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Thursday, April 3, 2014



ADRIAN MARTIN & CRISTINA ALVAREZ LOPEZ TO PREMIERE AUDIOVISUAL ESSAY ON DE PALMA

Posted by Geoff at 8:53 PM CDT
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ON-SET PHOTO - 'DRESSED TO KILL'
POSTED BY NANCY ALLEN TO HER FACEBOOK PAGE


The photo above was posted today by Nancy Allen to her Facebook page for "Throwback Thursday." It shows Allen, Brian De Palma, and Dennis Franz filming Dressed To Kill in 1979.

Posted by Geoff at 5:05 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, April 3, 2014 5:08 PM CDT
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Tuesday, April 1, 2014
DE PALMA RETROSPECTIVE IN GERMANY
ADRIAN MARTIN & CRISTINA ALVAREZ LOPEZ TO PREMIERE AUDIOVISUAL ESSAY ON DE PALMA
ALSO WORKING ON DE PALMA BOOK, WILL DISCUSS 'PASSION' AT FRIDAY SCREENING

Metropolis Kino in Hamburg, Germany, has been running a fairly thorough Brian De Palma retrospective since February. It continues through April, and includes a screening of De Palma's Passion this Friday, which will be introduced by Adrian Martin and Cristina Álvarez López, who also happen to be working together on a new book about De Palma. (The pair wrote a wonderful piece about Passion for L O L A last September.)

Following the screening of Passion Friday, Martin and López will present the world premiere of an audiovisual essay titled "Count It Out: Motifs and Structures in the Cinema of Brian De Palma." A rough translation of the Metropolis Kino description of the essay goes like this: "The title of Count It Out has a double meaning: on the one hand, it refers to the practice of De Palma, in the editing room, together with his editing masters to specify the assembly of a scene by the rhythmic tapping of his fingers. For another, it means: list-making, inventory." (If anyone has any better translations, please feel free to send them in or write them in the comments.) You can read descriptions of the series and the films at The Wayward Cloud.

Posted by Geoff at 12:46 AM CDT
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Sunday, March 30, 2014
PITBULL: 'SCARFACE' IS THE TRUTH
SERIOUS MESSAGE SUNK IN: HE'D RATHER BE SOSA THAN TONY MONTANA
In Shirley Halperin's cover story for this week's Hollywood Reporter, rapper Pitbull discusses how Scarface influenced him in his teenage years. The message he took away from the film seems unique in the hip-hop milieu. Here's an excerpt from the article:
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The Pitbull epic began when his mother, Alysha Acosta, arrived in Florida from Cuba during the early 1960s as part of Operation Pedro Pan (or Peter Pan), Miami's Catholic Welfare Bureau's two-year effort to get youth out of communist Cuba. His father also came over seeking asylum, settling in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood. Their son Armando was born in 1981, a year in which drug-ravaged Miami recorded 621 homicides and was eulogized in a Time cover story, "Paradise Lost." This was the cocaine cowboy era captured in movies like Scarface.

Pit's father and namesake, known in the neighborhood as a charismatic street hustler, often would take his son to the local bars, where the boy would first perform for an audience, reciting Cuban poetry from a bar stool as his father looked on proudly. Pit's parents divorced in 1985.

Bring up the Brian De Palma classic -- not universally beloved in Miami for the cultural stereotypes it spawned -- and Pitbull takes no umbrage. "We all have Scarfaces in our family," he says matter-of-factly. "[The movie] is the truth. It wasn't exaggerated. Scorsese, Oliver Stone, De Palma -- those guys were right on the money." Pitbull says he's seen it too many times to count and that a serious message sunk in: that he didn't want to end up like the protagonist Tony Montana. Rather, says Pit: "I wanted to be Sosa -- educated, good-looking, a good dresser, and he's the one who was running it. And notice, he never got his hands dirty. He sipped his tea. He was nice, not aggressive. And at the end of it all, he was the one that stayed. So I realized around 18 that Tony's the wrong guy to be looking up to."

What Pitbull learned from his immediate surroundings, besides how to sell drugs, which he did for a while, was the skill of connecting with people. That's his most powerful gift -- winning loyalty of everyone he encounters, from strangers on the street to dealmakers in a boardroom. He does this, in part, with a relentlessly upbeat attitude. Pitbull explains his six-year rise to the top in the exuberant idiom of a motivational speaker: "2009 is freedom; 2010, invasion; 2011, build empire; 2012, grow wealth; 2013, put the puzzle together; 2014, buckle up; 2015, make history." It's a mantra he shares with manager Charles Chavez, who says his goal is for Pitbull to become a billion-dollar enterprise. "We have a plan -- with the music, TV projects [Pit boasts a development deal with Endemol, producer of Big Brother], films [he's teamed up with Ryan Seacrest for a TV miniseries on the Bacardi family], his businesses, the brands that we get involved with," says Chavez. "You never know, but it's the plan."

Pitbull is more confident, even willing to time-stamp the future threshold. "Do I think it's realistic to be a billion-dollar company by [age] 35? Absolutely."

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Posted by Geoff at 6:52 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, March 30, 2014 6:57 PM CDT
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Saturday, March 29, 2014
1992 VIDEO: LITHGOW & DE PALMA ON 'RAISING CAIN'
"PLAYING THIS PART IS THE KIND OF THING YOU BECAME AN ACTOR HOPING TO BE ABLE TO DO"


Antonios Papantoniou searched his tapes and found a companion piece (above) to the CNN Raising Cain piece he posted last week. In this video, again from 1992, CNN's Jim Moret talks to John Lithgow about working on Raising Cain (which Moret calls a "quirky, satirical psycho thriller"), and also gets some words about Lithgow from Brian De Palma. "Most movie stars have such a strong physical persona that they're always John Wayne," De Palma tells Moret. "But John Lithgow has the ability to be many different people, and he can literally change his persona on screen without any make-up."

Lithgow tells Moret, "You're in a strange sort of isolation booth when you're acting in a film. You don't really have a sense of all the things going on around you. You only really see it when you see the whole film." [Al Pacino said something very similar about working on Carlito's Way. Seeing what the camera was doing while watching dailies, he would say, "Whoa, something's going on there."]

"One thing that really limits you as an actor," Lithgow tells Moret, "is to worry too much about whether you're likeable or not. Actors who worry about how they're coming off, how they look, whether they're sympathetic, those actors are really attaching shackles to their ankles."

Moret follows up, "Well, if not liking them, then what about understanding this person?"

Lithgow: "Yeah, that's what you try to do. You try to understand him, and trace the motives."

Moret: "Do you look to Brian to pull in the reins, so that you don't give a performance that's almost over the top?"

Lithgow: "Yeah, he modulates it. And chases me when I'm too... doing too much, and edits my acting."

After another clip from the film, Lithgow says, "People who see this movie, you know, the questions I've been asked, so many people say, 'God, wasn't it difficult?' Difficult parts to play are the ones where there isn't enough to do. This one was just so much fun. Playing this part is the kind of thing you became an actor hoping to be able to do."


Posted by Geoff at 5:28 PM CDT
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SCHWARZENEGGER ON 'SABOTAGE'
HOMAGE TO BRUTAL MASCULINE MOVIES MADE BY THE LIKES OF DE PALMA, PECKINPAH, HILL
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap:

"Nothing really gets sabotaged in Sabotage, unless you're counting the career of director David Ayer, who got some of his best reviews to date for End of Watch just two years ago. Apparently forgetting everything he knows about filmmaking in the intervening months, he's delivered up a schlocky and semi-incoherent shoot-'em-up, the most notable factor of which is a torrent of fake blood that rivals the gallons of Karo syrup Brian De Palma sprayed over Scarface.”

The Telegraph:

"Arnold Schwarzenegger has defended 'brutal violence' in movies ahead of his new film Sabotage, in which the 66-year-old plays the head of a special unit of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) whose members are viciously killed and mutilated after a cartel bust.

"Schwarzenegger, the former Governor of California, said: 'It's a bit of an homage to the films that I grew up on, and directors like Brian De Palma, and Walter Hill and Sam Peckinpah who made very brutal kind of masculine movies. I think violence is political now: "maybe if there is no violence in movies, there will be no violence in the world." I don't believe that. The video games our children play are much, much more violent than anything in this movie.'"

Matt Singer, The Dissolve:

"The results are deliberately off-putting, a nasty film about mean people doing horrible things. That’s surely by design. Ayer is trying to paint a broad portrait of the poisonous effect this never-ending conflict has on its combatants, and to make a movie that mirrors its protagonists’ fractured psyches. Like Wharton’s DEA unit, Sabotage gets off on the adrenaline rush of badass brutality—but feels traumatized by its aftermath.

"That jibes perfectly with late-career Schwarzenegger’s onscreen persona, the man overwhelmed with grief and regret. Action heroes have rarely killed more people onscreen than Ahnuld—or done so while completely dismissing the emotional weight of those killings by delivering shamelessly goofy puns while committing murder. But as viewers slowly realize over the course of the film, John Wharton has witnessed the effect of violence first-hand, and it’s scarred him. That almost makes Sabotage Schwarzenegger’s (much less effective) version of Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven—his chance to wrestle with all the death he’s perpetrated onscreen, and to consider, once and for all in his twilight years, whether it was really worth it. The film’s final scene—one of the most fascinating of Schwarzenegger’s entire career—makes the Eastwood comparison even more overt, turning Wharton into something of a Western cowboy."


Posted by Geoff at 12:04 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, March 29, 2014 4:37 PM CDT
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Friday, March 28, 2014


Posted by Geoff at 10:43 PM CDT
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NANCY ALLEN & WILLIAM KATT ON SET PHOTO
ON SET OF 'CARRIE', FROM NANCY'S FACEBOOK PAGE

Posted by Geoff at 1:29 AM CDT
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Thursday, March 27, 2014
MIRA ON 'GRAND PIANO'
SCRIPT IS OPEN LOVE LETTER TO HITCHCOCK & DE PALMA, MESMERIZING EFFECTS OF SILENT FILM
Ain't It Cool News' Jeremy Smith interviewed Grand Piano director Eugenio Mira a couple of weeks ago, and they talked quite a bit about Brian De Palma. Mira also indicates a cinematic kinship with Open Windows director Nacho Vigalondo. Here are some excerpts:
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Q: I think we both speak fluent De Palma.

Eugenio Mira: Totally.

Q: It's interesting making a film in that style today. Everything is so much about coverage now.

Mira: And cutting.

Q: This is definitely a more modern film, but you are hearkening back to that style of filmmaking. Does that make things difficult for you?

Mira: Me being a kid born in Spain and being completely affected by American pop culture in the '80s, Steven Spielberg and Joe Dante, then going into David Cronenberg, David Lynch, the Coen Brothers... from the very beginning, I always loved directing as a performance. It's true that could've been a problem had I moved to Hollywood at nineteen years old, but staying in a country like Spain, the good news is that movies were made not because a producer wanted to do it. It's because there was a possibility, a chance... some people went for subsidies and stuff and they didn't give a fuck about what movie was going to happen, but a whole generation of directors, Nacho Vigalondo included, nobody had the balls to tell us how to do our [movies].

Yes, I know I'm in trouble when it comes to a world that is completely opposite to what I am defending and what I am crafting. On the other hand, after three movies, it's true that maybe there is some momentum. Maybe you can anticipate what problems you are going to have. What I've learned is that rather than have a hidden agenda, it's better to show your plans from the very beginning. Every single director is an asset before you start shooting, and if what you're shooting feeds what your selling - the storyboards and animatics - producers are like "Oh, he's doing it as planned. He's not behind schedule." The problems come with the editing. But if you do it properly, you are going to have just two or three major fights - compared to shooting a lot of coverage and losing control of the whole movie.

Q: When you got the script, how quickly did you figure out how you were visually going to tell this story?

Mira: I'm trying to capture the first impression that I have. If I'm on page thirteen, and there's something that the writer implied... I think my brain works very similarly to what Spielberg describes, it's like having this library of movies. I'm a musician, too, and we have notes. But notes are nothing if there's not a context. So I think that the same thing happens with cinema. Everyone thinks that everything is etherial, and you start from scratch every time. No. You know a shot from Tony Scott from one used by his brother, Ridley. Sometimes they are similar, but sometimes they are different. Alan Parker is different from Adrian Lyne. But those little nuances, some people don't give a damn, but to me I acknowledged those differences. So if I'm seeing a scene of a car parking in front of a diner, and someone steps out, I'm going to know if it's just an establishing shot, or if it's a dolly shot of a guy stepping out of the car and if we're going to go beyond the door or if we're going to be inside seeing the whole thing. It's what directors that I've been raised by do all the time. To answer your question, I wrote down every single thing. Damien Chazelle's script is an open love letter to Hitchcock and De Palma. So what I try to do is instead of just following that realm, I wanted to analyze where these mesmerizing effects came from, and that is silent films. Silent films are the pure sequential art. All you have is the size of the shot, the length and the semantics of the cutting. The semantics in cutting nowadays are two completely different things. Cut means shit nowadays. I can't stand it.

Q: I had the pleasure of interviewing De Palma last year, and I asked if he feels any pressure to shoot coverage nowadays. He said, "Coverage is a bad word."

Mira: I hate it. It's not in my vocabulary.

Q: But it's expected. And it weakens a director's position. They can easily take the film away from you because you've given them all of the options.

Mira: Totally. That's not directing. I will never do this if my work was confined to talking to the actors, going out to dinner and reminding them what we read in the script. The moment I don't have control of what you're seeing when you're seeing it and what level of attention, how am I going to sign [the film]? Coverage is for pussies...

Q: You feel like a filmmaker who could work on a bigger canvas. De Palma and Hitchcock made great big movies! You obviously like the widescreen. I think you could handle a big movie. But I read an interview where you said Jurassic Park 4 would just be about talking to the actors. The vision wouldn't be yours.

Mira: I'm glad you mentioned that. I felt a little bit... in terms of being political, it was a little controversial that I said that. But I'm disappointed. For Spielberg, coming from a filmmaker that I've always admired, I know there's a property, and I know there's a lot of stuff going on and different interests, but something tells me that when it comes to the big scenes of that movie, they were designed three years ago. They already have them. And they got a guy to go out to dinner. I love Safety Not Guaranteed, and I don't want to throw shit at it. I admire what [Colin Trevorrow] did, but if somebody tells me that they are going to hire for Jurassic World the director of The Spectacular Now, I would also be saying "What the fuck?" I don't get it. What about the kids who were raised with Joe Dante or Brian De Palma or Robert Zemeckis: people who really know how to craft movies.

Q: Those guys designed the whole world.

Mira: That's what I'm saying. You see a movie like Bonfire Of The Vanities... you can like it more or less, but that movie directs you into a world. You can talk about the movie, but as a vehicle of expression for Mr. De Palma, I don't see better or worse movies, I see more fortunate or more unfortunate vehicles for Mr. De Palma. That's the way I see it.

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Posted by Geoff at 2:37 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, March 27, 2014 2:39 AM CDT
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014
RICHARD H KLINE ON 'THE FURY'
VIDEO CLIP FROM BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURE AT FICTION FACTORY
If you haven't been able to watch Arrow Video's Blu-Ray release of Brian De Palma's The Fury from last year, you can at least view a short clip from a special feature produced by Fiction Factory, in which cinematographer Richard H. Kline discusses working on the film. "The Fury, to me," Kline says in the video clip, "looking back now 35 years, whatever it was, in re-running it to prepare for this interview, I’m going to put it at probably one of the best pictures I’ve ever made, technically—you’re never aware of the technique. With the reality, the freshness of it. Seeing it again, it reminded me of how good it is. It really… De Palma did a terrific job of directing it, without a doubt."

There is a nice long interview article with Kline, covering his entire career, in the current issue (Vol. 10, Issue 28) of Cinema Retro. Alas, the writer of the piece glides right on by The Fury-- must have been conducted prior to the Arrow video and Kline's refreshed opinion of the film.

Posted by Geoff at 12:49 AM CDT
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