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Saturday, November 12, 2011
TARANTINO COMES THROUGH FOR RIE
-'HUMAN ZOO' FINALLY MAKES U.S. DEBUT AT NEW BEVERLY
-RIE Q&A AT EVERY SCREENING THIS WEEK
-TALKS TO COLLIDER ABOUT LEARNING FROM DE PALMA, BESSON, TARANTINO

Rie Rasmussen's 2009 debut feature Human Zoo finally had its U.S. premiere last night at Quentin Tarantino's New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles. (Tarantino befriended Rasmussen around the time he was working on Inglourious Basterds, and invited Rasmussen to hang out on the set of that film.) Human Zoo will play again tonight and tomorrow night (Saturday & Sunday) as a double feature with Luc Besson's Angel-A, which starred Rasmussen in the title role. Rasmussen will be on hand for a Q&A following each screening of Human Zoo throughout the week (last night's Q&A was moderated by Elvis Mitchell).

In an interview with Collider's Christina Radish, Rasmussen talked about the autobiographical nature of Human Zoo, and how she ended up acting in it, as well as writing and directing. She was also asked about what she learned from working with Brian De Palma, Besson, and Tarantino:

At the time, Brian De Palma was such a hard-on for me. I was just really losing my shit, to work with him (on Femme Fatale). I was on set for as much as I could be, which was probably a month, and I only shot for four or five days. But, I did do that one, long steadi-cam shot that is the Brian De Palma signature. That was so awesome for me. It was following me! Who even cares about the rest of the movie? No. In my formative years, Brian De Palma taught me by watching him. From when I was 18 to 25, there was nothing better than Brian.

From 12 to 15 or 16, there was nothing better than Luc Besson, with Big Blue and La Femme Nikita. That was it. With Angel-A, he wanted to prove to everybody that he could make a feature film in six weeks, put it out five months later, package it and distribute it for no money.

Watching Quentin Tarantino write his new magnum opus, motherfucker of a film, Django Unchained, has been more than a lesson in writing. I always knew that the man was genius, but I have been astonished at what comes out of him. He’ll read me the scenes. He’s like, “I just had to redo this scene and I want to read you this new dialogue I wrote.” He read me this dialogue, and I was just on my ass. Just to watch him rattle it off like that, he’s genius. So, yeah, you learn. I pay attention. My eyes are wide open, and my eyelids are pinned to the back of my head.

According to The Playlist's Jeff Otto, Tarantino said that with Human Zoo, "Rie Rasmussen makes an electrifying directorial debut. It’s as shocking and violent as it is moving and charming." It is worth noting that Rasmussen has worked with cinematographer Thierry Arbogast on all three of her formulative films, first meeting him on De Palma's Femme Fatale, then working together on Besson's Angel-A before shooting Rasmussen's Human Zoo. Rasmussen told Collider that her next project as director will be Good and Evil, which is written by Nicolas Constantine as an adaptation of Philip Carlo's novel The Night Stalker, based on the life of Richard Ramirez. Prior to Rasmussen's involvement in that project, James Franco had been rumored to be interested in playing the lead role.


Posted by Geoff at 9:59 AM CST
Updated: Sunday, November 13, 2011 10:23 AM CST
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Monday, November 7, 2011
LAURIE & BUCKLEY TO PRESENT 'CARRIE' FRIDAY IN TEXAS
LAURIE DESCRIBES IN NEW MEMOIR HOW SHE CAME TO READ 'CARRIE' SCRIPT AS COMEDY, BEFORE DE PALMA CORRECTED HER
Piper Laurie and Betty Buckley will be on hand to present Brian De Palma's Carrie this Friday, November 11, at the Lone Star International Film Festival in Fort Worth, Texas. Buckley, a Fort Worth native, also appears in one of the festival's new films, Five Time Champion, which screens Thursday night (November 10).

If you buy a $20 ticket to the Carrie screening, you also get a copy of Laurie's new memoir, Learning To Live Out Loud, in which she includes a section about her work on Carrie. Laurie recalls reading the script and not being very impressed. But then her husband, Joe Morgenstern, mentioned that De Palma "often has a comedic approach to his work," and she read the script again from a satirical angle and became quite inspired. During a rehearsal period with De Palma and Sissy Spacek, however, Laurie went a little overboard when she began pulling her hair during the scene where she is trying to keep Carrie from going to the prom (the script had called for Laurie to tear her own clothes, but not wanting to shred the work of the costumers during rehearsal, she devised the hair-pulling stunt). De Palma stopped her, saying, "Piper, you can't do that. You'll get a laugh!" It was then that Laurie realized she had mis-guessed the tone of De Palma's film. She kept the hair-pulling, but toned it down by making the pain she was feeling more introspective and deep, and here one can get a sense of the creative energy that led to this uncanny Oscar-nominated performance. When she went back home to New York, she decided to see every De Palma film she could, "including Phantom Of The Paradise, which had just opened. Very operatic-- [De Palma] liked that," Laurie writes. "I needed not be afraid to be big."

Earlier in the chapter, Laurie writes of her first meeting with the director. Laurie was nervous and, having not worked on a film in some 15 years, wanted to impress. She writes that De Palma "asked not one thing about me or what I thought of the script. Instead, he proceeded to tell me a great deal about himself and the work he had done, as if he were seeking a job from me and I were interviewing him. I realized he was trying to make me feel comfortable, and I was quite touched." Needless to say, as Laurie describes it, the two of them got along very smoothly on the set.

Elsewhere, Laurie, who had recently had back surgery, describes her initial fears of being jerked back onto the bed in Carrie's room via a harness. She had kept the surgery a secret, but now had to confide in De Palma, who instantly said they didn't have to do it that way and could use a body double. But Laurie decided to give it a try, and found that she could do it without any pain, even if she still finds the stunt difficult to watch now without clenching up. Laurie also describes filming her final speech in the film, and the bursts of laughter she would let out in between takes of her final death-by-cutlery scene.


Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 12:25 AM CST
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Sunday, November 6, 2011
ISHAM TALKS 'BLACK DAHLIA' SCORE
SAYS FILM WAS 'PRETTY MUCH' EDITED DOWN TO FINAL VERSION PRIOR TO ADDING SCORE
Mark Isham had a very interesting conversation with Broadway World's Pat Cerasaro, in which the composer discussed, among other projects, his work on Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia. While there was a version of The Black Dahlia screened for test audiences in early 2006 that was longer than the final released film, Isham seems pretty certain there was no overt studio involvement that specifically led to the shorter version. Instead, he speculates that producer Art Linson may have simply discussed with De Palma trimming the almost three-hour cut down to two hours. Isham also relates how he initially mis-guessed what kind of music De Palma would want for The Black Dahlia. Here is the section of the interview pertaining to that film:

PC: What was it like working with Brian De Palma on THE BLACK DAHLIA? Was it cumbersome to come in already knowing his amazing legacy of great scores for his films - particularly those by Pino Donaggio and Ennio Morricone? His film’s scores are always so specific.

MI: Well, he was a gentlemen about it, too. I think that I had sent him some music early on for that and he didn’t respond to it, and, so, I called the producer and I said, “Look, I would really love to do this movie. What is he looking for?” And the producer sent me over some pieces they were using for the temp-score and I realized that I had completely mis-guessed on how he wanted to score this thing.

PC: Oh, really?

MI: Yeah, so I re-sent him some music and he called me immediately and said, “This is what I am looking for!” So, I think we started off right on the right foot because, once I knew what he was looking for, I duplicated it and presented it to him immediately and he said, “That’s perfect.” So, we went in with a high degree of mutual respect and delight and willingness in doing this together. He was just great. Like you say, he is very specific and when he says, “That’s good,” then, you know you are doing great. [Laughs.]

PC: And if you are not?

MI: “Don’t do that! That’s terrible!” - then you know you have to rewrite it. [Laughs.]

PC: That film was plagued with behind-the-scenes shenanigans and I know there was originally a much, much longer original cut, so how did you deal with that? Did you score that version or only the version that eventually was released? Have you ever gone to an opening night and half your score was missing?

MI: [Laughs.] Actually, I have - but, not on that picture! From the time that we started scoring it, it was pretty much as it came out. I believe that the studio actually stayed out of that and I think what a lot of it was about was that he was working with Art Linson - who produced THE UNTOUCHABLES and they have a long, long history - and, I think Art is one of the few who can say, “Brian, you can’t have a 3-hour movie,” [Laughs.] and Brian will actually respect that.

PC: How interesting.

MI: I think they had already gone through the process of editing it down. Art actually came to me at one point and said, “Look, there are still a couple of things that I think Brian needs to change - but, I think Brian and I have sort of had as much of a discussion as we are going to have, so why don’t you see what you can do to help these areas?” And, then, I think there were a few picture-trims at that point - but, pretty much, I worked on it when it was the final film and not much changed.

PC: There are some thrilling music cues - especially the opening scene with Josh Hartnett and, later, the Fiona Shaw mad scene.

MI: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

PC: Were you influenced by Jerry Goldsmith’s CHINATOWN score?

MI: Oh, yes - of course. I love that score and know it very well.

PANKOW HAD TO TRIM LESBIAN FLOOR SHOW FROM FIVE MINUTES DOWN TO JUST ONE MINUTE
Editor Bill Pankow has described how he had to edit down the k.d. lang song and floor show in the lesbian night club from five minutes to one minute, so it does seem there was at least the potential for some trimming even after Isham had completed his score. Pankow showed the uncut version of the scene to a master class in 2007, describing how he managed to get it down to one minute. Perhaps one day, we will get a cut of the film that is a bit longer...


Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CST
Updated: Monday, November 7, 2011 11:32 PM CST
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Saturday, November 5, 2011
HERZOG: DE PALMA IS THE BETTER DIRECTOR THAN ME
AND BRAD BIRD DISCUSSES CRUISE/REDGRAVE DYNAMIC IN DE PALMA'S 'MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE'
The second trailer for Brad Bird's upcoming Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol was released last week, and Flickering Myth's Rohan Morbey included this juxtaposition of a screen shot with one from Brian De Palma's 1996 M:I film. This placement of Jeremy Renner as a direct homage to De Palma and Tom Cruise's showstopping moment in the first film (which itself was an homage to Jules Dassin's Topkapi, MI creator Bruce Geller's original inspiration for the TV series) seems to bolster the idea (rumor) that Cruise and company are looking toward Renner to possibly take over at some point as lead actor in the franchise.

Bird told the Los Angeles Times' Geoff Boucher that he watched the earlier films in the series to find the playful rhythms he wanted to weave into his version. "One of my favorite moments acting-wise were the scenes [Cruise] did with Vanessa Redgrave; he kind of came alive in a slightly different way,” Bird told Boucher in reference to the De Palma picture. “You could tell he had a lot of respect for Redgrave and knew that he had to be on his game because she was going to get every drop out of her part of the scene, so he better get every drop of his. There was a playfulness to those scenes together that I really liked. When you see the [new] film, it’s a little more playful than the other Mission: Impossible films — hopefully without undermining the suspense or action.”

HERZOG: "IF I HAD TRIED TO MAKE 'MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE', I WOULDN"T HAVE COME UP WITH A FILM AS INTENSE AS BRIAN DE PALMA"
Meanwhile, Cruise is currently shooting his next movie, One Shot, which also features Werner Herzog, not as director, but as actor. Herzog plays the villain in the Christopher McQuarrie adaptation of the novel by Lee Child, which Cruise is hoping will be the first film in a new franchise. Herzog spoke with Movieline's S.T. VanAirsdale yesterday about working with Cruise, and Cruise's knack for working with great directors. Herzog surprised VanAirsdale when he stated that De Palma "is certainly the better director than me." Here is the excerpt:

VanAirsdale: Cruise is an interesting actor to me — someone who’s never directed, but who’s instead worked with some of the foremost filmmakers of the last half-century: Kubrick, Scorsese, Coppola, Spielberg, and many others. Have you met him?
Herzog: Yes.

What do you think of his regard for filmmakers? Do you think his wanting to work with you in this context was because he probably wouldn’t have the chance otherwise?
No, he does not work with me. He works with the director, Chris McQuarrie. I’m only a partner in crime onscreen. But let me try to describe him: Yes, he has worked with some very, very good — very good — serious filmmakers. But what strikes me is that sometimes you can tell from five miles’ distance: “This is a professional man. He means business.” He’s extremely well-prepared, very good to work with, very respectful — a very kind human being. And you can tell, strangely enough, from five miles’ distance.

McQuarrie aside, being on this set is probably as close to working with you as Tom Cruise is going to get, considering the films you make.
Not necessarily, because the kind of films he has been into — like Mission: Impossible — I’m convinced that… I don’t even know who made Mission: Impossible. Who directed Mission: Impossible?

The first one was Brian De Palma.
OK. Brian De Palma is certainly the better director than me.

Really?
If I had tried to make Mission: Impossible, I wouldn’t have come up with a film as intense as Brian De Palma. I mean this very film, for example. There are other people who do that better.

Fair enough.


Posted by Geoff at 5:56 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, November 5, 2011 6:05 PM CDT
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Sunday, October 30, 2011
'PHANTOM' RADIO SPECIAL HALLOWEEN NIGHT
NEW INTERVIEWS WITH WILLIAMS, HARPER, FINLEY, GRAHAM, JUICY FRUITS
ALSO: FANGORIA TEASES 'REMARKABLE GENRE-RELATED PROJECT WILLIAMS IS PART OF'

Tomorrow night, on Halloween, CJOB Radio in Winnipeg will broadcast a 90-minute Phantom Of The Paradise special from 10:30pm to midnight (central time). The special promises all-new exclusive interviews with Paul Williams, William Finley, Jessica Harper, Gerrit Graham, and "Juicy Fruits" Peter Elbling, Archie Hahn, and Jeffrey Comanor. The participants will discuss the film, as well as Phantompalooza I and II. What's that you say? You don't live in Winnipeg? Oh, that's okay-- you can listen live online at CJOB.com.

Meanwhile, Fangoria has been running its own interviews with Phantom collaborators of late. Last month's issue (#307) featured an interview with Harper, in which she revealed that when Brian De Palma took her out to dinner the night of her screen test in Los Angeles, they were joined by Martin Scorsese. She also mentioned that Steven Spielberg visited the Phantom "a few times." When asked by Fangoria's Chris Alexander how Phantom was pitched to her, Harper replied, "It was never pitched as a horror film; I understood it to be a spoof rock musical. Originally it was called Phantom Of The Fillmore, which spoke to me because I used to hang out at the Fillmore East all the time. But I never thought of it as a horror movie."

Despite that, Phantom Of The Paradise did make Fangoria's 300th issue earlier this year, in which the magazine presented its "Ultimate Horror Movie Guide." In that issue, Michael Koopmans wrote of Phantom, "De Palma plunges you headfirst into the musically excessive world of the 1970s with a film that's part horror, part satire, and complete rock opera."

The current issue of Fangoria (#308) includes an interview by Alexander with Paul Williams, who brought a certain scene from the film itself to mind as he discussed the audition he held in New York for the role of Phoenix:

"I had everyone at the New York audition, including Jessica, sing Leon Russell's Superstar. Jessica was singing it quietly to herself as she waited her turn. I stood behind her and listened-- beautiful. When she sang for Brian and I, she sang out like a Broadway actress reaching the back of the house. I told her to sing softly. It was magical. She killed it.

Williams also mentions to Alexander that he never consciously went for a Phil Spector-type energy in his performance as Swan, saying, "I tried to create what Brian gave me, and his vision was spot-on." At the end of the article, Alexander says to keep checking Fangoria.com "for news of a remarkable genre-related project Williams is part of."


Posted by Geoff at 6:41 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, October 30, 2011 6:42 PM CDT
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Friday, October 28, 2011
DE PALMA: 'I CAN ONLY BE WHO I AM'
DIRECTOR DISCUSSES MISPERCEIVED ALLUSIONS TO HITCHCOCK IN 'HORRORMEISTERS' ARTICLE
Luaine Lee has posted a Halloween "conversation with some of our greatest 'horrormeisters'", for which she interviewed Brian De Palma, Stephen King, Ryan Murphy, William Friedkin, Wes Craven, and John Carpenter. De Palma briefly discussed misperceived allusions to Hitchock in his work, contrasting them with actual allusions to Hitchcock in his films. He also addressed the old question about placing women in danger on screen:

For years DePalma has made thrillers like "Obsession," "Blow Out" and "Body Double." Often skewered by the critics for his Hitchcockian moments, he says, "I can only be who I am. I cannot change the perception of the reviewer. When Carrie gets into the bathtub and (they say) this is a scene from 'Psycho,' I can't help them. All the allusions they've made about Hitchcock in my movies, please. There are some very direct ones obviously."

A car sinks slowly in the murky waters of the swamp in "Raising Cain," that's a takeoff of "Psycho," explains De Palma. "That's very clear. But Carrie getting into the bathtub is not."

De Palma has also been blasted for constantly placing women in danger. "I've been asked that question for many years and my stock answer is that when you make a thriller I think it's more interesting to me to photograph women rather than men. But nobody ever accepted that. That's one of those things like smoking - it went out (of fashion).

"You can't do that anymore. Forget about it. Basically you cannot put women in jeopardy anymore. But I think it's more interesting to put a woman in jeopardy or certainly a child."

LILY RABE HAS KEY ROLE IN 'AMERICAN HORROR STORY'
A few days ago, I posted about Murphy's American Horror Story on FX. I mentioned the participation of Jennifer Salt, but I forgot to mention that the series features Lily Rabe, daughter of David Rabe and the late Jill Clayburgh, in a key role. In the "horrormeisters" article, Murphy discusses how his show, which he crated with Brad Falchuk, taps into the current economic zeitgeist:

Murphy says their creepy creation reflects the nation's rickety economy and the apprehension that people are feeling. "I mean, even in the past week economically how difficult that is for so many people. And it makes you feel paranoid and suspenseful and worried. And I think that zeitgeist is definitely reflected in the show. I mean, in the show, it talks about all kinds of American horror stories that we are sort of being bombarded with on a day-to-day basis. So I do think that it's a show that's definitely of its time."


Posted by Geoff at 11:56 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, October 28, 2011 11:57 PM CDT
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Tuesday, October 25, 2011
EDGAR WRIGHT TALKS 'CARRIE' SOME MORE
"IT'S ALMOST LIKE HORROR'S 'GREASE'" ; ALSO, "IT'S MY 'TITANIC', IN A WAY"

The A. V. Club's Keith Phipps called upon Edgar Wright to provide this year's 24-hour horror film marathon. The site encourages readers to rent the movies and watch the marathon at home. Wright's fest would begin at 6pm with David Cronenberg's The Brood, and by 1am, viewers would be watching Brian De Palma's Carrie. Wright explains to the A. V. Club the idea for his fest:

I had this crazy idea, which mostly works, and then there’s one film that completely doesn’t work, and I sort of just lobbed it in. I was trying to think, “Wouldn’t it be good to do a 24-hour marathon that was based on the seven ages of man?” [Laughs.] So I thought “That’s pretty much 15 films in 24 hours, that leaves about two per age, and then you’ve a bonus round at the end.” That’s my idea. So the seven ages of man, as laid out by Shakespeare in As You Like It: the infant, the whining schoolboy, the lover (or teenager), the soldier (and I’m going to interpret that as soldier/young professional), the justice (or the man/adult), the age shifts (becoming old), and the end of this strange eventful history (death). And then I’m going to add eternal life as the bonus at the end.

So in Wright's fest, Carrie falls into the age of the lover:

AVC: Are we on to a new stage of man?

EW: We are. We’re now in the lovers stage, and my favorite horror movie of all time: Brian De Palma’s 1976 film Carrie. The reason I love Carrie so dearly is because I feel like it’s a horror film that absolutely anybody can watch and enjoy. Maybe enjoy is the wrong word, but I think everybody can relate to it. You sympathize with the main character so much, which is unusual for horror, which frequently has no characters to truly care about. Another great thing about Carrie is that it almost plays like horror’s Grease, in that everybody can watch Carrie and say, “Oh, I was that person,” or “I was that person.” You were either the bullied, the bullier, the person who stood by and did nothing, or the person who tried to help. It’s an amazing movie. I only recently read the book, and it gave me more appreciation for the adaptation by Lawrence Cohen, because in the book, they have a lot more of the city-wide rampage. Basically, the second half of the book is Carrie blowing the town to smithereens. But because of budget, the film wisely climaxes at the prom. My favorite moment in Carrie is the lead-up to the bucket of blood falling, where it totally becomes opera.

Brian De Palma is at his best when he becomes almost like a silent filmmaker, where the plot mechanics are all in action, and it can just play out like a horrible dance of death. And the section setting up the geography of the prom, and where the bucket of blood is, and where the rope is, and who’s holding it, and P.J. Soles swapping the ballots, and Tommy Ross and Carrie White walking up to the stage is glorious. All set to that Pino Donaggio cue called “Bucket Of Blood.” I love it. It’s just amazing. One of my favorite sequences in cinema. So brilliantly conceived and edited. The score is perfect. I love this movie. If I had made something like Carrie, I’d probably retire. It’s just absolute pop perfection.

AVC: The only scene that ever sticks out to me as not working 100 percent is—

EW: Is where it’s sped up when they’re trying on tuxedos? When I look at that now, he’d obviously done stuff like that before in Greetings, the New Wave one. It almost looks like there was a line he didn’t like, and he just sped through it. I totally agree, it stands out from the rest of the movie. And it’s really short, but I’m thinking—and maybe someone can confirm this—that whatever the line is that gets sped through, Brian De Palma said, “All right, I like the start of this shot, and I like the end of it, but I fucking hate this bit in the middle. Let’s just speed it up.”

[A La Mod Editor's note: I've always thought this entire sequence from the start was intended to be sped up as a stylistic choice by De Palma.] Even the slight imperfections in Carrie are things about it that make me love it even more. This isn’t necessarily an imperfection, but I do love, not to give away the ending, the final scene, where Amy Irving is walking along the street to visit the grave, and when it cuts to the headstone, it goes from a sunny day to pitch-black night. And then the soundstage that she’s on is full black behind her. Normally, you would see that as a continuity error, but even that just totally works with the fucked-up dream-logic of the film.

I think there was something, just before they started making Carrie, there was a writers’ strike, and it gave Brian De Palma a full three months to just storyboard the movie. I think it shows, it’s just so perfectly paced. It’s like a Swiss watch, everything totally works. It’s my favorite film of his. I like a lot of his other films, but I think Carrie is the best Stephen King adaptation, favorite horror movie of mine, love it. It’s the perfect date movie as well.

AVC: In what way?

EW: I don’t want to sound sexist. I was going to say it is the horror film that most girls would enjoy, but I think that’s true. The great thing about the movie is that a lot of horror films are about a monster trying to destroy everybody. Here, you have a very sympathetic human being who really doesn’t want to hurt anybody. And although you want to see her reap revenge, you don’t want it to end as badly as it does. It’s my Titanic, in a way, in that every time I watch it, I want Tommy Ross and Carrie White just to have a nice night. I don’t want anything bad to happen. [Laughs.] Every time I watch it, I naïvely think, “Oh, maybe it’ll be okay this time.” You don’t think about those things if you don’t care about the characters. So as much as I enjoy the Grand Guignol climax, it’s a tragic end for her, and she’s an incredibly sweet character, you’re with her all the way. It’s unusual to be on the side of the character who has a destructive power in horror movies. In Carrie, there’s a person who has the ability to kill everybody in town, you’re completely on her side, and yet you don’t want her to exercise that power. It’s amazing.

AVC: Did you ever see the sequel?

EW: The Rage: Carrie 2? I never did. I never saw the remake TV movie, either.

AVC: I never saw the remake, but the sequel, surprisingly, for a movie that did not have to be made in any way, is surprisingly interesting. It’s worth checking out.

EW: I didn’t see that. I’ve seen a lot of the Carrie rip-offs. I remember—probably before I saw Carrie, I saw a film called Jennifer, which is almost shot-for-shot Carrie, where, if memory serves me correctly, she turns into a snake. 1978 horror film. “She’s got the power, and they haven’t got a prayer.” Two years after Carrie. And besides her also having telekinetic and psychic powers, there’s definitely a giant snake in it.


Posted by Geoff at 6:35 PM CDT
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Sunday, October 23, 2011
'AMERICAN HORROR STORY' & 'HOMELAND'
JENNIFER SALT EXEC-PRODUCER & SCRIPTER OF THE FORMER; LATTER ALSO OF INTEREST

If you haven't been watching FX Network's American Horror Story or Showtime's Homeland, you should start. American Horror Story, pictured above, is the creepy new series from Ryan Murphy, who created FX's Nip/Tuck and FOX's Glee. Murphy got the series off to a whopper of a start by co-writing and directing the pilot episode, which you can watch on Hulu until October 31st (right now, you can also watch it and the second episode at the FX site). The third episode is the latest, and was written by Jennifer Salt, who is also acting as an executive producer of the series (Salt has been working with Murphy on TV and film projects since Nip/Tuck). American Horror Story has been thrilling to watch from week-to-week, and I highly recommend it. This haunted house story is fast-paced (with jump cuts used to amp up the creepiness), funny, scary, and just when you think it's gone about as far as it can go, it shows itself to have limitless imagination (at least, thus far).

Another series worth watching is Showtime's Homeland, which hooked me from the start, and also continues to move into surprising places about four episodes in. Homeland stars Claire Danes as a CIA operative who has the nagging intuition that an American Marine, who had been held captive by Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan for eight years before being rescued and returned to America, has turned, and may somehow be involved in a potential sleeper cell operation. With the help of a close confidant and his brother, she takes it upon herself to illegally place cameras and microphones in the Marine's home, and spends nights on the couch watching him sleep, looking for any sign of suspicious activity. The viewer is privy to certain things going on in the Marine's mind, but with enough ambiguity to keep on the fence about whether or not he is part of any such plot. I hadn't thought of any specific De Palma influence while watching, but The New Yorker's Nancy Franklin feels that the series evokes Antonioni's Blow-Up, De Palma's Blow Out, and Coppola's The Conversation.

Posted by Geoff at 10:29 PM CDT
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011
'PHANTOM' IN SIX DIMENSIONS FOR HALLOWEEN
MULTIMEDIA PRESENTATION FROM BALTIMORE ROCK OPERA SOCIETY
The Baltimore Rock Opera Society will present Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise in 6D, or six dimensions, over Halloween weekend. The show will be presented on Friday October 28, and Saturday October 29 at the Autograph Playhouse. For these two shows, the film, which "has been modified to blow your mind," will be projected from six projectors. In addition, there will be a live band with costumed singers, "AND," states the website decription, "it’s a costume party–-come dressed in the best rock freakiness you’ve got!" The descriptions at the website also tout security cameras and "custom video editing." Showtimes are at 8pm each night. Tickets are $10 each. Sounds like a steal, Winslow!

Posted by Geoff at 4:14 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, October 30, 2011 6:07 PM CDT
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Friday, October 14, 2011
PISCOPO TO CELEBRATE 'WISE GUYS' 25TH ANNIVERSARY
FREE SCREENING WITH Q&A THIS SUNDAY AT THE ATLANTIC CITY CINEFEST


We've seen anniversary tributes this year to Carrie and Obsession, but one film in the De Palma canon that doesn't usually get much respect is celebrating its anniversary in style this weekend. That's right: Brian De Palma's Wise Guys turns 25 this year, and will play this Sunday night at the Screening Room on the 13th floor of Resorts Atlantic City Casino Hotel, where much of the film was shot. Joe Piscopo, who this past July opened Club Piscopo in the Starlight Room on the second floor at Resorts, will be on hand to introduce Wise Guys, and will also conduct a Q&A after the screening, which begins at 4:45pm (the event is scheduled to go until 7pm). Admission is free. The screening is the closing event (just prior to the Awards ceremony) at this weekend's Atlantic City Cinefest, an annual series of events presented by the Downbeach Film Festival.

Posted by Geoff at 10:35 PM CDT
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