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Warren Beatty's
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moving forward

Filmmaker Mike
Cahill believes
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Rie Rasmussen
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Mentor Tarantino
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AV Club Review
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Scorsese tests
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with De Niro,
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James Franco
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& star in
adaptation of Ellroy's
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Coppola on
his recent films:
"What I was
trying to do with
those films was to
make three student
films in order to
try and set a new
trajectory and try to
say, 'Well, what
happens if I have no
resources?' Now, having
done that, my new
work is going to be
much more ambitious
and bigger in scope and
budget and ambition,
but now building on a
new confidence or
assurance. The three
little films were very
useful. I'm glad I did
it. I hope George Lucas
does it, because he
has a wonderful personal
filmmaking ability that
people haven't seen
for a while."

Sean Penn to
direct De Niro
as raging comic
in The Comedian

Scarlett to make
directorial feature
debut with
Capote story

Keith Gordon
teaming up
with C. Nolan for
supernatural
thriller that
he will write
and direct

Recent Headlines
a la Mod:

-Picture emerging
for Happy Valley

-De Palma's new
project with
Said Ben Said

-De Palma to team
with Pacino & Pressman
for Paterno film
Happy Valley

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Interviews...

De Palma interviewed
in Paris 2002

De Palma discusses
The Black Dahlia 2006


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The Virtuoso
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Carrie...A Fan's Site

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Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
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italkyoubored

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Friday, March 8, 2013
THE 'PASSION' SOUNDTRACK
STRONG DONAGGIO SCORE (PLUS DEBUSSY), WITH A COUPLE OF '80s-SOUNDING CO-COMPOSER TRACKS
The soundtrack release for Brian De Palma's Passion hit mailboxes early this week, and, well, since I can't see De Palma's new movie yet, I've been listening to his new movie. (speaking of which, I received confirmation from someone in the U.S. today that Passion will indeed open in U.S. theaters sometime in June of this year.) Without having seen the film, I am guessing the track list has been put together in a non-chronological fashion (this has been confirmed in a comment below from someone who has seen the film), to present the music in the most compelling flow possible.

Here's the short of it: I love the Pino Donaggio compositions on this soundtrack, as well as Claude Debussy's Prélude à L’après-Midi d’un Faune, which was performed by the Berliner Philarmoniker, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle (recorded live in 2004, it appears here courtesy of EMI Classics). Now, when you look at the back of the CD cover, you see three tracks with asterisks: "Back Issues," "Perversions And Diversions," and "Higher Heels." Those three tracks were each composed by Donaggio and Paolo Steffan, who has been working with Donaggio for a long time, and is credited on this album as Keyboard Programmer, as well as orchestrations throughout the soundtrack along with Donaggio and conductor Natale Massara. But the three tracks with the asterisks are the only three tracks that have a strong '80s vibe. The first, "Back Issues," is assumed to be the music heard in the background of the "Ass-Cam" commercial in the film. This track is highly amusing, in a mostly good way. I laugh heartily every time it comes on. It's a fun little track. It has what might be considered a companion piece near the end of the album, "Higher Heels," which is assumed to be the background music for a fashion show. Again, it is very '80s, but more annoying than fun, and it ends rather abruptly, with a quick fade, as if someone gave it the hook. In between is the center asterisk piece, "Perversions And Diversions." With its smoky saxophone entering the picture a little ways in, I keep thinking I'm going to hear Glenn Frey singing "You belong to the city, you belong to the night," like something out of Miami Vice. Very odd, this '80s vibe, which of course has been mentioned in many of the reviews of Passion.

In any case, the other Donaggio compositions are phenomenal. The CD opens with the bouncy, sinuous "Twin Souls," which is just heavy enough to avoid sounding like it belongs in a somewhat romantic comedy (like, perhaps, De Palma's Home Movies). "The Breakdown" is a beautiful piano ballad that brings to mind Donaggio's "Sally And Jack" theme from De Palma's Blow Out, especially when it is reprised on the final track, "Last Surprise." It is not until the third track that we get the "Passion Theme," which opens with quickly menacing chords, like a Herrmann-esque surprise, before falling back to a quiet piano motif that soon swells with romantic strings and ominous orchestrations. This is a wonderful theme that never seems to stop rising, with a conclusion that seems to leave everything hanging on the edge. I think my favorite track is "Know That Know," which features a heavy, spaced out string bass rhythm, the spaces filled in with strings and other orchestrations, and sounds like a cousin to Morricone's "Towards The Unknown" from De Palma's Mission To Mars. It ends with a slashing string surprise out of Carrie or Dressed To Kill (and, of course, Herrmann's Psycho). "A Dreamers Dream" features more ominous musings that lead beautifully into the Debussy ballet.

All in all, a strong, achingly beautiful work from Donaggio.


Posted by Geoff at 9:12 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, March 10, 2013 4:18 PM CST
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Thursday, March 7, 2013
NOOMI: 'DE PALMA WAS FUN'
"I SEE MY CHARACTER AS EMOTIONALLY DISTURBED IN A WAY THAT NONE OF MY OTHERS HAVE BEEN"
Noomi Rapace spoke with IndieWire's Anne Thompaon, who asked her if she and Rachel McAdams had improvised a lot of their scenes in Brian De Palma's Passion. "We worked closely," Rapace told Thompson. "Rachel and I discussed this script. Actually one scene that didn't belong in the story we took out, and added other things. It was very creative, it was a very different shoot. I see my character as emotionally disturbed in a way that none of my other characters have been. She has a cold calculating psychopathic mind, I did lot of research, so I had to run everything through that. I couldn't work from an emotional ground, as I normally do, so it was different translating: 'how does an emotionally disturbed person, how would she react and think?' So it was for me a different way. De Palma was fun, we had a lot of conversations. We didn't always agree, we're both strong-minded and stubborn. He's interesting and creative, he's a strong character."

When asked how she chooses her roles, Rapace told Thompson, "When making the decision it's always a combination of the director, the actors, and the script. You might have an amazing script but maybe you don't connect with the actors or the star. Then you know you can't do anything on your own, you have to have chemistry, share a language or vision or dream of what the movie potentially could become... The thing that matters is what do they want? What waters are they fishing?... That's why I always meet people before I make a decision, to sit down and talk. It's very personal for me, I know when I step into a character, now it will take over my life. It's going to be affecting me and the people around me for two months or in the case of Prometheus, five months... I have to find a way to do it my way... I know myself now. I don't have any desire to be a superstar. I never make a choice because it's a good pay check. I don't care if it's a big studio or a small indie film with a low budget...Most studio films are actually made in Europe."

Posted by Geoff at 6:27 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, March 7, 2013 11:55 PM CST
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DE PALMA DOSSIER
EIGHT ESSAYS POSTED TODAY @ FEUX CROISES, TIMED W/'PASSION' RELEASE
Feux Croises had been planning a Brian De Palma Dossier to post last month, as Passion opened in France, but the site had to postpone the series of essays for unknown reasons. The Dossier opened up today on the site, featuring eight essays exploring various facets of De Palma's cinema.

In De Palma ou l'art du visible, Jérôme Dittmar sees De Palma's cinema constructions (themselves full of cubist complications and deconstructions of their own systems and the viewer's gaze) as ultimately a search for the right image. "If Nicolas Cage should go back to the opening shot of Snake Eyes to solve the puzzle and understand what was behind this whole scene, the result ultimately matters more than the process," writes Dittmar. He later adds, "With its large YouTube collage, Redacted said the same thing: all the pictures are there, you just need to put them in order with a movie clapper in the face of modern cinema, to impose the logic of classicism."

In Brian Does Hollywood, Chloé Beaumont notes that De Palma's Body Double is "much more than a reading of Vertigo, but is "primarily a work of the actor." Where the hero of Vertigo has the job of the voyeur, the spy/detective, the hero of Body Double's job as an actor gets turned on its head as he is fired and becomes voyeur. The weapon of the voyeur, the "viewer", becomes the remote control, allowing him to dissect the images. Meanwhile, the villain of the film has no trouble playing his part, being the director as well as the actor. Beaumont also explores the two ends of the tunnel in which Jake has a bout of claustrophobia, with the white, glowing "movie screen" behind the Indian at one end, and the unattainable femme fatale at the other. "It is by meeting and saving the pornographic actress Holly, the inverse of Gloria, that the illusions of his own milieu vanish."

In Brian De Palma et le bonheur, Rémy Russotto suggests that despite all the wrangling with paranoid or fragmentary perspectives of his protagonists, De Palma's cinema produces solid images that fill in the holes: "a complete answer to the questions posed by the films." (This reminds of the working title for Armond White's never completed De Palma study, "Total Illumination.") Russotto looks at the endings of De Palma's recent films, noting of Femme Fatale that, "Against all odds, the film ends well. We go from black to white." And following the flash of the corpse on the front lawn at the end of The Black Dahlia, Scarlett Johansson is the mother figure that asks the hero to "come inside." Writes Russotto, "She closes the door. The end. All corpses are left outside, disappeared."

I'll post summaries of the other essays tomorrow or the next day.


Posted by Geoff at 12:46 AM CST
Updated: Friday, March 8, 2013 4:57 PM CST
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Tuesday, March 5, 2013
'PASSION' NORTH AMERICAN RELEASE IN JUNE?
THAT'S WHAT A CANADIAN ENTERTAINMENT MAG SAYS
Canadian entertainment magazine The Gate will publish an interview with Brian De Palma this June, and according to a post on the magazine's Twitter page, that is also when De Palma's Passion will finally be released in North America. The tweet reads: "Looks like Brian De Palma's film Passion is finally coming out this year. Expect film in June, along with The GATE's interview with him."

Guess this means Passion would be part of the dialogue for the upcoming summer slate of movies. The wide releases and tentpoles opening this June are: M. Night Shyamalan's After Earth (June 7), the Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson comedy The Internship (June 7), thriller Now You See Me (June 7), Zack Snyder's Man Of Steel (June 14), Seth Rogen's This Is The End (June 14), Marc Forster's World War Z with Brad Pitt (June 21), Disney's Monsters University (June 21), Roland Emmerich's White House Down with Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx (June 28), and Paul Feig's Sandra Bullock/Melissa McCarthy comedy The Heat (June 28).

Posted by Geoff at 6:51 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 7:16 PM CST
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Sunday, March 3, 2013


Posted by Geoff at 12:22 PM CST
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Posted by Geoff at 12:05 PM CST
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'PASSION' SPOILERS IN THE TEXT OF THIS POST
TWEET ASKS FOR SOMEONE TO HELP EXPLAIN THE ENDING


(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."


Posted by Geoff at 11:39 AM CST
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Friday, March 1, 2013
MCKENNA STILL RESEARCHING 'HAPPY VALLEY'
SPENT PAST WEEK IN PENN STATE AREA, WILL DISCUSS WITH DE PALMA NEXT WEEK
State College.com's Ben Jones caught up with David McKenna this morning, at the tail end of the screenwriter's week-long visit to State College, home of Penn State University, where he's obviously been researching Happy Valley, the film he is writing for Brian De Palma to direct. And it sounds like McKenna has a lot of material-- so much that, he told Jones, the project is still in the research phase. "I don't know if this is going to be a movie anymore, if this is going to be a miniseries, how we're going to sell it, because it's so extensive and there is so much going on," McKenna told Jones. "I'm going to go back and have some long talks with the producer and the director. This story has two very different sides, and so I'm in the process of navigating all of that and it's very difficult, so I'm going to have to see how everything plays out in the next couple of months."

When asked what made him want to do this story, McKenna replied, "Well growing up, I loved Penn State. I loved Joe Paterno, and I think that he was a great man and I think that he did a lot of great stuff and as I learned more about him after I read the book about him by Joe Posnanski [also a producer on Happy Valley], I think that he was a hero in many respects and I think that the Paternos have a case.

"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."


Posted by Geoff at 5:14 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, March 2, 2013 9:43 AM CST
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Thursday, February 28, 2013
DE PALMA TALKS 'THE FURY', 'SCARFACE', 'DTK', ETC.
"SAM PECKINPAH MADE VIOLENCE QUITE BEAUTIFUL"


A new interview with Brian De Palma was posted today at The Talks, and does not even mention Passion (except in a sidebar). The site's Johannes Bonke and Sven Schumann do ask De Palma about violence, the use of digital techniques to film said violence, rappers, having final cut, and ratings. "Mr. De Palma," the interview begins, "can violence in film be beautiful?"

"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!"


Posted by Geoff at 9:44 PM CST
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Wednesday, February 27, 2013
DETAILED REPORT FROM JAN. PHANTOM SCREENING
PAUL WILLIAMS: "WE WERE WATCHING THE WAR NEWS LIKE IT WAS THE EVENING'S ENTERTAINMENT"


Dread Central's Heather Buckley has done us all a great service by posting a detailed report from last month's screening of Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise at New York's Museum Of The Moving Image. The screening was part of a weekend-long series in tribute to Paul Williams, who attended each film. Buckley writes that following a brief introduction, Bibbe Hansen, "a staple of the Warhol scene and mother to musician Beck," spoke to the audience, "and noted her 'small' part in the film as a background performer, which she shot for over two months in Dallas, Texas. Though her part was going to be bigger, she is seen for a short while wearing 'a really bad perm; it was the 70s.'”

Buckley continues:

"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.’”


Posted by Geoff at 12:26 AM CST
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