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Wednesday, February 24, 2010
LA TIMES: DE PALMA MAY GO PARANORMAL
PARAMOUNT CONSIDERS GENRE DIRECTORS FOR SEQUEL
Just days after getting an update on Brian De Palma's latest projects comes an unexpected report from Steven Zeitchik at the L.A. Times' 24 Frames blog. According to Zeitchik, Paramount is "seriously considering a trio of more experienced directors" to take on the sequel to Oren Peli's Paranormal Activity, the phenomenon shot for $10,000 that is still frightening audiences around the world. Steven Spielberg helped convince Dreamworks (which at the time was being aquired by Paramount) to distribute the film, eventually suggesting a different ending for the film in the process. The film was memorably promoted with ads showing audiences reacting to what was happening on the screen. Months ago, Paramount announced a release date for Paranormal 2-- October 22 2010. However, the director hired for the sequel, Kevin Greutert, who had directed Saw VI, was optioned back by Lionsgate for Saw VII 3D, which will also be released October 22nd. So Paramount has been searching for a director. Besides De Palma, the other two directors with genre experience being considered, according to Zeitchik, are Brad Anderson (Transiberian) and Greg McLean (Wolf Creek). Zeitchik states that the film currently has no director or actors attached, and that the screenplay is still being worked on.

My feeling is that De Palma's name attached to the sequel would make it stand out above the Saw sequel that comes out the same day. This is a project that De Palma could have a lot of fun with, bringing in a potential whopper of a film on time and under budget. It also has the potential to further some of the modern storytelling techniques he played around with in Redacted. Beyond all of that, it is no wonder Paramount would consider De Palma for a project such as this-- De Palma has had his two biggest hits (in terms of grosses) with Paramount: Mission: Impossible and The Untouchables. The question might be, will De Palma consider Paranormal Activity 2...?

Posted by Geoff at 11:42 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, February 25, 2010 12:09 AM CST
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Monday, February 22, 2010
DE PALMA PROJECT UPDATES
BOSTON STRANGLERS, TABLOID, PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE...
It's been a while since our last update on Brian De Palma's latest projects, so we got the word from the man himself. The director says he is still trying to cast The Boston Stranglers, which Gale Anne Hurd's Valhalla Motion Pictures is producing. Also still in the works is Tabloid, the John Edwards-inspired thriller being produced by the Film Farm. De Palma also confirms that he has indeed been working with Paul Williams on a stage production of Phantom Of The Paradise, with the original film's Ed Pressman producing. One project has fallen by the wayside, however, as De Palma said he is no longer involved with William Boyd's The Blue Afternoon.

Posted by Geoff at 8:48 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 10:01 AM CST
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010
PHANTOM @ CANADIAN MUSIC WEEK
ALONG WITH PERFORMANCE FROM KEYNOTE SPEAKER PAUL WILLIAMS
Paul Williams will be a keynote speaker at Canadian Music Week 2010, which runs from March 10-14 in Toronto. Williams will appear on Saturday, March 13, to present his keynote address, and will also perform on the “Kings of Songwriting” panel as part of the fest's Songwriters’ Summit. One day earlier, Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise (for which Williams wrote the songs and in which he plays evil record mogul Swan) will be screened as part of the Canadian Music Week Film Festival. Phantom screens at 9pm March 12th.

Posted by Geoff at 12:32 AM CST
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Friday, February 12, 2010
ARMOND WHITE ON THE WOLFMAN
CITES ROMANEK, RAISING CAIN, THE FURY, CARRIE
Mark Romanek, who was one of the students who made Home Movies with mentor Brian De Palma in 1979, had put a lot of energy into making The Wolfman before quitting over budget issues just before filming was to begin. According to a CHUD interview with Joe Johnston, the director who took over the project, Romanek had left behind some choice ingredients. Armond White at the New York Press concludes his mostly negative review of "the loudest horror film ever made" with a discussion of Romanek's vision, citing De Palma a few times along the way:

Here’s a puzzle for film historians: The Wolfman was conceptualized by music video director Mark Romanek, who studied under Brian De Palma on 1980’s Home Movies. Although Romanek left The Wolfman before capable Joe Johnston took over direction, this is the most complete representation of Romanek’s sensibility yet to reach the big screen. Every shot features enormous artistic detail (Romanek’s encyclopedic visual mastery). It is sumptuously art-directed with Gainsborough interiors and exquisitely photographed (by Shelly Johnson) so that moonlight, candlelight and dust motes play in a single shot. And the genuinely malevolent slaughter scenes evoke Goya’s richly tragic disasters. This isn’t sentimental cruelty like Peter Jackson’s silly King Kong remake nor Sam Raimi’s ridiculous Drag Me to Hell. But like De Palma’s grievous violence, it’s artful.

At the core of Del Toro’s performance is the same Oedipal anguish as De Palma’s Raising Cain; and though a father-son werewolf clash turns ludicrous, there’s a final flourish straight out of The Fury. Best of all is a liebestod, staged Romanek-style against a jugendstil waterfall where Lawrence grabs Gwen’s wrist—a shocking gesture of love just like the climax of Carrie. What’s missing from The Wolfman is De Palma’s sophisticated, humorous purpose, as Romanek surely intended.


Posted by Geoff at 7:04 PM CST
Updated: Friday, February 12, 2010 7:07 PM CST
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010
MISSING BLACK DAHLIA TRACKS AVAILABLE
k.d. lang's LOVE FOR SALE, CINDY O'CONNOR'S THE MAN WHO GRIMACES
If you've been looking to complete your collection of music from Brian De Palma's cinematically sumptuous adaptation of James Ellroy's The Black Dahlia, your task just got a little easier. Yesterday, k.d. lang released Recollection, a two-CD set that includes, finally, her version of Cole Porter's Love For Sale as performed in The Black Dahlia. Meanwhile, yesterday, I learned something I hadn't realized: the music on the soundtrack during the Man Who Laughs sequence (where the three friends are watching the silent movie at the theater) was done by Mark Isham's assistant, Cindy O'Connor. You can hear the track, titled The Man Who Grimaces, in full at O'Connor's MySpace page.

Posted by Geoff at 12:12 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 12:16 PM CST
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Tuesday, February 9, 2010
ALL THINGS REDACTED
NEW BOOK EXAMINES TRUE STORY; A.O. SCOTT ON APOLITICAL WAR FILMS, MORE...
A new book out today by TIME magazine's Jim Frederick examines the real life story of the soldiers whose actions inspired the Brian De Palma film Redacted. Frederick's Black Hearts draws on interviews with soldiers from the unit known as "the Black Heart Brigade," with a critical eye toward the leadership, or lack thereof, involved in the soldiers' day-to-day activities. The book, subtitled "One Platoon's Descent Into Madness In Iraq's Triangle Of Death," does not mention De Palma's film. TIME magazine is running two excerpts this week: "The Downward Spiral of Private Steven Green", and "Anatomy of an Iraq War Crime".

Meanwhile, over the weekend, the New York Times' A. O. Scott posted an essay about the apolitical approach to the Iraq and Afghansitan wars taken by Kathryn Bigelow and others. Scott notes the cluster of war films from 2007 that dared to deal with the politics involved:

There have been some exceptions to this rule. Brian De Palma’s “Redacted” and Paul Haggis’s “In the Valley of Elah,” released in fall 2007, questioned the war in Iraq, one in anger and the other in sorrow and both with emphasis on the effects of the fighting on men in the field. Other films from that year, like Robert Redford’s “Lions for Lambs” and Gavin Hood’s “Rendition,” tried to dramatize debates then unfolding in the public sphere about the justice or prudence of American policy. None of these movies were particularly successful, either with audiences or in their earnest, cautious attempts to frame the issues of post-9/11 geopolitics.

It may be that movies, at least as they are currently made and consumed, can’t bridge the gulf between the theater of war and the arena of politics. It is also probably true that the soldiers who are the main characters in fictional and nonfictional war movies don’t talk much about the larger context in which they struggle to survive and get the job done.

BLOGGER CALLS OUT REDACTED FOR PARTNERING WITH MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL PLAYERS
Speaking of the politics involved in Redacted, Screen Addict takes De Palma and company to task for the film's product placement deals:

Amongst the credits – after a montage of gruesome and horrific war images – De Palma and his Producers (clearly unaware of the inherent irony) thank numerous luminaries of the military-industrial complex, including Samsung, Toshiba and Panasonic (all electronics manufacturers who have developed goods for military means, earning shedloads of money in the process).

Most notable among the ‘Product Placement Thanks’ is Nokia, a long-term army supplier across the world and a recent industrial partner of Siemens, a company notorious for their operation of factories which were converted into Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War. More pertinent to the Middle East, however, is a Nokia-Siemens partnership which sparked controversy – albeit since the release of Redacted – for its plans to provide Iran with telecommunication systems that would allow unprecedented monitoring of its already repressed citizens.

All this is not to suggest that films should be made without the assistance of these companies, or that we should somehow boycott every product that has an investment in the military-industrial complex, these are businesses after all, and military is big, big business.

But with Redacted, Brian De Palma (and his Producers) seem to be taking goods and/or money from such organisations on the one hand, and seeming to preach against the interests of these organisations on the other. Call it an act of subversion if you will, but it seems to be just another symptom of the confused creative approach to a frequently confusing war.


Posted by Geoff at 5:25 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 8:46 PM CST
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Monday, February 8, 2010
TARANTINO ON DIRECTOR RIVALRIES
RECOUNTS DE PALMA'S "THERE'S ALWAYS SCORSESE" STORY

The video above comes courtesy of Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeffrey Wells, who attended a "Directors On Directing" panel yesterday at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The panel, moderated by Variety's Peter Bart, featured Quentin Tarantino, James Cameron, Kathryn Bigelow, Lee Daniels, Pete Docter, and Todd Phillips. The clip above shows Tarantino going into the anecdote he has told before about the De Palma/Scorsese rivalry, but he really plays it up this time in a highly entertaining way. Speaking of Scorsese, an interview article by Terrence Rafferty published yesterday in the New York Times discusses how, for the new Shutter Island, Scorsese and his music supervisor Robbie Robertson decided to use modern classical music to paint bursts of sound walls, the way Scorsese usually uses rock music. Should be an interesting effect-- looking forward to seeing it.

Posted by Geoff at 10:26 AM CST
Updated: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 8:35 PM CST
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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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