Hello and welcome to the unofficial Brian De Palma website.
Here is the latest news:
a la Mod:
1. Bernie (Richard Linklater)
2. Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg)
3. Passion (Brian De Palma)
4. Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow)
5. Ensayo final para utopía (Andrés Duque)
6. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
7. Bleak Night (Yoon Sung-hyun)
8. Like Someone in Love (Abbas Kiarostami)
9. Enero 2012 (O la apoteosis de Isabel la Católica) (Colectivo Los Hijos)
10. Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine)
Sagnier explains that she actually shot Love Crime three years ago and that her memory of it is coloured by the subsequent death of its director, Alain Corneau. "I mean, I do like the movie," she stresses. "But for me it's tainted by frustration and so much pain, because he died on the very week it got released in France." Corneau, she now realises, was suffering from lung cancer while the picture was being shot. In hindsight this explains a lot.
"In France we have a saying: 'He never put his arms down.' Forward, forward, never stop, which was very difficult for me and Kristin. He was like a little boy playing with iron soldiers and we were the soldiers. He wouldn't talk, wouldn't listen, and we had to do exactly what he wanted. It was like he only had so much energy to spare. He must have known he did not have much time left."
The film, she adds, has just been remade by Brian De Palma, as Passion. She's eager to see it; she wants to know if the sexual undercurrent has been brought to the fore.
What if the new version is better than hers? Wouldn't that make her mad? She gives an airy shrug. "I would not be surprised."
"The Vietnam War and the assassination of Kennedy made us aware that the government was deceiving us. When we realized that they lied about the war, and when we saw that the government was making excuses for the Kennedy assassination, none of that made sense to our eyes. For us, who trusted in our political leaders, it was a revelation. Today, obviously, we doubt everything they say."
"With Iraq, we fell, again, to the lie of a war, and we sent kids there helpless to fight for something that they had no idea what it was. They had horrific experiences and then they too responded to them in a terrible way."
On establishing the idea of deception with the viewer:
"Film can be the art of deception. You can create movies that lie and deceive the public with pictures, and there are elements of it in my movies."
On the visual language of motion pictures:
"Many of the images developed in the movies are inspired by the material with which we work, but the advantage of thriller and horror films is that they rely on a specific visual language... Voyeurism is a staple of the cinema. It is intrinsic to the art, because the movie has to do with observing an action: we're pointing a camera at a person who pretends to not have a lens pointed at her... There is a vast reservoir of movies from the past which show how the way to tell a story visually has evolved, something that originated in the silents. We saw what happened when sound came in and made films in static forms, which worsened with television."
On beauty in cinema, and studio resistance:
"Beauty is an important idea for me, and there is not enough beauty in film, because it costs a lot of money to the studios... Making Scarface was a terrible struggle. Studios said it was too violent, and they had immense fear. We always find that kind of resistance in the industry and I don’t believe this has improved in the last two decades."
On the pictures getting smaller:
"Much of what we see on the screens [phone] and television coverage is just for boring dramatic events, instead of formats that seem to have the aspects necessary to tell a story in a visual way. They’re not able to create exciting visual experiences, which I feel are an important part of the cinema: large images made for a big screen... A film like Lawrence of Arabia or Once Upon a Time in the West would not make sense on a small screen. This part of the achievement has been lost today, and we see how movies are mechanical and do not have well choreographed sequences. And images that are repeated endlessly because they are programmed by a computer."
And in closing, Valente notes that De Palma's cinema has a sentimental layer underneath the suspense, and quotes De Palma once more:
"I'm drawn to classical tragedy because I see it as a way to tell a more emotional story. I'm only interested in art that is emotional, that withstands the test of time."
In regards to the film score provided by frequent collaborator music composer Pino Donaggio, De Palma notes, “The cues are specific. In the beginning it is go to work music. Then it is the erotic music. Danni [Karoline Herfurth] is in love with her boss [Noomi Rapace] who won’t go out to dinner with her. Danni is hurt as she looks out the window. There is the lyrical sad music when Noomi gets humiliated. It is a simple piano thing as she stumbles down the hallways, drops everything, and goes into the elevator and her car. Then we have the dream music which is this strange obsessive odd stuff and we have the dream music in the end which is emotional and climatic. With Pino, I worked on temp tracks for each of the cues. I changed them. As he composed something I said, ‘No. It’s not right. Maybe I’m giving you the wrong direction.’ I’ll try something else until we came to something that seemed to work for the particular section of the film. One of the most difficult things was Noomi’s breakdown because I used the opening of Contempt; there is nothing more beautiful than that.”
There was nothing thematic or archetypal about having a blonde, a brunette and a redhead on the big screen. “Rachel came with her blonde hair,” recalls Brian De Palma. “Noomi decided we should go with the black look for her because she creates everything in her brain and is not concerned with what’s around her. Rachel is the politician, the wheeler and dealer. Noomi is constantly thinking and trying to get ideas. Danni is the beloved assistant who is in love with her boss. I saw Karoline [Herfurth] in Tom Tykwer’s Perfume; she had this great red hair and I said, ‘Lets keep it red.’” The American helmer kept in the mind the genre of the tale. “This is a murder mystery. The characters have certain aspects but they have to fit in to the architecture of the murder mystery. In this movie everybody seems to be in love with Noomi, a very mysterious girl.”
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 . I read it. I gave it to Marty. I introduced Marty [Scorsese] to Bobby [De Niro]. I helped Marty with Mean Streets . 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."