Hello and welcome to the unofficial Brian De Palma website.
Here is the latest news:

De Palma a la Mod


De Palma Discussion


Recent Headlines
a la Mod:

Donaggio to score
De Palma's Domino

Washington Post
review of Keesey book


Exclusive Passion

Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
Leila Rozario


AV Club Review
of Dumas book


« March 2012 »
1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31


De Palma interviewed
in Paris 2002

De Palma discusses
The Black Dahlia 2006


De Palma Community

The Virtuoso
of the 7th Art

The De Palma Touch

The Swan Archives

Carrie...A Fan's Site


No Harm In Charm

Paul Schrader

Alfred Hitchcock
The Master Of Suspense

Alfred Hitchcock Films

Snake Eyes
a la Mod

Mission To Mars
a la Mod

Sergio Leone
and the Infield
Fly Rule

Movie Mags


The Filmmaker Who
Came In From The Cold

Jim Emerson on
Greetings & Hi, Mom!

Scarface: Make Way
For The Bad Guy

The Big Dive
(Blow Out)

Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
Official Web Site

The Phantom Project

Welcome to the
Offices of Death Records

The Carlito's Way
Fan Page

The House Next Door

Kubrick on the

FilmLand Empire

Astigmia Cinema


Cultural Weekly

A Lonely Place

The Film Doctor


Icebox Movies

Medfly Quarantine

Not Just Movies

Hope Lies at
24 Frames Per Second

Motion Pictures Comics

Diary of a
Country Cinephile

So Why This Movie?

Obsessive Movie Nerd

Nothing Is Written

Ferdy on Films

Cashiers De Cinema

This Recording

Mike's Movie Guide

Every '70s Movie

Dangerous Minds


No Time For
Love, Dr. Jones!

The former
De Palma a la Mod

Entries by Topic
A note about topics: Some blog posts have more than one topic, in which case only one main topic can be chosen to represent that post. This means that some topics may have been discussed in posts labeled otherwise. For instance, a post that discusses both The Boston Stranglers and The Demolished Man may only be labeled one or the other. Please keep this in mind as you navigate this list.
All topics
Ambrose Chapel
Bart De Palma
Beaune Thriller Fest
Becoming Visionary
Betty Buckley
Bill Pankow
Black Dahlia
Blow Out
Blue Afternoon
Body Double
Bonfire Of The Vanities
Boston Stranglers
Bruce Springsteen
Capone Rising
Carlito's Way
Casualties Of War
Cinema Studies
Columbo - Shooting Script
Daft Punk
Dancing In The Dark
David Koepp
De Niro
De Palma & Donaggio
De Palma (doc)
De Palma Blog-A-Thon
De Palma Discussion
Demolished Man
Dionysus In '69
Dressed To Kill
Eric Schwab
Fatal Attraction
Femme Fatale
Film Series
Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Fury, The
Get To Know Your Rabbit
Happy Valley
Havana Film Fest
Hi, Mom!
Home Movies
Inspired by De Palma
Iraq, etc.
Jared Martin
Jerry Greenberg
Keith Gordon
Key Man, The
Laurent Bouzereau
Lights Out
Magic Hour
Magnificent Seven
Mission To Mars
Mission: Impossible
Montreal World Film Fest
Mr. Hughes
Murder a la Mod
Nancy Allen
Nazi Gold
Noah Baumbach
Oliver Stone
Paranormal Activity 2
Parties & Premieres
Paul Hirsch
Paul Schrader
Pauline Kael
Phantom Of The Paradise
Pino Donaggio
Prince Of The City
Print The Legend
Raggedy Ann
Raising Cain
Red Shoes, The
Responsive Eye
Rie Rasmussen
Robert De Niro
Sean Penn
Snake Eyes
Sound Mixer
Star Wars
Stepford Wives
Taxi Driver
Toronto Film Fest
Treasure Sierra Madre
Tru Blu
Truth And Other Lies
TV Appearances
Untitled Ashton Kutcher
Venice Beach
Vilmos Zsigmond
Wedding Party
William Finley
Wise Guys
Woton's Wake
Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile
You are not logged in. Log in
Saturday, March 3, 2012
The Brooklyn Rail's Tommy Smith posted a Q&A with Lawrence D Cohen yesterday, in which the Carrie screenwriter (and Carrie: The Musical book writer) discusses differences among the three different adaptations he's done of Stephen King's novel. Smith asks Cohen for some details about how seeing a production of the Alban Berg opera Lulu prompted the idea of turning Carrie into a musical.

Rail: How would you articulate that experience? What aspects of that did you use for creating Carrie?

Cohen: Intensity. My partner Michael Gore, the composer, and I walked out of Lulu that night and he looked at me and went, “If Alban Berg were alive today, he’d be writing Lulu for the Met.” And it was one of those “ah-ha” moments where the light bulb went on. And I didn’t say a word. I looked at him. He looked at me. And we started walking up to Café Luxembourg from Lincoln Center, jabbering a mile a minute, with a gazillion ideas. What Carrie had was highly intensified, hugely heightened, operatic-like moments. I like that kind of theater. I really respond to that intensity of performance. Carrie was very weird material to choose to musicalize, until we thought about it and it didn’t seem weird to us at the time, at all.


Elsewhere, Cohen contrasts the new version of the Carrie musical (potentially "our dream of the piece") with the 1988 version ("It was our nightmare of the piece..."). Cohen is then asked to provide a "Reader's Digest" account of what made the 1988 version so wrong:

We ended up being asked by the Royal Shakespeare Company. They had done Les Mis and were looking for a follow up. Having gone through a lot of really major directors, we ended up being persuaded that Terry Hands was the right match. He had come to New York with two productions with Derek Jacobi—a Cyrano and Much Ado that were brilliant—and he talked a really good game, and we were three smart guys, and when the RSC says we’d like you to be our next production? It was pretty hard to turn our 20-year-plus-old selves to say no to that. It turned out to be a pretty dreadful mistake. Meaning, this director thought when we referred to, in conversation, Grease: The Musical, he thought we were referring to ancient Greece, G-R-E-E-C-E. And they were dancing around in togas during the opening gym sequence. It was deranged. It was like, the ship has sailed, there is no stopping it, other than to kill it, but we had no power to do anything. And Terry was used to working with a lot of dead writers, starting with William Shakespeare. So three feisty guys like us? We gave him notes and they went into the Bermuda Triangle. So as a result, we didn’t recognize the show, other than watching Betty Buckley and Linzi Hateley, who had thrilling, wonderful moments on stage; the rest of the piece was just like being on Mars.

Cohen also gets a bit into the differences between the various versions of Carrie when asked by Smith whether he thinks "the myth of the previous production is contributing to this [new] show":

Cohen: Definitely. It’s to the good and to the bad. The good is that it has kept the show very much alive and mythic—people wanting to do it, people wanting to see it. And that’s great. The bad is that I think that people saw a version of it and that’s what they think the show is. The reality is, the book is the book, and it’s that story. The movie has the incredible [i]llusion of fidelity, but its very different as an adaptation—it stays true to its core value, absolutely, and it has eliminated everything else. The musical was its own 1988 version. And this is another attack at it. They’re all valid to me. They’re just different. One isn’t better or worse. They live as their own thing, which I think is cool.

Rail: It’s a different take on the same structure of this fable of Carrie, and each incarnation has had a reverberation of its own for the time.

Cohen: Utterly right. With this version, what ended up happening was, we got together and had a chat about what we would each like to do, and we were very much on the same page about getting on the horse again, and ready to do it. Because there were so many requests, we wanted to put a version of it out there in the world that we liked, as opposed to one we hated. And it was really in answer to that demand that wasn’t going away. And we felt badly the show we wanted wasn’t there. There’s an audience that’s determined, at whatever cost, they want to see the old Carrie, and they’ve got that in their minds and they know the lines by heart like it’s the Rocky Horror show. There’s nothing to say or do.

About a month ago, Isn't It Delicious posted a look back at the 1988 version of Carrie: The Musical, placing quotes from some of the rare positive reviews at the top of the page, including this one from the New York Post's Clive Barnes: "Surprise, Surprise! Terry Hands blood, sweat and tears staging of Carrie for his Royal Shakespeare Company works. ...a project that seemed unlikely from the outset, has unexpectedly emerged as a strong, effective and remarkably coherent piece of terrific total theatre." The Newyork Times' Frank Rich is quoted, "...the fiercely concentrated Ms. [Betty] Buckley brings theatrical heat to every slap-happy bout of corporal punishment, every masturbatory hand gesture indicating her sexual repression, and every aria invoking Jesus and Satan." The blog post includes a terrific array of pictures from the production, as well.

Cohen talked to Playbill's Harry Haun about the reviews of the 1988 show, and how they don't exactly reflect the legend of it:

There are a zillion myths concerning the production — partly, I think, because we've chosen not to speak for all these years, and those are the bits that have just gone on. For example: we got a devastating review — a withering review — from Frank Rich in The Times, and people think they were all like that. They weren't.

If you went back and looked at that, Clive Barnes in The Post was every bit as much a rave. We would be running today, had Clive Barnes had his way in terms of the review. The Hollywood Reporter review — if our mothers had written it — couldn't have been better. But, in the myth of the past, all the reviews were terrible.

Gore then explains to Haun the real reason the show closed after five performances: "Because Ken Mandelbaum never chose to interview the authors or anybody who was at the heart of that production, most people don't know that — three performances in — our producer, who was European and not experienced on Broadway, got nervous because he didn't get the [Frank] Rich rave he wanted, closed his bank accounts, then got on a plane to Germany. The reason the show closed after five performances is that there was no payroll to pay anybody. Regardless of the perception — whether audiences didn't like it or the show wasn't doing well — the reality was he left town, there was no money to pay anybody, and it was too difficult — and too late — to find other producers." The article by Haun then gets Cohen's, Gore's, and lyricist Dean Pitchford's collective perspective on what went down:

Carrie got on the wrong track right at the get-go. Because Michael Bennett was a friend, he gave the three creatives some of his rehearsal space at 890 Broadway so they could do a backers' audition — Pitchford directing, Gore playing the piano and Cohen reading the script. "Based on that, all of a sudden, it was moving," Gore says. "We had producers before we had Act Two. It was on a fast track, and the next thing we know — wow! it was up!"

And who can fault them for going with their most prestigious offer? Terry Hands, artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, offered the facilities at RSC, his proven skills as a director and, head-turning most of all, $8 million. They said yes!

"It was irresistible as an offer," Cohen recalls. "He had 20 years experience directing and running with Trevor Nunn the RSC, so all three of us were thrilled at being a part of that esteemed company. He also spoke a really good game, and he was very, very smart. Then, we moved into the process of actually putting on the show."

The warning signs came early, according to Gore: "There are so many elements that just have to come together correctly in any play or musical, and we knew it was over when we saw the costumes, which were very abstract and looked like Greece. Not the show — the country. Every area, actually, did not resemble what we had in mind."

Carrie — in the hands of Terry Hands — became an unrecognizable, Anglicized aberration of their original concept. "He had all kinds of classical ideas about how this was to be done, and he decided it was a tragedy in 12 tableaus," Pitchford relays with a discernible grimace.

"Tableaus," Cohen underlines archly, "is a word we no longer use."

"Every day he was just taking out dialogue," Pitchford continues, making a vicious ripping gesture in the air. "The through-sung musical like Phantom of the Opera is very much a British creation — different from American musicals where you stop and talk and then you sing a song and then go back to talking — and Terry's only frame of reference was Phantom, Evita and Les Miz. He wanted to lessen the distance between musical numbers, and they were tumbling one on top of the other, without the story being quite covered. The American musical is a very homegrown kind of animal, and we had a British director who had not grown up in the traditions the three of us had."

"Nor," notes Cohen, "had he gone to an American high school or understood what that was about. The word 'prom' didn't mean the same thing to him that it meant to all of us. It was a chasm. That we spoke English in common was the confusion."


Meanwhile, film and theatre enthusiast Mark Leonard says he has the ticket stub and Playbill to prove he was at the notorious 1988 show, and recalls the rather passionate standing ovations afterward. "Audience members were practically standing on their chairs," he states. "This thing was getting to some people." Leonard has seen the new version, as well, and says that while it is not perfect, "they mostly pull it off!" He adds, "This subdued production, with standout performances from [Marin] Mazzie and Ranson may not belt a home run. But it’s, at least, a ground-rule double—and decidedly worth your while."

Over at Vanity Fair's Hollywood Blog, Bruce Handy (who also says he saw the 1988 version) and Juli Weiner provide male and female perspectives on the new version of Carrie: The Musical. Unfortunately, both perspectives seem to be in agreement that the new show is not very good, although Handy steps out to praise Molly Ranson's performance ("she gave the whole thing a weight it didn’t deserve"). Weiner was surprised at "how much of the dialogue was sung: I’d say there were probably 25 lines of spoken dialogue in the two-hour production. It was essentially an opera." The two bloggers discuss how the songs are not catchy enough to be memorable (but they do provide a sample of the lyrics), which leads them into a discussion of the non-main characters, and the new show's minimalist depiction of Carrie's telekinesis:

Juli: I can’t remember a single melody or hum a few bars of anything. We did scribble down some of the silliest lyrics, though. You had a good one …

Bruce: I did! Although I may have misheard it. After Chris hatches her plot to humiliate Carrie, her boyfriend sings, "You always amaze me, the way that you think/If I was your daddy I’d buy you a drink." At least that's what I heard. I think you heard, “If I was your daddy I’d get you a shrink,” but I think my interpretation is the more authentically Freudian. Did you have a favorite cast member?

Juli: Well, there were so many tiny strings of plot that never went anywhere or tied to anything! My favorite characters were those that had to do with nothing: the popular boy who can’t help himself from making homoerotic comments to his friends, and the Lolita-esque student who tries to seduce her teacher for maybe (?) half a sentence and then is never heard from again. I love these characters for their gratuitousness; their presence is just so extravagant! Who was your favorite character?

Bruce: I liked all the mean students because the actors who unconvincingly played them were so clearly theater nerds who had presumably been picked on in high school and were now acting out their mean-kid fantasies. It was like seeing Curt from Glee play Jack in a Lord of the Flies musical. (Hey, that’s a great idea! They could even use the kill-the-pig song from the original Carrie.) We haven’t talked about the almost non-existent telekinesis, which I remember as sort of the point of any version of Carrie in any medium.

Juli: First of all: “medium”—good pun. Second of all: what telekinesis? You mean that time a chair tipped over, perhaps accidentally, and the lights flashed? How did the original production do it? I was incredulous they dumped red paint on Carrie offstage instead of rigging a bucket to the ceiling! I paid—well, not actually, but theoretically—to see that actress get covered in red paint! (Carrie is really bringing out the mean high-schooler in me, too.)

Posted by Geoff at 7:58 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, March 4, 2012 3:19 PM CST
Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink | Share This Post
Thursday, March 1, 2012
With the Off Broadway revival of Carrie opening tonight at New York's Lucille Lortel Theatre, the reviews have begun coming in, and the consensus seems to be that the show, while better, is too timid. Betty Buckley suggested as much last week when she called it the "PG-13 version" of the original Broadway show that she appeared in back in 1988. The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney calls the new show a "well-intentioned but misguided revision" that was perhaps never meant to be a musical. Most of the reviews (which appear to have come from critics who have seen one of the previews in February) so far seem to agree that the show comes alive when it features either of the two main characters, Carrie and her mother, but that none of the other characters make much of an impression. Despite all of this, FearNet's Bradley Steele Harding is enthused by the show, which he says has more of a minimalist approach than the 1988 version. "The main reason that Carrie: the Musical refuses to die," writes Harding, "is that songs created by Gore and Pitchford are so bloody memorable. While there were several pieces in the original that were standouts, some of them simply didn't serve the narrative. Here every song either furthers the action or adds nuance to the characters."

Broadway World is doing live updates of the reviews as they come in. Meanwhile, Gothamist has a preview article with quotes from Lawrence D. Cohen and Michael Gore. The Toronto Star's Richard Ouzounian has an interview with the new show's director, Stafford Arima, as does AP's Mark Kennedy and The Globe And Mail's Carly Maga.

Posted by Geoff at 8:40 PM CST
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
I've been reading this excellent new book by Joe Aisenberg that delves deep into Brian De Palma's Carrie, providing a wealth of details about its creation, its critical reception, how it compares with Stephen King's novel, and so on. Aisenberg has done an outstanding job, looking thoroughly at each scene from the film chapter-by-chapter, and peppering his analysis with insights via original interviews from several members of the Carrie cast and crew, as well as quotes from the many articles written about Carrie over the past 35+ years. The book is part of Centipede Press' "Studies In The Horror Film" series. The 100-copy, limited edition hardcover, signed by author Joe Aisenberg and screenwriter Lawrence D. Cohen, is currently available for pre-order from the Centipede website. A trade paperback edition is aiming for publication in March. The book's appendix includes Aisenberg's full interviews with De Palma and Cohen. I'll post a more in-depth review soon, but if you love Carrie, you'll love this book.

Posted by Geoff at 11:51 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, February 23, 2012 4:42 PM CST
Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink | Share This Post
Friday, February 17, 2012

The MCC Theater's new Off Broadway musical version of Carrie officially opens March 1st, and has been in previews for the past couple of weeks. Betty Buckley, who played the gym teacher Miss Collins in the Brian De Palma film, also played Carrie's mother in the 1988 Broadway musical version that has become the stuff of legend. Buckley is pictured above with the stars of the new version, Molly Ranson, who plays Carrie, and Marin Mazzie, who plays her mother. Buckley told the New York Times' Patrick Healy that she "completely enjoyed" the new production, and is thrilled for the team that put it together: composer Michael Gore, lyricist Dean Pitchford, and book writer Lawrence D. Cohen, the latter having previously adapted Stephen King's novel for De Palma's film. "I always felt their work in this show was ahead of its time, really provocative and very passionate theater,” Buckley told Healy of the team that also worked on the 1988 version. “I’m really proud of the work we did back then, and I’m a huge fan of these guys. I always wanted the score and the story to be seen for its intensely, emotionally moving qualities, and I think you can see those qualities in this production.” Healy's article continues:

The major difference between the new Carrie and the Broadway production, in Ms. Buckley’s view, is that the current director, Stafford Arima, has created a “homogeneity” in tone, design, and performance that makes for “focused, consistent, understandable storytelling.”

“The problem with the original production,” she continued, “was that the directorial concept was very abstract, and the director Terry Hands thought the piece resonated as Jacobean drama. He achieved that through some very, very bloody scenes. Linzi [Hateley] and I presented a psychologically accurate portrayal of a deeply, emotionally disturbed mother and daughter.”

Ms. Buckley described the Off Broadway revival as “the PG-13 version of the original,” then added: “I would love this production to be more dangerous. I think that’s what we had going on that made it resonate for all these years. It’s not about adding camp to this production, but about adding even more truth. The show is perfectly timed right now, because we’re so aware of the sort of bullying in schools that Carrie experiences.”

Healy begins his article with an account of the 1988 show's opening night:

When the lights went black at the end of the first Broadway preview of Carrie, on April 28, 1988, the actress Betty Buckley recalled hearing something she had never experienced in her 20 years in theater: Boos from the audience. Ms. Buckley, who had won a Tony Award in 1983 for Cats, played the fanatically religious mother Margaret White in the musical, and her character had just been killed by the telekinetic powers of her daughter, the title character. Both Ms. Buckley and Linzi Hateley, who played Carrie, lay on the stage in the dark, hearing the boos; Ms. Buckley recalled that Ms. Hateley, making her Broadway debut, whispered, “What do we do?”

“We get up,” Ms. Buckley said in reply. They stood, the lights came on, and the boos turned to cheers and applause for the performers in the show, which would go on to close after 21 performances, one of the biggest flops in Broadway history.

Another New York Times article by Healy from earlier this month looks at the two versions of the musical, with picture comparisons, as well as quotes from Cohen, among others. "The three of us did not exactly have the best time with the Broadway production," Cohen told Healy. "We had a dream 30 years ago for a show about outsiders,” and “now every day the three of us look at each other and we’re like, ‘We’re getting closer.’"

Meanwhile, Mark Kennedy at the Associated Press interviewed Ranson, who told him that she loved De Palma's film, and thinks the story is particularly relevant today. "Really, at its core, it's the story of a girl who's trying to fit in," Ranson told Kennedy. "It's the story of an outsider, which I think everyone can relate to in one way or another. Especially now, with all this bullying. It's kind of a great time to be doing this." Ranson, 22, was not yet born when the original Broadway version happened in 1988. The new version tones down the blood, especially during the prom scene. Regarding the blood, Ranson says, "It'll look good. It'll look real. It's going to be done really beautifully and subtly — artistically, kind of abstract."

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, February 18, 2012 12:54 AM CST
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Lana Del Ray graces the cover of the February issue of the British music magazine Q. According to Famous Monsters Of Filmland, the singer/recording artist "asked to be shot in tribute to one of her favorite films, the 1976 Brian De Palma classic Carrie." Five of the six photos inside the magazine show Del Ray in various bloody Carrie poses, including the one shown here in the middle. The Famous Monsters site also has some behind-the-scenes photos from the shoot, including the one at the very bottom below.
(Thanks to Ryan!)

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, February 16, 2012 12:12 AM CST
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Monday, February 6, 2012

Posted by Geoff at 11:14 PM CST
Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink | Share This Post
Sunday, February 5, 2012

Looks like Chronicle isn't the only movie opening this weekend that pays homage to Brian De Palma's Carrie. Promoción fantasma (Ghost Graduation) opened Friday in Spain, and features the scene above, in which two boys pour fake blood over a girl as she showers in the school locker room. That clip can be caught briefly in the film's trailer, and it's not the only moment in Ghost Graduation that has Carrie on its mind. The film is a comedy about a paranormal professor who tries to help a group of dead boys (ghosts) graduate high school. According to CINEMANÍA, Ghost Graduation spoofs high-school moments from the likes of The Breakfast Club, Carrie, Back To The Future and Glee, with a little Ghostbusters thrown in for good measure.

In another Carrie reference, the article states, one of the young protagonists becomes the laughingstock of his classmates when he is kissed by a ghost at a big dance. The film's director, Javier Ruiz Caldera, told CINEMANÍA about yet another: "The scenes in which the students play volleyball has a lot to do with Carrie: on a formal level, it's a film that has been much in my head." A bit of the volleyball scene (as well as a bit of the scene at the dance) can be seen in the trailer linked to above. De Palma's Carrie, of course, opens with a scene of the high school girls playing volleyball during gym class.

With all of these recent homages, Rado, the webmaster of The De Palma Touch, has put together a page he calls De Palma's Brutal Legacy in the 2010s.

Posted by Geoff at 3:57 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, February 5, 2012 4:03 PM CST
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Thursday, February 2, 2012

Chronicle is a new film that opens tomorrow, written by Max Landis (son of John Landis) and directed by Josh Trank. According to several critics, the film calls to mind Brian De Palma's adaptation of Stephen King's Carrie, as well as a blend of other influences. In January, Landis explained to Comic Book Movie's Ed Gross that he wrote Chronicle "very much intending to be an antidote to all of the other superhero movies. We've sort of forgotten in this slew of comic-based superhero movies that what made those characters iconic is not the giant set pieces or the action that happens in comics. All of those movies feel like the same film by the second act; they all blur together.

"I wrote Chronicle specifically to show people that a movie about people with powers doesn't have to be the way it's been presented so far. It can be something character based. Chronicle is closer to Carrie than Captain America. It's definitely not Stephen King, but it's definitely got an edge to it that these movies don't usually have. It doesn't exist in a fantastical world. Ultimately the consequences aren't Spider-Man has to save the girl from falling off the bridge; there's a more serious set of consequences than that."

The New York Times' Manohla Dargis explains that one of the main characters is seen at the beginning of the film recording himself in his bedroom mirror on a digital camera, and that later, after breaking that camera, he gets a new, more expensive one that he begins to operate via newly found powers of telekinesis. Dargis states that the visual polish derived from this plot turn "truly lifts the movie."

Dargis calls Chronicle "a slick, modestly scaled science-fiction fairy tale with major box-office aspirations... It’s a classic pop creation in that its hook — three teenage boys mysteriously acquire fantastic powers — seems fresh even if the whole thing feels inspired by someone’s Netflix queue: a revenge-of-the-outsider tale like Brian De Palma’s Carrie; the first-person perspective of The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield; and average Joes turned super-Joes as in the television shows Heroes and No Ordinary Family.”

Later in the review, Dargis writes, "For a while the mysterious hole and its cave hold out the promise that Chronicle will be as creepy-freaky as Carrie, and that the filmmakers will mine the cavity’s depths for all its psycho-sexual terror instead of settling for a boy’s super-neato adventure. No such luck."

Meanwhile, TIME's Richard Corliss' review has the headline, "Chronicle: It's Carrie Plus X-Men, With Found Footage." Corliss, who finds Chronicle "simultaneously diverting and annoying," concludes his review with a wry discussion of how the film plays with the current trends of the "Found-Footage Faux-Doc" (FFFD):

The obvious liability of an FFFD is the requirement that the main character lug a camera everywhere, like Sisyphus with his damned rock, no matter how mortal the peril. The convention turns Chronicle sillier than it needs to be at times, as when Matt and Steve are trying to save a man’s life and Andrew can’t help because he’s filming. Things will be so much simpler when someone markets a camera that can be inserted in the customer’s forehead — the iBrain.

The movie does offer two innovations in the form. First, Andrew can make his camera levitate, giving moviegoers an occasional God’s-eye view of the action. And it happens that Casey (Ashley Hinshaw), a school friend of Matt’s, is also a compulsive videographer; when Matt visits her, we see her reflected in a mirror as she talks to him.

The second camera! This could be a breakthrough in found-footage movies, similar to but not quite on a par with the moment in ancient Athens, when Aeschylus introduced a second character — the deuteragonist — to Greek tragedy, thus turning the theatrical art from monologue to dialogue. (Voilà: drama!) Chronicle‘s second camera opens up dizzying possibilities: the footage of Andrew and Casey’s cameras could be edited into reaction shots, or into coverage of the same action from different vantage points. Or Casey could become the sleuth-heroine in a movie deficient in essential females.

Alas, she proves a minor character, and her camera doesn’t figure important in the story, as Andrew and Matt climactically reprise the two-man air battle from the end of the first Iron Man movie. Landis and Trask — preoccupied with aping and synthesizing other films into an ultimately ordinary one of their own — don’t exploit the opportunities they created with their second camera. It’s as if Edison thought his light bulb had no other function but to inspire jokes about how many people it took to screw it in.

The Boston Herald's James Verniere calls Chronicle "surprisingly insightful, terribly titled." Verniere says the film's found-footage conceit is more like Cloverfield than The Blair Witch Project. He concludes his review by writing, "You might describe Chronicle as The Office of teen superhero movies and say it owes a debt to Brian De Palma’s Carrie (1976) and The Fury (1978). But it’s also remarkably resonant and, yes, smells like teen spirit."

Finally, FEMPOP's Alex Cranz states, "Take Carrie. Now rub it up against the seminal Japanese film Akira. Now take out all the cool 'superpowers as allegories for teenager junk' stuff. And add a ton of fight scene that are really really fun. That is Chronicle." While Cranz was put off by some of the film's "incredibly dogdy" special effects, he also loves the shots produced by telekinetically-operated cameras. "Shots that are impossible in most found footage films are liberally used," Cranz writes. [Minor SPOILER] "If the characters are controlling the cameras with their minds then yes we can see all of them at once without worrying about whose holding the camera and yes we can do cool crane shots and yes we can get multiple angles on a scene because they’ve stolen a dozen cameras and are controlling them all with their minds."

Posted by Geoff at 7:54 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, February 2, 2012 11:47 PM CST
Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink | Share This Post
Saturday, January 21, 2012
A Carrie reunion will take place Friday, May 4th, when the Texas Frightmare Weekend, a horror convention sponsored by Anchor Bay Entertainment and Rue Morgue magazine, holds Prom Night from 9pm to 1am at Hyatt Regency's Filmmakers Hall. Set to attend are Nancy Allen, Piper Laurie, Betty Buckley, and P.J. Soles. The latter two were just announced as guests last week, so there may be more announced later, although the fest's web site gives no indication of that. Also in attendance will be Anthony Michael Hall. Here's the official description from the festival:

We have a special evening planned for you. Music. Dancing. Costumes. TERROR!Prom photos will be available for purchase with Anthony Michael Hall and other special guests along with a cash bar, music provided by GGC Productionsand dancing. Costumes are strongly encouraged as celebrity hosts will close out the evening by crowning King and Queen to the best costumed attendees!

WHEN: Friday May 4th, 9:00pm – 1:00am
WHERE: Filmmakers Hall, Hyatt Regency DFW
COST: Free for VIP, $5 for Weekend Pass holders, $10 for all others (pay at the door)

The festival itself runs May 4-6 2012 in Dallas. Also in attendance at the festival will be Barbara Crampton, who appeared in Brian De Palma's Body Double. I'll have a post about her tomorrow...

Posted by Geoff at 6:36 PM CST
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
In the January 6 2012 issue of Entertainment Weekly, Mark Harris takes a look at what went into the re-creation of Lisbeth Salander for David Fincher and Steven Zaillian's American remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. But before he gets to that point, he discusses the seeming antecedents to the character created by the late author Stieg Larsson. "By the time Larsson conceived her a decade ago," states Harris, "there were plenty of forerunners he could scavenge and strip for parts. In a way, Salendar's two godmothers are Sissy Spacek as the telekinetic wallflower-turned-destroyer in 1976's Carrie and Daryl Hannah as Pris, the cartwheeling death doll in 1982's Blade Runner. Like Lisbeth, Carrie is an outcast whose abusive treatment by both her family and her society (a.k.a. high school) triggers the surge of her special power into something dangerous. And like Lisbeth, she never seems more emotionally remote-- removed even from herself-- than when she's unleashing hell."

Harris names a number of other "stone-cold female badasses" that were possible influences in creating Lisbeth: Tim Burton and Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman, Neil Gaiman's Death, and Luc Besson's Nikita. "Recently," he writes, "we've seen variations embodied by Angelina Jolie (Wanted), Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass), Saoirse Ronan (Hanna), and Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse)."

Posted by Geoff at 10:30 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 10:37 PM CST
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post