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Thursday, July 25, 2013
De Palma a la Mod reader Chris Baker attended a screening of Edgar Wright's "Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy" (Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World's End) last Monday in San Francisco. Wright was on hand with the stars of the trilogy, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Chris tells us that in the post-screening Q&A, "someone asked a question which (paraphrased) was 'Given all the drinking in this film, I'm wondering what each of your favorite hangover remedies is? Also: I saw on Criterion.com where Blow Out was number one in your Top Ten list, and I'm wondering if you would ever do a film similar to one of De Palma's?'"

Wright (amused): "OK well really those are two very different questions"
Pegg": "Actually, my favorite hangover remedy is De Palma films"
Wright: "Scarface at full volume is my favorite hangover cure!"

As Chris tells it, "Wright then said that in fact his list to Criterion had been alphabetical and he didn't realize that numbers would be assigned. He said that he did love the film though, as well as others of De Palma's: saying he loved Carrie also, but that his favorite was probably Phantom Of The Paradise. He finished by saying that yes sometime he would like to do a 'straight thriller, or horror film'."

As he was making the rounds three years ago for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (which was partially under the influence of De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise), Wright talked to The Playlist's Kevin Jagernauth about a screenplay he was working on called Baby Driver that had a strong De Palma influence: "Well, it’s something I’ve been meaning to write for ages. I really planned to recharge my batteries and get back into writing. I’m excited about doing something that’s almost purely visual, because I’ve done three films—and even though Scott Pilgrim is very visual, it’s very dialogue heavy as well, which is great. And music heavy. Yeah. I think I’d like to try something—I’m a big Brian De Palma fan, and I’ll sit and look at something like Carrie, and I like the fact that it starts to play out like a silent movie. There’s a point in Carrie in the last half hour where there’s no need for any more dialogue because the plot is in motion. Or something like [Jean-Pierre Melville's] Le Samourai, I look at something like that and think, wow, there’s hardly any dialogue in this film. Something like that can be enjoyed around the world. I’d really like the challenge of doing something where the dialogue is really stripped back and it’s all about the cinema."

(Thanks to Chris!)

Posted by Geoff at 12:22 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, July 25, 2013 12:26 AM CDT
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Sunday, July 21, 2013

The 2013 Fantasia International Film Festival is currently underway in Montreal, and at least a couple of the films screening there this year are being mentioned as partially De Palma-esque. Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado's Big Bad Wolves will have its Canadian premiere there this Friday night. In the Fantasia press notes, co-director Mitch Davis writes, "The sophistication, audacity and sheer force of execution on display here announces them as leading talents on the world cinema stage and will have many declaring them the Israeli Coen Brothers — with shades of early Park Chan-wook and Brian De Palma! No wonder it ranked among the best-reviewed entries of this year’s Tribeca film festival, where it left audiences positively gobsmacked."

Davis also talked about the film to Brendan Kelly of the Montreal Gazette. "“Oh my God, the masterpiece of 2013, in my opinion... It’s riveting, it’s funny, it’s brilliant filmmaking. Imagine an Israeli version of the Coen brothers, mixed with early Brian De Palma, and Park Chan-wook. Also imagine Les Sept jours du talion re-imagined as the most sinister black comedy, but at the same time wickedly entertaining and funny. It’s just the perfect movie.”

Making its world premiere at the Fantasia fest on August 3rd will be Discopath, the feature debut of Renaud Gauthier, who sold his own home to finance the film, according to Marc Lamothe on the Fantasia web site. Gauthier served as director, screenwriter, art director, and music composer on Discopath, about a man who goes into a homicidal trance whenever he hears disco music. "Nostalgia is already [Gauthier's] stock in trade, his knack for evoking the smiles and styles of the ’70s, so it’s no surprise that his first feature is soaked in disco culture," Lamothe states in the notes. "But beyond the art direction, the mise en scene connects to the era by recalling the golden age of Italian giallo and lessons of masters like John Carpenter and Brian De Palma."

Posted by Geoff at 8:46 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, July 21, 2013 8:48 PM CDT
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Quartet Records is releasing Pino Donaggio's soundtrack to Dario Argento's TV movie Do You Like Hitchcock?, in an edition limited to 500 copies. The CD is available for pre-order, although the release date has not yet been confirmed. The site description mentions that the disc will include "the entire score, including Donaggio's unused tribute to Vertigo called 'Homage to Hitchcock' [a clip of which can be listened to on the web page]. Carefully mastered by Claudio Fuiano, the package includes liner notes by Gergely Hubai, who offers an introduction to the film and the score with comments from the composer - and including a track-by-track narrative discussion that will lead you to the end of the mysterious case!"

Meanwhile, Nicolas Winding Refn's Only God Forgives is now in theaters, and also available on VOD. In a review from last May's Cannes Film Festival, The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney wrote that "composer Cliff Martinez again makes an indispensable contribution to Winding Refn’s defining aesthetic with a richly textured score that combines pounding martial arts drumbeats, bursts of ecclesiastical organ music, lushly romantic orchestral riffs that recall Pino Donaggio’s work for Brian De Palma, and obsessive techno beats that at times evoke the vintage electropop of Giorgio Moroder."

Posted by Geoff at 7:12 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, July 21, 2013 7:13 PM CDT
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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Computer Chess director Andrew Bujalski includes Brian De Palma on a list of his cultural influences, as told to Vulture's Jennifer Vineyard. Here is what Bujalski said about De Palma: "De Palma will spend an hour of the movie whipping you into a frenzy, building the house of cards, and then end the movie gleefully knocking it down in a way that infuriates half the audience but is still commercially viable. And Lord knows I love his split screens. And I finally got to do them in Computer Chess, to put a few split screens in the movie. Not with the level of invention or meticulousness that he brings, but it was fun to pretend that I was De Palma for five minutes."

Computer Chess opened this past Wednesday in New York. Salon's Andrew O'Hehir calls it a "profound, peculiar work of genius."

Armond White writes of the film, "Mumblecore originator Bujalski has found the wit to break out from its conspicuous routines and make the genre’s most stylistically varied, artistically adventurous film with Computer Chess. Bujalski actually employs montage and style–idiosyncratic style–that goes past simply being unHollywood and creates its own uniquely nerd vision."

A. O. Scott of the New York Times calls it "peculiar and sneakily brilliant." And NPR's Ella Taylor writes, "The beguiling Computer Chess is about the dawn — one of many, but that's another story — of the tech revolution. It's also a reminder that you don't need state-of-the-art toys to make a formally playful comedy about man versus machine."

Posted by Geoff at 4:42 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, July 20, 2013 5:32 PM CDT
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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Neil Mitchell is the author of a new book about Brian De Palma's film adaptation of Carrie, which is due to be released next month. The book is part of Auteur Press' "Devil's Advocates" series.

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 7:00 AM CDT
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Friday, March 29, 2013

From Calum Marsh's Slant review:

"But then, with little warning, things veer into markedly stranger territory, as the decadent, almost classic melodrama of the film's first two acts suddenly gives way to full-blown theatrical maximalism, with erotic liaisons erupting into garish displays of unholy abandon. The film quickly becomes a catalogue of aestheticized depravity, with Judith's cautionary-tale descent into hedonism expressed as a thick slice of exploitation cinema. From exaggeratedly steamy sex sessions to car windows smashed in rage, from laser-lit dens of nightlife sin to last-minute soap revelations (including an honest-to-goodness AIDS scare), [Tyler] Perry's Temptation appears across its last act more like Brian De Palma's Temptation, relishing the excess to such a pronounced degree that it's hard to tell what's meant to be taken ironically. Like De Palma, Perry embellishes every sensual detail, making a real show of lust and caution, blowing up the emotion and the style in equal measure. It results in a bizarre sort of friction—one that's very much jarring, but in a perverse way also rather mesmerizing—that simultaneously heightens the pleasure of the melodrama while severely reducing its credibility.

"For better or worse, Temptation isn't Good Deeds, though at its core it contains a similar honesty, its form is drastically wilder, careening into a stylistic ostentation at odds with both the heart of the material and the director's body of work. Perry has never been an especially extravagant visual stylist, but he does have a tendency to depict on-screen romance with a warmth and intimacy that borders on sensual (particularly where the steam of a shower is involved). Here that quality comes to practically define the aesthetic, pushed to an extreme that, once the prospect of violence enters the picture, makes it seem ripped from Dressed to Kill. (Because Temptation involves infidelity and stars black actors, it's been compared by some critics to Obsessed, but in terms of look and feel it's much closer to Obsession.) It's never clear, however, whether these over-the-top embellishments are meant to encourage or discourage identification, and it's hard to reconcile the conventional seriousness of the film's first two acts with the ostensible absurdity of its last act. If the point is to expand an already Christian-themed morality play to suitably biblical proportions, the gambit isn't so effective. And if the point, as it often is with De Palma, is to both relish and critique its own showy artifice (perhaps it's a demented vision of infidelity's worse-case scenario?), it isn't apparent how that meta-strategy relates to the apparent earnestness of the beginnings. But in any case, the last-act foray into veritable camp is certainly provocative, a quality with value of its own."

Posted by Geoff at 5:43 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, March 30, 2013 2:50 PM CDT
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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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Saturday, February 9, 2013
Steven Soderbergh's Side Effects opened yesterday. Reviews have been coming in all week long that call the film Hitchcockian, and in some cases, Brian De Palma's name has been mentioned, as well. While at least a couple of the reviews and articles mention De Palma's Body Double, [possible spoiler here] there is one key scene that reminded me of a key scene in De Palma's Sisters. [End of spoilers] In any case, the less you know about the movie going in, the more you will enjoy it.

Indiewire's Drew Taylor this week posted "10 Psychosexual Thrillers To Get You Ready For Steven Soderbergh's Side Effects," and included Body Double, along with Adrian Lyne's Fatal Attraction (which he notes was Soderbergh's "principle inspiration" for Side Effects), Lawrence Kasdan's Body Heat (which Taylor notes was one of screenwriter Scott Z. Burns' "chief inspirations" for Side Effects), Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, Paul Verhoeven's Basic Instinct, Pedro Almodovar's The Skin I Live In (with which Taylor notes that Almodovar "was able to synthesize" the styles of Hitchcock and De Palma), the Wachowski Brothers' Bound, David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers, David Fincher's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (which, like Side Effects, stars Rooney Mara), and Richard Marquand's Jagged Edge. Here's what Taylor wrote about Body Double:

"If there's a king of the psychosexual genre, then Brian De Palma should probably be the one to wear the crown. Beginning with his debut feature, Murder A La Mod (1968) and continuing through to Passion (which will be released later this year), De Palma has been working over themes of obsession, violence, and betrayal, in particular during a string of profitable and highly controversial movies in the '70s and '80s. (Detailed lovingly in the recent, pseudo-academic book Un-American Psycho by Chris Dumas.) While Dressed to Kill might be the most psychosexual of his psychosexual heyday, there's something sleazier and steamier about Body Double, his unheralded classic from the period, that was unjustifiably thrown under the bus for perceived misogynistic undertones and what critics viewed as too many lapses in logic in De Palma's dreamlike narrative. (He's admitted some things in the movie just don't work.) But it's for all these reasons, not in spite of them, that Body Double is such a whacked-out delight. Like Dressed to Kill, which liberally cribs from Psycho, Body Double finds De Palma riffing on Hitchcock, in this case Rear Window, with a struggling actor (Craig Wasson) agreeing to housesit for a friend. After her watches a woman get killed (in a sequence that caused the public outcry – she gets speared by a giant phallic drill), he's drawn into the underground world of Los Angeles pornography. (It was originally intended as a micro-budget film with an NC-17 rating.)" [Editor's note: the NC-17 rating did not exist at the time Body Double was released; De Palma had originally talked about making a film that would receive a pure, unadulterated X rating.] "Body Double is goofier than Blow Out, De Palma's masterpiece, but it's still a sparkly crown jewel for the king of the psychosexual thriller.

Here are some of the reviews with quotes:

Randall King, Winnipeg Free Press
"Soderbergh, working from a script by Scott Z. Burns, delivers a genre mash-up, a murder mystery that strives to address the social ills that attend prescription pharmaceuticals. This has the capacity to be a hot-button movie playing on the all-too-pertinent link between violence and prescription meds. But Soderbergh seems to be gingerly avoiding head-on confrontation. Instead, he bottles a more mundane thriller of the type that might have appealed to Brian De Palma a decade or two earlier."

Jeff Myers, Metro Times
"From Soderbergh’s head-scratching opening homage to Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby to a plot that, at first, seems to be a cautionary legal tale of big pharma abuses, Side Effects unexpectedly develops into a postmodern Hitchcockian thriller —which is actually akin to one of Brian De Palma’s chilly psychological puzzles. That’s an awful lot of cinematic referencing for one movie. But let me put a cherry on top, won’t you? With its eventual double-cross plot turns, paranoid wrong-man drama, and corrupt corporate subtext, Side Effects plays like a particularly nasty episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent had it been directed by Robert Altman."

Josh Board, Fox 5 San Diego
"Now, this is about all I will tell you regarding the plot. Even the trailers, and the stars of the movie on talk shows, have given away too much. I went in knowing nothing about it when I saw it last month. And I loved the way it went from a bit of an ethical dilemma to a psychological thriller. It was Hitchcock-light. More like Brian De Palma."

Al Alexander, The Patriot Ledger
"To even begin to describe the plot would be a disservice to anyone who has not yet basked in the film’s psychotic pleasures. Just know that nothing – and I mean, nothing – is what it seems, right up to the superbly composed final shots that come courtesy of Soderbergh, who serves as both editor and cinematographer (under the pseudonym of Peter Andrews) as well as director. It’s easily his finest – and most commercial – effort since Oceans 13. It’s also like nothing he’s ever done before, as he boldly treads into the domain normally reserved for masters of suspense like Hitchcock (think Vertigo) and Brian De Palma (Body Double, anyone?)."

Kurt Loder, Reason.com
"Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects is a grippingly 'Hitchcockian' movie, but not in the manner of, say, Brian De Palma, who blithely appropriated the master’s narrative elements and visual techniques for ’80s films like Dressed to Kill and Body Double. Soderbergh’s picture is something else, a bracingly lurid tale of a man trapped in a thickening web of circumstance—the sort of story that Hitchcock might well have wanted to tell himself. In the late director’s absence, Soderbergh, who over the course of 24 years has demonstrated a rare facility in a wide array of genres, proves to be just the man for the job."

Brian Tallerico, Hollywood Chicago
"Side Effects not only draws on Soderbergh’s career but has conscious echoes of Roman Polanski, Brian De Palma, and Alfred Hitchcock as well...

"That first act has echoes of Polanski’s wonderful, urban paranoia films like Repulsion as Soderbergh (under the pseudonym of Peter Andrews) shoots the 'wounded bird' of Mara often from below or above, heightening the claustrophobia of a city in which millions can feel alone despite being in such close proximity. Then the film twists and Soderbergh/Andrews & Burns bring a different, pulpier style that’s more reminiscent of De Palma when he so blatantly mimicked Hitchcock. Technically, it’s a marvelous piece of work as Soderbergh proves defter with his camera with every film."

Kate Erbland, Film School Rejects
"Yet, Side Effects seems more intent on toying with its viewers’ expectations than in really crafting its own internal cat-and-mouse game. The actual meat of its full storyline is unexpectedly trashy and tawdry, like some unholy mix of Brian De Palma film and Lifetime Original movie."

Posted by Geoff at 7:40 PM CST
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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Posted by Geoff at 6:55 PM CST
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