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Are Snakes

De Palma & Lehman
thriller novel to be
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May 16

De Palma Masterclass,
Casualties Of War,
and book signing
June 2 in Paris

Pics, quotes from
Tribeca Scarface reunion

Donaggio records
Domino score with
Massara in Belgium

Washington Post
review of Keesey book


Exclusive Passion

Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
Leila Rozario


AV Club Review
of Dumas book


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De Palma interviewed
in Paris 2002

De Palma discusses
The Black Dahlia 2006


De Palma Community

The Virtuoso
of the 7th Art

The De Palma Touch

The Swan Archives

Carrie...A Fan's Site


No Harm In Charm

Paul Schrader

Alfred Hitchcock
The Master Of Suspense

Alfred Hitchcock Films

Snake Eyes
a la Mod

Mission To Mars
a la Mod

Sergio Leone
and the Infield
Fly Rule

Movie Mags


The Filmmaker Who
Came In From The Cold

Jim Emerson on
Greetings & Hi, Mom!

Scarface: Make Way
For The Bad Guy

The Big Dive
(Blow Out)

Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
Official Web Site

The Phantom Project

Welcome to the
Offices of Death Records

The Carlito's Way
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Kubrick on the

FilmLand Empire

Astigmia Cinema


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Icebox Movies

Medfly Quarantine

Not Just Movies

Hope Lies at
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Motion Pictures Comics

Diary of a
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So Why This Movie?

Obsessive Movie Nerd

Nothing Is Written

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Every '70s Movie

Dangerous Minds


No Time For
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De Palma a la Mod

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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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Thursday, December 4, 2008
David Fincher has apparently been quietly preparing to shoot his Eliot Ness film, which is based on the graphic novel Torso by Brian Michael Bendis and Marc Andrey-ko. Fincher's project is now titled Ness. Fincher explained to MTV's Kurt Loder last year that he is not so much interested in the torso killings as he is in "the de-mythologizing of Eliot Ness. Because, you know, The Untouchables was only two or three years of the Eliot Ness story. There's a whole other, much more sinister downside to it. And so that's of interest to me. We want to make it the Citizen Kane of cop movies." Don Murphy, who with Todd McFarlane is producing Ness, told Robert Sanchez in 2006 that Fincher's film would begin with Ness immersed in mayoral elections, and then flashbacks would delve into the torso murders.

This past September, it was reported that Matt Damon had come aboard to play Ness. Yesterday, it was reported in the Akron Beacon Journal that Fincher would begin scouting locations in Ohio "in the next few weeks" for his $100 million film about Ness and the torso murders. However, Entertainment Weekly's Christine Spines also reported yesterday that Hollywood is buzzing about why Paramount has yet to greenlight the Ness project, as the studio's rights to the project are due to expire on December 15th. Spines states that Casey Affleck has joined Damon in the cast, with Rachel McAdams also in negotiations. Paramount, the studio that would also distribute Brian De Palma's Untouchables prequel that has stalled over questions about who owns the rights, told Spines that Ehren Kruger's finalized screenplay had only just arrived, and that they were working on making a decision. This led Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeffrey Wells to check in with his own sources. Wells posted the following on his site yesterday:

A source close to team Fincher has told me that Fincher is ready to make the picture immediately but can't get an answer out of Paramount because -- ready?-- production execs prefer that Fincher make a Keanu Reeves chef comedy instead.

That "Keanu Reeves chef comedy" could very well be related to Fincher's long in development project previously klnown as Seared, which is a fictional take on CIA-trained Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential. IGN's Stax reviewed the script for Fincher's film back in 2001, when Brad Pitt was set to play the lead. Late last month, Production Weekly reported that Reeves had indeed signed on to star in a film called Chef, to be directed by Fincher.

Posted by Geoff at 11:55 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, December 4, 2008 11:59 PM CST
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On tonight's episode of NBC's 30 Rock, Liz Lemon (played by Tina Fey) attends her high school reunion, but finds that her old classmates all thought she was a bully and hated her. In a quick-hit sitcom twist at the end of the episode, they decide to "Carrie her" by calling her up on stage to give her an award, while a bucket of something waits above the stage. In a brief but pointed homage to Brian De Palma's Carrie, Liz is shown walking to the stage in slow motion as her "friends" cheer her on, and one old classmate is shown licking his lips as he holds the rope that is tied to the bucket. Meanwhile, Liz's boss, played by Alec Baldwin, has pretended to be another one of Liz's old classmates, and, aware that they are about to "Carrie" Liz, takes the Sue Snell role in the slow motion build-up, except that he runs up on stage, where he then sort of takes on the Tommy Ross role, except since he knows what they are planning, he persuades them not to "Carrie" Liz. Perhaps the best bit is that when her boss tells Liz that they were going to "Carrie" her, she immediately looks up and sees the bucket, and expresses her annoyance. In the end, Liz makes a sharp turnaround, spitting venom at her old classmates, who finally tip the bucket over, but the timing is off, as it spills a black-looking substance straight onto an unoccupied part of the stage, allowing Liz to get the last word in.

Posted by Geoff at 9:32 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, December 4, 2008 9:34 PM CST
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Saturday, November 29, 2008
The French director of the recent Un Conte de Noel (A Christmas Tale), Arnaud Desplechin, tells the Toronto Sun's Bruce Kirkland that he is carving out his own niche as a personal filmmaker, because he is not clever enough "to be more clever than Brian De Palma." Kirkland states that Desplechin admires De Palma very much "for his complex thrillers." Desplechin is quoted as saying, "But I am not a competitive guy. Perhaps what I can do is to be more personal." Kirkland also states that Desplechin "is on a quest to achieve what the films of Francois Truffaut inspired in him when he was young."

Posted by Geoff at 10:48 PM CST
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Speaking of Schrader...
Kotto at Eat The Blinds has posted a photo essay about Paul Schrader's American Gigolo, which might be thought of as sort of an older sister to Brian De Palma's Scarface. Kotto states, "Both the opening shot and the soundtrack blaring Blondie's Call Me welcome viewers not only to the movie, but more importantly to the 1980's. The music, the clothes, the vapidity and the vanity...this is what defined the 80's and this is Paul Schrader's American Gigolo." Kotto concludes his essay with the following:

As far as thrillers go, AG is perhaps a little on the un-engaging side. While it does share many stylistic similarities to the work of Brian De Palma, Schrader proves to be less concerned with technique and aesthetics and much more fascinated by the underlying psychology of his characters. While De Palma's films tend to be over-the-top, AG is anything but the opposite; this may interest some, but it will surely bore others. One thing remains certain: few films established the 80's in the same way.

Posted by Geoff at 12:33 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, November 26, 2008 12:37 PM CST
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Schrader heads for Bollywood
To write & direct Extreme City
The Hollywood Reporter this morning reported that Paul Schrader is ditching the "barren" hills of Hollywood for the creative freedom and built-in audiences of Bollywood. Schrader will write and direct Extreme City, a cross-cultural action film that, according to the Hollywood Reporter's Steven Zeitchik, will likely include musical numbers, although Schrader mentions in the article that "there doesn't need to be singing and dancing" in every Bollywood film. Regarding Hollywood, Schrader is reported to have said, "I've been getting indie movies made for 20 years. But I take a good look around and what I see is a barren, barren place -- in terms of the financial community, in terms of audiences, in terms of distribution. It's cold out there." Schrader told Zeitchik that in India, by contrast, one can still get audiences involved and also retain one's creative freedom. Schrader is out and about these days promoting his new Holocaust movie, Adam Resurrected, which stars Jeff Goldblum.

Posted by Geoff at 11:40 PM CST
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Sunday, November 23, 2008
Guy Ritchee vs. Ridley Scott
Actor Mark Strong to Entertainment Weekly:

"Guy moves very quickly. He sets up a shot, two or three takes, moves on. Ridley at times had four different camera crews filming one scene. And this isn't for an action scene; it's for a talking scene."

Posted by Geoff at 3:36 PM CST
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Friday, November 21, 2008
Bryan Singer on Valkyrie
From MTV.com:

"It opens with a bit of a bang, and then, about a third of the way in, a little ticking clock starts, and it moves faster and faster right up until the last frame. And you get to see Tom Cruise come face to face with Adolf Hitler!"

Posted by Geoff at 11:39 AM CST
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Thursday, November 20, 2008
A terrific new book by Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker looks at the Brian De Palma-directed Scarface as "the ultimate gangster movie," and explores "how it changed America." Scarface Nation is the title of the almost-300-page paperback, which Tucker has been promoting since its release last week. Last Tuesday (November 11), Tucker posted on The Best American Poetry blog about "what it’s like to send a book out into the world," and finding that his local Barnes & Noble store is only stocking two copies. On Wednesday, New York Magazine's Boris Kachka posted an interview with Tucker in which he asked the author why the Scarface cast and crew was "so reluctant to discuss its influence?" Tucker, who says that Al Pacino would talk to him about any Pacino movie other than Scarface, replied:

I think their interpretation of its acceptance in pop culture is that it somehow tarnishes the movie and they can’t understand that it’s what keeps it alive. I think they really ought to loosen up and embrace it. They should own their Scarface.

Tucker echoes Pauline Kael's estimation of Orson Wells' Citizen Kane when he calls Scarface a "shallow masterpiece," but he differentiates the two films in his book's introduction. He writes:

No, what Scarface is, in a sense, is something bigger, more outsized than [whatever it is that makes Citizen Kane "great"]. [Scarface] is a great and shallow masterpiece of pop, a work of diverse mongrel artistry. It's all surface, but, boy, what Brian De Palma, Oliver Stone, and Al Pacino applied to that surface. It glows, it glistens, it retains its sheen of power, glory, and shimmeringly decadent rot a quarter century after its release. It remains a tremendously exciting and dismaying piece of moviemaking, unique in the careers of every one of its various creators.

As a film and as a pop culture phenomenon, Tucker appreciates Scarface very much, and his book takes a non-linear approach in exploring both the origins of De Palma's film and the unpredictable journey it has taken since it was released 25 years ago this month. Delving into the "disreputable and sneaky" way the film has and continues to seep into American culture (via posters, T-shirts, mansions, parties, etc.) Tucker concludes that "Scarface belongs to no single author, and therefore we are all free to be the auteurs of Tony Montana's saga, and his life everlasting."

I will write more about this book later this week, delving into some of Stone's thoughts on the film via a new interview for Tucker's book. At the end of Scarface Nation, Tucker acknowledges that he consulted the "superb" De Palma a la Mod, as well as Bill Fentum's "invaluable" (and unfortunately now defunct) website, briandepalma.net. Tucker was also able to get a few quotes from De Palma when he ran into the director during the 2005 Toronto Film Festival. Tucker closes his book with the following about that instance:

At that time, [De Palma] said he would sit down for a more extensive interview. He subsequently declined all my follow-up requests. I will refrain from using a Scarfacian imprecation regarding this behavior, and simply say goodnight to the bad guy.

I should also mention that throughout the book, Tucker displays a fondness for several of De Palma's films, especially The Fury, which he describes in loving detail as a way to delve into some of De Palma's stylistic themes. In this section, Tucker states, "The climax of The Fury is, in its way, just as bloody and tragic and 'operatic' as that of Scarface." However, as I loved Tucker's book overall, it pains me to say that he should have gone back and looked at The Fury more closely, because he gets certain significant facts about who was killing who and what actress was playing the one getting killed, etc., wrong. This leads Tucker to suggest inadvertantly that Gillian purposely killed a woman in a savage manner prior to meeting Robin, which simply is not true. But don't let that dissuade you from checking out this unique and otherwise well-informed book.

Also check out Michael Sragow's interview with Tucker.

Posted by Geoff at 1:38 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, November 22, 2008 5:22 PM CST
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Sunday, November 9, 2008
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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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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