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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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Friday, February 6, 2009
Rie Rasmussen's directorial feature debut, Human Zoo, kicked off the Panorama section of the Berlin Film Festival yesterday, and will screen several more times this weekend. Rasmussen also stars in the non-linear film, which was shot by Thierry Arbogast. Rasmussen met Arbogast on the set of Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale in 2001, where she shadowed the cinematographer to learn about filmmaking. Human Zoo is about a young woman who is a Balkan refugee now living as an illegal immigrant in present-day Marseille. Rasmussen also wrote the screenplay.

Posted by Geoff at 11:06 AM CST
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Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Filmbo at Filmbo's Chick Magnet has posted a comparison between Ari Folman's Waltz With Bashir and Brian De Palma's Redacted. Filmbo had a problem with Folman's use of real video at the end of his mostly animated film (the film was drawn and animated after using actors to stage scenes for reference). Filmbo writes:Though more egregiously, the videos at the end of Waltz with Bashir attempt to garner support for the film's political agenda by appealing to the emotions of the spectator. The film actually uses pictures of dead, Palestinian babies to manipulate the opinions of its audience. It's quite a decision by the filmmakers, who up until this point resembled Alain Resnais and Richard Linklater.

It reminded me of the end of Brian De Palma's Redacted and the film's near-decision to commit the exact same manipulation. But Redacted is a smarter film. I'm not sure whether it is important to credit Magnolia with this and believe the Hi Mom!-esque controversy over their decision to redact De Palma's images, or whether you should credit De Palma and see the controversy as a scripted "Be Black, Baby" stunt meant to emphasize the film's satire over its politics. The impact of the film's ending carries the same treasure trove of meaning either way. The redaction of the "dead baby" images are the final punchline to Redacted, for it says that even De Palma's film can not exist without some form of censorship. And like the youtube clips that run throughout the film, Redacted's finale is yet another jab at the empty means and empty language with which some people express their politics.

Actually, it's final punchline is Ari Folman's Waltz with Bashir, a film Redacted prophetically satirized more than a year in advance.

Posted by Geoff at 1:23 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, February 4, 2009 1:24 PM CST
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Saturday, January 31, 2009
UPDATED February 3 2009

Pop Music Notes yesterday ran a post about music videos that have been reshot for certain markets. Included is a comparison of the three videos shot for Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Relax. The first one "featured what can best be described as a leather bar/sex club setting," according to the post, which was perhaps a little risque for regular music channels. Godley & Creme then directed a more standard performance video with a laserbeam theme. And later on, to help promote Body Double, which featured the song as kind of a centerpiece, Brian De Palma directed a video for the song that included scenes from his film. However, there is often confusion about this rare clip, as the scene in the film itself plays much like a music video (the clip taken directly from Body Double is all over YouTube, and that is the one originally posted at Pop Music Notes-- it has since been corrected).

The actual music video (posted above) features extra shots that are not in the film, including a close-up of the "Indian" walking around the club, and the members of the band on stage (laserbeams included), and later, looking through telescopes set up at the club's window and seeing several scenes from Body Double, including said "Indian" about to murder Gloria Revelle (the video ends with the suspension of the murder and the lead singer turning his head from the telescope, looking directly at the audience as he sings "Come" and the frame freezes-- as if to say "go to the movies to see what happens!"). Also included in the video is a very funny parody of Flashdance, a film De Palma was almost coerced into directing. Around 1982, De Palma had signed on to direct Flashdance believing that if he did this one for the team, the producer would help De Palma get his pet project on the Yablonski murders in gear. However, De Palma quit Flashdance after two weeks.

In the Relax video, a man (who may or may not be a member of the band) dressed up as a woman in a wig and a dress (another De Palma staple given extra weight in a film called Body Double) does a Flashdance-type routine on stage that culminates with the money shot of the transvestite pulling the chain that lets the water loose onto his/her body as it sits in a chair, just as the music breaks (and just before the lead singer lets out the song's trademark "huh!"). As Drew points out in a comment to this post, the joke's origin also seems to lay in the fact that "the Flashdance filmmakers famously used a male body double for several of Flashdance-star Jennifer Beales' more complicated dance moves," including a breakdance audition scene. (Thanks, Drew!)

They should really include this video on any future DVD release of the film.

Posted by Geoff at 12:17 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, February 3, 2009 12:12 AM CST
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Monday, January 26, 2009
At Tractor Facts this past Thursday, "Fox" posted an essay about last Tuesday's screening of Hi, Mom! in Austin, Texas. According to Fox...Before the show, our emcee prefaced it with a shaky disclaimer of "if you're offended by anything in this film, just remember what era it's from". He also admitted feeling a tad uneasy knowing that "this was the movie we were showing on the day Barack Obama was inaugurated". Having seen Hi, Mom! before, I immediately knew what our timid host was referring to, and that was the (in)famous "Be Black, Baby" sequence that practically takes over the second half of the film.

But what our host completely misunderstood, was that "Be Black, Baby", and the entirety of Hi, Mom!, makes for the most ideal type of viewing on a day when a black man was sworn into our nation's highest office. Because even though we just elected our first African-American president - and probably because of that - our culture has become more gun shy and eggshell aware than ever before. The elephant in the room that is "race" has been shrunk and is now hanging around the neck of every American daring to engage in a discussion of social politics.

Once again, in taking a step toward "political progress", what's sadly come along with that is an underbelly of weak-kneed cultural distress and a hesitation over open discussions.

Fox's post was challenged in the comments section by The Cooler's Jason Bellamy, which led Fox to clarify in a subsequent comment:

So to take the elephant in the room being "shrunk" thing, yeah, it does sound like I'm saying it's lessened, but what I meant to imply was that everyone now carries it with them wherever they go. It's not just in the room, it's around our necks, hanging over our heads, behind our eyes, etc.

More clearly, yes, I think race is even more touchy a subject now that Obama is president. That's not the President's fault, it's just the current climate...

But I think you may be missing my point about Hi, Mom!. (And again, I will concede that I may have done a not so swell job of laying it out...).

I'm not saying that it's so socially relevant today because it openly confronts race issues (which it does), but rather because it highlights both a soft-headed, submissive mentality (the audience members in Hi, Mom! who feel that going through the Be Black, Baby gauntlet grants them instant enlightenment the way many people feel an Obama election grants the country instant salvation) and militant-style discourse (the radicals that who put on the play and confront people on the streets with the notion that only their point-of-view is the just one) that is currently dominating our political culture.

Mind you, I don't mean to imply that the above is exclusive to a leftist/liberal ideologie, it's just the phase we're currently in, and what DePalma chose to target for this particular film. (Still, he makes it clear that Jon slides along the ideological scale, becoming a right-wing bigot in the end after commiting a terrorist attack).

Fox mentions this latter point in his original post:

The final scene in Hi, Mom! brings us back to Jon Rubin, who, overnight, has gone from leftist urban guerrilla to hawkish right-wing bigot. DePalma is showing the fine line that exists between these two ideological fringes of extremism. As a good friend often says to me, when you move too far along either end of the political spectrum, eventually you may find yourself around onto the other side.

After ripping through a slur-filled rant to a news reporter, Jon looks at the screen and says "Hi, Mom!". Freeze shot, the end. And what a timely image for a post-Election '08 American audience to take in in this age where the cult of personality is raging like I've never seen it before.

Also in the insightful essay, Fox says a few words about De Palma and the many labels attached to him over the years before delving deeper into the context of "Be Black, Baby" within the whole of Hi, Mom!, using frames from the film to illustrate the confused motivations between promoting and participating in the radical theater production.

Posted by Geoff at 3:11 PM CST
Updated: Monday, January 26, 2009 7:52 PM CST
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Thursday, January 22, 2009
The editors at Cahiers du cinéma have chosen Brian De Palma's Redacted as the best film of 2008. Number three on their list is Matt Reeves' Cloverfield, a film that shares a similar technological theme with Redacted. Joel & Ethan Coen's No Country For Old Men was number four on the Cahiers list. You can see the entire top 10 list by clicking here-- if you go down the page a bit, there are several links to articles about Redacted stemming from the magazine's cover story last February.

Redacted, which was released in the U.S. in 2007, had made at least six critics' top 10 lists for that year: Glen Schaefer (#6 on his list), Mick LaSalle (#5), Scott Foundas (#10, tied with No End in Sight and The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Stephanie Zacharek (#10, tied with No End in Sight), Christoph Huber (#6), and Bill Krohn (#10). Now for 2008, there are at least two more French critics who have placed Redacted on their top 10 lists. According to the January-February issue of Film Comment, French film critic and radio personality Frédéric Bonnaud has placed Redacted at number 10 on his list. Bonnaud's number one film was James Gray's Two Lovers, which was number five on the Cahiers editors' list, and which seems to have made the top 10 lists of many in France-- Gray's film opens in the U.S. on February 13th. Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited was number three on Bonnaud's list.

Fiches du cinéma critic Pierre-Simon Gutman listed his top 10 in no particular order-- it includes Redacted, Appaloosa, Grace is Gone, and, listed first (although there is "no order" intended), Two Lovers. The latter film was also chosen as best of the year by the Fiches editors. Sean Penn's Into The Wild topped the Fiches readers' poll of best films of 2008.

Posted by Geoff at 12:33 AM CST
Updated: Monday, January 26, 2009 12:43 PM CST
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Erik Van Looy's Loft, written by Bart De Pauw, opened to great success last October in Belgium. The film apparently features several nods to Brian De Palma. Variety's Boyd Van Hoeij wrote that the film features "a nod to Brian De Palma in a standout sequence at a casino." FilmFreak's Alex De Rouck mentions that Van Looy and De Pauw emphatically wink to De Palma "in his Hitchcock period (especially in the long scenes in Dusseldorf and in the casino)." The film currently has no release date for the U.S., but, despite both critics' feeling that the film has one twist too many, it seems worth keeping an eye out for...

Posted by Geoff at 6:01 PM CST
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Monday, January 19, 2009

A poster designed by Methane Studios for the upcoming Austin Film Society screening of Carrie...

Posted by Geoff at 11:36 PM CST
Updated: Monday, January 19, 2009 11:38 PM CST
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A poster designed by Tim Doyle for the upcoming Austin Film Society screening of Phantom Of The Paradise...

(Thanks to Adam!)

Posted by Geoff at 11:32 PM CST
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Saturday, January 10, 2009
The Austin Film Society is running a program this month called First Blood: The Early Films Of Brian De Palma. The program kicks off this Tuesday, January 13, with a screening of the DVD of Murder a la Mod (the 7pm screening is already sold out, but there are still tickets left for the 9pm screening). The 7pm screening of Greetings (also from a DVD) on January 17th is also sold out, as is the 7pm screening of Dionysus In '69 (from a DVD) on January 24th. The 9pms are still available in both cases. The other films being screened are Hi, Mom! (35mm print from the MGM archive screens January 20th), Sisters (35mm print from the Academy archives screens January 27th), Phantom Of The Paradise (digital version from Criterion Pictures to be screened via DVCam February 3rd), and Carrie (35mm print from the MGM archive screens February 10th). See the website for specific screening locations, but also to read the terrific summaries provided by the Austin Film Society's Guest Curator Bryan Poyser, who writes the following as part of an introduction to the program:

The seven films presented here display a provocative, free-wheeling, politically subversive sensibility, rich with sarcasm and gleeful satire, bent on jolting the audience into thinking about what they’re seeing rather than lulling them with fantasy or romanticism. Undoubtedly, it is this rigorous and contrarian agenda that keeps most audiences and critics from fully embracing De Palma, but perhaps also makes him both the most frustrating and addictively watchable filmmaker of his generation.

Posted by Geoff at 11:19 PM CST
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Thursday, January 8, 2009
The Virtuoso of the 7th Art's Romain Desbiens has posted a new summary of Brian De Palma's early works on a page titled, Les Debuts New-Yorkais 1961-1971. The page, which is currently only available in French, features Romain's usual array of well-chosen and well-layed-out images from De Palma's films, as well as those of his influences. Meanwhile, David Greven has written an essay called "Medusa in the Mirror: The Split World of Brian De Palma's Carrie." You can read it at the Australian online journal Refractory. Greven's essay is part of a special issue devoted to split and double screens.

Posted by Geoff at 2:57 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, January 8, 2009 2:58 PM CST
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