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Saturday, October 6, 2012
'PHANTOM' AT MIDNIGHT TONIGHT IN BROOKLYN
AND KEVIN COURRIER ESSAY ON DE PALMA'S "NEGLECTED GEM"
Brian De Palma's phenomenal Phantom Of The Paradise screens at 12:05 tonight (Saturday) at Brooklyn's Nighthawk Cinema. (So if you happen to be lucky enough to be heading to tonight's 9pm screening of De Palma's Passion at the Walter Reade Theater, you could make it a De Palma double feature, with a nice break in between.) The Principal Archivist at The Swan Archives notes that it will be a DCP screening, which, despite all the troubles with the DCP [non-]screening of Passion a week ago, should make for a pristine cinematic experience. "DCP," the Archivist adds, "provides a super high quality, scratch and splice free presentation with remixed sound...the [Phantom Of The Paradise] has never looked or sounded better." Phantom also screened last night at midnight at the Nighthawk.

Meanwhile, as if on cue, Critics At Large's Kevin Courrier has done a nice write up of this "neglected gem." Although he seems to have confused the lyrics for Paul Williams' Phantom's Theme with those of Williams' Faust, Courrier provides a brief history of artists' intrigue with the Faust myth throughout the years, leading up to Courrier's disappointment with Randy Newman's 1993 musical Faust, which the critic felt was too literal. "De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise, by contrast with Newman, has an imaginative power that links our associations with the legend of Faust to what we've already stored up from popular culture."

In his opening paragraph, Courrier mentions that he screened Phantom in a class on Alfred Hitchcock and De Palma: "Director Brian De Palma has accumulated a long list of neglected gems (The Fury, Blow Out, Casualties of War, Redacted), but the one whose neglect makes the least sense is his ingenious satirical rock musical, Phantom of the Paradise (1974). Fiendishly clever and percolating with film-making fever, De Palma provides ingenious allusions to Phantom of the Opera, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and The Picture of Dorian Gray. (Last year, while teaching a class on Alfred Hitchcock and Brian De Palma, I had more angry responses to this picture than some of De Palma's more inflammatory work.) But this pulsing musical comedy is an exhilarating modern retelling of the Faust myth (with roots in Dante's Divine Comedy) wherein a man becomes so consumed by his thirst for divine knowledge that he sells his soul to the Devil. In Phantom of the Paradise, though, the thirst is for something perhaps a little less lofty: rock immortality."


Posted by Geoff at 7:11 PM CDT
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Wednesday, September 26, 2012
PEACHES INSPIRED BY 'PHANTOM' & 'TOMMY'
SAYS SEEING THOSE TWO FILMS AT VERY YOUNG AGE AFFECTED "EVERYTHING I DO EVER SINCE"


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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Sunday, July 8, 2012
'PHANTOM' PART OF SERIES ON SUNDANCE CHANNEL
AND ALSO PART OF A PAUL WILLIAMS DOUBLE FEATURE IN SF TONIGHT
Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise is part of a double bill today (and tonight) at The Castro Theatre in San Francisco. The Muppet Movie, which features songs written and/or co-written by Paul Williams, played at 3:15 this afternoon, and will screen again at 7pm, followed by Phantom Of The Paradise at 8:50pm (the latter also played at 5:05pm). (Thanks to Chris!)

UPDATE - The Principal Archivist at the Swan Archives was at the screening Sunday night, and says that, to the best of his knowledge, it was the world premiere of the new digital transfer. "It was presented from a "DCP" (Digital Cinema Package) (rather than projected from film), and looked and sounded pristine and perfect," the Archivist tells us. "Not a single scratch or blemish, crystal clear, wonderful surround sound. The movie's never looked or sounded better."

Meanwhile, Phantom Of The Paradise will be shown this Thursday night on the Sundance Channel, as part of its weekly "WTF: Watch This Film" series, which happens every Thursday at 10pm central (and repeated later that night at 3am central). The series promises "weird, wacky, & way out there late nite madness."

Posted by Geoff at 7:43 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, July 9, 2012 6:55 PM CDT
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012
PAUL WILLIAMS AT NASHVILLE FEST THURSDAY
FOR CLOSING NIGHT SCREENING OF 'PAUL WILLIAMS STILL ALIVE'
Paul Williams will be at the Nashville Film Festival Thursday night (April 26th) for a closing night screening of the Stephen Kessler documentary Paul Williams Still Alive. Showtime is at 7:15pm. Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise screens at the fest tonight.
(Thanks to Nashville Scene's Jim Ridley!)

Posted by Geoff at 9:47 PM CDT
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Monday, April 9, 2012
GUY MADDIN WANTS TO THANK DE PALMA FOR 'PHANTOM'
SAYS THE FILM'S POPULARITY WAS JUST TOO BIG A SUBJECT FOR 'MY WINNIPEG'
Guy Maddin was interviewed by A.V. Club's Sam Adams, who asked the My Winnipeg filmmaker about the popularity of Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise in his hometown:

AVC: As you mentioned, you grew up in Winnipeg, one of the only places in the world, except for Paris, where Brian De Palma’s The Phantom Of The Paradise was a hit.

GM: Paul Williams is a god in Winnipeg. An ex-girlfriend of mine stalked him to his hotel room. That was a strange relationship. But anyway.

AVC: Were you a Phantom fan?

GM: Saw it once. Listened to the soundtrack album a million times playing pool as an 18-year-old. Thought it was one of the iconic great films for so many years, because as a Winnipeger, it was so huge in the local zeitgeist, the civic-geist. I couldn’t believe when I later found that among De Palma buffs, it’s ranked like the 40th-best of his films. Because I was thinking, “Well okay, there’s Phantom Of Paradise, then there’s Dressed To Kill.” I thought it was like discussing Capra and going, “... It’s A Wonderful Life, which isn’t even a movie.” I’ve ridden in an elevator three times with Brian De Palma over the years. You’re in the same hotel and you’re just—“It’s Brian De Palma, I just gotta fucking…” The first time I saw him he was 6-foot-7, literally. The last time I saw him, he’s like whatever his real height is, or maybe much shorter, like 4-foot-2 or something. I don’t know, but every time I feel like throwing myself at his feet and thanking him for Phantom Of Paradise.

I didn’t even get into Phantom Of Paradise in My Winnipeg. It was too big of a subject. It’s a strange place. All I can say is, it’s one of the last isolated big cities, 700,000 people. The same size as Austin, the capital of Texas. It’s got no hinterland. There’s no one living within an eight-hour drive of the place, maybe a couple of really dinky towns. It’s just the biggest isolated city in North America; it’s right in the center, and it’s Siberia cold, so that isolation produces some quirky results. It’s a Petri dish no one sneezes on. We’re just breathing our own sneezes all the time.


Posted by Geoff at 6:02 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, April 9, 2012 6:07 PM CDT
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Thursday, November 24, 2011
VIDEO FROM 'PHANTOM' IN 6D
AND A DESCRIPTION OF LAST MONTH'S EVENT FROM A CERTAIN ARCHIVIST WHO WAS THERE

Above is one of several videos posted to YouTube of the Baltimore Rock Opera Society's (BROS) presentation of Phantom Of The Paradise in 6D. In the video above, a live band mimics the performance of the song Upholstery from the film, and immediately after the end of the song, the film itself, which had been stopped for the stage performance, begins again from where a car bomb explodes on stage. Other YouTube videos from 6D screening, which took place on two consecutive nights last month during Halloween weekend, show on-stage performances of Goodbye, Eddie, Goodbye, Special To Me, Phantom's Theme, Old Souls, Somebody Super Like You/Life At Last, and the closer, Hell Of It. All of the songs were written by Paul Williams.

The Swan Archives' Ari, the Principal Archivist, was at the first show that Friday night, and reports on what it was like:

The show was a tremendous hoot; the BROS are a talented and dedicated bunch, and it was a true multimedia extravaganza. (And the show sold out; I assume it did just as well the next night.) Basically, they screened the film, but every time the film got to a musical number, the film would stop, and they’d perform it live, with a live band, etc. Then, the film would resume from the point at which the musical number ended. (So they weren’t shadowcasting; the film and the live stuff was never happening simultaneously.) They had great costumes, and were kind of witty about the whole thing. For example, when Winslow plays Faust at the piano, as you know, the camera circles around him, as it does around Carrie and Billy as they dance. So the BROS had Winslow and the piano on a big lazy Susan, and a couple of stagehands rotated the piano as Winslow played, so you got the same spinning effect, but without the camera. During the montage sequence, as Winslow’s playing and dreaming of Phoenix, they projected a montage sequence that looked very similar, except that it had THEIR Phoenix in it, rather than Jessica Harper. Beef’s electrocution was accomplished with a neon lightning bolt that came down from the rafters. They had a full size replica of the Beach Bums’ car, which did a lap through the audience (up and down the aisles), before (sort of) exploding. They managed to be both extremely faithful to the film, and very original and creative at the same time.

(Thanks to Ari!)


Posted by Geoff at 12:17 AM CST
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Sunday, November 13, 2011
ELBLING RAISING MONEY FOR SHORT FILM
OFFERING SPECIAL PERKS FOR 'PHANTOM' FANS, SUBJECT TO AVAILABILITY
Peter Elbling, who portrayed "Juicy Fruit" member Harold Oblong in Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise, is raising money for a new short film, Mr. Vinegar And The Ants. The film stars Elbling as "an inept bumbler who, thinking he is better than he is, inevitably brings the world crashing down on his own head." The film will feature physical humor in the style of Chaplin, Keaton, and Mr. Bean. The plan is to make the short film and bring it to festivals as Elbling and his team works toward getting financing for a "Mr. Vinegar" feature.

Elbling is offering special perks for Phantom fans-- note the limited quantities available, so you may want to check with Elbling (via PeterElbling.com) to make sure a perk you are expecting is still available before you make your donation. Here they are:

$125 USD donation: Phantompalooza II poster signed by the cast (2 available)
$75 USD donation: French PAL version of the DVD with complete cast interviews. Still in shrink wrap. (1 available)
$60 USD donation: French PAL version of the DVD with complete cast interviews. Opened (1 available)
$50 USD donation: Phantompalooza II T-shirt (10 available).
$10 USD donation: Buttons or Guitar pics with Death Records Logo. (40 available)


Posted by Geoff at 10:20 AM CST
Updated: Sunday, November 13, 2011 10:26 AM CST
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Sunday, October 30, 2011
'PHANTOM' RADIO SPECIAL HALLOWEEN NIGHT
NEW INTERVIEWS WITH WILLIAMS, HARPER, FINLEY, GRAHAM, JUICY FRUITS
ALSO: FANGORIA TEASES 'REMARKABLE GENRE-RELATED PROJECT WILLIAMS IS PART OF'

Tomorrow night, on Halloween, CJOB Radio in Winnipeg will broadcast a 90-minute Phantom Of The Paradise special from 10:30pm to midnight (central time). The special promises all-new exclusive interviews with Paul Williams, William Finley, Jessica Harper, Gerrit Graham, and "Juicy Fruits" Peter Elbling, Archie Hahn, and Jeffrey Comanor. The participants will discuss the film, as well as Phantompalooza I and II. What's that you say? You don't live in Winnipeg? Oh, that's okay-- you can listen live online at CJOB.com.

Meanwhile, Fangoria has been running its own interviews with Phantom collaborators of late. Last month's issue (#307) featured an interview with Harper, in which she revealed that when Brian De Palma took her out to dinner the night of her screen test in Los Angeles, they were joined by Martin Scorsese. She also mentioned that Steven Spielberg visited the Phantom "a few times." When asked by Fangoria's Chris Alexander how Phantom was pitched to her, Harper replied, "It was never pitched as a horror film; I understood it to be a spoof rock musical. Originally it was called Phantom Of The Fillmore, which spoke to me because I used to hang out at the Fillmore East all the time. But I never thought of it as a horror movie."

Despite that, Phantom Of The Paradise did make Fangoria's 300th issue earlier this year, in which the magazine presented its "Ultimate Horror Movie Guide." In that issue, Michael Koopmans wrote of Phantom, "De Palma plunges you headfirst into the musically excessive world of the 1970s with a film that's part horror, part satire, and complete rock opera."

The current issue of Fangoria (#308) includes an interview by Alexander with Paul Williams, who brought a certain scene from the film itself to mind as he discussed the audition he held in New York for the role of Phoenix:

"I had everyone at the New York audition, including Jessica, sing Leon Russell's Superstar. Jessica was singing it quietly to herself as she waited her turn. I stood behind her and listened-- beautiful. When she sang for Brian and I, she sang out like a Broadway actress reaching the back of the house. I told her to sing softly. It was magical. She killed it.

Williams also mentions to Alexander that he never consciously went for a Phil Spector-type energy in his performance as Swan, saying, "I tried to create what Brian gave me, and his vision was spot-on." At the end of the article, Alexander says to keep checking Fangoria.com "for news of a remarkable genre-related project Williams is part of."


Posted by Geoff at 6:41 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, October 30, 2011 6:42 PM CDT
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011
'PHANTOM' IN SIX DIMENSIONS FOR HALLOWEEN
MULTIMEDIA PRESENTATION FROM BALTIMORE ROCK OPERA SOCIETY
The Baltimore Rock Opera Society will present Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise in 6D, or six dimensions, over Halloween weekend. The show will be presented on Friday October 28, and Saturday October 29 at the Autograph Playhouse. For these two shows, the film, which "has been modified to blow your mind," will be projected from six projectors. In addition, there will be a live band with costumed singers, "AND," states the website decription, "it’s a costume party–-come dressed in the best rock freakiness you’ve got!" The descriptions at the website also tout security cameras and "custom video editing." Showtimes are at 8pm each night. Tickets are $10 each. Sounds like a steal, Winslow!

Posted by Geoff at 4:14 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, October 30, 2011 6:07 PM CDT
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Saturday, September 10, 2011
'PAUL WILLIAMS' DOC-MAKER NODS TO WINNIPEG
SAYS AMAZING 'PHANTOM' EVENT SHOWED HIM A TOUCHING LEVEL OF AFFECTION FOR THE SONGWRITER
The Toronto Star's Linda Barnard spoke by phone with Paul Williams and Steve Kessler, director of the documentary Paul Williams Still Alive, which premieres tomorrow at the Toronto International Film Festival. Barnard asked the duo about the film's link to Winnipeg, where Kessler first made contact with Williams during one of the city's "Phantompalooza" events:

Q: The movie starts in Winnipeg where the (1974 musical directed by Brian De Palma with music by Williams) Phantom of the Paradise has a cult following. That's where Steve first makes contact with you.

PW: There are two cities in the world (the other is Paris) that got it and I don't understand it. There is such a love affair with the film . . . in Winnipeg, there are people who got that piece of art.

SK: I have to say if it wasn't for the people of Winnipeg this movie would never have gotten made. When I saw the level of affection people had for Paul, I said, “I can't be the only person on earth with this level of affection for Paul.” This was an amazing event.

Q: I have to ask you about your signature hairstyle, that long blond shag you wore in the '70s.

PW: Me and Hayley Mills. I ripped her off. It's just the way it grew in — the Swan hairstyle.

WILLIAMS' NEW SONG 'SUMS UP HIS LIFE IN A VERY HONEST WAY', SAYS KESSLER
Barnard also reports that Williams wrote the title track to the documentary, and was sent an mp3 of the song, which, she writes, "it has the signature Williams mix of melancholy and flashes of self-deprecating humour." Regarding the song, Kessler told Barnard, "I think he summed up his life in a very honest way. It really adds something."


Posted by Geoff at 7:58 PM CDT
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