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Wednesday, May 27, 2009
LITHGOW GOES SERIAL FOR DEXTER
AND REMINDS KEN TUCKER OF BLOW OUT
John Lithgow has signed on to play a serial killer on the fourth season of Showtime's Dexter. According to Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello, Lithgow has been cast as "Walter Simmons, an unassuming suburbanite who has been living a dual life as one of America’s most prolific and deadliest serial killers." Ausiello continues, "When the mad man (who is dubbed the 'Trinity Killer' because he always kills in threes) relocates to Miami, Dexter becomes obsessed (or inspired?) by his efficient killing methods and ability to evade capture for almost three decades." Ausiello's fellow EW blogger (and author of Scarface Nation) Ken Tucker is naturally reminded of Lithgow's creepy opportunist serial killer in Brian De Palma's Blow Out.

Posted by Geoff at 11:42 PM CDT
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Tuesday, May 26, 2009
KINATAY REMINDS TARANTINO OF DE PALMA
FILM WINS CANNES DIRECTOR PRIZE FOR MENDOZA

Filipino filmmaker Brillante Mendoza won the Best Director prize Sunday at the Cannes Film Festival for Kinatay. The film was hated by some (Roger Ebert suggested that it is the worst film in the history of the Cannes Film Festival), but according to a report at Inquirer.net, Quentin Tarantino called it "extraordinary," telling the French newspaper Metro, "I’d gladly defend Kinatay … it reminded me of Brian De Palma." Kinatay (the title translates to "slaughtered" or "butchered" in English) follows a young policeman as he agrees to join an unnamed operation with a shady friend. The job turns out to be the kidnapping, rape, and butchering of a drug-money-indebted prostitute by a gang of men, some of which are senior members of the police force.

Tarantino surely saw similarities between Kinatay and De Palma's Casualties Of War, where the audience is driven to identify with a soldier who finds himself caught up in a kidnap-rape-and-murder situation that he feels helpless to do anything about. Mendoza opens the film (which I haven't seen) with the young man's wedding, and these daytime scenes are shot in 35mm. The night of the horrifying mission is shot in HD, as Mendoza, according to his press notes, attempts to show that "like the character, the city of Manila is full of mystery. It becomes a totally new character at night."

In the press notes, Mendoza presents his film as a Christian morality experience (the prostitute is named Madonna) that he states was based on a true event that he heard about first-hand from a criminology student. Mendoza wanted the audience to feel, like the young man, "trapped as both victim and accomplice." Screen Daily's Mike Goodridge wrote in his review of Kinatay, "Offering audiences no relief or redemption, it is perhaps most notable for its daring in attempting to capture the moment a young man crosses the line into irrevocable evil."

A couple of clips from Kinatay can be watched at YouTube. Click here to access the Cannes press notes. IFC's David Hudson has links and quotes from several other reviews.


Posted by Geoff at 12:19 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 12:22 AM CDT
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Sunday, May 24, 2009
SCARFACE IN THEATERS THIS SUMMER
AS ONE OF UNIVERSAL'S FIVE DIGITAL REISSUES
Brian De Palma's Scarface will be rereleased in digital theaters August 25th, as Universal rolls out five Cinema Classics between now and November. The other four films being reissued are: Spartacus (June 9), The Blues Brothers (July 28), The Thing (John Carpenter's version) (September 15), and National Lampoon's Animal House (November 2). Empire has a nice trailer for the series at its website, and we thank the Swan Archives for the news!

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, May 25, 2009 12:01 AM CDT
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Saturday, May 23, 2009
HANKS: DE PALMA IS 'MOST UNCOMPROMISING FILMMAKER'
"BOTH IN A GOOD WAY AND A BAD WAY"
The June 2009 issue of Empire celebrates the 20th anniversary of the British film magazine with guest editor Steven Spielberg. Tom Hanks is interviewed in the issue by assistant editor Ian Freer, who notes to Hanks that his first Empire cover was for The Bonfire Of The Vanities in 1991. Hanks has some very interesting things to say about the film:

That's a very interesting thing because, when we were making it, that movie was huge. We couldn't make a move anywhere in New York City. Everyone was talking about it: "They took this book that had entered into the national consciousness and now they're making a film out of it and everybody is miscast!" Everybody was miscast, me particularly. Brian De Palma deals with iconography more than filmmaking. He is the most uncompromising filmmaker-- both in a good way and a bad way-- that you'll ever come across. This is the guy who made Scarface. Motherfucking Scarface. So his take on it was just one of those things. You can't take a book like that, that has changed the way people talk and think-- Masters Of The Universe, Styrofoam peanuts, and $900,000 a year and still going broke-- and change it into a palatable movie, or alter the thrust of what the source material is talking about. It may not translate in a way that is going to work.

(Since I could not find a scan of the Empire cover mentioned above, I dug up this American Cinematographer cover from the same period.)


Posted by Geoff at 11:19 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, May 23, 2009 11:22 PM CDT
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Friday, May 22, 2009
ALMODOVAR'S NEW FILM INSPIRED BY DE PALMA, OTHERS
BROKEN EMBRACES PREMIERES IN CANNES

According to Bloomberg's Farah Nayeri, Pedro Almodovar cites Roberto Rossellini, Luis Bunuel, Sergei Eisenstein, and Brian De Palma as sources of inspiration for his latest film, Broken Embraces, which premiered in Cannes this week. The film, which takes its title from an episode in Rossellini's Voyage To Italy, stars Penelope Cruz in a film noir that Nayeri was not crazy about, although she does say it is, "as usual, a visual feast."

"ALMODOVAR'S VALENTINE TO CINEMA"
Screen Daily's Barry Byrne says Broken Embraces will thrill Almodovar's fans, and further cites some noir references within the film:

Devilishly clever and shrewdly cast with a stable of Almodovar regulars, the storyline casts a particularly gorgeous Cruz as an actress struggling to escape the suffocating constraints of the aging millionaire lover who has bankrolled her career. The film is awash with references to the noir genre, Italian neo-realism and even to Almodovar’s own quirky oeuvre. Stylistic nods to films including Nicholas Ray’s In a Lonely Place and Vincente Minnelli’s The Bad and the Beautiful form part of Almodovar’s valentine to cinema.


Posted by Geoff at 11:57 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, May 23, 2009 12:34 AM CDT
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Thursday, May 21, 2009
LIFE SENTENCE FOR GREEN


Photo and article courtesy the New York Times:

A jury in Kentucky sentenced a 24-year-old former soldier to life in prison without parole on Thursday for raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and murdering her, her parents and a younger sister in Iraq.

The verdict spared the defendant, Steven D. Green, death for a crime that prompted Iraqi demands for retribution and raised questions about Army oversight of its most combat-stressed forces.


Posted by Geoff at 7:49 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, May 21, 2009 7:50 PM CDT
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M2M AND THE 'MISSING LINK'
BLOGGER COMPARES DE PALMA'S ALIEN TO DE PALMA'S CARRIE
While I definitely don't agree with his statement that Brian De Palma's Mission To Mars is "not worth seeing," Christopher Campbell's comparison of the alien in that film to the blood-soaked Carrie in De Palma's earlier film is somewhat inspired:

Even if the Flintstones were around earlier than we thought, this wouldn’t necessarily prove Creationists right. In Brian De Palma’s Mission to Mars there is another sort of missing link that people tend to dismiss along with the theory that aliens impregnated the “virgin” Mary. This is the link between life on Earth and prior life, from elsewhere, which seeded our planet. The Martian at the end of the movie (sorry if this is a spoiler — the movie isn’t worth seeing anyway), who isn’t so much our ancestor as our trillionth cousin thrice removed, is kind of creepy but also kind of sexy in a blood-soaked Sissy Spacek sort of way (this is the director of Carrie).


Posted by Geoff at 12:00 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, May 21, 2009 1:45 AM CDT
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009
STRANGLERS AIMING FOR FALL SHOOT
HURD SAYS CASTING IS UNDERWAY
Producer Gale Anne Hurd is making the rounds thanks to the new Terminator movie, and the JoBlo Movie Network's Arrow In The Head has posted a teaser scoop about The Boston Stranglers from a forthcoming interview with Hurd. Hurd tells the site's Jimmy O that the upcoming Brian De Palma-directed picture has been set up at Overture Films, where Michael Moore is currently working on his sequel to Farenheit 9/11 (other projects being developed by the company, which recently developed and/or distributed Righteous Kill, Last Chance Harvey, and Sunshine Cleaning, include remakes of Let The Right One In and The Crazies). Hurd said they are casting now on The Boston Stranglers, with an aim to shoot in the fall. Here is the full text of what Hurd said, according to Arrow In The Head:

The true story of something that we… we all think we know the true story now, but we don’t. Which is that Albert DeSalvo was branded The Boston Strangler, there was a movie about him with Tony Curtis as DeSalvo. As it turns out he was never convicted of the crime. The film is set up at Overture and we’re in the process of casting. And we hope to shoot in the fall.


Posted by Geoff at 11:15 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, May 25, 2009 12:07 AM CDT
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Sunday, May 17, 2009
WELLS: MOTHER ECHOES DE PALMA
CANNES SCREENING LEADS TO TALK OF U.S. REMAKE

Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeffrey Wells caught a screening of Bong Joon Ho's Mother yesterday at Cannes, and called it "a richly stylized Brian De Palma-esque thriller about a mom who mightily endeavors to prove that her mentally handicapped son, accused of killing a young girl, is innocent." Wells continued:

There's no doubting that Bong Joon Ho is a De Palma devotee in the same way that De Palma was a Hitchcock acolyte in the '70s and '80s. Mother was by far the most interesting sit because of his immaculate and exacting composition of each and every element. The result is consistently flourishy and at times operatic -- deliberately unnatural, conspicuously acted, very much a director's film. Ho is coming, however, from a fairly well-worn genre place, although I'll give him points for delivering a surprising third-act twist. The talk is that Mother should be remade for the U.S. market with a name actress in her late '40s or early '50s in the title role.

Let's just say we're looking forward to seeing Mother, but much less so the remake...


Posted by Geoff at 11:01 AM CDT
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Wednesday, May 13, 2009
WHAT THE SISTERS HAVE BEEN UP TO
KIDDER TALKS ABOUT THE FILM COMMUNITY DAYS

Jennifer Salt and Margot Kidder, who each starred in Brian De Palma's Sisters (1973), have been making marks in various TV projects of late. Kidder has recently made guest appearances on series such as Brothers & Sisters, Smallville, and The L Word. Kidder's most recent role was as one half of a lesbian couple in the here! TV murder mystery On the Other Hand, Death: A Donald Strachey Mystery, which is now available on DVD. In February, Kidder was interviewed about the film by The Advocate's Harrison Pierce, who asked her about hanging out with De Palma and friends at Kidder and Salt's Malibu beach house in the early 1970s... [Advocate] Early in your career you shared a beach house with actress Jennifer Salt at Nicholas Canyon Beach in Malibu that served as a hangout for not-yet-famous filmmakers like Martin Scorcese, Brian De Palma, and Steven Spielberg. That period has become the stuff of Hollywood legend, hasn’t it?

[Kidder] I guess it has. For us it was just a bunch of broke kids passing the hat for dinner. We didn’t think we were unusual, although we had a great degree of cockiness. We were sure we could change the entertainment business and the world and everything else all at once. It was a wonderful time, and we had a great sense of community. After it all sort of fell apart and everybody got successful and went off to do their own thing, I never got that sense of community again until I moved back to Livingston. I think it’s an essential in the human experience.

[Advocate] Any anecdote you can share from that particular period that gay readers might get a kick out of?

[Kidder] Oh, well, once I dropped mescaline and lost my boyfriend to another man. Oh, no, it wasn’t mescaline, it was the love drug. What the hell was the love drug?

[Advocate] Ecstasy?

[Kidder] MDA. It wasn’t ecstasy because it didn’t have speed in it. In those days, the pre-cocaine days, we took drugs only once in a while. The guy who wrote the book [Peter Biskind, author of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls] makes it seem like we were all loaded all the time, which wasn’t true at all. I mean, pot, maybe. We were very innocent. We were deeply innocent people. So we took the love drug to find love or something, and I remember looking over and there was my boyfriend necking away with another man, so the love drug worked for him [laughs].

DE PALMA'S DANIELLE WAS TO HAVE SWEDISH ACCENT
In a separate interview last March, Kidder talked to A.V. Club's Nathan Rabin about getting the Sisters script from De Palma...

[Kidder] I was with Brian De Palma at the time, and he said he wrote the role specifically for me. I don’t know what that says about the way he saw me, since the role was of a castrating killer. Brian came one morning to the house that I shared with Jennifer Salt, who is still a good friend and is currently a writer-producer on Nip/Tuck. He said “Here’s your Christmas present.” He wrote the character to have a Swedish accent, but since I couldn’t pull that off, he switched it to French-Canadian. It was such a romantic time in my life. Everyone was young and passionate and convinced they were going to change film forever. Brian and Marty Scorsese and Robert De Niro would come over and hang out, and we’d all work together.

[AVC] That’s a cinematic period that’s been romanticized and documented in books like Peter Biskind’s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls.

[Kidder] Yeah, but [Biskind] missed the whole essence of that. He made it seem sordid. I was saying to Paul Schrader that he missed the idealism and the passion of that era in Hollywood, but also in American life, that ’60s sense of optimism and hope. He made it all about drugs, when to most of us, that just meant pot and magic mushrooms. He made it seem like we were all shooting heroin into our eyeballs. But that’s part of the whole ’60s and what it represented: feminism and civil rights and trying to stop the war. Hopefully we’re starting to see some of that optimism again, through the excitement around Obama.

In the interviews, Kidder raves about Richard Donner's original version of Superman II which was released on DVD a couple of years ago. Donner was fired off that picture, which was then finished by Richard Lester.

SALT DEVELOPING TV PILOT FOR A&E
Aside from writing and producing F/X's Nip/Tuck, Salt is also working on the screenplay for the film adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert's bestselling memoir Eat, Pray, Love, which is being directed by Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy, and will star Julia Roberts and Richard Jenkins. Meanwhile, Variety reports that Salt is pitching a concept for a new series called The Quickening, "about a bipolar LAPD detective who performs better when off her medication."


Posted by Geoff at 1:00 PM CDT
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