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Tuesday, September 10, 2013
PODCAST CRITICS WATCH 'BLOW OUT' & 'PASSION'
ALL EXPERIENCE 'BLOW OUT' FOR FIRST TIME, AND LOVE IT, GREAT DISCUSSION
"THE GUY FROM 3RD ROCK IS AFTER YOU"; BAFFLED BY 'PASSION'


Posted by Geoff at 12:37 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 12:58 AM CDT
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Monday, September 9, 2013



Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist
"Imagine the Paul Thomas Anderson of There Will Be Blood making a Brian De Palma movie, or Claire Denis directing Christopher Nolan’s Memento. While those superlatives do give you a taste of the striking, sensual disposition simmering in the French-Canadian filmmaker’s engrossing and provocative psychological thriller, it actually does a disservice to Villeneuve’s superb craft and darkened vision that truly has coalesced into something extraordinary this year."

Posted by Geoff at 5:34 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 12:44 AM CDT
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'PASSION' REVIEWS & OTHER WRITINGS
LA TIMES ON DE PALMA & DANCING; FORCES OF GEEK IN DEFENSE OF 'PASSION'
Here is another batch of links to reviews of Passion, as well as an article from the Los Angeles Times' David Ng about the dancing in some of Brian De Palma's films. Of the ballet sequence in Passion, Ng writes, "The spare production, in which a man and a woman approach and repel each other, is a ballet about the ballet, in much the same way as De Palma's movies have always been about the movies.

"[Jerome] Robbins had his two dancers look directly at the audience, a deliberate attempt to break the fourth wall. De Palma replicates this by having the dancers -- Polina Semionova and Ibrahim Oyku Onal of the Staatsballett Berlin -- look directly into the camera. (The split screen acts as a kind of theatrical proscenium.)

"Their direct gaze is the visual inverse of the action in the second half of the screen -- a grisly murder sequence shot from the point of view of an intruder, with the camera assuming the killer's eyes. The effect is twofold: On the left side of the screen, we are being watched; on the right, we are doing the watching."

Here are some other Passion reviews:

Todd Sokolove, Forces Of Geek ("In Defense of Passion")
"I've never been an apologetic Brian De Palma fan and I'm not about to start apologizing. Recognized and celebrated by many a film geek, and seemingly the entire country of France, De Palma makes polarizing films that often split audiences and critics down the middle. His latest release, Passion, is no exception. It's a kaleidoscope of the auteur's prominent themes and performed tricks. It too, is not for everyone. This new "erotic thriller" has current Rotten Tomatoes score of 36%, but I'd be willing to bet it only fuels DePalma's indifference. Passion presents some sly critique on technology's ability to make anybody an entertainment content creator. I highly doubt he cares about technology's influence on the anybody-can-be-a-film-critic world wide web."

Sokolove also advises to "watch for some great in-joke moments in Passion, including an exact reproduction of a set up from Psycho."

Noel Murray, The Dissolve
"Before Passion ends, De Palma comes through with two sequences (neither of which originated with Love Crime) that can stand among his best: one where Christine is stalked on half a split-screen while the other half shows a fourth-wall-breaking performance of The Afternoon Of A Faun, and another that wordlessly sends four characters in pursuit of each other inside and outside Isabelle’s apartment.

"That latter scene—Passion’s big finish—doesn’t make much literal sense, given what precedes it. The ending is a complete De Palma invention, serving as a loosely related epilogue to the main story, much like the codas De Palma added to his films Carrie and Dressed To Kill. The scene is also a complete hoot. Passion makes glancing comments about ethics, cronyism, and a corporate culture that encourages employees to be cutthroat so long as it helps the company, but as always with De Palma, he’s more riffing on these ideas than making coherent, illuminating statements. He’s primarily interested in choreographing masterful setpieces, where every camera move is precise and the tone is heightened to the point of being tongue-in-cheek.

"Which isn’t to say that Passion is empty. De Palma gets some comic mileage out of the differences between the extroverted, brightly attired Christine and the chillier Isabelle—who can’t even work up a convincing 'I love you' when she has to—which is a sly way of confounding the convention of the femme fatale. (Depending on the viewer’s perspective, the villain of Passion could be Christine, Isabelle, or even Isabelle’s sycophantic assistant Dani, played by Karoline Herfurth.)"

Joshua Brunsting, Criterioncast
"A film chock full of melodramatic twists and turns, this film may be as close to the cinematic manifestation of everything De Palma believes aesthetically, and in that this becomes one of De Palma’s liveliest and most engaging works in at least 20 years. And in that De Palma truly becomes this film’s guiding light and inarguably the most interesting and important factor. Lavishly shot by Jose Luis Alcaine, this piece of work truly seems to be De Palma working at not so much the height of his aesthetic powers, but getting down to the pure seemingly animalistic core of his appreciation for things like German expressionism and, especially, film noir. There are stunning sequences here of beautifully lit sets that seem ripped right out of the cake noir that is Fritz Lang’s Ministry Of Fear, that film’s energy and aesthetic vitality seemingly injected straight into De Palma’s DNA. We also get various handheld sequences and seemingly first person shots that De Palma has been working with since his masterpiece, Blow Out, and even finding De Palma giving love to his key calling card, the brazen aesthetic shocker that is then split diopter shot. Passion is, at its very best, a stunningly shot meditation on the style of film noir, giving a deliciously De Palma sense of eroticism to things that would have become perfect fodder for a filmmaker like the aforementioned Lang."

Ray Pride, New City Film
"From reel to reel, Passion plays less like a succession of expected De Palma setpieces, than as individual, shorter films, each in their own volatile, sometimes clumsy fashion."

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald
"In Passion, Brian De Palma attempts to bring his trademark style of psycho-sexual thrills to the arena of corporate politics. The result is a ridiculous but entertaining mess. The movie teeters on the edge of camp for awhile, then plunges in headlong."


Posted by Geoff at 1:16 AM CDT
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Sunday, September 8, 2013


Posted by Geoff at 4:59 PM CDT
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Saturday, September 7, 2013

On "The Week's Best Sound Bites" page of its current issue (September 13, 2013, with Breaking Bad on the cover), Entertainment Weekly sees fit to highlight a line from Passion spoken by Rachel McAdams. (I apologize for the not-so-great image quality, but I don't have a scanner right now.) The film itself was reviewed by Owen Gleiberman in last week's issue.

Posted by Geoff at 10:00 PM CDT
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Posted by Geoff at 9:36 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, September 7, 2013 10:49 PM CDT
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Friday, September 6, 2013
DE PALMA/PACINO AT THE NEW BEVERLY FRI/SAT
'SCARFACE' 30TH ANNIVERSARY / 'CARLITO'S WAY' 20TH ANNIVERSARY

Posted by Geoff at 11:48 PM CDT
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BOX OFFICE COLUMNIST TAKES CRITICS TO TASK
FAILURE TO TAKE ART OF FILM SERIOUSLY LIMITS OUTLETS FOR ARTISTS SUCH AS DE PALMA & MALICK
In his "Box Office Rap" column, The House Next Door's Clayton Dillard (at Slant) rips into film critics for their lack of support for the artists of the cinema. "The cultural sins of critics who consistently refuse to treat the very art form they cover seriously prevents Passion from getting picked up by Sony Pictures Classics or Fox Searchlight," states Dillard, "thus ensuring its financial and artistic demise, since Entertainment One lacks the resources or track record to entice exhibitors, thus getting the film into just a handful of theaters and simultaneously On Demand. Although [Brian] De Palma ranks among the greatest living American filmmakers, with revisionist academic work and thoughtful online features pleading the case, critics continue to miss the point. Successful cultural historicity depends on a fluid engagement with delineating significance over a period of time that encompasses more than simply the immediate moment. When critics make no mention of De Palma's past work or controversy, it bastardizes film discussion and, frankly, only exists a notch or two above the YouTube comments sections.

"David Edelstein's claim that the film is 'entrancing and narcotizing in equal measure' carries a glibness that speaks to such faulty consideration—as does the capsule-length entirety of his review, with nary a mention of another De Palma film. Serious film criticism should either engage with a work in light of the filmmaker's past work or, at least, thoroughly explain the viewpoint being offered; Edelstein does neither. Even Alan Scherstuhl's positive review for The Village Voice undercuts its enthusiasm by saying 'Passion is pretty good. If you cared enough to make a list, it might be your fifth or sixth favorite De Palma.' Two issues: By claiming the film 'pretty good,' then placing it in the top fourth of De Palma's work, Scherstuhl's uses the same glib tone as Edelstein, as if to belittle the significance of 'a new De Palma film,' as Quentin Tarantino once called it; and by relegating film culture simply to listing of 'favorites,' the implication is that De Palma's work isn't worthy of more serious contemplation or consideration, as rankings will suffice.

"De Palma isn't the only casualty here, as the same thing happened earlier this year with Terrence Malick and To the Wonder, which likewise received a simultaneous On Demand and limited theatrical release, while critics thumbed their noses with rampant claims of 'self-parody.' If critics fumble at identifying important cultural markers (whether Passion is 'good' or 'bad' is less important than the track record of its filmmaker), then what chance do audiences have of being expected to perform anything remotely similar? This is less about 'bad reviews' than unthinking reviews: Obviously, for a critic to dislike the film is perfectly within bounds, but to neglect giving the film more attention, prominence, and a word count exceeding 116—now that's irresponsible. So, if you want to see a thriller this weekend, the multiplex offers Closed Circuit or Getaway...take your pick."


Posted by Geoff at 1:21 AM CDT
Updated: Friday, September 6, 2013 1:22 AM CDT
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Thursday, September 5, 2013




Posted by Geoff at 11:17 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, September 5, 2013 11:40 PM CDT
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JIM RIDLEY TO INTRODUCE 'PASSION' IN NASHVILLE
FROM HIS REVIEW: SET IN BERLIN AD AGENCY "WHERE THE GLASS PLANES & SLASHING ANGLES SUGGEST THE APPLE STORE OF DR. CALIGARI"
Add one more to the list of theaters that will be adding Brian De Palma's Passion tomorrow: The Belcourt in Nashville, Tennessee (it has been added to both the eOne list in the sidebar, and to our post from yesterday). Nashville Scene's Jim Ridley, who has written one of my favorite reviews of the film, will introduce the 9:30pm show of Passion tomorrow night (Friday) at the Belcourt. Ridley's review is a great read, so I suggest reading the whole thing, but here are some excerpts:

"De Palma borrows the hothouse plot of Alain Corneau's 2010 French thriller Love Crime — its co-writer, Natalie Carter, gets a dialogue credit here — but gives it a cold-to-the-touch sheen and a clammy metallic palette that's at ironic odds with the title. (It was shot on 35mm but transferred to digital, which mutes the steamy lushness that marks De Palma's thrillers.) When color bleeds through this sterile environment, it's typically the siren-red lipstick worn by Christine (Rachel McAdams), a coolly kinky executive at a Berlin advertising agency where the glass planes and slashing angles suggest the Apple Store of Dr. Caligari.

"So self-obsessed she likes her lovers to wear a doll-mask facsimile of her own features, Christine is grooming an avid protégé, Isabelle (Noomi Rapace), who covets her boss's power and modernist digs down to the upholstery on her sofa. De Palma poses them in the frame like mirror images, and Christine can't help but try shaping her underling into a human selfie. 'You need some color,' she coos to Isabelle, applying her lipstick as well as her lips."

Ridley concludes his review with these words:

"The justly famous centerpiece of Blow Out has Travolta reconstructing a sequence we've already watched using magazine stills, adding elements of cinema — sound, editing, projection — to reveal a crime that took place right before our eyes. The underlying theme of [De Palma's] movies is that people are so accustomed to looking that they've forgotten how to see. A viewer's impatience with Passion's dull police procedural all but guarantees he'll be blindsided by the elaborate trap the director is laying in plain sight.

"When De Palma springs it, in a denouement of spiraling delirium that deploys tropes from across his career, the laughter it produces is eruptive — part giddiness at watching the dominoes topple, part amused acknowledgement of how thoroughly we've been suckered. But in some ways, the altered media landscape De Palma sends up has the last laugh. The first new film in six years by the movies' most extravagantly gifted visual artist made its arrival via video on demand — consigned to TV and the tiniest of portals except in relatively few cities, of which Nashville is one. Pace Norma Desmond, the picture is big; it's the screens that have gotten small. But this portability has a side effect. It means this devious little gem can be passed around forever — like a secret, like a virus, like a clip you've just gotta share."


Posted by Geoff at 7:44 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, September 5, 2013 11:22 PM CDT
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