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Wednesday, March 2, 2011
NEW 'OBSESSION' DVD COMING THIS YEAR
DE PALMA FILM PLAYS ON TCM LATE NIGHT TONIGHT

We talked about the 35th anniversary of Carrie last week, but Brian De Palma released two films in 1976, and the other one, Obsession, is going to receive a lot of attention this year, as well. To start with, the film will be shown at 4am eastern Thursday morning on Turner Classic Movies. Later this year, British company Arrow Video will release Obsession on DVD and Blu-Ray. According to a forum post at Cult Labs, a newly released Arrow catalogue promises some enticing extras, including: the full original script by Paul Schrader, including a final act taking place years after the scene that concludes the final film (De Palma decided the film did not need this act, and it was never filmed, much to Schrader's chagrin); early short films from Brian De Palma; and a booklet by author and critic Brad Stevens. The catalogue description also promised more extras to come.

An Arrow Video representative involved in collecting materials for the upcoming package declined to unveil which of De Palma's short films might be included, but said they hope to have the whole thing ready for release by July of this year. De Palma's short films Wotan's Wake and The Responsive Eye were released a few years ago on a French DVD of Dionysus In '69. Significant shorts made by De Palma that have yet to surface include Icarus (a story about the god Pan arriving in New York that pokes fun at the very programmed dimension of modern life), 660214, The Story Of An IBM Card (influenced by Ingmar Bergman and starring Jared Martin as a painter who lets himself go to ruin), Jennifer (a sort of video diary of Jennifer Salt with a screenplay by Bruce Rubin), the NAACP documentary Bridge That Gap (filmed in New Orleans, it would make a nice supplement to Obsession), and Show Me A Strong Town And I'll Show You A Strong Bank, a documentary commissioned by the U.S. Treasury Department, the filming of which also served as a partial kick-off point for a script De Palma wrote years later with Jay Cocks called Nazi Gold.

Brad Stevens compared Al Pacino's roles in De Palma's Carlito's Way and Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather Part III at Senses Of Cinema's Carlito's Way appreciation compilation.


Posted by Geoff at 2:54 PM CST
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Thursday, February 24, 2011
'CARRIE' BEGINS 35TH ANNIVERSARY
WITH SCREENINGS IN TORONTO & GEORGIA
Chris Alexander's Film School Confidential will present a 35th anniversary screening of Brian De Palma's Carrie tonight at the Bloor Cinema in Toronto. A "vintage 35mm print" has been obtained for the occasion.

Meanwhile, the Cinema Circle at the Savannah College of Art and Design presented a screening of Carrie at the Trustees Theater in Savannah, Georgia. One student review presumes that contemporary audience reactions were probably different from audiences 35 years ago. District's Sam Reveley states that "the classic Carrie is seen in a different light today than it was in the seventies. When there is knife flying, blood drenching and tampon throwing all within the same film, it is not hard to imagine that it was originally viewed as rather shocking." Reveley notes that one audience member called the film "over the top." "This observation certainly accounts for the satirical nature of Carrie," writes Reveley. "Characters beyond the protagonist fit so neatly into their role of overbearing mother, the mean girl or the helpful teacher that they become caricatures of their own place in the story. Thus enabling the audience to react with laughter as each character meets their untimely death in a variety of violent ways. The actions themselves are almost slapstick in nature." The Inkwell's Matthew Harrell criticizes the special effects and lack of bloodshed(!) in Carrie, but concludes that, "Despite a few flaws, Carrie has stood the test of time, spawning sequels and a 2002 television remake. De Palma’s film will certainly hold its place as one of the greats in horror history."

Posted by Geoff at 3:20 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, February 24, 2011 3:20 PM CST
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Monday, February 21, 2011
'UNKNOWN' CRIBS FROM 'DRESSED TO KILL'
MUSEUM SEQUENCE SAID TO BE NOD TO DE PALMA

Several critics have noted that a museum sequence in Jaume Collet-Serra's Unknown (which opened Friday and led the box office this past weekend) pays tribute to the masterful museum sequence in Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill. indieWIRE's Drew Taylor mentions "a moment cribbed from Brian De Palma‘s exemplary Dressed to Kill that takes place in an art museum" as one of a handful of "perfectly timed and orchestrated" suspense set pieces. NPR's Jeannette Catsoulis was less impressed, stating that "a swirling museum scene featuring blown-up photographs of unidentified faces — which in the hands of Brian De Palma could have been delicious — is almost laughable in its complete lack of subtlety." Chris Hewitt at the Pioneer Press feels that Collet-Serra is "heading confidently" into a Hitchcock/De Palma level, and mentions that De Palma's Dressed To Kill is "saluted in a museum scene." Taylor riffs on Unknown some more at High-Def Digest, referring to the film as "yellowed paperback fun." Taylor writes:

The thing about ‘Unknown’ is that the implausibility never really slows it down. As the mystery becomes deeper and more complex, you go along with it. [Liam] Neeson hires a Soviet-era spook played by Bruno Ganz to do some private investigating, while Diane Kruger becomes his de facto partner-in-crime. Shadowy killers stalk our hero. In a great scene lifted from Brian De Palma’s ‘Dressed to Kill’, he tries to reconnect with Jones while dodging goons in an art gallery. The mayhem steadily intensifies, straining credibility until the breaking point, which culminates with a giant third act plot twist that threatens to dismantle the whole thing… But doesn’t. Maybe it’s the appearance of Frank Langella as a dapper villain, or the fact that Neeson is just a compulsively watchable character. He’s very much channeling his everyman avenger from ‘Taken’, but ‘Unknown’ is an altogether more stylish, sophisticated beast.


Posted by Geoff at 10:58 PM CST
Updated: Monday, February 21, 2011 11:00 PM CST
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011
NANCY ALLEN TALKS CARRIE, BLOW OUT
ALSO, I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND AND 1941
Mike Smith at Movie Mikes talked with Nancy Allen over the holidays, touching on films such as Carrie, Blow Out, 1941, I Want To Hold Your Hand, and RoboCop. Allen talks about how her role in Brian De Palma's Carrie pigeonholed her as a certain type for a while, and also how John Travolta began getting quite famous during the shooting of that film. Here is an excerpt from the interview covering two De Palma films:

MS: You made four films with Brian De Palma, who you later married. Did you find it easier or harder to work on a project with someone you’re basically spending 24 hours a day with?

NA: We met working on “Carrie,” so my initial relationship with him was a professional one. And quite honestly we didn’t spend a lot of time together on the set because he and I had different responsibilities. So you’re not really together 24 hours a day. Maybe you find time to grab a bite to eat afterwards but you’re so tired that it’s almost like you’re not there. And that, I think, is the challenging part… to find the moments. Because whether you’re working together or not working together, you have to find those moments. On a professional level, there’s a kind of short hand you develop because you really do know each other so well. The communication is much simpler. He knew me and he knew how to get the performance he needed from me and I trusted his direction. Of course, the toughest part is everybody else’s conversations about it! (laughs)

MS: You had the rare opportunity of working with John Travolta just as his career was beginning to take off and then immediately after he exploded onto the scene. Did you notice any difference in the way he approached his work?

NA: No. John is very particular and meticulous about his work. His career actually started exploding at the end of filming “Carrie.” His show (television’s “Welcome Back, Kotter”) had just started airing. I hadn’t seen it but I could sense things on the set. The week we shot the car crash scene the police had to put up barricades. He and I drove to the set together and I was like, “Oh my gosh, who are all of these people waiting for?” On “Blow Out” I had a little trepidation because it had been a few years and a lot had happened. He had already had some high highs but also a few low lows so I really didn’t know what to expect. But the minute he came in we sat down, had something to eat and talked about the movie…started doing some improv. We always had great chemistry and John was John. He was still fun. He was still adorable. I loved working with him. He’s really one of the favorite people that I worked with in my career.

MS: You were both brilliant in “Blow Out.” It kills me that the film was virtually ignored when it came out and is so under appreciated.

NA: It’s actually become a phenomenon in France. People there are crazy for that movie. And I think over the years that people have caught on to it. But it had so many problems. How it was released was a problem and when it was released was a problem. Back then you had summer movies and fall movies. Films were really released a specific way then. Brian tried to convince them that the film wasn’t a big summer block buster. But because the studio had John Travolta they wanted to try and make it a summer blockbuster. And it didn’t work. But it’s got a great cast, an amazing script…it’s a piece I’m really proud of.

MS: You followed “Carrie” with two very strong comedy performances in “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and “1941.” Do you have a preference between drama and comedy?

NA: I love them both. Comedy seems easier because you’re getting the chance to be funny and have fun. When you’re doing a dramatic piece, a lot of times you have to go to those dark places so when you’re doing the work it’s a lot more taxing on your spirit. And a lot of it is the tone…the tone of the set is certainly affected by the piece. Though I have to say that on “Blow Out” we laughed an awful lot. You have to. It’s exhausting to bring up those tears and all of that. So sometimes you have to just be silly.

SPIELBERG'S 1941
In the following excerpt, Allen discusses being typecast after Carrie, and how Steven Spielberg finally realized he had a part that was perfect for the actress:

MS: Going back to the comedy or drama question, do you think that because you may have been perceived as a certain type of actress – lots of screaming, lots of suspense – that you may have been typecast in some filmmakers’ opinions?

NA: I think it’s something that just happened. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” is a fantastic movie. It just wasn’t a big hit. I think that when you’re successful in a certain genre – more so even then than now – and if you’re a woman, they think “that’s what she’s successful at…let’s get her to do more of that.” You have no idea how many of those kinds of scripts I was sent after I did “Carrie.” I mean I waited a year and a half before I did “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” I think it’s a case where some people don’t even think of you along those lines. Even on “1941.” Steven had cast almost the whole movie and pretty much everybody I knew was in it. And they’d tell me “there’s a perfect part for you in it.” And I’d tell them, “well, Steven knows me. I’m sure he’d be calling me if he thought that.” He finally did call and when I went in to meet with him he said, “I don’t know if it’s because I know you from your work or because I know you personally but I didn’t think of you and you’re perfect for this. I don’t even have to read you.” So there’s a case of someone who knew my work and knew me personally and professionally and didn’t think of me. So I think we remember people for what they’re successful in and we want them to repeat it. Then we beat them up for it…“why do you always do this…it’s not as good as the last one!” (laughs)


Posted by Geoff at 5:09 PM CST
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Thursday, February 10, 2011


Posted by Geoff at 11:15 AM CST
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Monday, February 7, 2011
'EVERYTHING IS A REMIX'
VIDEO PROJECT LEADS TO FOCUS ON KILL BILL, & DE PALMA'S SPLIT SCREENS

Everything is a Remix Part 2 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

The above video (I can't seem to get the embed code to work, so you'll have to click on the link above to watch), Everything Is A Remix by Kirby Ferguson, is part two of a planned four-part series that explores culture as a perpetual remix of previous (and current) culture. Part one focuses on the consistently recycled bassline from Chic's Good Times before delving into Led Zeppelin and the birth of "heavy metal." In the recently completed part two, above, Ferguson discusses how movies cannot help but be a product of films that came before, and he spends a good deal of time on a well-researched and edited montage of George Lucas' Star Wars, noting several of Lucas' influences with side-by-side comparisons. At the end of the video, Ferguson touches on Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, which he deems Tarantino's "remix master thesis."

"The killer nurse scene in particular is almost entirely a recombination of elements from existing films," states Ferguson, who narrates the videos. "The basic action is the same as this scene from Black Sunday, where a woman disguised as a nurse attempts to murder a patient with a syringe of red fluid. Darryl Hannah’s eye patch is a nod to the lead character in They Call Her One Eye, and the tune she’s whistling is taken from the 1968 thriller, Twisted Nerve. Capping it off, the split screen effect is modeled on techniques used by Brian De Palma in an assortment of films, including Carrie."

I wrote a comment on Ferguson's blog to say that this sequence in Kill Bill Vol. 1 always seems to give me a tinge of De Palma's Dressed To Kill in the mix, as well, especially regarding the scene in the latter where Bobbi kills the nurse and steals her clothes. Something about the fetishistic aspect of Tarantino's shots touches on this. In any case, Robert Grigsby Wilson was recruited by Ferguson to complete the study on Kill Bill, and you can watch that one below.* (And speaking of Carrie, I think one can make a case for that De Palma film being included in the mash-up of the scene in Kill Bill Vol. 2 where the Bride (Uma Thurman) punches her fist from the grave.)

*(Again, I can't get the embed code to work, so click the link below to watch the Kill Bill remix.)

 

Everything Is A Remix: KILL BILL from robgwilson.com on Vimeo.


Posted by Geoff at 9:51 PM CST
Updated: Monday, February 7, 2011 10:11 PM CST
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Sunday, February 6, 2011
KOEPP'S CORNER: BRING ON THE "BIKE-O-VISION"
MORE DETAILS ON UPCOMING PREMIUM RUSH
CJ Simonson at Collider has posted a synopsis for David Koepp's upcoming Premium Rush, which stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a bike messenger, and was filmed last summer on the streets of New York. Here is the official synopsis:

A New York bike messenger is given an envelope by a young woman at an uptown Manhattan college and is told he has 90 minutes to deliver it to an address in Chinatown. Complications ensue when an undercover police office appears and demands the envelope on special grounds. The truth, hidden motivations, and the life-and-death stakes on all sides are revealed through a series of flashbacks as the cop and the messenger engage in a length-of-Manhattan chase, racing against time after the messenger discovers the precious nature of the envelope’s slender contents.

Last June, Carson Reeves at ScriptShadow reviewed the screenplay by Koepp and John Kamps, and was pleasantly surprised by what he initially expected to be an "old hat" premise. "I didn’t expect to like this," wrote Reeves. "Mainly because I thought bike messengers were extinct once the internet hit. It just seemed like old hat to me. But it turns out it actually has the opposite effect. The zipping and zapping through New York City felt fresh and alive, different from anything I’d recently read or seen." Reeves said that the best part of the script was "bike-o-vision. Yeah, you heard that right," Reeves continued. "Koepp and Kamps have created their own Matrix-style stop-motion technique. When Wilee’s zipping through the streets and gets into a tough spot (door opening, cross-traffic ahead, baby stroller), everything slows down so he can assess his options. Then, out of nowhere, a small area will light up, and that’s the direction he zips into." Sounds intriguing...


Posted by Geoff at 4:17 PM CST
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Saturday, February 5, 2011
SBS TO INTRODUCE BUYERS TO PASSION AT BERLIN
2011 FILM FESTIVAL RUNS FEB. 10-20
Variety posted a report today from John Hopewell about how larger independent companies are finding a "sweet spot" for the type of mid-budget motion pictures that Hollywood has gotten far away from. The article anticipates the market at the upcoming Berlin International Film Festival, which takes place February 10-20. Hopewell notes that SBS Producttion's Saïd Ben Saïd will be introducing buyers at Berlin to Brian De Palma's upcoming Passion (a remake of Alain Corneau's Love Crime, pictured). "Movies of this kind are very difficult to make today in the U.S.," Saïd is quoted, "because the U.S. doesn't have co-productions and the studios are not interested anymore in making them." Below is an excerpt from Hopewell's article:

Big markets -- and Berlin, after Cannes, is Europe's biggest -- prompt deep thought about the state of the international business, and many mavens are heading into the European Film Market pondering lessons learned in the past three years: Don't leave home without a marketable concept, get marketable talent for that marketable concept and always create a manageable budget.

It also helps to accept that prices, having largely plunged, are stable but not crazy, and to recognize every territory's strengths and weaknesses.

That said, the game is clearly starting to change for the better for the larger indie players, which are seeing an opportunity for bigger budgets.

"With the studios greenlighting fewer midbudget films, a small circle of independent companies that can mount their own $30 million-$40 million movies are accessing quality material more easily and enjoying a less-crowded U.S. distribution landscape," says IM Global's Stuart Ford.

That aspect of the indie business, he says, is the most notable and most vibrant. "More than ever, foreign buyers need films for their TV packages. As the ancillary market struggles through its evolution away from DVD to VOD, bigger buyers need movies that will potentially generate theatrical profit," he adds.

Exclusive Films sold George Clooney-helmed "The Ides of March," which it co-financed and co-produced, at AFM, and struck deals with distribs like Sony in the U.S. and eOne in Blighty. The branch is also fully financing and producing the Miley Cyrus action comedy "So Undercover," while Exclusive's Hammer label Under Hammer Films, has Daniel Radcliffe starrer "The Woman in Black."

Alex Walton, Exclusive Media Group international sales and distribution prexy, says that while the marketplace has always been competitive, there's now a place for independent films that was previously filled by minimajors.

"I think there's definitely an argument to (be put forward) that 'Ides of March' was a film that should have been made within the studio system, and now we were lucky enough to be able to partner on it," Walton says. "Indies have put themselves in a position to capitalize on these gaps. There's been a complete turnaround."

And in an ever more global film economy, more European companies are angling to access U.S. talent, producing films the studios have largely given up making.


Posted by Geoff at 1:04 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, February 5, 2011 1:21 PM CST
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Friday, February 4, 2011


Posted by Geoff at 12:50 PM CST
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Thursday, February 3, 2011
REDACTED PART OF 'FOUCAULT AT THE MOVIES'
WILL SCREEN FEB 11 IN SERIES PRESENTED BY YOUNG PHILOSOPHERS
The association "L'ECLAT" will present three cycles of motion pictures, plus one full day of screenings, devoted to the philosopher Michel Foucault. The events will take place at the Villa Arson in Nice, France. The first cycle begins next Friday, and Brian De Palma's Redacted will be presented by philosopher Dork Zabunyan to close out the series' opening day on February 11th. Redacted will be screened as part of a study taking an archaeological approach in which the designated philosopher will consider each film's history and transmission, questioning that film's ability to capture, understand and represent history. The series is separated into four groups of films: "With Foucault," featuring archival, documentary, and other filmed Foucault appearances; "Of Foucault," featuring films that Foucault himself commented on; "Before Foucault," featuring films that reflect Foucault's thinking; and "After Foucault," which includes De Palma's Redacted and Peter Watkins' Punishment Park as contemporary films that seem to develop Foucault's thinking.

Posted by Geoff at 12:41 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, February 5, 2011 12:37 PM CST
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