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Thursday, September 26, 2013
'GRAND PIANO' REVIEWS CITE DE PALMA, HITCH & ARGENTO
PURE CINEMA; ONE CRITIC SAYS IT RESEMBLES 'SNAKE EYES' IN TONE



Eugenio Mira's Grand Piano had its world premiere a few days ago at Austin's Fantastic Fest, and several reviews coming out of that screening are mentioning Brian De Palma-- here are some samples:

Samuel Zimmerman, Fangoria
"It is not rare to find a director appropriating, or recalling, the stylistic flair of Alfred Hitchcock, Brian De Palma or Dario Argento. Just at Fantastic Fest alone, we’ve encountered director Mark Hartley employing a great deal of split diopter throughout his remake of 1978’s Patrick. What is rare, however, is to find such influence utilized in clever, thematically appropriate and more breathtaking than endearing manner. As you may expect, this is leading to the arrival of such a film: Eugenio Mira’s Grand Piano, an utter joy of high concept, artfully composed and absolutely thrilling pure cinema."

Chris Tilly, IGN
"Brian De Palma has spent much of his career imitating Alfred Hitchcock, oftentimes to great effect and success. And now Spanish helmer Eugenio Mira has made a movie that pays homage to both men, crafting a musical thriller that could just as easily have been called The Man Who Played Too Much."

Jette Kernion, Slackerwood
"'Like Phone Booth, but with a piano.' 'It's what you'd get if Brian De Palma decided to rework Unfaithfully Yours.'

"Glib descriptions of Grand Piano like the ones above (overheard at Fantastic Fest) don't do the film justice, not at all. I'm not even certain they give you an accurate idea of what you're about to see. On the other hand, a plot summarization of the thriller makes it sound ridiculous ... and thanks to filmmakers and stars, it is instead breathtakingly suspenseful."

Marjorie Baumgarden, Austin Chronicle
"Grand Piano is a high-concept suspenser that owes obvious debts to such masters as Alfred Hitchcock, Brian DePalma, and Dario Argento. Yet it’s infused with originality and so expertly executed that viewers will be stimulated by the comparisons and thrilled by the film’s confident presentation."

Todd Gilchrist, The Playlist
"A welcome reminder that high-concept thrillers needn’t rely on stupid coincidences and even stupider characters in order to succeed, Grand Piano turns the unlikeliest of scenarios into a riveting battle of wills. The story of a concert pianist whose comeback performance gets hijacked by a sniper with a secret agenda, director Eugenio Mira’s latest film breathlessly combines artistic anxiety and personal desperation, providing its character with a journey as intense emotionally as it is physically. In fact, probably the best Brian De Palma movie he never made, Grand Piano expands the boundaries of single-location, real-time mysteries like Phone Booth and Panic Room with a brilliantly simple concept and nimble, elegant style...

"Serving as more than a welcome contrast to the handheld, improvisational camerawork of too many other movies these days, Mira’s direction is a marvel of fluidity and poetry. The careful composition of each shot enhances the film’s melodramatic sweep without distracting from the story and performances; whether simply taking inspiration or outright stealing pages from (classic) De Palma’s playbook, Mira distinguishes his film with a classical, muscular visual style that suits its high-society backdrop, and mirrors Selznick’s mental scramble to focus on his performance and his potential murder at the same time."

Jeremy Kirk, First Showing
"While the story in Grand Piano, courtesy of Damien Chazelle, is simple and the locations are scarce, Mira moves the camera around the hall, down the corridors, and over and above the stage, giving us interesting angles of everything at play here. His usage of split screens and deep focus makes Grand Piano a nice homage to the films of Brian De Palma, though its intentions may have been more aimed at Hitchcock. DePalma is just fine, though, as Snake Eyes - the film Grand Piano most resembles in terms of tone - is an underappreciated thriller."


Posted by Geoff at 1:10 AM CDT
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Wednesday, September 25, 2013
RICK ROSS VIDEO USES CLIPS FROM 'SCARFACE'
ONE DAY AFTER DRAKE'S 'SCARFACE'-INSPIRED VIDEO PREMIERES

Posted by Geoff at 8:02 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 8:06 PM CDT
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Tuesday, September 24, 2013
STEVEN BAUER IN BILL POPE'S DRAKE VIDEO
SET IN 1985 MIAMI, RECALLING 'SCARFACE', BUT NOT REALLY

Posted by Geoff at 7:24 PM CDT
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Monday, September 23, 2013
'CARRIE' MUSICAL GETS STANDING OVATION
LAWRENCE D COHEN ATTENDED OPENING NIGHT IN MANILA
ABS-CBN News' Vladimir Bunoan reports that Atlantis Productions' stage musical version of Carrie received a "prolonged standing ovation" following its opening night performance Friday in Manila. Mikkie Bradshaw, pictured here, plays the title role.

Book writer Lawrence D. Cohen, who also wrote the screenplay for Brian De Palma's 1976 film adaptation of the Stephen King novel, was there Friday. Bunoan reports that in his curtain call speech, Cohen thanked "the gifted and fearless" director Bobby Garcia and the entire production team "who have done justice and credit to Carrie anywhere in the world." Cohen is further quoted as saying that Carrie "has become more resonant now than when it was written 40 years ago and when the movie came out. It's found some astonishing way, I think, to touch us and move us and, most of all, hold the mirror up and remind us what it is to be human. We are so lucky to have Bobby and this incredible company to remind us that Carrie speaks a really important truth that we all need to stand in other people's shoes, that we need to have empathy for each other and, most of all, whoever we are and wherever we live, we are all connected."

Bunoan quotes Bradshaw, who wrote on his Facebook page prior to Friday night's performance, "25 years ago, I fell in love with this musical. And here we are opening the first international production with an amazing group of people on stage and off. Feeling like that 18-year-old who saw the show in 1988. Blessed, grateful and inspired."


Posted by Geoff at 7:32 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013 7:33 PM CDT
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Sunday, September 22, 2013


Posted by Geoff at 11:42 PM CDT
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Saturday, September 21, 2013
'UNTOUCHABLES' QUOTED ON FOX SITCOM 'DADS'
The new sitcom Dads premiered on the FOX TV network this past Tuesday, and the pilot episode included a quote from Brian De Palma's The Untouchables, which was written by David Mamet. It happens in an early scene in which the two main characters (played by Giovanni Ribisi and Seth Green), who own and operate their own video game company, are arguing about payback etiquette after one of them invited the other’s father to his surprise birthday party. Ribisi's Warner says to Green's Eli, "Hey, you send one of mine to the hospital, I send one of yours to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way." After a silent pause in which they stare at each other, they both smile and point at each other at the same time, saying, “The Untouchables,” and the tension is broken. The pilot episode is currently streaming on the FOX website.

Posted by Geoff at 2:21 PM CDT
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Friday, September 20, 2013
RACHEL, WE LOVE YOU THIS MUCH


The picture above from the set of Passion was posted today on eOne's Facebook/Passion page.

Posted by Geoff at 6:55 PM CDT
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Thursday, September 19, 2013
NEW OZON REMINDS CRITIC OF DE PALMA & LYNCH
'YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL' "IS MUCH MORE DIABOLICAL THAN I WAS PREPARED FOR"
San Francisco Bay Guardian's Jesse Hawthorne Ficks writes about François Ozon's Young and Beautiful, which he saw at this year's Toronto International Film Festival (and which Brian De Palma saw at the Cannes Film Festival this past May). "Ozon has created a haunting thriller that should not be dismissed easily," states Ficks. "Young and Beautiful (France) follows a 17-year-old girl in what sounds an Eric Rohmer-esque portrait: four seasons, four songs. But while the rampant sexual excursions may get overlooked due to another French film this year... this tense tingler is much more diabolical than I was prepared for. It's darkly reminiscent of Brian De Palma and David Lynch — so, in other words, don't make any assumptions until the last frame is finished. Newcomer Marine Vacth delivers a fearless performance, but veteran Charlotte Rampling may have stolen the show with a role that calls to mind Under the Sand (2000) and Swimming Pool (2003)."

Posted by Geoff at 11:51 PM CDT
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Wednesday, September 18, 2013
'CARRIE' ALL OVER THE PLACE
FANGORIA, YOUTUBE FEATURETTE, MUSICAL IN PHILIPPINES & AUSTRALIA


The Carrie featurette above includes interview clips with Chloë Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, and Kimberly Peirce. The film opens in theaters a month from today, October 18th. The current issue of Fangoria features the film on its cover, and also includes an interview with Piper Laurie about her work on Brian De Palma's Carrie in 1976. The issue's "Monster Of The Month" is a drawing of Nancy Allen as Chris Hargensen from De Palma's film, and the "Crypt Lit" column looks back at Stephen King's original novel. The issue also includes an interview with Curse Of Chucky creator Don Mancini in which De Palma is mentioned a couple of times: interviewer Chris Alexander tells Mancini that he always viewed Seed Of Chucky as a "dirty De Palma film," to which Mancini points out that Pino Donaggio composed the score for it; there is also some discussion about how the lead actress in the new Chucky movie, Fiona Dourif, has an Amy Irving quality.

Meanwhile, sometime tomorrow, Odd City Entertainment will begin selling a limited edition print of Jessica Deahl's original poster art for De Palma's Carrie. Each 16"X24" print will cost $40, limited to 150.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports that Atlantis Productions will stage the 2012 musical version of Carrie at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium from September 20 through October 6. Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo will play Margaret White, and Mikkie Bradshaw will play Carrie. Atlantis' artistic director, Bobby Garcia, will direct the show. He told the Inquirer, "It is a beautifully tragic retelling of the Cinderella story with an amazing Broadway pop score."

And EMPIRE Australia reports that the independent musical theatre Squabbalogic will also stage the 2012 musical beginning November 13, with 14 shows over three weeks at the Seymour Centre in Sydney. The article explains, "Artistic Director of Squabbalogic, Jay James-Moody, is without fear of the musical’s notorious 1988 Broadway failure (this production is based on the 2012 New York revival), as he’s daringly ready to present a Grand Guignol production that will paint the Sydney stage red. This musical version of classic cult, Carrie, will include a grand Australian cast, with Margi de Ferranti (Mamma Mia, Les Mis) playing Carrie’s ruthlessly cruel mother, Adèle Parkinson (Legally Blonde), Garry Scale (Hairspray), Monique Sallé (A Chorus Line), and debuting, emerging Australian actor, Hilary Cole, as the main character, outcast, Carrie White."


Posted by Geoff at 11:40 PM CDT
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Tuesday, September 17, 2013
LOLA: WITH DE PALMA, 'IT'S ALWAYS THE FIRST TIME'
ADRIAN MARTIN & CRISTINA ALVAREZ LOPEZ, ABSORBED IN 'PASSION'
THAT & 3 OTHER ESSAYS ON DE PALMA IN NEW ISSUE OF LOLA

The new issue of the cinema journal L O L A went live yesterday, and it includes a dossier of four essays on the films of Brian De Palma, leading with a beautiful take on Passion (titled "To the Passion") by Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin. Here's the inro to that article:
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At least since The Fury (1978), commentators on the films of Brian De Palma have been keen to catch him in the act of mannerist frenzy: self-quotation, self-summation, self-anthologisation – upon material that is itself, of course, already borrowed as a handy template from previous masters and masterpieces. De Palma’s cinema today, in this view, can only be the end result of an ever-more baroque plunge into spirals of citation and reworking: an intriguing, post-postmodern business to some, mere self-exhaustion and diminishing returns for others.

As with all the best De Palma films, watching Passion (2012) should remind us of a contrary truth: when it comes to the exhilarating thrill, the wallop of cinema that his work gives us, it’s always the first time. Of course, there are broadly similar games with devious plots, POVs, split-screens, identity switches/disguises – play with the five senses and with every kind of media screen – in at least a dozen of his previous movies. But we were not thinking of Dressed to Kill (1980) or Raising Cain (1992) or Femme Fatale (2002) while we were absorbed in Passion: that type of unravelling always comes later. Nor were we trying to construct a hyper-intellectual contraption (in the manner of a recent woeful book) to ‘account for’ or explain away the intense, complicated, visceral pleasure we derive from his films.

When one of the main characters dies at the precise mid-way point, when the dreams and the dreams-within-dreams begin to unfold, when the camera tilts calamitously in a room or tracks in slowly to a face, when the plot lines pile up and converge on a single, catastrophic point … when these events, great and small, happen, we are not immediately flipping through the De Palma back catalogue; we are in the moment, the screen moment. Something that shakes us, that resonates, is happening there – we definitely know this by the final frames – and it is our task as critics to figure out what forces are involved, what has been deftly drawn into the fray. This task has nothing to do with taking the old Pauline Kael line that De Palma’s cinema is all about (and only about) energy, ‘pop vitalism’ and all-American vulgarity: such so-called ‘defence of trash’ too often clogs up the response-pores of even De Palma’s most public devotees.

Passion is not (as we are hearing a lot at the moment) a wilfully ‘ridiculous’ film (it is especially depressing to hear this said as praise!) or a self-consciously trashy one: these kinds of responses always tell more about the person uttering it than about the filmmaker in question. De Palma has gotten to a position in his career that is a little reminiscent of Samuel Fuller in his early-to-mid 1960s prime: his films mix vigorous, generic structures with sincere samplings of culture high and low (from viral YouTube videos to Jerome Robbins’ ballet choreography of Afternoon of a Faun); they meld expressionistic and melodramatic aesthetic patterns with a cold, hard edge of social criticism. And none of his films are so stringently, steely cold as Passion.

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ADRIAN MARTIN ON 'CARLITO'S WAY'
Also in the issue is Martin's "A Walk Through Carlito's Way", an "edited and lightly recast transcript of a talk/demonstration given as part of a day-long master class on film style, organised by the Department of Media at Macquarie University and the Australian Screen Directors’ Association, at the Museum of Sydney in April 2006." Martin looks at De Palma's schema of the pool hall scene in Carlito's Way with expert attention to detail.

ALAIN BERGALA ON 'OBSESSION'
In "Time Denied: An Apotheosis of the Imaginary", Alain Bergala looks at the assumption of the image in De Palma's Obsession. "The major difference between Scottie in Vertigo and Michael in Obsession, states Bergala, "is that Michael is in a deeper sleep than Scottie. He wants to believe in the reality of his waking dream with a deep and naïve conviction. The whole film is an obstinate refusal to wake up, to leave the bliss of the imaginary. He rushes like a bull towards the first illusion that is offered to him – this woman who is the reincarnation of his dead wife."

In one section of the essay, Bergala discusses how De Palma's camera movements in Obsession follow the slowness of Stanley Kubrick's in Barry Lyndon: "A slow zoom-in draws the viewer into the bottomless pit of the imaginary. In Samuel Blumenfeld and Laurent Vachaud’s book of interviews, De Palma talks about the Kubrick of Barry Lyndon (1975), of the slowness of that film, of ‘the impression that everything was happening in slow motion: the movements of the camera and the actors. You really got the feeling of perceiving time in a different way, as if we had actually returned to the 18th century’. In the same interview, he claims, regarding the zooms that are used systematically in that film, that he would be bored, personally, to repeat the same technique throughout an entire film. And yet this is what he does tirelessly in Obsession, where he multiplies the long, fluid shots of the undulating imaginary."

"RESPONSIVE EYES AND CROSSING LINES"
In the fourth essay, "Responsive Eyes and Crossing Lines: Forty Years of Looking and Reading", Helen Grace presents an episodic look at her experience within the landscape of feminism over the years. In episode 3, she recalls the protests against De Palma's Dressed To Kill while in London in 1980:

"We saw Dressed to Kill, fearing that we would be shocked and horrified, and that we might come out convinced that screen terrorism was necessary. Instead, we watched a film which seemed to say more about masculine anxiety than about the fears that women were expressing in relation to the film. We kept waiting for the horror – and when it came, we enjoyed it. We wondered if we had seen the same film that people had been complaining about, so we went to one of the street meetings to discuss our problems. We found out that, in fact, none of the women had seen the film at all, and they did not want to hear our opinions about it.

"And this turned out to be a general feature in every situation in which a ‘citizen censorship’ movement called for the boycott of a film to which one group or another took offence, whether it was feminists and gays objecting to a Brian De Palma film, or Christians protesting the screening of Jean-Luc Godard’s Hail Mary (1985) five or six years later. It was exactly this period of the ‘80s when some strands of feminism seemed indistinguishable from right-wing Christian extremism in the anti-democratic gestures of, for example the Dworkin-MacKinnon Anti-Pornography Civil Rights Ordinance (1983) – which, fortunately, did not succeed. In any case, it was anti-pornography activism that first drew my attention to Dressed to Kill. And that is how I came to be a De Palma fan."


Posted by Geoff at 12:03 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 12:06 AM CDT
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