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Monday, March 11, 2013
GERMAN POSTER FOR 'PASSION'
DE PALMA'S FILM OPENS IN GERMANY MAY 2ND


The German poster above for Brian De Palma's Passion was posted today at FILMSTARTS. The words above the title read, "MONEY. POWER. SEDUCTION." Except you have to read that with a long drop of blood punctuating the space in between the words "power" and "seduction." Passion opens in Germany on May 2nd.

Posted by Geoff at 4:44 PM CDT
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Sunday, March 10, 2013
DE PALMA DOSSIER, PART 2
SUMMARIES OF FIVE MORE ESSAYS
On Thursday, Feux Croises posted a De Palma Dossier made up of eight new essays about De Palma's cinema. That same day, I posted summaries of the first three essays. Here are summaries of the remaining five:

In Le mauvais œil, Feux Croises' co-creator Cédric Bouchoucha looks at the way De Palma and his characters attempt to reconfigure space via editing, whether by placing a body double in a shower, or, as in Snake Eyes, showing two different points of view of the same event via split-screen. "For De Palma," states Bouchoucha, "this coexistence in the space of the frame, though impossible, can take several forms," including split-diopter shots that collapse the space between two characters, the aforementioned split-screens, and cross fades, such as the one in The Untouchables where the still image of the four crimefighters is replaced by the face of a smiling Al Capone. Discussing the "infinite sadness" of some of De Palma's characters as they fall into a world of disillusion, Bouchoucha notes of Passion that after Christine humiliates Isabelle in public, she asks here where her sense of humor is. "The terrible, unexpected laughter of Isabelle is a distant echo of Selina Kyle in the ballroom scene of Batman Returns."

In Woton’s Wake: Un conte d’un sculpteur et d’un cinéaste, Li-chen Kuo looks at how De Palma constructed a film about the cinema via the myth of a sculptor. Kuo notes the opening shot, which shows a bookshelf full of film books, with one title, "Woton's Wake," in flames and leaning against them, signalling a film about cinema. "The idea to animate the inanimable has been linked to cinema from the moment of its invention," Kuo states, "and the story of Pygmalion and Galatea had also been staged in 1898 by Georges Méliès. The film attempts to fix the figures by placing them in another medium and sets motion to the image. Cinema fixes them in their 'life', and thus declares the desire for movement. In sculptural art is also this transformation into 'real', into 'life.' These two arts, film and sculpture, attach themselves to common desires: the desire to see and touch." Kuo links De Palma to the sculptor played by William Finley, the latter creating a woman out of metal trinkets, the former "sculpting a film" out of several types of material, physical or conceptual. "How would you define the act of Brian De Palma in this film?" asks Kuo. "Close to his character, the filmmaker collects fragments of images, movie scenes, diegetic motifs, by cutting the film reel, sticking them back together, and ultimately shaping a new form." Kuo adds that this early short from De Palma "does not explicitly explore the question of point of view." As Luc Lagier has pointed out, Kuo writes, Woton's Wake was made in 1962, prior to JFK's assassination, and "could thus be considered a work still 'innocent'."

In D’envol en chute : ce qui hantera toujours De Palma, Sidy Sakho states that "All De Palma is indeed a history of vertigo, that of a man - often a woman - haunted by an image, a unique sound. The line of nearly all his stories is that of the absolute abandonment of heroes and an ideal that is forever elusive." Sakho further states that the resolution of the puzzle in a De Palma film is "above all a false movement, already dead" (or a stalemate). Sakho elaborates on this by describing the bombastic fanfare of the opening shot (sequence) of Snake Eyes as, cruelly, also being a swan song for Nick Santoro, as well as for the viewer. Sakho suggests that the gaze in De Palma's cinema is, like Ethan Hunt dangling just above the Langley floor in Mission: Impossible, forever caught "between the fall and impact, when fear of death and the hope of a recovery question one another."

In Cils conducteurs, Claire Allouche suggests that Chris Marclay's Up And Out, which presents the moving image of Antonioni's Blow-Up against the sound from De Palma's Blow Out, allows us to see the latter's images again, despite the sound being dissociated from its images. This puts the viewer of Up And out in a similar position to Blow Out's soundman protagonist, Jack. "In this sense," writes Allouche, "the plot of Blow Up could pass for a 'film location scouting' and that of Blow Out for 'film postproduction.'" Allouche further notes that Blow-Up is longer than Blow Out by five minutes, leaving the Marclay film to end in silence. "We do not know the meaning ascribed to Thomas," writes Allouche, "and yet our lost gaze is directed towards the imaginary game of tennis. Up and Out ends in a world where reality does not provide anything more to see and hear. The dark room is an anechoic chamber, a heart beating intensely as at the beginning of the De Palma film. Between terrifying scream and spellbinding silence, Up and Out takes one last breath. The 'blow' reasserts itself. But this time, it is ours."

And finally, in William Finley, fantôme dionysiaque, Laurent Husson offers up a tribute to Finley as an important figure who "decisively contributed to forging the subversive tone of the De Palma cinema."


Posted by Geoff at 10:59 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, March 10, 2013 10:59 PM CST
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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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