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Friday, January 20, 2012
VERTIGOED CONTEST YIELDS HERRMANN WARP
AS ONE ENTRY REPLACES 'OBSESSION' CLIMAX WITH HERRMANN'S 'VERTIGO' CUE

Vertigoed: Brian De Palma's "Obsession" from Brandon Brown on Vimeo.

Brian De Palma famously started off on a treacherous foot with Bernard Herrmann when he showed the composer a rough cut of Sisters sprinkled with cues from Herrmann's scores for various Alfred Hitchcock films. Herrmann immediately told De Palma to turn off the music, because, he said, he couldn't possibly hear the music for this new movie in his head while listening to works he'd composed for other films. The two hit it off, however, and Herrmann returned to score De Palma's Vertigo-inspired Obsession. Herrmann's music for Obsession is widely considered one of his greatest works, as is, of course, his score for Vertigo.

In the wake of Kim Novak's recent cry of "rape" over the use of one of Herrmann's cues from Vertigo as soundtrack for a scene in Michel Hazanavicius's The Artist, Indiewire's Press Play blog held a contest, called "Vertigoed," that concluded earlier today. As editor Matt Zoller Seitz explained, "Novak's word choice was unfortunate -- more than one person, including yours truly, said that was akin to somebody sitting through the Star Wars prequels and witlessly declaring, 'George Lucas raped my childhood.' Press Play contributor and film editor Kevin Lee followed this Novak/Lucas line of thought to its logical -- or illogical -- end. Just for the hell of it, he matched the Vertigo cue used in The Artist with the last three minutes of the Death Star battle in Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope, uploaded it, and sent the link to several Press Play contributors to get their reactions. And it's here that things got interesting: rather than generate cheap laughs at the expense of Novak, Lucas, The Artist or Star Wars, the mash-up inspired delight. Simply put: Kevin's experiment confirmed that Bernard Herrmann's Vertigo score is so passionate and powerful that it can elevate an already good scene -- and a familiar one at that -- to a higher plane of expression. Score one for the master of film scoring!"

So these were the rules to the contest:

1. Take the same Herrmann cue -- "Scene D'Amour," used in this memorable moment from Vertigo -- and match it with a clip from any film. (You can nick the three-minute section from one of Kevin's mash-ups if it makes things easier.) Is there any clip, no matter how silly, nonsensical, goofy or foul, that the score to Vertigo can't ennoble? Let's find out!

2. Although you can use any portion of "Scene D'Amour" as your soundtrack, the movie clip that you pair it with cannot have ANY edits; it must play straight through over the Herrmann music. This is an exercise in juxtaposition and timing. If you slice and dice the film clip to make things "work," it's cheating. MONTAGES WILL BE DISQUALIFIED.

3. Upload the result to YouTube, Vimeo, blipTV or wherever, email the link to pressplayvideoblog@gmail.com along with your name, and we'll add your mash-up to this Index page.

The above Obsession entry, by Brandon Brown, creates a sort of Bernard Herrmann mind warp, but actually works pretty well. It came in at number 86 in the contest. Number one was Kevin B. Lee's entry for Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.


Posted by Geoff at 8:53 PM CST
Updated: Friday, January 20, 2012 8:55 PM CST
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012
RICHARD BRUNO HAS DIED
COSTUME DESIGNER WORKED ON 'UNTOUCHABLES', 'WISE GUYS', 'CASUALTIES OF WAR'
Costume designer Richard Bruno died of kidney failure Wednesday at the age of 87. Bruno worked on several films with Brian De Palma. He was costume designer for Wise Guys and Casualties Of War, and, having established a strong working bond with Robert De Niro on films by Martin Scorsese and Sergio Leone, among others, Bruno was a wardrobe assistant to Mr. De Niro on De Palma's The Untouchables. The Los Angeles Times' obituary for Bruno states that, "Along with tailor Henry Stewart, Bruno helped create an authentic 1930s wardrobe for DeNiro's Al Capone character in the 1987 blockbuster The Untouchables, whose costumes were overseen by Marilyn Vance-Straker. Bruno did extensive research to fine-tune the costumes; he tracked down old hats at Capone's favorite shop in Chicago and had them fashioned into new ones for DeNiro, and he had Capone's monogram embroidered on wardrobe items, including silk socks and underwear."

Posted by Geoff at 6:16 PM CST
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012
'CARRIE' AS GODMOTHER TO LISBETH SALANDER
EW LOOKS AT FILM CHARACTERS WHO POTENTIALLY INFLUENCED LARSSON'S HEROINE
In the January 6 2012 issue of Entertainment Weekly, Mark Harris takes a look at what went into the re-creation of Lisbeth Salander for David Fincher and Steven Zaillian's American remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. But before he gets to that point, he discusses the seeming antecedents to the character created by the late author Stieg Larsson. "By the time Larsson conceived her a decade ago," states Harris, "there were plenty of forerunners he could scavenge and strip for parts. In a way, Salendar's two godmothers are Sissy Spacek as the telekinetic wallflower-turned-destroyer in 1976's Carrie and Daryl Hannah as Pris, the cartwheeling death doll in 1982's Blade Runner. Like Lisbeth, Carrie is an outcast whose abusive treatment by both her family and her society (a.k.a. high school) triggers the surge of her special power into something dangerous. And like Lisbeth, she never seems more emotionally remote-- removed even from herself-- than when she's unleashing hell."

Harris names a number of other "stone-cold female badasses" that were possible influences in creating Lisbeth: Tim Burton and Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman, Neil Gaiman's Death, and Luc Besson's Nikita. "Recently," he writes, "we've seen variations embodied by Angelina Jolie (Wanted), Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass), Saoirse Ronan (Hanna), and Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse)."

Posted by Geoff at 10:30 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 10:37 PM CST
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Monday, January 16, 2012
KIMBERLY PEIRCE: 'I'M THE BIGGEST STEPHEN KING FAN'
'...AND BRIAN DE PALMA, BELIEVE ME.'
Hollywood News' Roger Friedman talked with Kimberly Peirce Friday, and says that she told him "all about her remake of Carrie." According to Freidman, Peirce said, "I’m the biggest Stephen King fan. And Brian De Palma, believe me."

Posted by Geoff at 5:47 PM CST
Updated: Monday, January 16, 2012 5:51 PM CST
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Sunday, January 15, 2012
DONAGGIO WILL SCORE 'PASSION'!
FILM MUSIC REPORTER: SBS SENT OUT INCORRECT INFO LAST WEEK
Many of us have been waiting for a return of the great ongoing collaboration between Brian De Palma and Pino Donaggio, and it looks like it is finally happening. According to Film Music Reporter, SBS Productions sent word Friday that they had accidentally sent out incorrect information last week regarding the composer for De Palma's Passion. Donaggio will score the film, and not Dario Marianelli, as originally stated. This would mark the pair's first collaboration since 1992's Raising Cain. About nine or ten years ago, Donaggio had said that he was to provide the music for De Palma's planned adaptation of Toyer, but that project has yet to get off the ground. Donaggio has scored six films for De Palma: Carrie, Home Movies, Dressed To Kill, Blow Out, Body Double, and the aforementioned Raising Cain. With Donaggio's involvement, Passion looks to be something very special, indeed.

Posted by Geoff at 1:29 AM CST
Updated: Saturday, March 10, 2012 2:16 PM CST
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Saturday, January 14, 2012
'SUPERNATURAL' DOES 'THE UNTOUCHABLES'
CHARACTER GOES BACK IN TIME, MEETS ELIOT NESS, QUOTES FROM DE PALMA FILM

Last night's episode of CW's Supernatural found one of the main characters, Dean, going back in time (apparently uncontrollably) to 1944, where he meets Eliot Ness. I haven't seen the episode, but according to Hero Complex, "Dean is thrilled to find himself with a fedora and reveals that he’s a huge fan of Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables." TV Fanatic has run a review of the episode, describing some of the nods to De Palma's film:

Of course, Dean really got to shine in his moment of pure bliss when he was transported to 1944 (if only we could all count in our heads like Dean.)

Specifically, Dean's star struck moments of meeting the leader of The Untouchables was pure awesome. It was very cool to see an iconic hero like Eliot Ness gain that Supernatural edge by making him a hunter, and it made perfect sense. It was also great that he was able to reference the fantastic Brian De Palma film, The Untouchables, with lines like "because that is the Chicago way" and punching out the witness because that's what he watched Eliot Ness do in the movie. At the same time, attempting to imitate the film fell flat for Dean, making it even more humorous for his character as he tried to fit in and seem as cool as his counterpart.


Posted by Geoff at 11:59 AM CST
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Thursday, January 12, 2012
DE PALMA SERIES AT CINEMATHEQUE DE NICE
OTHER FILM SERIES: PARK JUNG-HOON CHOOSES 'SCARFACE' FOR SEOUL; 'BLOW OUT' PART OF TORONTO POLITICAL SERIES
Cinémathèque de Nice kicked off its Brian De Palma film series Tuesday, January 10th. The series, running throughout January, features 18 De Palma films, consisting of every feature the director has made since (and including) Obsession, with the exception of Home Movies and Wise Guys. Last night, Jean Douchet presented Blow Out as part of his Cinema Club, offering his comments about the film and De Palma's work. Douchet provided commentary on the French DVD of De Palma's Hi, Mom!, released a few years ago.

AMERICAN MOVIES AND THE POLITICS OF IDEALISM
Blow Out will also be included in film critic and author Kevin Courrier's weekly lecture series, "Reflections In The Hall Of Mirrors: American Movies And The Politics Of Idealism," at Toronto's Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre. The series deals with films and ideas for a book Courrier is currently writing, to be published in 2013. According to the web site description, "'Reflections in the Hall of Mirrors' examines how key American movies from the last forty years have soaked up the political and cultural ideals of their time. Since American movies often echo the secret aspirations, the dashed expectations and the country's deeply divisive elements, they shape - and reflect - much of the American public thinking and discourse." The class will take place on Mondays, beginning January 16 with the Kennedy era, and concluding March 26 with the Obama era. Clips from Blow Out will be screened on February 13 as part of the Reagan era class. Other film clips included that night will be from Philip Kaufman's Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Herbert Ross' Pennies From Heaven, Tony Richardson's The Border, and Barry Levinson's Diner, among others.

10TH ANNIVERSARY OF SEOUL ART CINEMA
Meanwhile, the seventh edition of Cinematheque Friends Film Festival kicked off today, and it includes a celebration of the 10th anniversary of Seoul Art Cinema. According to The Korea Herald, the fest "features a total of 19 films picked by 23 acclaimed cineastes in the country, including filmmakers, film critics, actors and actresses." Actor Park Jung-hoon will present De Palma's Scarface. "I watched the film more than 50 times," the actor told the Herald. "It really mesmerized me throughout my teenage years and during my 20s." The festival runs through February 26th.


Posted by Geoff at 9:32 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, January 12, 2012 9:34 PM CST
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Saturday, January 7, 2012
ALCAINE WILL SHOOT 'PASSION' FOR DE PALMA
COMPOSER: DARIO MARIANELLI - EDITOR: FRANCOIS GEDIGIER
"I’ve always been known for my concern for the beauty of the actresses. That’s because I grew up seeing the films from the 1940s to the 1960s, in which the actresses were shot like goddesses.” That is a quote from José Luis Alcaine, the cinematographer who has worked on five films with Pedro Almodóvar since 1988, including Almodóvar's latest, The Skin I Live In. According to the IMDB, Alcaine will be the cinematographer on Brian De Palma's Passion, a film of which De Palma has stated will have "a lot of beautiful women in it." Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams are set to play the leads. De Palma had previously told us that Thierry Arbogast would be shooting the film, but that was back when they were trying to get the project off the ground last spring, so Arbogast may be tied up with other projects right now. In any case, Alcaine is a welcome, fantastic choice, having done incredible work with Almodóvar and others. The Skin I Live In has been compared on more than one occasion to De Palma's Femme Fatale.

Alcaine is known for being the first to use fluorescent tubes as a primary lighting source back in the '70s. He talked a bit about his lighting techniques in a recent interview with Below The Line's Jack Egan, telling him that the bedrock of all good cinematography is "sculpting with light... You have to bear in mind that the lighting in all my films, even though they’re very different, starts from reality. That means I like very gentle lights, but with great contrasts; and soft lighting that envelopes colors, without making them explode.”

Also according to the IMDB (and confirmed by Film Music Reporter), Dario Marianelli will compose the score for Passion. Marianelli is an award-winning composer who has scored many films, including The Brave One, Atonement, Pride and Prejudice and V for Vendetta. The IMDB also lists François Gédigier (Dancer In The Dark, Queen Margot) as the editor on Passion. As previously reported, Cornelia Ott is the art director.

Posted by Geoff at 4:38 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, January 8, 2012 10:32 AM CST
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Wednesday, January 4, 2012
KIMBERLY PEIRCE IN TALKS FOR 'CARRIE' REMAKE
NEW ADAPTATION SCRIPTED BY ROBERTO AGUIRRE-SACASA
Deadline's Mike Fleming reported today that Kimberly Peirce is in talks to direct the MGM/Screen Gems remake of Carrie. Peirce is best known for her feature debut Boys Don't Cry. Since that picture in 1999, she has directed one other feature, the effective Iraq war-themed drama Stop-Loss, which was released in 2008. In between, she directed several episodes of Showtime's The L Word.

Peirce tends to be a hands-on director, meaning she is heavily involved in the screenplay development of her projects, usually co-writing as well as directing. Last February, Fleming reported that Peirce had set up a gang drama at Universal called The Knife. "We spent about four months working for free to put this together," Peirce told Fleming at the time, "because directors and writers have to go in with a movie like this totally figured out. Many of my filmmaker and screenwriter friends tell me they’ve had to do the same. You just have to look at it as the answer to the question, what do I have to do to get a good movie made? A two-minute pitch isn’t good enough, and is there anything more mind-numbing than reading an outline? I fell in love with the two characters and immediately saw a classic buddy movie with this rookie gang-banger and a hard-nosed FBI agent who have to overcome a mutual distrust. The agent wants to infiltrate the gang at a time when the FBI had no understanding of gang structure. They were effective but there are so many conflicts that play out, like can you be an informant without being a rat, to can you trust an informant if his reason for cooperating isn’t that you will otherwise send him to prison for another crime he committed? I love true undercover crime stories like On The Waterfront, The Departed and Donnie Brasco, but Hollywood is moving away from films like these. We walked in and said, here’s the movie, it will cost under $30 million. And we walked out with much more than a development deal. It also helped that The Town and Takers came in at $30 million or less and grossed over $100 million. The studio told us to move as fast as we can and that’s what we’re doing.”

With that project seemingly stalled, Peirce may be jumping onto the Carrie remake as a way to have a potential hit and get some of her other projects made. Fleming states that Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has already written the new adaptation of Stephen King's novel, but if Peirce signs on, she will undoubtedly reshape it to fit her vision.


Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, January 5, 2012 12:21 AM CST
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Friday, December 23, 2011
BIRD'S 'MISSION' A HIT WITH CRITICS & PUBLIC
(MINOR) SPOILER: CODA PAYS TRIBUTE TO DE PALMA'S FILM
I'll get this minor SPOILER ALERT out of the way first (don't read if you don't want to know)-- Brad Bird's Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol ends with a cameo from Ving Rhames, playing Luther Stickell. After Ethan Hunt's latest adventure, Bird does a direct echo of the post-adventure scene in Brian De Palma's Mission: Impossible by pointing the camera at a Seattle cafe's television, on which can be seen a newscaster explaining away the "official" cover-up version of the events which have just transpired in the film. The camera then pans through the cafe to find Ethan and Luther sitting at a table, enjoying a drink together as the two discuss the latest mission. (Bird's film also touches on the J.J. Abrams Mission story after the De Palma homage... not sure if the John Woo Mission is in here somewhere or not.)

I liked Ghost Protocol quite a bit. Bird really brought the playfulness to it that he spoke of in interviews, and the film has more than a few laughs coming from several directions, while still keeping a palpable spy-genre tension. The opening prologue brings the viewer right into the movie with a fast-paced chill, followed by a highly entertaining jailbreak mission. Worth noting is that Paul Hirsch, who edited the De Palma Mission, returns for the new one, as well.

While I feel the new film is the best one since the first one, I still feel that De Palma's is the best Mission so far. De Palma's film moves in a cooly fluid, insidiously beautiful way, with a layered, subversive element to the images. Bird's film advances in animated leaps and bounds, thrilling to the moment. Each version works, but it seems to me that the De Palma film has so much more to say about the dirty business of being a spy, and it does so rather chillingly.

OWEN & ARMOND REALLY LIKE 'GHOST PROTOCOL'
Two critics who really like Bird's film are Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman and City Arts' Armond White. Gleiberman includes Ghost Protocol at number ten on his list of 2011's best films, calling it the best in the Mission series. "In an action-ride culture that offers so much fake adrenaline," states Gleiberman, "it's cathartic to encounter the real thing."

Meanwhile, White begins his review of Bird's film this way: "Brian De Palma’s 1996 Mission Impossible was a cartoon even though he didn’t direct it like one. The sheer, exhilarating pleasure of Mission Impossible IV (officially subtitled Ghost Protocol) comes from star-producer Tom Cruise’s ingenious decision to cast animation master Brad Bird." White later continues, "Whereas De Palma’s hyper clear visual style was gravely emotional even when the action was absurd, it didn’t quite transform the TV-based material into the Fritz Lang revelation De Palma intended (despite the helicopter/train Chunnel sequence’s very obvious reference to Lang’s 1929 Spies). Bird’s movie is lighter, yet more visionary."

White further compares Abrams to Bird and De Palma: "Co-producer J.J. Abrams tried and failed to make a deluxe TV-movie in Star Trek. Abrams simply lacks a cinematic eye comparable to Bird (comparable to De Palma? Forget it.) Bird’s conceptual staging of a prison break, a choreographed seduction at a ball in India and a chase during a desert dust storm display a big-screen sense of movement that harkens back to great animation as well as silent movie slapstick."

In the final paragraph of the review, White claims that the Besson stable of directors is still the crew to beat when it comes to the action genre: "If Ghost Protocol was any better, it would match the splendid advance of action movie aesthetics that Luc Besson has spearheaded in the Transporter movies (especially Olivier Megaton’s Godardian Transporter 3) as well as Angel-A, Taken, From Paris with Love and this year’s terrific Colombiana. These recent heroic action narrative innovations by Besson, Paul W.S. Anderson and Neveldine-Taylor are accomplishing what De Palma was after. Hollywood is slow on the uptake. Tarantino, Eli Roth and their ilk can only amp-up brutality; they lack visual wit. But in Ghost Protocol, Cruise and Bird are catching up. It is a rare pleasure to salute a Hollywood action movie that gets it right."


Posted by Geoff at 7:48 PM CST
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