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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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Wednesday, October 7, 2009
BLOW OUT TOPS POLL AGAIN
BUT CARLITO MAKES CLOSE PLAY FOR RUNNER UP
Romain has posted the poll results of fans' favorite Brian De Palma film, and Blow Out has once again come out on top. The top three films, however, are only separated by a single percentage point. Romain reports that 304 people voted in the poll, and the results are a bit different than the poll run last month for Cinema Viewfinder's De Palma Blog-A-Thon. The Blog-A-Thon poll was less concentrated on De Palma fans, with its contributors presumably being film fans who may or may not consider themselves De Palma "fans." It is also worth noting that while one could only vote for a single definite favorite in Romain's poll, each voter in the Blog-A-Thon poll offered their top three choices.

In any case, it seems safe to say that Blow Out is the collective film of choice when speaking about De Palma. In Romain's new poll, Carlito's Way came in at number two (4th place in the Blog-A-Thon), followed very closely by Phantom Of The Paradise at number three (9th place in the Blog-A-Thon). Body Double showed a surprising resurgence in both polls, tying Dressed To Kill for the fourth spot in Romain's poll, and tying Femme Fatale for the fifth spot in the Blog-A-Thon. The Blog-A-Thon's number two film, Carrie, only came in at number eight in Romain's poll. Scarface and The Untouchables hover in the bottom of the top ten on both lists. In fact, the top ten of each poll include the same nine films in the top nine. Coming in at number ten on Romain's new poll is Casualties Of War (number 13 on the Blog-A-Thon). The Blog-A-Thon's number ten film, Sisters, did not even get a single vote in Romain's poll.

Posted by Geoff at 8:23 PM CDT
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Tuesday, October 6, 2009
VOTE FOR FAVE DE PALMA FILM - LAST DAY
Today is the last day to vote for your favorite De Palma film at Romain's Virtuoso of the 7th Art. Romain will post the results tomorrow!

Posted by Geoff at 9:00 AM CDT
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Tuesday, September 29, 2009
OBSESSION PREMIERES ON TCM TONIGHT
AS PART OF BERNARD HERRMANN SERIES
Brian De Palma's Obsession makes its premiere on Turner Classic Movies tonight at midnight, eastern time. TCM has been running a series on composer Bernard Herrmann every Tuesday in September, and tonight's line-up is of particular interest to De Palma fans, as it highlights some of Herrmann's post-Hitchcock works of macabre suspense. It starts at 8pm eastern with François Truffaut's Hitchcock homage, The Bride Wore Black, followed by Alastair Reid's The Night Digger (10pm eastern), which features a screenplay by Roald Dahl. Obsession follows at midnight, and then the TCM premiere of Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver runs at 2am eastern. Then at 4am eastern, TCM is showing the 2004 documentary Scorsese On Scorsese. Time to set the DVR, or take the day off tomorrow.

Also, don't forget to check out Laurent Bouzereau's The Suspenseful World of Thrillers on TCM Friday night at 8pm eastern (repeated at 11pm eastern). The Washington Times' Gary Arnold has posted a review of the special, which features interviews with Paul Hirsch and David Koepp.

Posted by Geoff at 11:37 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 29, 2009 11:39 AM CDT
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009
SHEDDING LIGHT ON CARLITO
DE PALMA WANTED SCENE ILLUMINATED BY GUN FLASH


Yesterday, John Huntington at Control Geek relayed a story about how Brian De Palma had wanted a scene entirely illuminated by a gun shot for Carlito's Way. Here is what Huntington wrote about it regarding response time between audio cues and the lighting:

Years ago, when I was working at Production Arts Lighting, we got a call from Brian De Palma's people. De Palma (who I had encountered before on The Untouchables when working for Bran Ferren) was shooting Carlito's Way, and he wanted a scene entirely "illuminated" by the flash of a (blank) gun. They did some tests, and, if I remember correctly, the gun flash wasn't bright enough, and too short to be adequately exposed on the camera. They wanted to take a big 5K fresnel, and have it respond to the sound of the gunshots. We didn't have a lot of time, so we borrowed a pitch-MIDI converter, ran it through Bars and Pipes on an Amiga, and then I wrote some filters there that would generate MIDI messages for a lighting console, that would fire a dimmer which would then light up the 5K. It was very reliable, but with all that early 90's technology, very slow. We did some gun shots, and by the time everything was captured and processed, and the 5K heated up, it was like a second late. It looked pretty cool but was too slow in general to achieve the desired effect.


Posted by Geoff at 12:36 PM CDT
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Thursday, September 17, 2009
BLOG-A-THON COMES TO A CLOSE
BLOW OUT VOTED DE PALMA'S BEST YET AGAIN
The extremely fun De Palma Blog-A-Thon hosted by Tony Dayoub at Cinema Viewfinder closed yesterday with an excellent final entry from Dayoub that juxtaposed Scarface with Carlito's Way. Dayoub begins his essay with a description of his own experiences growing up as a Cuban American in an Hispanic neighborhood in Miami in the late 1970s. He then moves on to describe how Carlito's Way is a "symmetrical counterpoint" to Scarface:

De Palma is always prone to symmetry in his work, often bookending his films with similar visual or thematic concerns: the menstrual blood at the beginning of Carrie (1976) with the pig's blood in its climax; the sexually violent shower dream that opens Dressed to Kill (1980) and the one that ends it; the way an empty gun helps Carlito escape during a shootout at the start of Carlito's Way, and seals his lawyer Kleinfeld's (Sean Penn) fate as the movie wraps up. But with the release of Carlito's Way, De Palma provided not so much an apology, as some have said—for his negative depiction of a Latin gangster in Scarface—as much as he provided a doppelganger, a symmetrical counterpoint to the earlier film that gives it some unexpected depth.

I have been working on something for the Blog-A-Thon that nevertheless was not finished in time-- my piece grew after I discovered some things about the films I was writing about that I hadn't picked up on before. As a result, I had to do a little more research (i.e. watch more films), which is great, but I was not able to complete my essay before the Blog-A-Thon ended. But I do thank Tony for giving me the incentive to write this piece in the first place, and I hope to have it completed and posted by early next week.

POLL RESULTS: RANKING DE PALMA'S FILMS
The last big survey of De Palma fans' favorite De Palma films was done in 2002 by Carl Rodrigue at Le Paradis de Brian De Palma (Romain at Virtuoso of the 7th Art also has one going right now through October 4th). As the Blog-A-Thon ended, so did the Cinema Viewfinder poll, which ended up with 168 votes tallied from users voting for their three favorite De Palma films, in no particular order. Amazingly, the top four titles are the same as the 2002 poll, with the exception that Dressed To Kill was number 2 back then (at Cinema Viewfinder it switches with Carrie and takes the number 3 spot). While Femme Fatale was number 5 all on its own back when it was brand new, it remains number 5 today, although now Body Double has jumped up to tie for the position (the latter was number 9 in 2002). The top ten are further filled out by The Untouchables, Scarface, Phantom Of The Paradise, and Sisters. Here is the entire list:

1. Blow Out
2. Carrie
3. Dressed To Kill
4. Carlito’s Way
5. Femme Fatale/Body Double (Tie)
7. The Untouchables
8. Scarface
9. Phantom Of The Paradise
10. Sisters
11. The Fury/Mission: Impossible (Tie)
13. Casualties Of War
14. Raising Cain
15. The Black Dahlia
16. Obsession
17. Hi, Mom!/Snake Eyes (Tie)
19. Redacted
20. Mission To Mars
21. Dionysus In ‘69
22. Murder a la Mod/Greetings/Get To Know Your Rabbit/Home Movies/The Bonfire Of The Vanities (each received one vote)
27. The Wedding Party/Wise Guys (each received zero votes)

We will see how these votes stack up against Romain's poll in October.


Posted by Geoff at 5:52 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, September 17, 2009 5:58 PM CDT
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Tuesday, September 15, 2009
TIFF 2009 TIDBITS
DE PALMA AT TALENT LAB; LIKES FISH TANK; ALSO: NOE & EGOYAN


Brian De Palma was a surprise guest Saturday at the Toronto International Film Festival's Talent Lab, which took place September 9-12. According to Catbird Productions' Twitter page, De Palma, actress Tilda Swinton, and director Scott Hicks all showed up on the last day of the lab, which offers development opportunities to up-and-coming Canadian filmmakers. De Palma has participated in the event a number of times over the years.

ANDREA ARNOLD'S FISH TANK AT TORONTO
According to the Globe And Mail's Johanna Schneller, De Palma liked Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank (pictured above), which won the Jury Prize at Cannes earlier this year. The film stars Katie Jarvis, who had never acted before this, as a foul-mouthed 15-year-old who dances with headphones on and has a crush on her mom's boyfriend. The newcomer is said to have been approached by the casting director on a railway station platform. The trailer can be viewed here.

GASPAR NOE'S ENTER THE VOID AT TORONTO
Meanwhile, the Globe And Mail's Rick Groen reports that Gaspar Noé was excited to hear that De Palma was at the Toronto press screening for his latest film, Enter The Void, which features, we hear, the most extreme use of subjective point-of-view camerawork possible, moving from death to womb. Noé and De Palma shared an interesting link in 2002, when each of the films they released that year (Noé's Irreversible, De Palma's Femme Fatale), which were both made in France, featured Jo Prestia as a menacing rapist (although in De Palma's film, Prestia's character is no less than a tool used by the femme fatale to provoke Antonio Banderas' Nicolas into a rage). Here is what Groen posted on Saturday:

"Did you see Brian De Palma in the audience for my film?" The question bubbles up in a boyishly excited rush, which both charms and surprises me. That's because the questioner is French director Gaspar Noé, the last guy you'd expect to give a tinker's damn about the audience or anybody in it. His approach to filmmaking, in Irreversible and now again in Enter the Void, is, well, combative, assaulting us with triple-barrelled bursts of brutal imagery and fractured time-frames and kaleidoscopic effects. All sighted through his talented eye, the result is riveting to some and revolting to others. People get mesmerized by his movies, people walk out of his movies, and Noé has always seemed delighted with either reaction. Clearly, though, this is an exception: He wants Brian De Palma to have been there, and he really wants Brian De Palma to have stayed.

So Noé continues in the same bubbly rush: "Someone told me he was in the audience yesterday. At the press and industry screening. So I rushed over and looked at the seats but I couldn't see him." A pause, then he repeats: "Did you see Brian De Palma in the audience for my film?"

Okay, I was there, the theatre was maybe half-filled, and, since poor Noé seems on the cusp of imploring, I'd love to give him the right answer. But. "Um, sorry, I did not see Brian De Palma in the audience. But I was looking up, not around, and I've heard that De Palma, even when he doesn't have a film at the fest, has a history of coming to Toronto anyway just to watch lots of movies, so, you know, maybe he was there."

Noé, who spent several years raising the money for Enter the Void and two more years shooting and editing it and who doesn't yet have a North American distributor for his prodigious labour of love, tries to take heart from that "maybe." And who can blame him?

ATOM EGOYAN'S CHLOE AT TORONTO
The Film Farm, which announced yesterday that De Palma's Tabloid is currently on the company's production slate, produced Atom Egoyan's Chloe, which had its premiere in Toronto Sunday. The film is a "reinvention" of Anne Fontaine' Nathalie..., with an all new screenplay by Erin Cressida Wilson (Secretary, Fur), that is said to have more Hitchcockian overtones than the original film. Amanda Seyfried, who also stars in Jennifer's Body, is said to give a breakout performance in Chloe. She and De Palma were spotted by The Star's Rob & Rita at a Toronto party the other day.

OTHER DE PALMA SIGHTINGS
The Philadelphia Inquirer's Stephen Rea spotted De Palma "walking from one screening to another, and then later out in Yorkville, sitting on a rock in a pocket park in his trademark safari jacket, adjusting his iPod." Rea added that "De Palma is one of the fest's annual fixtures." The opening of Rea's post offers an interesting contrast of viewpoints:

Never mind health care, here's the real difference between the United States and Canada: Driving into the country from the States side of Niagara Falls, you pull up to the customs officer's booth; he asks you the purpose of your visit, and when you say you're covering the Toronto Film Festival, his next question is, "What's your favorite movie?" And then he tells you his (Raiders of the Lost Ark), and then he wants to know what's up with James Cameron's Avatar because he'd heard that it's going to revolutionize the moviegoing experience.

And then: What are you looking forward to seeing in Toronto? Are there going to be a lot of stars?

Somehow I can't picture the Homeland Security dude on my return through New York asking me if the new Pedro Almodóvar is as good as All About My Mother.

And finally, Bill Chambers of Film Freak Central tweeted yesterday, "I think I just pissed off Brian DePalma." After someone asked him for more details, Chambers wrote, "It might be too abstract to sum up in a tweet. I should add that my DePalma encounters are always fantastically unpleasant."


Posted by Geoff at 6:11 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 6:20 PM CDT
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Monday, September 14, 2009
DE PALMA'S TABLOID
THE POLITICAL THRILLER WITH FILM FARM NOW HAS A NAME
A quick post, since I only have a minute-- but here is exciting news via Screen Daily's Denis Seguin, who posted an article today from Totonto about the production slate of Film Farm, the company that produced Brian De Palma's Redacted:

Also on Film Farm’s production slate is Brian De Palma’s Tabloid, a political thriller inspired by political and personal imbroglios of Democratic presidential nominee John Edwards – with a serial killer thrown in. Weiss described the project as exploring De Palma’s core themes: politics, sex and murder.

This is undoubtedly the formerly untitled political thriller mentioned by Film Farm at Cannes last year (2008). When I asked De Palma what that film was about, he replied, "Sex and Lies on the Champaign Trail."


Posted by Geoff at 6:18 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 12:58 PM CDT
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Friday, September 11, 2009
KUSAMA & CODY CITE CARRIE, HEATHERS
JENNIFER'S BODY A TRIBUTE TO THE "POWERS OF ESTROGEN"

Jennifer's Body, written by Diablo Cody and directed by Karyn Kusama, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last night. According to the Los Angeles Times' Mark Olsen, Kusama introduced the film, and named Carrie, Heathers, and A Nightmare On Elm Street as inspirations. She added that Jennifer's Body is intended as a tribute to the "powers of estrogen," according to Olsen. Cody herself counts Suspiria and Carrie as two of her favorite horror films, according to Canwest's Katherine Monk. A blogger who goes by the name tchadmag enjoyed the film, and feels that the fact that it was made by women sets it apart from Carrie and Heathers:

I think Jennifer’s Body is actually an original, funny, and smart horror film, and what it demonstrates most clearly to me is the difference between someone writing a horror film because they genuinely love the genre and its potential or someone writing a horror film because they’re “hot.” In her introductory comments, director Karyn Kusama invoked such films as Carrie and Heathers, and certainly she’s made a movie that exists on a continuum with those films, but with one profound difference, one that is part of what makes Jennifer’s Body so interesting. Those films were made by guys about teenage girls. This is a movie by women, both writing and directing, and anyone who wants to argue that Dan Waters has a better grasp on teenage girls than Cody does, or that Brian De Palma understands the psychology of high school girls better than Kusama… well, I ain’t buying it. There is something to be said about writing to your own experience, and one of the reasons I consider Jennifer’s Body to be a better-than-average example of the genre is because so much care has been paid to making these kids feel authentic.

However, Screen Daily's Tim Grierson feels that Kusama's indifference to the genre led to unsure filmmaking:

Despite its selling points, however, Jennifer’s Body can’t help but feel unsatisfying. Part of the problem comes from the filmmakers’ noticeable superiority to the genre they’re working in. Jennifer’s murderous acts lack tension and are shot rather perfunctorily, as if Kusama is contemptuous of horror movie conventions but is unsure how best to parody them.

TWO MORE LOOKS AT CARRIE
John Kenneth Muir continues his weekly look at De Palma's cinema with an essay posted today about Carrie. Meanwhile, inspired by the De Palma Blog-A-Thon at Cinema Viewfinder, Jordan Ruimy at Suspicious Kind named his three favorite De Palma films: Blow Out, Carrie, and Carlito's Way. Of Carrie, Ruimy writes, "There's an abandon in the filmmaking that I don't think De Palma ever achieved again- a fearless, joyous abandon that makes you realize how talented the man truly is."


Posted by Geoff at 11:40 PM CDT
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Thursday, September 10, 2009
DE PALMA AT TIFF
WELL, OF COURSE HE IS
Looks like Brian De Palma is attending his favorite film festival again this year in Toronto. This photo of the director was taken in Yorkville, and posted today at The Hollywood Minute. Meanwhile, Johanna Schneller at the Globe And Mail, looks at the reasons various people have for attending the Toronto International Film Festival. For her own self, she writes that she is looking for the type of chance encounter she had at last year's fest when she met De Palma:

And for me? I'm looking, as always, for moments of truth. I'm hoping for a chance encounter that gives me goosebumps, as happened in my final TIFF screening last year, where the gracious man I chatted with turned out to be Brian De Palma. I'm hoping for that rare unguarded flash when an actor says something personal enough to reveal something universal - like the time Dustin Hoffman said of his children leaving home for university, "Nobody tells you about the empty bedrooms," and his eyes filled with tears. (I can't tell you how many people I've mentioned that to when their kids fly off, and it's utterly true.)

I'm hoping for a film that makes my hair stand on end, and for a collection of them that shows us where we are as humans. So far, the ones I've seen are suffused with a sense of loneliness, of people fighting very hard simply to get by. Maybe it's just my state of mind (and credit-card bills).


Posted by Geoff at 6:12 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, September 10, 2009 6:13 PM CDT
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BLOG-A-THON PLUS
ZANZIE ON MURDER A LA MOD; KENNY ON BODY DOUBLE, ETC., ETC...
So many blogs, so little time! Cinema Viewfinder's De Palma Blog-A-Thon is going strong-- it opened with a great look back at The Untouchables from Ratnakar Sadasyula, followed by pieces on Raising Cain (by Kevin J. Olson) and Mission To Mars (by Chris Voss). Now, Glenn Kenny has posted an intriguing piece linking Hi, Mom! to Body Double. My own post will be coming later this week(-end)-- but wait, there's more! At Icebox Movies, Adam Zanzie has posted an essay in which he declares (rightfully so) that Murder a la Mod is "where it all began" for De Palma's thematic and stylistic obsessions. Meanwhile, John Kenneth Muir has been continuing his weekly look at De Palma's cinema. Two weeks ago, he posted an essay about Carlito's Way, and followed that up last week with a look at Mission: Impossible. Lots of reading to do!

Posted by Geoff at 12:08 AM CDT
Updated: Friday, September 11, 2009 7:41 PM CDT
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