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Exclusive Passion
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Leila Rozario

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AV Club Review
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A note about topics: Some blog posts have more than one topic, in which case only one main topic can be chosen to represent that post. This means that some topics may have been discussed in posts labeled otherwise. For instance, a post that discusses both The Boston Stranglers and The Demolished Man may only be labeled one or the other. Please keep this in mind as you navigate this list.
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Monday, January 21, 2019
2 WRITERS DISCUSS STYLE & POLITICS OF 'RAISING CAIN'
AT ALCOHOLLYWOOD, LOOKS AT ORIGINAL THEATRICAL VERSION AS WELL AS THE RE-CUT
http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/raisingcainbanner.jpg

"In anticipation of M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass, two writers go back and forth on the style and politics of Brian De Palma’s multiple-personality thriller Raising Cain." Thus goes the introduction to a post at AlcoHollywood from last week, with the headline, "Of Two Minds: Dissociating Ourselves from Raising Cain." The two writers are Gena Radcliffe and Chris Ludovici, with the latter's words in italics, in order for the reader to differentiate between the two as they go back and forth.

"Brian De Palma’s movies aren’t about sense, they’re about emotions," Ludovici states early on. "His movies are visually opulent and voyeuristic, they’re about watching people do things, and what they do is betray one another. From his personal passion projects to his massive studio blockbusters the issue of trust and how it’s impossible appears again and again."

Looking at the original theatrical version of Raising Cain, Radcliffe states, "It’s rare to find a movie that would benefit from being longer, but Raising Cain could have used another twenty or even thirty minutes. It’s edited down to within an inch of its life so that the entire plot confusingly feels like it takes place on the same day. Key elements are explained rather than shown, and the characters are thinly drawn, verging on stereotypes — the wisecracking cops, the concerned best friend, the handsome love interest, the German-accented psychiatrist. Jenny is an aggressively off-putting 'heroine,' and all we really know about her is that she’s a doctor who had an affair with a dying patient’s husband, kissing him right in the hospital room. We don’t even really know much about Carter, other than he has multiple personalities, and is hyper-focused on his young daughter, in a way that could be unhealthy, but who can say for sure, because it’s never explored."

"MOSTLY JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT," SHE SAYS

Radcliffe later continues:

Still, it can’t be emphasized enough that John Lithgow makes a feast of his roles, playing sinister, sympathetic, campy, and compelling all at the same time. The scenes when Carter’s "twin” Cain mocks him are both funny and tragic, in a “Gollum looking at himself in the water” way. De Palma’s love of Hitchcock-style imagery serves this movie particularly well, a good reminder that you’re not watching anything that’s supposed to be a realistic depiction of DID. Raising Cain isn’t a bad movie, it’s just confounding, an interesting premise that needed more structure, and more fleshing out.

And, as it turns out, there’s a twist in the making of the movie itself.

The strange pacing and editing were a last-minute decision for De Palma after the original cut tested poorly with audiences. Why anyone thought that a psychological thriller would work better if it was harder to follow is unknown, but that’s how it was released, much to De Palma’s regret. Twenty years after Raising Cain was released, a filmmaker from the Netherlands, mostly just for the hell of it, recut the film so that it more closely resembled the original script. Nothing was added or taken away, scenes were merely moved around so that the plot was somewhat more linear. The recut got back to De Palma, who was so pleased with it that he petitioned to have it added to the 2016 Blu-Ray release, claiming that it was the way the movie was always meant to be seen.

In the interest of good journalism (and because I had to see if it really did improve whatever the hell is supposed to be happening), I watched the recut, and you know what? It actually works pretty well. It opens with Jenny reconnecting with Jack, and her bizarre excitement over the prospect of cheating on her husband, which is reminiscent of Dressed to Kill, though she doesn’t pay for it in quite so gruesome a fashion as Angie Dickinson does in the earlier movie. The gauzily lit, soap operatic “lovers reunited” plot ends with a flashback of Jack’s terminally ill wife seeing them kiss and literally dying instantly, providing a delightfully effective bridge from romantic melodrama to psychological thriller.

After about the 45-minute mark, the “director’s cut” more or less follows the theatrical cut. While the movie still, in the end, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, it no longer quite feels like being thrown into the deep end of a pool without a life preserver. Not having to focus so much on trying to figure out what’s happening (it’s safe to assume that probably about 45% of it is only occurring in Carter’s fractured mind) allows plenty of opportunity to really see just how great John Lithgow is. He’s not just sad and a little scary, he’s hilarious, abruptly changing his facial expressions from “evil” to “innocent” in some scenes like he’s a human Looney Tunes character. It’s obviously an intentional choice, and even better when compared to how straight all the other actors play their roles. Lithgow is at his best when playing perhaps the most dangerous personality, “Margo,” who says nothing, smiles sweetly, and headbutts old ladies; regrettably she doesn’t show up until the last fifteen minutes of the movie. If Raising Cain still feels too short, it’s simply because we don’t get enough of Lithgow taking a potentially touchy subject matter and brilliantly, gleefully, riding it into camp oblivion.


Meanwhile, interspersed with Radcliffe's words, Ludovici continues to describe the autobiographical aspects of De Palma's work:
There’s a war raging inside of Brian De Palma. As a child he won a regional science fair by building his own computer, he went to college to study physics before being seduced by filmmaking. His best films and sequences have an almost clockwork construction, they’re known for their long uninterrupted takes that suggest fascination but also distance. His movies are often simultaneously horrific and clinical in a way that suggest a bloodless, pitiless scientist running rats through a lethal maze.

But that intelligent, scientifically minded child had a chaotic home. His father (a respected Philadelphia doctor) was a serial adulterer and the young De Palma followed him around and photograph him with various women, he even created a time-lapse camera so that he could stake various locations out without being there. Once, he threatened his father with a knife after ambushing him and one of his conquests at his office.

That tension between the thoughtful intellectual and the furious adolescent is the fuel that makes De Palma’s work go. And it changes the purpose of detached distance that he also seems to take from his subjects too. Maybe he doesn’t hold his subjects at arm’s length because he doesn’t care about what happens to them; maybe it’s because he doesn’t trust what he would do if he got too close.

At their core, his DID movies are about how, at the end of the day, we also can’t really trust ourselves. We might think we’re better and more knowledgeable than the people around us, but we’re not even safe from ourselves. There are no safe places in Brian De Palma’s world – not even inside our own minds.


Read the whole thing at AlcoHollywood.

Posted by Geoff at 12:15 AM CST
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Saturday, January 19, 2019
McQUARRIE TWEET - WATCHING 'UNTOUCHABLES' TONIGHT
'CAPONE RISING' CO-SCREENWRITER KOPPELMAN KNOWS "EVERY SHOT & LINE BY HEART"
http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/untouchablesmemories.jpg

Christopher McQuarrie on Twitter tonight:
Tonight’s #RedWineCinema:

Brian De Palmas’ The Untouchables


Shortly afterward, McQuarrie added, "An extraordinary intro to a villain contrasting a hero ill-equipped to prevail."

Brian Koppelman, co-screenwriter of the unproduced Untouchables prequel Capone Rising, responded to McQuarrie's initial tweet: "I know every shot and line by heart."

The Nerdy Hub then challenged both of them: "What is the last line of the movie without checking google (even though I can’t check to see if you did or didn’t lmao)".

McQuarrie responded, "Probably have a drink", and then Koppelman added, "'I know some of you take a drink' earlier in the movie is such a great Mamet characterization though language."


Posted by Geoff at 10:49 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, January 19, 2019 10:58 PM CST
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RAPACE TELLS OF CLASHING WITH DE PALMA ON 'PASSION'
DE PALMA FROM LAST JUNE: "SHE REFUSED TO PLAY CERTAIN SCENES THE WAY I ASKED HER"
http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/passionvenice2.jpgWith a new movie (Vicky Jewson's Close) world premiering on Netflix yesterday, Entertainment Weekly's Shirley Li talked to star Noomi Rapace about five of "her most badass roles" (Rapace plays a tough-as-nails bodyguard in the new film). One of the five movies in the article is Brian De Palma's Passion:
In Brian De Palma’s hypnotic drama, Rapace plays a woman who—six-year-old spoiler alert!—murders her boss. Production, the actress admits, was just as dramatic in some ways. “He’s more old-school, so sometimes we clashed,” Rapace says of working with De Palma. “It was an interesting, turbulent journey.”

De Palma himself discusses his difficulties working with Rapace in the 2017 revised edition of Brian De Palma: entretiens avec Samuel Blumenfeld and Laurent Vachaud (published by Carlotta Films), and was asked about it last June by Le Point's Philippe Guedj. "Ha! My worst memory since Cliff Robertson in Obsession," De Palma said to Guedj. "She refused to play certain scenes the way I asked her. In general, when I deal with this kind of reluctance, I shoot two versions, one in my own way and another in the actor's way. But there she obstinately refused to follow my instructions. I had to constantly be extra cunning to achieve my goals. I will never work with her again and I pity the next director who will hire her."

Despite all of this, as can be seen from the photo above, De Palma and Rapace remained respectful enough of each other to promote Passion and hang out together at its Venice premiere in 2012.


Posted by Geoff at 1:04 PM CST
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Thursday, January 17, 2019
DEL TORO DONATES 35MM 'PHANTOM' PRINT TO NEW BEV
RIAN JOHNSON & EDGAR WRIGHT POST RESPONSES TO GUILLERMO'S TWEET
http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/phantomrageinred.jpg

Earlier today, Guillermo del Toro tweeted the image above with the following message:
I love this film (Phantom of the Paradise) so much that I bought a great 35mm print. I then donated it to the @newbeverly cinema. Hopefully they'll program it soon!

Rian Johnson then responded, "I have never seen this movie and am waiting until I can see it on the big screen. Soooooo....."

And then Edgar Wright jumped in: "But how many times have I gone on about?"

Rian Johnson: "I blame you for all of this."

Edgar Wright: "My first ever programming at the @newbeverly was a double bill of Bugsy Malone & Phantom Of The Paradise with a @IMPaulWilliams Q&A (and a secret midnight of Ishtar). I'm not sure I ever topped it."

New Bevery Cinema to Rian Johnson: "This is very exciting to hear! I can’t imagine a better way to see it for the first time."

(The New Beverly, of course, is owned by Quentin Tarantino, but I don't know who tweets on the New Bev's behalf.)

Aaron Stewart-Ahn, co-screenwriter of last year's Mandy, responded to del Toro's initial tweet, writing, "The Academy archival print is so effin gorgeous and such a highlight of how prints even of films from that era and stocks can hold saturation and inky blacks." Stewart-Ahn also retweeted del Toro's tweet, adding, "One of the most underrated movies ever."


Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CST
Updated: Friday, January 18, 2019 12:15 AM CST
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Sunday, January 13, 2019
JOHN ORTIZ TELLS COLLIDER HIS 'CARLITO'S WAY' STORY
RECALLS PACINO'S KINDNESS - "HE WENT OUT OF HIS WAY TO MAKE SURE I WAS TAKEN CARE OF"
http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/carlitoswaycousin.jpg

In a video interview to promote the new movie Replicas, John Ortiz is asked by Collider's Steve 'Frosty' Weintraub about Ortiz' first film, Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way:
Frosty: You’re someone who, I’ve admired your work for a very long time. I believe it goes back to Carlito’s Way. So, I want to definitely jump back in time… what do you remember about making that one? Because to me, every time it comes on HBO or whatever, I’m, like, hooked.

Ortiz: Yeah, that was my first movie. Ever. And what I remember was, a kid… a kid in a candy shop. I was working with Al Pacino. And Sean Penn. And Viggo Mortensen. And Brian De Palma. And I was just… whenever you saw me smile in that movie? That was real. [Laughs out loud.] I was like, [laughs and grins] This is great!

Frosty: I would imagine working with that level of talent has to rub off a little on just the way you present, the way you work in future gigs. Just learning from masters like that.

Ortiz: Yeah.

Frosty: Do you remember what you took away from that experience that you said, “I need to be like this in the future.”

Ortiz: Yeah, you know, the one big—I learned a lot. A lot of stuff. The one big thing that to this day I’ll never forget, is Al Pacino’s kindness towards me. Like he went out of his way to make sure I was taken care of. And he would run lines with me, he would ask me how I was doing, when things weren’t quite working out on set, he would make sure that I was aware of certain things, and that I was protected. And he didn’t have to do that, he was nominated for two Oscars that year. And he was Al Pacino.

And yeah, there was one incident where I was almost cut out of a scene, because I couldn’t keep my eyes closed. And they were blinking from too much caffeine. And it was messing up the shot. And so Brian was going to kind of just skim over me, onto him. And it was my death scene. It was my moment. And Pacino knew that. And I was up for 23 hours straight, so I was on espresso the whole time. So I was literally shaking. You know, I couldn’t stop it. And that’s what was causing my eyes to flicker. And De Palma said, “Okay, we’ll just go over,” [motions imaginary camera panning] and Al needed to take a flight to L.A., for the Academy Awards. And it was like, you know, an hour before his flight or something. And he (De Palma) was like, “No, I’ll just skim over and we’ll just get the shot.” And he (Pacino) cleared the room, kept me there, and he said, “I want everyone out.” And I was like, about to leave, and he was [come-back motions with his hands] “No, stay, stay, I’m just going to have an espresso. I just needed everyone out of the room.” And I’m like, [worried face, inner thoughts] “All right. What the hell am I doing here, then?” He’s like, “Do you want an espresso?” [Laughter with Frosty] And I was like, “Yeah! Yeah, sure.” I did not want an espresso, you know, but you’re never going to turn down Al Pacino’s espresso. So I had an espresso with him. I don’t know what we talked about, but it seemed like hours went by. And he called everyone back in, did the scene, and my eyes didn’t flicker. And he left. And yeah—that’s the lesson I take away from that movie.

Frosty: That’s an amazing story, and I say thank you for sharing. Seriously.

Ortiz: That’s the first time I’ve said this story on camera. I’ve told friends this story, but… it took me like ten years to tell that story to anyone, just because I held it so close to my heart.


Posted by Geoff at 11:28 PM CST
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Saturday, January 12, 2019
SAOIRSE RONAN ON PERIOD SCENES & 'CARRIE'
AND 'MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS' DIRECTOR HAD TO FIGHT TO INCLUDE "A PERIOD IN A PERIOD MOVIE"
http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/carrieperiod.jpgSaoirse Ronan discusses her new film, Mary Queen of Scots, in a profile piece written by Erica Wagner at Harper's Bazaar:
In the film, Mary’s womanhood may not completely define her: yet one aspect is strikingly on display. We see the Scottish Queen get her period, staining her white shift; the ladies-in-waiting clean her, and the cloths they rinse swirl blood into a bowl of water. I’ve only ever recalled menstruation being referenced in Brian de Palma’s Carrie – not the most positive example, I offer. Ronan disagrees, and argues that the sense of shame that still surrounds this everyday aspect of women’s lives should be removed. ‘What’s genius about Carrie is that it shows what it feels like when you have your period for the first time,’ she says. ‘When I watched it as a teen with my mam, I’d already had my period for a few years, but if I hadn’t known what it was, I’d have thought I was dying. And that’s why it needs to be talked about.’

Mary, of course, is only one of the impressive roster of powerful women Ronan has embodied in her career. Her role as Briony in the film version of Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement gained her an Oscar nomination when she was 13. Since then she has given one riveting performance after another: as Eilis in Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn; as the heroine of Lady Bird; in On Chesil Beach, another McEwan adaptation. And she made her Broadway debut in 2016 playing Abigail in Ivo van Hove’s acclaimed production of The Crucible.

‘From a purely selfish point of view, I’ve always wanted to play characters who are well-rounded and interesting and smart, or who are intelligently written,’ she says. ‘And because that’s what I’ve always wanted to get out of it, the films end up reflecting that. They’re the only roles I want to play. Even when I was a kid, I knew I didn’t just want to play “the sister”, or “the girlfriend”, or “the secretary”. That was always a priority for me, to play someone who –even if they were only in a few scenes – really had something to them.’

It’s clear she doesn’t have much time for the notion that films with women in them are ‘women’s movies’. In part, I think that’s because – blessedly – she is of a generation that’s moved past such regressive ideas, although she knows there’s still some ground to cover. ‘With Lady Bird,’ she says earnestly, ‘the amount of guys who would come up to me – and I had it with Brooklyn as well – and be like, “I’m not usually into films like that, but ah... I really liked that, and I even cried a little bit because I loved it so much”. And I’m like,“What kind of films do you mean?” Of course, they mean female-led movies. But the thing is, whether there’s a girl or a boy leading it, Lady Bird is about someone preparing to leave home. That’s it. And the more specific you can make it to one person's experience, the more universal it will be.'


Meanwhile, The Guardian's Charlotte Higgins recently posted an interview with Mary Queen of Scots director Josie Rourke, which delves into the pushback Rourke received from producers, who wanted her to cut the period scene from the film:
The film has much to say about bodies: about the queens’ different calculations about marriage and producing an heir; about the violence done to women by men; about sexual pleasure; about physical closeness between women friends; about clothing as a projection of power and desirability. When I last saw Rourke, several months previously, she had been arguing with producers over the edit. She wanted to include scenes that showed Mary having her period, and another that showed her being given oral sex.

“I was fighting for a period in a period movie,” she says. “Those were instructive discussions about how honest we were being about women’s bodies and what they do, women’s pleasure and what that is, and a queen’s body as a political canvas. I felt that was something I hadn’t seen before, that I just really wanted to show. There are not many of us who know what it feels like to be a crowned head of Europe – but what we do know is what it’s like to fight for the rights of our bodies.”

She got her way in the end: the scenes are still there. “We need to show this stuff. It does need normalising. A journalist asked me how hard it was to shoot the scene where Mary has her period, and my answer was, ‘Not hard at all!’ There were six women in that room, and it was probably the thing that just most easily staged itself. But it does continue to freak some people out.”

As for the cunnilingus scene, Rourke did not employ an intimacy director – a safeguarding role increasingly being discussed in the performing arts. Rather, she worked with the choreographer Wayne McGregor, who was movement director for the film. “I don’t think I’ve ever done a sex scene without a movement director, without treating it as a piece of choreography,” she says. “I hope the sex scenes feel truthful and alive. To think in a language of movement helps remove embarrassment, discomfort or shame.”


Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, January 13, 2019 12:33 AM CST
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Friday, January 11, 2019
NANCY ALLEN ADDED TO GRAUMAN'S DTK/TENEBRAE JAN 26
SHE'LL SPEAK IN BETWEEN DE PALMA/ARGENTO DOUBLE FEATURE
http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/nancyallendtktenebrae.jpgNancy Allen has been added as featured guest for the De Palma/Argento double feature January 26th at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles. Co-presented by Cinematic Void, the double feature is the final part of a three-night Argento/De Palma series, billed as a variation on their yearly January Giallo series. A discussion with Nancy Allen will take place in between De Palma's Dressed To Kill and Argento's Tenebrae. The other two nights will pair Suspiria / Carrie (January 24th) and Blow Out / Inferno (January 25th).

Posted by Geoff at 9:25 PM CST
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Thursday, January 10, 2019
VERNA BLOOM DIES AT 80
MARRIED 49 YEARS TO JAY COCKS, APPEARED IN 3 SCORSESE FILMS


Verna Bloom, an actress who appeared in three Martin Scorsese pictures, died January 9 at 8o years old. Her family stated that she died from complications of dementia, according to Variety.

In the picture above, taken in 1979, Bloom is posing second from left at the table, in between Marcia and George Lucas and in front of Paul Hirsch. Bloom's husband, Jay Cocks, is leaning on a chair next to Nancy Allen, who was then married to Brian De Palma, who is standing in the middle between Paul and Jane Hirsch.

In 1968, Cocks was covering film for TIME magazine when he screened and reviewed Haskell Wexler's Medium Cool, which blended fiction and documentary by filming at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. "He found himself smitten with Verna Bloom, a New York actress who had given such a natural performance that he didn't realize she was one of the film's fictional elements," stated The Globe And Mail's Simon Houpt in a 2001 profile piece on Cocks. "Oh, I had the major hots from the screening," Cocks told Houpt with a chuckle. "I wasn't counting on meeting her and the review wasn't written to woo her. But she got a great review." Houpt continues:

A friend at Time introduced him to Bloom, who is now perhaps best known for her role as the dean's besotted wife Mrs. Wormer in the classic frat flick Animal House. (She also played at the other end of the spectrum, as Mary, mother of Jesus in Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ.) For their first date, the two went to a movie with Scorsese. "It was a Susan Sontag movie, Duet for Cannibals. Two out of three of us fell asleep during the picture. Guess who stayed awake? Marty!"

In 1970, Scorsese was an instructor at New York University, where, according to Les Keyser's 1995 book Martin Scorsese, politically active students (including Oliver Stone) had teamed up "with a radical group of independent documentary filmmakers" to film the May 1970 student demonstrations on Wall Street. With NYU equipment being "lost, destroyed, or pilfered" amidst all the violence, Scorsese directed a team of editors (including Thelma Schoonmaker) to cut together the amateur 16mm film into a coherent documentary. The resulting 75-minute film, Street Scenes 1970, concludes with "a heated informal debate among journalists, filmmakers, and friends," according to Keyser. Scorsese, Harvey Keitel, Jay Cocks and Verna Bloom are among those involved in the debate.

In 1971, Bloom was in a play with Robert De Niro, Kool Aid, which was actually an umbrella title for two one-act plays (Grail Green and Three Street Koans) written by Merle Molofsky. The play had a brief run at the Forum Theater at Lincoln Center in New York. Later that year, Verna Bloom and Jay Cocks (who married each other in July 1972) hosted their annual Christmas party where, on this occasion, De Niro met Martin Scorsese-- the two may or may not have been introduced to each other that night by De Palma, who was also there, but they soon realized that they had known each other casually as teenagers. They would soon make Mean Streets together.

Bloom would later appear as a sculptor in Scorsese's After Hours (1985), and she then portrayed Mary, Mother of Jesus in Scorsese's The Last Temptation Of Christ (1988). Cocks had collaborated with Scorsese on the latter film's screenplay, although his work for that one went uncredited. (Cocks has also worked on several unproduced screenplays for De Palma, and he is credited for making the documentary within De Palma's Sisters.)

Bloom also appeared in two of Clint Eastwood's films: High Plains Drifter (1973) and Honkytonk Man (1982). The Hollywood Reporter's Mike Barnes has included some nice career details and quotes in his Verna Bloom obituary:

Bloom made her big-screen debut in Wexler's documentary-style Medium Cool (1969) as a single mother from West Virginia who gets caught up in the violence surrounding the chaotic 1968 Democratic National Convention, which took place in Wexler's hometown of Chicago.

The writer-director-cinematographer inserted Bloom into the violence, and the image of her in a yellow dress searching for her lost son among the protestors, tear gas, tanks and armed soldiers became an indelible artifact of those divisive times.

"She was not only a wonderful actress, she was fearless," Wexler once said. "I was more frightened than she was."

In Animal House (1979), Bloom put in a great comedic turn as Marion Wormer, the wife of Faber College Dean Vernon Wormer (John Vernon). Her flirty character talks about cucumbers with ladies' man Eric "Otter" Stratton (Tim Matheson) in a grocery store before embarking on a fling with the college kid.

Born on Aug. 7, 1938, in Lynn, Massachusetts, Bloom graduated from Boston University in 1959. She moved to Denver and started a local theater, where she helped produce productions of Look Back in Anger and A Taste of Honey.

She came to New York and made her Broadway debut in 1967 in The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis De Sade. Wexler then cast her in Medium Cool on a recommendation from writer-historian Studs Terkel.

Her fellow Medium Cool actress Marianna Hill, in a 2016 interview with Shaun Chang for his Hill Place blog, said that Bloom was handcuffed and arrested during filming as Hill managed to flee. She said Terkel "wrote a wonderful story about two girls walking in the park and getting arrested for just being girls. It was a cause celebre and was in the headlines in the Chicago Sun-Times for about two weeks."

Bloom's big-screen résumé also included The Hired Hand (1971), directed by and starring Peter Fonda, and Howard W. Koch's Badge 373 (1973), also starring Robert Duvall.

On television, Bloom portrayed the mother of Linda Blair's character in the landmark 1975 NBC telefilm Sarah T. — Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic and was the wife of a cop (Frank Sinatra) in 1977's Contract on Cherry Street, another high-profile NBC movie.


Posted by Geoff at 11:57 PM CST
Updated: Friday, January 11, 2019 12:06 AM CST
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Wednesday, January 9, 2019
SCORSESE RECALLS MEETING SCHRADER VIA DE PALMA
TELLS NYFCC CROWD HOW THEY ALL ATTENDED OZU SCREENINGS TOGETHER, ETC.
http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/scorsesenyfcc2019.jpgAt The New York Film Critics Circle’s annual awards dinner Monday, Martin Scorsese presented the Best Screenplay award to Paul Schrader for First Reformed (image here cropped from a tweet by Alissa Wilkinson). In his ten-minute intro for the award, Scorsese mentioned meeting Schrader via Brian De Palma, saying that the three of them would go to screenings of Yasujirō Ozu films together. According to IndieWire's Zack Sharf, Scorsese added that Schrader's license plate back then read O-Z-U. "After discussing how their shared love of John Ford’s The Searchers and Robert Bresson’s Diary of a Country Priest made them fast friends," writes Sharf, "Scorsese championed First Reformed: 'I was so impressed and moved by the way Paul discusses the nature of faith and how it’s bolstered by Ethan Hawke, who gives such a magnificent performance and goes so deep into his character’s pain, into his long, twisted road to understanding.'”

Hawke won the NYFCC Best Actor award for First Reformed, and Sharf quotes much of the actor's acceptance speech:
“My mother gave birth to me when she was 18 and one of the things she hid from her father was her subscription to The New Yorker magazine,” Hawke said. “It’s a weird thing to combine white trash and The New Yorker, but that’s my family. When I was growing up, what she used to do was save The New Yorker and whatever Pauline Kael reviewed was the movie we would go see. After we saw it, we would read Pauline Kael’s review, which we often did disagree with. … Even after ‘Dead Poets Society’ came out I had to go home and sit at the dinner table and read Pauline Kael’s very negative review of that movie. ‘The whole thing is wrapped in a gold bow like a bunch of bullshit. If I have to see another movie that makes me glad I’m alive I’ll have to kill myself,” is what I think she said.”

Hawke’s ability to pivot from humorous anecdote to profound meditation remains unmatched. “In my life, I have witnessed big business absolutely devour an extremely young art form,” he said at the end of his speech. “We live in a culture that hero worships the accumulation of wealth and then acts surprised about who we elect as our officials. Film criticism establishes a different barometer of success and it teaches audiences what to look for, how to watch movies, how to listen to stories, and I’m so grateful to articulate why all these movies you are celebrating tonight matter, because they matter to me.”


According to Paula Schwartz at Showbiz 411, Hawke also spoke of Roger Ebert: "He’s the only critic that matters. I don’t understand this, but okay, at the Cannes Film Festival Roger Ebert gave me a toast as the most successful, the only successful American actor who has never killed anybody on screen. I was about 30 years old and I knew that I was going to kill people. I knew, I did. I knew that there was no way it was going to last. I respected the attention, but I learned from Roger Ebert that it matters what we put into the world and I was extremely inspired by the critics of art."

See Also:

Mark Jacobson, Vulture
In Conversation: Paul Schrader


Posted by Geoff at 12:46 AM CST
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Monday, January 7, 2019
'SISTERS' RESTORATION MAKING THEATER ROUNDS
JENNA STOEBER - SISTERS "DELIVERS WEIRDNESS IN A WAY MODERN MOVIES DON'T"
http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/sisterstexastheatreposter2.jpg"The movie might not get many midnight showings," Polygon's Jenna Stoeber stated about Brian De Palma's Sisters last month, "but it’s still a cult classic." Well, here we are just a month later, into the new year, and Sisters is in the middle of a two-screening run at The Texas Theatre, and also played tonight at The Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA. Last month, Stoeber's article caught the attention of Joyce Carol Oates, who tweeted the headline and link: "Brian De Palma’s Sisters delivers weirdness in a way modern movies don’t."

"Watching Sisters," Stoeber's article begins, "Brian De Palma’s 1973 psychological horror film, is like meeting your best friend’s parents for the first time and suddenly understanding something about your friend that couldn’t have known otherwise — where they came from, and how far they’ve come. A relatively early entry in De Palma’s long and storied career, Sisters features plenty of the style he would become known for, with eyes firmly on Alfred Hitchcock."

After some plot description, Stoeber continues:

Sisters features de Palma at his most Hitchcockian. It’s full of homages, with cheeky nods to the repercussions of voyeurism and the instability of sanity. It even features a piercing score by frequent Hitchcock-composer Bernard Herrmann.

But more than that, the technical skill inherited from Hitchcock can be seen in de Palma’s ability to make even mundane events sinister and captivating. Before the stabbing, when Danielle and Phillip are getting frisky on the couch, we get a careful zoom-in on the wide mound of scar tissue down her hip. A low-angle tracking shot follows Phillip as he brings in a birthday cake — and a knife to cut it with. It brings to mind shots of the house looming over Bates Motel, or Norman Bates surrounded by taxidermied birds. The anticipation of violence heightens the tension long before the knife flashes.

From start to finish, Sisters is weird, but it rarely feels like it’s just for the sake of being weird. Some of the plotting might feel familiar to modern audiences; the idea that one conjoined twin is evil and the other good is borderline cliché at this point. But the story is infused with so many off-kilter details that even when you know what’s going to happen, you can never predict how you’ll get there.

In the scene in which the police investigate of the apartment, you imagine that Danielle is going to charm her way out of the situation. Collier discovers the birthday cake bearing two names, proof Danielle lied about being in the place alone and for a moment it seems like she’s going to be caught. But in her haste to present it to the police, she fumbles and drops it directly on the detective’s shoes.

It’s a shockingly funny moment, and it’s the sort of strong tonal shift that most modern thrillers or horror movies don’t dare attempt. Sisters has a lot of diversions that are almost slap-stick, and it can afford to because de Palma is so deft at creating tension. Even in this early stage in his career, he breaks the mood knowing he can rebuild it later, more than practically any other director, including his contemporary peers or Hitchcock himself.

In an interview published as part of the new Criterion Collection edition, de Palma explains that he was emulating Hitchcock “in order to work out my own problems as a storyteller.” Since then, he’s directed a startling number of movies that have indelibly changed American culture, like Carrie, Scarface, The Untouchables, and Mission: Impossible. As far as exercises in self-improvement go, I’d say Sisters is a remarkable success.


Posted by Geoff at 11:12 PM CST
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