Today is the last day to vote for your favorite De Palma film at Romain's Virtuoso of the 7th Art. Romain will post the results tomorrow!
Hello and welcome to the unofficial Brian De Palma website.
Here is the latest news:
a la Mod:
Years ago, when I was working at Production Arts Lighting, we got a call from Brian De Palma's people. De Palma (who I had encountered before on The Untouchables when working for Bran Ferren) was shooting Carlito's Way, and he wanted a scene entirely "illuminated" by the flash of a (blank) gun. They did some tests, and, if I remember correctly, the gun flash wasn't bright enough, and too short to be adequately exposed on the camera. They wanted to take a big 5K fresnel, and have it respond to the sound of the gunshots. We didn't have a lot of time, so we borrowed a pitch-MIDI converter, ran it through Bars and Pipes on an Amiga, and then I wrote some filters there that would generate MIDI messages for a lighting console, that would fire a dimmer which would then light up the 5K. It was very reliable, but with all that early 90's technology, very slow. We did some gun shots, and by the time everything was captured and processed, and the 5K heated up, it was like a second late. It looked pretty cool but was too slow in general to achieve the desired effect.
I have been working on something for the Blog-A-Thon that nevertheless was not finished in time-- my piece grew after I discovered some things about the films I was writing about that I hadn't picked up on before. As a result, I had to do a little more research (i.e. watch more films), which is great, but I was not able to complete my essay before the Blog-A-Thon ended. But I do thank Tony for giving me the incentive to write this piece in the first place, and I hope to have it completed and posted by early next week.
POLL RESULTS: RANKING DE PALMA'S FILMS
The last big survey of De Palma fans' favorite De Palma films was done in 2002 by Carl Rodrigue at Le Paradis de Brian De Palma (Romain at Virtuoso of the 7th Art also has one going right now through October 4th). As the Blog-A-Thon ended, so did the Cinema Viewfinder poll, which ended up with 168 votes tallied from users voting for their three favorite De Palma films, in no particular order. Amazingly, the top four titles are the same as the 2002 poll, with the exception that Dressed To Kill was number 2 back then (at Cinema Viewfinder it switches with Carrie and takes the number 3 spot). While Femme Fatale was number 5 all on its own back when it was brand new, it remains number 5 today, although now Body Double has jumped up to tie for the position (the latter was number 9 in 2002). The top ten are further filled out by The Untouchables, Scarface, Phantom Of The Paradise, and Sisters. Here is the entire list:
1. Blow Out
3. Dressed To Kill
4. Carlito’s Way
5. Femme Fatale/Body Double (Tie)
7. The Untouchables
9. Phantom Of The Paradise
11. The Fury/Mission: Impossible (Tie)
13. Casualties Of War
14. Raising Cain
15. The Black Dahlia
17. Hi, Mom!/Snake Eyes (Tie)
20. Mission To Mars
21. Dionysus In ‘69
22. Murder a la Mod/Greetings/Get To Know Your Rabbit/Home Movies/The Bonfire Of The Vanities (each received one vote)
27. The Wedding Party/Wise Guys (each received zero votes)
We will see how these votes stack up against Romain's poll in October.
GASPAR NOE'S ENTER THE VOID AT TORONTO
Meanwhile, the Globe And Mail's Rick Groen reports that Gaspar Noé was excited to hear that De Palma was at the Toronto press screening for his latest film, Enter The Void, which features, we hear, the most extreme use of subjective point-of-view camerawork possible, moving from death to womb. Noé and De Palma shared an interesting link in 2002, when each of the films they released that year (Noé's Irreversible, De Palma's Femme Fatale), which were both made in France, featured Jo Prestia as a menacing rapist (although in De Palma's film, Prestia's character is no less than a tool used by the femme fatale to provoke Antonio Banderas' Nicolas into a rage). Here is what Groen posted on Saturday:
So Noé continues in the same bubbly rush: "Someone told me he was in the audience yesterday. At the press and industry screening. So I rushed over and looked at the seats but I couldn't see him." A pause, then he repeats: "Did you see Brian De Palma in the audience for my film?"
Okay, I was there, the theatre was maybe half-filled, and, since poor Noé seems on the cusp of imploring, I'd love to give him the right answer. But. "Um, sorry, I did not see Brian De Palma in the audience. But I was looking up, not around, and I've heard that De Palma, even when he doesn't have a film at the fest, has a history of coming to Toronto anyway just to watch lots of movies, so, you know, maybe he was there."
Noé, who spent several years raising the money for Enter the Void and two more years shooting and editing it and who doesn't yet have a North American distributor for his prodigious labour of love, tries to take heart from that "maybe." And who can blame him?
ATOM EGOYAN'S CHLOE AT TORONTO
The Film Farm, which announced yesterday that De Palma's Tabloid is currently on the company's production slate, produced Atom Egoyan's Chloe, which had its premiere in Toronto Sunday. The film is a "reinvention" of Anne Fontaine' Nathalie..., with an all new screenplay by Erin Cressida Wilson (Secretary, Fur), that is said to have more Hitchcockian overtones than the original film. Amanda Seyfried, who also stars in Jennifer's Body, is said to give a breakout performance in Chloe. She and De Palma were spotted by The Star's Rob & Rita at a Toronto party the other day.
OTHER DE PALMA SIGHTINGS
The Philadelphia Inquirer's Stephen Rea spotted De Palma "walking from one screening to another, and then later out in Yorkville, sitting on a rock in a pocket park in his trademark safari jacket, adjusting his iPod." Rea added that "De Palma is one of the fest's annual fixtures." The opening of Rea's post offers an interesting contrast of viewpoints:
And then: What are you looking forward to seeing in Toronto? Are there going to be a lot of stars?
Somehow I can't picture the Homeland Security dude on my return through New York asking me if the new Pedro Almodóvar is as good as All About My Mother.
And finally, Bill Chambers of Film Freak Central tweeted yesterday, "I think I just pissed off Brian DePalma." After someone asked him for more details, Chambers wrote, "It might be too abstract to sum up in a tweet. I should add that my DePalma encounters are always fantastically unpleasant."
This is undoubtedly the formerly untitled political thriller mentioned by Film Farm at Cannes last year (2008). When I asked De Palma what that film was about, he replied, "Sex and Lies on the Champaign Trail."
Jennifer's Body, written by Diablo Cody and directed by Karyn Kusama, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last night. According to the Los Angeles Times' Mark Olsen, Kusama introduced the film, and named Carrie, Heathers, and A Nightmare On Elm Street as inspirations. She added that Jennifer's Body is intended as a tribute to the "powers of estrogen," according to Olsen. Cody herself counts Suspiria and Carrie as two of her favorite horror films, according to Canwest's Katherine Monk. A blogger who goes by the name tchadmag enjoyed the film, and feels that the fact that it was made by women sets it apart from Carrie and Heathers:
I think Jennifer’s Body is actually an original, funny, and smart horror film, and what it demonstrates most clearly to me is the difference between someone writing a horror film because they genuinely love the genre and its potential or someone writing a horror film because they’re “hot.” In her introductory comments, director Karyn Kusama invoked such films as Carrie and Heathers, and certainly she’s made a movie that exists on a continuum with those films, but with one profound difference, one that is part of what makes Jennifer’s Body so interesting. Those films were made by guys about teenage girls. This is a movie by women, both writing and directing, and anyone who wants to argue that Dan Waters has a better grasp on teenage girls than Cody does, or that Brian De Palma understands the psychology of high school girls better than Kusama… well, I ain’t buying it. There is something to be said about writing to your own experience, and one of the reasons I consider Jennifer’s Body to be a better-than-average example of the genre is because so much care has been paid to making these kids feel authentic.
However, Screen Daily's Tim Grierson feels that Kusama's indifference to the genre led to unsure filmmaking:
Despite its selling points, however, Jennifer’s Body can’t help but feel unsatisfying. Part of the problem comes from the filmmakers’ noticeable superiority to the genre they’re working in. Jennifer’s murderous acts lack tension and are shot rather perfunctorily, as if Kusama is contemptuous of horror movie conventions but is unsure how best to parody them.
TWO MORE LOOKS AT CARRIE
John Kenneth Muir continues his weekly look at De Palma's cinema with an essay posted today about Carrie. Meanwhile, inspired by the De Palma Blog-A-Thon at Cinema Viewfinder, Jordan Ruimy at Suspicious Kind named his three favorite De Palma films: Blow Out, Carrie, and Carlito's Way. Of Carrie, Ruimy writes, "There's an abandon in the filmmaking that I don't think De Palma ever achieved again- a fearless, joyous abandon that makes you realize how talented the man truly is."
I'm hoping for a film that makes my hair stand on end, and for a collection of them that shows us where we are as humans. So far, the ones I've seen are suffused with a sense of loneliness, of people fighting very hard simply to get by. Maybe it's just my state of mind (and credit-card bills).