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Monday, September 22, 2014
REVIEW EXCERPTS - FINCHER'S 'GONE GIRL'
Robbie Collin, The Telegraph
"But above all, it’s is a delicious exercise in audience-baiting: what begins as a he-said, she-said story of mounting, murderous suspense, lurches at its fulcrum into the kind of hot mess Brian De Palma might have cooked up 20 years ago in his attic."

Graham Fuller, Screen Daily
"Psycho is a touchstone (as is Body Heat), though Fincher utilises suspense as a smokescreen for social critiquing. As it traces what went wrong in the marriage, Gone Girl simultaneously evolves as a mordant satire of the mediating of domestic violence as mass entertainment."

Michael Nordine, Indiewire
"Fincher likely prides himself on turning coal into diamonds at this point, but Flynn's script can feel so retrograde at times that one wonders whether it might have been better served by a De Palma, Bigelow, or even a Verhoeven — which is to say, a filmmaker less concerned with making the lascivious seem prestigious. (It's doubtful anyone else could have filmed a certain blood-soaked scene with such unsettling verve, however.)"

Xan Brooks, The Guardian
"In the meantime the film keeps changing costumes, covering its tracks. It’s nodding freely to everything from Fatal Attraction, to Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion, to The War of the Roses; all but tripping over itself in its rush to the climax. Thank heavens for Fincher, who keeps the tale so coiled and intense that we are prepared to stick with it, even as it pitches towards outright hysteria. He whips up a bracing, scalding sketch of a marriage in meltdown; a banner-headline study of the domestic hell that we make for each other."

Justin Chang, Variety
"Among other things, “Gone Girl” functions as a wickedly entertaining satire of our scandal-obsessed, trash-TV-addicted media culture; this is a movie as conversant with the tawdry true-crime sagas of Scott Peterson and Casey Anthony as it is with classic thrillers of domestic entrapment like Rebecca, Diabolique, Rosemary’s Baby and Fatal Attraction.”


Posted by Geoff at 8:27 PM CDT
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Sunday, September 21, 2014
ROSE MCGOWAN INSPIRED BY ART OF DE PALMA
SHE'LL PRESENT SCREENING OF HER SHORT, 'DAWN', FOLLOWED BY 'CARRIE' WEDNESDAY IN L.A.


Rose McGowan is doing what she really wants to do now, which is to direct films. Her short film, Dawn, is getting positive reviews, and to qualify the short for Oscar consideration, she's been hosting the Dawn Festival at the Downtown Independent in Los Angeles. The fest, which began Friday, runs for seven nights. Each night begins with a screening of the 18-minute Dawn, followed by a Q&A with McGowan, who then introduces a feature film in which women are given a strong voice. One of those features is Brian De Palma's Carrie, which will be introduced by McGowan this Wednesday night. (The other films are Ridley Scott's Thelma And Louise, John Hughes' Sixteen Candles, Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby, Jonathan Demme's Silence Of The Lambs, Hal Ashby's Harold And Maude, and David Swift's The Parent Trap.

"THE ACTUAL ART OF WHAT [DE PALMA] DOES IS REALLY, REALLY INSPIRING TO ME"

In an interview with Under The Radar, Austin Trunick tells McGowan, "You’ve worked with some great directors across your career, in particular ones who have been known to sometimes handle dark subject matter – such as Wes Craven, Brian De Palma, even Quentin Tarantino to a degree. Was there anything you learned from watching or working with those directors that you brought to your own directing style?"

McGowan replies, "I think De Palma, out of any of them, for sure. I love his tracking shots. I’ve just been inspired by him, as a filmmaker. Even some of his later movies. It’s so hard to make a movie come out right, or do anything like that. But the actual art of what he does is really, really inspiring to me.

"For me, I probably lean more on things from the past than things from the present. People, I should say." When pushed to name some of those older directors who inspired her for Dawn, McGowan replies, "I would say Douglas Sirk, Charles Laughton, Jacques Tourneur … For me, art is a really big part of it, as well. The loneliness that I wanted to capture is what I feel when I look at certain Edward Hopper paintings. The life of an artist should be rich and encompass many different art forms. It can all coalesce into one piece; all of your random bits of knowledge. For me, I hosted a show on TCM for a year, and I’m on the board of the Film Noir Society with Dennis Lehane and [James] Ellroy, people like this. I’m really steeped in the classics, but I love modern film as well, obviously." (Speaking of Ellroy, of course, McGowan appeared in De Palma's adaptation of the author's The Black Dahlia.)

McGowan similarly tells Ain't It Cool's Papa Vinyard, "It's like when you're, I'd imagine, a [sculptor]. Every chip off the block is what you don't want until it's what you do want. And there have definitely been- I worked with De Palma, and I was really inspired by some of his tracking shots, and certain people like that. But by and large, most of the stuff I did as an actor wasn't [incredibly] inspirational to me as a director."

MCGOWAN'S ORIGINAL PLAN FOR A SHORT WAS A FLANNERY O'CONNOR ADAPTATION STARRING PIPER LAURIE

In a Rotten Tomatoes Podcast, host Grae Drake tells McGowan, "Carrie is actually a note that I made while I was watching [Dawn], because Dawn’s mother is like a less-aggressive Piper Laurie to me. And even in a very short amount of screen time, and a very kind of realistic portrayal of a mom, it wasn’t over-the-top. I went, ‘Oooh, she's gonna be lockin’ Dawn in a closet at some point during this movie.’ [Laughter] Like, this is not going to go well. And so without revealing too much, I thought it was a really good way of foreshadowing what was going to go on, and the kind of world that this poor young girl is finding herself in."

McGowan then replies, "Yeah, [she's] trapped. And I really did it for women. You know, my mom is 60, she just turned 60. And I’m kind of fascinated by that era, and that they were raised to be pleasant and da-da-da, and essentially your goal is to take care of a man and his children. And then I’m fascinated by the fact that later in the ‘60s, the sexual revolution happens, and they’re supposed to be loose and free. But you’re actually programmed to please a man. It was just a really interesting era, and my mom was raised by a very similar mother to Dawn’s, and I wanted to bring that to the screen. Ironically, or, oddly enough, I had Piper Laurie cast in the original short I was planning on doing... Except, she’s 86, I had her in the woods, sub-zero temperatures, getting killed by… it was an adaptation of a Flannery O’Connor piece. Which is a heavy, you know, some great material. So well-written. But I think it all turned out for the best."

The Flannery O'Connor piece sounds likely to have been A View Of The Woods.


Posted by Geoff at 10:33 PM CDT
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Saturday, September 20, 2014
THE RUSSO BROTHERS LOOKED TO DE PALMA
AS THEY STRUCTURED TWO TENSE SEQUENCES IN 'WINTER SOLDIER'



About 30-minutes into the directors' commentary on the DVD/Blu-ray of Captain America: Winter Soldier, Anthony and Joe Russo mention their debt to Brian De Palma for two specific sequences in the film. "As we were talking about making a thriller," says one of them, "we went and looked at, obviously, the masters of tension. And nobody had really done a great De Palma-esque sequence in a while, since probably the white vault room in Mission: Impossible. And so we said, can we find a couple of sequences in this film where we put our very likable characters in impossible situations, and protract it, and really keep the audience on edge as to how they’re going to escape the sequence. Fury in his car was one of them, and Cap in the elevator was another one of them."

(Thanks to Andy!)

Previously:
'THIS SCENE SHOULD BE LIKE EARLY DE PALMA'
'CAPTAIN AMERICA' ELEVATOR SCENE


Posted by Geoff at 11:21 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, September 21, 2014 10:43 PM CDT
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Friday, September 19, 2014
DEADLINE: HBO SUSPENDS PATERNO PRE-PRODUCTION
PROJECT STILL INTACT, BUT ON-HOLD "FOR A MOMENT TO DEAL WITH BUDGET ISSUES" & SCRIPT WORK
Deadline's Nellie Andreeva and Mike Fleming report today that Happy Valley had indeed "been quietly picked up by HBO." The network issued a statement to Deadline today, saying, "We have not killed the project, so to say so [is] inaccurate. We have suspended pre-production for a moment to deal with budget issues, but the project is still intact at HBO with the entire creative team as before." Deadline cites other unnamed sources to say that "the suspension would also be used for additional script work."

The creative team referred to would be Brian De Palma (director), Al Pacino (star actor), David McKenna (screenwriter), Edward R. Pressman (producer), Rick Nicita (producer), Jon Katz (exec producer), and Joe Posnanski (co-producer who wrote the book, Paterno, that the film is using as its source).

According to the Deadline article, "Happy Valley has been undergoing casting, with John Carroll Lynch recently tapped to play [Jerry] Sandusky. Other cast deals had been in different stages too, but we’ve heard that casting sessions on the project had been cancelled and other prep work put on hold..."

Pacino has made two previous films for HBO in recent years: the 2010 Jack Kervorkian biopic You Don't Know Jack, directed by Barry Levinson (who also directed Pacino in his new film, The Humbling), and last year's Phil Spector, which was directed by David Mamet. Happy Valley would complete a trilogy of HBO films from strong directors in which Pacino plays a series of controversial real-life figures. Pacino, who won an Emmy for playing Kervorkian, also starred with Meryl Streep in the 2003 HBO miniseries Angels In America, for which he also won an Emmy Award.

Last year, Steven Soderbergh's Liberace biopic, Behind The Candelabra, was made for HBO, and yet had premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, where it competed for the Palme d'Or, and also played theatrically in the U.K. So even though Happy Valley will be an HBO film, there are theatrical and festival possibilities for it, as well.


Posted by Geoff at 7:22 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, September 19, 2014 7:38 PM CDT
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Thursday, September 18, 2014
THE WRAP: JOHN CARROLL LYNCH AS SANDUSKY?
CITES "MULTIPLE INDIVIDUALS FAMILIAR WITH THE PROJECT"
The Wrap's Jeff Sneider posted yesterday that, according to "multiple individuals familiar with the project," John Carroll Lynch is preparing to play Jerry Sandusky in Brian De Palma's upcoming Happy Valley. I post this with a bit of hesitation, as The Wrap has been known to post exclusives that end up being mistaken. The end of the article states that "Lynch is represented by manager James Suskin, who did not immediately respond to multiple requests for comment." However, it seems likely that Lynch is at least in talks for the role, and he would certainly be an excellent fit for the part. I've loved watching this actor since I first recall seeing him, in the Coen brothers' Fargo. And he made a sinister impression in David Fincher's Zodiac. Lynch has also been cast by Ryan Murphy "to portray a version of the Phantom of the Opera, carny style," on the upcoming fourth season of American Horror Story, according to the New York Times' Kathryn Shattuck. (Entertainment Weekly's Tim Stack states that Lynch plays the main villain, "a nasty fella (and murderer) named Twisty the Clown.") With Happy Valley ramping up to shoot this fall, that may require a bit of juggling between sets for Lynch.

Meanwhile, Variety reports that APA has booked stunt coordinator Mark Ellis for "HBO's Happy Valley." Ellis was the football coordinator on Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. Production messages have been flittering around the internet in the past few weeks referring to Happy Valley as an HBO project. However, I have been told that nothing is a done deal yet.

Posted by Geoff at 7:38 AM CDT
Updated: Friday, September 19, 2014 7:24 PM CDT
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014
'BODY DOUBLE' IN LONDON TUESDAY NIGHT
CONCLUDES SERIES "AROUND THE WORLD IN 8 FILMS" FROM LITTLE WHITE LIES
Brian De Palma's Body Double, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, will screen Tuesday, September 16th, at the W Hotel London in Leicester Square, as the final film of Little White Lies' "Around The World In Eight Films" series. According to the web site, Body Double was chosen to represent the USA because: "Melanie Griffiths' porn star character is called Holly Body," and "the molten sexual charge and vicarious bodily pleasures are but window dressing for a film that's Hitchcockian thriller on one level and — on a more elevated one — a playful metatextual exploration on the seedy side of cinema." Guests arriving at 6:30 pm will receive a complimentary themed cocktail and a box of popcorn. The film will begin at 7pm.

Other films in the series included John Mackenzie's The Long Good Friday (England), Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless (France), Michelangelo Antonioni's L'Eclisse (Italy), Jan Švankmajer's Alice (Czech Republic), Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's Black Narcissus (representing India), Akira Kurosawa's Ran (Japan), and David Michôd's Animal Kingdom (Australia).

Posted by Geoff at 12:23 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 9:34 PM CDT
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Monday, September 15, 2014
PACINO: 'JOE PATERNO IS A MAJOR SUBJECT'
SAYS THEY NEED TO FIND WAY TO TELL THE STORY WITH THE POWER & TRAGEDY IT DESERVES
Vulture's Jada Yuan talked to Al Pacino last week at the Toronto International Film Festival, and asked him about his plans to play Joe Paterno. Here is his reply to her:
"Well, for instance, Joe Paterno is a major subject. I really love that documentary they did [Happy Valley]. I found it really powerful. It wasn’t about Paterno, it was about us, our world. And I was responsive to it. So this movie about Paterno, and Brian De Palma is my friend and I love him as a director, I’ve made movies with him. But yeah, we need to find a way to tell this story in a way that has the power and the tragedy that it deserves. So in order to do that, one has to come up with the text. And that’s what we’ve been working toward. There’s other things: I’m working with David Mamet now on a new play. A live play. He did the Spector [movie] with me, I’ve known him a long time, and he’s just great to work with. And he’s a collaborator, too, at the same time. So there’s things to do."

Posted by Geoff at 12:09 AM CDT
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Saturday, September 13, 2014
R.I.P. STEFAN GIERASCH, 1926 - 2014
PORTRAYED PRINCIPAL MORTON IN 'CARRIE'
Stefan Gierasch, the character actor who played Principal Morton in Brian De Palma's Carrie, has died at the age of 88. His wife of 33 years, Hedy Sontag, told The Hollywood Reporter that Gierasch passed away at his Santa Monica home on September 6, of complications from a stroke. As Principal Morton, in one brief scene, Gierasch memorably created a distinctly inept authority figure who is so flustered by the sight of blood on the gym teacher's shorts, and the just-prior situation in the locker room, that he consistently calls Carrie "Cassie," drawing her rage. Gierasch's facial expressions in this scene say it all, but his line, "We're all sorry, Cassie," becomes a key echo in the kaleidoscope of voices in Carrie's head after the blood spills over her at the prom. Principal Morton is later electrocuted trying to take control of a microphone amid Carrie's vengeful carnage.

Prior to Carrie, Gierasch appeared with Jackie Gleason and Paul Newman in Robert Rossen's The Hustler, which also starred Carrie's Piper Laurie. Post-Carrie, Gierasch, who did tons of TV work throughout his long acting career, appeared on an episode of the TV series The Greatest American Hero, which starred Tommy Ross himself, William Katt.

Other films Gierasch appeared in include Peter Bogdanovich's What's Up Doc?, Richard Fleischer's The New Centurions, Sydney Pollack's Jeremiah Johnson, and Clint Eastwood's High Plains Drifter. He also appeared on an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour in 1963, as well as an episode of Alfred Hitchock Presents in 1985.


Posted by Geoff at 3:04 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, September 14, 2014 9:07 AM CDT
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Friday, September 12, 2014
TIFF NOTES
Variety's Justin Chang on The New Girlfriend, which had its world premiere this week at the Toronto International Film Festival:

"An air of Hitchcockian menace and free-floating sexual perversity is by now nothing new for Francois Ozon, but rarely has this French master analyzed the cracks in his characters’ bourgeois facades to such smooth and pleasurable effect as he does in The New Girlfriend. A skillfully triangulated psychological thriller about a woman who learns that the husband of her deceased BFF is harboring a most unusual secret, this delectable entertainment is as surprising for its continually evolving (and involving) dynamics of desire as for its slow-building emotional power, making for a warmer, more open-ended experience than the creepy Ruth Rendell tale from which it’s been 'loosely adapted.' Powered by beautifully controlled performances from Anais Demoustier and Romain Duris, Ozon’s Girlfriend should have willing arthouse escorts lining up worldwide. It opens Nov. 5 in France.

"Rendell, that icy master of British detective fiction, has been best served onscreen by European filmmakers outside the U.K., at least on the evidence of Claude Chabrol’s La Ceremonie and Pedro Almodovar’s Live Flesh. Viewers may well recognize some signature Almodovarian flourishes in this particular saga of gender subversion and forbidden lust; in significantly reshaping Rendell’s taut, chilling short story (mainly by killing off a key character and adding an infant to the mix), Ozon has effectively transformed the material into a clever fantasia on the many varieties of sexual perversity. It will require some mental gymnastics on the viewer’s part to keep up with the increasingly unstable laws of desire that govern the second act, but the director crucially maintains a lifeline to reality even when things threaten to go deliciously over-the-top.

"From the moment they seal their bond in blood to their respective weddings some years later, childhood best friends Claire (played as an adult by Demoustier) and Laura (Isild Le Besco) are utterly inseparable. And so it comes as a particularly devastating blow when Laura becomes ill and dies, leaving her husband, David (Duris), to raise their newborn daughter, Lucie, by himself — albeit with help from godmother Claire and her spouse, Gilles (Raphael Personnaz). All this is compressed into a marvelously economical opening sequence, marked by a distinctly Brian De Palma vibe with its elegant camera moves and morbidly beautiful overhead shots of Laura’s impeccably dressed corpse, plus the mildly unnerving sense that the film is simultaneously mourning and mocking its characters’ unhappiness, as signaled by the swoons and sobs of Philippe Rombi’s extravagantly soapy score."


Posted by Geoff at 12:25 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, September 13, 2014 3:05 PM CDT
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Thursday, September 11, 2014


Posted by Geoff at 7:03 PM CDT
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