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Saturday, August 10, 2013
DE PALMA ON SCREENS BIG AND SMALL
METRODOME EXPLAINS DECISION TO RELEASE 'PASSION' STRAIGHT TO DVD & VOD
The Skinny's Paul Houghton from the U.K. posted an article about Brian De Palma yesterday. In discussing Passion, De Palma tells Houghton, "I've always been controversial. I’m not like my peers that went to Hollywood in the 70s. They became the establishment, but I’m not liked in certain quarters of the industry because I’ve always tried to do things on my own terms. I see myself as an outsider."

Houghton discusses Metrodome's decision to skip theatrical and release Passion straight to DVD (it comes out on Monday; Houghton includes a quote from the distributor), and this moves into a discussion about Redacted and political filmmaking. Here's an excerpt:
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Metrodome, the film’s UK distributor, have deemed the film a non-starter for the cinema, instead sending it straight to DVD and video on demand. They said in a statement to The Skinny: “Brian De Palma has an in-built fan base, but a genre like this can be difficult to release theatrically. It’s a turbulent theatrical market and we felt this was the best way to launch the film to UK audiences.”

It’s a marked decline for a director who deserves to be considered an A-lister. Years before Martin Scorsese was on the scene, De Palma was giving Robert De Niro his breaks on the streets of New York with anti-Vietnam films Greetings and Hi Mom!, and comedy of errors The Wedding Party. In the mid-70s, he handed Scorsese the Taxi Driver script. In his first Hollywood gig, Get to Know Your Rabbit, De Palma directed Orson Welles. He was the man George Lucas turned to when he got stuck on the Star Wars "A long time ago…” prologue. He was selected by Tom Cruise to kickstart the Mission: Impossible franchise, creating the iconic image of Cruise hanging suspended above a neon-white, touch-sensitive room, a bead of sweat hanging from his glasses. Now he’s pinning his hopes on the whims of iTunes, Sky Box Office and Tescos.

It seems a strange decision, but Metrodome have crunched their numbers. De Palma, though, is sanguine about the release: “I made this film, as I’ve made all my films, to be seen on the big screen,” he says. “But I’m in my seventies now, and I see my daughter watching most of her films on her laptop. Technology will continue to change everything, so what are we going to do about it? Anyway, the cinema to me seems more about pre-sold franchises, and that has absolutely no interest to me whatsoever.”

This isn’t the first De Palma film to scale the murkier depths of British film releasing. Femme Fatale never saw the inside of a British cinema while Redacted, [2007]’s deeply controversial “fictional documentary” about human rights abuses – on both sides – of the Iraq war, got a brief and limited theatrical run before disappearing from view. “Redacted did something that no film has ever done; it criticised the American troops,” he says. “That’s unheard of in America. You just can’t question the boys. But the film came from stories soldiers were sharing of their experiences and posting online. I still find it gob-smacking – disgusting –that we tried to claim victory in that country.”

Redacted, he concedes, may have impacted on his ability to find funding for his films. But he doesn’t regret making the film, seeing it as a return to his formative years. The young De Palma consciously positioned himself as “America’s Godard,” spending the 60s independently making angry liberal firebrand films on the East Coast before Hollywood called as he hit 30. It is, he says, the great failing of the generation of filmmakers that will follow him: “I’m confounded by the lack of political films out there by young directors. The corruption that exists in the circles of power, be it in Washington or Hollywood, remain industrial. It hasn’t changed since I was young. But where are the political filmmakers? Where’s the outrage? The public relations people are in control of the media now.”


Posted by Geoff at 6:13 PM CDT
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Friday, August 9, 2013
DE PALMA ON 'BONFIRE'
"LOOKING BACK, I FIND IT A VERY SUCCESSFUL PICTURE"
Bullett Media's Joshua Sperling asked Brian De Palma to discuss "5 of his most unforgettable films." Of course, one of the five is his newest, Passion, still pretty unforgettable. However, the most interesting portion of the article has De Palma talking about his adaptation of Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire Of The Vanities, which De Palma had originally defended, but then in more recent years, seemed to have conceded to having made some mistakes with the film by altering the source novel. Now, more than 20 years after its release, De Palma tells Sperling that he finds his film successful, after all. Sperling himself states that Bonfire "now ranks as one of De Palma’s most underrated and exuberant studies of the absurd theater of American politics."

Here is what De Palma said to Sperling about the film: "The opening tracking shot was a very important way into the film. It took about 27 or 28 takes to get it right. The idea for the shot actually came from observing Truman Capote stumbling into parties completely drunk or drugged-up. I had been to a lot of those parties and I thought that’s how it should be for Bruce’s character: the voyage from the parking garage up through all the different strata of New York high society until his arrival at the huge palm garden of the World Trade Center. I started out making political comedies, caustic commentaries about the state of our society. The Bonfire of the Vanities felt like an extension of that. When I read the book I quite liked it. I thought it was an acerbic rendering of a particular madness going on in the ’80s. When I was adapting it I thought I should make the central banker character a little more sympathetic than he was in the book, and Tom [Hanks] was a good choice for that. But, of course, the film unnerved everybody because it wasn’t like the novel, which was, by then, a treasured icon of the New York literary scene. I changed things to make the film more palatable but they ended up upsetting a lot of people and it got very bad reviews. Looking back, I find it a very successful picture. It just isn’t the book."

M:I - "IT'S EXCITING TO HAVE A BLOCKBUSTER"
Another film discussed is Mission: Impossible. "This was the first film Tom [Cruise] ever produced," De Palma tells Sperling. "Because I’d produced a couple of pictures at that point, he and his partner Paula [Wagner] at times relied on my judgment. I remember that Tom was very responsive and straightforward. There were two very difficult scenes in the film: the CIA vault scene and the one atop the train. We had a jet engine creating the wind for the train sequence. You couldn’t stand up without being blown off. The shot where Tom does the flip, that’s really dangerous stuff for anyone to do. He did it twice for us, which was very brave. We were on top of that train for weeks and weeks. As for the CIA vault, that was my idea. I’d wanted to do an incredible action sequence that was completely silent. And then I had to think of all the things that could go wrong as the character tried to lower himself upside-down into this mythic vault. It was a sequence I thought about for months and months before I actually filmed it. Whatever people say, it’s always exciting to have a blockbuster. Everybody thinks you’re a genius for 30 seconds."

THE MEGALOMANIA OF AMERICAN SOCIETY
De Palma also talks about Carrie and Scarface. Of the latter, he tells Sperling, "Some people say this film is excessive—I disagree. The script was a direct report by Oliver [Stone] on the places he visited in Miami. He saw all the clubs, the coke on the tables. People were cutting each other up with chainsaws! We had a battle with the MPAA because they wanted to give it an X rating. We even had narcotics cops from Florida come to testify that people should see this film because it showed what was actually happening. On a deeper, thematic level, Scarface is about something that recurs in a lot of my films: the megalomania of American society that can lead to excessiveness, greed, and very cruel interplays between people who are desperate to stay on top. Wealth and power isolates you. Whether you’re Walt Disney or Hugh Hefner, you create a bubble around yourself. It’s that old cliché: power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Pacino conveyed that perfectly. He kept his Cuban accent, on- and off-set. His sidekick in the film, Steven Bauer, was Cuban, so they were constantly speaking in that accent during the shoot. There are a lot of quotable moments in the film but my favorite is, ‘Every day above ground is a good day.’"


Posted by Geoff at 12:53 AM CDT
Updated: Friday, August 9, 2013 5:55 PM CDT
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Thursday, August 8, 2013
R.I.P. KAREN BLACK

Posted by Geoff at 7:16 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, August 8, 2013 7:20 PM CDT
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TWO 'PASSION' REVIEWS
FROM RODERICK HEATH & NOEL MURRAY
At left is Metrodome's cover for the U.K. DVD edition of Brian De Palma's Passion. Ferdy On Films' Roderick Heath posted a review of the film this week-- here are some highlights from his review (SPOILERS might occur):

"One aspect of De Palma’s career that remains unique is that in spite of his advancing age, his thematic interests only seem to have become more relevant, to the point where it feels like he’s one of the very few filmmakers actually wrestling with one of the great aspects of the modern world: its saturation by media that can potentially turn every experience into an observed one, a perpetual loop of present-tense that is also past-tense, moment and document."

...

"The main problems of Passion stem from its translation of Corneau’s film and De Palma’s half-hearted annexation of its actual storyline. Whereas the original offered a certain sly, dark humour and obliquely considered consequence in its resolution, De Palma deconstructs everything to the point where suspense and empathy are essentially rendered unimportant: Christine, Isabelle, Dirk, and Dani are all pretty loathsome, whilst the representatives of the law, a bullying prosecutor (Benjamin Sadler) and stern cop (Rainer Bock) who becomes smitten with Isabelle, are, ironically, increasingly castrated. [Noomi] Rapace feels faintly miscast as a victimised fawn with a neurotic psycho under the surface, though that might be a result of associating her too much with her canonical role. [Rachel] McAdams, on the other hand, seems best in key with the film’s sly-malicious tune, particularly when Christine tries to bully Dani by setting her up on a sexual assault charge, an apex of campy humour. De Palma loves reiterating that his characters and their plights are all inventions, variations on themes that can be suddenly turned in upon themselves, revised, sent into rewind, or erased altogether, usually with some moment of choice from which guilt or complicity, a nexus of consequence both for good and evil, is identified."

TWO SEQUENCES STAND AMONG DE PALMA'S BEST
The Dissolve's Noel Murray feels that "for the first half-hour or so, Passion feels lackadaisical, with Rapace and McAdams coming off as awfully stiff. Then, right around the time Isabelle makes a bolder play for recognition—and is countered by an even more ruthless move from Christine—De Palma wakes up. After a hilariously over-the-top music cue by composer (and frequent De Palma collaborator) Pino Donaggio, the movie’s pace quickens and its style becomes more expressionistic, with longer shadows and more extreme angles. Before Passion ends, De Palma comes through with two sequences (neither of which originated with Love Crime) that can stand among his best: one where Christine is stalked on half a split-screen while the other half shows a fourth-wall-breaking performance of The Afternoon Of A Faun, and another that wordlessly sends four characters in pursuit of each other inside and outside Isabelle’s apartment."

Murray concludes his review by noting De Palma's focus on the visual: "With Passion, De Palma is on more familiar ground, using the world of the erotic thriller to note how Skyping, sexting, and tiny pocket cameras are changing behavior, putting everyone in the spotlight and distracting the eye. That’s ultimately what makes Passion a more effective film than the one it’s remaking. While Corneau and Carter were telling a story about what their characters do and don’t see, De Palma is more engaged with what the audience sees. There’s always something to look at in the background of Passion, from the erotic paintings on the walls of Christine’s flat to the video billboards posted around Berlin, and always something eye-catching in what the characters wear, or how they’re posed. The movie is one long game of misdirection, playing tricks on viewers from scene to scene, and showing how easy it is to steer a crowd into missing something important. That’s the real De Palma touch, even more than the operatic overtones and excess."


Posted by Geoff at 12:40 AM CDT
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Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Posted by Geoff at 6:57 PM CDT
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Tuesday, August 6, 2013
'THE LOFT' LOOKS TO BE DE PALMA-ESQUE
BELGIAN ERIK VAN LOOY'S AMERICAN REMAKE OF HIS OWN FILM COMING IN 2014
Back in early 2009, I posted links to a couple of reviews of Erik Van Looy's Loft, in which five married men share a penthouse loft where they indulge in their various affairs. The dead body of an unknown woman is discovered in the loft, and paranoia among the men ensues. Variety's Boyd Van Hoeij wrote that the film features "a nod to Brian De Palma in a standout sequence at a casino." FilmFreak's Alex De Rouck mentions that Van Looy and screenwriter Bart De Pauw emphatically wink to De Palma "in his Hitchcock period (especially in the long scenes in Dusseldorf and in the casino)."

Van Looy shot an American remake of the film, starring Karl Urban and James Marsden, two years ago in New Orleans. The film's release was delayed when Joel Silver's Dark Castle production company moved from Warner Bros. to Universal, the latter of which has just announced that it will be released on August 29, 2014, three years after filming was completed. NOLA.com's Mike Scott quotes Marsden talking about the film from 2011: "It's just a great, classic thriller, with shades of Fatal Attraction and the Brian De Palma movies. It's got a little noir to it as well."

Posted by Geoff at 8:06 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 8:07 PM CDT
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Monday, August 5, 2013
3 NEW DE PALMA INTERVIEWS
POSTED LAST FRIDAY AT JOBLO, FILM SCHOOL REJECTS, & THE DISSOLVE
Sorry for the late notice on these, but last Friday, three new interviews with Brian De Palma popped up on the web. Here are some highlights (THERE MIGHT BE SOME SPOILERS!):

JoBlo's JimmyO:

What is the process when you take a film and make it into your own? What are the steps that make it a De Palma film?

I don’t really think about that. It’s a lot of problem solving. You take from the original film, which you like, and when you say, “Well I can’t reveal the murderer’s identity when this character is killed, unlike the original film. So, I’m not gonna show that. Well, where is she? In the original film, she’s in the movie theater. In this, I put her in the ballet because that’s something that I always wanted to put in a film. I wanted to juxtapose the ballet with the murder, but that’ll evolve. And I was fortunate enough to find a very talented ballerina who had done the ballet in Germany and we were able to get the rights to reproduce it in our movie. All these things sort of make the movie and I could use this split screen idea to make the audience think that Noomi is at the ballet by using that trick and ultimately revealing that she’s not at the ballet, but she’s really under the scaffolding by Christine’s house.

I love when you use split screens. It’s one of my favorite things you do in your films. The way you use it to tell a story is fascinating. Have you always liked using that, especially in a film like this?

Well, it’s a technique, one that’s very effective. I tried to use it in Carrie to show the destruction of the prom, but something that I realized is that it’s not good for action. Split screen is not good for action and I consequently used very little of it. When we looked at it, I said, “This is not working.” So, I removed a lot of split screen from that sequence, but it’s kind of a meditative form. A kind of form to show a lot of juxtaposition and it’s a slow form. It’s a form that you have to allow to really sink in and it worked quite well in this movie. Using the ballet as this sensuous act between these two dancers and, kind of like a magic trick, you’re looking at one side of the screen when something really sinister is going on on the other side. When you can catch an audience off guard a little bit, that’s quite good.

...

I like the fact that in your work you still focus on the slow burn and it seems like a lot of filmmakers today don’t do that. They want to keep the action going. Do you ever feel like you need to move on and just do a film with quick cuts and all that?

No, I think that’d be a big mistake. After seeing these big action films, it feels like an endless drumming. After a while, everyone says, “Please, stop! I can’t take this anymore!” The sequences are too long, they’re not carefully thought out and with all choreography and in all action sequences you have to have a slow build up in order to go fast. You need to be quiet in order to be loud. That’s sort of a basic thing in all art forms, whether it be music or film.

----------------------------------------------------

Film School Rejects' Jack Giroux:

[This interview also has a lot of De Palma quoting Rachel's lines from the film and laughing about them, etc.]

De Palma: Are you really a film school reject?

I actually couldn’t afford to go to film school.

I am a film school reject! I took a two semester course at NYU. The teacher and Martin Scorsese were so unhappy with my movie. The problem was I shot it in three days, but it was supposed to be done in eight weeks. He took my whole unit off my movie and put them on another movie, leaving me alone in the editing room. They never liked me at NYU. Well, I am a film school reject, so I can identify with your site [Laughs].

Why didn’t they like you at NYU?

You know, if you haven’t been to film school, you shoot 100 feet of film, people talk about it, you shoot another 100 feet of film, and everyone talks about it. I shot all my film on a weekend. I wasn’t interested in what they had to say about my 100 feet of film. That was the end of my film school experience. Later on I taught, so I went to the other side of it.

Would you recommend film school?

Yeah. When I was in graduate school I had a very good theater teacher where I learned a lot. I’d absolutely recommend it.

...

When do you know what the visual language of a film is going to be? When writing the script for Passion, do you know exactly how the camera should move and the aesthetic you want?

Well, at the beginning of the movie, you’re basically dealing with girls talking to girls across a desk, so you have to find an interesting location to put all that. I found a fantastic office building in Berlin. When you get into what Isabelle is dreaming and what actually happened and what didn’t, then you get a chance to really pull out all the stops and make it very visually evocative. Of course, I love to do stuff like that.

Over the past few years, from The Black Dahlia to Mission to Mars, you’ve taken on notable challenges. At this point, is it still easy to find challenges?

Every film has its challenges. As long as you have ideas and ways to solve them that are interesting to your particular aesthetic, it’s great fun to do. This film had a great opportunity because it’s all women, and I love shooting women.

Even the German girl who played Dani was another fabulous actress. She had a very difficult part because she was acting for her first time in English and she had all that complicated exposition. I mean, with “Dani the explainer” in that kitchen scene, her job is to make that interesting. That was quite a feat she managed.

She has a such a distinct look as well.

Yeah, she was in Perfume as well. I’m a friend of Tom Tykwer’s. When I saw that red hair in Perfume, I thought, “That’s what we want!” I wanted red, but not that red [Laughs]. I love that film.

Same here. There are a few filmmakers from your generation that have kind of lost their touch. What’s the trick in maintaing that initial spark?

You mean, how have I not become a fossil?

Exactly.

Thanks. How do I answer that? Well, with fame and success, people tend to insulate themselves. I tend to still be very much the film student, basically. I’m the only director that goes to film festivals just to see movies. I’ve been saying this for 30 or 40 years, but nobody seems to have caught on. When I go to a film festival they ask, “What are you doing here? Do you have a movie coming out?” “Well, no.” “Then what are you doing here?” I say, “I’m here to look at the movies!”

I don’t have bodyguards or an entourage. I go to the movies like if you were at a film festival. Also, I hangout with a bunch of young directors. I miss the fraternity we had in the 1970s, because all my friends from then are in different parts of the country. I hang out with directors who live in my neighborhood. That keeps you lively. What can I say?

-------------------------------------------

The Dissolve's Scott Tobias:

The Dissolve: One of the more compelling aspects of the movie is its office setting, which is this transparent space where people also have hidden agendas. What were you looking to get out of that design?

De Palma: That’s an extraordinary building in Berlin. The whole building was vacant because of the recession. So we were very fortunate to get in there. And it’s a beautifully designed home for these aggressive advertising executives. I scouted many buildings, and we were very fortunate to get that particular one, because the schedules changed, and sometimes the buildings weren’t available. A lot of things happen in movies by happenstance, and you adjust your material to that.

The Dissolve: When you were scouting buildings, this was the type of space you were looking for?

De Palma: An office is an office. There’s a table, and somebody’s on one side of the desk and somebody’s on the other. And there are a lot of scenes like that in the film, so the more interesting space that you could put them in, the happier I am.

...

The Dissolve: Your work is carefully orchestrated, but where does the planning stop? Are there areas of the production that you like to leave open?

De Palma: This is a relationship picture, and the girls came in to rehearse, and we sort of watched what they did and how they played with the material, and we adjusted the script to their interaction. But in terms of the long, silent sequences, the dream sequences… That’s pretty carefully laid out. I had a lot of time to basically storyboard the whole movie.

The Dissolve: Does it frustrate you as a filmgoer to see the language of a film employed less carefully than that? All that work is elided in a lot of movies.

De Palma: Yes, I would agree. I’m astounded by—whether you’re making a science-fiction movie, a zombie movie, a Star Trek, a Marvel Comics Spider-Man movie—these action sequences that seemingly go on endlessly, without any type of shape or form. So much in action has to do with choreography, and orienting the viewer in where everything is. And I’m amazed all the time that nobody seems to pay much attention to that. So you basically get action and reaction, and it’s like an endless drumming without any shape.

The Dissolve: It seems like they’re trying to make up in sheer, visceral force things that could be done much more elegantly.

De Palma: And obviously, in order to have a crescendo, you have to have some silence. It’s just so simple, but nobody seems to pay much attention to it. They’re basically banging at you constantly. And then in a movie, it’s two hours, too, and then everybody says, “My God, when is this going to be over?” [Laughs.]

The Dissolve: Passion includes a really big split-screen sequence. What was the planning like for that, and what effect were you were looking to achieve?

De Palma: I always wanted to use that ballet. I saw it on video on the Internet. It was shot in the ’50s somewhere with Jerome Robbins’ choreography of Afternoon Of A Faun. And it’s a fantastic idea: ballet dancers in a rehearsal room going through their motions, relating to the mirror, and then obviously culminating in the kiss at the end. And I’ve always wanted to use this piece. I just think it’s so beautiful, and so cinematic. So I had the opportunity to put it into this film. The original movie had Isabelle going to the movies and slipping out the side door, and I put her at the ballet. And I used that tight close-up to make the audience think she was always at the ballet while the murder was going on at the house.

[Regarding the score for Passion, De Palma said:]

I’d say the toughest thing we had to figure out was the scene where Noomi suffers that humiliation and walks down from her office to the garage. We had to figure out how to not make it too sentimental, and at the same time deal with the fact that she’s been demolished. So that was very tricky. We spent quite a lot of time trying to get the exact right cue.


Posted by Geoff at 1:10 AM CDT
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Sunday, August 4, 2013










Posted by Geoff at 9:27 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, August 4, 2013 10:19 PM CDT
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Saturday, August 3, 2013
DAVID YATES IN TALKS FOR 'SCARFACE' REDO
AFTER SEVERAL SCREENWRITERS, UNIVERSAL HIGH ON CURRENT DRAFT
Deadline's Nikki Finke took time out of her vacation this past Wednesday to post a story about Universal's Scarface "reboot." "There’s a ton of curiosity and criticism about Universal‘s Scarface reboot since both the 1932 Chicago bootlegging film and 1983 Miami cocaine-dealing versions were so iconic," Finke states. "Understanding that, the studio according to my sources has been refining the script with several screenwriters and drafts while keeping all names and details under wraps."

One of Finke's sources is quoted, “Universal has been through a couple of drafts and now is very high on the current draft. The first stop is the director. This is before any conversations on talent or timing.” Finke says she has learned that British director David Yates, who is high in-demand after directing the final four "Harry Potter" movies, is in final talks with the studio to direct the picture. "Though he normally works at Warner Bros," states Finke, "Yates has been the subject of considerable chatter over which film projects he’d do next."

Posted by Geoff at 8:48 PM CDT
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Thursday, August 1, 2013
MR. BEAKS TALKS 'PASSION' WITH DE PALMA
ALSO: ABANDONED 'TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE' REMAKE; MORE
Mr. Beaks' new interview with Brian De Palma was posted today at Ain't It Cool News. They talk about Passion, De Palma's abandoned remake of John Huston's Treasure Of The Sierra Madre, current TV vs. film, and De Palma's meeting with Daft Punk, among other things.

One of those other things is a movie De Palma wanted to do that was based on an old Robert Mitchum film called His Kind Of Woman. De Palma had mentioned this project to Anne Thompson last year. He mentions it again while responding to a question from Mr. Beaks:
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Beaks: When we spoke before, you mentioned how Hitchcock would take a break from his major works to just make a well-made play like Dial M For Murder. Where does Passion land for you in terms of the personal and simply telling a story?

De Palma: In your career, you really don't predict how these things happen. I was working on a lot of projects, and they were all tied up, and I couldn't get them launched in that five-year period. The Boston Stranglers was all tied up at Paramount, as was the prequel to The Untouchables. The problem with these movies is that these scripts get a lot of money against them. A guy wrote a script based on an old RKO movie that Mitchum did called [His Kind Of Woman], and I couldn't talk the RKO people into giving me the rights. So there's a lot of frustration with respect to development. So this movie sort of came to me because they wanted to make an American version, and I said, "Great! I can go to Paris and work on this!" That's how it happened.

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'TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE'
Another highlight of the interview happens when Mr. Beaks brings up De Palma's screenplay from the 1980s for a remake of Treasure Of The Sierra Madre:
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Beaks: I think this is really your first remake. Obviously, Scarface was inspired by Hawks's film, but it's very different. This is explicitly a remake of Corneau's film. I know you wrote a remake of Treasure Of The Sierra Madre long ago that put an interesting spin on Huston's film. What's your feeling about remakes in general?

De Palma: Well, if you have a very good idea… obviously, Treasure Of The Sierra Madre is a fantastic movie. To remake that is a little madness. But I had a very good idea: instead of gold, I was going to make it about cocaine. You get it up there in the mountain it's kind of dealing with dust, but when you get it on the streets of New York it's like solid gold. And not only do you get corrupted because of the money, you get corrupted because of the drug. That gave me a really good idea. I came up with that idea so many years ago it's hard to remember. But it's very difficult to remake a classic movie. We were very fortunate with Scarface. Howard Hawks's Scarface is really good.

Beaks: Whatever happened to your Treasure Of The Sierra Madre?

De Palma: I have no idea. I wrote it so long ago, I don't even remember what I even did with it.

Beaks: I found a copy of the screenplay.

De Palma: You're kidding! I didn't even know there was a copy of the screenplay.

Beaks: I'm always hunting for those scripts of yours that never got made, and a friend of mine tracked this one down.

De Palma: How is it?

Beaks: It's great! I love the twist you put on it. It starts out so much like the original film that I wasn't sure what you were up to, but then it begins to go its own way, and it's really terrific. If you could ever get that together, I'd love to see that movie.

De Palma: Man. I haven't thought that about that in thirty or so years. (Laughs)

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AND BACK TO 'PASSION'
De Palma goes into some detail regarding the locations and storyboards for Passion. "There are a lot of really great exteriors in Berlin that no one had seen before," De Palma tells Mr. Beaks, "so we moved the whole production to Berlin. And we were very fortunate to get this great office building that was vacant because of the recession, so we could sort of take it over. That's always the problem with office buildings: you've got to work around the office. But this was not the case here. It was a great looking building that gave us interesting office locations, which, of course, can be extremely boring."

Beaks then asks, "Did you design all of your shots ahead of time, or did you allow yourself leeway to invent stuff on the day?"

De Palma responds, "What's interesting about this one is that we had a long time to work on the script as we were preparing production and casting it, and I also had the advantage of the other movie. So I literally laid the whole movie out, every setup and every shot. I had these architectural programs where you could put people in them and move them around. And I could reference the other movie: two women talking to each other from across a desk. I could take a shot from the other movie and put it into my storyboards. 'Oh, that's the scene where Isabelle comes into Christine's office and they talk about A, B and C.' I printed them all out, so I could stack 8x11 printouts on my desk and walk anyone through the whole movie."

Beaks later asks De Palma if the power-struggle-kissing scene between Isabelle and Christine was scripted. De Palma replies, "Absolutely not. The girls did it on the day. When Noomi grabs her and gives her the kiss of death, and Rachel kisses her back leering at Noomi's assistant in the doorway... (Laughs) I would just sit behind the camera and smile. 'My god, these girls are really doing it!' They did a lot of stuff like that. The way she's playing with her in the car. 'I want to be admired! I want to be loved!' She kisses her, and Noomi's like, 'What the hell is going on here?' And Rachel picks up the lipstick and says, 'You need a little color.' (Laughs) It's hilarious!"

In discussing how eroticism in film has changed due to the more explicit nudity shown on cable TV, De Palma mentions the sex tape scene in Passion, saying, "That scene where the guy uses the camera to videotape their making out in the hotel room, I basically just gave them a camera and said, 'Just do whatever you would do.' (Laughs) Believe me, they did some incredible things."

'PHANTOM', DAFT PUNK, & PAUL WILLIAMS
Mr. Beaks also asks about the resurgence of interest in Phantom Of The Paradise, noting Daft Punk's recent collaboration with Paul Williams on the song "Touch". "It's great to be remembered!" De Palma tells Beaks. "I met with Daft Punk in Paris. We talked about Phantom, but it was just a preliminary discussion. I don't know what will come of it. We've always had a stage version we wanted to do, but it's never really come together. I saw the Paul Williams documentary, and thought it was charming."

Read the whole great interview here.


Posted by Geoff at 5:40 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, August 1, 2013 10:41 PM CDT
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