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DE PALMA: Hmm... [Pauses] Well, as a matter of fact, somebody put RAISING CAIN together the way it was originally supposed to be done, and it gave me lots of food for thought. RAISING CAIN was originally supposed to start with the woman's story-- you'd follow her for the first 20 minutes-- and then Lithgow's doesn't start until you see him smother her. But when I was cutting the movie, I didn't think her story was interesting enough to sustain the long beginning, so I reversed it and put the Lithgow stuff firstand used the opening scenes as kind of a flashback. Somebody got ahold of the original script and put it back the way it was supposed to be, and I thought it could be really interesting to actually do it the way I always wanted to.
FANG: You mean re-edit, or go back and completely remake it?
DE PALMA: Redo it. It's a very good idea. It was based on an experience I had with a woman who was in the midst of a divorce. She used to come by my house after work, we would spend a few hours together and then she would go home. But she would fall asleep all the time because she had been working all day, and I would sort of watch her sleep, and I thought about what would happen if she slept through the night. That was the initial concept for RAISING CAIN: the fact that she's with her lover and we know she doesn't go home. It's a very good idea, but I just didn't think it was strong enough in relationship to the Lithgow stuff, and that may have been a mistake.
FANG: Isn't that concept an extension in many ways of Angie Dickinson's subplot in Dressed To Kill?
DE PALMA: Yes, to some degree. But we're not always so conscious of these things the way people who study these films and look for all the signs are. We do things intuitively, and then you remind us of the similarities, and maybe you're right.
"Repetition, duplication are the endless obsessions of the director: in 1976, Obsession was a decal of Vertigo, itself a masterpiece of reference to the question of the double ... Here, the theme comes adorned with additional sociological resonances. In this advertising agency, seen as the epitome of the capitalist world, mimetic desire rages: each wants the job of the other, the body of the other, will be another, resembles her so much already. Hence a stunning and frightening effect of cloning. The blonde asks her sex partners to wear a mask molded according to her own face: her desire is self-idolatry, in which the evocation of a sudden twin sister brings a touch of vertigo...
[Minor SPOILER in this paragraph] "The fierce competition between various types of images, such as many versions of life, prepares a stunning last movement - the fact that the story takes place in Berlin, but in English, adds to the disorientation. The final crescendo of Passion shows a heroine now in full terror: entrapped by the derealization of her world, harassed by mobile phone ring tones that can not be located, assailed by threats of which we no longer know why they are effective. It is rare that a police thriller spectacularly and breathlessly rises to the top of this ambiguity."
Thierry Gandillot, Les Echos
"Conducted beautifully by an inventive Brian De Palma, these little perverse games between friends seduce. Fatally."
Pierre-Louis Cereja, La Lsace
"With De Palma, we are in the hyper-connected. Of course, for reassurance, there are figures compulsory to the thriller but what really matters here is to bring the viewer to question the images we soak in. To finally see De Palma dive into the catalog of his obsessions with blond wigs, high-heeled shoes, shower, stairs, women kissing each other or twin sisters is something breathtaking. Let us savor ..."
Isabelle Regnier, Le Monde
"Geographically scattered, the plot echoes Hitchcock yet is stretched by the games in which De Palma indulges, once again, with images and displays. In the service of this battle of wits akin to a game of high level chess, his mise en scène integrates with an uncommonly virtuosic videoconferencing, video amateur porn online, viral traffic, split screen ... Betrayal, manipulation, blackmail, lies, duplicity, everything returns continuously in a whirlwind which, by dint of overbidding, becomes comical. Ridicule is not far, but the film escapes, saved by the fluidity, the grace, the elegance of its delectable mise en scène."
"THE WORLD OF MY FILM IS SURREAL"
Ben Saïd told Schaller that he proposed a remake of Love Crime to De Palma, and sent him a DVD. "24 hours later," he said, "De Palma called me to say he wanted to do it." De Palma told Schaller that he changed the story "to further exploit the tension and mystery. The world of my film is surreal." He added that he envisions Passion as a return to the fundamentals of cinema, but in a new context.
DE PALMA ON JURY DUTY IN NEW YORK
The article opens by explaining that while De Palma was supposed to go to France to promote Passion, "the American filmmaker was indeed stuck in New York, assigned by the judicial officer as a juror in a big criminal trial." Thus the interview was conducted by phone, although Schaller notes that ironically, De Palma was able to free himself later after the defense counsel challenged De Palma's place on the jury, "when he learned he had to deal with the director of Scarface!"
OVERPRAISED & OVERRATED
Schaller's opinion of Passion is that, while not a displeasing film, it is "a lazy self-parody" that nevertheless "does not prevent its usual apologists of the French critics to argue that it navigates the genius of Dressed To Kill and Body Double." Schaller's article ends by asking De Palma which classic film he deems has been overrated. "When, in the 1950s," De Palma replied, "critics began to realize that Hitchcock was a great director, they began to praise everything he did. But later films such as Torn Curtain or Topaz prove that his career was behind him. They are not worthy of Hitchcock at his best."
At the same age, Brian De Palma became aware of a biological principle. In discovering Michael Haneke’s Amour, which depicts an elderly couple dying, he took note of the fact that this film speaks more to him than any movie superhero saving the planet. Trintignant resembles him, not Superman. Pending the end, De Palma survives in the manner of Hitchcock: he has made, with his new work, Passion, arguably the best film in the latter part of his career. Passion is the adaptation of Alain Corneau’s Love Crime (2010), starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Ludivine Sagnier, the professional rivalry and love between the boss of an advertising agency and her assistant.
The director of Phantom of the Paradise carries Corneau's film to a whole new level, and marks a return to the mid-1980s, when his thrillers Dressed To Kill, Blow Out and Body Double allowed him to experiment with forms borrowed from, among others, Hitchcock. "For questions raised by a narrative, Hitchcock contrasted with visual responses. It is very difficult to improve the film grammar after him, he had ten years of experience in the silents, which is an achievement invaluable. If I could, today I would make a film with no words."
Passion is like a journey into the grammar of De Palma. Masks, hair platinum blonde and brunette with the couple from hell Rachel McAdams-Noomi Rapace, a shower sequence, twin sisters, a scene shot in split screen - screen divided into "boxes" - long virtuoso shots, surveillance cameras, smartphones used as intrusive objects in a world where privacy has disappeared, an element found in his cinema since the 1960s. So often imitated, even parodied, Brian De Palma reveals to us with Passion that he is the custodian of an art soon to be lost.
Of the new Hollywood generation, where he was together with Spielberg, Coppola, Scorsese and Lucas among the most illustrious representatives, De Palma is one that is the most biased. He remains the only one who after a long exile felt that the Hollywood system offered him the greatest artistic comfort. "I don’t miss it anymore. I left after Mission To Mars in 2000. There are more than 400 digital shots in that movie. Then you spend your life in front of a computer. I do not want to do it again, not at my age, not at this point in my career." A certain form of exile is included in the cinema of De Palma. Obsession takes place in Florence, Mission: Impossible in Prague, Femme Fatale in Paris, and Passion in Berlin. "Now, cities are digitalized. The director no longer travels, he uses a hard drive. Suddenly, all places are alike. Yet, if a film does not maintain a strong connection to a place, it becomes impossible to watch. "
While the connection with his peers is important to him, it has slackened over time. George Lucas is isolated in the space opera universe he created. Coppola reigns over his agribusiness empire. When De Palma wants to meet with Scorsese, he must make an appointment with his secretary. He dropped out. Recently, he convinced Steven Spielberg to take the subway. He remains for him the easiest to reach. His new partners are called Wes Anderson, director of The Royal Tenenbaums and Moonrise Kingdom, who, like him, lives part of the year in Paris, and Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale, Margot at the Wedding). "Our generation has made money like never before. We have become too rich." The new fashion in Hollywood, according to him, is no longer collectible houses, sports cars or works of art, but the yachts. The director boarded the biggest of them, "as if they were visiting the court of a king", owned by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen. "I've never met a guy so annoying." Suddenly, De Palma left the boat. To return to Paris. Where it is much less boring.