The best thing about Brian De Palma’s “Redacted” may be that via its over-the-top agit-prop pseudo-doc format I discovered the infamous mock-verite sequence — known as “Be Black, Baby” — from his 1970 shocker “Hi Mom!” (included below, courtesy of YouTube). While researching De Palma’s work for this Village Voice article — “Brian De Palma Explains Himself” — I admittedly gathered a better understanding of the director’s obsessions, and how they run wildly manifest through “Redacted.” But understanding is one thing and appreciating is another. I don’t like De Palma’s movie (although “like” probably isn’t a suitable term, anyway), and I haven’t liked a De Palma movie since I was a 15-year-old kid in awe of “The Untouchables” (which is the age that De Palma is arguably best suited for). While I applaud his motives this time around (Iraq war: bad!), I don’t trust his methods (let’s throw up pictures of atrocity).
Then again, the terrorizing power and ultimately biting satire of the “Be Black, Baby” sequence shows the guy has some idea of what he’s doing. They are, I suspect, everything that “Redacted” was meant to be and should have been: frightening, disturbing, funny and trenchant all at the same time. Maybe in 37 years, “Redacted” will feel that way, too. But right now, I don’t think so.
If you’re pressed for time and can’t wait for the tense build-up, skip to Part 2.
“Be Black, Baby,” Part 1
“Be Black, Baby, Part 2