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Tuesday, August 26, 2014
'CARRIE' MUSICAL TO BE 'COMPLETELY IMMERSIVE'
ALSO: MOREAU/'CARRIE' TUMBLR GOES VIRAL;
DE PALMA'S FILM PART OF VIENNA HORROR RETROSPECTIVE




Above is Gustave Moreau's Study for Lady Macbeth (1851), side-by-side with an image representing Sissy Spacek in Brian De Palma's Carrie. The comparison appears to have initially been posted three days ago on the Tumblr blog trophywivesclub, and has been reblogged and retweeted dozens of times since then.

Speaking of Carrie, De Palma's film is included in the Austrian Film Museum's upcoming horror retrospective, "Land Of The Dead." The retrospective, which runs from August 29 to October 15, covers the years 1968 through 1987, as a followup to last year's retrospective, which covered the years 1918 through 1967.

"For the culture at large as well as for horror films," the museum program explains, "'1968' marks a clear transition: In the U.S., the Production Code had just been abandoned, eliminating many constraints and allowing George A. Romero to lay the groundwork for a new era of horror with his debut feature, Night of the Living Dead. The film's pseudo-documentary style (necessitated by the miniscule budget) suffused Romero's taboo-breaking conceits with a hitherto unknown 'authenticity', while the allegorical potential of the zombie invasion inaugurated a new, 'direct' political dimension in the genre – images of a nation gripped by self-destructive chaos in the era of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War. During the 1970s, American horror cinema would deliver a series of pungent, subversive visions in the guise of cheap exploitation, in radical opposition to the appeasing images of society in the media mainstream. As the key auteur of this movement – his Dawn of the Dead is unsurpassed among populist critiques of capitalism – Romero is the best-represented filmmaker in the series (which takes its title from one of his later political pamphlets). However, 1968 is also the year in which the global success of Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby turns the once-disreputable horror genre into an attractive option for bigger mainstream productions; its respectability is further certified by contributions from major art filmmakers such as Ingmar Bergman’s Hour of the Wolf or Federico Fellini’s Toby Dammit."

Other films in the retrospective include Dario Argento's Suspiria and Deep Red, Larry Cohen's God Told Me To, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, David Cronenberg's The Brood and The Fly, and many more. Also read: Twitch's Patrick Holzapfel - "Vienna In September: Be Prepared To Hear Somebody Scream In A Cinema Near You".

'CARRIE' AS ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERIENCE
Shades of Richard Schechner, La Mirada Theatre in Los Angeles will present Carrie The Musical as an audience-immersive theatrical event. According to the show's description, "Audiences will stand and move with the actors. Comfortable shoes and clothing are recommended. Wheelchair guests will be accommodated. The show contains the use of smoke and haze, strobe lights, special effects and loud music. CARRIE THE MUSICAL contains adult language, themes and nudity and is recommended for mature audiences." Performances will run from March 12 through April 5, 2015.

According to Playbill, producers Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman issued a statement in which they said, "The story of Carrie has endured in the popular consciousness for decades, but no one has ever experienced it from this point of view. The idea of placing the audience in the center of this world was just too tantalizing to resist. It's going to be thrilling."

The show's creators, Lawrence D. Cohen, Michael Gore, and Dean Pitchford, also issued a statement: "Director Brady Schwind is building on Carrie legacy with his own unique vision for our show. Making it an environmental experience for the audience is intriguing and daring – like the story itself. We look forward to this next chapter!"


Posted by Geoff at 11:23 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 11:03 PM CDT
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Monday, August 25, 2014
ELLROY REVISITS KAY LAKE, ELIZABETH SHORT
NEW NOVEL TAKES PLACE IN 1941; 17-YEAR-OLD SHORT IS LOVE-CHILD OF DUDLEY SMITH
James Ellroy's new novel, Perfidia, will be published next month. It is the first book of a planned second L.A. quartet, which will take place during World War II (Ellroy's original L.A. quartet covers the years 1946-1958). As Ellroy told The Channels' Emerson Malone a couple of years ago, the new quartet "takes characters from the original [one] and places [them] in Los Angeles during World War II as significantly younger people." And according to The Telegraph's Chris Harvey, two of Perfidia's main characters include Dudley Smith and Kay Lake. There is also a young Elizabeth Short. As Harvey reports:
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Short provides the most striking element of Perfidia. Ellroy has introduced the 17-year-old Boston native as the love-child of his fictional – and deadly – Irish cop Dudley Smith. He was gripped, he says, by the idea of showing Beth Short “breathlessly alive, sweet natured, presciently intelligent” … “just the idea that there is this wrenching love between this bad man and this young girl who will go on to have her life snuffed out”.

Ellroy is unconcerned that some might find this stretching credibility. “People are connected in ways that we can’t imagine. I’m sure you know people that I know. I might have petted your dog at one point. We’re out there, we’re one soul.”

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Posted by Geoff at 12:56 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, August 25, 2014 1:02 AM CDT
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Sunday, August 24, 2014


Posted by Geoff at 12:41 PM CDT
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Saturday, August 23, 2014
'WEDDING PARTY' PRODUCTION PHOTOS
FROM DE NIRO PAPERS AT HARRY RANSOM CENTER IN AUSTIN; EARLY 'HOME MOVIES' SCRIPT, TOO

Above is a snapshot taken by scholar Ethan de Seife during his visit to the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas, where they have collections donated by Robert De Niro, Paul Schrader, and David Mamet. I've been wanting to visit the Center myself after posting about the De Niro collection here some years ago. Hopefully I'll get out there soon to report in more detail about some of the Brian De Palma-related screenplays in the De Niro collection, with the actor's annotations included, as well as any other interesting items.

But for now, we have these bits and pieces via de Seife, who explains in the post linked to above that he is working on "a book-length re-evaluation of De Palma’s work." He further explains, "To my mind, De Palma is the most talented of the directors of the so-called 'Film School Generation.' He’s also the most misunderstood: critical writing on his work has been stuck in the same ruts (Hitchcock, violence, misogyny) since the 1970s. It’s getting boring. A filmmaker as gifted as he is deserves better."

The photos above show De Niro in some color production photos for The Wedding Party, the first feature film for both De Niro and De Palma. In his post, de Seife also includes a snapshot of the Wedding Party screenplay, featuring some of De Niro's notes.

Here is an excerpt of some of de Seife's other findings:

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The film Hi, Mom! is a vicious satire of Vietnam-era politics and liberal empty-headedness; it remains one of the most subversive of all American films. Much of its deserved reputation for challenging satire rests on the infamous “Be Black, Baby” sequence, in which the members of a black radical group stage a work of participatory theater designed to allow white people to “experience” blackness. Patrons are subjected to all manner of abuse… and then rave about the show. It’s a deeply ambiguous and still pretty shocking scene.

De Niro’s own notes for this scene are, in total: “At ‘Be Black, Baby’ play where I play a cop and beat up the white liberals painted black.” The paucity of this description itself speaks to the importance of improvisation to both De Niro’s and De Palma’s art; this, in turn, reveals a great deal about the nature of the film’s production.

The most intriguing of my finds in the De Niro papers pertains to a De Palma film in which De Niro does not even appear. De Palma made Home Movies in 1980 in an unprecedented collaboration with film students at Sarah Lawrence. In the collection was a treatment (a kind of synopsis) of the script dated from 1970; apparently De Niro had been considered for a part in it. The treatment differs in significant ways from the film as it was made a decade later, and those differences themselves may also prove revelatory of De Palma’s evolution as an artist.

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Posted by Geoff at 11:00 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, August 23, 2014 11:00 AM CDT
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Friday, August 22, 2014
'PHANTOM' IN THE NEW YORK TIMES
"THE FILM'S NEW POPULARITY HAS LED TO TALK OF COMIC BOOKS, REMAKES & STAGE ADAPTATIONS"
An article by Marc Spitz in the New York Times looks at the "new popularity" of Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise. The article, which includes quotes from De Palma, several members of the cast, as well as Swan Archives' Ari Kahan and Phantompalooza's Doug Carlson, will be included in this Sunday's print edition of the newspaper. De Palma has mentioned several times in the past that the idea for Phantom formed after he'd heard a muzak version of a Beatles song in an elevator, but I don't recall him ever specifying which song before. It turns out it was the Beatles' most epic song. For this article, De Palma tells Spitz, "I heard a Beatles song, ‘A Day in the Life,’ coming out like Muzak. I saw the way that this stuff was getting corrupted."

GERARD WAY & 'THE BLACK PARADE'
For its "Most Anticipated Albums Of 2004" issue, Alternative Press reported that My Chemical Romance had been working on an album that the band described as "loosely based on Brian De Palma’s Phantom Of The Paradise." The magazine states that that album would become Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, but the opening track on the band's epic followup, The Black Parade, has definite echoes of Paul Williams' Phantom songs. My Chemical Romance's frontman Gerard Way (the band officially disbanded last year) tells Spitz that, by his estimation, he has seen Phantom 30 times. "When I was doing ‘The Black Parade,’” Way tells Spitz, “I thought about the film all the time, about its message of sacrificing integrity in order to reach more people.”

PRESSMAN: "WE'VE BEEN APPROACHED BY A NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN BOTH EUROPE & IN THE STATES"
Spitz' article concludes with the following three paragraphs:

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The film’s new popularity has led to talk of comic books, remakes and stage adaptations. “We’ve been approached by a number of people both in Europe and in the States,” Mr. Pressman said. “There was a false start years ago doing it in Las Vegas.”

Mr. Williams, who said he is working with [Guillermo] del Toro on adapting the director’s film “Pan’s Labyrinth" into a musical, said he could be on board for a stage version: “I still think it’s a great idea. I’d like to see it done.”

Mr. Williams, who in the fall will release a self-help book he helped write, seems to have the phenomenon in perspective. “Do not write something off as a failure too quickly,” he said. “The fact that it disappeared made it the great success it is today.”

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Posted by Geoff at 12:13 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 11:37 PM CDT
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014
'BLOW OUT' SOUNDTRACK NOW AVAILABLE
INTRADA RELEASE OF LONG OUT-OF-PRINT SET FROM DONAGGIO'S OWN 2-TRACK STEREO MIXES
Intrada this week released a new edition of Pino Donaggio's soundtrack for Brian De Palma's Blow Out. The soundtrack has long been out of print, following an initial release on Prometheus Records in 2002.

In a "Tech Talk" piece on the Intrada web site, the producer of this edition, Douglass Fake, explains, "After Pino Donaggio recorded his 55-minute score for Blow Out on 2″ 24-track tape at A & R Recording Studios in New York City, he mixed and edited approximately 48 minutes of it down to ¼″ 15 ips two-track stereo for inclusion on a possible soundtrack album. The album never materialized and those two rolls of stereo tape are all that has survived of the score. They are the source of this current CD, made available courtesy of MGM and housed in perfect condition in their vaults. Fortunately, what the composer chose to prepare for his potential record represented the majority of what he had recorded, covering every one of the key sequences of the picture and score.

"Donaggio’s music is a meld of his infectious synthesizer-led rhythmic voice from lower-budget horror scores of the era and a richly melodic, dynamically vivid orchestral score worthy of the best A-list pictures. In fact, as the movie opens with the editing of a low-budget horror movie-within-a movie titled Coed Frenzy, the composer gets to provide his own score-within-a-score, infusing the pseudo-sleaze music with a rhythmic and harmonic language essential to the architecture of the actual Blow Out score itself. This balance between popular vernacular and symphonic colors throughout provides the score with a distinct and very rewarding flavor.

"There were several changes made during postproduction in the use of music and the scenes for which the cues were composed, resulting in many sequences playing in a different order from what was originally intended. For this CD, the sequencing of the music follows the film in its final form. The closing 'End Credits' music has also been included at the beginning of the CD simply to 'bookend' the score.

"For those interested, the following cues comprise the roughly seven minutes of music not included on the surviving master tapes: 'Shower Scene' (M4), played over the closing portion of 'Coed Frenzy Disco,' 'Sally’s Theme' (M7), 'Replay Of Sounds' (M9), 'Burke Changes Tire' (M10), 'Manny’s TV' (M19), 'Watch Wire' (M31), 'Karp’s Hotel' (M44) and a very brief cue simply titled 'Photos Of Sally,' heard right after Jack arrives at Karp’s residence.

"The presence of EQ and reverb on the tapes indicated the composer had already prepared a sound that met with his satisfaction. Although we mastered the 1981 audio using 2014 technology, we have avoided any artificial 'pumping up' of the original, composer-approved sonics. We also kept noise reduction and other sonic alterations to the music down to a minimum. What you hear is pretty much what the composer intended.

"The music speaks for itself."

The CD, which will be "available while quantities and interest remain," can be ordered from Intrada for $19.99 plus shipping. A handful of the tracks can be sampled at the site.

(Thanks to Randy!)


Posted by Geoff at 5:48 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 6:44 PM CDT
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Tuesday, August 19, 2014
DAVE GROHL PLAYS CARRIE IN ALS CHALLENGE
VIDEO INCORPORATES IMAGES & SOUNDS FROM DE PALMA FILM
CHALLENGES STEPHEN KING & TRAVOLTA, WHO HAVE 24 HOURS TO RESPOND
FELLOW FOO FIGHTERS APPEAR IN SUPPORTING ROLES



Billboard
"Foo Fighters Parody 'Carrie' in Brilliant Ice Bucket Challenge Video"

SPIN
"Foo Fighters Spoof 'Carrie' for Best ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Yet"

Rolling Stone
"Foo Fighters Turn Ice Bucket Challenge Into Epic 'Carrie' Tribute"

"Grohl and Co. do an excellent job sending up Carrie's climactic prom disaster, incorporating actual shots from the movie, while Grohl, in full Prom Queen regalia, offers over-the-top tears (first of joy, and then unquenchable rage after he's doused). While the clip cuts before Grohl can unleash his hellish retaliation, Taylor Hawkins, playing Carrie's date Tommy, dutifully takes one for the team and gets conked on the head with the empty bucket. Fellow Foos Pat Smear and Nate Mendel play the rapscallions who trigger the bucket drop on Grohl's head."

Loudwire
"Foo Fighters Star in Most Awesome ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Video Yet"

Music Times
"Foo Fighters' ALS Challenge Video Is The Best One Yet"

Click Music
"Foo Fighters win the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with a brilliant Carrie parody"

TIME
"The Foo Fighters Spoof Carrie for Their Ice Bucket Challenge Video"

"Okay, okay, we know you’re probably sick of watching celebrities like Britney Spears (and, worse, randos in your Facebook timeline) do the ice bucket challenge, but it won’t hurt to watch just one more, right? The Foo Fighters put a lot of effort into their contribution to the viral phenomenon by recreating the iconic prom scene from the 1976 horror film Carrie.

"In the movie, Carrie gets drenched with pig’s blood — luckily, the Foo Fighters used ice water instead.

"Grohl nominates a few others to complete the challenge: Stephen King (who wrote the book upon which the film is based), John Travolta (who was in the movie) and Jack Black (for unknown reasons.) But it’s going to be pretty hard for anyone to top this."

Ultimate Classic Rock
"Foo Fighters’ Ice Bucket Challenge May Be the Best Yet"

Huffington Post
"Foo Fighters' 'Carrie' Sendup Just Won The Ice Bucket Challenge"

OC Weekly
"Foo Fighters Ice Bucket Challenge Just Changed the Game"

VanyaLand
"PROM KING: DAVE GROHL AND FOO FIGHTERS RECREATE ‘CARRIE’ FOR THE ALS ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE"

Stereogum
"Watch Foo Fighters Spoof Carrie In Their Elaborate ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Video"


Posted by Geoff at 4:57 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, August 19, 2014 5:16 PM CDT
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Monday, August 18, 2014
KOEPP'S CORNER
'MORTDECAI' ADAPTATION RETEAMS DAVID KOEPP WITH JOHNNY DEPP, COMING FEB. 6TH

Posted by Geoff at 5:04 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, August 18, 2014 5:10 PM CDT
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Thursday, August 14, 2014
TWO ESSAYS ON 'PHANTOM' IN WINNIPEG
ROD WARKENTIN: "WHY NOT WINNIPEG?"
The Dissolve concludes its Movie Of The Week series on Phantom Of The Paradise with an essay Thursday by Alan Jones, which looks at the impact of the film in Winnipeg. "In summer 1975," Jones writes in the essay, "[Paul] Williams solidified the film’s popularity in the town by holding two sold-out shows, again mostly attended by so-called 'teenyboppers.' While he sang a number of the hit songs he wrote for The Carpenters and Three Dog Night, the crowd was there to see his numbers from Phantom Of The Paradise. According to Andy Mellen’s review of the show in the Winnipeg Free Press, much of the singing was 'drowned out by the constant screaming of "We love you, Paul" from the majority of his adolescent following.' He even had a phony ceremony during the concert in which he was presented a gold record for the Phantom soundtrack. (A skeptical Winnipeg Tribune writer checked with the record company and discovered the award had already been presented in Toronto.) In Winnipeg, the isolation of this phenomenon meant that the locals had no idea Williams wasn’t equally beloved elsewhere in the world, or that Phantom had only played modestly in every other city. 'None of us really knew that it bombed everywhere else,' says Carlson. In Winnipeg, where the film regularly played in local repertory cinemas over the next few decades, Phantom Of The Paradise was a classic like any other.

"Located in the middle of the Canadian prairies, Winnipeg is an island of civilization unto itself. Far away from both coasts and the Great Lakes, the nearest major city is Minneapolis, 734 kilometers (sorry, 456 miles) to the south. If you ask Google Maps the fastest route from Winnipeg to Toronto, it’ll take you through North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan before getting you back into Canada. This isolation meant a lot more in 1975, before the Internet and cable television closed the cultural distances between cities. For [Guy] Maddin, the revelation that the rest of the world didn’t share Winnipeg’s enthusiasm for the film was a shock: '[I] thought it was one of the iconic great films for so many years, because as a Winnipegger, it was so huge in the local zeitgeist, the civic-geist. I couldn’t believe when I later found that among De Palma buffs, it’s ranked like the 40th-best of his films.'”

"WHY NOT WINNIPEG?"
Meanwhile, Phantompalooza's Rod Warkentin posted the following message to Phantompalooza's Facebook page the other day:

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Why not Winnipeg?

Is the question I ask of you? We are constantly asked, “Why Winnipeg?” my standard answer is, “We got it, no one else did”. Phantom of the Paradise is engrained in every Winnipeg adult 45 or older. When Wayne in ‘Wayne’s World’ held up the ‘Frampton Comes Alive’ album and spouted how every kid was issued it in his neighbourhood, it’s exactly that for us!

I grew up a film ‘buff...’ and still see more films than I care to admit, but the one thing I have always said, is that if a film touches you in a way that makes you think about it a few days later, then something profound was done to create thought and discussion, even if it’s just with yourself. Well, here we are...not just a few days, but 40 years later and we are still talking about Phantom of the Paradise. Not bad for a film that tanked at the box office and disappeared as quickly as it appeared. Winnipegger’s have always claimed this film as their own, I being one of them. But all that changed for me in late July of this year when I along with Creature Features hosted the 40th anniversary at the Arclight theatre in Los Angeles. Yes, I realize that Phantom was big in Paris, but for us, it was ‘our film’, plain and simple and growing up Phantom in Winnipeg was a passage that many of us took. Teenagers and children as young as ten or eleven years old watched the film, multiple times at the local theatre. Stories have been told, some made up, some wrongly translated that the youth of Winnipeg had nothing better to do because of the long cold winters and the attitude of Winnipeg that could relate to the ‘downer’ ending of the film. Now, I will be the first to admit that there is truth that Winnipeg has a reputation for cold long winters, but also Winnipeggers have a reputation of talking against the city that they call home. We do, and that should stop, but we have engrained generations with the fact that cold winters equals unattractive living and many have taken this as truth. But really that is not the Winnipeg I remember and lived and still live to this day. So ‘Why Winnipeg?’ why not? And rather than turn this into a lecture about Winnipeg’s rich history and how at one point Winnipeg was pivotal in its role in helping shape Canada, I will simply say that, “We got it, no one else did”. Winnipeg is rich in its appreciation of the arts and always has been. We are a musical city; I’ve seen more local bands go the big show than a lot of other warmer destinations. Don’t believe me, just Google it. Most of us at one point or another probably entertained the idea of being in a band, or somehow in the arts, I know I did. Theatres were abundant back in the 70’s and 80’s and seeing films was a joy that allowed us to escape the limited three channel television that we had at the time. It allowed us to see the world from a different perspective and allow our imagination to soar. Many of us went on the create our own art, write books, play music or write screenplays, some moved away and many came back after a time. It is Winnipeg, it is what we are. But Phantom was different, very different. We had always assumed that this film was a major success everywhere that it played! To find out years later that the exact opposite was true, came as a bit of a shock. The album went Gold in Canada, due to sales from Winnipeg. Hell, I remember saving up my money to buy the soundtrack only to be told that it was ‘sold-out’ and I would have to wait two weeks for it to come in again? No wonder we thought the film was a global phenomenon, it was, for us, a time before the Internet shortened the distance between all of us. I always described it to people as “our Star Wars”, it was that big. So why did this film do so well in Winnipeg? No one will ever be able to come up with the exact combination of events that brought us to the theatres, but I do know that ‘word of mouth’ advertising became one of the reasons that the film did so well. Local news had interviewed multiple viewers during their entertainment segment, newspapers had done the same, local record stores had difficulty maintaining stock of the soundtrack, even after they had done multiple advertisements in the local papers and weekly’s, older siblings told their younger counterparts who in turn told their friends and so on.

Los Angeles taught me something, but also made me lose something, something I gladly give. Phantom is no longer a ‘Winnipeg’ thing. 40 years later it has become what it always should have been, a film truly appreciated by all, even if you’re not from here. A thousand people entered the Arclight in Los Angeles! A sold-out crowd that was met with as much appreciation and enthusiasm as anything we had done in Winnipeg. When the film began, I remember the cheers and I wondered if we had finally made it up to those that originally put on the show for us. I was never sure how the film would be received in LA, but seeing every seat filled and the rush from the crowd put my mind at ease. I spoke to the crowd during the evening, but I think I was talking mostly to the cast. I wanted to say ‘See? Now everyone gets it! We aren’t the only ones. Not anymore. This film is appreciated and all the work you did.” In a way it was my thank you to all of them for what they gave us so many years ago.

So Why Winnipeg? Why not Winnipeg...it just took the majority of you 40 years to catch up to us. But don’t worry, next time, we’ll let you know a bit sooner.

Trust me...
Rod

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Posted by Geoff at 3:07 AM CDT
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Wednesday, August 13, 2014
MORE 'PHANTOM' ESSAYS
DISSOLVE MOVIE OF THE WEEK; POP MATTERS - "MY FIRST MIDNIGHT MOVIE"
As we mentioned the pther day, Phantom Of The Paradise is the Movie Of The Week at The Dissolve this week, and things kicked off Tuesday with Noel Murray's terrific Keynote essay, "The double vision of Phantom Of The Paradise."

"Few filmmakers use split-screens as creatively as Brian De Palma," Murray states in the essay. After offering an example from Sisters, Murray continues, "But De Palma is just as skilled at partitioning the screen without drawing a straight line down the middle. Throughout his career, De Palma has used split-diopter shots, layered foreground/background action, mirrors, windows, and other clever bits of set design to set his characters off from each other and from their environments. In Phantom Of The Paradise, De Palma breaks out some of those gimmicks for multiple reasons: sometimes to squeeze more info into the frame, sometimes to draw connections between the characters, and sometimes just to cue viewers that they’d better keep their eyes open, and not to assume everything about the movie is immediately evident. In its roughest outline, Phantom Of The Paradise is the story of a naïve musician who has his life ruined by an impresario: a one-dimensional cautionary tale about commerce gobbling up and destroying art. But Winslow and Swan—played by William Finley and Paul Williams, respectively—aren’t as at odds as the basic scenario implies. The characters share more than just the same space on a movie screen."

Be sure to check out The Dissolve's staff forum on Phantom.

POP MATTERS: "MY FIRST MIDNIGHT MOVIE"
Meanwhile, at PopMatters, Bill Gibron posts about seeing Phantom Of The Paradise at a packed midnight screening when he was just 13. Here's an excerpt:

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Sure, there’s some blood, and a bit of over the top directorial flare, but for the most part, this fascinating musical is more complicated than it is conventional. It deviates wildly in tone, going for the broadest of comedy strokes (thanks to Gerrit Graham’[s] sexually ambiguous glam rocker, Beef) to the most diabolical of satanic substance. When Williams’ Swan is finally exposed, the make-up effects are unsettling. In fact, the whole film has a sadistic undercurrent that is easily recognizable now.

Back in 1974, however, Tom and I were dumbstruck. We were both terrified and oddly intrigued. This was like nothing we had ever seen before, and even then, a legitimate frame of reference probably wouldn’t have helped. I remember being taken in by Winslow’s opening number, a sweeping piano piece that, even today, gives me goosebumps.

I didn’t get the reference in the title, “Faust”, but I could see how it fit in the film. I didn’t remember any other music (except for Beef’s final performance where he picked up members of the crowd and threw them like ragdolls back into the throng before being electrocuted by the Phantom with neon lightning bolts). Today, the film plays like a lost gem. Back them, Tom and I were convinced we had lost our minds.

Maybe it was a bit of a contact high. Perhaps we were just too young to appreciate the whole midnight movie experience. By the time we walked out of the theater it was clear that both Tom and I were deep in our own little world. Dazed, we almost passed his mother, car idling, her hair in a mess of curlers and wearing a sheepish housecoat. It was close to 2AM. We never stayed up that before.

Even after we were at Tom’s house and settled in to his basement train set-up/bedroom area, we were electric. We talked and talked. We puzzled and questioned. We tried to make sense of what we saw. For at least two weeks afterwards, we spent countless hours in conversation with our mutual friends just trying to figure out what the heck happened, and when we could experience something similar again.

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Posted by Geoff at 3:41 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 3:45 AM CDT
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