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Wednesday, November 19, 2014
An article today by Shelly Davidov at the Miami New Times provides more details about the link between Gloria Estefan and how she came to be hosting a screening of Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise, at 11:30pm this Saturday at Coral Gabes Art Cinema (see yesterday's post). The man behind Miami's Secret Celluloid Society is none other than Gloria's son, Nayib Estefan. Estefan has screened Phantom before, but says this will be the last time. The reason? "There is no way humanly possible to top what is going to happen on Saturday night," he posted on the Secret Celluloid Society's Instagram page. He adds that "Gloria Estefan will be conducting an extremely rare introduction and late nite Q+A with someone special." As mentioned yesterday, the rumor is that the "someone special" will be Paul Williams. Estefan tells Miami New Times that his mother "has always been a huge fan and inspired by Paul Williams as a songwriter. When she was in college (before she was married), she went to see Phantom on its original run at a local miami movie theater. She loved the movie and the soundtrack written by Paul Williams so much that one day when her communications teacher asked her to sing a song in class as a project, she chose 'Old Souls,' the ballad from the film."


"Secret Celluloid Cociety is unashamedly a movie cult and Phantom of the Paradise is the definition of a cult movie," Nayib Estefan tells Miami New Times. "Not only one of my favorite movies, but one of the best. [It was] light years ahead of its time; it's the most relevant commentary on the music business ever made and it is more popular now than it's ever been."

Posted by Geoff at 11:34 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, November 20, 2014 6:10 PM CST
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Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise will be screened this Saturday night at 11:30pm at the Coral Gables Art Cinema, in Coral Gables, Florida. But that's not all-- "Come out for a night of surprises featuring Gloria Estefan in-person with a special mystery guest from the film," reads the theater's website description. The Phantompalooza Facebook page sheds some light on the question of why Gloria Estefan, and also the possible identity of the evening's mystery guest. "Apparently," the Phantompalooza post states, "famed songwriter Paul Williams, who wrote the flick's score, was a huge inspiration to Estefan, who sang the film's Old Souls during her communications course in college. Rumor has it Williams, in town for Miami Book Fair International, will make a special guest appearance at the screening." Will there be other surprises? We'll be watching for reports.

Posted by Geoff at 8:52 PM CST
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Friday, November 14, 2014
While in Rome shooting All Roads Lead To Rome, producer Silvio Muraglia told AskaNews that he is developing a movie to be directed by Brian De Palma, and starring Ashton Kutcher. Muraglia said the film will shoot in Canada. No other details about the project were reported.

Posted by Geoff at 8:47 PM CST
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Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Sc Mira, a musical act from Winnipeg made up of Sc (Stephanie Catherine) and Tyler Wagar, released a Halloween-themed mixtape last month made up of three songs, including two Paul Williams-penned numbers from Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise: "Somebody Super Like You" and "Life at Last." You can listen to the mixtap, titled Candy Apples and Razor Blades, via the YouTube video embedded below. The third song is a cover of the Misfits' "Halloween."

Sc Mira received some attention this year for its single, "On My Own," and have an EP (Waiting Room Baby) all ready to go for next year that was mixed by Arcade Fire producer Howard Bilerman, according to MetroNews' jrockarolla. In that same article, Sc tells jrockarolla that she grew up watching Phantom Of The Paradise. "I’ve seen that movie so many times," she tells jrockarolla. "My dad showed it to me and my siblings as kids, and I remember thinking it was so scary." Wagar then adds, "Winslow’s mask still freaks me out."

Last month, the members of Sc Mira discussed their love of Phantom Of The Paradise with Sam Tweedle at Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict:

Sam: So this is a gem you’re sitting on. Now I read you have a Halloween project in the works.

Tyler: Yeah. We just had a Halloween EP released about a half an hour ago. We recorded a couple of our favorite Halloween tunes.

Sc: Yeah. It’s free on-line as a Sound Cloud stream, but Exclaim! did an article on it. We did it as a free release to get some content out there because we are sitting on the EP. Its three songs. Two are covers from the soundtrack of The Phantom of the Paradise.

Tyler: Oh yeah.

Sam: Phantom of the Paradise is one of my top three all-time favorite films!

Sc: Nobody usually knows what it is.

Sam: What songs did you do?

Sc: We did

Life at Last and Somebody Super Like You because the themes are very Halloweeny. The last song we did is Halloween by the Misfits.

Sam: Now it’s Winnipeg that has that strange Phantom of the Paradise cult following, right?

Tyler: That’s defiantly Winnipeg.

Sam: Yeah – that film was a hit in Winnipeg and nobody else in the world.

Sc: Yeah. I grew up watching Phantom of the Paradise. I’ve seen it so many times. My Dad would show it to us and my siblings. I guess Tyler watched it as a kid too.

Tyler. Yeah. It was also my Dad’s favorite musical film.

Sc: So it just seemed natural because Phantom of the Paradise is common ground for both of us. We both already knew the songs. I listen to the record year round.

Sam: So do I. I have it on my computer in my office. It’s one of my all-time favorite film soundtracks.

Tyler: When we were working on the EP in Montreal last year we ended up in a vintage store and ended up finding the record just lying around.

Sc: I had been looking for that record for a long time. We found it for three dollars in some shop that we went into. We both went in and thought I might find something worth taking home and I found it at the very back of the stack.


Posted by Geoff at 9:26 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, November 12, 2014 9:28 PM CST
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The CW series Supernatural aired its 200th episode last night, and presented it as a musical. Series writer and producer Robbie Thompson tells TV Line's Vlada Gelman that Phantom Of The Paradise contributed to the vibe of the songs.

"Unlike something like ‘Once More, With Feeling,’ which is integrated into the story, this is more the boys seeing a music version of their lives,” Thompson explains to Gelman. "So it’s a little more presentational.” Thompson tells Gelman that he listened to “mostly musicals and one movie, Phantom of the Paradise, which is this ’70s, weird Brian De Palma movie which I just love from my childhood. So somewhere in between Rent and Phantom of the Paradise, which is a weird mix."

Posted by Geoff at 12:34 AM CST
Updated: Tuesday, November 11, 2014 11:42 PM CST
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Saturday, November 8, 2014
Brian De Palma's Mission To Mars was loved by several critics when it was released in 2000, making several of their top 10 lists for the year, as well. However, it was also well-hated, and seen mostly as an artistic failure at the time. A new consensus appears to be emerging, however: that Mission To Mars is a "half-masterpiece" (see David Edelstein excerpt below), and with the glass half-full, at that, instead of half-empty (even though, of course, we still have the critics referred to above who see a full head-on masterpiece). As Christopher Nolan's Interstellar is released in theaters these past few days, several articles are emerging that survey previous space movies, including Mission To Mars. The bulk of the articles, as one might expect, use Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey as the touchstone. And of course, as expected, Armond White's review of Interstellar makes note of De Palma's film (White was one of the aforementioned critics who saw Mission To Mars as a masterpiece upon its release). Not surprisingly, White is not impressed by Interstellar, which he calls a "dull, galumphing white elephant" (his review of the film is subtitled "To Insipidness and Beyond").

I myself went into Interstellar expecting to find it mostly tedious, but I actually loved almost every minute. Perhaps I went with lowered expectations, but I really enjoyed the story and the way it was told. I found it to be a spectacular experience. It may not have quite the visual panache of a Kubrick or a De Palma, or even a Shyamalan, but there are some strong images, and Nolan's film seems informed by all three of those filmmakers, as well as, of course, Spielberg (and I'm sure many others). And Interstellar seems driven by the same impulse that drove De Palma when making Mission To Mars: the rekindling of a passionate desire to explore the universe, to think of the big picture, to discover what we're all about.


In the first link/excerpt below, critic Bilge Ebiri suggests that Mission To Mars works best, for him, as a silent picture scored by Morricone. Here, with POSSIBLE SPOILERS, are the links/excerpts:

"The 16 Best Space Movies Since 2001: A Space Odyssey"
by David Edelstein and Bilge Ebiri, Vulture

#14 Mission To Mars
Ebiri: Here’s how you watch Brian De Palma’s Mission to Mars. First, you turn off the sound. (If you’re a rabid Ennio Morricone fan like me, you can buy or download the soundtrack and play it over the movie.) Then you turn the whole movie off about 20 minutes before the end. Devoid of the ridiculous dialogue and one of the craziest and most tone-deaf finales I’ve ever witnessed, this is riveting, managing to create a vision of space that’s genuinely terrifying. That’s quite an achievement in an age where visions of space travel on film have become so mundane. De Palma has always been a master of onscreen space — the cinematic kind, not the outer kind — and when he’s given free rein to go to town with his setpieces here, it’s often glorious.

Edelstein: I couldn’t agree more with your advice to stop watching 20 minutes from the end. What upset me about Mission to Mars was its epically dumb finale, which made me dismiss what came before retroactively. (Others did, too: This film is hated.) The thing is, it’s a gorgeous work, alternately intimate and vertiginous, the work of a great filmmaker exploring a new set of variables — ones that take him out of his spatial-temporal comfort zone and induce, as you’ve said, a new kind of terror. The scene in which Tim Robbins removes his helmet in space can hold its own against any human moment in any sci-fi movie. If only we could accept a half-masterpiece.


Interstellar: Christopher Nolan's Movie Shows Kubrick's 2001 Casts Long Shadow!"
by Brian Finamore, Moviepilot

"Out of a lot of the films in vein of 2001, Brian De Palma's much maligned film Mission to Mars is clearly heavily inspired by 2001. As I mentioned it was savagely criticized by critics for it's somewhat awkward, clunky dialogue. However, you'll be hard pressed to find a better looking science fiction film. The space sequences are visually stunning, and the scenes depicting astronauts on Mars looks as if it was shot on location."

"Interstellar and the top 40 space movies"
Tim Robey, The Telegraph

#32 Mission To Mars
"Brian DePalma's oft-derided foray into space opera has a frankly disastrous finale, but there's some unforgettable stuff in it, especially the mid-film hull breach, foreshadowing Gravity, after which members of the exploration team must desperately grab for a handhold on the outer surface of their resupply module."

"Floating in a Most Familiar Way:
21 Notes About Sci-Fi After 2001: A Space Odyssey"
by Alex Pappademas, Grantland

"Mission to Mars, from the year 2001 [editor's note: actually from the year 2000], becomes Brian De Palma’s 2001 somewhere between Earth and the Red Planet. A tracking shot takes us across the ship’s bow and through a porthole, behind which Jerry O’Connell is modeling a double helix — 'That is the exact genetic composition of my ideal woman' — out of floating M&Ms, and Kubrick’s surveying eye gives way to De Palma’s probing camera. Kubrick gave us a Pan Am spaceflight attendant negotiating a circular corridor with Ford-model poise; De Palma has Connie Nielsen swaying to Van Halen’s 'Dance the Night Away' in zero-G, because BRIAN DE PALMA. And while we’re supposed to feel sad for the astronaut who chooses a one-way ticket at the end of the film, the movie also celebrates his decision to go where no one has gone before; his farewell to humanity is cast not as a heroic sacrifice but as a great ride we’re supposed to take."

"14 Movies to See After You Watch Interstellar"
by Christopher Campbell, Film School Rejects

Sunshine (2007)
"As in Interstellar, the space mission in this Danny Boyle-directed movie is all about saving mankind. Nolan’s version has to do with finding a new residence for the people of a dying Earth while in Sunshine it’s our sun that’s burning out. There are a lot of great reasons to see it, but I mostly recommend it for the performance by Chris Evans, as this was when I realized he was better than the junk he had been starring in. Not that this isn’t a flawed feature, mainly when it comes to a villain in the last act. I felt similarly about the sudden villainy of Interstellar, that I could have done without a bad guy."

Mission to Mars (2000)
"There are even more problems with this Brian De Palma-directed space-mission movie, in which a team heads to the red planet in the hopes that humans can survive there. But its climactic hokeyness has a kind of charm, much like that of Interstellar. Here, sorry to spoil the ending, it’s the meeting of actual Martians, who show the Earthlings that Mars was once habitable until an asteroid hit and they had to evacuate. And we on Earth are the descendants of a 'population bomb' sent to this planet, which is the same method the scientists of Interstellar have planned to further mankind if they can’t save the currently existing human race."

Review of Interstellar: "Nolan gets lost in space"
by Baradwaj Rangan, The Hindu

"It would be easy for Nolan to cash in on his name and keep making sure-fire blockbusters. Instead, he’s made a three-hour film that looks like the love child of Michael Bay and Carl Sagan. And when he wants, he can be an amazing filmmaker. The most stunning stretch of Interstellar, for me, was when Cooper, having decided to go to space, drives away from his home and, as he is driving away, we hear the T-minus countdown, and we cut directly to the space shuttle blasting off. We’ve already spent a good amount of time knowing this man and his love for space travel, and we don’t need any more scenes in between. This is dramatic, economical storytelling.

"But why is it absent elsewhere? Why is there so much flab? Why — when compared to, say, Gravity — are there so few visuals that are truly mind-bending, like the shot of a corpse floating in the sea, or the grave sight of the burnt-out parts of a space station? Looking at the zero-gravity sequences here, I was reminded of Brian De Palma’s Mission to Mars — not a great movie, but it certainly had a great stretch where a character cut himself and the blood streaming out formed wondrous patterns, and later, the leads performed a playful waltz in these conditions. Maybe it’s time Nolan rediscovered some of the breathless playfulness he so wickedly unleashed in The Prestige."

Review of Interstellar: "To Insipidness and Beyond"
by Armond White, National Review Online

"Interstellar never explores colonization, good vs. evil, or metaphysics — not even when Coop gives a watch to his petulant daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy); she tosses the memento in anger, not faith like the rejection of Time in Borzage’s great spiritual tearjerker Three Comrades. Nolan’s parent-child premise becomes a Benjamin Button farce (with Ellen Burstyn reprising her cameo as old Murph from the seniors doc at another point in the film). It lacks the cross-generational, cross-time resonance of that good Jim Caveziel–Dennis Quaid film, Frequency. Brian De Palma’s outward-looking cosmos-politan affirmation in Mission to Mars gets refuted by Nolan’s nuclear-family solipsism. And at the crucial juncture when adult Murph’s (Jessica Chastain) last-ditch efforts to save her family are contrasted with Coop’s, Nolan forgets to intercut the two stories, dragging out another hour. So long panache, adios to 'genius.'

"Critics who follow weak praise for Goodbye to Language with hosannas for Interstellar are disingenuous. You can’t celebrate Godard’s rigorous, ecstatic examination of art and morality and then lead audiences to Nolan’s trite, overblown, unbeautiful, and non-resonant epic. One’s for movie-lovers, the other’s for sheep. When Godard says goodbye to language, the culture represented by Interstellar is what he means."

Posted by Geoff at 1:17 PM CST
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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Posted by Geoff at 10:29 PM CST
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Posted by Geoff at 10:22 PM CST
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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Screen Daily's Jeremy Kay posted from the first day of the American Film Market today, with some news that includes talk of another new project that would team Brian De Palma and Al Pacino. According to Kay, buyers at the film market are "buzzing" about Retribution, a remake of Erik Van Looy's 2003 Belgian thriller De Zaak Alzheimer, which was released in the U.S. in 2005 with the title, The Memory Of A Killer. "Relativity International is understood to be in early talks with acquisitions executives on the story of a hitman and a cop who will go to any length to stop a Philadelphia child prostitution ring," Kay writes. The hitman, who would likely be portrayed by Pacino, appears to be in the early stages of Alzheimer's, according to Roger Ebert's review of the original film. Ebert quotes from Manohla Dargis' New York Times review of the film: "Here is a thriller that asks, Are men essentially good or do they just sometimes forget to be bad?" Both Ebert and Dargis mention Christopher Nolan's Memento in their reviews.

A remake has been in the works since late 2004. According to Screen Daily's Patrick Frater, when the film was still known as The Alzheimer Case, Focus Features bought the rights to an English-language remake. Later on, Philip Martin was listed as director of the project, with Matthew Michaud assigned to adapt the original film's screenplay (which had been written by Van Looy and Carl Joos, from a novel by Jef Geeraerts). Eventually, author Joshua Ferris was listed as a screenwriter on the remake, as well. No screenwriter is mentioned in Kay's article from today, and Kay also states that Relativity International could not be reached to confirm the project as part of its slate.

In writing about the original film almost a decade ago, Ebert mentions a list of actors whose names had been bandied about for the remake:

"Watch Jan Decleir's performance. He never goes for the easy effect, never pushes too hard, is a rock-solid occupant of his character. Everything he has to say about Angelo is embodied, not expressed. By the end, we care so much for him that the real suspense involves not the solution of the crimes but simply his well-being. Talks are already under way for a Hollywood remake of The Memory of a Killer, and the names of many actors have been proposed; the Hollywood Reporter lists De Niro, Caan, Hopper, Hopkins. But this performance will not be easily equaled. Gene Hackman, maybe. Morgan Freeman. Robert Mitchum, if he were alive. Decleir is the real thing."

In early 2009, I posted about two reviews of Van Looy's Loft: Variety's Boyd Van Hoeij wrote that the film features "a nod to Brian De Palma in a standout sequence at a casino." FilmFreak's Alex De Rouck mentions that Van Looy and De Pauw emphatically wink to De Palma "in his Hitchcock period (especially in the long scenes in Dusseldorf and in the casino)."

Van Looy then shot an American remake of that film, starring Karl Urban and James Marsden, in New Orleans in 2011. The film's release was delayed when Joel Silver's Dark Castle production company moved from Warner Bros. to Universal. About a year ago, NOLA.com's Mike Scott quoted Marsden from 2011, talking about the remake: "It's just a great, classic thriller, with shades of Fatal Attraction and the Brian De Palma movies. It's got a little noir to it as well." The Loft is currently scheduled to be released January 23, 2015, three and a half years after it completed shooting.

You may have noticed, in the last day or so, articles popping up on the web with headlines announcing that "HBO has postponed Paterno pic," or items of that nature regarding the other current project between De Palma and Pacino. The source of these headlines is not new-- it simply stems back to Deadline's article from this past September announcing that HBO had suspended pre-production on Happy Valley to work out budget issues and rework the script. So why did all these articles suddenly pop up all over again? Because Page Six's Ian Mohr wanted to report a "source at a MoMA screening" of Amir Bar-Lev’s documentary, which is also called Happy Valley, stating that "Al and De Palma are watching the film to do research on the characters." However, the headline used for the brief post ("Penn State sex scandal movie put on hold by HBO") was picked up and parroted all over the place again.

In fact, it was already known that Pacino had seen and been moved by the Bar-Lev documentary. Shortly before Deadline's HBO announcement, Pacino spoke about the film to two interviewers. Speaking with The Daily Beast's Alex Suskind, Pacino called the documentary a "Stunning movie. And I kept thinking, it’s not the story of Paterno—that’s part of it, but it’s about Happy Valley. And it’s about all of us. It’s the way it’s sort of depicted and the intensity and the thought and how it makes you think. You go feeling one way and you leave and you sort of don’t know what to do."

Pacino also spoke to Vulture's Jada Yuan about it: "Well, for instance, Joe Paterno is a major subject. I really love that documentary they did [Happy Valley]. I found it really powerful. It wasn’t about Paterno, it was about us, our world. And I was responsive to it. So this movie about Paterno, and Brian De Palma is my friend and I love him as a director, I’ve made movies with him. But yeah, we need to find a way to tell this story in a way that has the power and the tragedy that it deserves. So in order to do that, one has to come up with the text. And that’s what we’ve been working toward."

One might be inclined to interpret Pacino's words above to suggest that the documentary may have led to a desire to tweak David McKenna's script a bit more, which may (or may not) be part of the reason for the postponing of pre-production.

A couple of weeks ago, Edward Pressman, who is producing Happy Valley, received the Abu Dhabi Film Festival 2014 career achievement award. That week at the festival, he spoke with The National's Stacie Overton Johnson, who wrote (without using any direct quotes from Pressman) that the film is currently in preproduction and due out next year.

Posted by Geoff at 6:52 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, November 6, 2014 4:25 PM CST
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Sunday, November 2, 2014
Amazon has a new book about Brian De Palma listed for publication on June 1, 2015, from University Press of Mississippi. The book, Brian De Palma's Split-Screen: A Life in Film, is by Douglas Keesey, who has previously written books about several filmmakers and actors, including Taschen books on Paul Verhoeven, Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson, and the Marx Bros., as well as books covering the films of Peter Greenaway and Catherine Breillat. He has also written two books about erotic cinema, and one about Neo-Noir, which focuses on directors such as the Coen Brothers, David Lynch, Michael Mann, Christopher Nolan, Steven Soderbergh, and Quentin Tarantino.

Here is the description of the book from the Amazon listing:
Over the last five decades, the films of director Brian De Palma (b. 1940) have been among the biggest successes (The Untouchables, Mission: Impossible) and the most high-profile failures (The Bonfire of the Vanities) in Hollywood history. De Palma helped launch the careers of such prominent actors as Robert De Niro, John Travolta, and Sissy Spacek (who was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actress in Carrie). Indeed Quentin Tarantino named Blow Out as one of his top three favorite films, praising De Palma as the best living American director. Picketed by feminists protesting its depictions of violence against women, Dressed to Kill helped to create the erotic thriller genre. Scarface, with its over-the-top performance by Al Pacino, remains a cult favorite. In the twenty-first century, De Palma has continued to experiment, incorporating elements from videogames (Femme Fatale), tabloid journalism (The Black Dahlia), YouTube, and Skype (Redacted and Passion) into his latest works. What makes De Palma such a maverick even when he is making Hollywood genre films? Why do his movies often feature megalomaniacs and failed heroes? Is he merely a misogynist and an imitator of Alfred Hitchcock? To answer these questions, author Douglas Keesey takes a biographical approach to De Palma's cinema, showing how De Palma reworks events from his own life into his films. Written in an accessible style, and including a chapter on every one of his films to date, this book is for anyone who wants to know more about De Palma's controversial films or who wants to better understand the man who made them.

Posted by Geoff at 10:13 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, November 2, 2014 10:17 PM CDT
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