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Sunday, October 2, 2011
KING, SPACEK, AND OTHERS ON 'CARRIE'
KING TALKS HORROR FILMS IN BOUZEREAU DOC ON TCM; SPACEK & MORE IN FANGORIA
Monday night at 8pm eastern, TCM premieres The Horrors Of Stephen King, the third special in its Dreamworks-produced series, A Night At The Movies. The documentary consists of an hour-long interview with King, and was directed by Laurent Bouzereau, who also made the first two specials in the series, The Suspensful World Of Thrillers, and The Gigantic World Of Epics, each of which aired in 2009. The Stephen King edition will air several times throughout October, and each Monday of the month, TCM will feature a night of classic horror films.

Dread Central posted a few of King's quotes from the upcoming special, including this one regarding the Brian De Palma adaptation of King's novel, Carrie:

Carrie was a terrific piece of work. At the end of the movie comes, when Amy Irving kneels down to put the flowers on Carrie’s grave, a hand comes up through the grave and seizes her by the arm. The audience went to the roof, totally to the roof. It was just the most amazing reaction. And I thought, ‘We have a monster hit on our hands. Brian De Palma has done something new. He’s actually created a shock ending that shocks an audience that was ready for a horror film.’ And there were several people who did it after that.

Scott Holleran provides a rundown of some of the things King discusses on the program, including this bit about Carrie: "Discussing Brian De Palma’s 1976 version of his novel Carrie, King says he wasn’t even invited to attend a screening and, when he did see it, it was a double feature with Norman, Is That You?, a black-themed film, and he was surprised that the predominantly black audience responded to Carrie."

Meanwhile, our old friend John Demetry finds plenty of room for criticism of King's description of De Palma's film as a "terrific piece of work." Demetry writes, "King repeats variations on that term—'piece of work'—throughout, as if horror films were only reaction-making machines, thus limiting the value of all horror films to the level of product. This might explain King’s own prolific output. However, De Palma transformed King’s 'piece of work' into a work of art." Demetry then elaborates:

King’s voice-over lands on a still from John Boorman’s Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977): “Even psychologists who’ve studied the genre don’t understand what works and what doesn’t work.” Boorman takes film audiences way beyond King’s conception of how horror “works.” The freedom afforded by the horror genre allows Boorman to realize astonishment: primal imagery (tapping the collective unconscious) and mystical social metaphor (the wings of Pazuzu). This visionary (corrective) sequel to William Friedkin’s 1973 film contradicts King’s thesis. Transcending the realm of “psychologists,” the engaged spectator discovers the full terror of The Heretic: Evil exists. But so does Good. It represents a total metaphysical statement. The achievements of De Palma and Boorman suggest an alternative (auteurist) history of horror to the one presented in The Horrors of Stephen King. Carrie and Exorcist II represent high points in film history where the genre market provided the possibility for an artist’s personal expression to reach a mass audience.

For his own part, King went into detail about the differences between his novel and De Palma's film in his 1981 book, Danse Macabre, in which King states, "De Palma's approach to the material was lighter and more deft than my own—and a good deal more artistic."

SISSY SPACEK TALKS TO FANGORIA ABOUT 'CARRIE'
Meanwhile, last month, Fangoria #306 included an interview by Lee Gambin with Sissy Spacek, who discussed what she brought to the movie that was different from King's novel:

I read the book before I knew the film was being made, but then I reread it the day before auditioning. The thing about the novel that really stood out for me was that this girl was so pathetic, she was such a loser, and I believe that what I added when it came time to shoot the movie was to give the character a little bit of hope. I felt, "Here's this girl who has all these special powers, but she doesn't care about that; she just wants to be normal and fit in and have friends, a boyfriend, go to the prom." She was an artist, she wrote poetry in secret up in her room; she had this freak of a mother who destroyed her life, and Carrie just wanted to be happy, and for a moment, she gets to experience happiness—just for a moment.

Asked by Gambin how she channeled the dynamic energy required for the role, Spacek responded:

The script by Lawrence D. Cohen was so good and I was so into the story, and during production I really kept myself away from the rest of the cast. I felt very sorry for myself and isolated and different, just like Carrie did. And I really believe Brian did such a beautiful job directing it; he knew exactly what he wanted, his shots were so planned out. One of the main reasons I love him as a director is that he'd say, "OK, I want you there and then there and I need you to do this, this and this," and anything else you wanted to do, as long as it fit within his framework of the overall piece, you had the freedom to do, and that was great.

Fangoria included Carrie in its special 300th issue earlier this year, in which Ginger Snaps actress Emily Perkins stated that as an actress and a woman, she loves Carrie, "the best horror movie ever." Also in that issue, director Norman J. Warren (Satan's Slave) called Carrie "a perfect picture," and "the best horror movie." "Beautifully constructed and beautifully photographed," Warren told Fangoria, "the film captured me right from the opening scenes."


Posted by Geoff at 8:59 PM CDT
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Wednesday, September 28, 2011
EDGAR WRIGHT'S TOP 10 CRITERION DVDS
PICKS 'BLOW OUT' PACKAGE AS TOP CHOICE
Edgar Wright has provided his list of his top ten Criterion DVDs, and Brian De Palma's Blow Out is at the top. "I have heard people call themselves Brian De Palma apologists," states Wright. "I am proud to say that I am a huge fan without any caveats." Here is the rest of Wright's entry regarding Blow Out:

There’s a reason that, back in the seventies, fellow movie brats Spielberg, Lucas, and Scorsese would defer to De Palma as “the filmmaker.” When on form, his work is something to behold. Even the lesser works of De Palma contain flashes of genius, while the best of his movies rank as pure cinema. Blow Out is certainly one of De Palma’s finest. There’s not a wasted shot, not even a wasted corner of frame. In the telling of this audiovisual thriller, De Palma uses Steadicam work, split screens, split diopter shots, and complex optical effects to utterly exciting but never overly flashy effect. Some directors are great storytellers without their presence being felt, but De Palma, much like his cinematic hero Alfred Hitchcock, is a master manipulator of both his medium and his audience. He plays us like an instrument, maneuvers us like puppets, and frequently makes us look where we’d rather not. Blow Out begins with De Palma turning the camera on himself and criticisms against him, then ends with one of the crueller, blacker chapters in cinema.

The interview on the disc with De Palma and Noah Baumbach is a must-see too; great to hear him talk about Hitchcock, Antonioni, and Coppola and their influence on this film. Filmmakers and film students will be also fascinated to know that Brian thinks coverage is a dirty word. This is a tremendous piece of work that I am very glad Criterion has given the royal treatment.

(Thanks to Jon!)


Posted by Geoff at 11:51 PM CDT
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Saturday, September 24, 2011
FILMMAKER RETRACES 'FURY' LOCATIONS
PLANS TO RETRACE 'THE UNTOUCHABLES' FOR NEXT YEAR


Hervé Attia enjoys visiting movie filming locations, but he takes the practice a step or two farther than that: he films approximations of the angles used in the old movies and then edits them side-by-side (often in split-screen) with the original scenes, even inserting himself in the picture, mimicking the actors for good measure. For Brian De Palma's The Fury, Attia visited the Chicago area locations used in the film, adding a coda at the end in which Attia appears to receive a power transfer from a statue that looms over the slow motion escape scene. This final idea was suggested by Jean-François Doppagne, who helped Attia film the video above. At the end of the video, there is a preview for Attia's coming attraction, for which he plans to revisit the Chicago locations used in De Palma's The Untouchables, but he is not stopping there-- he also plans to go to Great Falls, Montana, to cover the film's battle on the Hardy Bridge as best he can. Attia plans to have his Untouchables video completed in 2012.

Posted by Geoff at 12:02 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, September 24, 2011 12:04 PM CDT
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Thursday, September 22, 2011
RICHARD HAMILTON HAS PASSED AWAY
'THE ORIGINAL POP ARTIST,' WHO APPEARED IN 'GREETINGS,' WAS 89


Richard Hamilton, credited as one of the fathers of the "pop art" movement, died September 13th in England at age 89. In 1968, the same year that Hamilton created the iconic sleeve and poster insert for the Beatles "White Album," he appeared in Brian De Palma's Greetings, discussing one of his real-life works, "A Postal Card For Mother" (pictured at left), with the character played by Gerrit Graham (the film scene is pictured above). In "A Postal Card For Mother," a series of blow-ups of a beach scene are folded out accordion-like from the source photograph. The Guardian's Jonathan Jones stated that Hamilton remains "the most influential British artist of the 20th century," adding that "in his long, productive life he created the most important and enduring works of any British modern painter." Hamilton's collage, "Just What Is It That Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing," is one of the earliest works of pop art. Mark Hudson at The Arts Desk feels that Hamilton's subversive body of work was, in a good way, "too challenging, too difficult to pin down." Jones notes that Hamilton's work had grown increasingly political in his later years, and provides a photo gallery that glances at some of the artist's key works.

Posted by Geoff at 7:38 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, September 24, 2011 12:09 PM CDT
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011
BREGMAN DEVELOPING NEW 'SCARFACE'
UNIVERSAL FILM WOULD DRAW ELEMENTS FROM BOTH PREVIOUS FILM VERSIONS
It looks like that recent Scarface cast reunion may have gotten Martin Bregman thinking about a new version of Scarface. Deadline's Mike Fleming reports tonight that he's heard that Universal Pictures has been meeting with writers to work out a new take on Scarface, to be produced by Bregman and Marc Shmuger, who recently started his own production company, Global Produce. (Shmuger was vice chairman at Universal in 2005, when he visited the set of Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia in Bulgaria. Shmuger was so impressed by what he was seeing there that he picked up the distribution rights to that film for Universal.)

This new Scarface "is not intended to be a remake or a sequel," writes Fleming. "It will take the common elements of the first two films: an outsider, an immigrant, barges his way into the criminal establishment in pursuit of a twisted version of the American dream, becoming a kingpin through a campaign of ruthlessness and violent ambition. The studio is keeping the specifics of where the new Tony character comes from under wraps at the moment, but ethnicity and geography were important in the first two versions."

Posted by Geoff at 11:16 PM CDT
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011
LOGGIA DISCUSSES 'SCARFACE'
'FIRST HALF IS IMPRESSIONISTIC, THE SECOND HALF IS EXPRESSIONISTIC'
Robert Loggia talked to QMI Agency's Bruce Kirkland about Scarface, saying he did not enjoy working with Brian De Palma on the film. In contrast to how Steven Bauer describes his experience working on Scarface (that De Palma was "very hands-off" and trusting of his actors), Loggia tells Kirkland that he felt De Palma was too fussy with, as Kirkland writes, "picayune details that the veteran actor felt should be left to the performers." Loggia stated, "I hate to knock a director, but you don't want a director to say, 'Do this, do that, hold the gun up there, higher, higher.' It was difficult working with (De Palma) ... for me. But he's got a career going and I don't want to say anything negative." Despite this, Loggia tells Kirkland, "I think we turned out a pretty damned good movie," counting it among the reasons he loves his acting career. "Acting in general is a feeling of being transported to the heavens," Loggia said. Loggia adds that the film has two separate styles: "The first half of the movie is impressionistic," he tells Kirkland. "The second half of the movie, after I die, is expressionistic. It's completely different. I don't think that was ever articulated (during the shoot) but that was the truth of the matter. We just did it. It was obvious."

Posted by Geoff at 9:12 PM CDT
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Monday, September 12, 2011
'RINGER' CREATOR CITES DE PALMA AS INSPIRATION
THRILLER SERIES STARRING SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR PREMIERES TUESDAY ON CW
Eric Charmelo, who created the new TV series Ringer with his regular co-writer Nicole Snyder, tells dailybreeze.com's Steven Herbert that various films by Brian De Palma, including Dressed To Kill, provided inspiration for the series, which premieres tomorrow night on the CW network. "Just when you think you have it figured out," Charmelo tells Herbert, "we'll throw in a twist that completely takes it in a new direction." Charmelo describes Ringer, which stars Sarah Michelle Gellar as identical twins, as a "neo-noir thriller" that "will keep the audience guessing," according to Herbert. Charmelo elaborated that he and Snyder have an obsession "with the concept of good twin versus evil twin. We always thought it was kind of funny and campy, but we wanted to play it straight, like a serialized thriller."

Posted by Geoff at 6:19 PM CDT
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Sunday, September 11, 2011
CLIFF ROBERTSON HAS DIED
OSCAR-WINNING ACTOR HAD JUST TURNED 88


News came late last night that Cliff Robertson died of natural causes Saturday (Sept 10), one day after his 88th birthday. Robertson, of course, portrayed the wealthy real estate developer Michael Courtland in Brian De Palma's Obsession, which was released 35 years ago in 1976. The film, written by Paul Schrader, was just released this past summer in a special region-free Blu-Ray edition from Arrow Video. In addition to winning an Oscar for his lead role in Charly in 1968, Robertson had a number of memorable roles in a long acting career. He played the CIA head in Sydney Pollack's conspiracy thriller Three Days Of The Condor, which was released a year before Obsession, and which provided much inspiration for De Palma's 1996 film Mission: Impossible (Condor has also been used as a comparison point for De Palma's upcoming project, The Key Man). In 1962, President John F. Kennedy personally chose Robertson to portray him in PT 109, which was based on Kennedy's experiences in WWII. More recently, Robertson became known as "Uncle Ben," the great beacon of responsibility in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy. Robertson also had run-ins with Batman, portraying the cowardly cowboy of crime, Shame, in several episodes of the TV series in 1966. In 1983, he portrayed Hugh Hefner in Bob Fosse's Star 80. Robertson also directed two films: J.W. Coop (1971, which Robertson also co-wrote and produced), has themes similar to that of De Palma's Carlito's Way. It stars Robertson as a cowboy who, after eight years in prison, finds that society is not what it used to be. The film is a western that takes place in the modern American rodeo circuit, and used footage from actual rodeo events. In 1980, Robertson directed The Pilot, a character study about a pilot who is also an alcoholic. Robert P. Davis adapted the screenplay from his own novel, and the film is noted for its realistic depictions of commercial flying.

Posted by Geoff at 1:14 AM CDT
Updated: Sunday, September 11, 2011 8:55 PM CDT
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Saturday, September 10, 2011
'PAUL WILLIAMS' DOC-MAKER NODS TO WINNIPEG
SAYS AMAZING 'PHANTOM' EVENT SHOWED HIM A TOUCHING LEVEL OF AFFECTION FOR THE SONGWRITER
The Toronto Star's Linda Barnard spoke by phone with Paul Williams and Steve Kessler, director of the documentary Paul Williams Still Alive, which premieres tomorrow at the Toronto International Film Festival. Barnard asked the duo about the film's link to Winnipeg, where Kessler first made contact with Williams during one of the city's "Phantompalooza" events:

Q: The movie starts in Winnipeg where the (1974 musical directed by Brian De Palma with music by Williams) Phantom of the Paradise has a cult following. That's where Steve first makes contact with you.

PW: There are two cities in the world (the other is Paris) that got it and I don't understand it. There is such a love affair with the film . . . in Winnipeg, there are people who got that piece of art.

SK: I have to say if it wasn't for the people of Winnipeg this movie would never have gotten made. When I saw the level of affection people had for Paul, I said, “I can't be the only person on earth with this level of affection for Paul.” This was an amazing event.

Q: I have to ask you about your signature hairstyle, that long blond shag you wore in the '70s.

PW: Me and Hayley Mills. I ripped her off. It's just the way it grew in — the Swan hairstyle.

WILLIAMS' NEW SONG 'SUMS UP HIS LIFE IN A VERY HONEST WAY', SAYS KESSLER
Barnard also reports that Williams wrote the title track to the documentary, and was sent an mp3 of the song, which, she writes, "it has the signature Williams mix of melancholy and flashes of self-deprecating humour." Regarding the song, Kessler told Barnard, "I think he summed up his life in a very honest way. It really adds something."


Posted by Geoff at 7:58 PM CDT
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Friday, September 9, 2011
DE PALMA TO TALENT LAB FILMMAKERS:
'YOU HAVE NO EXCUSES - YOU SHOULD ALL BE GOING OUT AND MAKING MOVIES'
The Montreal Gazette's T’Cha Dunlevy interviewed four of the twenty-four participants at this year's Talent Lab at the Toronto International Film Festival. All four participants seemed energized by Brian De Palma's one-hour talk to close the opening day of the workshop yesterday. Here is the first part of Dunlevy's article:

“It ended with Brian De Palma,” Halima Ouardiri said.

Her ’nuff-said reply came in response to my query about how the first day of the Toronto International Film Festival’s (TIFF) eighth annual Talent Lab had gone. Ouardiri and three other budding Montreal filmmakers – Omar Majeed, Catherine Chagnon and Mark Slutsky – are part of the four-day workshop that puts them and 20 other participants in close quarters with their idols.

Among Talent Lab’s guest speakers this year are Gus Van Sant, documentary icons Frederick Wiseman and Alfred Maysles, Fred Schepisi (Six Degrees Of Separation) and Davis Guggenheim (whose U2 doc From the Sky Down was the opening film of this year’s festival). But we’re getting ahead of ourselves – one at a time:

“(De Palma) was awesome,” Slutsky said, explaining how the director of such films as Scarface and Mission: Impossible had spent an hour with the group, sharing insights and telling stories. “He’s very, very smart – he’s obviously got a huge brain; and he’s pretty outspoken and honest.”

“He gave us notes,” Chagnon said, “very direct notes.”

“He said, ‘You have no excuses,’ ” Majeed continued. “‘You should all be going out and making movies.’”

Slutsky: “He also said, ‘If you can’t put a movie on a credit card, get financing from friends or make a movie with no money – give up!’ ” (General laughter.)

(Pictured above from left to right: Catherine Chagnon, Omar Majeed, Halima Ouardiri and Mark Slutsky.)

OTHER VISITS ON DAY ONE: SARAH POLLEY, FERNANDO MEIRELLES, JASON REITMAN
According to Dunlevy, day one began with an introduction by the three governors of this year's Talent Lab: Jason Reitman, documentary director Jennifer Baichwal, and Bingham Ray. The three governors "split their charges into groups for smaller discussions," according to Dunlevy. “They didn’t seem too prepared,” Slutsky told Dunlevy. “It was more, ‘What do you want to know?’” Other visitors included Sarah Polley (who brought along the crew from her new film, Take This Waltz) and Fernando Meirelles.


Posted by Geoff at 10:35 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, September 9, 2011 10:54 PM CDT
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