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Tuesday, May 24, 2011
HOLLYWOOD ACTRESSES WANT TO PLAY 'CARRIE'
LINDSAY LOHAN & MEGAN FOX SAID TO BE PSYCHED FOR LEAD ROLE
Well, MGM's remake of Carrie received quite a boost from Stephen King's off-the-cuff mention of Lindsay Lohan as a potential Carrie White. The gossip sites that quote unnamed sources are abuzz. According to TMZ, "sources close to" Lohan said the actress was "stoked" to hear that King mentioned her name, adding that working with the author "would be epic." Even more surprising, Megan Fox is said to be gunning for the lead role in Carrie, according to ShowbizSpy. Like TMZ, ShowbizSpy quotes a "source close to" Fox as saying, "Megan is a huge fan of the original and would love the chance to play the lead. She’s 25 now but she’s sure she could still do justice to teenage Carrie. She’s told her people to make it happen." In 2009, Fox played the antagonist in the Carrie-esque Jennifer's Body, and later had a public falling out with Michael Bay over her role in his Transformers series. The ShowbizSpy article stresses that Fox wants to get away from her "Transformers image," and is hoping to start mixing theater work with her film career.

GLEIBERMAN ON 'CARRIE': "THE ULTIMATE PROM MOVIE"
Speaking of Carrie, a couple of weeks ago, in the print version of Entertainment Weekly, critic Owen Gleiberman reviewed the new Disney film Prom, pointing out that "a mere decade ago, the event was still called 'the prom,' but in Prom... it is never referred to as anything but 'prom'-- as in, Who are you asking to prom? It's not even fully clear whether prom is now a noun or a verb (are you going to prom? We're going to prom like it's 2099!). And that signals that the prom is no mere party but, in fact, a state of mind."

In the print version of his review, Gleiberman includes a section in which he tours through proms as depicted in various films, including Napoleon Dynamite, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, Pretty In Pink, Saved!, and Footloose, while devoting a separate paragraph to Brian De Palma's Carrie:

There's no doubt that the ultimate prom movie is Carrie (1976), a suburban Cinderella daydream-turned-blood-drenched nightmare. As the pale senior-class mouse who gets duped into becoming prom queen (all so she can get a bucket of blood dumped on her during the crowning), Sissy Spacek makes Carrie the cringing wallflower in all of us: one who both covets and fears acceptance. Then she becomes an avenging angel, and the film's slow-motion majesty turns it into the most lyrically emotional of all modern thrillers, a vision of high school as hell.


Posted by Geoff at 8:29 AM CDT
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Thursday, May 19, 2011
MGM PLANS REMAKE OF 'CARRIE'
STEPHEN KING ASKS "WHY, WHEN THE ORIGINAL WAS SO GOOD?"
According to Deadline's Mike Fleming, MGM and Screen Gems have hired Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa ("the playwright and comic book writer who was brought on to rewrite and hopefully save Broadway's Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark") to go back to Stephen King's original novel, Carrie, and adapt it into a new movie version. Fleming likens the planned remake to what Joel and Ethan Coen did with last year's True Grit, going back to the source novel and creating something independent of the original adaptation. Fleming also notes that Aguirre-Sacasa has "a relationship" with King, having written the graphic novel adaptation of King's The Stand.

KING STILL HAS LOVE FOR DE PALMA'S VERSION, BUT LOHAN AS CARRIE MAKES HIM PONDER...
King himself has publicly stated that Brian De Palma's 1976 film version improved on his novel. On Friday, in the wake of the remake news, he talked to Entertainment Weekly's Jeff Labrecque, reinforcing his love of De Palma's film version. "I’ve heard rumblings about a Carrie remake," King told Labrecque, "as I have about The Stand and It. Who knows if it will happen? The real question is why, when the original was so good? I mean, not Casablanca, or anything, but a really good horror-suspense film, much better than the book. Piper Laurie really got her teeth into the bad-mom thing. Although Lindsay Lohan as Carrie White… hmmm. It would certainly be fun to cast. I guess I could get behind it if they turned the project over to one of the Davids: Lynch or Cronenberg."

OTHER DE PALMA REMAKE PLANS: 'DRESSED TO KILL' & 'THE FURY'
In 2002, NBC remade Carrie as a TV movie that the network hoped would lead into a TV series, but the ratings and feedback told a different story. Since De Palma's Sisters was remade by Douglas Buck in 2006, two other De Palma films have been batted around the potential remake cage. In June of 2007, MGM partnered with Hyde Park Entertainment, who hired Rick Alexander to write a remake of De Palma's Dressed To Kill (a film written and directed by De Palma). The plan at the time was to have the remake inaugurate a direct-to-DVD series aimed at specific demos. Alexander's IMDB bio states that he "has written a boldly conceived 'reimagining' of the classic '80s thriller Dressed To Kill."

In April of 2008, FOX 2000 hired Brian McGreevy and Lee Shipman to write a contemporary reimagining of John Farris' The Fury, which De Palma had made into a film in 1978. McGreevy and Shipman were hired by Warner Bros. earlier this year to reimagine Bram Stoker's Dracula, with Jaume Collett-Serra set to direct.


Posted by Geoff at 11:26 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, May 20, 2011 9:13 AM CDT
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DE PALMA PENNING 'PASSION' SCRIPT
RETEAMING WITH THIERRY ARBOGAST; CORNELIA OTT, ART DIRECTOR
As we await casting announcements for Passion, which we hear will be coming soon (although not necessarily during the Cannes Film Festival, as we had anticipated), there is some news to report. Brian De Palma will be writing the screenplay for Passion himself, based on Alain Corneau's original screenplay for Crime d'amour. That right there makes it even more of a "De Palma film" than the average adaptaion or remake in the De Palma oeuvre. For this project, De Palma will be teaming up for the second time with cinematographer Thierry Arbogast, who shot De Palma's Femme Fatale in France ten years ago. The art director will be Cornelia Ott, who in recent years has done excellent work on Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer, Paul Verhoeven's Black Book, and Bryan Singer's Valkyrie. This project is shaping up very nicely...

Posted by Geoff at 12:23 AM CDT
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Sunday, May 15, 2011
CANNES 10 YEARS AFTER FILMING 'FEMME FATALE'
MELANIE GRIFFITH & ANTONIO BANDERAS CELEBRATE 15TH ANNIVERSARY
It was ten years ago that Brian De Palma filmed a portion of Femme Fatale in Cannes, immediately following the close of the Cannes Film Festival with a recreation of a film premiere, during which an elaborate heist is performed. Yesterday, Randomaniac posted a piece in which he calls Femme Fatale "De Palma's signature film." Randomaniac continues, "In no other movie does he have such free reign over his scenario. His script reaches far beyond absurdity into realms of the subconscious where the borders between dream and truth become insignificant, and his rapturous, James Bondish fetish for technogadgetry make the film one of the more surreal expressions of fantasy in cinema." The post is accompanied by several wonderfully large frames from the opening section of the film.

It was Melanie Griffith who encouraged her husband, Antonio Banderas, to work with De Palma on Femme Fatale, and now the happy couple are in Cannes, celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary (they are pictured here from last Wednesday in Cannes). "They said when we got married we wouldn’t last three months," Banderas joked to Showbiz 411's Roger Friedman. "But we knew they were wrong." Friedman reveals that Banderas is "getting ready to produce a series pilot for Melanie called Neurasthenia.”

Meanwhile,it was announced last week that Banderas' production company, Green Moon, is teaming up with Femme Fatale producer Tarak Ben Ammar's Quinta Communications, along with Vertice 360 to produce Banderas' next two films. Banderas will produce and star in the alliance's first film, Automata, a futuristic story that will shoot in in Tunisia and Egypt at the end of this year, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Then in 2012, Banderas will produce, direct, and act in Solo, playing a recently returned soldier suffering post-traumatic syndrome. Solo is based on an original story by Band Of Brothers' Erik Jendresen.

Aside from all of that, Banderas stars in Pedro Almodóvar's highly anticipated horror film, The Skin I Live In, which has its world premiere at Cannes this Thursday.


Posted by Geoff at 5:15 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, May 15, 2011 5:16 PM CDT
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DE PALMA IN RARE 1983 TMC SEGMENT
DISCUSSES 'SCARFACE' AND MORALITY WITHIN CAPITALIST SOCIETY

The above video is from a 1983 segment on The Movie Channel. It features Brian De Palma discussing his latest film, Scarface, and defending himself against accusations that he uses violence in his films for a profit motive. De Palma makes some clear, well thought-out points about his place in a capitalist society in which all of us are involved, by definition, in a profit motive. He explains that his use of violence is simply part of his aesthetic interest as an artist, and it so happens that he creates art within a profit-driven society. In the middle of the video, De Palma discusses Tony Montana's drive to success:

When you set on a trail to become rich and successful, and you look at all the decisions you made, and all the steps on the way up, and you decide, "Well, was that really the right thing to do, or did I do that in order to get from step A to step B?" I mean, this is sort of the subject of Shakespeare, and Paddy Chayefsky, and, you know, Arthur Miller. Now, what are the moral issues here? But the fact that our society celebrates success at any cost makes it a very difficult line to find.

De Palma also says that Al Pacino's performance in Scarface is incredible, and that he was proud to be able to help the actor create such a performance. At the end of the piece, he discusses how amazing it is that most directors one talks to have a total commitment to what they are doing. "They're not in here to play games," De Palma says. "When I talk to my friends, like Scorsese or Spielberg or Lucas or Coppola, these guys are driven. They've been to the top, they've been to the bottom, they've seen it all, and they're still going. Because they have a commitment and belief in what they're doing, they've had some success to see that their visions can in fact be realized, and they're just gonna keep going until they fall down."


Posted by Geoff at 1:37 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, May 15, 2011 1:40 PM CDT
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CANNES TRIBUTE TO DE NIRO
SHOWN DURING LAST WEDNESDAY'S OPENING CEREMONY

The above video is the Robert De Niro tribute screened this past Wednesday during the opening ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival, where De Niro is this year's head of the jury. The tribute includes a couple of clips from The Untouchables, and a brief clip from Hi, Mom!

Posted by Geoff at 2:04 AM CDT
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Thursday, May 12, 2011
PATRICK BILLINGSLEY, 1925-2011
CHICAGO-BASED ACTOR APPEARED IN 'THE FURY' & 'UNTOUCHABLES'
Patrick Billingsley, a charismatic University of Chicago mathematics and statistics professor who also acted on stage, television, and film, died April 22nd following a brief illness. He was 85. Billingsley made his film debut as a CIA agent in Brian De Palma's The Fury, and also played a bailiff in De Palma's The Untouchables (both were filmed in Chicago). Here is an excerpt from the Chicago Tribune obituary (written by Margaret Ramirez):

Mr. Billingsley joined the University of Chicago faculty in 1958 as an assistant professor in statistics, attaining the rank of professor in statistics and mathematics five years later.

He started acting as a hobby in 1969 and performed in numerous plays for the Court Theatre. In 1977, while performing in a production of "The Lover" in 1977, he was spotted by a talent scout who asked if he would like to audition for a film. To his surprise, he got the part.

In "The Fury," Mr. Billingsley played a bad guy with a simple objective: Kill Kirk Douglas.

In a 1978 interview with the Chicago Tribune, Mr. Billingsley commented on the similarities between teaching and acting.

"Teaching has a little bit of show biz," he said. "When you teach, you perform in front of an audience. That's much like acting. As a teacher you're used to being onstage."


Posted by Geoff at 12:16 AM CDT
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Tuesday, May 10, 2011
MICHAEL BOLTON AS TONY MONTANA
NOT TO MENTION JACK SPARROW, IN SNL DIGITAL SHORT

The above digital short, which was feautured on Saturday Night Live this past weekend, shows the Lonely Island teaming up with Michael Bolton, who dresses up in the video as several movie characters: Jack Sparrow, Forrest Gump, Erin Brockovich, and Tony Montana. Bolton tells Entertainment Weekly's Clark Collis about the ongoing negotiation between himself and the group regarding the language used in the video:

But they were sending me lyrics and I was reading them and I was thinking, “This is funny.” Then I’d get to another line that I really wish I could share with you right now, but I just can’t. I would say, “Nope, I don’ t think I could be intoxicated enough to read this line.” It kept transforming. And they really wanted me to do it. Because they could have just said at any point, “Nah, you’re going to take the funny out of it, you’re going to take the shock value out of it.” Finally, I said “This is great. But can we still take a look at some of this language, because I’m still not comfortable. Scarface is Scarface. He can say pretty much anything. As my own character, I just have a rough time wrapping my head around it.”

Collis later asks Bolton to elaborate about the Scarface parody:

There’s also a scene where, as Tony Montana, you’re surrounded by what I assume is fake cocaine.
I assure you that—aside from the fact that I don’t think any one of us would be around a pile of coke—that they didn’t have it in the budget for that to be anything but some sort of baking powder. But it was pretty funny. And that’s one of my favorite movies. That’s one of my favorite characters Pacino ever brought to life. It was another one where you knew you were going to get hard laughs, especially once my head got dropped into that pile, that mountain of cocaine.

How on earth can you sing along to lines like “Davy Jones!” or “Giant Squid!” while keeping a straight face?
You have to, that’s the whole thing. During the rehearsals, there were times when nobody could keep a straight face. But the whole thing only pays off if you keep a straight face and deliver from a seriously committed place, which was not a problem at all with Jack Sparrow and Scarface. With Erin, I just kind of wanted to get those clothes off and take a shower.


Posted by Geoff at 11:26 PM CDT
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Monday, May 9, 2011
30 YEARS LATER, 'BLOW OUT' HAS ARRIVED
AS CRITERION DELIVERS A WOW
During a bonus interview on Criterion's recent release of Brian De Palma's Blow Out, Nancy Allen laments that the film's original release just didn't seem to have the right timing. A bleak movie released in the summer when everybody is looking to have some fun. Well, thanks to Criterion, thirty years later, Blow Out's time seems to have finally arrived. Widely regarded by De Palma fans and cinephiles alike as one of De Palma's best films, Blow Out currently seems to be cementing its place in the mainstream as the best representation of De Palma's cinema. The Criterion release is a big hit, introducing Blow Out to a wide new audience, and turning the heads of even some of De Palma's harshest critics.

When I was a kid, I had a friend who wrote a song (we were writing songs in the sixth grade) about some advice he had received from his dad. The hook of the song was, "Before you buy anything, it has to be a wow!" I can't say I've always followed this advice, but I can say without a doubt that Criterion's release of Blow Out is nothing less than a wow. Everything from the film transfer, supervised by De Palma himself, to the disc extras (three great interviews, and I never thought I'd see De Palma's Murder A La Mod on a Criterion release!), to the beautiful booklet that includes a reprint of pages from the magazine prop cut-up by John Travolta in the movie, is a treat in and of itself. To have all of this in one package is extraordinary.

A SMALL SELECTION OF 'BLOW OUT' REVIEWS FROM THE LAST TWO WEEKS
Randy Miller III at DVD Talk
Blow Out is unquestionably a fantastic film that, commercially and (perhaps) critically, was released at the wrong time. In the last 30 years, however, it's aged remarkably well and stands as an underrated career highlight for all those involved. Combining equal parts paranoia thriller, black comedy and tragic love story, Blow Out should enthrall those new to the film and delight those that haven't seen it in years. Criterion's Blu-Ray does a perfect job of maintaining the film's tone and spirit, pairing a rock-solid technical presentation with a handful of thoughtful, appropriate bonus features. While it's a bit on the pricey side (even for a Criterion disc), Blow Out is a top-tier effort and this Blu-Ray is worth every penny. Very Highly Recommended.

Travis Crawford at Filmmaker Magazine
The ending of Brian De Palma’s Blow Out hits you in the chest like a hammer. It’s not supposed to be this way; American studio movies don’t end like that. But of course it’s the heartbreaking denouement that has partially helped to make the film endure in the 30 intervening years since its commercially disastrous release, though one can certainly fathom how it alienated audiences at the time (for the record, some critics were passionate defenders; it’s just that most viewers don’t savor being implicated in the spectacle of violence as it is quickly transformed into tragedy).

Bryant Frazer at Film Freak Central
Blow Out is usually considered critically, at least in part, as an investigation of filmmaking processes. It's true that De Palma spends some time with the mechanics of film, depicting the laborious process of synching sound to picture or opening up a Bolex to expose the camera's inner workings. In another funny joke, he has Jack slip Sally out of the hospital and into a motel room where, rather than snuggle up under the covers with her, he sits up all night with his Nagra tape deck. But the element of filmmaking that really matters here is deception, by which I mean performance. Sally, for instance, fancies herself a make-up artist, and it turns out that the face she presents to Jack isn't entirely an honest one. There's the duplicitous Manny (Dennis Franz), who uses a studio-photography business as a front for a blackmail operation. There's the murderous political operative Burke (John Lithgow, in an early rehearsal for his role on "Dexter"), who is so skilled at altering his voice that he sometimes talks as though there's a soundman inside his head, overdubbing the words in real time. De Palma even takes a moment late in the film to slyly depict the negotiation between customer and prostitute as a fundamentally phoney transaction on both sides.

Amid these actors, these practitioners of pure fiction, Jack is a documentarian. Once his boss insists that he bring new wind FX to bear on Coed Frenzy's soundmix, it's Jack's sense of professionalism that sends him wandering around in the middle of the night, recording the breeze rustling through leaves. That work ethic gets him embroiled in the mystery surrounding the governor's death. When the individual frames of a film showing McRyan's car driving into the river are published in a newsmagazine, à la the Zapruder film, Jack finds a way to turn them into a movie he can synch with his sound recordings in order to reconstruct the accident. At one point, he tells someone on the police force that he can't simply let it go because he was there for the real events, which don't correspond with the official story. "I was there, she was there," he argues. "Who gives a damn that you were there?" comes the devastating reply. More than filmmaking, per se, Blow Out is about the tale-spinning power of modern media--the efficiency of well-told lies.


Posted by Geoff at 11:05 PM CDT
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Sunday, May 8, 2011
PASSION WATCH
CASTING ANNOUNCEMENTS EXPECTED SOON; 'LOVE CRIME' IN THEATERS THIS SUMMER
Okay, it has been a while since the last post, and it's not due to a lack of activity in the De Palma-sphere. I've just been busy (although had there been any news news it would have been posted right away). With that said, don't be startled to see a flurry of posts in the next couple of days as I try to put up everything I've been keeping my eye on.

And what better way to kick off that flurry than to get us grounded with De Palma's current project, Passion, the remake of Alain Corneau's Love Crime. Corneau's film will be hitting U.S. theaters this summer (July 1st in New York, and August 26th elsewhere). It will also play as part of the International Showcase at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June. Producer Saïd Ben Saïd has been promising that the main cast of De Palma's film will be announced at this year's Cannes Film Festival, which begins this Wednesday, so here we go. There has been no writer mentioned yet for this project, which leaves room for the possibility that De Palma himself is writing the screenplay. It could also mean that they've hired someone. Perhaps they might address that information at Cannes, as well. The film is to be shot in Cologne, Berlin, and London beginning this August. De Palma has been in Paris working to cast the picture.

LUDIVINE SAGNIER: CORNEAU WAS OBSESSED WITH MAKING A FILM ABOUT 'THE PERFECT CRIME'
At New York's "Rendez-vous with French Cinema" last March, Ludivine Sagnier was present for a Q&A following a screening of Love Crime. According to Beast McGuffin, Sagnier said that for many years, Corneau had been obsessed with making a movie about "the perfect crime," and "this was the end result." McGuffin adds that the working title for the film was "The Perfect Woman." McGuffin continues:

The film is competent, spare (even down to the evocative saxophone soundtrack, which reminded me of the spate of American neo-Noir movies of the 90s), and entertaining, but what in a weird way, after the crime is committed you begin to feel that the movie is about, really, not 'the perfect crime' but instead, how to write the screenplay about 'the perfect crime'. This is hard to explain without giving away elements of the film's plot... But if you see the film, or the remake, I think you'll see what I mean

OTHER RECENT 'LOVE CRIME' REVIEWS
Erica Abeel at indieWIRE
The wickedly entertaining “Love Crime,” the last film of the late Alain Corneau, brings on the mother of all catfights. Kristin Scott-Thomas is perfectly cast as a ruthless exec in some vague multinational, more serpent than warm-blooded mammal. She both caresses and exploits her ambitious young assistant (Ludivine Sagnier), tossing off such lines as “You have a great talent and I made the most of it.” After humiliating Sagnier at a company event, the assistant doubles down for an elaborate revenge. The scenes of company business, filled with mumbo-jumbo, hardly bother to appear authentic; and hey, what happened to the lesbian vibe in the early scenes? But the bitchery is a hoot, the chilly chrome color design is an extension of the characters’ inner world and the final sting in the tail a nasty surprise. You can bet that in his remake Brian De Palma will pick up on that lesbian motif.

Doris Toumarkine at Film Journal International
A much-anticipated offering that offered less than anticipated was the late Alain Corneau’s corporate-crime melodrama Love Crime, starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Ludivine Sagnier as dueling, fired-up execs at a multinational agro giant. Part soft-core tease (Scott Thomas hits persuasively on Sagnier, who utters “I love you,” but it’s all gratuitous), part executive-suite close-up of Machiavellian scheming, and part murder intrigue, the film—slick, ballsy, silly—fails to deliver one frame of authenticity or emotional tug. But, hats off to the cast, it does entertain. Reportedly, Brian De Palma has remake rights for a U.K. shoot.

Stephen Holden at the New York Times
In this vicious psychological cat-and-mouse game, Kristin Scott Thomas plays the chief executive of the Parisian branch of a multinational corporation who does lethal battle with her protégée (Ludivine Sagnier). The movie plays like an entire season of “Damages” compressed into about 100 nasty minutes.

Edmund Lee at Time Out Hong Kong
Whilst remaining thoroughly cold and precise, Love Crime then unveils a ludicrous revenge plot, so matter-of-factly presented that the audience may be forgiven for expecting a little more passion from the proceedings. This, incidentally, looks to be exactly where Brian De Palma plans to enter the equation himself: for better or for worse, the thriller veteran of Dressed to Kill, Scarface and Femme Fatale is all set to direct an English-language remake of the film, titled, well, Passion. It’s surely something the original could have done with a lot more of.


Posted by Geoff at 8:45 PM CDT
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