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Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
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moving forward

Filmmaker Mike
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Rie Rasmussen
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Mentor Tarantino
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AV Club Review
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Spielberg Predicts
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Scorsese tests
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James Franco
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& star in
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Coppola on
his recent films:
"What I was
trying to do with
those films was to
make three student
films in order to
try and set a new
trajectory and try to
say, 'Well, what
happens if I have no
resources?' Now, having
done that, my new
work is going to be
much more ambitious
and bigger in scope and
budget and ambition,
but now building on a
new confidence or
assurance. The three
little films were very
useful. I'm glad I did
it. I hope George Lucas
does it, because he
has a wonderful personal
filmmaking ability that
people haven't seen
for a while."

Sean Penn to
direct De Niro
as raging comic
in The Comedian

Scarlett to make
directorial feature
debut with
Capote story

Keith Gordon
teaming up
with C. Nolan for
thriller that
he will write
and direct

Recent Headlines
a la Mod:

-Picture emerging
for Happy Valley

-De Palma's new
project with
Said Ben Said

-De Palma to team
with Pacino & Pressman
for Paterno film
Happy Valley

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De Palma interviewed
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De Palma discusses
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Carrie...A Fan's Site


Paul Schrader

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The Filmmaker Who
Came In From The Cold

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Scarface: Make Way
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Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
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No Time For
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De Palma a la Mod

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

If you haven't been watching FX Network's American Horror Story or Showtime's Homeland, you should start. American Horror Story, pictured above, is the creepy new series from Ryan Murphy, who created FX's Nip/Tuck and FOX's Glee. Murphy got the series off to a whopper of a start by co-writing and directing the pilot episode, which you can watch on Hulu until October 31st (right now, you can also watch it and the second episode at the FX site). The third episode is the latest, and was written by Jennifer Salt, who is also acting as an executive producer of the series (Salt has been working with Murphy on TV and film projects since Nip/Tuck). American Horror Story has been thrilling to watch from week-to-week, and I highly recommend it. This haunted house story is fast-paced (with jump cuts used to amp up the creepiness), funny, scary, and just when you think it's gone about as far as it can go, it shows itself to have limitless imagination (at least, thus far).

Another series worth watching is Showtime's Homeland, which hooked me from the start, and also continues to move into surprising places about four episodes in. Homeland stars Claire Danes as a CIA operative who has the nagging intuition that an American Marine, who had been held captive by Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan for eight years before being rescued and returned to America, has turned, and may somehow be involved in a potential sleeper cell operation. With the help of a close confidant and his brother, she takes it upon herself to illegally place cameras and microphones in the Marine's home, and spends nights on the couch watching him sleep, looking for any sign of suspicious activity. The viewer is privy to certain things going on in the Marine's mind, but with enough ambiguity to keep on the fence about whether or not he is part of any such plot. I hadn't thought of any specific De Palma influence while watching, but The New Yorker's Nancy Franklin feels that the series evokes Antonioni's Blow-Up, De Palma's Blow Out, and Coppola's The Conversation.

Posted by Geoff at 10:29 PM CDT
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Monday, September 12, 2011
Eric Charmelo, who created the new TV series Ringer with his regular co-writer Nicole Snyder, tells dailybreeze.com's Steven Herbert that various films by Brian De Palma, including Dressed To Kill, provided inspiration for the series, which premieres tomorrow night on the CW network. "Just when you think you have it figured out," Charmelo tells Herbert, "we'll throw in a twist that completely takes it in a new direction." Charmelo describes Ringer, which stars Sarah Michelle Gellar as identical twins, as a "neo-noir thriller" that "will keep the audience guessing," according to Herbert. Charmelo elaborated that he and Snyder have an obsession "with the concept of good twin versus evil twin. We always thought it was kind of funny and campy, but we wanted to play it straight, like a serialized thriller."

Posted by Geoff at 6:19 PM CDT
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Friday, June 3, 2011
Several reviewers of Layer Cake, Matthew Vaughn's 2004 debut film as director, pointed out that that film carried strong echoes of Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way. Now, as Vaughn's latest film, X-Men: First Class, hits theaters this weekend, Vaughn gives Comic Book Movie's Josh Wilding a whole list of his inspirations, which includes De Palma, and specifically De Palma's Scarface and The Untouchables. Here is Vaughn's response to Wilder's query of the filmmakers and films that inspire him:

Steven Spielberg's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark", Brian De Palma's "Scarface" and "The Untouchables", Robert Zemeckis' "Back to the Future", Sergio Leone's "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly", John Frankenheimer's "The Manchurian Candidate", and George Lucas' "Star Wars" and also his business model.

Meanwhile, Spout's Christopher Campbell, inspired by the release of the new X-Men film, has produced a list of "10 Mutants Who Need an X-Men Origins Movie." Campbell mentions that a previously mentioned Mystique movie, preferably directed by Brian De Palma, is still their first choice. Of that potential movie, Campbell wrote:

X-Men Origins: Mystique” would be very cool, because Raven Darkholme is such a fascinating villain. Her solo film should be set during WWII in her days as a spy and feature her lesbian partner, Destiny (or hetero partner if you subscribe to the theory that Mystique was born a man and has been disguising herself primarily as a woman “as the ultimate in transvestism”). Brian De Palma should probably direct this spin off, since it’ll kind of be like a cross between “Mission: Impossible” and “Femme Fatale.”

Of course, Rebecca Romijn, who played Mystique in the original X-Men films, was De Palma's Femme Fatale. While a younger actress would undoubtedly have to be cast in such a prequel, it would be exciting to see De Palma mixing it up with these elements within the WWII genre. The only problem with that is, the new films have altered the timeline to where Raven would be a toddler during WWII. Even so, perhaps Vaughn and Bryan Singer should give De Palma a call...

Posted by Geoff at 9:54 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, June 4, 2011 6:20 PM CDT
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Friday, April 1, 2011
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.
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"?
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?
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.
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.
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?
No, the next one is something I originated.

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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Friday, March 25, 2011

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 17, 2011
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.

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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Thursday, July 30, 2009
The poster image at left is for a two-part film series by Jean-Francois Richet that tells the story of real-life French gangster Jacques Mesrine. The first film is called Mesrine: Killer Instinct, and stars Vincent Cassel. According to Paul Dale at The List, Richet's two-part saga reflects the influence of a number of filmmakers:

Richet’s enterprising handle on the material Killer Instinct is a work of veneration and compulsion comparable to the better films of Brian De Palma (Scarface, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, Carlito’s Way). Like a French Tarantino, Richet is clearly a filmmaker who loves movies and moviemakers. Over the course of these two films, he pays considerable respect to, among others, William Friedkin, Peter Yates, Michael Mann, Luc Besson and Michael Bay.

Dale goes on to suggest that the film's comparisons to The Godfather and GoodFellas are perhaps overstated:

Such comparisons actually do the film a bit of a disservice. Though driven by a euphoric narrative that undeniably belongs to mainstream English language cinema, Killer Instinct and to a lesser extent its sequel is actually awash with homegrown influences. The sequences set in late-50s Paris could have been lifted from Henri Georges-Clouzot’s brilliant 1947 dockside thriller Quai des Oefevres and the spirit of Jean Gabin, most notably in Michael Carné’s moody 1938 deserter-on-the-loose drama Le Quai des Brumes which shadows every frame and crooked turn of Cassel’s ratty mouth.

Meanwhile, Dennis Cozzalio at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule was reminded of De Palma twice while reviewing Jaume Collet-Serra's Orphan, currently in U.S. theaters. Cozzalio was jolted during the opening of the film, writing, "I had to fight the urge to bolt from the theater during this opening sequence. And had Collet-Serra continued to operate in this weirdly dissociative style of De Palma-tinged surgical theater of horror, who knows how much I could have/would have taken?" Cozzalio also hints that the surprises in store in the final stretch of Orphan place "the movie in the vicinity of one of Brian De Palma’s great sick jokes," as the audience most likely will not see what's coming.

Finally, in a review of the new Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince, Kevin Maher at the Times Online states that the final act contains "a fantastically cheeky homage to Brian De Palma’s Carrie." Guess now I'll have to go check it out...

Posted by Geoff at 1:35 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, July 31, 2009 12:03 AM CDT
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009
31-year-old Jake Goldberger's feature debut, Don McKay, won him the Best Director award at Cincinnati's Oxford International Film Festival this week. The film stars Thomas Haden Church (who also coproduced), Elisabeth Shue, and Melissa Leo. According to CityBeat's Jason Gargano, Goldberger told the audience at the OIFF postscreening Q&A that his inspirations for the film are Joel and Ethan Coen's Blood Simple (that film's M. Emmet Walsh has a part in Don McKay) and early Brian De Palma films. Gargano calls those name checks curious, but The Envelope's Scott Feinberg, writing about the film after it played at this year's Tribeca Film Festival, said that Don McKay "is a mind-twister that fails to fall neatly under any traditional genre label -- it blends horror, romance, drama, comedy and even film noir in a way that is somewhat evocative of early Coen Brothers films such as Blood Simple and Miller's Crossing, if not nearly as polished." Sounds intriguing, to say the least. Gargano writes that the film should see a theatrical release later this year. Below is a clip, courtesy of Variety blogger Anne Thompson, who describes the film as a "twisty thriller."

According to Screen Daily, Zhang Yimou will direct a remake of Blood Simple, which "will be set in a Chinese noodle shop in desert, rather than in a Texas bar."

Posted by Geoff at 1:33 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 2:58 PM CDT
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