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Sunday, November 9, 2008
DIRECTORAMA
As 24 Lies A Second webmaster Peet Gelderblom's new season of Directorama comics begins Monday (with the notorious "Alan Smithee" being thrown into the "negative space" mix), it seems a good time to post some links to a couple of interviews Peet has done in recent weeks to promote his new book, which collects the first series of Directorama webcomic filmstrips, along with 31 additional movie-related cartoons. You can buy the book from Lulu. You can listen to Peet discuss the book in an October 12th interview he did with our friends at the Movie Geeks United! radio show by clicking here. And a couple of weeks ago, Dennis Cozzalio, who provides the forward in the Directorama book, interviewed Peet at his blog, Sergio Leone And The Infield Fly Rule. In the latter, Cozzalio asks Peet about the first Brian De Palma films he'd ever seen:

Gee, I'm not sure. Either Dressed to Kill, Carrie or Blow Out. In my memory I discovered these three pictures almost simultaneously. Whatever it was, I watched it in horrible pan-and-scan and was mesmerized anyway. What really triggered my interest in De Palma were a few preview clips of Body Double on TV; that marvelous beach scene and a bit of Jake Scully running to save Gloria from that hulking Indian with the giant drill. I was too young to be allowed to see it in the cinema, but I made a vow to rent Body Double as soon as it became available. The restrictions for theaters were harsh, but in the early ‘80s a 13-year-old could go and rent Faces of Death and no one would blink an eye.

While 24 Lies A Second is defunct (the site's articles can now be found posted at The House Next Door), we look forward to a new series of Directorama strips.


Posted by Geoff at 9:58 PM CST
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UNTOUCHABLES CHURCH SCENE
SHOT-BY-SHOT BREAKDOWN AT 'DON'T MAKE A SCENE' BLOG

In the "Don't Make A Scene" column today at the blog Let's Not Talk About Movies, Yojimbo posted a compelling shot-by-shot, line-by-line breakdown of the church scene from Brian De Palma's The Untouchables. Here is an excerpt from Yojimbo's post:

Director Brian De Palma (one of those directors who never leaves anything to chance) shoots from just two angles*--both two-shots because the scene is about the two men and their needs: Ness' for Malone's help and expertise, and Malone for Ness' commitment. The first shot looks up at them from a forward pew, looking through their hands at their up-turned faces. In Malone's hands are his fob with his master key and a medal of St. Jude ("the patron saint of Lost Causes" "...and cops," as we'll find out later.), which swings like a guillotine at times in the scene. Ness' hands are folded together, as if in prayer, as if pleading. The other shot is more difficult to get--it required a split-focal lens that would keep both Ness and Malone in sharp focus despite their different proximities to the camera. Ness is in profile (an angle that connotes dismissal, or supplication) Malone is talking directly at Ness, and to the camera, and that angle is saved for the most dramatically charged speeches. Ness' face is soft, doughy, unsure. And Malone's is craggy, lined and in constant conflict--at points angry, pitying, weak, and hard. The men are talking about life and death--for themselves and the city of Chicago. Good intentions are not good enough. You have to do what needs to be done to win. To not win is to die. It's all or nothing. There is no "middle way." Commit or die. The scene begins with Ness looking at the medal in Malone's hands. It reaches its crux when Malone looks at Ness' praying hands. Both tell each men all they need to know.

Be sure to read all the way to the bottom, where Yojimbo relates a story about Sean Connery playing 18 holes of golf before filming his "advice" scene in two takes.


Posted by Geoff at 11:52 AM CST
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Tuesday, November 4, 2008
IRVING TO PRESENT THE FURY
NEW PRINT TO BE SCREENED IN NYC NOV. 30
Amy Irving will be on hand to introduce and discuss Brian De Palma's The Fury when the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York screens a brand new print of the film November 30th. The screening is part of the Society's weekend-long series, "Problem Child: A Cinematic Display of Bad Behavior," which runs Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 28-30) at the Walter Reade Theater. The Film Society web site has this to say about the film:

This seldom seen, gripping and vibrant science-fiction spy chiller ranks with Carrie, Scarface and The Untouchables as director Brian De Palma’s best work. Featuring Richard Kline’s superb cinematography, it constantly delivers punch after punch of fear and suspense.

(Thanks to Randy!)


Posted by Geoff at 12:18 AM CST
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Sunday, November 2, 2008
MOLLY HAUNTED BY CARRIE
AS WELL AS ROSEMARY'S BABY
The Haunting Of Molly Hartley was not screened for critics prior to opening this weekend in North America. The Toronto Star's Tony Wong caught a screening this weekend, and suggests that the new film has "the subtlety of a '70s-style psychological thriller," even though it is "tailored for the Gossip Girl set." [Gossip Girl, incidentally, currently features De Palma's step daughter Willa Holland as a special guest-- Willa gets a rave review for her first episode from Entertainment Weekly's Tim Stack.] Wong further states that Molly is inspired in parts by Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby and Brian De Palma's Carrie. Here's an excerpt from Wong's 2-and-a-half-star review:Rosemary's baby is all grown up, and her name is Molly Hartley.

But will tweenies raised on a diet of rental torture porn appreciate the subtlety of a '70s-style psychological thriller?

Although the film is tailored for the Gossip Girl set, and even stars the show's hunk, Chace Crawford, this may be too tame for the Saw V generation. Still, if you get past the retro Nancy Drew title, this is a worthwhile effort.

Molly Hartley (Haley Bennett of Music & Lyrics) is nearing her 18th birthday, and evil lurks everywhere – from the mean girls at her private school to the fact that she has been promised to the devil. After her mother has a breakdown, Molly moves to a private school and gets the attention of rich kid Joseph (Crawford). While trying to adjust to her new life and strange friends, she is haunted by dark visions.

Director Mickey Liddell borrows heavily from Roman Polanski's classic fright film and throws in a nod to Brian De Palma. Molly's knife-wielding, verse-spewing mother is straight out of Carrie.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. This year the Hollywood horror factory has plundered Japanese, Spanish and Korean works for inspiration, so there's nothing wrong with dipping into the classics.

Bennett pulls off a sense of deep vulnerability, evocative of Mia Farrow's turn in Rosemary's Baby, in a role that is more demanding than most teen horror flicks.


Posted by Geoff at 11:53 AM CDT
Updated: Sunday, November 2, 2008 11:55 AM CDT
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Friday, October 31, 2008
PARADISE ON HALLOWEEN
FOX LEGACY CLASSIC OF THE WEEK

Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise will play three times this Halloween as the FOX Movie Channel's Fox Legacy Classic of the Week. De Palma's classic will play tonight at 8pm, 10pm, and midnight eastern time. All over the web the past couple of weeks, bloggers are writing about Phantom and linking to the great Swan Archives, where, as we've posted about before, you can see exclusive outtakes and alternative scenes from the film. Now, at FanEdit.org, you can download a fan's edit of the film that utilizes a complicated splicing-together from the DVD release, audio from the old 1988 laser disc release (which is apparently much better than the DVD's audio), and the outtakes from the Swan Archives to create something akin to De Palma's original vision of the film. Be warned, however, that you must own at least one of the DVD versions of Phantom before downloading, or you could find yourself engulfed in the sort of legal entanglements that would make Swan jealous.

LOVE FOR CARRIE
Another De Palma film being mentioned all over the place this Halloween season is Carrie. Today, romance writer Jill Sorenson wrote on her blog that Carrie is one of her favorite scary movies. "De Palma's masterpiece" was also screened under the stars last Saturday at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. In a U.K. poll of more than 6000 HMV customersCarrie was voted the 24th best horror film ever made, according to results released yesterday. And just today, The Playlist team posted what they call the "Rosetta Stones of the fright genre." Here's what they say about Carrie:

Carrie (1976) begins and ends in a bloodbath. From the unforgettable opening scene as bullying girls unmercifully taunt the titular menstruating outcast with tampons ("Plug it up!") in the high school locker room to the prom night cataclysm that leaves Carrie soaked to the skin in pig's blood before unleashing her telekinesis for ultimate revenge against her vindictive classmates, this film remains today one of the most effective cinematic tragedies. Stephen King's first novel-to-film adaptation directed by Brian De Palma is not your standard horror flick, obviously, and the fact that Carrie is both the sympathetic protagonist and demonic villain — leaving the delineation between good and evil unclear — makes this film so powerful and classic. And who could forget Piper Laurie's bone-chilling performance as Carrie's bible-beating, devil-fearing, lunatic mother, in particular, the orgasmic exhalations of her kitchen knife crucifixion?


Posted by Geoff at 12:45 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, October 31, 2008 6:19 PM CDT
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Monday, October 27, 2008
HURD LAYS OUT STRANGLERS STORY
AICN USERS SUGGEST IMPERIOLI AS DESALVO
Gale Anne Hurd was interviewed by UGO Movie Blog's Jenna Busch a few days ago. Hurd told Busch that her production company, Valhalla Motion Pictures, is gearing up to seek financing and distribution on Brian De Palma's The Boston Stranglers, with intentions to begin filming in 2009. Hurd layed out the film's story line for Busch:

It’s based on Susan Kelly’s book called The Boston Stranglers, because everything that we think we know is wrong. There was a film made right after the events called The Boston Strangler starring Tony Curtis and Henry Fonda. And it posits that Albert DeSalvo was the Boston Strangler, but the truth is, if you scratch beneath the surface, Albert DeSalvo was never charged with the crimes. He was actually incarcerated for another series of assaults, and there was not one shred of evidence linking him to the crimes. So the film is very much (about) how did things go so wrong, that to this day we all think Albert DeSalvo was tried and convicted as the Boston Strangler?

When Busch told Hurd that that sounded "really interesting," Hurd responded by saying, "Yeah. With media, with fear, with the cult of celebrity, so many of the things that are part of our life today, were just beginning in the late sixties."

EARLY VERSION OF SCREENPLAY
Mr. Beaks over at Aint It Cool News provides a brief synopsis from an earlier draft of Alan Rosen's screenplay. (Rosen has been with the project since 2001, when Hurd was trying to get it set up for Carl Franklin to direct at Paramount. Now that De Palma has signed on to the project, the screenplay is being revised under his direction.) Mr. Beaks writes:

The massive-in-scope screenplay (a recent draft by Alan Rosen ran over 160 pages) starts small with DeSalvo's first string of crimes (he talked his way into the homes of lonely/neglected women by pretending to be a scout for a modeling agency), but quickly turns into a multi-layered dramatization of the botched police investigation, the intense, often unhelpful media scrutiny (courtesy of an ambitious young female reporter for The Boston Herald), and DeSalvo's jailhouse confession to convicted murderer George Nassar (who got F. Lee Bailey involved). It's kinky, bloody and full of betrayal; in other words, it's ideal material for De Palma. Right now, he's just got to find the narrative throughline.

MICHAEL IMPERIOLI
A user named blackmantis, posting in the "Talk Back" section following Mr. Beaks' AICN post, stated, "Michael Imperioli is DeSalvo's doppelganger! He absolutely must play that part." Several other users agreed that Imperioli would be perfect for the role. Imperioli is best known for his role on HBO's The Sopranos, and can currently be seen carrying an authentically distinct '70s vibe as a cop working for Harvey Keitel on ABC's Life On Mars. No casting has yet been mentioned for The Boston Stranglers.


Posted by Geoff at 4:50 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, October 27, 2008 7:34 PM CDT
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DRESSED FOR "WEIRD WEDNESDAY"
LARS NILSEN INTRODUCES DE PALMA FILM IN AUSTIN

Above is a video of Lars Nilsen providing a wonderful introduction to Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill last Wednesday at the Alamo Drafthouse in downtown Austin, Texas. The screening was part of Nilsen's "Weird Wednesday" series, which happens every Wednesday night, and is free of charge thanks to local sponsor I Luv Video. When you go to Nilsen's blog posting about Dressed To Kill, be sure to read the comments section, where a guy named Jay complains that Nilsen was so uptight about the "slightest snicker" that he went into "full-on Geek police mode" to keep people from distracting from the film (in the intro above, Nilsen tells the audience it is especially important not to talk during Dressed To Kill). Nilsen's reply to Jay's post indicates what kind of atmosphere to expect when attending "Weird Wednesday":

Sorry, we don't allow people to carry on conversations during the movie. It's an unpopular policy with people who like to carry on conversations at movie screenings.

You'll also note that Nilsen is wearing a De Palma T-shirt as he introduces the film. I've seen this shirt before, and was turned off by the design that resembles the Def Leppard logo. But now I may just have to get one as a tribute to Nilsen's enthusiastic introduction.

Thanks to Drew!


Posted by Geoff at 10:25 AM CDT
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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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