'PASSION', 'KISS KISS, BANG BANG', 'WISE GUYS', 'CAPONE RISING', 'HAPPY VALLEY'
Several more interviews with Brian De Palma have posted between yesterday and today. Fandango's Robert B. DeSalvo asks De Palma what justifies a remake. "If it's a very good basic story," De Palma replies, "like when people do different versions of Shakespeare, why not interpret it many different ways? I've always thought that when you see something that is really done well, maybe it could be done again with a different viewpoint. This is something you see in all the other art forms. Whether it is an homage or whatever you want to call it, there are certain basic stories that can be retold over and over again. I'm not surprised that these movies are being remade, and the ones that I remade were because I could bring something new to the basic material."
'WISE GUYS' WAS A BASTARD CHILD AT THE STUDIO
When asked if he favors any of his own films over others, De Palma tells DeSalvo, "Well, take a movie like Wise Guys. It's not one of my favorites because nobody at the studio ever liked it. It was given a go by one administration and they left, and then another administration came in. It was a bastard child that no one wanted anything to do with, so that was not a pleasant experience. But I liked working with Danny DeVito so much that we managed to soldier through it."
'RAISING CAIN' RECUT BY SOME YOUNG DIRECTOR NAMED PEET GELDERBLOM
De Palma brings up the Raising Cain Recut once again in response to DeSalvo's question about any films he would like to go back and change. "In Raising Cain," De Palma says, "I initially had thought to tell the story with the wife's story. But because John Lithgow was so fascinating playing these multiple characters, I started the movie with his story. Then some young director recut it and put the wife's story first. I looked at it and said, 'You're right. That's the way it should have been done.' So, yes, my initial instinct was correct."
A YOUNG AL CAPONE ON SCREEN
DeSalvo asks whether De Palma would like to see any of his characters come back for a sequel. De Palma responds, "We were working on the prequel for The Untouchables, so a young Al Capone. But I guess they are doing that on television now [on Boardwalk Empire]. We were working on the prequel for many years, but it was under the former administration at Paramount."
DE PALMA LIKES 'KISS KISS, BANG BANG'
DeSalvo asks De Palma, "What is a guilty-pleasure movie that you love that everyone else seemed to hate?"
"A movie I really liked that didn't do well was Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang," replies De Palma. "It didn't do well at the box office, but I thought Shane Black did a fantastic job."
My favorite part of the interview is when DeSalvo says that "Passion is probably the first movie to feature someone using their toe to send a text." That leads into a discussion about how technology has changed the way we communicate with each other. When asked what is the "craziest criticism" he's ever read about him, De Palma replies, "That I'm a misogynist. I love women. I love working with women. I love to photograph them. I like stories where they are the principle characters. I'm interested in beauty and sensuality. That would be hard for someone who is supposed to be a hater of women."
NON-RETIREMENT & 'HAPPY VALLEY'
The interview concludes with these two exchanges:
Fandango: Steven Soderbergh, who is 50, recently announced his retirement. Would you ever make an official announcement about your retirement like that?
De Palma: No, I would never make an announcement about that. I mean, who the hell cares?
Fandango: What movie would you like to make after Passion?
De Palma: I got interested about a year ago in the Joe Paterno case, and we're developing a screenplay for Al Pacino to play Joe Paterno. This is very distressing material, but I think we can make a really terrific movie from it. We're working on it now.
DE PALMA ON KAROLINE HERFURTH & SEXUALITY IN 'PASSION'
In a brief interview posted by Ned Ehrbar at Metro New York, De Palma discusses the sexuality at play in Passion: "I just let the girls go with the scene and just sat back to see what would happen. The way that Dani [played by Karoline Herfurth] offered herself to Isabelle [played by Noomi Rapace] — 'Kiss me!' — and then starts to undress her! [Laughs] All the girls, all their intimate stuff, was all improvised. They just play it. They make it as real as possible. If something’s not working, we try something else, but they were all fantastic, and it was just fascinating to watch them."
SPOILERS - ROUNDTABLE FROM LAST YEAR'S TIFF
Slant's Fernando F. Croce yesterday posted his edition of a roundtable interview De Palma did at last year's Toronto International Film Festival. In discussing the viral ad in Passion's narrative, De Palma said, "I originally had thought of an incredibly more complicated commercial, all these dreams on top of one another. It got a bit too much like Inception. I showed it to a few director friends of mine, and they all said, 'What are you, crazy? Simplify!' [Laughs]"
At one point, De Palma is asked what his intention was with the split screen in Passion. He responds, "My intention? Now, what could that be? One interpretation is quite simple: Noomi is at the ballet. We're showing her watching the ballet at the same time somebody is stalking Rachel at her house. On the half of the screen where you see the ballet, we cut to a close-up of Noomi's eyes. [Mock-excited] Aha! Well, she must be at the ballet! She couldn't possibly be at the house, now could she? Meanwhile you see all these things going on back at the house, and when the POV shots start we don't see any more close-ups of Noomi's eyes. Viewers have become conditioned to expect A to lead to B, and accept it without question. The juxtaposition of the images on the screen seals a destination on viewers' minds, but do we go there or do we undermine it? Again, the important thing is to look actively at what's unfolding before us."
Asked how the screenplay influences him as a director, De Palma replies, "I tend to start with the camera. Some directors start with the characters and then proceed from that. Paul Thomas Anderson is a good example of somebody who builds his stories from the people on screen. Same thing with Noah Baumbach. They're very different from the way I do it, but that's why I like their movies. When I think of a scene, the people in it and what they're saying are just one element in a visual frame. And I like to use the entire frame instead of cutting from shot to over-the-shoulder shot, which I find very boring and TV-ish. I love when actors can play the scene continuously, the way you see in many films from the '40s or '50s. Maybe I'm becoming a bit anti-close-up in my old age. [Laughs]"
In discussing movie studios, De Palma mentions that Mission To Mars was affected by too many producer meetings. "As much as I want to think of myself as an outsider," De Palma says, "I've been able to work within the studio system for years. If your budget gets big, producers start to have too many meetings and chip away at the movie, which was the case with Mission to Mars. I guess it was around the time of Bonfire of the Vanities, the early '90s, when I started getting piles of notes, suggestions from the producers. In the beginning, in the 'day of the director' which is now long and far gone, you could make your movie and then preview it, say, in a theater in Texas and then be handed reports on audience reaction. You could still say, 'Sorry, that's it. I'm not changing a thing,' and get away with it. That's become harder and harder, and the directors of my generation just no longer have the stamina to deal with it. Hence our crotchetiness. [Laughs]"
When asked if he has any comments on Peter Biskind's book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, De Palma pauses, then chuckles before saying, "There's something very interesting about books like that. Here's my question: 'Who's talking to the writer?' Is it the unhappy ex-girlfriend? The bitter producer? The partner who got screwed out of some deal? They sure do a whole lot of talking, don't they? But the people who were actually making movies during that time period? They don't talk. Like me, for instance. You don't see me participating much in these books, which strikes me as very gossipy and reductive. You know, feeding into the whole sex, drugs, and rock n' roll myth."
PODCAST INTERVIEW FROM LAST YEAR
And finally, yesterday Rooftop Films posted a "Filmwax Radio" podcast in which De Palma is interviewed by Adam Schartoff. The interview appears to be from about a year ago, when Passion was still playing film festivals and prior to having a U.S. distributor. There's discussion of Passion, as well as Redacted, and more.