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Sunday, October 26, 2008
REDACTED OPENS IN JAPAN

AND AT CARTHAGE FILM FEST IN TUNISIA
Brian De Palma's Redacted opened yesterday in Japan. The Japan Times ran a review of the film by Giovanni Fazio, who discussed the effect of De Palma's juggling of forms within the film:

The effect is a little jarring: Some 10 minutes into the film, the tone shifts so wildly — from a shakily shot barracks video to a stately documentary, complete with voice-over and classical soundtrack — that I thought the wrong film had been dubbed onto the DVD preview copy.

This jumble of perspectives seems intentional: half a prosecutor's assemblage of evidence of a crime, half a reminder that the war's big picture remains on the fringes and can only be glimpsed by sifting the miasma of Web videos. The media, De Palma is quite clear in pointing out, are not doing their job of showing us the reality on the ground in Iraq.

Redacted will also screen this Friday (October 31st) as part of the 22nd Carthage Film Festival in Tunisia. The fest began October 25th, and runs through November 1st.


Posted by Geoff at 12:45 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, October 27, 2008 9:55 AM CDT
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Armond White on Changeling


From the New York Press:

By some unaccountable phenomena, Clint Eastwood’s Changeling resembles a Spike Lee movie. It starts with a simple premise: single mother Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie) asks police to find her pre-teen son gone missing in 1928 Los Angeles. Then, like Lee, Eastwood piles on extraneous, aggravating subplots: a corrupt police force (“The Gun Squad”) manipulating Christine’s misfortune; her sexist exploitation by both the rabid media and opportunistic radio evangelist Rev. Gustav Briegleb (John Malkovich); bogus psychiatry practiced by a menacing shrink (Dennis O’Hare) who terrorizes Christine in a mental institution. Plus, Eastwood’s usual film-noir furbelows: His favorite hues are green and darkness. The only red in the entire film is Jolie’s 3-D lipstick.

For these reasons, Changeling isn’t suspenseful: It’s creepy. Lacking the historical veracity of De Palma’s Black Dahlia, its style is a bizarre form of old-school storytelling, mixing masochistic dread with ugly reportage. The opening credit, “A True Story,” is an immediate bad omen. Fact and fiction are tools that Eastwood uses, like Lee, for a shrewd form of demography. Critic Gregory Solman long ago suggested that Eastwood works both sides of the aisle: Jolie plays a pre-feminist martyr surrounded by men who simultaneously represent conservative repression (the cops) and sentimentality (the Rev.). Eastwood also agitates by throwing in serial-killer episodes that lapse into gruesome pedophilia—including a set of child performances that are the least convincing since Jake Lloyd in The Phantom Menace.


Posted by Geoff at 12:07 PM CDT
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Thursday, October 23, 2008
Whose Endorsing Who?

POLITICS AS ENTERTAINMENT AS POLITICS
The above photo is posted at Eric Harvey's Marathonpacks with the caption, "A Brian De Palma film waiting to happen." The photo, apparently snapped from in front of a television screen, shows Sarah Palin entering on the left, while Tina Fey, impersonating Palin, exits to the right during the opening segment of last Saturday's Saturday Night Live. Harvey rants that both Saturday Night Live and "politics" treat politics "less as a contest of ideas than as a cast of characters," and he mentions Oliver Stone's just-released W. as another instance where a cast of characters, some reprising their roles from a dozen years earlier, seem to have taken over our collective stream of politics.

Meanwhile, over at the Huffington Post, Michael Showalter cites James Ellroy's L.A. Confidential to explain why he thinks Palin keeps using the tough-to-pronounce word "Ahmadinejad" to con her audiences into thinking that she is making sense. Palin then leads Showalter to think of The Bonfire Of The Vanities:

With the latest revelation that Sarah Palin has spent more than four times what Joe the Plumber makes in a year, $175,000 to be exact, on her wardrobe so far, I couldn't help but thinking of another book: The Bonfire Of The Vanities. I also thought of the movie, or to be more exact, the making of the movie. The making of the movie version of Bonfire of the Vanities as detailed in the book The Devil's Candy by Julie Salamon is the story of a pretty good idea that became a really, really bad idea really fast. I think that the publisher's comments sum it up well: "When Brian De Palma agreed to allow Julie Salamon unlimited access to the film production of Tom Wolfe's best-selling The Bonfire of the Vanities, both director and journalist must have felt like they were on to something big. How could it lose? But instead Salamon got a front-row seat at the Hollywood disaster of the decade...This riveting insider's portrait provides a timeless account of an industry where art, talent, ego, and money combine and clash on a monumental scale."

If only John McCain's presidential bid were just a movie. Then again who thought really thought that the movie about the chihuahua would do so well?


Posted by Geoff at 11:38 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, October 23, 2008 11:40 AM CDT
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Friday, October 10, 2008
PHANTOM IN CHICAGO "MASSACRE"
AND GERRIT GRAHAM IN WINNIPEG THIS WEEKEND
Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise will be part of this year's "Music Box Massacre," a 24-hour horror marathon taking place at Chicago's Music Box Theatre beginning at noon October 25th. The theatre's website bills Phantom as "Brian De Palma's lunatic film!" Clive Barker will be there to present his latest film, The Midnight Meat Train, and Lucky McKee, director of the Carrie-ish May, will also be present.

In separate Phantom news, Gerrit Graham will be a special guest at the third annual Manitoba Comic Con & Sci-Fi Expo this weekend in Winnipeg, where Phantom is a very popular cult film.


Posted by Geoff at 11:42 AM CDT
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Thursday, October 9, 2008
STRANGLERS TO SHOOT NEXT SPRING
FOR RELEASE IN 2010, SAYS HURD
Film School Rejects' Cole Abaius spoke recently with Gale Anne Hurd, producer of Brian De Palma's upcoming film, The Boston Stranglers. Hurd told Abaius that the screenplay should be finalized this week, and be ready to start shooting next Spring (2009), with a projected release in 2010. In his post, Abaius states, "So far, there’s no casting in place, and Hurd wouldn’t spill the beans on who they are looking at."

Posted by Geoff at 1:07 AM CDT
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Tuesday, September 23, 2008
DE PALMA AWAITS BOSTON REWRITE
AND UPDATES ON OTHER PROJECTS
I had a chance to exchange e-mails with Brian De Palma last week regarding the status of some of his recently announced projects. De Palma said that he is waiting for the rewrite on The Boston Stranglers, which could be his next film. This news shows promise that the film will reflect De Palma's sensibilities from the ground up, as the script is being rewritten (presumably by Alan Rosen) under De Palma's direction, and under no apparent rush for a release date.

PRINT THE LEGEND
But what has happened to Print The Legend, De Palma's proposed Iraq-themed follow-up to Redacted? De Palma said he would love to experiment with these new forms of storytelling again, "but we couldn't get it financed. No one wants to make this kind of anti-war [film] now." Print The Legend had been announced by The Film Farm at Cannes last May, along with an untitled political thriller written by De Palma, with the understanding that Print The Legend would be made first. One can guess that if no one wants to finance an anti-war picture right now, investors might be similarly wary about financing a political thriller by the same man who has made his views on the current war in Iraq abundantly clear. While De Palma said that he still has no title for said political thriller, he was able to provide a clue as to what it is about (which he nevertheless presented in the capitalized form of a title): "Sex and Lies on the Champaign Trail."

CAPONE RISING, AND DE NIRO...
I also asked De Palma if he thought Capone Rising might get off the ground again (that project was stalled over questions about who owns the rights to the property). De Palma said it's "always possible-- it's a very good script." When I mentioned there had been rumors that Robert De Niro may appear in the film as the Mayor of Chicago, De Palma replied, "Haven't heard that one."

OTHER TIDBITS: LUDIVINE SAGNIER

A couple of weeks ago, Ludivine Sagnier, now appearing in Claude Chabrol's A Girl Cut In Two, was interviewed by Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle. Sagnier mentioned a conversation she'd had with De Palma while auditioning for a role in one of his films (which must have been The Black Dahlia). Sagnier recalled:

I auditioned once for a part with Brian De Palma, but he decided he didn't need a European actress for the role. But I remember he said, "Why don't you learn better English, learn a proper accent, and come down to L.A.?" And I was like, "No, I'm sorry, sir. I don't want that." And he was like, "Come on, you lazy cow." And I said, "No, it's not a question of being lazy. I just want to blossom in nice roles, whatever the geography." It's very difficult, the path of young actresses. For example, Scarlett Johansson started out to be a very indie actress, with very edgy roles. But even she - it seems like, ooh, suddenly something has reached her, and that, ooh, she's falling into the trap of too much exhibition, too much money, too much advertisement. And I want to say, "Oh, slow down girl! Slow down! Life is so long! Don't take it as a sprint. Take it as a marathon."

SNOOP DOG & JAKE SULLY
Finally, here are two more little tidbits, courtesy of Rado. Snoop Dog is currently on tour, and the screens behind the stage are showing clips from Scarface edited with Snoop-reenacted versions of them. Rado also notes that the main character in James Cameron's upcoming 3-D extravaganza Avatar is named Jake Sully. Of course, the main character in De Palma's Body Double was named Jake Scully, but there is another odd connection here in the fact that Gale Anne Hurd, who was once married to Cameron and once married to De Palma, has produced projects for both directors (but neither Body Double nor Avatar). Hurd, no longer married to either director, is currently producing The Boston Stranglers for De Palma to direct.


Posted by Geoff at 1:26 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 23, 2008 3:58 PM CDT
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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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