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Saturday, September 29, 2012

The image above of Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams in Brian De Palma's Passion is courtesy of a New York Times video in which De Palma discusses the film. Aside from the image above, the video includes three more new pictures that have not previously been released. In the video, De Palma briefly describes the plot of Passion, and then discusses some of his filmmaking techniques. "I'm kind of a very intensely involved visual director," he says in the video. "I like beautiful people, interesting locations, and I also like the relationship between them. I kind of like the noir look. This is a kind of noirish drama. And plus, noir lighting has always been very interesting to me. I look for the correct shot for the piece of material I'm photographing. If it happens to be a steadicam shot, or a split diopter shot, or use of split screen, or a whole complicated surrealistic montage, these are things I have developed and evolved over the last 50 years of filmmaking. And they're very distinctive, and it doesn't take anybody very long to know that they're in a Brian De Palma movie."

Posted by Geoff at 10:12 AM CDT
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Friday, September 28, 2012

Earlier this month, The Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips mentioned Brian De Palma's The Fury in his brief TIFF review of Rian Johnson's Looper, which opens in theaters today. According to The Boston Herald's James Verniere, "The film is set in a dystopian near-future in which 10 percent of humans have low-level telekinetic power." To Verniere, Looper evokes films such as James Cameron's The Terminator, De Palma's Carrie, and Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys (the latter being "light years ahead of Looper").

Zap 2 It's Geoff Berkshire states, "Sci-fi fans will spot traces of seminal works by James Cameron, David Cronenberg, Terry Gilliam, Brian De Palma and even Robert Zemeckis as the movie unfolds, and yet Looper remains uniquely its own."

Closer to home, reader Harry Georgatos confirms that Looper carries the influence of The Fury, and adds that it is "the best sci-fi movie since Inception."

Posted by Geoff at 7:17 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, September 28, 2012 7:19 PM CDT
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El mundo sin Brando #70 (8º capítulo de la 4ª temporada) by El Mundo Sin Brando on Mixcloud

Posted by Geoff at 6:40 PM CDT
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Despite the negotiations with IFC Films revealed this past Monday, Entertainment One (also known as eOne Entertainment) announced today that it has acquired the North American rights to distribute Brian De Palma's Passion. Variety, Hollywood Reporter, Screen Daily, and Deadline all reported the news, adding that Passion will be released in theaters in early 2013. (I got a pretty big laugh out of The Wrap's Brent Lang stating that "it's been over a decade since De Palma was a critics' darling." Was he ever so loved by what we might call "the critics"?)

Regarding Passion, the Deadline team states that "the deal was negotiated by ICM Partners along with SBS’ Saïd Ben Saïd and eOne’s David Reckziegel and Sejin Croninger; ICM Partners also reps De Palma." The Hollywood Reporter quotes Reckziegel (the president of eOne Films North America)-- "Rachel McAdams' and Noomi Rapace's performances are captivating and De Palma delivers another great thriller that audiences have already embraced at Venice and Toronto."

Posted by Geoff at 1:11 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, September 28, 2012 7:44 PM CDT
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Peter Labuza and Simon Abrams begin a special NYFF episode of the Cinephiliacs podcast with a stimulating discussion of Brian De Palma's Passion. They delve into the characters' manipulation of digital images, as well as the use of color in the film. Abrams also discusses how he thinks there is a lot of interesting things going on in the first half of the film, contrary to the seemingly popular view that the film only picks up in its second half.

Posted by Geoff at 1:16 AM CDT
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Benjamin Grayson was assistant to Kenneth Branagh on last year's Thor, and now Branagh stars in Grayson's short film Prodigal, about a father who tries to keep his daughter away from two competing organizations out to harness her "special abilities" for their own purposes. The short is included in a new anthology, Stars In Shorts. The Hollywood Reporter's Frank Scheck says the collection of shorts has no apparent overall theme, and is a mostly "rewarding grab bag." However, "The sole dud of the bunch is Benjamin Grayson’s sci-fi effort Prodigal," states Scheck, "with Kenneth Branagh as the ominous representative of a villainous organization intent on capturing a young girl with psychic powers. Even at 25 minutes, it seems overlong compared to Brian De Palma’s The Fury, to which it bears an obvious debt." Neil LaBute also has a short in the anthology called Sexting, "in which Julia Stiles, playing an aggrieved mistress to a married man, delivers a nearly eight-minute monologue directly to the camera," according to Scheck.

Posted by Geoff at 12:51 AM CDT
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

The New York Post's Farran Smith Nehme (also known as the Self-Styled Siren) has some passionate words for Passion. "The many, many people who hate Brian De Palma will walk out still hating him after Passion, as it flaunts his every alleged flaw," states Nehme. "Highly stylized acting -- Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace seem to have studied Kim Novak in Vertigo down to the last 'Pledge of Allegiance' -- like line delivery. Kinky sex (although the nudity is kept to a minimum). Flashy, look-ma-no-hands technique, notably a split-screen sequence that sets a performance of Afternoon of a Faun next to nefarious goings-on."

Continuing, Nehme writes, "And of course, a crazy-quilt plot. It's a remake of Alain Corneau's Love Crime, but the events still feel as though they're stitched together from the least logical elements of every other thriller De Palma ever made. Plus, you simply will not believe how heavily he references the dream sequences in Dressed to Kill. Lucky for me, Dressed to Kill is my favorite De Palma, and I was practically drunk on this new movie's sensuality and dazzle. Passion is pure cinema, giddily unrelated to any aspect of life as it is actually lived in Europe or anywhere on Planet Earth. And for me (as well as the audience at the press screening, which seemed to dig it) that's an excellent thing."

Posted by Geoff at 6:09 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, September 28, 2012 6:52 PM CDT
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I know there are a few interviews I still need to link to from the other festivals (Part Two of the interview roundup is coming soon, for sure!), but Jack Giroux at Film School Rejects got a chance to interview Brian De Palma prior to the start of the New York Film Festival, and, well, it's fresh.

When asked if he takes it as a compliment when critics call something "very much a De Palma picture," De Palma said, "I think that’s a good thing. When a director’s style is so evident in his work that you immediately identify it after he’s made so many movies…it’s like a certain type of ice cream: you go, 'Yeah, strawberry, my favorite!' Or, you know, 'Strawberry, I hate it!' Either way, you know it’s strawberry." Giroux further asks De Palma if his style has evolved over time. "Yeah," replies De Palma. "Obviously, you do certain things. I have a rather large paint box full of certain plots and montage elements I like to use. It’s like John Ford‘s landscapes. There are certain things you say, 'Well, let’s have them run through there again.' It’s the same picture I’m very comfortable with, and that keeps repeating in your work."

The interview then goes on...

You still look for challenges within that style, right?

I think my career has met every challenge imaginable. [Laughs] I’ve tried every form that’s out there except the western. I love the landscapes of the western.

Have you ever been interested in doing a western?

I’d do one, absolutely.

A theme in some of your work is characters feeling trapped, even in something like Snake Eyes. For Passion, you use that barred-in widow shades effect, so do you think it fits that theme?

We don’t really think about it like that. We sort of address the aesthetic problems of the piece. For Snake Eyes, the whole idea was you never leave the casino, which is the same idea that a casino never wants you to leave. For other films, the landscapes are very important. I think about them all the time, because I’m very scrupulous in finding visuals that illustrate and magnify the themes in the film. The world the girls live in is a very important location.

Obviously a lot of those visuals come from your dreams. What dreams did you use for Passion?

I myself get a lot of ideas from my dreams. I wake up many times during the night thinking about certain aesthetic problems, which sort of figure themselves out in my dream. For this movie, I got the idea of the phone commercial in a dream. With this I was always thinking, “How am I going to end it?” I decided to go with this whole extended dream sequence.

The last time you made a thriller you deconstructed the genre with Femme Fatale. For this, did you want to do the same or make a straight thriller?

The problem with this is it’s a police procedural in many ways. I felt what was effective about the original movie was the first scene revealed who did it. After that, then it’s seeing how all these phony clues were set up, which I didn’t find all that interesting. Actually, I looked at 10 years of CSI, to see how exactly they use clues to solve cases. I said, “My God, this has been done to death 1,000 different ways.” You can’t do a police procedural in a movie anymore. Television has already done it 27 different ways. I had to come up with a way to make the confession seem absolutely real, but then get into the surreal world.

I haven’t done any police procedurals, because it’s usually people talking to the accused at a table holding up evidence. Besides having to shoot that, I have to find a way to make this interesting. Also, having to simplify the clues. In the original movie, she left four clues, four things that had to be deconstructed. I just got it down to the bloody scarf, to make it as simple as possible.


[After some discussion of the strong reactions audiences usually have to De Palma's films (including Redacted), the interview continues as De Palma mentions that the commercial in Passion is based on an actual commercial...]

I believe your original idea for that was a riff on Inception.

Yeah, it was. It was a very complicated three-dream level Inception.

That’s interesting, since you’re known for classical influences. How often do you find yourself inspired by modern films?

Well, I’m inspired by anything that touches my imagination, which is why I think I’m the only living director who actually goes to film festivals to see the movies. I’m looking at stuff all the time. I go see the movies that rarely get into this country. I’m interested in what everyone else is doing. When I see what I consider an interesting idea, it’s, like, “Wow!”

What do you usually look for in those festival films?

The great thing about the film festivals in Montreal and Toronto is the ability to move in and out of the theater if you’re seeing things that don’t interest you. I only had a few days to look at films in Toronto, but, I don’t know, I looked at seven films in one afternoon. If I see nothing there that catches my eye, I’ll just move on to the next movie. I’m going to the movie that nobody usually attends. I don’t go to the big tickets, because I can see those in New York. I want to see the ones which are really strange and only have ten people in the theater. I go completely by chance, since I don’t read extensive reviews or introductions. I usually just go, “This sounds sort of interesting.”

You’ve mentioned being a big admirer of his, so I have to ask, did you get a chance to see The Master in Toronto?

No, I didn’t, unfortunately. I’m an admirer of Paul [Thomas Anderson]‘s, obviously. I thought Magnolia was fantastic. I’m the one who understands the films completely.

[Laughs] There’s already been a lot of debate over what The Master means as well.

Well, when you’re pushing the envelope, that’s what’s going to happen.

You shot Passion on film, which is always surprising now. Why didn’t you go with digital?

The reason we shot on film is…I mean, it has a lot of beautiful women. On film you can light them beautifully. I’m sure that’ll change. Digital doesn’t lend itself to the class of beautiful lighting. I chose the cinematographer specifically because he knows how to light women. I like beautiful women, dressing them, and making them look as beautiful as they can.

Posted by Geoff at 12:49 AM CDT
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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Peaches Does Herself is a semi-autobiographical musical, written by Peaches and shot by Robin Thomson, that is (according to Rolling Stone) "culled from a 10-date live stage production" she presented in Berlin. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month. On the TIFF website, Noah Cowan describes the film as "a wild transsexual rock opera." Vanguard's Leslie Hatton asked Peaches, who is from Toronto, what movies served as inspirations in transforming the stage show into a movie. "I saw Phantom of the Paradise and Tommy at a very young age," Peaches replied, "and it's affected everything I do ever since." She added that she is also inspired by Sandra Bernhard's Without You I'm Nothing. Peaches mentioned Phantom Of The Paradise and Tommy to Rolling Stone, as well, and also added The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Busby Berkeley musicals (the latter an influence from her mother).

"This is not a documentary, but it's a way to understand me in a fantastical way," Peaches explained to Rolling Stone's Karen Bliss. "It's also subversive – an anti-jukebox musical. Actually, the songs relate more to what they're actually about in the musical than something like Mamma Mia, where they make up another story, or We Will Rock You, where [they have] this cheesy future crap. There's enough of a story there for me to have originality, but I also – not even parodied, but gave homage to all my favorite musicals. Like the speech at the beginning, the professor – that's kind of borrowed from The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the scene 'I Feel Cream,' when they bring in all the sets and all of a sudden we're in love. That to me is so Singin' in the Rain, An American in Paris, all those Gene Kelly [and] Fred Astaire movies."

Posted by Geoff at 12:00 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 12:04 AM CDT
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Monday, September 24, 2012

According to the Hollywood Reporter's Tatiana Siegel, IFC Films is in negotiations to acquire domestic distribution rights to Brian De Palma's Passion. International Creative Management (ICM), which represents De Palma, is negotiating the deal on behalf of the filmmakers, according to Siegel. Passion was produced by Saïd Ben Saïd, who also produced Alain Corneau's Crime d'amour, and is executive produced by Alfred Hürmer and Valérie Boyer. The film will screen three times at the New York Film Festival, which opens this Friday (Passion screens Saturday night).

Siegel notes that IFC acquired domestic rights to a number of films at the Toronto International Film Festival, including Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha, which stars Greta Gerwig (who also co-wrote the film). De Palma attended an NYFF press and industry screening of that film on Thursday, where Movie Geeks United's Dean Treadwell noticed De Palma and invited him to be on the radio broadcast again sometime to talk about Passion (De Palma enthusiastically said yes, but it won't be until around the time the film gets released-- you can hear Treadwell's report below). De Palma and Baumbach, who have been friends for a while, will appear on stage together at NYFF on October 7, discussing their film influences, showing clips, and answering questions from the audience.

Posted by Geoff at 6:53 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 12:34 AM CDT
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