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a la Mod:
De Palma told the Winnipeg Free Press' Michael Oliveira that "Rachel McAdams is a fantastic actress. I've been watching her for years, but especially thought she'd be good for this part because of seeing her in Mean Girls. She really did an incredible job of playing this very manipulative executive." Oliveira writes that while Rapace has a nude scene, most of the sexual content in the film is subtly implied. "I didn't think (gratuitous sexuality) was necessary," De Palma told Oliveira. "It is erotic but it isn't really explicit." Regarding his lead actresses, De Palma said, "They were not afraid to do anything, basically. They felt very secure and confident in what they were doing and I just gave them the space to interact as exciting and dramatically as possible. They would do it all kinds of different ways and I was sort of led by what was happening."
KEY IDEA FROM CORNEAU FILM
Back to Laufer's video interview, De Palma said the key idea from the Alain Corneau film is this: "The worst thing one woman can do to another is humiliate her in public." Laufer asks De Palma about Kimberly Peirce's upcmoming Carrie remake, and De Palma talks about how he has no problem with filmmakers doing remakes, just like plays are constantly reworked. He also reminds her that his Scarface is a remake of a very good Howard Hawks film, and, later, relays a funny story from the making of his version. Back to Peirce: De Palma says he met her in Paris around the time Boys Don't Cry was released, and that they used to go to the theater together around seven or eight years ago.
'HEAT' REMAKE BEING RESET IN NICE, FRANCE
Asked what he is working on next, De Palma tells Laufer about the remake of Heat, "a lost movie of the seventies that was written by William Goldman that Burt Reynolds was in. And I think the first day of the shoot, Burt Reynolds slugged the director, so it didn't come out very well. In any event, it's in a casino town, it's about an enforcer. Jason Statham's going to do it, and we're resetting it all in Nice."
It [the internet] provides a wealth of information and images. Do you believe this is an opportunity for enrichment or a threat?
I think it is an extremely useful tool; it is like a huge library, and during the making of a film, it's really valuable because it not only allows you to quickly search information on the location, the actors, but also to find inspiration and ideas. You need to choose what is most functional to the story you want to tell. I had several ideas for the ad to be included in the film; originally, I thought of a commercial inspired by "Inception," which I loved: it was an extremely sophisticated and particular idea, but it did not convince me at all. I needed something more concrete and real, so I continued to do research and when I found the video shot by the girls I thought it was perfect and I used it.
"MAKE 3 BATMANS TO MAKE 'INCEPTION'; WE'VE LOST THE BEAUTY OF FILM"
In a Venice interview with Le Monde's Aureliano Tonet, De Palma again referred to Inception, this time in the context of how in Hollywood, you have to make so many films you don't really want to make in order to make that one special one. Here is a passage from the article:
A reference to the Ponzi scheme indicates, moreover, how these cathedrals of glass are fragile: "The economic crisis does not scare me. Hollywood has always been in crisis," says De Palma, who failed to achieve his last two projects, respectively on the scandals of Jessica Lynch [Print The Legend] and John Edwards [Tabloid]. "I've worked in all genres; I've experienced the triumphs and disasters, the independents and the major studios. Make three "Batman" in order to make Inception, like Christopher Nolan, I have neither the time nor the inclination. A blockbuster, it is primarily a series of endless meetings ... I prefer to shoot in Europe, with small budgets. We lost the beauty of film. I try to find it," sighs the admirer of Steven Soderbergh and Wes Anderson.
Still suffering setbacks he suffered in the 2000s, he keeps a grudge against the press: "As soon as Terrence Malick makes a film, it's a miracle in your eyes ... My films are often misunderstood, probably because I am a very visual director." I dare to ask if Passion, his duet for actresses (Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace), can be read as an insight into the Hollywood psyche: "After seeing the film, my agent told me that it was like attending a day's work in his office," he said, grinning.
The bout was preceded by a three-day concert featuring the likes of B.B. King and James Brown, and the filmmakers wanted to film the concert and fight with multiple cameras -- but not multiple soundmen -- and to be able to sync all the cameras with the multitrack recordings of the music acts onstage. To do this quickly and efficiently, they needed to visually display the time code for the camera, but there were no portable crystal-controlled clocks at the time.
Daly, though, modified a Heuer executive desk clock that had a crystal control and plasma display to DC power and turned it into the first smart slate. He built a series of the devices and used them in Zaire for what would become When We Were Kings, the 1997 Oscar winner for best documentary.
“That clock was probably the most significant impact I’ve had on the business,” Daly said in a 1998 interview with Filmcrew magazine. Daly also used the slates for a Grateful Dead documentary in 1977.
Here are the last three paragraphs or so of Cronk's review:
Close readings of De Palma's work in this mode often prompt accusations of shallowness and questions regarding the level of seriousness at play beyond the surface. And if Passion does indeed lack substance, I'd argue that it features at least the necessary amount of subtext to carry it's outlandish plot past parody (which it does directly engage with on occasion) and into the realm of social and economic commentary. The first half of the film is particularly critical of the work environment that brings these women into physical and psychological contact. Christine's rise to executive prominence has apparently coincided with the loss of her ability to engage emotionally despite selling tales of a damaged past in an effort to elicit sympathy from Isabelle, who herself can't advance professionally without ceding to her superiors and engaging in morally compromising situations. Technology is likewise prodded as computers, cell phones, and various recording devices facilitate greed, blackmail, and corruption.
This is obviously material ripe for dramatic staging, and De Palma continues to deploy his trademark aesthetic touches with a master's hand. After undercutting Isabelle with a particularly evil display of public embarrassment, the movie shifts tones from corporate drama to psychosexual thriller, with canted angles, split-screen dioramas, and dramatically shadowed sequences of violence and eroticism (though it's surprising how little actual sex is on display here). De Palma utilizes Rapace's blank features as another surface from which to refract the drama, while McAdams's glowing visage is exploited to its fullest extent, transforming from plastic grin to a unchecked rage to outpourings of tears, sometimes within the same scene. Their hair, wardrobe, even postures, are in direct contrast to one another, and in typical De Palma fashion, their varying states of mental stability are questioned and eventually collapsed as visions fold into dreams and dreams engage with waking life, to the point where one is nearly inseparable by the time the film closes.
The film occasionally veers perilously close to losing the thread, but at all times it's apparent who is truly pulling the strings and manipulating these characters, as scenes oftentimes dramatically contradict one another only to play off the tension provoked by such juxtapositions just to pull the rug out from under the viewer. De Palma has long since abandoned verisimilitude, but there's an emotional truth to the narrative that precludes reading these characters strictly as ciphers. The mileage De Palma has gotten out of this formula, which itself is a knowing revision of the modes of the classic thriller construct, is impressive. And while Passion never demands anything above direct engagement with our basic fears and emotions, it's all the more fun when one allows the surface pleasures to bolster its themes, thus enhancing our understanding of De Palma and his continued pursuit of realizing the potential of the cinematic form.
CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING
Exclaim's Robert Bell suggests that De Palma uses Alain Corneau's film as a template "to satirize and reference his entire career." According to Bell, once the two female executives begin backstabbing each other, "the melodramatic score and aesthetic go full-tilt insane, featuring endless candid angles and noir lighting up until a split-screen takes over during the climactic third act." Here are the last couple of paragraphs of Bell's review:
Still, McAdams clearly has a blast playing a calculating bitch and the inevitable hyper-stylized and meticulously edited climax sequence, which De Palma is known for, is as riveting in exaggerated comic form as it is in sincere thriller form.
It's just unfortunate that those unfamiliar with the director's work will have absolutely no context for the abstract and oblique tonal shifts or the references, leaving them to dismiss the film as terrible.
DE PALMA RETURNS MORE FRUITFULLY TO THE MULTIMEDIA TECHNIQUES OF 'REDACTED'
A.V. Club's Moel Murray writes, "As the two play a game of spy-vs.-spy, using corporate and personal secrets against each other, De Palma (via Corneau) comments on business ethics, cronyism, gender roles, and technology—in the latter case returning to some of the techniques of the multimedia experiment Redacted, but more fruitfully." Murray's fellow A.V. Club critic Scott Tobias adds, "De Palma’s vision of an office constructed of glass and screens is a witty play on transparency—no secrets can be obscured when every surface is a window."
CAT BAUER, 'PHANTOM' FAN, LIKES 'PASSION'; MCADAMS REMINDS HER OF NANCY ALLEN
Author Cat Bauer posted on her Ventian Cat blog from the Venice Film Festival, where she saw Passion on Friday. "Brian De Palma says that Passion is a woman's film," Bauer wrote. "Perhaps that's true, since several of the reviews I've read that were written by men are scathing. I thought the chemistry between Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace was real and dynamic."
Bauer, who says that De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise is one of her "absolute favorite films" (she says she must have seen it a dozen times in the '70s), worked as an extra on Robert Zemeckis' I Wanna Hold Your Hand, which starred De Palma's future wife, Nancy Allen. "I was actually kind of a 'special' extra," Bauer writes. "I worked every day, and I had specific action to do, but no lines; it was my first time on a movie set. So, Nancy Allen made a big impression on me."
Bauer writes that "something about Rachel McAdams reminds me of Nancy Allen thirty-five years ago." Bauer adds that she thought Rapace was "terrific" in Passion, which she feels is "way too campy" to be "an erotic thriller in the tradition of Dressed to Kill and Basic Instinct, as it is being billed. "But if you look at the film from a steamy romance-novel point of view, it works," writes Bauer. "I could definitely see it as a cult chick flick, a Fifty Shades of Grey kinda thing, a girl's night out -- and that's how I would market it." At the end of her post, Bauer adds, "The film is set in an international advertising agency in Berlin, which I thought worked extremely well. I loved the euro-look; the fashion; the 'tude. Change the marketing and you can get the girls out to the theaters just to look at the sex toys and cartoon-kink."