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Saturday, September 10, 2011
'PAUL WILLIAMS' DOC-MAKER NODS TO WINNIPEG
SAYS AMAZING 'PHANTOM' EVENT SHOWED HIM A TOUCHING LEVEL OF AFFECTION FOR THE SONGWRITER
The Toronto Star's Linda Barnard spoke by phone with Paul Williams and Steve Kessler, director of the documentary Paul Williams Still Alive, which premieres tomorrow at the Toronto International Film Festival. Barnard asked the duo about the film's link to Winnipeg, where Kessler first made contact with Williams during one of the city's "Phantompalooza" events:

Q: The movie starts in Winnipeg where the (1974 musical directed by Brian De Palma with music by Williams) Phantom of the Paradise has a cult following. That's where Steve first makes contact with you.

PW: There are two cities in the world (the other is Paris) that got it and I don't understand it. There is such a love affair with the film . . . in Winnipeg, there are people who got that piece of art.

SK: I have to say if it wasn't for the people of Winnipeg this movie would never have gotten made. When I saw the level of affection people had for Paul, I said, “I can't be the only person on earth with this level of affection for Paul.” This was an amazing event.

Q: I have to ask you about your signature hairstyle, that long blond shag you wore in the '70s.

PW: Me and Hayley Mills. I ripped her off. It's just the way it grew in — the Swan hairstyle.

WILLIAMS' NEW SONG 'SUMS UP HIS LIFE IN A VERY HONEST WAY', SAYS KESSLER
Barnard also reports that Williams wrote the title track to the documentary, and was sent an mp3 of the song, which, she writes, "it has the signature Williams mix of melancholy and flashes of self-deprecating humour." Regarding the song, Kessler told Barnard, "I think he summed up his life in a very honest way. It really adds something."


Posted by Geoff at 7:58 PM CDT
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Monday, September 5, 2011
DE PALMA: 'I HAVE NEVER READ NATIONAL LAMPOON'
SAYS IDEA THAT 'PHANTOM' MAY HAVE BEEN INSPIRED BY MAG'S PARODY IS 'COMPLETELY FALSE'
A couple of days ago, I posted a link to the latest episode of The Projection Booth, which was devoted to Phantom Of The Paradise, and featured interviews with Jessica Harper and Ari, the Principal Archivist at The Swan Archives. Near the end of the program, the hosts asked Ari about the "dark side" of Phantom, namely the speculation that a photoplay published in a 1971 issue of National Lampoon called "The Phantom Of The Rock Opera" may have provided some inspiration for De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise (the photoplay can be viewed on the Swan Archives' Production page).

De Palma listened to the podcast, and said he "was quite impressed with Ari's understanding of Phantom Of The Paradise." However, the filmmaker would like to correct the speculative "dark side" mentioned above. "The 'revelation' that Phantom Of The Paradise was inspired by a National Lampoon satire is completely false," stated De Palma. "I have never read the National Lampoon and I can only guess the similarities are purely coincidental. Needless to to say, I have no problem borrowing from the classics, but this wasn't one of them."

Posted by Geoff at 6:20 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, September 5, 2011 6:21 PM CDT
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Saturday, September 3, 2011
HARPER INTV'D ON 'PHANTOM' PODCAST
ALONG WITH THE PRINCIPAL ARCHIVIST FROM THE SWAN ARCHIVES
This past Wednesday's episode of The Projection Booth was devoted to Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise, and included a brief but fun interview with Jessica Harper. The entire episode, hosted by Mike and Mondo Justin, played host to Ari, the Principal Archivist at The Swan Archives, who shared bits from what seems like a limitless well of knowledge about Phantom Of The Paradise for almost a full hour. Ari differed with his hosts about each one's taste in De Palma's films in general (Ari loves them all, Mike and Mondo Justin, well, not so much), but all agreed that Phantom is something special. Harper talked about the Broadway (Hair) and Off Broadway (Dr. Selavy's Magic Theater) shows that led to her being discovered by De Palma and Paul Williams. She mentioned being in competition with Linda Ronstadt for the role of Phoenix, and that the dance she does in Phantom was "my own choreography," something she'd made up in rehearsal. Regarding De Palma, Harper says that the director was very helpful to her on Phantom, her first film. She said De Palma is able to get great performances out of people.

Posted by Geoff at 8:20 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, September 3, 2011 8:22 PM CDT
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Friday, June 17, 2011
'PHANTOM' PART OF '70S MUSICAL SERIES IN NY
SCREENS TONIGHT WITH '200 MOTELS', NEXT FRIDAY WITH 'ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL'
Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise will screen at 9:30 tonight as part of Anthology Film Archives' series, "Hollywood Musicals Of The 1970s & 80s, Part 1: The 1970s." Tonight, Phantom will be paired with Tony Palmer and Frank Zappa's 200 Motels, and next Friday, the De Palma classic will be paired with Allan Arkush's Rock 'N' Roll High School (Phantom screens at 7pm that night, June 24th). Other films in the series include Martin Scorsese's New York, New York and Peter Bogdanovich's At Long Last Love. The New York Press' Craig Hubert posted a write-up of the series the other day.

Posted by Geoff at 6:31 PM CDT
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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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Wednesday, December 15, 2010
DEL TORO LOVES PHANTOM, TOO
DIRECTOR HAS REPORTEDLY DREAMT OF REMAKING DE PALMA CLASSIC
Something that seems to have slipped by underneath my radar is the fact that Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise is one of Guillermo Del Toro's very favorite films. In 2002, he told the Austin Chronicle's Marc Savlov that the film changed his life when he was young. Earlier this year, Ain't It Cool News' Harry Knowles mentioned Del Toro's dream of remaking Phantom Of The Paradise:

One night Guillermo Del Toro and I agreed that nobody that didn’t like PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE could be cool. And then we spent many hours as he told me why he wanted to remake it as I spent hours convincing him that it would never be as brilliant as the original. Then Guillermo cried in my arms and suckled upon my thumb. At least. That’s how I remember the conversation. I’ll never forget BNAT 1. Guillermo screened his 35mm print of this as we sat together, annoyingly singing out loud every lyric from memory.

Last week, Criterion released Del Toro's feature debut, Cronos, on DVD and Blu-Ray. One of the bonus features is called "Welcome to Bleak House, a video tour by del Toro of his office." According to Manekikoneko, the tour includes several mentions of Phantom Of The Paradise, with "models and everything." (Manekikoneko thinks Del Toro may have mentioned Phantom during the Cronos commentary track, as well, but does not remember for sure.) In any case, about a month ago, Del Toro moderated a discussion with fellow Phantom fan Edgar Wright, along with the cast and creator of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World at Los Angeles' Egyptian Theatre. At one point, Del Toro and Wright agree that they share at least two very favorite films: De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise, and Mike Hodges's Flash Gordon, both of which were among the cinematic influences on Wright's Scott Pilgrim adaptation.


Posted by Geoff at 11:24 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, December 15, 2010 11:28 PM CST
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010
PHANTOM SCENE-BY-SCENE
SWAN ARCHIVES UNVEILS INVALUABLE NEW SECTION

The Swan Archives has dug itself into the control room of Swan's Video Surveillance Center and opened up a new section that looks at Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise scene-by-scene. As can be seen from the snapshot above, frames from the film are used to explore each scene from a variety of angles, including an enormously entertaining amount of behind-the-scenes notes. Two of my favorites: the Archive notes that the whole idea of removing the prisoners' teeth is a direct reference to Nathanael West's 1934 novel, A Cool Million; and the Archive also points out that the incidental music arranged by George Aliceson Tipton for a scene in Phoenix's dressing room is really an arrangement of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 1. Each of these is highlighted with links to, respectively, the text of the appropriate page from West's novel, and audio clips of Beethoven and the Tipton arrangement. Put together with love and wit, these pages will keep any fan reading for hours. Bravo!

Posted by Geoff at 10:05 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, December 8, 2010 10:07 PM CST
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Thursday, October 28, 2010
CITIZEN MIDNIGHT SINGS "PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE"
VIDEO FROM JULY SHOWS SAN FRANCISCO ROCKSPLOITATION BAND
Rocksploitation w/Citizen Midnight- | Movies & TV | SPIKE.com

Last July, we posted about the Rocksploitation midnight movie series at San Francisco's Bridge Theatre, where the band Citizen Midnight played songs before a screening of Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise. In the video above, you can hear the band performing an original song they wrote about the film (called Phantom Of The Paradise). In the video, Citizen Midnight's Rob Goblin explains that they took the main riff from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom Of The Opera and turned it into a story about the De Palma film. In the video, you can also see the band perform Somebody Super Like You from Phantom Of The Paradise.

Posted by Geoff at 2:13 AM CDT
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Monday, September 6, 2010
PRESSMAN MENTIONS PHANTOM STAGE VERSION
TALKING "ENDLESSLY" WITH DE PALMA & WILLIAMS

The Movie Geeks United! week-long tribute to Brian De Palma got off to a terrific start Monday night with a show dedicated to Sisters, although films such as Mission: Impossible (delved into with guest John Kenneth Muir) and Phantom Of The Paradise were discussed, as well. Regarding the latter, guest Edward R. Pressman, who produced Sisters and Phantom, mentioned that he has been talking "endlessly" with De Palma and songwriter Paul Williams about getting together a stage version of the film, for which Williams has been writing new songs. Of course, we already knew they all were working on this from previous posts here, but it's good to know the project is still being developed. Kudos to Jamey DuVall and Jerry Dennis for a solid kick-off to a promising week of "The De Palma Thriller." If you can't listen to any of the shows live, never fear-- the shows are all available to listen to in the archive.

Posted by Geoff at 8:40 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 10:41 AM CDT
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Friday, July 23, 2010
SCOTT PILGRIM AWES AT COMIC-CON
CRITIC: DE PALMA MAY BE INSPIRED WHEN HE SEES IT


Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was premiered at Comic-Con last night, and there seems to be a unanimous awe from those who attended. "There's not one moment in the entire movie that isn't shot or edited from a 'never quite seen that before' perspective," states UGO's Jordan Hoffman in his review of the film. "Scenes smash together with split-screens, sound effects and thoughts are graphologized, lighting, even sets, change to express emotion - seriously, when Brian De Palma sees this movie he's either going to get very inspired or slit his wrists." The Huffington Post's Bryan Young writes that "the crowd was so into the film by the end that I wondered if they were going to explode into candy."

However, Kirk Honeycuty at the Hollywood Reporter, who calls the film's style "juvenile," wonders whether anybody outside the Comic-Con and youth crowd will care. "The movie does everything its makers can dream up to imitate a manga," writes Honeycutt. "Screens split in half and then in half again. Action speeds up or slows down. Comic-book word sounds — “whoosh,” “r-i-i-i-i-n-g,” “thud” and the like — pepper the screen. Backstories about exes are told in rudimentary sketches. The movie frame becomes a graffiti zone where the filmmakers can insert all sorts of written commentary including the fact that a character has to pee. How edifying is that?" Variety's Peter DeBruge echoes Honeycutt's view. "An example of attention-deficit filmmaking at both its finest and its most frustrating," writes DeBruge, "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World blends the styles of videogames, sitcoms and comicbooks for a mostly hollow, high-energy riff on the insecurities of young love. With Michael Cera in the title role, twentysomethings and under will swiftly embrace this original romancer, which treats the subject as if there were nothing more important in all the universe, though anyone over 25 is likely to find director Edgar Wright's adaptation of the cult graphic novel exhausting, like playing chaperone at a party full of oversexed college kids." Despite this, DeBruge concedes that the film is "a feat of economical storytelling, rendered in the vernacular of small talk and text messages." And on the subject of the film's many many characters, DeBruge writes, "The fact that we can keep all these characters straight while intuitively following the movie's unique vidgame logic is a testament to Wright's never-dull directorial skills."

Techland's Lev Grossman, acknowledging the hype that goes with being "pampered" at a surprise screening, calls the film "beautiful," saying that the film's real star is the director. "Practically every frame has a visual or auditory gag in it," writes Grossman, "goofing on eight-bit games and rock cliches and action movies. (The characters are always trying to do snappy banters in fight scenes, then getting confused and having to explain the joke.) Nothing ever comes at you straight. Some of this stuff is lifted from the book, but some are Wright's own riffs -- at one point, when Scott and Wallace are hanging out in their apartment, Wright starts dropping in Seinfeld music and a laugh track behind the actors, and the scene turns into a dead-on parody of a sitcom. For maybe 20 seconds. How Wright keeps this stuff coming for an entire movie is beyond me."

Cinematical's Todd Gilchrist sees the film as a cultural benchmark that will divide critics, although he himself is quite taken with it. "As far as deadpan hipster comedies are concerned," writes Gilchrist, "Scott Pilgrim is the Godfather of the genre – a massive, sprawling epic that builds and builds while offering just enough ironic asides to make fully sure that no one involved is taking themselves too seriously." Gilchrist adds that, "Cinematically, director Edgar Wright continues to grow by leaps and bounds with each film, and here his mastery of technique pioneered by others finally and firmly becomes its own style." However, Gilchrist feels that Wright's rapid pacing may rub some the wrong way. "Wright's breakneck editing and pacing makes Michael Bay look positively pastoral by comparison, and it's probably here where Scott Pilgrim may suffer from many of its most passionate criticisms. I was certainly never lost in the filmmaking flourishes, even when Wright would cut breezily through several locations over the course of a single conversation, or chop up the action into bits so fine they looked almost like the ones and zeroes that provided the animators with their raw materials. But this is resolutely a film for a generation of moviegoers that is acclimated to music video-era storytelling, one less interested in formalism (much less classicism) than the sum total of a scene's emotional weight or energy, and it may turn off folks who want something that's subtler, more reflective, or even just a little slower."


Posted by Geoff at 1:03 PM CDT
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