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Thursday, March 1, 2012
PAUL ANDERSON JOINS 'PASSION' CAST
AND SCREEN DAILY SAYS FILM IS EYEING A 2013 BERLIN FEST PREMIERE

The Daily Mail's Baz Bamigboye reports that yet another member from the cast of Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows has joined Brian De Palma's Passion. Paul Anderson will reteam with his Sherlock co-stars Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace for the De Palma project. Previous reports state that Dominic Cooper and Karoline Herfurth have also been cast. Meanwhile, Screen Daily's Martin Blaney mentioned in an article today about Ascot Elite that De Palma's Passion has "an eye to a premiere at the 2013 Berlinale."

Posted by Geoff at 9:05 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, March 1, 2012 9:07 PM CST
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'CARRIE' CONSENSUS: BETTER, BUT TOO TIMID
ALTHOUGH FEAR-NET REVIEW SAYS THEY GOT IT RIGHT
With the Off Broadway revival of Carrie opening tonight at New York's Lucille Lortel Theatre, the reviews have begun coming in, and the consensus seems to be that the show, while better, is too timid. Betty Buckley suggested as much last week when she called it the "PG-13 version" of the original Broadway show that she appeared in back in 1988. The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney calls the new show a "well-intentioned but misguided revision" that was perhaps never meant to be a musical. Most of the reviews (which appear to have come from critics who have seen one of the previews in February) so far seem to agree that the show comes alive when it features either of the two main characters, Carrie and her mother, but that none of the other characters make much of an impression. Despite all of this, FearNet's Bradley Steele Harding is enthused by the show, which he says has more of a minimalist approach than the 1988 version. "The main reason that Carrie: the Musical refuses to die," writes Harding, "is that songs created by Gore and Pitchford are so bloody memorable. While there were several pieces in the original that were standouts, some of them simply didn't serve the narrative. Here every song either furthers the action or adds nuance to the characters."

Broadway World is doing live updates of the reviews as they come in. Meanwhile, Gothamist has a preview article with quotes from Lawrence D. Cohen and Michael Gore. The Toronto Star's Richard Ouzounian has an interview with the new show's director, Stafford Arima, as does AP's Mark Kennedy and The Globe And Mail's Carly Maga.

Posted by Geoff at 8:40 PM CST
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PRIZE-WINNING CAB A TRIBUTE TO 'THE UNTOUCHABLES'
VIDEO IS PART OF VOLVO SERIES, "WELCOME TO MY CAB"

Posted by Geoff at 4:29 PM CST
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Tuesday, February 28, 2012
'BONFIRE' SCREENING & DISCUSSION TONIGHT
AS PART OF GLOBAL ECONOMIC FILM SERIES AT NEW YORK'S BUFFALO STATE COLLEGE

Brian De Palma's The Bonfire Of The Vanities will screen tonight at New York's Buffalo State College. The screening is part of a film series, "Crisis!", that "explores the global economic crisis." The series runs on select Tuesdays spread throughout the school's spring 2012 semester. There will be a panel discussion following the film, which will include "experts from Buffalo State’s faculty and the community," according to the Burchfield Penney Art Center's web site, which adds, "Audiences can expect a broad spectrum of views, as we aim to stimulate lively discussion and debate." The site further describes tonight's film screening:

In the 1980s, the obscure business of the bond trader suddenly became a new center of economic, political and cultural power. Yuppie financiers fancied themselves “masters of the universe” as their pay, their privileges and their partying reached heights not seen since the 1920s. Yet right up the street from this new zone of excess risk and empowered irresponsibilty, persistent poverty shaped the lives of millions. Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman star in this Hollywood version of Tom Wolfe’s piercing social satire of the excesses of Wall Street’s new era. Or at least its early days.

Upcoming films in the series include three documentaries and a drama: Alex Gibney's Client 9, Charles Ferguson's Inside Job, Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story, and Oliver Stone's Wall Street. Previously this semester, the series screened Orson Welles' Citizen Kane and Alan J. Pakula's Rollover.


Posted by Geoff at 6:44 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, March 4, 2012 9:44 AM CST
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Sunday, February 26, 2012
'THE ARTIST' DIRECTOR ON 'UNDERWORLD' INFLUENCE
AND PENELOPE ANN MILLER BECOMES "AWARD-SEASON MVP"
Penelope Ann Miller spent about three days filming her part in Michel Hazanavicius's The Artist, but she was one of the few actresses to show interest in taking a chance on a silent movie by a French director. The film won best picture at tonight's Academy Awards, and Hazananvicius won for best director. What initially drew Miller to the film was the chance to spend time in the world of the 1920s, a period she says she enjoys. Here she is pictured arriving at tonight's Academy Award ceremony in a dress she told the Hollywood Reporter features 1920s elements. To design the dress, she collaborated with Badgley Mischka. It is the first time Miller has ever been to the Oscar ceremony, and The Carpetbagger's Melena Ryzik makes a case for Penelope as the 2012 Award-Season M.V.P. for her tireless promotion of The Artist.

Miller has been out of the spotlight since about the 1990s, the decade in which she appeared in Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way. According to Naughty But Nice Rob, Miller was an '80s "It" girl who now, interestingly, "compares her celebrity during her acting heyday to that of Rachel McAdams today." Miller tells Rob that she stepped away from the limelight to start a family. She also talked to The Insider's Jarett Wieselman about the script for The Artist and how she came to be cast in the film:

Yes, there was a script but it was just, it was more descriptive than dialogue. It really read like a story. Michel [Hazanavicius, writer/director] really did a beautiful job -- it was bound and on each side of the page there were photographs of Berenice [Bejo] and Jean [Dujardin] in period costume, and period locations. It was very picturesque. It was definitely unusual, so I did get this almost hesitant call from my agent saying, "They're making this black and white silent film and it's set in the 20s." That perked me up because I love the 20s, and I asked, "Well, who is in it?" He said, "The two leads are French and the director is French," and I'd never heard of them nor could I pronounce their names [laughs]. And I thought that this was getting more interesting by the minute.

Miller told the Orange County Register's Richard Chang a bit more details about that initial phone call, and her first meeting with Hazanavicius:

Q: How did you get cast for this picture?

A: My agent, who has a relationship with the casting director, called me. I was interested in at least reading it. There were actors who weren't interested. They're probably kicking themselves right now. There are those of us who are willing to take that leap of risk, who had faith. Obviously, it was a very far-fetched notion. In "Chaplin," you could hear the dialogue. With this, this is like a full-blown silent film.

But I love the '20s. I'm an old movie buff. I'm very nostalgic about old Hollywood. I sort of welcomed the opportunity and thought this could be kind of fun. It definitely could be a real hit or a real miss. If it was a miss, oh well, I can move on.

Q: What was it like to work with director Michel Hazanavicius? He isn't that well-known in the U.S.

A: When I met him, I discovered he'd really done his homework. He had a really strong vision. I told him we both shared the passion for the old movies. He knew how he wanted to film it, what he was doing. He really hired the top of the line to work with him. The cinematographer was the guy he's always worked with. The hair and makeup worked with some real big stars. People on the technical side loved the artistic side of the film. How many opportunities do you get to make a movie like this? It wasn't going to be a huge, long schedule. I took it for the art of it.

HAVANAVICIUS ON SIX SILENT FILMS THAT INSPIRED 'THE ARTIST'

When Havanavicius accepted the best picture award at tonight's Oscar ceremony, he thanked Billy Wilder, Billy Wilder, and Billy Wilder. But back in November, Hazanavicius shared with Indiewire's Eric Kohn notes on six silent films that inspired The Artist. The first of the six listed is Josef von Sternberg's Underworld. Released in 1927, the screenplay for Underworld was written by Ben Hecht, who was awarded the first-ever Academy Award for Best Screenplay for the film. Hecht went on to write the screenplay for Howard Hawks's Scarface, and De Palma's remake of that film is dedicated to Hawks and Hecht. Havanavicius states, "All of Scarface, and even Brian De Palma's The Untouchables, comes from Underworld. The way that director Josef von Sternberg shot women was incredible. It's super-sensual, and really amazing to see a gangster movie as good as anything by Tarantino from this period."

The other five silent films noted by Havanavicius are Tod Browning's The Unknown, F.W. Murnau's Sunrise and City Girl, King Vidor's The Crowd, and Charlie Chaplin's City Lights.


Posted by Geoff at 11:20 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, February 26, 2012 11:27 PM CST
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TALENT AGENT RECALLS 'UNTOUCHABLES' LUNCH
WITH DE PALMA, CHARLES MARTIN SMITH, & KEVIN COSTNER

After watching Kevin Costner deliver a poignant eulogy last weekend at the funeral of Whitney Houston, talent agent and advisor Danny Allen recalled, in his Newzbreaker column, meeting Costner for the first time on the set of Brian De Palma's The Untouchables. Allen began his career in the 1950s as an agent for Errol Flynn, who later nicknamed Allen "Moxie Man." He first met The Untouchables' Charles Martin Smith on the set of George Lucas' American Graffiti in 1973. In 1980, he did some press work for De Palma on Dressed To Kill. In the passage below, Allen recounts meeting the young upcomer Kevin Costner on the set of The Untouchables, and how upon seeing Allen, De Palma told the crew to take a break so they could all go to lunch...

Charles called me during the late summer of 86 and said, “Moxie Man you must come to the set so you can see some of the acting Kevin Costner is doing, who I think is going to be the next big movie star on the scene.” Coming from “Smitty”, as I called him, an accomplished actor in his own regard, made his comment have merit. I arrived on the day they were shooting the scene in the church between Kevin and Sean Connery, which happens to be one of my favorite scenes in the movie.

When De Palma yelled cut, “Smitty” grabbed Kevin by the arm and raced towards me. We were introduced and Kevin had a firm handshake, and a great sincere smile. “Smitty” like many others, of course, told the Errol Flynn Story and yet another actor, (Costner) was a fan of Errol’s. De Palma saw a group forming and didn’t realize I was on the set. When he came over, he bear hugged me and told his crew, take an hour, we are going to lunch. Off Kevin, “Smitty”, Brian and I went in his limo to eat.

For the next hour, Kevin sat there listening to stories that “Smitty”, Brian and I, shared, all the time, asking great questions and soaking in any and all acting advice we could give. He was very humble, and even offered to pick up the tab, but of course, De Palma wouldn’t allow that. At the end of our lunch, Kevin and I had bonded, exchanging numbers.

For many years after our first meeting, Kevin and I have stayed in touch with him still being that humble person I met some 26 years ago. So when the rest of the world praised his eulogy at Whitney Houston’s funeral last week, I just smiled because the class act that I have known Kevin to be way away from the glaring lights of a movie set, shined through.


Posted by Geoff at 7:10 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, February 26, 2012 7:13 PM CST
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'PASSION' CREW GETS TO WORK
'CLOUD ATLAS' TRAINEE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR JUMPS ABOARD DE PALMA PROJECT
As Hollywood gears up for the Academy Awards tonight, the cast and crew of Brian De Palma's Passion are gathering in Berlin to get things in order for the ten-week shoot that begins a week from tomorrow. Annika Sell (pictured) interned as a trainee assistant director on Cloud Atlas, the ambitious film directed by Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, and Lana Wachowski that was partially filmed in Germany. Sell tweeted this morning that she was heading to work on a beautiful Sunday to begin work on Passion. Sell is an aspiring director who shot a romantic comedy called Sincerely Yours in May of 2010. Before completing that film, however, Sell and producer Jessica Etherington found themselves with various internship opportunities they couldn't pass up, and have not had the time to work on editing Sincerely Yours. Sell has now decided to try and find somebody else to edit her film while she continues with her internships. Best of luck to her.

Posted by Geoff at 5:27 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, February 26, 2012 5:32 PM CST
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MYSTERY OSCAR MAY LEAD TO BART DE PALMA
REPORTER FINDS PIC OF HER MOM HOLDING STATUETTE, TRIES TO FIND SOURCE
The Oakland Tribune's Angela Hill has been going through boxes of old photos, and found one from the early 1980s of her mother "beaming her 100-watt smile as she cradled an Oscar in her hands." In an attempt to find out how and why her mother was holding what appeared to be a genuine Oscar statuette while standing in some sort of office building, Hill followed her hunch that there might be a connection to Foothill College in Los Altos, which she vaguely remembers touring with her mother when she was younger. Hill contacted the Foothill public relations office, where Lori Thomas answered the call, did some checking, and found a possible link to Bart De Palma, Brian De Palma's older brother (who has worked on several of Brian's films over the years). Here is how Hill describes getting the call from Thomas:

Lori said the college had indeed had an Oscar! Briefly. In the early '80s. A couple of retired profs remembered former Foothill art and film instructor Barton DePalma -- brother of famed director Brian DePalma ("Scarface," "Carrie," "The Untouchables") -- had possibly borrowed the statuette and brought it in to the faculty offices for a few days to show it off. "I'm willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that was it," Lori said.

I'll take the doughnuts, Lori, but there's still more mystery. Whose Oscar was it? It wasn't Brian DePalma's -- he's racked up some Golden Globes (and even five Razzies) over the years, but has been snubbed by the Academy. Sure, it could have been an obscure Oscar for something like "development of a system of xenon arc lamphouses" and "engineering of fluid-damped camera heads," but there didn't seem to be anything at all for any of DePalma's films except a best supporting actor win for Sean Connery in 1987 for "The Untouchables," but that didn't match the time frame. If it had indeed been something Sean Connery had touched, my mom definitely would have stolen it.

I tried to call Barton DePalma, who may or may not live in Menlo Park and/or New Mexico, according to the Internet. I left a couple of messages/crank calls here and there. So we'll see what comes of that.


Posted by Geoff at 12:42 PM CST
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012
NEW BOOK DELVES DEEP INTO 'CARRIE'
INCLUDES NEW INTERVIEWS WITH DE PALMA, COHEN; FULL REVIEW TO COME
I've been reading this excellent new book by Joe Aisenberg that delves deep into Brian De Palma's Carrie, providing a wealth of details about its creation, its critical reception, how it compares with Stephen King's novel, and so on. Aisenberg has done an outstanding job, looking thoroughly at each scene from the film chapter-by-chapter, and peppering his analysis with insights via original interviews from several members of the Carrie cast and crew, as well as quotes from the many articles written about Carrie over the past 35+ years. The book is part of Centipede Press' "Studies In The Horror Film" series. The 100-copy, limited edition hardcover, signed by author Joe Aisenberg and screenwriter Lawrence D. Cohen, is currently available for pre-order from the Centipede website. A trade paperback edition is aiming for publication in March. The book's appendix includes Aisenberg's full interviews with De Palma and Cohen. I'll post a more in-depth review soon, but if you love Carrie, you'll love this book.

Posted by Geoff at 11:51 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, February 23, 2012 4:42 PM CST
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Monday, February 20, 2012
REPORT: 'PASSION' ADDS DOMINIC COOPER TO CAST
UPDATE: COOPER NOT PART OF CAST
BRITISH ACTOR LISTED MATTER-OF-FACTLY IN GERMAN REPORT FROM BERLIN FEST
MediaBiz reports from the Berlin International Film Festival (which ended this past weekend) that the German-Swiss distributor Ascot Elite Entertainment Group has picked up the theatrical and home distribution rights to Brian De Palma's Passion. What is particularly of note in the article, however, is that it includes British actor Dominic Cooper as a cast member of Passion, along with Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace, and Karoline Herfurth. Cooper would presumably be playing the male character who becomes a sort of pawn between McAdams' CEO and Rapace's deputy. Cooper made a big splash last year playing dual roles as Saddam Hussein's ruthless playboy son, Uday Hussein, and his body double in Lee Tamahori's The Devil's Double. That film was widely compared to De Palma's Scarface. Its cast also included Ludivine Sagnier, who starred with Kristin Scott Thomas in Alain Corneau's Love Crime, on which De Palma's Passion is based.

(Big thanks to Lindsey for finding the Media Biz article!)

Posted by Geoff at 7:38 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, May 9, 2012 12:13 AM CDT
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