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Wednesday, December 18, 2013
The Black List of best unproduced screenplays for 2013 was unveiled this week. It includes two screenplays about the making of Steven Spielberg's Jaws, and at least one of them includes Brian De Palma as a character, along with fellow "movie brats" Martin Scorsese, John Milius, George Lucas, and (of course) Spielberg. That screenplay, titled The Shark is Not Working, was written by Richard Corinder. Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere shared these samples from Corinder's screenplay:

In his post, Wells says the script is "about 28 year-old Steven Spielberg going through hell to make Jaws in ’74 and ’75." He adds that he's "skimmed through about half of it. It’s funny, smart, very well-written, entertaining. But I mainly like it because it simultaneously (a) makes fun of Spielberg for being a talented but shallow popcorn shoveller, and (b) admires and sympathizes with the poor guy for managing to survive a hellish production experience. The big breakthrough happens when Spielberg hits on the idea of (a) barely showing the shark and (b) deciding to rely on John Williams‘ creepy music to excite the audience’s imagination."

The other Black List script about the making of Jaws is The Mayor of Shark City, written by Nick Creature and Michael Sweeney. Wells points to a SpecScout coverage page for the latter screenplay, in which the truncated synopsis is as follows: "STEVEN (5) is at the cinema with his father ARNOLD (age 35). They are seeing The Greatest Show on Earth, Steven’s first movie experience. The young boy is blown away by the magic of cinema, and is captivated by his wonderful imagination. Steven’s imagination takes over as the screen is spilled open by a giant wave of rushing water. STEVEN (27) a scrawny man with shaggy hair awakens from a nightmare. He is being tormented by the film shoot he is directing, Jaws. The film production is now over 80 days over schedule. It is now a year prior to the shooting of Jaws. A young and energetic Steven Spielberg enters RICHARD ZANUCK’S office (38) a hotshot producer at Universal studios. Steven notices the manuscript titled Jaws that captures his eye. Without permission, he steals a copy of the script to read. Immediately, he is engrossed in the engaging story of a killer shark. His vivid imagination takes over as he dreams of what the movie can look like. Steven knows that he must direct this film. He begs Zanuck for the opportunity but is told that they already have a director for the project. Meanwhile, PETER BENCHLEY (33) the..." [the synopsis cuts off there for casual browsers]

The locations listed at SpecScout for The Mayor of Shark City are as follows: "1950s/1960s Locations/Decor for FLASHBACKS Old Movie Theater, middle-class home, Vietnam mockup on soundstage, submarine, aircraft carrier, fighter plane cockpit, underwater, fantasy meteor shower, fantasy animatronic Disneyworld-style ride. 1970s Locations/Decor Universal studio bungalow, Hollywood hills home, New York upmarket club, Hollywood production and studio executive offices, Martha's Vineyard, Old fishing ship, Soundstage (Universal Studios stage 12), Harbor, Hotel, Bar, Diner, Beach, Ferry, Cabin, Ocean, Tavern, Small town Movie Theater, Large Movie Theater, Cinerama Theater, Drug Store, Sunset Boulevard."

Posted by Geoff at 12:56 AM CST
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Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Posted by Geoff at 6:51 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 6:53 PM CST
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Monday, December 16, 2013
In a Hollywood Elsewhere post on Friday, Jeffrey Wells calls Martin Scorsese's Wolf Of Wall Street "the new Scarface," making a case as to why it might be disliked by a certain faction of viewers.

"I saw Wolf with critics the first time," Wells explains, "but last night’s screening played to a more mixed crowd and they were howling at times, trust me. Losing it, laughing hard. Were they absorbing what Scorsese and DiCaprio were really saying? Sure, of course, but I could sense that they were getting tingly contact highs. For The Wolf of Wall Street takes you back to your wildly irresponsible carousing days, allows you to laugh uproariously at the dumb (and perhaps reprehensible) things you did and have probably forgotten about, and then sets you free when it’s over.

"And yet for older, stodgier types who never went there in their teens or 20s or did and are determined to keep those memories in a locked box (or for those who can’t handle the crude sexual exploitation of women, which has always been a nocturnal characteristic of arrogant Wall Street types), Wolf is going to be seen as an ugly three-hour romp and nothing more. It’s not judgmental enough, Belfort is too much of a prick, what’s the point of this? and so on.

"This is why I’m calling The Wolf of Wall Street the new Scarface. It has so far been shat upon in certain quarters by the same kind of harumphy industry crowd that despised Brian De Palma‘s 1983 crime pic. And just as Scarface eventually became a cult flick (especially among 'urban' rapper/hip-hop types who idolized gangsta culture and the swagger of Al Pacino‘s Tony Montana) it’s probably going to be embraced by (a) present-day party animals and by (b) 40- and 50-somethings those who remember their druggy days and want to enjoy them once again by proxy — a three-hour tour."

Wells continues, "The Scarface Wiki page interprets the film’s reception as follows: 'According to AMC’s "DVD TV: Much More Movie" airing, Cher loved it [but] Lucille Ball, who came with her family, hated it because of the graphic violence and language, and Dustin Hoffman was said to have fallen asleep. Writers Kurt Vonnegut and John Irving were among those who allegedly walked out in disgust after the notorious chainsaw scene. At the middle of the film, Martin Scorsese turned to Steven Bauer and told him, "You guys are great but be prepared, because they’re going to hate it in Hollywood…because it’s about them."

“'Leonard Maltin was among those critics who held a negative opinion of Scarface,' the page says. 'He gave the film 1 1/2 stars out of four, stating that ‘…[Scarface] wallows in excess and unpleasantness for nearly three hours, and offers no new insights except that crime doesn’t pay.’ In later editions of his annual movie guide, Maltin included an addendum to his review stating his surprise with the film’s newfound popularity as a cult-classic.'

"This is why The Wolf of Wall Street is the only truly bold and nervy film in the Best Picture circle right now. It’s both appalling and gutsy as hell — a wild-ass moralistic 'comedy.' It’s clearly condemning Belfort’s behavior and yet…"

Posted by Geoff at 12:30 AM CST
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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Posted by Geoff at 9:40 PM CST
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Friday, December 13, 2013

Posted by Geoff at 6:07 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, December 14, 2013 9:49 PM CST
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Thursday, December 12, 2013
Scream Factory today announced on its Facebook page that it has just signed a deal to release a Blu-ray edition of Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise. The announcement states that the Blu-ray will be released as part of the company's "Collector's Edition" series in the latter half of summer, 2014, and will include "new extras," but there are no further details to report at this time. In a comment to the Facebook post, Fangoria editor-in-chief Chris Alexander wrote, "FANGO cover here we come!"

As we look forward to this February's Region 2 Phantom Blu-ray from Arrow Video, we wonder whether Scream Factory will be working with Arrow as it prepares its release, or if the company will strike its own master and extra features. It would surely be tough to beat the Arrow version, which has the participation of Ari, the Principal Archivist at The Swan Archives, who recently shared on that site's News page that "the Arrow Blu-Ray is going to include The Swan Archives' deleted Swan Song footage in a brand new featurette that we've been working on with them. And, as Winslow might say, 'there's more...MUCH more!'" The more the merrier, we say!

Posted by Geoff at 5:52 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, December 12, 2013 5:54 PM CST
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In last week's (December 4) episode of FX's American Horror Story, a fanatically religious mother, not unlike the mother in Carrie, insists to her son that he has been made "unclean" by the witches next door, and after disturbingly attempting to cleanse him from the inside out, she locks him in a closet, bound and gagged. The episode was written by series co-creator Ryan Murphy, who tells Vulture's Denise Martin that the recurring "closet thing" (there was a mother/daughter closet scene in the first season, as well) comes from Brian De Palma's Carrie.

In the Vulture article, which contains several SPOILERS for the current season of American Horror Story, Martin querys Murphy, "When Nan finds Luke trapped in the closet by his mother, it reminded me of when Constance threw her own daughter [also played by Jamie Brewer] into the closet. Are those callbacks intentional given that each season has a different story?"

Murphy replies, "We do it more than you know. It’s fun for us. I call them the goodies, 'Where are the goodies buried?' People go on Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, they catch up with seasons they’ve been watching and then they re-watch it with passion and fresh eyes. So we’re very cognizant of that. There’s usually one goodie per episode. The closet thing was very much based on Carrie, and we’ve done riffs on that and other things in that movie many, many times because we all love Brian De Palma in the writers' room."

As we've noted before, one of those writers in the AHS writers' room is Jennifer Salt, she of many early De Palma pictures. In the season premiere episode of season two, two of Pino Donaggio's music cues from De Palma's Carrie were used very specifically. Murphy has talked about being obsessed with De Palma while making season two last year, mentioning Dressed To Kill as a major influence, as well.

Posted by Geoff at 12:34 AM CST
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Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The Sundance Film Festival this week announced its documentary premieres for its upcoming 2014 edition (January 16-26), and one of them is a film called Happy Valley, directed by Amir Bar-Lev, who also directed 2010's The Tillman Story. The Sundance description of Bar-Lev's Happy Valley is as follows: "The children of 'Happy Valley' were victimized for years, by a key member of the legendary Penn State college football program. But were Jerry Sandusky’s crimes an open secret? With rare access, director Amir Bar-Lev delves beneath the headlines to tell a modern American parable of guilt, redemption, and identity."

It appears that while Brian De Palma's film (also called Happy Valley) will focus on the life and career of Joe Paterno, Bar-Lev's documentary takes a head-on approach to the Sandusky scandal, and how it has affected the Penn State community. The News & Observer's Lewis Beale interviewed Bar-Lev this past April. Here's a passage in which they discuss Happy Valley:

“I’m not interested in stories with very clear white hats and black hats,” says Bar-Lev. “Those stories just reassure me my values are all in place. I’m interested in stories that provoke thorny questions, and cause me to evaluate and poke and prod at my belief system. That’s what good documentary filmmaking does.”

And that’s a good reason why Bar-Lev’s next film, “Happy Valley,” is about the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky pedophilia scandal. But it’s not that Bar-Lev is particularly interested in Sandusky.

“I’m more interested in how we relate to Jerry Sandusky, the mythological nature of Sandusky and (former Penn State football coach) Joe Paterno,” he says. “We call the film ‘Happy Valley’ because we’re interested in how the town is reckoning with itself in the aftermath of the scandal.”


(Thanks to Rado!)

Posted by Geoff at 5:25 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 5:27 PM CST
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Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Continuing with the 30th anniversary of the release of Brian De Palma's Scarface, Entertainment Weekly's Kyle Anderson talked with Giorgio Moroder, who composed the score and songs for the film. "I wanted something a little bit mysterious, because this character is very complex and kind of mysterious coming from Cuba," Moroder tells Anderson. "I wanted it to have a little bit of a classical feel in the sequence of the chords. The idea came from a German half-classical singer called Klaus Nomi. He had one song where he did a very high voice, a staccato, a little bit like Laurie Anderson on ‘O Superman.’ Those two songs kind of inspired me, so I came up with the chords and then brought in the big choir and strings and all the rest."

Moroder shared a new remix of "Tony's Theme" with EW. Anderson explains that it is actually "more of a complete reinvention — Moroder did not use any of the original tracks to construct the new song."

Moroder then tells Anderson about the theme's versatility. "It works quite well with a big orchestra, and it works quite well with just a piano. There’s one section [in the movie] when Tony kills someone, and there I played kind of soft; I think it’s just a bass line. So it works well both big and small." Visit the EW post to listen to the remix, which is also available on Moroder's SoundCloud page. As Rado pointed out to us some time ago, the latter features some tracks that were not avaiable on the released soundtrack to Scarface.

Posted by Geoff at 6:43 PM CST
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Monday, December 9, 2013

Brian De Palma's Scarface opened in theaters thirty years ago today. Both Complex and Moviefone celebrated the anniversary today with "25 Things You Didn't Know About Scarface" articles. The Hollywood Reporter's Aaron Couch posted an interview with Steven Bauer, who said that having spent so much time with co-star Al Pacino while working on the film, shooting the scene in which Tony shoots Manny was difficult for him. He said De Palma did "at least 25 takes" focusing on different angles. "The way [Pacino] looked at me was a little hard to take, I have to say," Bauer tells Couch. "I was sort of secretly happy it was over in a second, and that he fires the gun right away. There's no scene where I say, 'You got it wrong.' I am really glad it was written that way. Oliver [Stone] made it short and sweet."

Bauer also repeated his story of being conratulated by Martin Scorsese following an early Hollywood screening of the film. Here's how Couch writes it:


However, the director also gave him a warning. "'They are going to hate this movie in Hollywood,'" Bauer recalls Scorsese saying to him. "And I said, 'Why?' And he said, 'Because it's about them.'"

Bauer believes Scorsese meant there were similarities between the excesses of Tony Montana and some Hollywood executives at the time: "There's nothing wrong with chasing the American dream, but if you become greedy, it'll fall from under you. You will self destruct…. [Scorsese] knew there were tendencies in Hollywood to just be over the top."


Several early discussions of Scorsese's new film, The Wolf Of Wall Street, are using Scarface as a touchstone in discussing the newer film's irredeemably unlikeable main character, with some referring to Wolf as Scarface crossed with Boiler Room, crossed with Stone's Wall Street. In this excerpt from an article by Mary Kaye Schilling at Vulture from last August, Scorsese and Jonah Hill discuss some of these aspects:

Jordan [Belfort] was a brilliant guy in a world where there may be no morality ­whatsoever,” says Scorsese. “He got caught at what a lot of people didn’t get caught at.” As he sees it, Wolf is about what happens when free-market capitalism becomes a matter of faith. “If you look at what occurred in the world of finance—many times now and it will probably happen again—you really have to ask the questions: Is dishonesty acceptable? Aren’t people expected to go too far?”

Jonah Hill plays Donnie Azoff, Stratton Oakmont’s second in command (a composite of a few characters in the book). Azoff, if possible, is even more gonzo than Belfort, who at least regretted ripping off clients. “Jordan told me that certain people [at Stratton Oakmont] actually enjoyed hurting people,” says Hill, who, along with [Leonardo] DiCaprio, spent time with current day ­traders before shooting began late last summer. “I imagine it’s a lot more politically correct and less chauvinistic now. It certainly couldn’t be more politically incorrect or chauvinistic. But it’s still very alpha male, or alpha female, depending on the person in training. People who are weak, or perceived as weak and emotional, are fed to the wolves.” At Stratton Oakmont, says Hill, the philosophy was kill-or-be-killed, and ­Gordon Gekko was fetishized, but so were Scarface and GoodFellas. “Those were their models,” he adds. “They kind of ran their businesses with those sensibilities.”

Belfort’s arc does sound a little like Henry Hill’s in GoodFellas—in this case, a nice Jewish kid from Bayside, Queens, with a genius for sales, gets seduced and corrupted by Wall Street. But Scorsese disputes comparisons between gangsters and stock brokers. “The parallel between the Mafia and Wall Street works only to the extent that they’re all interested in making as much money as possible, as quickly as possible.”


A couple of months ago, someone posted a mash-up of the trailers from Wolf Of Wall Street and Scarface on YouTube.

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 12:03 AM CST
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