SAYS "THE FAMOUS DE PALMA CACKLE" IS USUALLY PRESENT IN HIS FILMS
Brian De Palma has been doing a ton of interviews the past few weeks as Passion gets ready for its official U.S. release next month. The first of these to surface was posted today at Gawker. "I could hardly believe how easy director Brian De Palma was to talk to when I spoke to him in advance of the release of his 29th feature film, Passion," writes Rich Juzwiak. "He was generous with his time and refeshing with his candor. He was relaxed, open to critique, and surprisingly humble for someone who's directed bonafide classics (Carrie, The Untouchables and Scarface) and cult favorites (Body Double, Dressed To Kill, Femme Fatale), alike. He was willing to discuss subjects that might make other directors bristle—the possibility of unintentional comedy in his work, or the idea that his films are 'camp.' He even came close to admitting that at 72, he's most likely peaked as a director."
One of the most interesting parts of the interview comes when Juzwiak delves into the use of the word "camp," which is sometimes used to describe the tone of a De Palma picture:
EXCERPT FROM GAWKER INTERVIEW
In some reviews, the word “camp” has been used to describe Passion. I read a really old interview with you, in which Variety's review of Carrie was brought up and that word was also used and you kind of bristled at it. Have your thoughts on this word changed?
I've been through this for so many years, it's hard for me to really pay much attention to it. I have my followers and then I have my detractors. You know, because I have a kind of very distinctive style and a very, cinematic way of approaching things, some people like it and some people don't. And there is not much to convince one side to come over to the other. Sometimes I find that perceptions… we've heard them all before. It sounds like they’re quoting some boiler-plate Brian De Palma, just put you to sleep.
The antagonistic dynamic between women in Passion is something you've long explored on screen. It's interesting that this movie comes at a time when that dynamic is so prevalent on television, specifically on reality TV. What’s the difference between your interest in the topic and what we see on trashy TV?
Women trashing each other reality TV is not something I'm too familiar with, but maybe [Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace] are because they really worked it.
They certainly did. There’s a distinct an element of fun in this movie.
Oh yeah! Absolutely. Demonic fun.
No matter how gruesome or serious your movies are, there is usually that element. That’s intentional, right?
It's the famous De Palma cackle I've been reading about for decades.
What do you think about people laughing at unintentionally funny elements of your work? Is that insulting to you as a director?
Well, you can go over the top. You can push something too far. I do very stylized stuff and sometimes it goes too far. In Body Double when, he's embracing her and I'm doing this delirious 360 degree tracking shot around her as they're kissing, the audience started to laugh. It was just too much. I was pushing it too hard.
Do you regret doing that?
You know, Body Double is the kind of movie that people always talked to me about. It got massacred by the critics when it came out, but I can't tell you how many people come up to me to this day and talk to me about Body Double. So who knows… times change.
I think part of appreciating De Palma is appreciating your willingness to go over the top, or to push it almost to the edge where it might over the top.
You're usually criticized against the fashion of the day. But the fashion of the day changes. And works that live on somehow transcend the fashion of the day. A movie that was so attacked, I don't know why everybody remembers it so well.
END OF EXCERPT
In the interview, De Palma says that he likes Passion a lot. He says they have a "very good script" for Happy Valley, "And now we're in the process of budgeting." When asked by Juzwiak what it is like to reunite with Al Pacino, De Palma replies, "Two old warriors going up the mountain one more time."
De Palma also discusses how he felt when watching Scarface in a theater a few years ago: "It's interesting, I was listening to an interview with Oliver Stone recently at Karlovy Vary, a festival somewhere in the Czech Republic. They showed Scarface and he was reflecting on not seeing it for many years and he had the same reflection that I did: He was amazed by the performances in Scarface. When they showed it at the 30th anniversary—who remembers, whatever anniversary it was—I hadn't looked at it in a movie theater in a long time, I thought, 'These actors are just unbelievable.' And as you've seen [your movies] through your life you have different feelings about them."
Check out the rest of this terrific interview at Gawker.