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Sunday, December 8, 2013
DE PALMA'S 'THERESE' FILM TITLED 'MAGIC HOUR'
MONSTER INTERVIEW IN NEW ISSUE OF 'SO FILM' FROM FRANCE
Thanks to Thomas for letting us know about the monster interview with Brian De Palma in the current issue of So Film, and also to Patrick for pointing out that the article inside provides a title for De Palma's upcoming project with producer Saïd Ben Saïd, which has been described as a loose adaptation of Emile Zola's Thérèse Raquin. According to the magazine, the title for that project is Magic Hour. Emily Mortimer, who had previously auditioned for De Palma's The Black Dahlia, will play the lead. Screen Daily's Geoffrey Macnab has previously reported that "the story is about a film director and two actors shooting a movie version of Zola's novel and finding that it reflects experiences in their own lives."

Another upcoming film adaptation of Thérèse Raquin was recently retitled In Secret. It marks the directorial debut of Charlie Stratton, and stars Elizabeth Olsen, Oscar Isaac, and Jessica Lange. The film is to be released February 21, 2014. A trailer was just released this past week.

Meanwhile, the interview in So Film was conducted recently in New York. In it, Fernando Ganzo asks De Palma questions that cover his entire career. It may take me some time, but I'll try to get some translations and share highlights in the coming days.


Posted by Geoff at 3:52 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, December 8, 2013 4:04 PM CST
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Saturday, December 7, 2013
VIDEO: UNION STATION SHOT-BY-SHOT
INVESTIGATING P.O.V. SHOTS IN CLASSIC SCENE FROM 'THE UNTOUCHABLES'

Posted by Geoff at 7:38 PM CST
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Friday, December 6, 2013
'MISSION TO MARS' & 'THE FURY'
DOUBLE FEATURE JUXTAPOSITION HELPED CHANGE STEVE VINEBERG'S VIEW ON 'M2M'
Critics At Large's Steve Vineberg revisted Brian De Palma's Mission To Mars a couple of weeks ago for an ongoing series called "Neglected Gems." "When I saw Brian De Palma’s Mission to Mars in 2000 with a heckling, pre-release audience, I didn’t think much of it," begins Vineberg. "A year later, though, the American Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria screened it on a double bill with The Fury as part of a month-long De Palma retrospective, and a group of former students who took me out there to see The Fury persuaded me to stay and take a second look at Mission to Mars. Perhaps it was the juxtaposition of the two movies that made me look at Mission to Mars with new eyes, but the second time around I fell in love with it. The Fury has an almost insane narrative, but it’s a work of such visual inventiveness and emotional potency that, if you connect with it, the story is no obstacle; its excesses serve the movie just as equally ridiculous stories serve Jacobean tragedies and nineteenth-century operas. And though Mission to Mars has a much simpler silly plot, it too is a kind of outline – you might say a metaphor – for De Palma’s ideas about the tension between technology and humanity and the nature of loss, his two favorite subjects."

After describing the plot of Mission To Mars, Vineberg continues, "The key to gaining access to the face in the sand, it turns out, is the crew’s ability to furnish proof that they’re human. Mission to Mars is a space story, but it’s the anti-2001: A Space Odyssey. In De Palma’s Blow Out, the hero (John Travolta) keeps making the mistake of putting his faith in technology; so, on a smaller scale, does the teenage boy (Keith Gordon) in Dressed to Kill who’s trying to track down his mother’s killer. For these characters, technology is at best inadequate to achieve the (human, emotional) ends they want to put it at the service of; at worst it backfires and results in the deaths of the people they care about. By the time Mission to Mars takes place, technology is inescapably the ruling force, but De Palma uses the fact of all this technology, ironically, as a way of focusing on the human dilemmas that beset the people who have to deal with its inadequacy and its capacity for bringing disaster. Science has found a way for the astronauts to float through space without the benefit of a space capsule, but only for limited amounts of time, i.e., only as long as the oxygen in the tanks strapped to their backs holds out. When Woody is unable to harness the drifting capsule after the rest of the spaceship has crashed, he finds he hasn’t enough oxygen left to return to his companions. Terri insists she should float out to rescue him – a futile act that would end up killing both of them. So Woody pulls off his helmet and meets the lethal pressure of Mars’s atmosphere head-on, an act of self-sacrifice that comes out of his love for his wife. The separation of husband and wife plays off one of the movie’s most ecstatic visual moments, when they dance together to a Motown tune in the gravity-free atmosphere of the spaceship en route to Mars. But De Palma fans will also recognize his trademark image – the character who watches in helpless anguish while someone, usually a loved one, is destroyed before his or her eyes – from The Fury, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, Casualties of War and Mission: Impossible. Woody’s demise may be the most strangely poetic version yet of a motif that amounts to an obsession: Robbins’s face turns, magnificently, to cracked granite.

"The tragedy that divides Woody and Terri echoes, of course, the loss of Jim’s wife Maggie, whom we see only once, in a video (played, touchingly, by Kim Delaney) their friends prepared when they were chosen to helm the Mars mission. Jim watches it on a monitor in the ship when he winds up traveling there without her. It’s a double-time frame sequence – the video contains images from this joyous time interspersed with earlier ones from the McConnells’ wedding. I might not have made this connection had I not just rewatched The Fury, but the visual dynamic of an image embedded within another image and two sets of observers recalls the scenes in that movie where Amy Irving is caught in a psychic link with a besieged Andrew Stevens while someone else – who can’t see what she sees – tries to communicate with her. This is a visual notion with amazing emotional resonance for these stories of loss. In The Fury, Irving’s Gillian longs to meet the boy who shares her freakish psychic gifts; her separation from him, except in these imperiled visions she has no power to alter, underscores her isolation from the rest of the world, from the people she loves who don’t share her abilities. And when she finally does get close to him, it’s too late: he’s already destroyed. The video that brings Jim’s wife back to him, if only for a few minutes, is a trick of technology that is finally just a reminder of the uncrossable distance between them. He can replay this moment of happiness and relive not only his loss but also his bafflement: here they are at the peak of their lives together, anticipating a future that, though neither knows it, will never come to pass. In the video Maggie makes a toast to them standing at the threshold of a new world, but mere months later she was sick and he stood on the threshold of life and death, watching the most important person in his life fading away from him. De Palma gets at this idea in another way, too. The transmissions the first Mars crew sends back to earth have a twenty-minute delay. Back at home, Jim and the others watch as Luke and his companions, full of good humor and optimism, light a candle in a slab of cake to honor Jim’s birthday before setting out across the sand to explore the structure. The NASA observers have no way of knowing that even while they’re watching this transmission, twenty minutes after Luke sends it, his crew is being torn apart."

(Thanks to Hugh!)


Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, December 7, 2013 12:07 AM CST
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Thursday, December 5, 2013
WAITING TO SHOOT THE SHOWER SCENE
NANCY ALLEN SHARES RARE PIC FROM SET OF 'CARRIE'


The above picture from the set of Brian De Palma's Carrie was posted today by Nancy Allen on her Facebook page, with the message, "Throwback Thursday... On the set of Carrie waiting to shoot the shower scene." She then added, "No one has ever seen this picture before. It was taken with my personal camera. I liked taking behind the scene pictures."

Posted by Geoff at 9:20 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, December 5, 2013 9:26 PM CST
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Wednesday, December 4, 2013
TRAILER FOR ROMAIN'S NEW SHORT FILM
INCLUDES A COUPLE OF POSTER NODS TO DE PALMA FILMS




Click here to watch the trailer for Romain Lehnhoff's new short film, Métropolitain.


Posted by Geoff at 6:15 PM CST
Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014 7:36 PM CST
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Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Posted by Geoff at 11:38 PM CST
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Monday, December 2, 2013
R.I.P. PAUL WALKER
ACTOR HAD SOUGHT ROLE IN 'BLACK DAHLIA', CALLED DE PALMA HIS FAVORITE
Paul Walker was one of two people killed Saturday in a single-vehicle crash in Santa Clarita, California, according to a CBS Los Angeles report. Walker was a passenger, and the driver is believed to have been Roger Rodas, a close friend and business partner of Walker's, according to other reports.

In 2004, after Mark Wahlberg had dropped out of the Lee Blanchard role in Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia, Walker expressed interest in replacing him (the role eventually went to Aaron Eckhart). "Brian De Palma’s got a movie he’s gonna do called The Black Dahlia," Walker told Cinema Confidential in 2004. "De Palma’s my favorite. And I heard that one of the cast members, someone that’s attached dropped out. I want to do that movie! De Palma’s the man." When asked if he had seen all of De Palma's films, Walker replied, "Every one. And Jeff Byrd is my agent at ICM. Jeff Byrd represents De Palma. So I’m like, 'yo, Byrd, make this happen.'"

Wayne Kramer, who directed Walker in the excellent Running Scared, as well as this year's Pawn Shop Chronicles, mentioned in a Facebook post Sunday that De Palma had offered Walker a film project some years ago. "It always pained me when critics and internet talkbackers slammed him as an actor," Kramer wrote, "because I knew the truth about the guy: he was fucking awesome in every way. And he was just coming into his own as a strong leading man. I always told Paul that his most exciting years were going to be his 40s and 50s, and even beyond, as a masculine American tough guy in the vein of Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin. We talked about how Paul was going to be my Lee Marvin and we were hungry to make those kind of films that could show Paul in that light. In some alternate reality somewhere, he’s still on that career trajectory and I’d love to be there to see the work because it would be something to experience indeed. For every anonymous internet hater who bagged on him, there were great actors and directors who made a point of letting him know how amazing he was. Kevin Costner was a fan and wanted to do a western with Paul. Vincent D’Onofrio (whom I recently worked with) made a point of telling me how much he dug Paul as an actor. Quentin Tarantino called Paul after seeing Running Scared to tell him how much he loved Paul’s performance. Sylvester Stallone was a fan of Paul in Running Scared. Walter Hill and Brian De Palma offered him projects a few years back. Paul was very discriminating with the films he picked. He chose to make them for personal reasons, regardless of the quality of the finished film or the reputation of the director. And once he signed on, he was there one thousand percent for his directors. We shared the same taste in material. Usually dark and extreme, but with a lot of soul. Closer to the films of the 70s and 80s that they no longer make anymore."


Posted by Geoff at 12:07 AM CST
Updated: Monday, December 2, 2013 12:11 AM CST
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Thursday, November 28, 2013
SEITZ: 'OLDBOY' REMINDED ME OF DE PALMA
AND ELIZABETH OLSEN CALLS DE PALMA'S 'CARRIE' GROUNDBREAKING


Matt Zoller Seitz, editor-in-chief at RogerEbert.com, posted a positive review yesterday of Spike Lee's Oldboy, which is a remake (or reimagining) of Park Chan-Wook's film from ten years ago. As Seitz points out in the excerpt below, both are adapted from a Japanese graphic novel. Discussing Lee's direction of the material, Seitz mentions Brian De Palma a couple of times:
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It's worth pointing out here that Park's film is not an original story, but an adaptation of a Japanese comic book of the same name. Both versions find ways to visually suggest that you're reading a big-screen graphic novel with pages that come to life. The compositions in Lee's movie have such a painterly or "illustrated" quality that they might as well have thick black lines marking off the edges of the frame. At no point does the film try to be "realistic," except when it comes to the strong, simple emotions that its characters feel. Lee's "Oldboy," like Park's, obeys its own illogical logic (a hotel room hallucination starring Lee's brother Cinque has the goofy randomness of a joke in a David Lynch movie). The whole thing flows as dreams flow, linking situations to other situations and images to other images in a seemingly free-associative manner.

At its wooziest, Lee's direction reminded me of Brian DePalma or John Carpenter in nightmare reverie mode, or Alfred Hitchcock when he seemed possessed by whatever horrible muses drove him. It's purely intuitive, at times musical, direction. The lack of a political dimension seems to have freed Lee to be looser and more (cruelly) playful than usual. There's news footage on Joe's hotel room TV, but when we see, for instance, scenes from 9/11 or the Iraq war, it's not meant to drive home anything but the passage of time and its effect on Joe's psyche. The performances are all over the map, in what struck me as a DePalma-like way. Some actors give fairly naturalistic performances (Brolin and Olsen) while others (Jackson and Copley) chew the scenery into fine shreds and then pluck them from their shiny teeth. Lee presides over the madness with a droll serenity that says, "This is the movie; deal with it."

The big problem with Lee's "Oldboy" is that for all its dark confidence, it doesn't reimagine the original boldly enough. This isn't like Martin Scorsese's "Cape Fear," David Cronenberg's "The Fly" or Jonathan Demme's "The Manchurian Candidate"—or the recent superhero-inflected version of "Carrie," which I liked better than most critics—all of which drastically rethought their inspirations. Lee's "Oldboy," in contrast, is more like "Point of No Return," the American remake of "La Femme Nikita." It's so close to its predecessor in so many ways that I can't see much reason for it to exist, except to give xenophobic viewers an experience similar to the original, but minus the subtitled Korean and the octopus-eating scene—and with a more ostentatiously cartoonish bad guy, and lot more monologuing to explain the convoluted plot.

That's not a bad thing, though, when you consider the current climate for mainstream American films. For people who haven't seen the original "Oldboy" or anything like it, this will be a rare studio release that feels shocking and abrasive and perverse and in some way new. I'd love to sit through Lee's movie again in a theater with newbies who came to see a straightforward revenge picture starring a guy who's been locked up for a long time and have no idea what they're actually in for: a swan-dive into the toxic id. Few American auteurs are making mainstream studio movies in the vein of Spike Lee's "Oldboy": unabashedly hardcore genre pictures that aren't afraid to treat sex and violence as colors on a palette, and get nasty and raw, in that seventies-movie way. Park's "Oldboy" was no skip through the daisy field, but this one is even harder to watch, sometimes indulging in savagery that blurs the line between Old Testament morality play and straight-up exploitation.The filmmakers seem obsessed with making everything as extreme as possible, replacing, for example, a bruising bit of hammer torture with a prolonged sequence in which the hero uses an X-acto knife to slice a dotted-line-shaped pattern into a former jailer's throat.

Roger Ebert's four-star review of the original praised it as "the kind of movie that can no longer easily be made in the United States" thanks to content restrictions imposed by "a puritanical minority." The same sentiments apply here, but even more so, because Park's film came out ten years ago, and things have only gotten more restrictive since then. Plenty of international filmmakers are working in this mode—Park, Takashi Miike, Nicolas Winding Refn and Lars von Trier spring immediately to mind—but not too many English-language directors, aside from Quentin Tarantino and sometimes Oliver Stone ("Savages"). Martin Scorsese and David Cronenberg used to make this sort of picture all the time, but haven't in a while, perhaps because it's just too much for some people, and "just too much" movies tend not to get made at a major studio level because the financial stakes are too grave. I don't like or approve of everything in "Oldboy," but I'm glad it exists. The multiplexes are filled with PG-13 movies that should have been R-rated movies, released by studios that don't make adults-only genre films anymore. This is one such film, starring a real actor, directed by a real director. It deserves to be seen and argued about.

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ELIZABETH OLSEN DISCUSSES DARK FILMS, AND 'CARRIE'
Meanwhile, Oldboy actress Elizabeth Olsen talked to Danny Peary at the San Harbor Express, telling him that she wasn't offered a role in the film, but once she read the script and then watched the original movie, she "tried to get the job," and got it. Discussing movies with dark themes, Olsen tells Peary, "I think there’s something about the brutality and the violence in Oldboy that’s imaginative. It’s bizarre and weird and a little heightened from reality. No one’s shooting at each other and there’s nothing about it that would remind you of what you see on the news."

Peary then asks Olsen, "What is it that makes some dark films fail while others become classics?"

Olsen replies, "I think it has to do with it being something new. You can remake Carrie, for instance, but the reason why [Brian de Palma's] Carrie was Carrie was because it was groundbreaking. It could still be a great new story to tell people who haven’t seen it, with great actors and actresses, but the reason the original was a classic was because there was nothing like it before."


Posted by Geoff at 2:37 AM CST
Updated: Thursday, November 28, 2013 2:40 AM CST
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RESTORED 'OBSESSION' IN BERKELY
SCREENING DEC 13 AS PART OF SONY PICTURES 2K/4K RESOLUTION SERIES


A 2K restoration of Brian De Palma's Obsession will screen December 13 at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, California. The screening is part of a series exploring 2K and 4K restorations from Sony Pictures, which, according to Steve Seid on the BAM/PFA website, has been restoring films it acquired from Columbia Pictures. Some of the 4K retorations in the series (including Taxi Driver, Bonjour Tristesse, and Alamo Bay) will be introduced by archivist Grover Crisp, senior vice president of asset management, film restoration and digital mastering at Sony Pictures, according to Seid.

In the series description, Seid explains what will be discussed:

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But first the facts: what we see in digitally equipped movie theaters is high-definition digital cinema. It’s termed 2K, meaning a picture standard that produces an image that is 1920 x 1080 pixels or just over two million bits of information. [*Editor's note-- see the comments below for James Curran's clarification of this description.] However, there is a standard beyond 2K that is used for scanning older films called 4K, which contains about eight million bits of screen info. This same 4K standard is used for film restoration because it allows for the manipulation of picture elements at a level far superior to its general exhibition format. Occasionally, as in this series, 4K is used as an exhibition format for special screenings.

Contemporary films originate on a digital platform, making digital cinema the native exhibition standard. A prickly issue arises when an older film, born photochemical, is transferred to digital for projection. Suddenly, the “film” finds itself occupying the screen in absolute stability, the subliminal flicker gone, the light values subtly altered, the contrast and depth redefined. Does this misrepresent the experience of film history? Perhaps. Or does it resurrect a history that might otherwise be lost to us? Again, perhaps.

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Posted by Geoff at 12:26 AM CST
Updated: Monday, December 2, 2013 12:16 AM CST
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Tuesday, November 26, 2013
'BODY DOUBLE' ARCHICINE ILLUSTRATION
SERIES BY FEDERICO BABINA REPRESENTS CINEMA'S ICONIC WORKS OF ARCHITECTURE

Posted by Geoff at 11:13 PM CST
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