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Tuesday, October 23, 2012
NEW 'PASSION' STILLS & REVIEWS
MICAH GOTTLIEB: "GLEEFULLY OLD-FASHIONED PSYCHODRAMA"
Lindsey at Rachel McAdams Online has some new stills from Brian De Palma's Passion, some of which you can see below, along with a couple more courtesy Noomi Rapace Online. (Big thanks to Lindsey!)

We also have links to some more Passion reviews.

Tiny Mix Tapes' Micah Gottlieb:
"The hallmarks of Brian De Palma’s cinema du look — sweeping camerawork, narrative reflexivity, visual and verbal double entendres — are fully present in this gleefully old-fashioned psychodrama of high-business office politics, which doubles (oh, those doubles!) as a canny survey of modern technology’s manipulative power. A blonde (Rachel McAdams) and a brunette (Noomi Rapace) pithily jab at each other’s throats in a Berlin advertising agency, a dome of shimmering glass in which MacBooks, smartphones, and security cameras become agents of deception. As ever, De Palma’s images range from starkly artificial to gracefully restless, a stream undercut by the severe beauty of his actresses: the ghostlike McAdams and Rapace’s tight grin seem built from a century’s worth of repressed desires. Indeed, the film’s latter half turns dream-life into a shaggy dog story, lit through Venetian blinds, which finally unspools as one girl’s fantasy of entrapment, stuck in a reality where she can never truly get off. Who said De Palma isn’t a personal filmmaker? With the sultry score by De Palma vet Pino Donaggio and a typically mesmerizing split screen sequence, Passion finds the director delightfully riffing on himself."

At the Brian De Palma Discussion forum, "bdpinnyc", who caught the film at the New York Film Festival, wrote that Passion owes a lot to Robert Altman's 3 Women, a film that some have mentioned in connection to De Palma's Femme Fatale, as well. "Well, I liked it and am eager to see it again as I need to take it all in some more," wrote bdpinnyc. "As with any DePalma film, there is more than meets the eye. On first glance I do not think it's one of DePalma's finest works, but there [are] a lot of interesting things happening in it. Curiously, the first half of the film has been criticized by some as being too plodding or straightforward and the back-end is all crazy DePalma and exciting. I rather liked the first half! The satire of corporate politics and vicious back-stabbing was fun for me as a corporate guy myself.

"The second half gets really interesting but I think the film loses of a bit of focus. Again, I need to re-see it to clarify where dreams start and end... and start up again. I won't give away the ending except to say that it was so similar to Dressed to Kill that it made me slightly uncomfortable. Was it a parody? There's certainly a twist. But even the Pino Donaggio score (which I loved overall) employed the same music cues from Dressed to Kill. I will say, it seemed to lack the crispness of DePalma at his best, and yet, there were many fascinating ideas at work, so I don't want to imply that he's gone soft in any way. I'm actually happy to see that many of the critics in NY have responded well to the film."

Cutting Edge's Niko Hendrix groups Passion in with a "bizarre trio" alongside William Friedkin's Killer Joe and Francis Ford Coppola's Twixt, all movies that, for Hendrix, show that these film icons are not concerned about prevailing conventions, and seem to be subscribing to the motto, "It's better to burn out than to fade away." Contrary to bdpinnyc above, Hendrix found that after very stiff early going, "Passion stirs the pot turns into a dislocated fever dream that seems completely built from De Palma’s subconscious and its slivers of sardonic pleasure. Thus, with the exaggerated score of Pino Donnagio, the whole thing becomes a caricatural tongue-in-cheek atmosphere in which De Palma decomposes all his demons in a string of elegant setpieces."

Knack's Piet Goethals states that it is clear from the beginning that De Palma has thoroughly revised the script of Love Crime, although the first half stays relatively faithful to the original. Once the murder is introduced, writes Goethals, the film's style becomes "stylish in an expressionistic realism and nightmarish atmosphere, full of oblique angles, a pressing play of light and shadow, theater masks, twin sisters, split screen and high heels. All this is deeply lathered with a swollen soundtrack by Pino Donaggio, who in his composition brings a synthesis of Carrie and Dressed to Kill.

"Formally, it seems like a De Palma 'best of' of his most remarkable stylistic servings. What happens is quite grotesque. The very slow start to the massacre, split screen, the impressionistic mood shades of Debussy on the soundtrack and the parallel mounting between ballet and manslaughter, is vintage De Palma. And the final, which tends toward autoparody."

Nashville Scene's Jason Shawhan reviews the NYFF slate. "Speaking of amazing female duos," writes Shawhan, "Brian De Palma's Passion marks a delicious return to form for the master of art-sleaze. Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams play beautiful corporate warriors doing awful things to one another, and the end result is a delirious fusion of Assayas' Demonlover and Mean Girls."


Posted by Geoff at 8:55 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, October 26, 2012 1:26 AM CDT
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Monday, October 22, 2012
'AHS' SEASON UNDER DE PALMA INFLUENCE
RYAN MURPHY: "IT'S TIME FOR A BRIAN DE PALMA RESURGENCE"

Although the image above from last week's season premiere of American Horror Story is clearly inspired by Stanley Kubrick, the show's co-creator Ryan Murphy tells Entertainment Weekly's Tim Stack that Brian De Palma is the big influence for this year's model. Of course, we've already noted the Pino Donaggio music cues from De Palma's Carrie that recurred throughout episode one, as well as that episode's echoes of De Palma's Sisters. But Murphy would seem to imply that we can expect more nods to De Palma as the season rolls on. Here's what he told EW:
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"When Brad and I did season 1, it was definitely influenced by masters like [Stanley] Kubrick. This year the thing that I was really obsessed with is I was really influenced by DePalma, who I think is a brilliant filmmaker, who I really feel like never gets his just desserts. It’s time for a Brian DePalma resurgence. So I was very into the filming style of DePalma’s works, specifically Dressed to Kill and Carrie. There’s a lot of slow motion, there’s a lot of languid filmmaking. In the first episode, as a tribute to Brian, we actually used two big pieces from Carrie’s score. So the same can be said of DePalma’s work which is very fever dream. Look at that last scene of Carrie—was it real? Was it a dream? So yes it was very influenced by his work particularly. Also it was very influenced by [Dario] Argento. The other great thing about it is Brad Buecker, who edited all the shows last year, who’s my right hand man, is also a brilliant director. The first two were edited and directed by Brad. It’s very interesting when an editor directs. It’s much more I think a psychological thriller as well.

"Last year, it’s interesting to me, because people said to me 'Oh the Harmon family is so venal and so terrible and we don’t root for them.' I think this year you have 3 or 4 people you’re really rooting for — definitely Jessica, definitely Evan, definitely Sarah, definitely Chloe. This year we’re really exploring the idea of madness, and I think madness, for people caught in that web, it must feel like a hallucinogenic nightmare reality.

"DePalma was also clearly very influenced by Hitchcock. But DePalma was able to use sex in a much more graphic way. Obviously, American Horror Story will always be about sex and violence. But I’m really thrilled to talk about DePalma. One of our writers on our show, Jennifer Salt, starred in a Brian DePalma movie [1973's Sisters]. They’re still really good friends."

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Stack then suggests that Murphy should get De Palma to direct an episode. "Ha!" replies Murphy. "I doubt he would come to television, but it certainly would be worth a call. I love him. I think he’s a very underrated filmmaker."

Posted by Geoff at 1:04 AM CDT
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Sunday, October 21, 2012
DONAGGIO HANDED LIFETIME AWARD BY STOLLER
VIDEO - DONAGGIO: "DE PALMA & I NEVER QUARRELED, SINCE I SPOKE NO ENGLISH AND HE NO ITALIAN"


In the image above, legendary songwriter Mike Stoller hands the Lifetime Achievement Award to Pino Donaggio at last night's World Soundtrack Awards and Concert ceremony. There is a video brief at De Redactie which shows Donaggio receiving the award, along with a snippet of the concert in which some of the composer's themes were performed while images from the films played on a giant screen behind the musicians (see image below). In the video, Donaggio says, "The collaboration with De Palma has always run very smoothly. We have never quarreled, since I spoke no English and he no Italian. We found each other in music. That was the most important: the music."


Posted by Geoff at 8:58 PM CDT
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Saturday, October 20, 2012


Posted by Geoff at 3:55 PM CDT
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Friday, October 19, 2012
DOUBLE DOUBLE DE PALMA WEEKEND AT THE AERO
'BLOW OUT' PAIRED WITH 'BLOW-UP', 'DRESSED TO KILL' WITH 'PSYCHO'

The Aero Theatre in Santa Monica has a couple of De Palma-related double features this weekend. Tonight at 7:30 (Friday) is Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up, followed by Brian De Palma's Blow Out. Tomorrow night at 7:30 is Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, followed by De Palma's Dressed To Kill. In each case, the De Palma film will be screened via DCP, while the Antonioni and Hitchcock films will be screened from 35mm prints.

POST-ELECTION SSCREENING OF 'BLOW OUT' IN DALLAS
Meanwhile, our old friend Bill Fentum informs us that Blow Out, which involves the death of a presidential candidate just prior to an election, will have two screenings the night after the upcoming November election at the Magnolia in Dallas. The screening is part of a series at the Magnolia called "The Big Movie," which normally runs on Tuesday nights. However, since November 6 is election day, it appears they moved the screening that week to Wednesday, November 7.
(Thanks Bill!)

Posted by Geoff at 8:21 PM CDT
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Posted by Geoff at 7:37 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, October 19, 2012 7:42 PM CDT
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Thursday, October 18, 2012
'PASSION' IS OFFICIAL CLOSING FILM AT GHENT
UPDATE: DONAGGIO INTRODUCING FRIDAY NIGHT SCREENING OF 'PASSION'
SCREENING THIS SATURDAY; DONAGGIO AWARD & CONCERT THAT SAME EVENING
Back in April, Variety reported that Pino Donaggio will receive the 12th Lifetime Achievement Award at this year's World Soundtrack Awards, an event which takes place on the closing night (this Saturday, October 20) of Belgium's Ghent Film Festival. One thing we seem to have missed was an announcement that the official closing night film of the festival is Brian De Palma's Passion, for which Donaggio composed the score. In a reader's comment below, Alex tells us that Donaggio will be on hand to introduce a special screening of Passion Friday night (and Alex will be in attendance-- thanks Alex!). The World Soundtrack Awards Concert & Ceremony will include a concert celebrating the music of James Newton Howard, who will share conducting duties with Dirk Brossé. The Ghent website states that a selection of Donaggio's work will also be performed at the concert. The festival opened October 9th.

Posted by Geoff at 9:16 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, October 19, 2012 7:03 PM CDT
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Posted by Geoff at 6:09 PM CDT
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Posted by Geoff at 12:26 AM CDT
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Wednesday, October 17, 2012
'CARRIE' CUES & ECHOES OF 'SISTERS'
AS 'AMERICAN HORROR STORY' BEGINS ITS SECOND SEASON
[Possible Spoilers] So I'm watching the season premiere earlier tonight of American Horror Story, the F/X series created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, and about 10-15 minutes in, I hear this very familiar Pino Donaggio music. At first I wondered if it was just a little musical homage to Donaggio's "Bucket Of Blood" cue from Brian De Palma's Carrie, but as it went on, it became clear to me that it was that precise recording-- it was indeed "Bucket Of Blood," edited to fit in with what was happening on screen.

And the scene in question was the introduction of the character pictured here, Lana Winters, a journalist played by Sarah Paulson. "Bucket Of Blood" (as the track was titled on the original Carrie soundtrack release) plays as Lana approaches the asylum (in 1964) that provides the main setting of season two-- and the Donaggio track is repeated twice more in the episode, creating a little motif for Lana. Lana is working on a story about the asylum under the false pretense of doing a fluff piece on the bakery run by Sister Jude (Jessica Lange). The "Bucket Of Blood" cue is heard a second time, just moments later in the episode, during the scene pictured here: Lana is watching as the latest "patient" (Kit Walker, played by Evan Peters) is delivered to the asylum, and the music builds suspense as he is led up the stairs, and the Donaggio crescendo peaks as Kit is stripped and thrown into a shower stall.

In between these two "Bucket Of Blood" cues is another Donaggio cue from Carrie: "For The Last Time We'll Pray" plays as Lana makes her way inside the asylum for the first time. Sister Mary (Lily Rabe) leads Lana up the stairs to meet Sister Jude, and they walk in on her just as she is beginning to shave the head of a patient, Shelly (Chloe Sevigny).

Now before I get to the third use of "Bucket Of Blood," which comes later on in the episode (confirming the running motif), it is worth noting that Sevigny portrayed Grace Collier, the journalist, in Douglas Buck's 2006 remake of De Palma's Sisters. This, of course, is the journalist character who was played by Jennifer Salt in De Palma's Sisters. Salt is an executive producer on American Horror Story, and she wrote a couple of episodes from the first season. This current episode, and, it would appear, the season to come, has clear echoes of De Palma's Sisters, in which Grace, investigating a murder, infiltrates a mental health clinic. However, Grace is discovered and captured by Dr. Emil Breton (William Finley), who tricks the others at the clinic into thinking Grace is a stray patient. "You want to know our secrets," Emil says to Grace as he puts her under a hallucinatory sedation. "We will share them with you. Watch." On American Horror Story, Lana is eventually discovered and captured in a similar manner. "She wanted an inside look into our facility," Sister Jude later tells Lana's roomate, "and I will see that she gets it."

But before that happens, "Bucket Of Blood" is heard a third time as Sister Mary appears to be feeding someone or something in the woods, and the music this time crescendos as Lana herself startles Sister Mary-- bringing Lana's appropriated Donaggio motif full circle.

Appropriating themes from horror movies is nothing new for American Horror Story. Last season, Bernard Herrmann's whistling theme from Twisted Nerve was used as a recurring theme for Evan Peters' character. (That same theme had previously been reappropriated by Quentin Tarantino for a memorable De Palma-Dressed-To-Kill-esque split screen sequence in Kill Bill Vol. 1.) For all I know, there were other such music cues that I did not recognize. But I wouldn't be surprised to hear "Bucket Of Blood" again throughout the season, if Lana's story continues.


Posted by Geoff at 11:35 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, October 20, 2012 3:57 PM CDT
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