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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Posted by Geoff at 6:55 PM CDT
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012
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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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Posted by Geoff at 3:55 PM CDT
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Friday, October 19, 2012

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
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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Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Brian De Palma's Passion will screen out of competition as part of the official selection at the 6th annual Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival, which runs November 9-18. The screening of Passion will be the capper to a complete retrospective of De Palma's work. Below is an excerpt from the LEFFEST site's description of the retrospective...

"Since the beginning, his films showed the experimental vein and the penchant for intertextuality and metafiction of the 'nouvelle vague', besides making use of the restrained and distilled suspense Hitchcock became famous for.

"An admirer of Bretchian distanciation who likes to keep the viewers aware of their emotional involvement in the film, De Palma values the medium of film first and foremost. 'You suck them in and annihilate them. Then you say, “It's just a movie, right? It's not real,”' he noted in an interview.

"He reached a wider audience with Carrie, the film adaptation of Stephen King´s horror novel, which garnered the actors Oscar nominations for their performances. In it, Brian De Palma made extensive use of split-screen and slow motion shots to tell the story visually rather than through dialogue. His film, The Fury, made an impression on Godard, who included De Palma in his project Histoire(s) du Cinéma."

Posted by Geoff at 7:10 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 7:11 PM CDT
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Monday, October 15, 2012

The Daily Beast's Marlow Stern has posted a Rachel McAdams-centric review of Brian De Palma's Passion. "After years of playing the good girl," writes Stern in the introduction, "Rachel McAdams returns to her Mean Girls roots with a deliciously entertaining turn as a bitchy, kinky, bisexual ad executive in Passion." Stern's description of some of McAdams' scenes from the movie can be said to contain some minor spoilers:

"The film opens with Christine (McAdams), a Machiavellian executive at a Berlin-based ad firm, cozied together on a couch with rising ad star Isabelle, played by Noomi Rapace. The pair needs to conceive an innovative ad campaign for a new Panasonic mobile phone. Christine is very flirtatious, giggling, caressing, and locking eyes with her ambitious underling. When their brainstorming session is interrupted by the arrival of her sleazy British sex toy, Dirk (Paul Anderson), Christine is noticeably perturbed. She kisses Isabelle goodbye—on the mouth.

"We’re then treated to a tight close-up of McAdams’s face against a bedpost. She is, judging by her half-hearted squeals, receiving mediocre oral sex. Suddenly, a man’s head emerges in the frame wearing a hybrid Phantom of the Opera Kabuki mask.

"This all looks like the start of a beautiful lesbian affair—that is, until Isabelle crafts a knockout ad campaign for the phone, a campaign for which Christine immediately takes credit. Christine, it seems, needs to knock this out of the park so she can receive a promotion and transfer back to the company’s Manhattan offices. Isabelle doesn’t take the move lying down, and immediately uploads her commercial to YouTube. After it goes viral, it’s Isabelle who receives all the kudos from the company brass, and the proverbial claws come out.

"Passion could easily be retitled Mad Women, with its sleazy ad biz setting and estrogen overload. When the pouty Dani (Karoline Herfuth), Isabelle’s redhead sexy assistant—who also has a crush on her—calls out Christine on her shady behavior, Christine replies, 'You want to eat my c--t, don’t you?' before violently kissing her, ripping her own blouse, and threatening her with a charge of sexual harassment. It’s a pretty jarring scene—especially the usage of the c-word—coming from the typically virtuous McAdams, whose cute visage, replete with a small face, a beauty mark, and kind, blue eyes is disarmingly sinister when she flips the switch.

"Later, after Dirk refuses to service Christine, she calls up every man in her phone until someone will come over and pleasure her. The action then cuts to Christine on the phone in a bathtub, as two hands place a shiny diamond necklace around her neck. Then the man’s face comes into frame, and he’s wearing a black leather pig-shaped gimp mask.

"While Passion makes several leaps in logic and is, like so much of De Palma’s recent oeuvre, overstylized, with flashy visuals and a Hitchcockian score, this kinky B-movie is redeemed by Rapace and, in particular, McAdams, who will hopefully take a trip to the dark side more often."

Posted by Geoff at 12:49 AM CDT
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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Posted by Geoff at 9:51 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, October 13, 2012 9:54 AM CDT
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Friday, October 12, 2012

Posted by Geoff at 5:01 PM CDT
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In the above video, taken from the Variety Studio at last month's Toronto International Film Festival, Brian De Palma and Rachel McAdams (each filmed on separate occasions) discuss Passion. McAdams seems to be enjoying herself as she talks about the film (she and De Palma appear to be taking questions from an audience). "I think it's about a lot of things, thematically," she says in the video. "I think it's about possession, wanting to possess another person. I think Brian is dealing with, you know, narcissism, and power struggles, and, you know, all kinds of yummy things like that, too. Yeah, but, I mean, I guess that the tagline is it's a woman terrorizing her co-worker, and all the mayhem that comes out of that."

In a separate segment of the video, McAdams continues, "I hope it's a thrilling ride for them, and I hope De Palma fans will enjoy it. I hope there will be new De Palma fans because of it. I think he's doing a really unique thing. I think he's got his own stamp he's putting on his films, and I think it's very cool, I think it's brave, and brazen. So yeah, I hope new people will join the De Palma club."

Posted by Geoff at 4:48 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, October 12, 2012 4:50 PM CDT
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