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Saturday, March 12, 2011
WATCH DE PALMA'S 'THE RESPONSIVE EYE' ONLINE
1966 DOCUMENTARY SHORT, COURTESY UBUWEB
UbuWeb, the independent resource that posts materials for noncommercial and educational purposes, recently uploaded Brian De Palma's 1966 documentary The Responsive Eye, which was filmed at the opening night reception of a now legendary OP ART exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. De Palma shot the film in four hours with two additional cameramen, Gardner Compton and David Moscovitz. De Palma edited the film himself.

Posted by Geoff at 1:04 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 12:17 AM CDT
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Friday, March 11, 2011
DE PALMA DISCUSSION ACROSS THE WEB
FROM THE 'BRIAN DE PALMA FILM CLUB' TO AN A.V. CLUB PRIMER
Discussion about the films of Brian De Palma across the web are currently at a high point after The A.V. Club's Noel Murray and Scott Tobias posted a critically thorough "primer" on De Palma yesterday. As of this writing, "292 reasonable discussions" have been posted as comments in response to the three-page article, debating everything from the underrated status of Snake Eyes to the balance of style and emotional content in De Palma's films. The article covers every feature film in De Palma's oeuvre, each one falling under one of five headings: "101: The Thrillers," "Intermediate: The Genre Exercises," "Advanced: The Experiments," "Demerits," and "Misc." The article concludes with a list of "The Essentials":
1. Blow Out
2. Carlito's Way
3. Femme Fatale
4. Casualties Of War
5. Phantom Of The Paradise.

Meanwhile, about a month ago, The Abbott Gran Old Tyme Medicine Show opened up the "Brian De Palma Film Club," asking readers to watch a chosen De Palma film that everyone could then discuss together. The first film they watched was The Fury, and this week, Raising Cain. Each film has led to some terrific discussion, so check it out and, if so inspired, add to the dialogue.

Posted by Geoff at 1:37 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, March 12, 2011 11:20 AM CST
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Thursday, March 10, 2011
DE PALMA THRILLERS AT BAM IN APRIL
NOAH BAUMBACH TO CO-PRESENT 10 CORE FILMS, ALL IN 35MM
Noah Baumbach, who filmed an hour-long interview with Brian De Palma for Criterion's upcoming release of Blow Out*, will bring ten core De Palma suspense thrillers to Brooklyn's BAMcinématek in April. Baumbach is this year's BAM Cinema Club chair. A press release states that "De Palma has set himself apart from his contemporaries by fashioning some of the most boldly stylized suspense films from this or any country." It also touts "an impossibly rare 35mm screening of Sisters." In fact, over the nine days between April 8-13, and April 18-20 (with the Criterion Blow Out to be released April 26th), BAMcinématek will screen the following core De Palma films in 35mm: Sisters, Phantom Of The Paradise, Obsession, Carrie, The Fury, Dressed To Kill, Blow Out, Body Double, Raising Cain, and Femme Fatale. An incredible line-up to be sure. A complete schedule and tickets will be available within a couple of weeks, so keep an eye out.
(Thanks to Gabriele!)

*Incidentally, it appears that Criterion has now secured De Palma's Murder a la Mod for inclusion on its Blow Out DVD and Blu-Ray!

Posted by Geoff at 1:14 AM CST
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Wednesday, March 9, 2011
LEGUIZAMO ON GETTING SLAPPED BY SEAN PENN
VIDEO FROM ABC'S 'GOOD MORNING AMERICA'

Posted by Geoff at 12:53 PM CST
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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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