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Thursday, November 18, 2010
ROMAIN DESBIENS' SHORT FILM

If you've been thinking things have been quiet over at Virtuoso Of The 7th Art lately, now you know why-- webmaster Romain Desbiens has been busy making a short film of his own. Frénésie (which translates into "Frenzy," although Desbiens says there is no link with Alfred Hitchcock's film) is a comically disturbing Polanski-esque trip into the absurd. Desbiens says he took a bit of inspiration from Brian De Palma with some high-angle shots, and a nod to Dressed To Kill in the subway scene. Desbiens had hoped to submit Frénésie as part of a French festival of short films in December, but battles with the producer of the film will keep it underground for now.

Posted by Geoff at 12:02 AM CST
Updated: Thursday, November 18, 2010 10:59 AM CST
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Monday, November 15, 2010
TRUE CARRIE SOUNDTRACK UNEARTHED
LIMITED EDITION OF DONAGGIO CLASSIC TO SHIP IN DECEMBER
Kritzerland has announced a limited release of a newly unearthed complete soundtrack to Brian De Palma's Carrie, which was scored by Pino Donaggio. The soundtrack includes all of Donaggio's cues as used in the film, as well as the two songs he wrote and recorded for the prom sequence. The other pop songs used in the film (two songs heard on the radio while Billy and Chris are in Billy's car, and another song played by the band at the prom) were unavailable to Kritzerland. The label's web site explains the discovery of the original material, and the history of the original soundtrack's release:

United Artists released the soundtrack album on LP. It was an odd presentation in that almost all of the music was from the film’s second half, save for the main title sequence (which was repeated verbatim at the end of the album). The album ran thirty-five minutes. That LP was released twice on CD – first by Ryko (with dialogue snippets included to pad out the running time), and then by Varese Sarabande (with the dialogue snippets gone). Ryko used the album master, and the Varese was a clone of the Ryko release (the pop songs used in the film were not available to them or to us).

For this very special release, we are pleased to say that our detective work paid off in spades – we found 13 reels of the original session masters and they included the entire score, about twenty-five minutes of never-before-released score cues. Since both film and score are iconic, it was the greatest kind of discovery we could have made.

So, it is with great pleasure that we offer for the first time the complete score to Carrie in film order. We also found two instrumentals of the songs, which we’ve included as bonus tracks. Additionally, on CD 2 we offer the original album, newly remastered for this release.

This release is limited to 1200 copies only. The price of this special 2 CD set is our usual one CD price – $19.98, plus shipping. Additionally, we are offering a special deal with the purchase of this release. Go to the item page and click on the link to find out about it.

CD will ship the third week of December – however, preorders placed directly through Kritzerland usually ship one to five weeks earlier (we’ve been averaging four weeks early).


Posted by Geoff at 11:37 AM CST
Updated: Monday, November 15, 2010 11:39 AM CST
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Saturday, November 6, 2010
JILL CLAYBURGH DIES
OSCAR-NOMINATED ACTRESS BATTLED CHRONIC LYMPHOCYTIC LEUKEMIA

Jill Clayburgh, who starred as the bride in Brian De Palma's first feature The Wedding Party, died Friday at her home in Lakeville, Connecticut, according to the Hollywood Reporter. She was 66 years old, and had been quietly battling chronic lymphocytic leukemia for 21 years, according to her husband, David Rabe, speaking to the Associated Press. At Sarah Lawrence College in the early 1960s, Clayburgh met and dated De Palma, where they made The Wedding Party with mentor Wilford Leach. The film also featured Robert DeNiro, William Finley, and Jennifer Salt. In an interview for Sarah Lawrence College's alumni magazine in 2007, Clayburgh explained how she steered herself toward the theatre, and, eventually, films:

I did theatre because I hated gym. It wasn’t like now, when everybody is thinking about what they’re going to be. I went to an all-girls’ school in New York City and the theatre was at the boy’s school, so I went there to hang around with the boys – not because I thought, ‘I’m going to be ACTRESS.’ It let me get out of horrible gym, but it was no great, overwhelming drive to act. And then I got very tall and I kept getting the boys’ parts and I didn’t like that. So I stopped acting.

At Sarah Lawrence, I started off concentrating in religion and philosophy, but then I did a summer apprenticeship at Williamstown – it’s a fabulous program that they have – and I just fell in love with the theatre.

I did plays at Sarah Lawrence with Wilford Leach, who subsequently became a director at the Public Theater with Joe Papp, and I also worked with John Braswell. So I had Will and John and Brian De Palma [SLC/M.A. ’64], who was one of our first male students – in fact, he was one of the few men around. He directed and did some of his earliest movies there. I dated him and worked with him. We did a movie called The Wedding Party. It was a collaboration with Will and Brian. John was in it too, and Robert De Niro, who used to come up from the City and do shows at SLC. What Will was doing was so off the radar; it was as if he had his own theatre chemistry lab at the College.

FROM THE WEDDING PARTY TO BRIDESMAIDS
[Clayburgh and De Palma are pictured here from 1976]

Clayburgh went on to appear in several Broadway productions and films, and really made her mark in Paul Mazursky's An Unmarried Woman in 1978, which garnered her first Oscar nomination. The following year, she was nominated again for her role in Alan J. Pakula's Starting Over. These two roles solidified Clayburgh as a symbol of the growing feminist movement in the 1970s.

Clayburgh, Rabe, and De Palma have remained friends throughout the years (as recently as three years ago, Rabe revised a draft of the screenplay for De Palma's still-in-development Untouchables prequel). Clayburgh once dated Al Pacino, with whom she starred in an off-Broadway production of The Indian Wants the Bronx in 1968. Recently, her daughter, Lily Rabe, had been co-starring with Pacino in a Broadway production of The Merchant of Venice (Rabe is taking a week-long leave of absence from the show, which is pushing its official opening night from November 7th to November 15th). Clayburgh had been appearing in several stage productions of late, as well as taking on various film and TV roles, including Nip/Tuck, for which Jennifer Salt was a producer/writer.

Clayburgh can be seen back in theaters later this month when Edward Zwick's Love & Other Drugs opens November 24th. Clayburgh's movie career will perhaps come full circle with her final film role next May, in Paul Feig's Bridesmaids, a comedy in which two women battle to plan their friend's wedding party.


Posted by Geoff at 11:01 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, November 6, 2010 2:56 PM CDT
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Friday, November 5, 2010
CLUE SUGGESTS CRITERION BLOW OUT
The Playlist's Drew Taylor speculates that a new clue from Criterion hints that a new DVD package of Brian De Palma's Blow Out may be on the way soon. A very welcome idea, as the film has been out of print on DVD for some time now.

Posted by Geoff at 1:51 PM CDT
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Thursday, October 28, 2010
IF IT'S OCTOBER, IT MUST BE CARRIE
SCREENING IN NEW YORK THIS WEEKEND, TOP HORROR FILMS, ETC., ETC.

Brian De Palma's Carrie will screen Saturday night as part of the Film Society Of Lincoln Center's "Scary Movies 4" series in New York this weekend. In the meantime, the film has been mentioned in numerous top horror lists the past couple of weeks, so here is a rundown:

As part of its Film Season 2010, The Guardian has chosen Carrie as the 24th best horror film of all time. The paper's Phelim O'Neill states, "Thanks to [Sissy] Spacek and De Palma, this is one horror film that's as likely to make you cry as it is to make you scream (and it will definitely make you jump, no matter how many times you rewatch that scene)." Wired asked the gang from Fangoria to name the 25 best horror films of all time, and of course Carrie made the un-numbered list. Here is what they said about De Palma's film:

Chris Alexander: Sad, stylish and shocking Brian De Palma-directed melodrama improves upon Stephen King's novel and offers a revelatory performance by Sissy Spacek as a tormented teen cursed with telekinesis. Moving Pino Donnagio score and a head-spinning last reel (and final shot!).

Michael Gingold: Thanks to King and De Palma, countless people don't feel so bad about how their own proms went.

Bekah McKendry: This movie offered a shockingly real depiction of what it is like for girls to come of age in sexually repressive environments ... minus the telekinesis, which, if I had possessed it during my teen years, I would have used to mentally smack up bitches left and right.

Sam Zimmerman: I've always been oddly attracted and emotionally drawn to tales of damaged female protagonists, and that can probably be traced back to my extreme love of this film. (P.S. You should see its contemporary spiritual soul mate, May, starring Angela Bettis and directed by Lucky McKee. It's marvelous.)

Greatbong includes Carrie on his list of top 10 horror movies, opining, "What makes Carrie for me a cut above the more famous Exorcist is that while the latter’s shock value lies in its depiction of religious blasphemy (personally which left me cold), Carrie is unique in the way it brings out the horror of school life, the relentless cruelty shown by the cool kids to those socially awkward, a reflection of the essential sadism of human nature." And finally, Obsessed With Film's Dan Owen places Carrie at number 8 in his top 10 horror movies list, stating that "Brian De Palma’s seminal horror is a brilliant piece of work, probably because it takes its time getting you into the mindset of the bullied Carrie."

SPLIT SCREEN AS "CINEMATIC MEAT GRINDER"
One of the best of the recent essays about Carrie was posted by Bryce Wilson at Things That Don't Suck. Wilson writes, "One of the things that has always set De Palma aside from his New Wave contemporaries like Scorsese, Coppolla, Friedkin and even Altman, is here is a man with absolutely no love nor nostalgia for the Catholic Church. It’s not the last bastion of moral clarity; it’s a breeding ground for lunatics." Wilson adds that "never before or since has De Palma’s virtuosity blended so unobtrusively with his subject matter," and uses the split screen sequence as an example:

Take the infamous split screen finale. What has to be the best use of split screen in De Palma’s career (and thus by extrapolation, maybe the best use of the split screen ever). Here he turns it into a kind of cinematic meat grinder. A meat grinder that runs on for a subjective eternity before it finally ends. Perhaps the finest thing I can say about it, is that I always forget that it is inter cut with non split screen shots until I actually watch it.

Daniel Montgomery, apparently viewing the film for the first time, states, "At the outset I expected a revenge fantasy, but the film surprises by how sad it is. There is no vicarious thrill in watching Carrie take her revenge after being humiliated at the prom, because wee see that not all of her victims are guilty. Some were trying to help her. Two classmates seem to have been involved in the plot all along but are revealed to have been sincere, which compounds the tragedy. Their act of kindness was one act too late."

THE LOVED ONES DIRECTOR DIRECTLY INFLUENCED BY CARRIE
Clint Morris at Australia's What's Playing interviewed Sean Byrne, the writer/director of The Loved Ones, who says he was inspired by De Palma's film, among others (including Tobe Hooper's Texas Chainsaw Massacre). "The horror films from the 70’s and 80’s are just balls to the wall fun," Byrne told Morris, "and I just wanted to recreate that experience. I was especially inspired by Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead and Brian De Palma’s Carrie, as well as Misery and Tarantino and Lynch." Discussing the Australian humor of his new horror film, Byrne told Morris, "I think it’s got its own distinctly wild Australian sense of humour," but then added that "its roots definitely lay with the classic American Cabin in the Woods and Prom movies."


Posted by Geoff at 3:58 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, October 28, 2010 5:20 PM CDT
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4TH M:I TO BE TITLED GHOST PROTOCOL
CRUISE ANNOUNCES NEW TITLE IN DUBAI PRIOR TO SHOOT
According to Gulf News, Tom Cruise held a press conference in Dubai today, where he was getting ready to begin shooting scenes for the fourth Mission: Impossible film with director Brad Bird. Cruise announced that the title of the new film will be Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. "One of the things I always wanted for the franchise was for it not to have a number afterwards," Cruise said, according to Gulf News. "I’ve never done sequels to films and I never thought of these films as sequels. Paramount has done a great job in coming up with a title, so it’s not going to be MI2, 3, 4: it’s going to be Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. I always felt it should have a title."

Posted by Geoff at 2:50 PM CDT
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CITIZEN MIDNIGHT SINGS "PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE"
VIDEO FROM JULY SHOWS SAN FRANCISCO ROCKSPLOITATION BAND
Rocksploitation w/Citizen Midnight- | Movies & TV | SPIKE.com

Last July, we posted about the Rocksploitation midnight movie series at San Francisco's Bridge Theatre, where the band Citizen Midnight played songs before a screening of Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise. In the video above, you can hear the band performing an original song they wrote about the film (called Phantom Of The Paradise). In the video, Citizen Midnight's Rob Goblin explains that they took the main riff from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom Of The Opera and turned it into a story about the De Palma film. In the video, you can also see the band perform Somebody Super Like You from Phantom Of The Paradise.

Posted by Geoff at 2:13 AM CDT
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Monday, October 25, 2010
CRITIC ON PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2
SAYS DE PALMA AS DIRECTOR MAKES SENSE NOW THAT HE'S SEEN THE MOVIE
Slant critic Simon Abrams on Paranormal Activity 2, which was directed by Tod Williams:

As ridiculous as the rumor may have seemed at the time, all the talk about how Brian De Palma was being sought out to direct Paranormal Activity 2 makes sense now. It is, after all, an overtly meta-textual narrative about the representation of violence on film. If nothing else, Paranormal Activity 2 directly grapples with the potential conceptual uses for the franchise's defining narrative strategy of combining security camera footage and video shot on handheld digital cameras by the film's protagonists in ways that Paranormal Activity didn't even attempt. We're frequently reminded that we're watching edited footage (i.e. a narrative that only looks like raw documentary footage), as with the massive Kubrickian intertitles that tell us the date at the start of every night of recorded footage.

Anyone watching Paranormal Activity 2 closely enough will see that the transitions between different cameras in the film isn't motivated by any internal logic but rather a narrative one. For instance, loud late night banging coming from outside a front door isn't explicitly shown, though there's a security camera present to document the event. That scene is cut in such a way that we can only see through that camera after the fact, confirming that we only get to see what the implied documentary filmmakers, as omniscient storytellers, want us to see in order to make their narrative spookier. In that sense, unlike its predecessor, Paranormal Activity 2 doesn't even look like a video report on unexplained events anymore: It's footage of a fake haunting transformed into a film-within-a-film.


Posted by Geoff at 8:15 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, October 25, 2010 10:52 PM CDT
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Monday, October 18, 2010
CAIN & DICKINSON ON DRESSED TO KILL
AS SAN FRAN'S CASTRO CELEBRATES THE FILM'S 30TH ANNIVERSARY
[The reimagined poster for Dressed To Kill pictured here was created by Mikael Kangas. More of his illustrations can be seen at Anna Goodson Management.]

Michael Cain's latest autobiography, The Elephant To Hollywood, was published earlier this month. In the book's photo section, a caption next to an image of Bobbi in a blonde wig from Dressed To Kill has Cain wondering, "Is this me or my body double?" Cain devotes about three and a half paragraphs to Brian De Palma's film, writing, "Who would have thought that the role that would rescue my career at that point would be that of a transvestite psychiatrist turned murderer? You couldn't make it up... but Dressed To Kill became a huge box-office success. It was an opportunity for me, too, to show the versatility of my acting skills, not to mention a first outing for me in women's clothing. It had to be the most uncomfortable costume I ever wore. I hated the tights, couldn't walk in the high heels, found that the lipstick got all over my cigars and stubbornly insisted on wearing my own underpants." Despite all of that, Cain writes, "In the end, many of the long shots in the film were actually played by a double-- a real woman-- who was as tall as me, but needed a bit of padding out. It was she who played the most notorious scene in the film when my character slashes Angie Dickinson's character to death with a razor. It is a horrifying scene-- one that I only saw later on-- and it caused a lot of trouble at the time. Brian De Palma-- who is one of the most technically proficient directors I've ever worked with-- was insistent that it was the right thing to do. It was the only death in the entire movie and he wanted maximum impact: he got it, all right."

DICKINSON ON '70s NUDITY: "THIS IS HOW WE'RE DOING IT NOW"
Meanwhile, Todd Gilchrist interviewed Angie Dickinson last week for the Wall Street Journal, on the eve of the Warner Archive on-demand DVD release of Roger Vadim's Pretty Maids All In A Row (the first batch of orders received copies autographed by Dickinson herself, and sold out quickly). Gilchrist asked Dickinson whether nudity was "a necessity for continuing to work" on films in the 1970s. Dickinson replied:

If I’d had a choice, I would have said, oh no, let’s do it under the covers and stay covered up. That would be my favorite way to do it. But I also was grown up enough to know, “this is how we’re doing it now.” On “Big Bad Mama,” I said, “do we have to have so much nudity?” and the director said yeah (laughs). So it’s hardly my favorite position, but I was an actor, and this is what movies were doing [then], so I did it.

The conversation turned to Dressed To Kill when Gilchrist asked Dickinson if she sees "a difference in the filmmakers who were working then and who are working now":

I haven’t worked on any of those big movies where they make you do the blue screen and all of that, so I don’t really know. The ones that I’ve done have still been the kind where once you’re on a set, you’re on a set; I can’t speak to the ones that have all of the blue screen, where you’re not really in Egypt, you’re in Burbank. The last big picture I made was “Dressed to Kill,” and it was a big budget made by a director who has great attention to detail –- Brian De Palma -– and that was very hard. Because he wanted everything exactly the way he wanted it, and rightly so -– which is hard to do sometimes. But in that, and of course that was 1980, he had to have, again, the nudity. That was just a given.

Gilchrist then asked Dickinson, "Are there any other films you made during your career that you feel like are unappreciated or deserve to be rediscovered by audiences today?"

You know, “Dressed to Kill” might be one, come to think of it. Because by those who have seen it, it’s quite admired, because it is scary as hell — but I don’t think it was actually the hit that it would be today. But that comes to mind, and I did a television series called “Pearl,” and that was a great series about Pearl Harbor on the outbreak of WWII with Robert Wagner, Dennis Weaver, Leslie Ann Warren and myself. I always loved myself in that, and that’s always been, let’s say, shoved under the rug. But “Point Blank” is already in DVD, and that one is my favorite.

THE CASTRO REDISCOVERS PSYCHO & DRESSED TO KILL TOGETHER ON THE BIG SCREEN
Earlier this month, San Francisco's Castro Theatre featured a double bill of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and De Palma's Dressed To Kill, the former having been released 50 years ago, and the latter having been released 30 years ago. Kelly M. Hudson attended, and wrote on his blog that "there were a couple of sequences that made the audience I was watching it with erupt into enthusiastic applause and those were the attack in the subway and the finale in the doctor's office and the final dream sequence. And those people were right: they were brilliant." Dan at Dan's Movie Blog was also at the screening, and similarly stated, "I will say that a few scenes where Blake is menaced by the woman ratchets up the suspense to unusually tense levels. I'm specifically thinking about the scene in Michael Caine's office and in the bathroom at the end." Dan also recalls the "teenage boys in his clique" in the early 1980s talking "about the infamous opening scene featuring Angie Dickinson taking a shower." Dan notes that Dickinson's body double in the opening shower scene was Victoria Lynn Johnson "(August 1976 Penthouse Pet of the Month)."


Posted by Geoff at 5:14 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, October 18, 2010 5:14 PM CDT
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Tuesday, October 12, 2010
DE PALMA ON MUSICALS
AS QUOTED BY DAVE MARSH
Rock music critic Dave Marsh reviewed the stage version of American Idiot on his blog last week, and recalled a quote from Brian De Palma from some years ago regarding musicals:

Walking out of Sweeney Todd years ago, I asked Brian De Palma why I hated such shows. He said, “Well, you love stories and you love music. In musicals, story is compromised by having to stop for the songs, and the music is compromised because it has to tell the story.”

Marsh used the quote to help illustrate his point about how the Green Day musical "trusts the music"-- meaning that the original Green Day album told the story just fine on its own, and the new show keeps the volume loud and trusts the music's rock roots by slurring the lyrics like a rock'n'roll show should (according to Marsh).


Posted by Geoff at 12:09 AM CDT
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