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Friday, July 11, 2014

The Borscht Corp., an open-source collaborative dedicated to telling Miami stories, according to its web site, has started a project called Scarface Redux. The project is described as "a global collaborative effort to remake Brian De Palma’s Scarface." The web site (pictured above) lays out three steps: "First, Brian De Palma's Scarface is cut up into 15-second chunks"; "Then, you pick a scene, shoot and remake it however you like"; "Finally, we put it all together into a completely new version of Scarface."

You can see all the 15-second clips (636 of them) on the site, as well as the few scenes that have already been submitted for the project. In an e-mail about the project sent to Film School Rejects, the group states, "For better or worse, Scarface had held Miami’s image in a vice grip since it came out... As our mission is to redefine cinema in Miami (and vice-versa) we thought it was about time to get literal and take back our image! Or something."

Posted by Geoff at 6:38 PM CDT
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Thursday, July 10, 2014
This news is a few weeks late, but graphic designer Anthony Goldschmidt died June 17, according to the Swan Archives. He was 71. After founding Intralink Film Graphic Design in 1979, Goldschmidt, often with longtime collaborator, the art director John Alvin, designed iconic posters for Scarface (for which Alvin was said to have worked on uncredited), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, The Princess Bride, and many more. Prior to Intralink, Goldschmidt and Alvin created the poster for Phantom Of The Paradise (the version that also graced the cover of that film's soundtrack album), as well as posters for several Mel Brooks films, including Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein.

Posted by Geoff at 1:22 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, July 10, 2014 1:24 AM CDT
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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

It was announced this morning that Edgar Wright will host the 40th anniversary screening of Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise, which takes place July 30th at the Arclight in Hollywood. Tickets are still on sale for the event, but going fast. Note that the time of the event has been changed to 7:30pm.

Posted by Geoff at 7:40 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 8:03 PM CDT
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Tuesday, July 1, 2014
R.I.P. PAUL MAZURSKY, 1930-2014

Paul Mazursky, film director, screenwriter, and actor, has died of pulmonary cardiac arrest. He was 84. Mazursky was a longtime, good friend of Brian De Palma's. In the early 1980s, Mazursky lived in one apartment of a duplex in Greenwich Village, while De Palma and his wife, Nancy Allen, lived in the other apartment. When De Palma was casting Dressed To Kill, he had wanted Mazursky to portray Detective Marino. However, Mazursky was busy preparing his next film, and Dennis Franz took the part instead.

Mazursky, of course, did end up acting for De Palma about a decade later, portraying Judge Feinstein in Carlito's Way. In Richard Sylbert and Sylvia Townsend's book Designing Movies: Portrait of a Hollywood Artist, Gregory Bolton, who was the art director on Carlito's Way, recalls shooting the courtroom scene. "It was interesting," he tells Townsend, "because there was Brian De Palma, Paul Mazursky, and there was Al Pacino, all those people in that room, all powerful forces, all directing the scene. And Dick (Sylbert) sat back and we all sat back and watched each person direct the scene, wondering who was going to win." Bolton tells Townsend that after "going all different ways," De Palma's was the way it ended up.

Writing in 2003, Movie City News' Leonard Klady relayed a story from the fall of 1990 in which "Brian De Palma arrived for breakfast and greeted [Farmers] Market regular Paul Mazursky with a query about Disney's decision to postpone the release of Mazursky's upcoming movie. A rather vague story had appeared in the trades the prior week announcing that Scenes from a Mall would open in early 1991 rather than in the fall of 1990.

"It was clear that Mazursky had been exhausted by the process of finishing the comedy with Woody Allen and Bette Midler, screening and test screening it, tweaking it and arguing the finer points with senior production executives at the studio. He let out a sigh and told De Palma and the table that the film had scored well with audiences. It was testing in the high 70s but the folks at the studio wanted it to score in the 80s.

"When he finished, De Palma let out a hardy cackle (he has a very distinctive laugh) and when he recovered said, 'you're lucky.' He went on to explain that his new picture, according to the marketing people at Warner Bros., had scored the lowest of any major release in the studio's history. He said it tested at about 55% and didn't see how any amount of tinkering would ever significantly boost audience response. Though likely tinged with hyperbole, that picture was the subsequently infamous Bonfire of the Vanities."

Among Mazursky's other films is An Unmarried Woman, which starred Jill Clayburgh, for which she earned an Oscar nomination for best actress, while Mazursky earned best screenplay and best picture nominations. Other films include Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Next Stop, Greenwich Village, Harry And Tonto, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, and Enemies, a Love Story.

Mazursky's first acting role was in 1953, as a psychopath in Stanley Kubrick's first feature film, Fear And Desire. Twelve years later, Mazursky and Larry Tucker wrote the original pilot for the TV series The Monkees. Mazursky and Tucker have cameos in the episode.

Posted by Geoff at 7:31 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 7:35 PM CDT
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The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Stacey interviewed Giorgio Moroder last week. In the introductory paragraphs to his interview article, Stacey notes that Moroder "recently traveled to Sydney for the Vivid Festival, where a series of events paid tribute to his career. The highlight: a symphonic survey of his music by Britain's Heritage Orchestra, a world premiere that featured live performers on Moog synths; strings and horns; a choir and a rock drummer; and young British singers Anna Calvi, Liela Moss and Shingai Shoniwa.

"The orchestra opened with Tony's Theme' from Brian De Palma's Scarface, and ended with an audience singalong to new-wave chart topper 'Together in Electric Dreams,' a 1984 collaboration with the Human League's Philip Oakey. Mr. Moroder joined the orchestra for a rendition of 'Giorgio by Moroder,' the song from Daft Punk's album Random Access Memories that last year brought him a new generation of fans. Afterward, the high-energy septuagenarian played a 1½-hour DJ set to an adoring audience in the depths of the Sydney Opera House."

Posted by Geoff at 1:55 AM CDT
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Monday, June 30, 2014

Laurence F. Knapp, editor of Brian De Palma: Interviews, has edited a similar volume of David Fincher interviews, which will be published in August. Fincher Fanatic interviewed Knapp about the book and his views on Fincher, some of which are spoken in the video embedded above. Near the end of the interview, Fincher Fanatic asks Knapp if he, as a professor, has ever taught a class on Fincher, and if so, what would be discussed. Here is Knapp's reply:

"As mentioned, I have taught a Generation X class before. I welcome the opportunity to teach a Fincher/Tarantino seminar in the near future, or perhaps a Fincher/De Palma class. I’ve always felt that Fincher is as misanthropic and as formally schematic as De Palma, but because of Fincher’s upbringing (the Bay Area instead of Philadelphia) or generation (Gen X’ers are too jaded, melancholy, and overwhelmed by capitalism to openly resist the dominant order), Fincher does not share De Palma’s countercultural need to expose the cinematic artifice and contest and parody the prevailing ideology of postwar America. Fight Club is as contemptuous as Greetings, Phantom of the Paradise, or Body Double, but Fincher, like many Gen X’ers, doesn’t have it in him to risk a Blow Out, Casualties of War, or Redacted, or even an over-the-top film like Dressed to Kill, Scarface, or Femme Fatale. De Palma would never end Fight Club with two lovers holding hands. He would just blow up downtown Los Angeles and have Brad Pitt expose his penis and wave to the camera like Robert De Niro in Hi Mom!. Fight Club, in true Fincher fashion, prescribes my generation not to surrender to cynicism but to grow up, accept your significant other, and get married. That’s all the sanctuary you will get in this world. Worked for me."

Posted by Geoff at 1:23 AM CDT
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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Posted by Geoff at 10:52 AM CDT
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014
In a recap of this week's episode of FOX-TV's 24, Vulture's Aaron Aradillas states that one moment brought Brian De Palma's The Untouchables to mind:

"[This] led to the centerpiece action sequence of the episode," writes Aradillas. "Unlike the car chase from a couple episodes ago, the shootout and cat-and-mouse hunt for Margot’s precise location was a terrifically sustained piece of action moviemaking. Director Milan Cheylov does some nice close-quarter handheld camerawork, especially when Jack is working his way up several flights of stairs to get to Margot’s hideout. The score by Sean Callery during this sequence had a thrumming, Tangerine Dream–like intensity. Jack managed to stop the drone from destroying Waterloo Station in a classic bit of 24 keyboard precision. Margot looked particularly pathetic as she continued to taunt Jack even when she was in custody. She sneered, 'Hundreds of people died because of you and Heller … Their deaths are on your head!' Then, in a shocking moment that had echoes of Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables, Jack pulled an Eliot Ness and threw Margot out the window. 'The only death tonight on my head is yours!' he snarled. We can debate the murky morality of the moment, but there’s no denying the immediacy of it. Jack Bauer had done our dirty work. Again."

The full episode can be viewed at FOX.com.

Posted by Geoff at 10:38 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 10:39 PM CDT
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Or make that a room full of Star Wars. The frame above is the first shot of a scene early in Poltergeist, which was officially directed by Tobe Hooper, but was produced, written, edited, and storyboarded by Steven Spielberg, who is rumored and in some cases stated to have been the true director of the film. The scene pictured in the frames above and below take place in the children's bedroom, the boy's side of which is, like many a bedroom in 1982, filled with Star Wars toys, posters, jackets, blankets, and more. The shot above that opens the scene throws this great feat of merchandising straight into viewers' faces, a clear nod by Spielberg to his good friend George Lucas, who by that time had made two Star Wars films and was on the verge of completing the initial Star Wars trilogy.

In 1982, Spielberg was still fairly close with his fellow "Young Lion/Movie Brat" director friends: Lucas, Brian De Palma, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, and John Milius. In the shot below, on the very right, underneath a poster for Ridley Scott's Alien, what appears to be a toy yellow taxi sits on a shelf, possibly a nod to Scorsese's Taxi Driver.

After the mother makes the bed, she sits on it, and notices that she doesn't hear the bird tweeting. She looks toward the birdcage, concerned...

And when she gets up to get a better look, finds the bird lying upside down, dead, the positioning of which seems likely to be a visual nod to the Death Records logo in De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise...

This last homage idea is further reinforced by the fact that, according to the recent book, Interviews Too Shocking To Print! by Justin Humphreys, Tobe Hooper himself had been a big fan of Phantom Of The Paradise, which led to him working enthusiastically with William Finley. Perhaps Spielberg storyboarded the scene above and Hooper ran with it. We could say it is just a dead bird, but since both visionaries in the room (Spielberg and Hooper) would have been so familiar with De Palma's film, it seems very likely each of them would have been thinking about the Death Records logo when they staged the shot.

Posted by Geoff at 2:05 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, June 24, 2014 4:27 PM CDT
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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Posted by Geoff at 11:55 AM CDT
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