BEGINNING WITH A COUPLE OF CAPTURES FROM THE LCI VIDEO (Thanks to Patrick!)
AND SOME OTHERS OUT OF GERMANY AND HONG KONG...
Hello and welcome to the unofficial Brian De Palma website.
Here is the latest news:
a la Mod:
"The girls are mind-fucking each other: Christine uses every psychological means in the book to break Noomi, she traps her, she humiliates her in front of her co-workers, until Noomi finally snaps."
The LCI reporter says, "After his last film flopped, De Palma has turned his back on Hollywood to point his cameras on a Berlin as down-to-earth as it is dreamt up, using his personal grammar with a brilliance as seductive as it is cringe-inducing."
(Thanks to Patrick!)
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."
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.
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.