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Tuesday, October 30, 2012
CAHIERS' DE PALMA REVIEWS TRANSLATED
ON 'PASSION': "ONE OF THE MOST INTENSE PLEASURES OF THE FESTIVAL"
A big thanks to David Davidson at Toronto Film Review, who yesterday posted summarized translations of Cahiers du cinéma's reviews of Brian De Palma films from the 2000s. A couple of weeks ago, Davidson posted a translation of a Cahiers roundtable discussion from 1981, which he described as "the catalyst to take De Palma seriously at the magazine, which would last to the present day."

Davidson notes in yesterday's post, "De Palma is usually brought up in relation to Cahiers du cinéma, where the main reference point being how Carlito’s Way was voted to be the number one film of the 90’s. But little is actually written about what their critics have actually written in their reviews of De Palma’s films and what they have to say about the auteur himself." To that end, Davidson provides edited translations (he leaves out the synopsis, mostly) of the Cahiers reviews of Mission to Mars, Femme Fatale, The Black Dahlia, Redacted, and a festival brief about Passion.

Also check out an edited version of Davidson's recent speech, "The Fakery of Brian De Palma: Truth Hinging Upon the Absurd," which was delivered at this month’s edition of the Toronto lecture series "What We Talk About."


Posted by Geoff at 1:11 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 1:11 AM CDT
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Monday, October 29, 2012
EXCERPT FROM DONAGGIO-'CARRIE' SUITE
AT GHENT WORLD SOUNDTRACK AWARDS & CONCERT LAST WEEKEND

Posted by Geoff at 12:35 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012 12:38 AM CDT
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Friday, October 26, 2012
GREAT TRANSCRIPT OF TIFF DE PALMA CHAT
DE PALMA SAYS 'TOYER' NOT LIKELY TO HAPPEN


A couple of days ago, Flickering Myth's Trevor Hogg posted a transcript from a group chat with Brian De Palma, which took place at last month's Toronto International Film Festival. De Palma discusses the fact that it has gotten more difficult for any filmmaker working for a studio to have final cut on a picture. "I’ve always been able to work within the studio system," De Palma is quoted as saying. "If your budget gets big you have a lot more meetings which was true on Mission to Mars [2000] which was the most expensive movie I’ve ever made. It was the early 1990s, around Bonfire [1990] when you started to get stacks of notes. Everybody would have notes for you. That’s when I remember there was a lot more hands on in the studio system. Normally you would have a few meetings and they would let you go off and make the movie. You would have to deal with them in the previews stage. In the day of the director, long and far gone, you could bowl your way through them like with Scarface [1983]. We had a preview in Texas. There were walkouts and cards in which people said, ‘It’s the worse movie I ever seen.’ I basically said, ‘Sorry. That’s it. I’m not changing it.’ That was lucky in those days but it has gotten harder. I don’t think the young directors have final cut the way we older directors do. The studios would prefer to deal with a director who they can control and control the cut. They don’t like working with directors of my generation because we’re stubborn, old and crotchety."

Someone asked De Palma about situations in which a director is told by a studio to convert a film into 3D. "That’s a sad position to be in as a director because you shouldn’t do it. 3D is a specific technique like split screen, split diopters, long steady cam shots, and montages. It needs a specific use. To throw it in in order to charge five or six dollars more for the glasses is a mistake and you’re going to finally say, ‘I’m not going anymore because this has nothing to do with 3D.’"

When asked about his long-planned adaptation of Gardner McKay's Toyer, De Palma replied, "It was bought by a guy who went out of business so I don’t think we’re going to see that one."

The end of the discussion takes off from Peter Biskind's book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, which looked at the lives of the young Hollywood filmmakers of De Palma's generation in the 1970s. De Palma chose not to participate in the book. "The first thing you discover," De Palma told the TIFF group, "and this is probably true of a lot of biographies is, ‘Who talks to the biographer?' Is it the bitter ex-wife, the unhappy girlfriend or the partner who got screwed out of a deal? They do a lot of talking. The people who like and respect the filmmakers they don’t talk at all like me. That’s why you see me very little in this book. I would know all of those situations. I was there in the 1970s. I saw it all. I could see this was taking a gossipy, drugs, girls, rock ’n’ roll, and I shied away from it immediately.”

Regarding those Hollywood days early on in his career, De Palma told the TIFF group, “We worked hard trying to get into the studio system. We helped each other. We helped with scripts and casting. [Paul] Schrader came to me with Taxi Driver [1976]. I read it. I gave it to Marty. I introduced Marty [Scorsese] to Bobby [De Niro]. I helped Marty with Mean Streets [1973]. We were all living in the same area. I got an email from Steven [Spielberg] the other day. I met Steven because my girlfriend at the time Margo Kidder knew him from the lot at Universal. The first time I met Steve we were going to homosexual baths in Manhattan scouting locations for Cruising which I reminded him of and we started to laugh."


Posted by Geoff at 1:23 AM CDT
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Posted by Geoff at 6:55 PM CDT
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VIDEO: DONAGGIO @ GHENT PRESS CONFERENCE



Posted by Geoff at 6:29 PM CDT
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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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