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Sunday, July 22, 2012
DE PALMA SERIES IN PARIS & ARGENTINA
PARIS: NEW PRINTS OF 'DRESSED TO KILL' & 'BLOW OUT', MORE
ARGENTINA TV: FILMOTECA PROGRAMS WEEK OF LESSER-SEEN WORKS
ALSO, LONDON: RARE 'BODY DOUBLE' SCREENING (OVER-AND-DONE)
ALSO, U.S.: AMC CHANNEL FEATURES 'MISSION TO MARS' WITH POP-UP STORY NOTES

This photo was sent in by reader Andreas Kröneck, who found himself standing in the lobby of Paris' Cinema le Grand Action just after a double feature last night, made up of brand new 2K digital prints of Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill and Blow Out. According to the theater's website, champagne and snacks were to be served during an intermission between the two films. There will be more chances to see these new prints, as the Le Grand Action is taking the opportunity to run a De Palma cycle through August, featuring the two aforementioned films, as well as Body Double (which Andreas was aiming to catch last night), Casualties Of War, The Bonfire Of The Vanities, Carrie, Snake Eyes, Mission: Impossible, and Redacted.

'MURDER A LA MOD', 'GREETINGS', 'SISTERS', & 'REDACTED' PROGRAMMED BY CRITICS IN ARGENTINA
In Argnetina this week (July 23-26), the Channel 7 program Filmoteca will show four lesser-seen De Palma films selected by film critics Fernando Martín Peña and Fabio Manes. Each film will be introduced by the respected critics (an example of Peña's writing can be read in this translated piece on Fritz Lang's Metropolis). The films scheduled are: Redacted (Monday, July 23rd), Greetings (Tuesday, July 24th), Murder A La Mod (Wednesday, July 25th), and Sisters (Thursday, July 26th).

'BODY DOUBLE' IN LONDON
Late notice here, but De Palma's Body Double had two late night screenings this past weekend at the Hackney Picture House. "One of the highlights of the year on Friday and Saturday night this week," Capital Celluloid's Tony Paley posted Friday. "Two very rare screenings of Brian De Palma's underrated mid-1980s Hitchcockian thriller." Paley added Dave Kehr's review from the Chicago Reader:

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"It pains me to say it, but I think Brian De Palma has gotten a bad rap on this one: the first hour of this thriller represents the most restrained, accomplished, and effective filmmaking he has ever done, and if the film does become more jokey and incontinent as it follows its derivative path, it never entirely loses the goodwill De Palma engenders with his deft opening sequences. Craig Wasson is an unemployed actor who is invited to house-sit a Hollywood Hills mansion; he becomes voyeuristically involved with his beautiful neighbor across the way, and witnesses her murder. Those who have seen Vertigo will have solved the mystery within the first 15 minutes, but De Palma's use of frame lines and focal lengths to define Wasson's point of view is so adept that the suspense takes hold anyway. De Palma's borrowings from Hitchcock can no longer be characterized as hommages or even as outright thievery; his concentration on Hitchcockian motifs is so complete and so fetishized that it now seems purely a matter of repetition compulsion. But Body Double is the first De Palma film to make me think that all of his practice is leading at least to the beginnings of perfection. With Gregg Henry and Melanie Griffith."
By Dave Kehr
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'MISSION TO MARS' WITH POP-UP STORY NOTES ON AMC TUESDAY NIGHT
Finally, the AMC network will show De Palma's Mission To Mars Tuesday (July 24th) at 8pm eastern, with pop-up story notes. The channel is also showing the film today (Sunday) at 5pm eastern, but it is unclear whether that showing will include the story notes. In any case, for those who can't (or don't wish to) catch the program on the newtwork, the story notes can be read on the AMC Blog.

Posted by Geoff at 2:14 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, July 22, 2012 2:19 PM CDT
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Monday, July 16, 2012


Posted by Geoff at 11:23 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, July 16, 2012 11:24 PM CDT
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Saturday, July 14, 2012
DE PALMA’S COLUMBO SCRIPT DISCOVERED
'SHOOTING SCRIPT', WRITTEN WITH JAY COCKS IN 1973, WAS NEVER PRODUCED
An unproduced script for an episode of NBC's Columbo, credited to Joseph P. Gillis and Brian De Palma, has recently been discovered. The episode, titled Shooting Script, is dated July-August 1973, which means it would have been aiming to be part of the third season of the iconic show. As Joseph P. Gillis is a character from Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard, I asked De Palma if it was a pseudonym for someone. He said Gillis is actually Jay Cocks, the TIME magazine film critic who was one of De Palma's best friends, and who later worked with De Palma on the Nazi Gold screenplay (the two of them together also rewrote the opening crawl for their friend George Lucas' Star Wars). De Palma said he came up with an idea that he thought would be good for Columbo, but he could not recall why it was never produced. It was the only TV work De Palma has ever done. "The beginning and the end of my TV career," he said.

A shame it was never produced, as it is a terrific script very much in the De Palma vein. Columbo usually began each episode showing a crime in all its detail, and De Palma's script opens with a movie-within-the-movie, actually a videotape shot by a crime author who seems to have been modeled somewhat on Truman Capote. Quoting Dostoyevsky in his narration, Quentin Lee is making a video diary of what he calls "a perfect crime," in which he plans to record a murder, the victim seemingly chosen at random, although it happens to be a popular talk show host (named Duane Downs) whose show the author has appeared on several times.

One key character is an actor named Lynn Loring who does a one-man show. "I'm famous for my Treplev," Loring tells Downs, who is clueless as to the reference, but we later find that the well-read Quentin Lee is able to explain in full to Lieutenant Columbo (he tells Columbo that Treplev is "a young and rather impetuous poet in Chekhov's play -- The Seagull").

At one point in the story, Quentin Lee has taken over hosting duties for Downs' talk show for a special tribute to Downs, of which the script naturally takes a cynical view. Columbo visits the set during taping to ask Lee some questions, and Lee tricks him during a commercial break, so that Columbo suddenly finds the bright lights shining on him as he uncomfortably becomes part of the show. This of course makes it all the easier for Lee to include his conversation with Columbo as part of his video diary of the "perfect crime." Prior to this scene, Lee once tries to tape Columbo, who has arrived unannounced at the author's apartment, and Columbo tells him to stop. "Uhh," says Columbo, "would you mind not doing that, Mr. Lee? I get awful self-conscious. I don't even let my wife take home movies of me." Lee presses Columbo to make a statement about the murder on tape, and effectively chases him out the door with his camera.

Loring's glossy headshots lead to a Blow-Up-style investigation of some photographs, and get this-- the photographer's name is Spielberg. This was in 1973, before Steven Spielberg had made Jaws and become a household name (otherwise, the reference may have been too obvious). Spielberg had directed one of the earliest episodes of Columbo in 1971. Titled Murder By The Book, Spielberg considers it one of his two best TV episodes. A later 1974 episode of Columbo did feature a boy genius character named Steve Spielberg.

In Shooting Script, Spielberg is one of three graduate students who are shadowing Columbo as he investigates the crime. Their first names are never mentioned, so they are known as Chapman, Brooks, and Spielberg. "May I ask you a question," Columbo says to Spielberg early on. "Why is it you don't ask any questions?" Spielberg replies, "I'm into electronics. Surveillance devices. Photographic equipment." The Spielberg character seems very much like the De Palma surrogate played by Keith Gordon in De Palma's Dressed To Kill, and while he doesn't say much, when he finally does have something to say, everybody perks up-- it is Spielberg who provides the spark of the idea that allows Columbo to finally catch Quentin Lee. When Columbo and the graduate students are trying to figure out how they might find Quentin Lee's incriminating video tapes, it is mentioned by Chapman that keeping the tapes at his apartment would be too obvious. "I think that's exactly what he'd do," Spielberg suddenly chimes in...

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They all stop -- turn to Spielberg. This is the first time he's really said much, and they are all taken aback.

SPIELBERG

Let's don't depart too soon from his megalomania. First, he wouldn't let the tape be far from his sight. Second, his overweening ego would go for a stunt like the Purloined Letter, as it was described in the story by Edgar Allan Poe. In that story, the incriminating letter was placed on a desk in plain view -- but along with a number of other letters. The analogy to Lee's tape library would be perfect -- and it is the kind of pseudo-literary trick that would appeal to Lee. No matter what diversionary ploy is used, it is quite accurate that there are too many tapes to go through all of them. Therefore, I suggest that we get Lee to lead us to the tape itself.
(beat)
The chili is very good, Lieutenant.

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There is a really nice write-up of the script by Dene over at The Story Of Euston Films. Dene fits the script in nicely with the Columbo timeline, and suggests that Paul Williams could have played the author/criminal.

Posted by Geoff at 7:22 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, July 15, 2012 2:00 PM CDT
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Thursday, July 12, 2012
DONAGGIO RECORDING 'PASSION' SCORE IN PRAGUE
THURS & FRIDAY, WITH MASSARA CONDUCTING CZECH NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Articles out of the Czech Republic today are stating that Brian De Palma is involved with the recording of the score for his new film, Passion, Thursday and Friday in Prague. Pino Donaggio is composing the score, which is being performed by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Natale Massara. The music is being recorded at Studio CNSO Hostivař (pictured above), one of the largest recording studios in Europe.

Posted by Geoff at 8:46 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, July 13, 2012 7:16 AM CDT
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OLIVER STONE 'SCARFACE' Q&A ON FACEBOOK
FRIDAY THE 13TH, 5PM EASTERN

Posted by Geoff at 5:57 PM CDT
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Wednesday, July 11, 2012
BRUCE CAMPBELL RECALLS RAIMI VS. DE PALMA
1981 BATTLE OF "BERZERK" IN NYC ARCADE
The Hollywood Reporter's John Gaudiosi posted an interview with Bruce Campbell today in anticipation of the actor's appearance this upcoming weekend at the San Diego Comic-Con, where he will be promoting the new video game, "The Amazing Spider-Man." Gaudiosi asked Campbell to share a fond video game memory...
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Watching Sam Raimi beat Brian De Palma at the game Berzerk in New York City around 1981. It was an arcade called Fascination around 42nd Street and Brian De Palma was working on his movie Blow Out and we were working on our movie Evil Dead in the same building, where you do post production sound. It’s a very tedious process so you always have to get out, go have lunch, go somewhere else. Right around the corner was this video arcade where Sam and I would always go to play Berzerk, Asteroids, some Pac-Man – although Pac-Man was always lame to me. Brian De Palma was playing Berzerk and Sam Raimi came up and challenged him. They played a duel match and Sam kicked his ass. That was probably one of the most fulfilling experiences, watching Sam Raimi kick a young Brian De Palma’s ass in Berzerk.

Posted by Geoff at 6:20 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 6:21 PM CDT
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Tuesday, July 10, 2012
SUMMER SPECIAL - 'BLOW OUT' & SLASHER GENRE
Over the past few months, some terrific writing about the films of Brian De Palma have popped up on blogs and elsewhere, and, well, I'd gotten busy and found it difficult to keep up with it all. So here we are in the middle of summer, and my plan is to go movie-by-movie and post links to these pieces, covering the ones that have slipped through the cracks. But before we begin the movie-by-movie bit, I wanted to kick it off with this great piece on Blow Out by Jesse Clark Tucker, which he posted to his Beyond The Pale blog last March. In the piece, Tucker riffs on Criterion's recent Blow Out package, moving from the significance of the cover art before delving into the film's links with the "slasher" genre. "Look inside the exhaustive booklet, however," Tucker writes, "and you’ll find another representation of Blow Out, linking the film to a more subterranean film culture." Tucker's piece is full of insights into Blow Out, as well as other De Palma films. Enjoy it!

Posted by Geoff at 12:28 AM CDT
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Sunday, July 8, 2012
'PHANTOM' PART OF SERIES ON SUNDANCE CHANNEL
AND ALSO PART OF A PAUL WILLIAMS DOUBLE FEATURE IN SF TONIGHT
Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise is part of a double bill today (and tonight) at The Castro Theatre in San Francisco. The Muppet Movie, which features songs written and/or co-written by Paul Williams, played at 3:15 this afternoon, and will screen again at 7pm, followed by Phantom Of The Paradise at 8:50pm (the latter also played at 5:05pm). (Thanks to Chris!)

UPDATE - The Principal Archivist at the Swan Archives was at the screening Sunday night, and says that, to the best of his knowledge, it was the world premiere of the new digital transfer. "It was presented from a "DCP" (Digital Cinema Package) (rather than projected from film), and looked and sounded pristine and perfect," the Archivist tells us. "Not a single scratch or blemish, crystal clear, wonderful surround sound. The movie's never looked or sounded better."

Meanwhile, Phantom Of The Paradise will be shown this Thursday night on the Sundance Channel, as part of its weekly "WTF: Watch This Film" series, which happens every Thursday at 10pm central (and repeated later that night at 3am central). The series promises "weird, wacky, & way out there late nite madness."

Posted by Geoff at 7:43 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, July 9, 2012 6:55 PM CDT
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Thursday, July 5, 2012
NEW THRILLER TAKES CUES FROM 'BLOW OUT', 'PEEPING TOM'
PETER STRICKLAND'S 'BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO' PREMIERED AT EDINBURGH FEST LAST WEEK
The Hollywood Reporter's Neil Young suggests that Peter Strickland's Berberian Sound Studio was inspired by Michael Powell's Peeping Tom and Brian De Palma's Blow Out. Young viewed Berberian at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, where it had its world premiere last week. Here is an excerpt from Young's review:
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The nightmarish side of moviemaking is imaginatively if unevenly dramatized in writer-director Peter Strickland's sophomore effort Berberian Sound Studio, the most critically lauded of the Edinburgh's 18 world premieres. Starring superlative British character-actor Toby Jones in a rare lead role, this UK/Germany co-production follows the misadventures of a timid sound-mixer working on a grisly shocker in 1970s Italy. But while the plethora of sly references and in-jokes will delight genre aficionados and cinephiles, a third-act spiral from queasy dark comedy into more ambitious David Lynch-ish territory will likely leave more general audiences frustrated. The film therefore looks likely to emulate Strickland's Transylvania-set 2009 debut Katalin Varga and enjoy a lengthy festival run followed by small-scale art-house distribution and small-screen sales.

Evidently inspired by such inside-baseball predecessors as Michael Powell's Peeping Tom and Brian De Palma's Blow Out, Strickland displays intimate knowledge of the lurid Italian 1960s-80s giallo wave of violent thrillers and horrors from the likes of Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci and Sergio Martini. Familiarity with these pictures isn't essential to get the gist of what's going on in Berberian Sound Studio, but it certainly helps.

Taken on its own terms, the film works as a character-study of fortysomething, mild-mannered, workaholic Gilderoy (Jones) - first name or surname? - a fish out of water amid these tempestuous southern-Europeans. The film-within-the-film The Equestrian Vortex - directed by the flamboyant Giancarlo Santini (Antonio Mancino) and seemingly modeled on Argento's masterpiece Suspiria - of which we see only the amusingly ludicrous opening-titles. We watch Gilderoy and company, including bad-tempered producer Francesco (Cosimo Fusco), watching the movie - for which the Studio, in accordance with typical practices of the day, provides the entire soundtrack.


Posted by Geoff at 7:20 PM CDT
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Wednesday, July 4, 2012
HAWKEYE COMIC BOOK 'VERY FRIEDKIN, EARLY DE PALMA'
ALSO, 'ROCKFORD FILES', SAYS CO-WRITER FRACTION
Marvel Comics introduced Hawkeye into its line of movies in its currently playing Marvel's The Avengers, and now they are getting ready to launch the character's newest comic book series. Matt Fraction, who is on the new book's creative team along with David Aja, talked to Comic Book Resources about the series last April, saying he was looking at classic crime and urban adventure stories from film and television, as well as comics. "If I could put the Stephen J. Cannell logo at the end of every issue I would be happy," Fraction told the site, "and David Aja recently sent me this amazing piece of music. He said, 'Here's the soundtrack to our first issue.' It's Dizzy Gillespie and Lalo Schifrin from a record they did together called 'Free Ride' and it is great. The whole record is full of car chase music. So this series is very William Friedkin and early Brian De Palma. 'Rockford Files.' It's an early '70s urban grit story. You almost expect Hawkeye to come around the corner and bump into Power Man and Iron Fist from 30 years ago."

The first issue of Hawkeye will be published August 1st. Interiors from the book can be seen here.

Posted by Geoff at 3:38 PM CDT
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