Hello and welcome to the unofficial Brian De Palma website.
Here is the latest news:
a la Mod:
(Scroll your mouse over the emptiness below for translations of the tweets above.)
Pauline: "If someone can explain to me the end of "Passion" by Brian de Palma ..."
Xidius: "It's not complicated though :D"
Pauline: "I do not understand the story of binoculars and close-ups of her shoes."
"I've read the critique of the Freeh Report and it's still a learning process. What I think happened to Joe is almost a mythical Greek tragedy, that's one thing, that kind of thing that attracted me to it, all the way to the statue being pulled down. It's pretty ridiculous that they would tear down a statue of a man [who] hasn't be afforded due process. Are you going to rip the library down too? So you have to draw the line on that. And you have villain and he's a truly compelling villain and what he did is truly diabolical. So those sorts of things attract you as a screenwriter."
Jones then asked if McKenna was concerned about the fact that the trials for some of the other players in the case have not yet started. "Yes," replied McKenna. "And that's something that I have to talk to the producers about, this is still the information gathering stage here though and I'm thinking a little bit about how I'm going to write the movie and how I'm going to handle the grand jury testimony, and how to talk about Joe's life and his home life and all the good things he did, and Jerry and all that. It's truly in the infancy stages of, so to think about the final project is almost inconceivable at this point."
McKenna told Jones that he is searching for the truth. "For that to happen," he said, "we might have to wait for all these reports to come out and these trials to conclude. There is a lot riding on this and I understand the pressure and I'm up for it."
When asked about a timeline for the project, McKenna replied, "Brian is a terrific filmmaker and next week we'll start having conversations about what we want to do and how we want to deal and handle the material. If we want to do it now fast, wait it out. It’s round one of a 15-round heavyweight battle. Seriously. So it's going to be an interesting ride."
Jones then asked McKenna, "Do you know why De Palma decided to make the movie? This story isn’t really in anyone’s wheelhouse but I was surprised he was the one to make this movie."
McKenna replied, "The guy is a legend. I truly feel fortunate that I'm in a position to work with him. I don't think anybody likes to be pigeon-holed in terms of style. I rewrote a Disney script last year because I have kids. I did American History X, Blow, and I'm interested in a lot of different subjects. I can't speak for him, per say, but I think what attracted him to this project is what attracted me. And we want to find out why and how and what's the process."
Jones pressed on, asking McKenna, "Is the movie scandal-specific?"
McKenna replied, "It's not scandal-specific at this point. Because I almost haven't gotten there. I'm mostly learning about Joe, learning about Jerry, meeting with families, getting more information. And information on the Internet and piecing that together.
"The truth is I don't know and I'm still in the gathering stages. I have a team and we'll take the information and work together to decide what we do with it. At this point we're being very very careful."
Jones said, "People might be concerned about this movie showing up down the road and having it be a gross misrepresentation of some of the facts. Basically, if people who are worried about what the movie is going to say walked in right now, what would you tell them?"
McKenna replied, "That we all look at Joe as a great man that did a lot of good, and we're going to try and capture all of that as well as find out what happened.
"I think that through our movie people aren't going to look at one particular thing, that one thing doesn't define a man and hopefully the world sees that and accepts that."
"It can be quite beautiful," replies De Palma. "Needless to say, Sam Peckinpah made it quite beautiful. It’s an essential building block to the drama of movies and it can be extremely effective and extremely emotional and extremely dramatic."
A subsequent line of questioning leads to some interesting comments about The Fury...
"Over 40 years of making films," they ask, "what has changed about filming a murder?"
De Palma: "It’s all done digitally."
The Talks: "Do you miss the old days when you would do those scenes with prosthetics and a lot of fake blood?"
De Palma: "No. It’s a big drag. It’s extremely boring. It takes a long time to reset all the prosthetics. At the end of The Fury where I blew up John Cassavetes, I had 8 or 9 high-speed cameras and he explodes. He explodes. And the first time we did it, it didn’t work. The body parts didn’t go towards the right cameras and this whole set was covered with blood. And it took us almost a week to get back to do take 2."
The Talks: "Wow. Did take 2 work out at least?"
De Palma: "Yes, take 2 worked out quite well. Nobody had ever done this before. I had these incredible high-speed cameras that the astronauts use and about three of them jammed because they were going so fast. They were all shooting super, super slow-motion – this is in the ’70s – and then it’s all over and you look around and the set is completely in shambles. And everybody goes, 'Take 2! See you next week.' (Laughs)"
Another interesting discussion happens toward the end:
The Talks: "Have any rap artists ever approached you to work on projects together?"
De Palma: "The only thing that’s happened is that Universal has continually wanted to put a rap score on Scarface and re-release it and I haven’t allowed them to do it."
The Talks: "Well, Giorgio Moroder’s score is already perfect."
De Palma: "Thank you. That’s what I think, too. So, they’re very unhappy with me, because they could obviously make a tremendous amount of money, but I said, 'That score’s not being changed.'”
The Talks: "I guess you have final cut?"
De Palma: "Yeah."
The Talks: "Is final cut necessary to fulfill your vision as a director?"
De Palma: "We were very lucky in our generation. We got final cut. We were in the era of the director superstar. Very few directors have final cut today. Obviously Spielberg does and Scorsese, but there aren’t too many. And the new directors are constantly not getting final cut so you have to battle with the studios to make sure that they don’t alter your movie. You can’t make very controversial movies."
The Talks: "Do you always have final cut?"
De Palma: "Yeah, except on Get to Know Your Rabbit. (Laughs)"
The Talks: "What happened there?"
De Palma: "I got fired!"
"Then Susan Finley spoke (wife of the late William Finley—The Phantom), who can be seen at the end of the film donning the Phantom’s mask. She spoke about the shock the filmmakers and actors had when it came out as a 'stillborn baby.' In retrospect she said, 'My son once told me when Columbus’ ships showed up on the horizon, the natives didn’t recognize them because they had no frame of reference. And I feel that way about Phantom. It did not fit a genre; no one knew what to make of it. No one knew whom it was speaking to or what it was about. The marketers and promoters didn’t know where to put it. And that’s because it is a very original film that has a lot of say about a lot of things.' Lastly she noted it would have made [her husband] Bill very happy to see everyone in attendance that evening."
After a description of the film (and the 35mm print, which she says was flawless), Buckley provides a long transcript of Paul Williams' post-screening Q&A, which is full of great highlights:
Williams on elements that went into the story: "It was a time with the Vietnam War, and we were sitting and watching the war news, eating our TV dinners and it was like this horror story was becoming entertainment. Watching the news like it was the evening’s entertainment, with the footage of Vietnam. That started to move its way into the story.”
Buckley: "As for finding Jessica Harper during rehearsals, De Palma and Williams had all the women sing Leon Russell’s song Superstar (with the famous lyric, 'Long ago and oh so far away, I fell in love with you before this second show.') He walked up to Harper while she was practicing the tune, and upon hearing her soft lovely voice, much like Winslow did in the film: '…I was like, "Yeah!" I mean, Jessica has a beautiful voice. And then she came in to audition, for Brian and she sang… and I was like, "No, no, sing it to yourself like you did before." And I think that’s where that moment in the film came from, she was just stunning.'”
Williams says he regrets not having Gerrit Graham sing his own songs on the soundtrack.
Williams on bringing Phantom to the stage: "So many times, before I die, now I’m not hoping that I’ll know how many years I’ll be able to tag onto my time right now, but I would like to think that before I hit room temperature, I’ll get to see this on stage."
Williams: "I think Brian had a real love affair with Hitchcock. He had a great sense of moving camera; there’s a shot in there, I don’t know if you know the one I’m talking about, the shot where The Phantom gets his costume, that’s Ronnie Taylor, the camera operator, who later became a cinematographer, and won the Oscar for Ghandi. It was him carrying a camera on his shoulder because there was no Steadicam yet, going up and down those stairs, again and again to get a shot, so it would end up… it’s just brilliant camerawork."
Williams: "I don’t remember Brian giving any of us a lot of direction. I think that his amazing work is in creating a story and a script and an environment. You have to understand that I had and have such a massive ego that’s a little out of balance. I was in the middle of my ‘what I really want to do is direct’ period, I remember walking up to Brian, and we were shooting at the Majestic Theatre in Dallas, and he’s moving the camera up to shoot footage of me up in the balcony, and then he moves the camera down and shoots something there and going back up… and I remember jumping up and saying ‘Any idiot would know that you put a Chapman crane on the stage and swing the arm back and forth!’ and Brian was lining up his shot, he didn’t even look away from lining up the shot, and said ‘Stage won’t support a Chapman crane.’ And, umm… OK. Went back into my little dressing room, sat down, and was like, ‘I think I’ll keep my mouth shut. He knows what he’s doing.’ I think that he had a relationship with Bill Finley and the other actors and all that was possibly… there were moments where you watch a director like him or some of the guys that I’ve worked with over the years, the best ones will take an actor, and it’s a private moment between the two of them, so he never said from the back of the room, ‘Jessica, you need to be that,’ If he said anything, I think he probably took her or me aside and said quietly, ‘This is getting a little big, maybe you want to tone it down a bit.’ Or every director has his own way of saying two words, ‘Louder’ and ‘Faster.’”
"The script, based on Alain Corneau's French film Love Crime, isn't De Palma's strongest, and especially those with an aversion to dream-logic will probably have a hard time staying on board during the last half-hour or so. That said, having seen the film twice, I can say it mostly holds up, though there are a few baffling loose ends. But De Palma has never made movies for people who want every dangling thread tied up and every plot twist totally plausible.
"Also, While he employs every psycho-thriller cliché in the book, De Palma still seems to see the movie as more of a comedy than anything else. The performances often veer into kitsch, but Rapace and McAdams somehow make all of the veiled threats and passive-aggressive sparring hypnotic, rather than grating. In fact, the stylized acting melds perfectly into De Palma's fictional, over-the-top corporate world, in which every shot emphasizes a sense of luxury that is simultaneously exquisite, ridiculous and dull. Pino Donaggio's cheeky score, a scene-chewing blend of Bernard Herrmann and music from a 90's made-for-tv-thriller, only further emphasizes this odd, often very funny dynamic. The lighting too sometimes veers into soap-opera territory, which, while it compliments the overall style, will likely disappoint those hoping for the sumptuous, decadent aesthetic of old-school De Palma.
"But as usual, the film's pulpy kitsch conceals some extremely compelling subtext. The way that corporate ambition colors all of the characters' seemingly fluid sexuality, and even their sense of time and reality, is far more layered and intriguing than the film's surface-level style suggests, and, those who have accused De Palma of being nothing more than a talentless Hitchcock imitator may find some wry humor in the scenes where Christine explains to Isabelle that stealing ideas is par for the course in the advertising world. Moreover, the depth with which De Palma explores Christine's ruthless, near socio-pathic psyche is impressive. As the film progresses, he begins to hint at a fascinating, almost sympathetic desperation deep down, governing all of her decisions...
"...there are still a few genuinely inspired moments that recall the devilish ingenuity of De Palma-past. In one scene, Isabelle slams her car into a vending machine in a parking garage and sets off the sprinkler above, resulting in a melodramatic crane shot (complete with swelling score) of her crying uncontrollably against the car like a rain-soaked, heart-broken character from a 50's melodrama. Only, her anguish is the result of a sex tape, and she's actually only stuck in a small swatch of 'rain' inside a parking garage. It's a sly, hilarious image, right up there with De Palma's use of rear-projection for the beach kiss in Body Double. If... De Palma had focused more on subverting and innovating what he had already done rather than just referencing it, Passion may have been the 'return to form' he seems to want it to be."
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."
"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."
THE FURY – 2 CD SET
MUSIC BY JOHN WILLIAMS
LIMITED EDITION OF 3500 UNITS
RETAIL PRICE: $29.98
FILM SCORE REISSUE PRODUCED BY NICK REDMAN AND MIKE MATESSINO
SOUNDTRACK ALBUM REISSUE PRODUCED SOR SONY MUSIC BY DIDIER C. DEUTSCH
FILM SCORE REISSUE MASTERED BY DAN HERSCH AT D2 MASTERING
SOUNDTRACK ALBUM MASTERED BY TIM STURGES AT BATTERY STUDIOS
LINER NOTES BY JULIE KIRGO
ART DIRECTION BY JIM TITUS
"La-La Land Records, 20th Century Fox and Sony Music are proud to present one of John Williams finest scores ever – 1979’s THE FURY, directed by Brian DePalma and starring Kirk Douglas and Amy Irving. With a running time of 1:54:00, this new and improved 2 disc set features stunning sound (especially on Disc 2, the original soundtrack album), detailed liner notes by Julie Kirgo and art direction by Jim Titus. A definite upgrade in ALL departments from the previous Varese release, this fantastic score should be on the shelf of any soundtrack fan."
"The promise of seeing something new, or at least novel, appeals to the child in each of us. It must be linked to the thrill of unwrapping a gift. Regardless of whether the present turns out to be a pair of socks (or, to cite one of the snoozefests in the current Music Box series, Lord Jim), there's undeniable satisfaction in knowing someone wrapped it up nice to gain our attention. P.T. Barnum demonstrated time and again that a good showman can make an audience feel good even about being taken in by a hoax; the buildup, which grows in direct proportion to the size of the audience, becomes a spectacle in itself.
"As it turned out, Phantom of the Paradise was a perfect fit for Friday night's carnival atmosphere. It's a great funhouse of a movie, complete with scary clowns and oversized sets (by the great Jack Fisk, who also worked on The Master, screening next weekend in the 70-millimeter festival). Even on plain old 35-millimeter, it was a blast on the Music Box's big screen. DePalma made the film at the height of his abilities as a showman (just after Sisters and not long before Carrie), indulging in split-screen sequences, cartoonish sight gags, and elaborate camera movements that exist just to call attention to themselves."