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Wednesday, April 6, 2011
PRESSMAN & FINLEY Q&A SATURDAY AT NY 'PHANTOM' SCREENING
BAMcinématek'S "DE PALMA SUSPENSE" SERIES STARTS THIS FRIDAY
Ed Pressman and William Finley will take part in a Q&A at a screening of Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise this Saturday (April 9) at New York's BAMcinématek. The screening is part of the series "De Palma Suspense," which is presented by BAM Cinema Club Chair Noah Baumbach, who will introduce the series' opening night film, Sisters this Friday (April 8) at 7:30pm. The Pressman/Finley Q&A will take place during the 6:50pm screening on Saturday-- Phantom Of The Paradise will play again at 9:30 that night. Finley's name was just added to the schedule within the past couple of days, so it is possible some more surprises are on the way at BAM... stay tuned. In anticipation of the series, the New York Press' Craig Hubert and the Village Voice's Nick Pinkerton have each posted articles summarizing these key De Palma films.

REVIEWS OF NEW "BLOW OUT" CRITERION EDITION
Criterion is set to release De Palma's BLOW OUT April 26th, and Baumbach's hour-long filmed interview with De Palma is being touted as a worthwhile special feature in early reviews. Check out the reviews at MovieMan's Guide To The Movies and Big Picture Big Sound.

Posted by Geoff at 1:44 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, April 6, 2011 1:46 AM CDT
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Monday, April 4, 2011
'INSIDIOUS' SHOWS INFLUENCE OF DE PALMA
JAMES WAN AGREES, BUT ALSO CITES POLANSKI & SPIELBERG
Source Code wasn't the only film that opened this past weekend whose director discussed Brian De Palma as an influence. Last week, IFC's Stephen Saito talked with collaborators James Wan (director) and Leigh Whannell (screenwriter/actor) about their new movie, Insidious. The discussion turned to camera moves, mentioning Steven Spielberg's Jaws and Duel, Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill, and Roman Polanski. Here is an excerpt:

Speaking of twisting, it seemed like the camera was always moving, which seems like a break from other films like this where there might be long panning shots, but the camera still might be shooting from a stationary position.

JW: Even though the camera moves a lot, I think it's there to slowly build the tension and they're not fast camera moves at all. They're very controlled. I definitely wanted to make a very classical, old fashioned horror film based on very classical, old fashioned filmmaking. If you go back and see what Spielberg did with the first "Jaws," it's all very controlled camerawork - or "Duel."

LW: I read one review that said your direction was very reminiscent of "Dressed to Kill." That's pretty cool. Is that something you noticed at all [with the camerawork]?

JW: I look back at my body of work and I definitely see things that excite me in the same way that excite Brian De Palma for sure.

LW: The way he loves to move the camera in...

JW: It's not just that. He moves his camera, but he does it in a really interesting way.

LW: That opening shot of "Insidious," to me, is a very De Palma-esque shot. [The camera] comes in upside down and then twisting around.

JW: I was very inspired by someone like [Roman] Polanski as well, [in how] he takes slow, brooding movies that are made in such confined spaces and just builds on that and builds on that and builds on that. That's what we want to do. But instead of paranoia that we're building on, we're building on supernatural things.


Posted by Geoff at 1:32 PM CDT
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Friday, April 1, 2011
DUNCAN JONES ON 'SOURCE CODE'
"THERE'S A LOT OF HITCHCOCK AND DE PALMA"
Back in January, Comingsoon.net's Silas Lesnick posted an interview with Duncan Jones from the editing bay of his new film, Source Code, on which Paul Hirsch served as editor. In one section of the interview, Jones discusses having Hirsch on set during filming, and also cites Alfred Hitchcock and Brian De Palma as two big influences on Source Code, which he says he took on "to have a project which gave me some real scope to try things visually." Here is the excerpt involving Hirsch and De Palma:

CS: Can you comment a little on the editing? It seems like a time jumping plot like this lends itself specifically to filmmaking which is literally that.
Jones:
Well, as I mentioned, Paul Hirsch is the editor on the film and Paul Hirsch -- who I keep calling Paul Hirsch every time, even though it's so informal. I call him Paul -- was with us on the shoot. So while we're there, he might say, "Can you grab this, because it's going to be really useful later on." There a lot of little details that, I have no problem saying, his experience is just so vast that any advice on coverage or on what things could be really useful to him, we went with. He was downstairs in the studio all the time. We were at the big studio in Montreal and he was putting an assembly together while we were shooting. There was a constant loop of feedback from him as I was shooting.

CS: There's a common theme in science fiction of perspective and of returning to an event time and again. What films jump to your mind as having inspired you in the making of "Source Code"?
Jones:
It's strange because they're not really obvious ones. Certainly not ones that directly reference that sort of mechanic. There's a lot of Hitchcock and De Palma. We were trying to have the sensibilities of old Hitchcock movies.

CS: Hirsch has a very classic editing style. Is that something you went after very consciously?
Jones:
You know, one of the things that people loved about the making of "Moon" was that we went with model miniatures and what's not known is that we actually went with a good split of models and CG work. I had a background in both doing commercials. In this film, there are definitely a few moments of showy CG work. For me more than anyone else. Hopefully we kept it very light where we could because, otherwise, it could get quite grim with the train explosion. I think we've got the mood right that allowed me to get a little surreal at moments. I think it's really good fun and I hope that people will feel that way. But yes, Paul has a real simplistic elegance to the way he works. But for him as well, he also has a huge amount of experience on effects. He knew that I wanted to have these little beats where it got a little bit surreal and a little bit weirder. I think we got that.

CS: You mentioned Brian De Palma, who also has, while it's not science fiction, a lot of characters unsure of their identities.
Jones:
In this case, it wasn't really about films I had seen in the past that made me want to see this film. I think it was about the opportunity to be a bit surreal. To do something where some of my influences were Lucien Freud and a certain period of Picasso cubist paintings. I wanted to create visuals of things that I hadn't seen in film before. I wish I could show you some of the stuff later on because it does get really weird. It was more visual things that I wanted to do. When I was reading the script, I guess I did sense that there were certain scenes reflective of "Moon," but it was really about getting an opportunity to do something visually where I otherwise may never have the chance to do that. So I think, for me, that was the really fun bit.

CS: There are certainly, though, with a lot of filmmakers themes that directors tend to revisit.
Jones:
It's weird. Hearing you ask me questions about that and knowing what I'm going to do next, you're right. There is something there. I don't know why... I haven't analyzed myself well enough to know that.

CS: Is the next thing something else that was brought to you?
Jones:
No, the next one is something I originated.

DREW TAYLOR: "IF BRIAN DE PALMA HAD DIRECTED A SCRIPT BY RICHARD KELLY"
After Source Code premiered at SXSW last month, The Playlist's Drew Taylor posted a mostly positive review of the film. "And while the movie is very much a suspense piece," wrote Taylor, "with prolonged sequences of edge-of-your-seat tension that bring to mind what would have happened if Brian De Palma had directed a script by Richard Kelly, it has an incredibly romantic heart—one that is perhaps a little hokey at times, but a heart nonetheless."


Posted by Geoff at 2:40 AM CDT
Updated: Friday, April 1, 2011 2:42 AM CDT
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Monday, March 28, 2011
FORGOTTEN SOUNDTRACK: 'WISE GUYS'
FILM MUSIC AFICIONADO WOULD LIKE TO SEE IRA NEWBORN'S MUSIC RELEASED

New York Examiner blogger Danny Gonzalez started up a new series last week called "The Forgotten Soundtrack Spotlight," kicking it off by examining Brian De Palma's Wise Guys, and especially its whimsical score by Ira Newborn. This film always grabbed me from the start, with its animated opening credits sequence and Newman's playful theme. Even so, I never took a close look at Newborn, so I did not know until I read Gonzalez' post that he also composed the Naked Gun theme, as well as the scores for some of John Hughes' most popular movies. Gonzalez' column hopes to get some of the "forgotten soundtracks" such as the one for Wise Guys released, if the original session tapes can still be located. Here is an excerpt from Gonzalez' post:

Newborn's score not only emphisizes the comedy of the film, but it gives it flavor. The film opens and ends with a goofy Italian godfather like theme with a fun solo violin playing throughout and adding to it later on is a solo saxphone. There are other more "tense moments" like the Church killing scene and for the twist at the end of the film which add a little more dramatic weight, but still keeps the score light, yet frantic.

The reasons the score is very good is because Newborn had some very solid help in the orchestration stage with David Newman and Alf Clausen. Newman who is the brother of Thomas (who I recently revivewed The Adjustment Bureau) and cousin of Randy, (who won recently for Toy Story 3) and Clausen, who has scored virtually every season of The Simpsons since 1990, do a solid job giving the film what it needed, a strong, bouncy main theme. The work they both did with this score does transcend later on in Clausen's Simpsons' music for the mobster character Fat Tony (voiced by Joe Mantegna) and Newman would later revisit the mobster comedy film genre with the hit The Freshman starring Matthew Broderick and the late Godfather himself, Marlon Brando four years after this film came out. His score for that film is quite similar to this one and it's no surprise because the scores are sorta of interchangeable and have the same bouncy main melody and most of the instrumentation (saxophone, accordion, violin, and mandolin) are also similar. You have to give De Palma credit for going in a different direction with Newborn and to me, he does succeed in going in a more lighter, fun direction with the film and the score. He could've easily just have gone for the material straightforward and turned it into a dark, gangster film like he would with David Mamet for The Untouchables, a year later.


Posted by Geoff at 11:20 PM CDT
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Saturday, March 26, 2011
'OBSESSION' DVD COMING AUGUST 30TH
SPECIAL FEATURES ARE STILL BEING WORKED OUT
British company Arrow Video has announced August 30th as the release date for its release of Brian De Palma's Obsession on DVD and Blu-Ray. They are still touting the same special features as mentioned earlier this month, although these are still being worked out.

Posted by Geoff at 1:23 PM CDT
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Friday, March 25, 2011
MARSHALL FINE ON 'SUCKER PUNCH'
SNYDER "HAS BECOME THE MOST DISTINCTIVE VISUAL STORYTELLER SINCE BRIAN DE PALMA"

While most critics seem to be panning Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch for not making sense, Marshall Fine says that is you want to see a film that makes sense, "see another film," because Snyder "isn't making that movie." Fine continues in his review, "There is something so unique about Snyder’s vision – right down to the most miniscule bit of background shmutz in any single frame of film – that he has, in the space of his last three films, become the most distinctive visual storyteller since Brian De Palma." The Miami Herald's Rene Rodriguez says "No, Sucker Punch doesn’t make any sense. But none of that matters, because the ride Snyder takes you on is so vividly conceived, so deliriously bizarre and wonderful. The movie provides all the bearings you need in this imaginary world, so that you’re never really confused, even when the action is set inside a dream within a dream, a la Inception." Snyder himself says that he was inspired by One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and Brazil.

Posted by Geoff at 12:27 PM CDT
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Thursday, March 24, 2011
AL ISRAEL HAS DIED
ACTOR APPEARED IN THREE DE PALMA FILMS; 'SCARFACE' HITS BLU-RAY IN SEPT.

Al Israel, best known for his role as "Hector the Toad" in Brian De Palma's Scarface, died a week ago today at the age of 75. Israel appeared opposite Al Pacino again a decade after Scarface in De Palma's Carlito's Way. Israel also hilariously portrayed a porn movie director in De Palma's Body Double, delivering one of the film's best lines by asking Craig Wasson's Jake Scully if he was some kind of method actor for wanting to know what he was supposed to be "watching" when he says he likes to watch. In 2006, Israel lended his voice to the video game based on Scarface.

'SCARFACE' ON BLU-RAY
Meanwhile, Universal sent out a press release today that Scarface will be released on Blu-Ray September 6th. "For a limited time only," reads the press release, "Scarface Special Limited Edition Blu-ray™ comes with collectible SteelBook™ packaging, ten exclusive art cards, a digital copy of the film and a DVD of the original 1932 Scarface." The package will include most of the same extras as the previous DVD edition of the film, but there will be one new documentary called "The Scarface Phenomenon," which is described as follows:

This all-new documentary presents Scarface as a unique phenomenon in cinema history. It explores how a film plagued by controversy leading up to its release has become a Hollywood classic, influencing a whole new generation of filmmakers and leaving a lasting imprint on popular culture.

NATIONAL FAN ART CONTEST
There will also be a national fan art contest regarding those ten exclusive art cards:

To celebrate the film's Blu-ray™ debut, fans will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to design Scarface-inspired artwork using classic Tony Montana images from the film. Universal will select the Top 25 submissions based on creativity, originality, quality of composition/design and utilization of the Scarface theme. Fans will vote on their favorite 10 submissions which will then be featured as exclusive art cards in the Scarface Limited Edition Blu-ray™. The designer who garners the highest number of fan votes will become the Grand Prize winner, and will have their art featured on both the art card and on a high-profile billboard in a major US city to promote the release.

For more information on the art contest, go to www.facebook.com/scarfacethemovie.

DANIEL MARSHALL-CRAFTED 'SCARFACE'-THEMED HUMIDOR, LIMITED TO 1000 WORLDWIDE
Finally, there will also be a limited edition bonus:

For the ultimate collector and cigar enthusiast, an elegantly hand-crafted Scarface-themed humidor will be made available in an exclusive, never-before-available, limited edition. Created by the renowned Daniel Marshall, the humidor's exterior is hand painted and polished with the Marshall's trademark "1,000 coat brilliant finish." The interior – made with untreated Spanish cedar – will properly condition and age approximately 100 cigars at optimal humidity levels. Limited to 1,000 worldwide, each individually numbered humidor comes embellished with custom medallions inspired by the iconic film and includes a certificate of authenticity.

EMPIRE has a trailer for the upcoming Blu-Ray.


Posted by Geoff at 6:41 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, March 26, 2011 12:55 AM CDT
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HELEN STENBORG PASSES AWAY
PORTRAYED SHERMAN'S MOTHER IN 'BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES'
Helen Stenborn, who played the mother of Sherman McCoy in Brian De Palma's film adaptation of Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire Of The Vanities, died Tuesday of cancer in her Manhattan home. She was 86. Stenborn was primarily a stage actor who appeared in supporting roles on Broadway, and was nominated for a Tony award in 1999 for her role in Noël Coward's Waiting In The Wings. Her role in Bonfire is small, but by casting a New York mainstay as the mother of the main character, De Palma added a certain gravitas of presence to his film.

New York Times obituary
Los Angeles Times obituary

Posted by Geoff at 12:20 PM CDT
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Thursday, March 17, 2011
'LIMITLESS' NYC CHASE SCENE IS 'DE PALMA-ESQUE'
NEIL BURGER-DIRECTED THRILLER OPENS FRIDAY
Neil Burger's Limitless, which opens tomorrow, has a New York City chase scene that has reminded at least two viewers of Brian De Palma. Filmmaker Magazine's Scott Macaulay, who interviewed Burger for the magazine, states that "Limitless explores these ideas in a thriller that boasts a smooth performance by [Bradley] Cooper, a great De Palma-esque New York City chase scene, Robert De Niro in a supporting role, and at least one Park Chan-Wook-style bloodbath." Macauley adds that Limitless also has "something of the unsettling vibe of a Seconds or Manchurian Candidate as Cooper’s brainpower reveals not only his own inner strengths but conspiratorial patterns in the larger world."

Variety's Robert Koehler says that the film, written by Leslie Dixon (adapting the Alan Glynn novel The Dark Fields), mixes "Tony Scott's dazzle and Martin Scorsese's Gotham darkness, with just a few stumbles along the way." One of those stumbles, in the view of Koehler, is the above mentioned NYC chase scene. "The film's tone is momentarily thrown off by a poorly staged chase through Central Park," writes Koehler, "with Lindy trying to elude the so-called Man in Tan Coat (Tomas Arana), in a sequence that plays like a bad Brian De Palma spoof." Koehler says that De Niro seems "re-energized" in his role as a financial tycoon.

BURGER'S "FRACTAL ZOOM"
In the interview with Macauley, Burger discusses some of his visual ideas for Limitless:

...we were trying to do it in a way that was fresh, with things we hadn’t seen before. The Matrix’s bullet time, that frozen moment, would have been fantastic for this movie. But it’s so overused — it’s in the most basic Channel 9 news bumpers. Speed ramping or time-lapse, racing through the city at high speed — I love all that, but I can’t go there either. It’s just been used too much. So, instead of rushing through the city, I came up with this idea of a fractal zoom. It’s like you are rushing through the city streets but not at high speed — you are at an infinite zoom, moving relentlessly at real time but faster than everyone around you. Nobody could figure out how to do it until, after shooting, we brought on this company called Look Effects. This great guy Dan Schrecker was able to figure out how to execute this idea that I had. Some people were like, “Well, that’s not related to the flipping numbers [a visual idea Burger discussed previously in the interview], which isn’t related to the burned-in thing,” and I was like, “They’re all related, because there’s a physical nature to all of them.” I didn’t want [these effects] to feel digital. I wanted them to feel physical, that in his mind they are really happening.


Posted by Geoff at 6:24 PM CDT
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011
'DIONYSUS' AT SAN FRAN MOMA THURSDAY
POP-UP MAGAZINE SIDEBAR PRESENTS SCREENING AS PART OF WINE-THEMED EXHIBIT
Another early Brian De Palma documentary is getting attention this week, this time at the San Francisco Musuem Of Modern Art, which has been running an exhibition titled "How Wine Became Modern." Pop-Up Magazine, a quarterly live-on-stage format "magazine" that exists for only one night, in one place, debuts a new "Sidebar" series Thursday at SFMOMA to tie in with the wine theme. As part of the evening, Dionysus In '69 (a film produced, directed, shot, and edited by De Palma, Robert Fiore, and Bruce Rubin) will screen at 7pm. The film documents in split-screen the Richard Schechner-directed restaging of The Bacchae by the Performance Group. The evening kicks off at 6pm with a wine and food tasting curated by Meatpaper magazine and Blue Bottle Coffee, and then following the film screening, the Pop-Up Magazine Sidebar will commence with various artists, authors, and filmmakers tackling "the politics, humor, history, art, science and craft of California's favorite drink," according to the Pop-Up website.

Posted by Geoff at 2:38 AM CDT
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