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a la Mod:

De Palma on Domino
"It was not recut.
I was not involved
in the ADR, the
musical recording
sessions, the final
mix or the color
timing of the
final print."

Listen to
Donaggio's full score
for Domino online

De Palma/Lehman
rapport at work
in Snakes

Washington Post
review of Keesey book

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Exclusive Passion
Interviews:

Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
Leila Rozario

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AV Club Review
of Dumas book

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Entries by Topic
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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Tuesday, July 7, 2020
JUSTIN CHANG ON MORRICONE & 'MISSION TO MARS'
"IT'S THE MUSIC YOU MIGHT EXPECT TO HEAR AS YOUR LIFE FLASHES BEFORE YOUR EYES"
http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/m2mspacewalk1.jpg

Posted yesterday afternoon at the Los Angeles Times, Justin Chang's "Appreciation: ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ to ‘The Untouchables’: Ennio Morricone made music a movie star" begins rather unexpectedly:
It’s hard for me to recall the most vivid moments in “Mission to Mars,” Brian De Palma’s outer-space drama from 2000, without hearing the great music of Ennio Morricone.

That probably isn’t how you expected this to begin, but then, Morricone had a thing for unusual overtures, so bear with me. At one point in “Mission to Mars,” the astronaut characters maneuver their way through the vast emptiness of space — a moment of visual awe to which Morricone supplies a lyrical counterpoint that is at once weirdly playful and hauntingly spare. He helps transfigure the scene from a purely technical endeavor into a kind of weightless dance, a zero-gravity ballet. And when the adventure reaches its climax, Morricone rises to his own peak of spiritual and emotional extravagance — a mighty convergence of strings, celestial voices and insistently brassy melody. It’s the music you might expect to hear as your life flashes before your eyes.

Critically scorned upon release, “Mission to Mars” may not be the picture that springs most readily to mind when we think of this great Italian maestro turned Hollywood legend, who died Monday at the age of 91. If we must think of a “Mission” movie, surely it should be Roland Joffé’s “The Mission” (1986), a historical epic perhaps most fondly remembered today for Morricone’s lush oboe themes, as well as his clever dialectic of classical European and indigenous South American instruments. And if we must invoke one of Morricone’s signature scores for De Palma, one of his favorite collaborators, surely it should be “The Untouchables” (1987), which sets an old-timey underworld mood from the outset — all those low, sinister five-note progressions, timed to a succession of quick, metronomic pulses.

You surely have your own well-worn favorites. But Morricone was a dizzyingly prolific and madly inventive artist, and his career, during which he scored more than 500 films, is much more than a compendium of the obvious and the iconic. Any appreciation at this early stage will but scratch the surface of a mighty edifice that spanned nearly 70 years and ran from giallo horror flicks to classic westerns, and which could apply itself, with equal passion, to the most restless experimentation and the most sentimental bathos. The famously outspoken Morricone certainly had his own singular view of what constituted his best and worst work, and was never afraid to fly in the face of public opinion.


In the article, Chang describes further how Morricone's music is linked to the movies he composed for. "Listen to any Morricone score and 'accompaniment,' a word that critics sometimes default to when writing about film music, starts to feel even less adequate than usual," Chang states. "The effect of his work was not simply to achieve an ideal, harmonious balance of sound and image; he was a far more demonstrative artist than that. More often than not, he seemed all too willing to challenge the image, to draw out the image to languorous extremes, to pummel the image into lyrical submission."

Toward the end of the article, Chang mentions several filmmaking collaborators and the Academy Awards before bringing it back to Mission To Mars:

The Morricone signature is present even in his more restrained, less demonstrative scores for pictures like Gillo Pontecorvo’s “The Battle of Algiers” (1966). In that masterwork of ripped-from-the-headlines realism, Morricone’s terse, electrifying percussion seems to merge with the pounding footfalls of soldiers marching up and down the steps of the casbah. But the effect is entirely different when you watch a film like Marco Bellocchio’s 1965 debut feature, “Fists in the Pocket,” a startling angry-young-man portrait that finds an exquisite contrast in Morricone’s crooning, tinkling lullabies.

He wrote much of his music for films directed by fellow Italian artists, among them Bellocchio, Bernardo Bertolucci, Lina Wertmüller, Sergio Corbucci, Dario Argento and Pier Paolo Pasolini, whose transgressive magnum opus, “Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom,” proved a fascinating if far-from-intuitive fit. At the opposite extreme was perhaps the composer’s most frequent collaborator, Giuseppe Tornatore, whose “Cinema Paradiso,” a soft-bellied ode to the magic of movies, might not have been the Oscar-winning art-house favorite it became without Morricone’s gently treacly imprint.

He earned one of his six Academy Award nominations for original score for Tornatore’s “Malèna” (2000), a choice that is viewed most charitably, in retrospect, as a sign of just how revered Morricone had become in Hollywood. It also revealed how eager the motion picture academy was to recognize him after nominating him for his superior work on Terrence Malick’s glorious “Days of Heaven” (1978), “The Mission,” “The Untouchables” and Barry Levinson’s “Bugsy” (1991).

He received an honorary Oscar in 2007, placing him in the company of numerous other venerated artists who were given the academy’s ultimate consolation prize. But Morricone would triumph on his own terms eight years later, finally earning his first and only scoring Oscar, for Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” (2015) — and becoming, at that point, the oldest winner of a competitive award in Academy Awards history.

While that particular score may not rank among his best work, there is something undeniably poignant about Morricone getting his successful final boost from Tarantino, who spent much of his career so lovingly and lavishly quoting the maestro’s greatest hits in movies like “Kill Bill” and “Django Unchained.” Tarantino knew that Morricone’s music was something primal and even physical in its presence, something that seemed to bubble out of the landscape itself. And those landscapes could be as different as a dust-choked Leone desert or the deadly Antarctic tundra of John Carpenter’s “The Thing” (1982) — or, yes, the vast expanse of De Palma’s outer space, one of many cinematic cosmos that Morricone colonized with his own limitless sense of possibility.



Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Monday, July 6, 2020
ENNIO MORRICONE HAS DIED AT 91
LEGENDARY COMPOSER WROTE SCORES FOR DE PALMA'S UNTOUCHABLES, CASUALTIES OF WAR, MISSION TO MARS
http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/morriconered.jpg

Ennio Morricone died early this morning in Rome after falling and suffering a hip fracture. He was 91.

Morricone was extremely prolific and simply one of the best composers of film music that ever lived. His scores are innovative and often unforgettable. His propulsive "Strength of the Righteous" theme for Brian De Palma's The Untouchables is as striking now as it was in 1987. Just hearing Morricone's music for Casualties Of War brings De Palma to tears. The music Morricone provided for De Palma's Mission To Mars is truly inspired-- full of mystery and emotion, tangling hope and fear within a simple yet daringly otherwordly symphony of suspense. There's nothing else like it.

 


Posted by Geoff at 8:24 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, July 6, 2020 6:26 PM CDT
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Saturday, July 4, 2020
FULL MOON PROJECTIONS
WITH PARTIAL LUNAR ECLIPSE
http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/blowoutconspiracy4a.jpg

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Sunday, July 5, 2020 1:20 AM CDT
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Friday, July 3, 2020
PODCAST - RENA OWEN CHOOSES TO DISCUSS 'CARRIE'
"THIS WAS THE FIRST MOVIE...AT THE TENDER AGE OF 14...THAT MADE ME JUMP OUT OF MY CHAIR"
http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/renaowencarrie.jpg

Actress Rena Owen was invited to choose a horror movie to discuss for the latest episode of the Scream Addicts Podcast, and she chose Brian De Palma's Carrie. "This was the first movie in my lifetime, at the tender age of fourteen, that made me jump out of my chair," she tells the podcast host, Jinx. Here's the podcast description of the episode:
This week on Scream Addicts, Jinx welcomes Rena Owen to the show.

An actor known for her incredible performance in the 1994 Kiwi classic Once Were Warriors, as well as being one of only 6 actors in the world to have worked with both George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg during her illustrious career that spans 3 decades, Ms. Owen has chosen Brian De Palma’s 1976 Stephen King adaptation Carriefor discussion this week.

Ms. Owen and Jinx discuss their initial experiences with the film, how the film’s look at bullying still resonates, and the film’s indelible performances. Along the way, we chat about Ms. Owen’s overall opinion of the horror genre, the blessing and curse of an actor being inextricably linked to an iconic role, and…why Jinx doesn’t much care for De Palma’s direction?! [*note: Jinx states that he likes De Palma as a director, but in Carrie, he wonders if De Palma's p.o.v. runs counter to the viewpoint of a high school girl, etc. Owen says she would have to watch it again to pay attention to that perspective. For more on that perspective, see/listen to Karyn Kusama discussing Carrie on Kingcast: "I don't know, personally, the movie has such a sort of florid sensuousness that to me it's like the female in De Palma directed that movie."]


Posted by Geoff at 5:56 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, July 3, 2020 5:57 PM CDT
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Thursday, July 2, 2020
DAVID KOEPP POSTS SCRIPT ARCHIVE ONLINE
SCREENPLAYS FOR MR HUGHES, BLACKWATER, SAFE HOUSE, CARITO'S WAY, SNAKE EYES, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, MORE
http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/snakeeyesapril1997b.jpg

David Koepp has posted several of his screenplays in the "Script Archive" section of his website, DavidKoepp.com. Along with multiple drafts of his screenplays for Snake Eyes, Carlito's Way, and Mission: Impossible, Koepp has included three unproduced screenplays that he had worked on with Brian De Palma: Blackwater ("Strange piece me and DePalma came up with that I was going to direct. Too strange, turns out."); The Safe House ("Early version of Blackwater. Too dark, too creepy, too impenetrable for mass taste. Plus, guess what? Mental illness isn’t for entertainment purposes, it’s real and painful as hell. Glad I grew up."); and Mr. Hughes ("Oh, how I love this Howard Hughes / Clifford Irving story DePalma and I came up with. Inches away from making this with Nic Cage, but then Snake Eyes came out and wasn’t a hit, and we were dead. It be’s like that sometimes.")

At the top of the Script Archive page, Koepp explains:

Here’s a couple dozen movies I wrote, in various stages of their evolution as scripts. Most of these managed to get produced, but were some unfairly neglected due to the insensitivity of the cinematic establishment, or were they just bad scripts? Judge for yourself. I think some of them are good, some of them are not, but I know all of them taught me something. Hope they might be helpful for you too.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Sunday, July 5, 2020 10:00 AM CDT
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Wednesday, July 1, 2020
'PHANTOM' HAUNTS OUTDOOR SCREENS AS SUMMER HITS
WINNIPEG DRIVE-IN LAST NIGHT, AND PARKING LOT WALL THIS FRIDAY IN VERMONT
http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/andreanakasato2.jpg

As Andrea Nakasato shares this fantastic new Phantom Of The Paradise illustration on Instagram, the film itself is back on big screens of the outdoor variety this week. In Winnipeg, Brian De Palma's film played at the Winnipeg Richardson International Airport Economy Lot Tuesday night as part of the CAA Summer Drive-In Series. On Instagram, Melanie Brohm wrote, "First time seeing Phantom of the Paradise!! This movie has such a cult following in Winnipeg that in the 24yrs that I’ve lived here I could never get a ticket. The dark clouds, rain and lightening just added to the drama." Meggie Deleau, who was also there, said on her Instagram post that "it was legit magical. There was a thunderstorm while it was playing and it just added to it in the best way."

Meanwhile, in Brattleboro, Vermont, Phantom Of The Paradise will kick off an outdoor movie series at Backlot Cinema, "a safe, socially-distanced outdoor cinema." Epsilon Spires will turn its parking lot into a space where people can watch films projected onto its large outside wall. Friday night is billed as "Glam Rock a Go-Go," and the De Palma feature will be preceeded by short films by Tom Rubnitz & Rebecca Erin Moran.

"Sometimes, severe limitations can inspire truly innovative ideas," Epsilon Spires art curator Jessamyn Fiore said in a press release, according to The Commons. "Turns out the answer was right in front of us — or rather in back of us!” she said — “a big parking lot with a large wall that can support a sizable film screen — the essentials for an open-air cinema."


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Sunday, July 5, 2020 10:13 AM CDT
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Monday, June 29, 2020
SHE'S ON FIRE
ILLUSTRATION BY XAVIER ONRUBIA, FLATMATE STUDIO
http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/shesonfireflatmate2.jpg

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, June 30, 2020 1:55 AM CDT
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Sunday, June 28, 2020
ANDREW STEVENS ON MAKING 'THE FURY'
SWIMMING COMPETITION WITH KIRK DOUGLAS, DE PALMA SAID TO ANDREWS, "SLOW DOWN, SLOW DOWN"
http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/furyfatherson.jpg

Andrew Stevens was asked by filmmaker Paul Kyriazi to talk a bit about making The Boys in Company C and The Fury. Stevens responded with a brief video (below), which Kyriazi posted to his YouTube channel two days ago. Here's what Stevens says in the video about The Fury:
As soon as I got back to the states, I had auditioned years before for these guys I'd never heard of named George Lucas and Brian De Palma. And they were casting together two little movies... this weird Star Wars movie that I thought made no sense, and a movie called Carrie, which was actually appropriate for me and my age at the time. But De Palma elected to go with William Katt and Sissy Spacek, who were a half a generation older than me. But he had remembered me, and I got an audition for this movie called The Fury. And he actually booked me for the role. The problem was, I was under contract to Universal Studios, and I had to get permission to be loaned out from Universal to 20th Century Fox. And the studio just paid me my rudimentary, probably $500 a week, and negotiated a big salary for me on The Fury, and took all the money. But what complicated matters was that I was shooting an NBC Universal series at the time called The Oregon Trail, and we were in Flagstaff, Arizona. So the studios worked together, Universal and Fox, to work out a schedule, and I bounced back and forth continually from Flagstaff, Arizona to Los Angeles, Chicago, and ultimately Israel, where we shot The Fury.

Kirk Douglas couldn't have been nicer. He was warm, he was embracing, he was paternal, he had no attitude whatsoever. And when I really saw the grandeur of his iconic celebrity was when we got to Israel, and he was the biggest star in the world in Israel. [Andrews mimics an Israeli accent] "Kirk Douglas! Kirk Douglas!" Because Kirk Douglas was Jewish, and he was revered and loved by all Israelis. And he was like... imagine traveling with The Beatles, and still, he was... he was gregarious, he was not reclusive, he was inclusive. And when we shot a whole sequence in Caesarea-- we originally based in Tel Aviv, and then went to Caesarea where we shot the terrorist sequence where I think my dad's been killed, and John Cassavetes whisks me away-- and Kirk and I had sort of a swimming competition [starts laughing] I remember that when we got in the ocean and we were racing in to shore, actually, I was beating Kirk Douglas, and De Palma said, "Slow down, slow down." He said, "You can't win, and at the most, you have to tie."

So, but it was a great scene, sitting around this table there. De Palma set a dolly track that was 180 degree semi-circle, and we shot the scene in one take. We did several takes of this particular one-take, but there were no cuts in that scene where we're eating and talking, and then Cassavetes comes over, I think I go to the men's room or whatever, and then all hell breaks loose.



Posted by Geoff at 8:30 PM CDT
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Thursday, June 25, 2020
'I JUST HAD AN INSTINCT ABOUT IT' - DE PALMA & 'PASSION'
"THE THING ABOUT SPLIT SCREEN IS: IT'S KIND OF A MEDITATIVE FORM"
http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/passionsplitnew2.jpg

I found myself watching Passion the other night, thinking I was just going to watch the opening scenes. As happens often when I start watching a Brian De Palma film, pure enjoyment takes over, and I kept watching. The split screen sequence in Passion was just as mesmerizing and surreal as I'd remembered.

Then, today, I came across a quote from an interview with De Palma in the New York Times, published upon the release of Passion. For the article, Nicolas Rapold had wanted to sit with De Palma while the two viewed clips from older films that inspired parts of Passion, but De Palma playfully suggested they watch clips from his own films instead, saying, "I could only refer to my own films. Nobody does this but me."

As they watch the split screen sequence from De Palma's Sisters, De Palma tells Rapold, "The thing about split screen is: It’s a kind of meditative form. You can go very slowly with it, because there’s a lot to look at. People are making juxtapositions in their mind. And you can have all this exposition mumbo jumbo on one side."

The part of the quote that stuck with me was that split screen is "kind of a meditative form." It strikes me that De Palma's use of split screen has gotten more and more meditative in his later films: from the juxtapositions of fictions and truth in the complex split screen machinations of Snake Eyes, to the where-are-we-now and who's-watching-who blender of surveillance, thievery, and art in the split screen sequence from Femme Fatale. And then there is the split screen in Passion, which is so oddly beautiful and eerie at the same time. Rapold and De Palma watch that sequence for the article, as well:

Some filmmakers claim not to watch their own films, or say they only see the mistakes. Mr. De Palma displayed no such qualms as he pored over the split-screen sequence in “Passion.”

On the right-hand side, Ms. McAdams as Christine goes about her business after a party at home, showering undisturbed.

“I told her, ‘Just get yourself ready,’ and she could make that as long or as short as she wanted,” Mr. De Palma said. “I would just cut it.”

On the left, as the ballet unfolds, the image cuts from a tight close-up on Ms. Rapace’s eyes to the duet in progress. The piece is Jerome Robbins’s version of “Afternoon of a Faun,” in which a couple dance as if facing the mirrored wall of a studio. In Mr. De Palma’s hands, that means they’re looking dead into the camera.

Meanwhile, somebody’s now in Christine’s house.

“You’re lulling the audience,” Mr. De Palma said of the combination of sequences. “I had no idea how it would work. I just had an instinct about it. This is your very typical point-of-view murderer shot, but here juxtaposed against this beautiful ballet.”

The dance grows more intimate. Christine’s stalker comes closer. Art on the left, death on the right.

“And then whack!” he exclaimed.

It was a resounding end to the scene, but just another step in Mr. De Palma’s nightmarish world of suspense.



Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Friday, June 26, 2020 12:49 AM CDT
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Tuesday, June 23, 2020
BIBBIANI ON 'BODY DOUBLE' & BEST HORROR FILMS OF '84
"MELANIE GRIFFITH CHALLENGES ALL EXPECTATIONS IN HER PERFORMANCE"
http://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/bdhottipsmall.jpg

At Bloody Disgusting yesterday, William Bibbiani posted an article with the headline, "Things of the Past: The 14 Best Horror Movies of 1984!" The list includes Brian De Palma's Body Double.

"There’s an alternate reality out there in which we’re all at the multiplex, or at least able to go, and watching all of the big blockbusters that were originally scheduled to come out in the summer of 2020," Wonder Woman 1984, we can still go back to 1984 and watch all the movies that would have been playing in theaters while Wonder Woman was fighting supervillains."

Bibbiani's alphabetical list also includes Joe Dante's Gremlins, Neil Jordan's The Company of Wolves, Tim Burton's short film, Frankenweenie, Wes Craven's A Nightmare On Elm Street, and several others. Here's what Bibbiani says about Body Double:

Brian De Palma’s lurid pastiche of Hitchcock’s Rear Window, Vertigo and Dial M for Murder stars Craig Wasson (A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors) as a sad-sack struggling actor who takes a housesitting gig and falls in love with a beautiful neighbor through a telescope, watching her as she seductively dances at night. His late night voyeurism makes him the only witness to her brutal murder, but the plot takes a bizarre turn when he notices that a famous porn star named Holly Body, played by a never-better Melanie Griffith, has the exact same sensual dance routine in her films.

The creepy psychosexual subtext of Hitchcock’s films is laid bare, front and center, in De Palma’s Body Double, a film which showcases some of the most ambitious and playful camerawork of the director’s career. Even when it’s not shockingly violent Body Double still feels shocking, as Wasson’s hapless protagonist discovers the depths of his own obsessions and the bizarre lengths he will go to in order to seduce the woman (women?) of his dreams. Meanwhile, Melanie Griffith challenges all expectations in her performance, revealing Holly Body to be as complete, as radical, and as intriguing a character as any in De Palma’s filmography.


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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