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Warren Beatty's
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moving forward

Filmmaker Mike
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Rie Rasmussen
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Mentor Tarantino
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AV Club Review
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James Franco
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& star in
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Coppola on
his recent films:
"What I was
trying to do with
those films was to
make three student
films in order to
try and set a new
trajectory and try to
say, 'Well, what
happens if I have no
resources?' Now, having
done that, my new
work is going to be
much more ambitious
and bigger in scope and
budget and ambition,
but now building on a
new confidence or
assurance. The three
little films were very
useful. I'm glad I did
it. I hope George Lucas
does it, because he
has a wonderful personal
filmmaking ability that
people haven't seen
for a while."

Sean Penn to
direct De Niro
as raging comic
in The Comedian

Scarlett to make
directorial feature
debut with
Capote story

Keith Gordon
teaming up
with C. Nolan for
supernatural
thriller that
he will write
and direct

Recent Headlines
a la Mod:

-Picture emerging
for Happy Valley

-De Palma's new
project with
Said Ben Said

-De Palma to team
with Pacino & Pressman
for Paterno film
Happy Valley

« September 2008 »
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Interviews...

De Palma interviewed
in Paris 2002

De Palma discusses
The Black Dahlia 2006


Enthusiasms...

The Virtuoso
of the 7th Art

The De Palma Touch

The Swan Archives

Carrie...A Fan's Site

Phantompalooza

Paul Schrader

Alfred Hitchcock
The Master Of Suspense

Alfred Hitchcock Films

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a la Mod

Sergio Leone
and the Infield
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The Filmmaker Who
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Jim Emerson on
Greetings & Hi, Mom!

Scarface: Make Way
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The Big Dive
(Blow Out)

Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
Official Web Site

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Welcome to the
Offices of Death Records

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FilmLand Empire

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A Lonely Place

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italkyoubored

Icebox Movies

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So Why This Movie?

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Nothing Is Written

Ferdy on Films

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This Recording

Mike's Movie Guide

Every '70s Movie

Dangerous Minds

EatSleepLiveFilm

No Time For
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The former
De Palma a la Mod
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Friday, September 12, 2008
REPORT FROM TALENT LAB
DE PALMA GIVES "SOLID ADVICE" TO YOUNG FILMMAKERS
Tom Quinn reports that he was honored to be "the first American filmmaker to take part in the Toronto International Film Festival Talent Lab" last week. Quinn provides details of all the guest speakers at the Lab, including Brian De Palma. Of the latter, Quinn writes:

Brian De Palma kicked off the week by reminding us to always be assertive; to seize every opportunity. He spoke of meeting young filmmakers who complained about their lack of money and studio attention, or worse, filmmakers who did not take charge of their own careers. De Palma feels that breakthroughs in video technology over the past 10 years has erased any lingering excuses. "If you can’t go get a digital camera and get some actors together," he asked, "why are you here?" However, his best advice was regarding clear communication on set. "Be careful," he told us, "Not with what you’re saying, but what they’re hearing. Red to one means blue to another." Solid advice.


Posted by Geoff at 7:53 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, September 12, 2008 7:59 PM CDT
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Thursday, September 11, 2008
PHANTOM OUTTAKES
NOW PLAYING AT THE SWAN ARCHIVES
A message from The Swan Archives:

On September 10, 2008, to celebrate Brian De Palma's 68th birthday on the 11th, the Swan Archives website was expanded to include newly-discovered, never-before-seen deleted footage and outtakes from his 1974 masterpiece, "Phantom of the Paradise." This new material is exclusive to the Swan Archives and, we believe, constitutes the most significant Phantom-related archival discovery ever. 
 
The footage includes, for the first time anywhere: 
 
- The entire sequence in the record factory, where Winslow comes out of the record press, runs across the factory, and is shot by the guard. 
 
- Multiple takes of Beef getting the plunger stuffed in his face. 
 
- The original title sequence, as it looked before the film's title was changed from "Phantom" to "Phantom of the Paradise". 
 
- Nearly all the footage that was deleted or modified in the wake of the "Swan Song" dispute, as it looked prior to deletion/modification. 
 
- Two complete takes of Phoenix doing "Special to Me" (including a brief on-camera exchange between Jessica Harper and Mr. De Palma.) 
 
Three complete takes of the Juicy Fruits doing "Goodbye Eddie", including never-before-seen dance steps and other shenanigans. 
 
And, as Winslow might say, "there's more! Much more!" About 30 minutes in all. 
 
Some of the footage can be found at
http://www.swanarchives.org/Production_Outtakes.asp and the rest appears at http://www.swanarchives.org/Production_Fiasco.asp 


Posted by Geoff at 2:20 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, September 11, 2008 2:20 AM CDT
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Wednesday, September 10, 2008
REDACTED AT OLDENBURG FEST
DE PALMA'S LATEST WILL SCREEN SATURDAY & SUNDAY
While Brian De Palma continues his birthday tradition of checking out new films at the Toronto International Film Festival (where he was one of many fest-goers who arrived too late to make it into a packed screening of Bruce McDonald's Pontypool, according to this report from Marguerite Pigott), the director's latest experiment, Redacted, will screen at this weekend's 15th Oldenburg International Film Festival in Germany. This festival, which has been called "the German Sundance," specializes in innovative films and prides itself on gathering the often forgotten mavericks of the past (such as Jim McBride and Michael Wadleigh) together with the young filmmakers of the present. Redacted is scheduled to screen at the fest Saturday (September 13) and Sunday (September 14).

Posted by Geoff at 12:17 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 12:19 PM CDT
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FOUNDAS & WELLS ON HURT LOCKER

Scott Foundas filed a review of The Hurt Locker yesterday from Toronto at his LA Weekly blog: 

[Kathryn] Bigelow's film may not be, in formal terms, as radical and innovative a work as Brian De Palma's Redacted, but it's nevertheless a unique and worthy addition to the canon of cinematic texts about the Iraq campaign — the first, I think, that really tries to understand what motivates the men (and in Bigelow's army, there are only men) who join a volunteer military in times of war. It also happens to be a first-class piece of visceral action moviemaking...

The Hurt Locker saves its most inspired strokes for last, when Renner returns home after his tour of duty and Bigelow, in a 10-minute sequence of pure cinema, creates a more palpable sense of the disorientation experienced by many a combat vet suddenly extracted from the war zone than Stop-Loss managed in its entirety. Finally, as Toronto hits the half-way mark, here is another movie worth getting excited about.

WELLS ANGRY ABOUT BUYER WARINESS
Jeffrey Wells is also raving from Toronto about The Hurt Locker:

The Hurt Locker is absolutely a classic war film in the tradition of Platoon, The Thin Red Line, Pork Chop Hill, Paths of Glory and the last 25% of Full Metal Jacket, and it damn well better be acquired by someone and set for release sometime between now and 12.31. Because I'm getting tired of this shit.

Something is very wrong with life, the world, human nature and the film business when a movie this knock-down good is still hunting for distribution. I'm obviously aware of all the Iraq War films that died last year but this movie is something else. You don't shun movies like this. If you're a distributor and that's your judgment -- walk away, we can't sell it, we'll lose our shirts -- then you need to get out of the movie business and start selling refrigerators or cars. A buyer told me a little while ago that it only cost about $15 million or less. How could the numbers not work?

...I don't want to reveal too much here, but the only thing that didn't feel quite right was a close-to-the-end sequence when Renner goes home to his (divorced?) wife and kid, and right away we can spot the familiar syndrome of the war veteran who can't quite settle down and groove with a midle-class, comforts-of-home lifestyle. I don't want to register a major complaint about this; it doesn't work against the film as much as it fails to add anything significant. This is probably the best film I've seen at the Toronto Film Festival so far.

The Hurt Locker has since been picked up for U.S. distribution by Summit Entertainment.


Posted by Geoff at 11:30 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 1:36 PM CDT
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Sunday, September 7, 2008
IRAQ-WAR FILMS TRY AGAIN
BIGELOW, BURGER, DICAPRIO & SCOTT

I've been following the trail of Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker with much anticipation as it premiered at Venice last week, and moves on to Toronto next week. According to the U.K.'s Metro, Bigelow was asked at the Venice press conference how she felt about the troops returning home from Iraq. "I hope and pray that that is imminent, meaning immediately. I would like to see that happen. I think with a change of administration that's possible. But only one man is capable of doing that and that's Mr Barack Obama." (According to Bob Woodward, interviewed on CBS' 60 Minutes tonight, George W. Bush's advice regarding Iraq to whoever takes over the presidency is, "Don't let it fail.") Regarding Bigelow's The Hurt Locker, Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeffrey Wells has reviewed the reviews and finds that Variety's pan of the film ("War may be hell, but watching war movies can also be hell, especially when they don't get to the point," writes Variety's Derek Elley) is at curious odds with every other rave review of the film Wells has read or heard first-hand. The bottom line from the Hollywood Reporter's Deborah Young? "War made exciting."

Young writes in her review that "Hurt Locker's refusal to take a moral stance on the war should widen its audience to the U.S. military, while lowering its chance for a a major festival prize." (Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler won the Golden Lion at Venice-- can't wait to see that!) The Hollywood Reporter's Steven Zeitchik wrote an article for the site's Risky Business blog quoting publicists of various upcoming Iraq-themed films who say that, after the low box office of last year's Iraq-war films, they are doing everything they can to avoid using the work "Iraq" when promoting these films. Neil Burger's The Lucky Ones (the promising trailer for which you can watch at the top of this post), about three soldiers returning from the Gulf who end up renting a car together on the way home, will premiere at Toronto this Wednesday. Howard Cohen of Roadside Attractions, the company distributing the film, told Zeitchik that "'Iraq' is a dirty word in film marketing right now."

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times today ran a joint interview with Tony Scott and Leonardo DiCaprio about their upcoming Body Of Lies, which they both think, according to the article by Chris Lee, "will be the Iraq-war movie that finally draws a crowd." Lee writes that the film (which will open October 10) "presents the most stinging screen portrayal of American foreign policy by any Hollywood studio movie in recent memory. DiCaprio portrays Roger Ferris, an idealistic field agent operating out of Iraq and Jordan who resorts to elaborate subterfuge -- concocting a fictitious sleeper cell and staging a mock bombing -- to flush a terrorist mastermind out into the open." Lee writes:

It's a deliberate throwback to Nixon-era conspiracy thrillers, films that spotlighted American political skulduggery and corruption. "To make a highly intelligent film with today's politics: That was the objective," DiCaprio said. "This movie could -- not necessarily say something about the state of the world, but -- take grasp of where we are in history right now."

Arriving in the climactic days of an election year, however, at a time when public fatigue with war on two fronts is at an all-time high, Body of Lies might be a hard sell. As DiCaprio and Scott seem only too aware, a spate of earlier films set in and around the social fallout of the Iraq war -- Rendition, Stop-Loss, The Kingdom and In the Valley of Elah -- failed to connect with audiences.

"It is a failed subject matter in the sense that none of those films has been successful," DiCaprio said. "But whether [Body of Lies] was going to be commercial or not was never a factor. It's the opportunity that we get to make this movie. You feel lucky to get to do it. The audience can get involved while simultaneously getting insight into what the United States is doing in the Middle East."

Scott was more blunt. "Do I think it's a commercial movie? My gut tells me it's a commercial movie," he said. "I think a lot of those Iraq war movies were jingoistic. This one isn't jingoistic. The audiences smell that."


Posted by Geoff at 7:07 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, September 8, 2008 9:13 AM CDT
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Posted by Geoff at 5:25 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, September 7, 2008 5:25 PM CDT
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Holland & Koepp Nest Fest Reviews
GENOVA EVOKES ROEG'S DON'T LOOK NOW
Willa Holland is pictured here at last night's premiere for Middle Of Nowhere, one of two features she has premiering at this year's Toronto International Film Festival. We haven't seen any reviews yet for that film, but Michael Rechtshaffen at the Hollywood Reporter has filed a review of Holland's other Toronto film, Michael Winterbottom's Genova. While Rechtshaffen does not single out any specific evaluation of Holland in his positive review of the film, he does mention "fine performances," and states that Colin Firth is "well-cast." More interestingly, Rechtshaffen writes, "With Italy providing an evocative backdrop, not to mention an unsettling vibe that intentionally evokes Nicolas Roeg's 1973 classic, Don't Look Now, the tautly-choreographed, effectively acted film shouldn't have any trouble finding a distributor despite the generally downbeat tone." Interesting that the film stars Firth and evokes the Roeg film with its Italian setting, because Don't Look Now was one of the reasons Brian De Palma wanted to make Toyer, which was to star Firth, in Venice. There are many (including myself) who still hope De Palma's Toyer will get made someday.

KOEPP COMEDY A MODEST AFFAIR
Screen Daily has filed the first review of David Koepp's new film, Ghost Town, which premiered a couple of days ago at the Toronto fest. Calling it "a minor studio comedy," the review states that Koepp "has a light touch with the comic material and actors, and there's a sweetness to the supernatural storyline that gives the film its heart." Jeffrey Wells writes elsewhere that Ghost Town is "a playful mainstream studio wanker that has no business being in Toronto, really, except to satisfy the ambitions of its distributor, Paramount Pictures." Koepp collaborated with De Palma on a trio of films in the '90s: Carlito's Way, Mission: Impossible, and Snake Eyes.

LINKLATER PRESENTS A "DAZZLING" WELLES
Also of interest at Toronto, Richard Linklater's Me And Orson Welles has been reviewed by Screen Daily's Allan Hunter as "a sweetly entertaining putting-on-a-show period drama that celebrates a defining moment in the life of American theatre and one of its most iconoclastic stars." Hunter is particularly taken with Linklater's casting in the role of Orson Welles, writing:

If you are going to make a film about Orson Welles then you need an actor who can provide a brilliant impersonation of this colossus of the New York stage. They have found such an actor in Christian McKay who gives a superlative performance. He captures both the look and sound of Welles, convincing in every aspect from his sing song cadences to the mischievous twinkle that dances in his eyes. It is a performance that achieves the same kind of verisimilitude and depth that earned Philip Seymour Hoffman plaudits and a Best Actor Oscar for Capote.


Posted by Geoff at 4:10 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, September 7, 2008 5:02 PM CDT
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Friday, September 5, 2008
DE PALMA IS AT TORONTO FEST
DIRECTOR IS GUEST AT TALENT LAB
Brian De Palma had to cancel his master class at this year's Montreal Film Festival due to "serious dental surgery," also referred to as "killer dental surgery," and also as just plain old "crazy dental surgery." But we're happy to report that De Palma has safely made it to another of his regular festivals, the Toronto International Film Festival, where the director is a guest at this year's Talent Lab. De Palma, pictured top left in front of participants at the lab yesterday with Talent Lab governor Don McKellar (a multi-hat Canadian filmmaker who most recently wrote and acted in Fernando Meirelles' upcoming Blindness), has participated in the lab multiple times over the past few years. It is there that he met producers Simone Urdl and Jennifer Weiss, who produced Redacted and will produce two more upcoming De Palma features. At right, De Palma is pictured with fellow Talent Lab guest, actress Samira Makhmalbaf, at last night's Talent Lab dinner.

WILLA HAS 'STAR QUALITY'


As mentioned in my post yesterday, not only will De Palma's friend and collaborator David Koepp be at the Toronto fest with a new film, but so will De Palma's step daughter, Willa Holland. Holland has two films premiering at this year's fest, and one of them has received a rave from Baz Bamigboye, a columnist for the U.K.'s Daily Mail. Bamigboye is quite taken with Holland, writing that the camera loves her, and that Michael Winterbottom's Genova shows that she is "blessed with star quality." Bamigboye writes, "There's a scene where she's riding pillion on a Vespa, the camera lingers a while on her face and we see the sense of panic, fear and grief she must be going through. I just hope this gifted young actress is allowed to continue to make brilliant choices." One of Holland's costars in Genova is Colin Firth, who earlier this decade was prepared to make a film with De Palma that has never yet panned out: Toyer, an adaptation of the play by Gardner McKay that De Palma wanted to make with Firth and Juliette Binoche, transfering its setting from Los Angeles to Venice. De Palma had written the screenplay himself, and it was reported that Ted Tally had worked on a revision, but the timing (Venice in the winter) never quite worked out for everyone involved.

Posted by Geoff at 10:51 AM CDT
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Thursday, September 4, 2008
Film Fest Items of Interest

KOEPP & HOLLAND AT TORONTO, HURT LOCKER IN VENICE


David Koepp's latest film as director, Ghost Town, will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival tomorrow. While the new film, which Koepp cowrote with John Camps, shares certain supernatural themes with Koepp's previous directorial outings, this one is a comedy that stars Ricky Gervais, Greg Kinnear, and Téa Leoni.

Also premiering at the Toronto fest this weekend will be two new films featuring Brian De Palma's step daughter, Willa Holland. Holland stars alongside Colin Firth and Catherine Keener in Michael Winterbottom's Genova, and also stars with Susan Sarandon in John Stockwell's Middle Of Nowhere. Holland will also appear on TV's Gossip Girl this fall.

Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker will also appear at Toronto, but it makes its world premiere today at Venice. At the Venice press conference today, according to Variety, Bigelow said of the film, "My interest was to give this conflict a human face, and to enable the audience to actually experience what a soldier experiences, based on personal observation from the battlefield." Screenwriter Marc Boal described the film as "primarily observational, as opposed to polemical." Boal added, "It's almost a dirty little secret of war that, as horrible as it is, there are some men who through the intensity of the experience come to find it alluring."


Posted by Geoff at 11:41 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, September 8, 2008 9:09 AM CDT
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Sunday, August 31, 2008
Howell on The Hurt Locker


The Toronto Star's Peter Howell has an early review of Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker, in anticipation of the film's screenings at this year's Toronto International Film Festival September 8 and 10 (prior to that, Bigelow's film will have its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival this Thursday, September 4th). The Hurt Locker was written by Mark Boal, whose 2004 Playboy article Death and Dishonor was the source for the Paul Haggis film In The Valley Of Elah. Howell states that with this new film, Bigelow "can add titan of suspense to her laurels. If you can sit through The Hurt Locker without your heart nearly pounding through your chest, you must be made of granite."

Howell begins his review by stating, "Just when you think the battle of Iraq war dramas has been fought and lost, along comes one that demands to be seen – if you can handle the raging adrenaline. Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker strips the Iraqi conflict of politics and brings it right down to the garbage-strewn pavement, where lives are saved through skill and nerve but lost through bad luck and malevolence." Elsewhere in the review, Howell writes, "Testosterone flows non-stop and so does blood, but these macho men are just getting the job done. In so doing, they reveal much about themselves and also deliver some home truths about the Iraqi quagmire. This is no message movie, yet insights abound."


Posted by Geoff at 1:00 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, September 8, 2008 9:09 AM CDT
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