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Saturday, February 6, 2010
COP OUT TRAILER'S UNTOUCHABLES JOKE
AND TV AD'S SCARFACE JOKE

The above trailer for Kevin Smith's Cop Out (originally titled A Couple Of Dicks) features a nasty joke involving Robert De Niro and Kevin Costner in The Untouchables. Meanwhile, an ad for the film that ran on NBC Thursday night had Tracy Morgan, whose character in the film has a habit of using lines from movies to interrogate suspects, quotes a line from Scarface, and then hilariously mouths the word "Scarface" to his partner, played by Bruce Willis. (No word yet on a Bonfire Of The Vanities joke.) On a side note, De Palma's most recent film, Redacted, quotes a line from Kevin Smith's Clerks, when Rush, who has just found out that his unit will be forced to extend its tour of duty, exclaims, "I'm not even supposed to be here today!" Reno then replies, "None of us is supposed to be here," before Rush goes on a tirade about how they keep telling them they're going home tomorrow, but then telling them they have to stay.

Posted by Geoff at 1:21 AM CST
Updated: Saturday, February 6, 2010 7:29 AM CST
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Wednesday, February 3, 2010
GREATEST EXTENDED TAKES
AS CHOSEN BY MIKE LE AT GEEKWEEK
Geekweek's Mike Le has posted his list of the "20 Greatest Extended Takes In Movie History." The list, which tops off with the famous nightclub entrance in Martin Scorsese's GoodFellas, includes two scenes from Brian De Palma films. The opening scene that follows Bruce Willis in Bonfire Of The Vanities is number 16, while the shot that follows Carlito on the run through Grand Central Station in Carlito's Way is number 7. (Thanks to John!)

Posted by Geoff at 3:43 AM CST
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Friday, January 29, 2010
DE PALMA'S PHANTOM CAMEO
SWAN ARCHIVES UNCOVERS CAMEO; PLUS: BLOGGER GLIMPSES... THE PHANTOM HIMSELF?!?

The Swan Archives recently discovered that Brian De Palma does indeed make a brief, small cameo in his 1974 film, Phantom Of The Paradise. The shot above, captured from the climactic wedding sequence, shows the bearded De Palma up in the corner of the balcony (look to the top left of the photo). As noted on the Swan Archives "Production" page, there has been some debate over whether or not a seated figure seen as the curtains open for Phoenix before she sings "Old Souls" is De Palma (the Swan Archivist does not believe it is De Palma, due to the lack of beard), but this balcony figure does indeed appear to be the real deal.

Meanwhile, Vinnie Rattolle recently visited the Majestic Theatre in Dallas, where Phantom Of The Paradise was shot. (Appropriately enough, he went there to see a stage presentation of Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps). After the show, Rattolle took some pictures in the dimly-lit theater, and in one photo of the stage, he thinks he sees a glimpse of the Phantom himself lurking at stage left. Could it actually be the Phantom? Take a look and decide for yourselves...

Posted by Geoff at 10:30 AM CST
Updated: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 2:04 PM CST
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Thursday, January 28, 2010
IT'S A WONDERFUL AFTERLIFE
CLIMAX OF CARRIE DROPS IN AT INDIAN WEDDING
Gurinder Chadha's It's A Wonderful Afterlife premiered this week at the Sundance Film Festival, and Dark Horizons' Paul Fischer wrote yesterday that the screwball comedy, which has been described more than once as My Big Fat Greek Wedding meets Shaun Of The Dead, has references to Frank Capra, as well as to Brian De Palma's Carrie. Now today, ScreenCrave's Brendan Walsh offers more details about the Carrie reference:

It’s a Wonderful Afterlife is entirely over the top. Ms. Chadha makes no attempt at subtlety in any regard; from the exposition of the plot via dialogue, to the makeup effects on the ghosts, even to the references to the films that inspired her as a filmmaker. In fact, there is a hysterical, if a little long, scene that is basically what would happen if the climax from Brian De Palma’s Carrie took place at an Indian wedding.

Screen Daily's David D'Arcy's review of Wonderful Afterlife provides yet more details:

The script salutes everyone from Capra to Ealing classics, Robert Altman’s Brewster McCloud, and the whole zombie-spoof genre. Chadha’s directing approach is warmhearted chaos. Characters collide with each other as food flies through the story, culminating in - what else? – a wedding, where the spirits settle scores in a spoof of Carrie with paroxysms of anything edible.


Posted by Geoff at 1:46 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, January 28, 2010 10:18 PM CST
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Sunday, January 24, 2010
BOLLYWOOD COURTING DE PALMA
ACCORDING TO RECENT REPORTS
A couple of reports in recent weeks suggest that Bollywood filmmakers are looking to collaborate with Brian De Palma and other Hollywood directors. According to India Times, Bollywood producer Firoz Nadiadwala recently met with De Palma, and also Tony Scott, in the U.S. about making Indo-American projects. The meetings are said to have been set up by Slumdog Millionaire actor Anil Kapoor, who has been in the U.S. shooting his role in the current season of FOX-TV's 24. According to Mid-Day, Kapoor (who is also a producer, writer, and sometimes director) is quoted as saying he has met with De Palma, as well as Christopher Nolan and Ben Stiller. Kapoor is also quoted as saying that he and Stiller discussed making two films together, "one in English and one in Hindi." The India Times report above about Nadiadwala is given added weight by a report from last October in Variety (relayed here by Monsters and Critics) that Scott is working on an as-yet-untitled film about Chippendales creator Somen “Steve” Banerjee. That project will be coproduced by Nadiadwala and financed "from a private equity fund raised out of India" by Permut Presentations.

Posted by Geoff at 10:03 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, January 24, 2010 10:11 PM CST
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Friday, January 15, 2010
REDACTED ADVANCED NEOREALIST FORM
VARIETY ARTICLE LOOKS AT POST-BLAIR WITCH DOCUMENTARY TECHNIQUES
A Variety article by Peter DeBruge, posted a couple of days ago, looks at the evolution of documentary techniques, highlighting recent films such as Redacted, District 9, The Hurt Locker, Bruno, and In The Loop, all films that, according to the article, have evolved the docu-form in the wake of the Blair Witch Project. Below is an excerpt led by thoughts from David Bordwell:

Of course, filmmakers didn't wait until 2009 to experiment with documentary techniques. As Bordwell points out, "From World War II on, nearly every country had some sort of neorealist impulse." In America, the crime genre combined docu-style shooting with voice-of-God narration in such late-'40s/early-'50s entries as The Naked City and Panic in the Streets. Later, directors who got their start in documentary, including Stanley Kubrick and William Friedkin, incorporated verite-based techniques in such films as Paths of Glory and The French Connection. "It reaches a culmination in Medium Cool, where you have that immediacy of filming in the Chicago riots," Bordwell adds.

Nearly 40 years later, Brian De Palma advanced the hybrid form with his 2007 Iraq War thriller Redacted, weaving jihadi websites and Al Jazeera-style footage into a tapestry of "found footage" not unlike the elaborate collage of District 9. By comparison, Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker seems downright conservative, even though it marks a radical departure from the director's more classically constructed earlier work. To achieve the immersive effect she wanted, Bigelow turned to cinematographer Barry Ackroyd, whose background in documentaries had served him well with such verite-inclined directors as Ken Loach (Ladybird Ladybird) and Paul Greengrass (United 93).

"The reason she got in touch with me was because of United 93. She wanted that sense of immediacy and urgency," explains the d.p., who coached Bigelow in Greengrass' strategy of shooting long, continuous takes and letting the action move from one camera to the next. While the actors played close to the script, the camera crew was encouraged to improvise and avoid ever repeating the same take. "If in the end, the shot is out of focus, that's the equivalent of a beautifully framed shot because it betrays the emotion in it," Ackroyd says.


Posted by Geoff at 10:32 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, January 17, 2010 8:09 PM CST
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010
HUGHES BROTHERS' CINEMATIC LONG SHOT
SHOWDOWN IN BOOK OF ELI UNRAVELS IN ONE UNCUT HANDHELD TAKE

Collider's Todd Gilchrist interviewed Allen and Albert Hughes on the set of their new movie, The Book Of Eli, which opens Friday. Albert explained to Gilchrist how the long-take scene they were shooting that day was inspired by Welles, Scorsese, De Palma, and Woo. Gilchrist writes:

The day we visited the set, the Hughes brothers were putting together the pieces of one of the film’s biggest scenes, a showdown at a rundown old home that unspools in one uncut shot. Albert indicated he and Allen were interested in evoking some of the great long-take scenes in movie history, but wanted this sequence to be their own. “It’s influenced by all of the cinematic shots through history, like the shot Orson Welles did in Touch of Evil. Then you have Scorsese, of course, and you have Brian De Palma, and we’ve always done long shots. I showed Hard Boiled for one reason - there’s a lot of action in that two minute and 32 second shot. Some people misinterpret it and say “is that the shot you want?” But ours is more rugged and handheld and going through things, but [I liked] the energy of what he did there.”

Posted by Geoff at 11:05 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 11:06 PM CST
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Monday, January 11, 2010
SCARFACE CALMS BABY
ON ABC'S MODERN FAMILY
Last week's episode of ABC's Modern Family (on Wednesday nights) hilariously brought Brian De Palma into prime time sitcom. In the episode, titled "Up All Night," a gay couple are fighting over the best way to get their daughter, Lily, to learn to sleep. Mitchell is trying to "Ferberize" the baby by allowing her to cry herself to sleep, but Cameron cannot stand to hear her endless cries in the middle of the night. Mitchell confronts Cameron, who is holding Lily in his lap in front of the TV. Cameron gives Mitchell an excuse for why he is holding Lily in the middle of the night, and the following exchange ensues:

Mitchell: No, no, you got up to comfort her, but that only teaches her that every time she cries her daddy will come in and cuddle her and put on her fave—[turns to the TV with shock on his face] What are we watching?!?

Cameron: Brian De Palma’s controversial masterpiece Scarface.

Mitchell: For the baby?!?

Cameron: She happens to like it. I don’t know if it’s the colors, or the sounds… Oh here comes the nightclub massacre, she loves it. Watch her little eyelids, it’s so cute, they get so heavy.


Posted by Geoff at 2:34 PM CST
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Sunday, January 10, 2010


Posted by Geoff at 1:44 PM CST
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Thursday, January 7, 2010
THE ART OF THE TITLE
LARRY MCCONKEY HIGHLIGHTED IN STEADICAM OPENING SHOTS
The Art Of The Title has been looking at single-take opening shots, and part 3, posted December 21st, looks specifically at steadicam long takes, including three in which the great Larry McConkey was the camera operator: Martin Scorsese's After Hours, Brian De Palma's The Bonfire Of The Vanities, and De Palma's Snake Eyes. The takes at Art Of The Title are supplemented with commentaries and entries from Afton Grant's SteadiShots, including the following from McConkey himself, discussing the opening shot from Bonfire Of The Vanities:

I fell on the very first take, due to the introduction of an ice sculpture that extras were wheeling in front of the camera for the first time on the take. Up until then they had rehearsed with an empty cart to save the ice from melting. The extra weight slowed them up considerably. I was following the actors into the underground garage and I had choreographed the ice sculpture to wipe through frame between the actors and me before after which I planned to race in front of the group in time to back through a narrow doorway. Unfortunately there was an army of people trailing me who had to then race around and precede me through that doorway (Brian, Vilmos, AD's, sound, my assistant, etc.) and there really wasn't enough time. Someone tripped my AC, Larry Huston, who graciously offered his body for me to fall on top of. I was completely unharmed, as was the rig, but Larry H. had a nasty gash in his head. He refused a ride to the hospital so we could continue to work, and the nurse reopened his wound after every take to keep it from healing improperly until he could get stitiches. What a trooper!! Brian, who is a master tactician and strategist just hadn't considered this possibility: he stood over me, and after seeing I was OK said "I didn't think you could fall!" He had anticipated every potential disaster but this one. We did another 11 takes until dawn when Vilmos informed me that this last take "must be the one!!! The light at the beginning and end were perfect, and that WAS the one.

Each take was a full 500' and the shot was over when the end of the film flapped through the gate.

I wanted a device to let Bruce pass by me a little too close to the camera for focus in the elevator, and he came up with the idea of scooping up some Salmon Mousse, and twirling a little drunkenly past me. This also delayed the action enough for the rest of the crew (same group as before except for Larry H. and the boom woman with a wireless boom mike who rode with me) to exit the elevator next to us. They were timing their elevator to synchronize with ours on the way up to maintain a good RF link to the mixer. If the elevators rose side by side it worked fine, otherwise complete dropout. After exiting, I wanted to get back in front of Bruce so he came up with the Mousse Toss onto the wall thereby backing away from the camera enough to allow me to make a clean exit. There were many other devices like this throughout that I came up with to make the shot flow... I figure the more work everyone else does, and the less work I have to do, the better it will look...

(Thanks to Rado!)


Posted by Geoff at 4:41 PM CST
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