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Thursday, February 21, 2013

The still above from Brian De Palma's Passion shows Noomi Rapace against the car her character has damaged. The photo made the rounds yesterday as the French automaker Peugeot spread the word that its 208 has a "starring role" in De Palma's new film. Another still from the same scene (see below) has also appeared this week at Noomi Rapace Online.

Meanwhile, here are more links and quotes from the recent French reviews of Passion:

Eric Libiot, L'Express
"If the confrontation turns into a game of mirrors depalmesque, it remains constrained by a storyline with a fairly basic depiction of the workplace (in any case, De Palma doesn’t care and filmed it with one eye) and suspense visible for miles, slow in coming, with cushy staging. Taking the principles he sublimated in his time and in which he wades today (parallel editing, split screen ...), he is unable to offer anything other than his old recipes. It is a thousand times better to eat a good crêpe."

The Vug, Celluloidz
"As there is a genuine rise in dramatic tension, once the film is launched on its rails, its greatest merits revert just as much to the direction of Brian De Palma as to the interpretation of the always flawless Noomi Rapace. As soon as she enters the dark phase of her character, the plans begin to lose their horizontality and the lighting becomes abnormally low. We will thus view Passion, like all of De Palma’s films since Snake Eyes, mainly to understand how the director manages to transcend a weak screenplay by the sheer force of his cinematic mise en scène. For those who want a consistent story, they will unfortunately go elsewhere."

Merry, Onlike
"Divided into two parts, this thriller is draped in two very different atmospheres, the first all in slow movements, the second bathed in shadow, as to describe these two women, one light and one dark. Between dream and reality, Brian De Palma revisits his own mythology and delivers a thriller effective and captivating."

Nicolas Bardot, Film De Cult
"But as in Body Double, film unthinkable, fascinating, exciting to death and kitschy as hell, it is not the mere fact of being shocked that makes Passion successful. It is, as in the best films of De Palma, this lack of fear of ridicule and grandiose momentum that make its intrigues heartening, where extreme feelings of the characters explode on the screen. The cold and trapped universe of Passion brightens, as in the stuffy fashion show where a model ends up kicking your ass. Yet, Passion does not reach the astro level of Dressed To Kill or Body Double. The original script's absurdity remains absurd, the cool tones of the images shot by José Luis Alcaine (Almodovar collaborator) sometimes makes the film a little too dull where it should have dreamed hot, and Passion, in the film of De Palma, is perhaps a bit hollow."

Posted by Geoff at 12:35 AM CST
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Friday, February 15, 2013
Some new clips from Passion appear in a new Ciné Choc 25 video on YouTube. The clips are dubbed in French, and several are played behind an interview with Brian De Palma. Even so, they provide us some fresh looks at the film (for those of us who have not yet seen it), including several shots with Karoline Herfurth. The video is below...

Posted by Geoff at 1:20 AM CST
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Thursday, February 14, 2013
Brian De Palma's Passion opened in France and Belgium on Wednesday. Here are links and quotes from some of the reviews that have been coming in:

Louis Guichard, Telerama
"In the original, there was a master-slave relationship between a woman and a debutante, with a decisive age difference. In this new version, they are no longer two, but three. These dangerous wolves, of differing hierarchical rank, yet interchangeable if we consider their professionalism and greed. They are all super hyper phallic and feminine, in the brilliant light of the usual DP chief of Pedro Almodóvar...

"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."

Posted by Geoff at 12:51 AM CST
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013
At left is Carice Van Houten, who, according to CineObs' Nicolas Schaller, was originally going to play Isabelle in Brian De Palma's Passion, but had to drop out as she was unavailable during the planned shooting schedule. The part, of course, went to Noomi Rapace. Schaller also notes that De Palma had originally offered the part of Christine (played by Rachel McAdams) to Uma Thurman, an actress De Palma has considered for roles on past projects, but who has never actually appeared in one of his films.

Toward the end of the article, Schaller states that De Palma currently has two projects in development. One of them is the previously-announced Happy Valley with Al Pacino, but the other has not been mentioned publicly until now. There was no title given, but it is being developed with Passion producer Saïd Ben Saïd, who told Schaller: "This is a film about cinema that is not devoid of humor or cruelty. It happens on a shoot between a director, an actor and an actress. De Palma wrote it by drawing on things that have happened to him. It is a kind of film testament." (Definitely sounds like one to look forward to.)

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.

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!"

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."

Posted by Geoff at 9:46 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2013 12:57 AM CST
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Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Jean-Marc Lalanne's online review of Passion at LesinRocks contains some spoilers, but in it, he calls the split-screen sequence in the film "the most extravagant and poetic De Palma has ever designed."

Posted by Geoff at 6:15 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 6:32 PM CST
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Monday, February 11, 2013

Posted by Geoff at 7:08 PM CST
Updated: Monday, February 11, 2013 7:10 PM CST
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Sunday, February 10, 2013
This past Friday, Samuel Blumenfeld, who has been interviewing Brian De Palma consistently for a number of years (mostly for the book, Brian De Palma: Conversations with Samuel Blumenfeld and Laurent Vachaud), posted an article about De Palma and Passion for Le Monde. With much help from Google translations, here is an English version of the article, titled "The Passion According to Brian"...

Brian De Palma is 72 years old. For him, the passing of time is a concern. When he began navigating between France and the United States, at the time of Femme Fatale (2002), then the Black Dahlia (2006), he feared he was already past his age. "Let's be clear. No director has done his best films after sixty, he explained. I am aware of this iron law." Since then, he started looking for exceptions. He found at least one, in one of his favorite directors, Alfred Hitchcock. The latter, classified as the living dead after Topaz, had made a triumphant return in 1972 with Frenzy, contradicting the common view that announced the end of his career as a shipwreck. Hitchcock was then 72 years old.

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.

Posted by Geoff at 10:13 PM CST
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Posted by Geoff at 11:43 AM CST
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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Above are the two covers of Pino Donaggio's soundtrack for Brian De Palma's Passion. Quartet Records has announced on its Facebook page that each one will be available for shipping on February 19 (available for pre-order starting Monday).

Posted by Geoff at 7:56 PM CST
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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Posted by Geoff at 7:38 PM CST
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