously behind the times, but the so-called "youth films" are not only old-fashioned, but bland and glum…. As any hipster knows, there are some guys who can get away with saying "Hey man" and some who can't. Brian DePalma is one who can.

"Greetings" manages to include a satirical comment on just about every cause or fad that fills the youthful mind: the draft, computer dating, shoplifting, stag films, JFK's assassination, abstract sculpture, sex positions, Vietnam, high-culture movies, and peeping toms. In other words, everything that movies usually avoid.

DePalma blends the comic styles of Godard and The Committee. Like Godard, DePalma has the courage not to move the camera to let a scene play out its inherent humor…. Like The Committee "Greetings" has a cynical, no-bullshit sense of humor, like Godard it exhibits an artificial and ambiguous frame of...

(The entire section is 414 words.)