Hello and welcome to the unofficial Brian De Palma website.
Here is the latest news:

De Palma a la Mod

E-mail
Geoffsongs@aol.com

De Palma Discussion
Forum

-------------

Pacino wows
in Venice

Pacino delivers a
masterclass as
a lion in winter

The Humbling
and Manglehorn
reviews

-------------

Exclusive Passion
Interviews:

Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
Leila Rozario

------------

AV Club Review
of Dumas book

Recent Headlines
a la Mod:

-Picture emerging
for Happy Valley

-De Palma's new
project with
Said Ben Said

-De Palma to team
with Pacino & Pressman
for Paterno film
Happy Valley

« August 2009 »
S M T W T F S
1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31

Interviews...

De Palma interviewed
in Paris 2002

De Palma discusses
The Black Dahlia 2006


Enthusiasms...

De Palma Community

The Virtuoso
of the 7th Art

The De Palma Touch

The Swan Archives

Carrie...A Fan's Site

Phantompalooza

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

Directorama

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
Fan Page

The House Next Door

Kubrick on the
Guillotine

FilmLand Empire

Astigmia Cinema

LOLA

Cultural Weekly

A Lonely Place

The Film Doctor

italkyoubored

Icebox Movies

Medfly Quarantine

Not Just Movies

Hope Lies at
24 Frames Per Second

Motion Pictures Comics

Diary of a
Country Cinephile

So Why This Movie?

Obsessive Movie Nerd

Nothing Is Written

Ferdy on Films

Cashiers De Cinema

This Recording

Mike's Movie Guide

Every '70s Movie

Dangerous Minds

EatSleepLiveFilm

No Time For
Love, Dr. Jones!

The former
De Palma a la Mod
site

Entries by Topic
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.
All topics
Ambrose Chapel
BAMcinématek
Bart De Palma
Becoming Visionary
Bill Pankow
Black Dahlia
Blow Out
Blue Afternoon
Body Double
Bonfire Of The Vanities
Books
Boston Stranglers
Bruce Springsteen
Cannes
Capone Rising
Carlito's Way
Carrie
Casualties Of War
Columbo - Shooting Script
Cop-Out
Cruising
Daft Punk
Dancing In The Dark
David Koepp
De Niro
De Palma Blog-A-Thon
De Palma Discussion
Demolished Man
Dionysus In '69
Dressed To Kill
Eric Schwab
Femme Fatale
Film Series
Fire
Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Fury, The
Get To Know Your Rabbit
Greetings
Happy Valley
Heat
Hi, Mom!
Hitchcock
Home Movies
Inspired by De Palma
Iraq, etc.
Key Man, The
Lithgow
Magic Hour
Mission To Mars
Mission: Impossible
Montreal World Film Fest
Mr. Hughes
Murder a la Mod
Nancy Allen
Nazi Gold
NYFF
Obsession
Oliver Stone
Paranormal Activity 2
Parker
Parties & Premieres
Passion
Paul Hirsch
Paul Schrader
Phantom Of The Paradise
Pino Donaggio
Prince Of The City
Print The Legend
Raggedy Ann
Raising Cain
Red Shoes, The
Redacted
Responsive Eye
Retribution
Rie Rasmussen
Robert De Niro
Sakamoto
Scarface
Sean Penn
Sisters
Snake Eyes
Sound Mixer
Star Wars
Stepford Wives
Tabloid
Tarantino
Toronto Film Fest
Toyer
Treasure Sierra Madre
Tru Blu
TV Appearances
Untitled Ashton Kutcher
Untouchables
Vilmos Zsigmond
Wedding Party
William Finley
Wise Guys
Woton's Wake
Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile
You are not logged in. Log in
Thursday, August 13, 2009
MUIR ON RAISING CAIN
REFLECTING THE '90s 'CRISIS IN MASCULINITY'
John Kenneth Muir continued his weekly look at the films of Brian De Palma last week with an essay about Raising Cain, which he calls "a satire, exposing the schizophrenic, contradictory messages sometimes sent by our culture to men of the day." Muir writes that the multiple personalities inside Carter (all played by John Lithgow) reflect the era's crisis in masculinity, leading to the inevitable transformation from a man into a woman:

Carter's many alternate personalities also expose further the crisis in masculinity. Cain is seen as inherently disreputable. He's a smoker for one thing (another big no-no in the Age of Political Correctness), and he's also, well, psychotic. Yet, Cain is the "man of action." Carter outsources his dirty work to Cain, because as a "sensitive" modern male he is deemed incapable of protecting himself or his family. When Carter gets into trouble attempting to subdue Karen, a local mother, Cain suggests that Carter kiss her to allay the suspicions of passers-by. This is something that would never occur to the diffident Carter on his own; but a solution which jumps out immediately to Cain. Cain is Id, through and through. The voice we all hear, but rarely act upon.

Yet another of Carter's personalities, Josh, has regressed to boyhood. He's a terrified child, one constantly fearing the wrath of his father. Again -- not entirely unlike Carter -- Josh is an image of masculinity reverted to a "harmless" or impotent stage, pre-adolescent, and therefore pre-sexual.

Finally, the guardian of the children is the personality named Margo. Importantly, Margo is female. Margo rescues Amy, destroys the Elder Dr. Nix, and restores order. It is a woman, therefore, who finally usurps the role of "hero"/"conqueror" in modern America. Carter can only become a hero when he is...female. The film's valedictory shot is of a looming, powerful Margo, standing heroically behind his family (Jenny and Amy). Carter could only be himself (a caring individual and care-giver) when in the personality and guise of a woman...and the last shot explains this visually. Margo is not menacing; not evil. She is triumphant.

Muir also describes the way De Palma uses space, movement, and the unbroken take to represent Carter's multiple personalities:

When all this back-and-forth must at last be explained to the just-barely-keeping up audience, De Palma proceeds in snake-like, coiled fashion. He brilliantly stages an elaborate, lengthy tracking shot (approximately five minutes in duration) that follows two police detectives and Dr. Waldheim from the top floor of a police station down two stair-cases, through an elevator, down into the morgue,...where the shot ends on a close-up of a corpse's horrified expression of horror.

All throughout this masterful, unbroken shot, Waldheim explains the history of the Nix family and the theories underlying multiple personality disorders. She basically describes the events of the movie (Cain vs. Carter) in a fashion that makes sense out of perspective we've witnessed thus far. It's a journey from the top of Carter's mind, literally, to the bottom...to Cain's mind, where we spy his murderous handiwork (the corpse).

De Palma understands that form must echo content, and so the form of his film -- multiple perspectives coming together -- reflects the flotsam and jetsam Carter's splintered mind. The virtuoso unbroken shot is Waldheim's tour of that mind, a narrative maze of twists and turns, of science and ultimately death. But importantly, this tour is an unbroken one (like Waldheim's dissertation), making linear sense of the tale for the viewer.


Posted by Geoff at 12:00 AM CDT
Updated: Friday, August 14, 2009 1:13 AM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
TARANTINO TALKS CAT PEOPLE
SCENE IN INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS REMINDS RODRIGUEZ OF DE PALMA
Miami Herald movie critic Rene Rodriguez interviewed Quentin Tarantino this past weekend for a piece that will run this Sunday. Rodriguez offers a preview in his blog, in which he asks Tarantino about his use of David Bowie's theme from Paul Schrader's Cat People remake, mentioning to the director that the scene in which the song is used reminded him of Brian De Palma:

Q: You once said that when you use a pop song in a movie, you want to use it in a way that will always remind people of your film whenever they hear it, so no other filmmaker can ever use it. In this movie, though, you use David Bowie's Cat People (Putting Out Fire), which was written for the 1982 Cat People remake.

A: I've always loved that song and I was always disappointed by how Paul Schrader used it in the movie. He didn't really use it; he threw it in over the closing credits. I remember working at the Video Archives at the time and thinking "If I had a song like that for my movie, I'd build a 20-minute scene around it!" So I guess I did.

Q: There's a really cool sense of dislocation when that song comes on, which still sounds so modern, yet we're in World War II France. It's one of my favorite sequences in the film. It reminded me of Brian De Palma, back when he was still good.

A: When I got the idea to use it, one of the things I liked is that the song was once removed and you already knew it from something else, as opposed to something that was written for the movie. You're listening to the lyrics of the song and you're watching Shoshanna [a character in the film played by Melanie Laurent] doing all this stuff, and you sit there thinking "Wow, this song was written for Cat People, but it's totally appropriate for Shoshanna's story!" It plays like an interior monologue for her.

A comment on the blog post from mrbluelouboyle reminds readers that Tarantino had courted the idea of casting Cat People's Natasha Kinski in Inglourious Basterds, which makes the choice of song seem less random than Rodriguez had originally considered.

WELLS: TARANTINO "HAS GONE BATSHIT CRAZY"
Meanwhile, Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeffrey Wells does not hold back in describing his contempt for Inglourious Basterds, stating, "I realize it's a Quentin movie that's basically about Quentin's bullshit, but -- I'm trying not to sound like a rabbi here -- Inglourious Basterds reeks of arrogance and sadism and indifference to the value of human life." Wells believes Tarantino has buried himself too deep inside own creative genius hype. Wells writes:

Inglourious Basterds is proof that QT has gone batshit crazy in the sense that he cares about nothing except his own backyard toys. He's gone creatively nuts in the same way that James Joyce, in the view of some critics, crawled too far into his own anus and headspace when he wrote Finnegan's Wake. All I know is that this is a truly empty and diseased film about absolutely nothing except the tip of that digit.


Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 1:49 AM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Monday, August 10, 2009
EBERT ON DIRECTOR COMMENTARIES
(OR DIRECTORS, LIKE DE PALMA, WHO DON'T DO THEM)
Roger Ebert's Answer Man column this week fields a letter from Kevin Fellman, asking for Ebert's opinion of "film directors such as Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg, Brian De Palma and John Landis, who refuse to provide audio commentaries on their DVDs, instead opting for their films to 'speak for themselves.'" Fellman continues, "Would someone such as yourself, who has, indeed, provided commentaries on various films, tend to agree that these directors are cheating fans and scholars by withholding their own personal insights?" Ebert's answer is: "It’s their film and they can do what they like. I once tried to enlist Orson Welles in talking through Citizen Kane, and his response was, 'I’m tired of talking about that film.'"

Posted by Geoff at 11:54 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 12:06 AM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Saturday, August 8, 2009
TONY MONTANA SNOW GLOBE
LEARN HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN

What a lovely idea-- over at Make, Sean Michael Ragan shows you step-by-step how to make your very own Tony Montana snow globe. "What's that you say?" asks Ragan in his introduction. "You don't need an 8-inch diameter snow globe? Especially not one featuring a vignette of Al Pacino as Tony Montana in the climactic battle scene from Brian De Palma's Scarface? I say you're wrong: You need one of these. You need one so badly you don't even know it yet."


Posted by Geoff at 11:42 PM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Friday, August 7, 2009
MI4 SCREENPLAY COOKING
ABRAMS CREATED STORY WITH PALS APPLEBAUM & NEMEC
According to Variety's Michael Fleming yesterday, two screenwriters have been hired by Paramount to write the screenplay for Mission: Impossible 4, which will definitely feature Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt as a character. The two screenwriters, Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemec, have worked with J.J. Abrams as co-executive producers on Abrams' TV show AliasMission: Impossible 4 will be co-produced by Cruise and Abrams. The screenplay will be based on a story that Abrams, Applebaum, and Nemec all came up with together. No director has yet been mentioned or hired, as it looks like Abrams will act as a producer (and story writer) for this project. Abrams told Fleming, "I've been looking forward to working with Josh and Andre again for years. Their sense of balance between character and action is wonderful, which I know is hugely important to Tom as well. We're off to an exciting start, so, as usual, fingers crossed." Paramount is planning to release the film in 2011.

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, August 8, 2009 12:31 AM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Thursday, August 6, 2009
ZACHAREK PICKS CASUALTIES
FOR ON-THE-SPOT "HALL OF FAME" DECISION

Last week, Dennis Cozzalio at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule posted an interview he did back in June with Salon film critic Stephanie Zacharek. Near the end of the interview, Cozzalio asks Zacharek "what would be in your movie hall of fame?" Zacharek lists The Lady Eve, the Apu Trilogy, The Rules of the Game, the Godfather movies (just parts I and II: "When I say the Godfather movies," Zacharek says, "Part III does not exist"), and The Wild Bunch. Then she says, "Let me see. Also something by Brian De Palma, probably Casualties of War." In the interview, Cozzalio and Zacharek discuss what it's like for her to be married to another film critic (Charles Taylor), Pauline Kael, movies she's stood up for, and interactions with readers. A very interesting read-- check it out. Also check out Cozzalio's terrific conversation with Joe Dante.


Posted by Geoff at 11:39 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, August 6, 2009 11:40 PM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
BOUZEREAU'S NIGHT AT THE MOVIES
TCM SPECIAL TO FEATURE HIRSCH, KOEPP, AND MORE
Turner Classic Movies will air a new series of one-hour specials this fall produced by Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks Television. The series is called A Night At The Movies, and the first special, The Suspenseful World Of Thrillers, was written, produced, and directed by Laurent Bouzereau, author of The De Palma Cut. The special will air on Friday, October 2 2009, at 8pm eastern time. Bouzereau has produced and directed numerous behind-the-scenes features over the years for laserdisc and DVD releases of films by Brian De Palma and Spielberg, among others. His TCM special on thrillers will feature new interviews with frequent De Palma editor Paul Hirsch, as well as David Koepp, who wrote the screenplays for De Palma's Carlito's Way, Mission: Impossible, and Snake Eyes. Other interviews for the program include Kenneth Branagh, Scott Frank, Bryan Singer, Martin Landau, Mel Brooks, and Diablo Cody. A TCM press release states that the special "will explore such topics as the origin of thrillers and development of stylistic conventions; the use of a wrongly accused everyman as a protagonist; the range of female roles, from damsel in distress to femme fatale; the creation of classic villains and the actors who relished playing them; the impact of World War II on the genre; the emergence of more violent thrillers in the 1960s; the rise of the paranoid thriller in the 1970s; and how the genre continues in popularity by latching onto the current zeitgeist." Also see the press release for a list of the films the channel will feature every Friday in October under the following headings: "Thrillers and Hitchcock," "Political Thrillers," "Crime Thrillers," "Gothic Thrillers," and "Psychological Thrillers."

Posted by Geoff at 1:32 PM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Posted by Geoff at 9:45 PM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink | Share This Post
Monday, August 3, 2009
BUTLER TALKS MALONE
BUT HAS 'NO IDEA' ON STATUS OF CAPONE
Gerard Butler, who had been set to play Jimmy Malone in Brian De Palma's planned prequel to The Untouchables, was asked about the status of Capone Rising in an interview in the August 2009 issue of Total Film. Butler replied, "I've no idea. It's on the backburner somewhere - it fell by the wayside when we lost our Al Capone. It was actually one of the best scripts I've read in a long time, so it's kind of sad." (The article is edited to suggest that Butler was definitely referring to Nicolas Cage when he spoke of losing "our Al Capone," but he is not quoted as saying anything about Cage, so he could have been referring to another unnamed actor.) Butler then said something we've been hearing him repeat since he signed on to the project: "It was actually one of the best scripts I've read in a long time, so it's kind of sad." The screenplay was written originally by Brian Koppelman and David Levien, and then revised by David Rabe. Butler was also asked by Total Film is he had been practicing his Sean Connery impersonation. "Nah," Butler replied. "It's a very different entity, this film. It is the Connery role, but the guy was completely different."

DID PUBLIC ENEMIES PROVIDE BOOSTER TO CAPONE RISING?
A couple of weeks ago, Paul Heath wrote a story on his blog, The Hollywood News, stating that the success of Michael Mann's Public Enemies had "seemingly boosted two other high profile productions" in development. This included a "shot in the arm" to Capone Rising, according to Heath, as well as to the graphic novel adaptation Pretty Baby Machine. Heath wrote:

We had interviewed PBM Creator and Development Producer, Clark Westerman, last year at the time of the announced deal and he stated it was quite likley the project would not be shopped until results of [Public] Enemies was in. Capone Rising looks like it took a wait and see as well to see what the public's appetite for the period ganster genere is 20+ years after the smash success of De Palma's Untouchables.

I sent Heath an e-mail asking if he could shed light on any of his sources for this story, but he never replied...

Also just in: Kevin Costner escapes injury after severe thunderstorm causes stage to collapse.


Posted by Geoff at 12:37 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, August 3, 2009 1:37 AM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Saturday, August 1, 2009
MAINSTREAM MASTERPIECE
JOHN KENNETH MUIR ON THE UNTOUCHABLES
John Kenneth Muir continues his weekly look at select Brian De Palma films with a wonderful analysis of The Untouchables, which he calls "De Palma's mainstream masterpiece," it being "a visual exercise in mythbuilding." Muir characterizes The Untouchables as a war film, stating, "On the surface, the brutal struggle in The Untouchables appears to be one regarding law enforcement, but the movie's tone and visuals make it plain that this is not entirely the case. On the contrary," Muir continues, "this is total war, a fact De Palma makes plain via cross-cutting. Early in the film, he cross-cuts between Capone decrying violence as 'not good business' and then a scene involving a little girl murdered in what, essentially, is a terrorist bombing of a local Chicago saloon."

"ODESSA STEPS" HOMAGE MUCH MORE THAN A "STUNT"
Muir is perhaps most inspired in his analysis of De Palma's improvised train station set piece:

Again, this sequence is likely the demarcation point where some people will "get" and appreciate De Palma, and others will simply insist that he is a particularly gifted "thief." For in concept and execution, the staircase scene of The Untouchables is an intricate homage to Sergei Eisenstein's 1925 propaganda classic, The Battleship Potemkin.

In that film, the famous "Odessa Steps" sequence dramatized a massacre conducted by the Tsarist Regime, set atop a wide staircase. Civilians were brutally murdered in this bloody sequence, as Cossacks killed men, women and children. Famously, a baby carriage was depicted rolling down the staircase.

In original context, the Odessa Steps sequence was meant to demonize the Imperial Regime, to expose the fact that there was no depth to which it would not sink to hold onto to power in Russia. The scene is so famous in cinema history that some people have apparently believed that there was a massacre on the Odessa Steps even though the incident was a fictional one concocted for the film.

Those who accuse De Palma of lifting the Odessa Steps sequence from The Battleship Potemkin should take one extra step -- beyond that of accusation -- and ask themselves why? What purpose does it serve to feature a similar sequence here, in this movie?

On one hand, we can certainly point to the deliberate homage and intertextuality we see throughout De Palma's canon. But furthermore, there's a reflexive quality to this reference in The Untouchables. To wit: the battle for capitalist control of Chicago is occurring, roughly, in the same time period that The Battleship Potemkin was made and distributed (circa 1925 - 1930). In other words, by cutting and shooting a sequence just like the Odessa Steps, De Palma is actually reflecting something that the characters of the time might have themselves conceivably understood or known about.

Much more importantly, however, De Palma has created a thematic relative of Potemkin; a kind of "pop" form of propaganda; a heroic myth elevating the G-Men in stature and deriding a corrupt system and the criminals -- like Capone -- who exploited it (the capitalist equivalent of the Tsarists).

De Palma's point -- captured beautifully in the slow-motion shoot-out -- is that Capone's Regime (like that of the Cossacks...) boasts no moral compunction about the murder of the innocent. It will hold onto control any way it can, as we have seen in the corner saloon bombing and now with the imperiled baby carriage. Ness's task is much more difficult: he must eliminate the entrenched, powerful bad guys (the hench-men of Capone) and defend the innocent simultaneously. Remember how that grieving mother told Ness to get Capone? Well, here Ness lands in an even more urgent variation of that scene: finally in the position to prevent the death of an innocent at the same time that he takes down the guilty.

So, yes, De Palma pays tribute to Eisenstein's shock cutting in the famous staircase battle, but he has done two other important things as well. First, he has raised audience "ire" over Capone's actions in the self-same manner as Eisenstein did in regards to the Tsarists;" exposing" a corrupt regime in the process. And secondly, he has re-purposed the "lifted" sequence so as to make a point about the nature of the all-out battle Ness is fighting.

Amazingly, De Palma crafts an action sequence in the very film language appropriate to the era of his film, the 1920s-1930s. In his review, critic Hal Hinson called the staircase shoot-out scene De Palma's "greatest stunt," only-half impressed, but I suggest that given the context, given the reflexivity, given the re-purposing of a classic sequence for a like thematic purpose, it is much more than a stunt. This is De Palma conceiving and deploying brilliant visuals to chart for audiences the epic nature of the Capone/Ness conflict.


Posted by Geoff at 11:51 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, August 1, 2009 11:52 PM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink | Share This Post

Newer|Latest|Older