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Sunday, May 11, 2014
'ORPHAN BLACK' PAYS HOMAGE TO 'CARRIE'
ACCORDING TO CO-CREATOR GRAEME MANSON


Graeme Manson, co-creator of Orphan Black, tells Entertainment Weekly's Dalton Ross that a creepy scene in the latest episode (which aired Saturday) was an "homage to Carrie, all the way. The director did a great job with that scene and it’s right up the alley of what John Fawcett and I really like. It really slips into horror mode there and we like that the show has that elastic tone that we can do that...It’s a truly freaky and wonderful scene." I left some of what he said out of there, and do be warned that if you go to the EW article linked to above, it is full of spoilers.

The creators aren't the only ones from Orphan Black who are fans of Carrie. Last month, actor Jordan Gavaris, who plays Felix Dawkinson the show, told the San Francisco Chronicle's David Wiegand that he fell in love with movies when he worked at Blockbuster at the age of 15. "I got 10 free rentals a week," he laughed to Wiegand. "Before 15, you're seeing all the blockbusters. But then I saw (Brian De Palma's) Carrie. It was a phenomenal film, and I am obsessed with Sissy Spacek. I watched her entire filmography and what that did was expose me to directors like Robert Altman, Todd Field, Costa-Gavras, Michael Apted."


Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, May 12, 2014 12:11 AM CDT
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Saturday, May 10, 2014
'THE CANAL' DIRECTOR LOVES DE PALMA & ARGENTO
IVAN KAVANAGH'S HORROR FILM MOSTLY WELL-RECEIVED AT TRIBECA FEST
The Canal, a psychological horror film written and directed by Ivan Kavanagh, was mostly well-received when it premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last month (check out reviews at Fangoria, PopMatters, and the less enthusiastic This Is Infamous). The Canal is about a film archivist, and Kavanagh explains to Complex's Matt Barone that since the character's job is watching films, it makes perfect sense that his hallucinations and/or fantasies should be colored by those films. "For me," Kavanagh tells Barone, "it was the perfect opportunity to reference the films I love, to make a film that at moments seems like a Dario Argento film and at other moments like a different directors' films. It seemed right for the character. The film is about cinema, in a way. I don't usually do that referential thing in my films, but it just fit here. And a lot of them are unconscious. If you love the genre and love certain films in it, you can't help but be influenced by them. Another one we looked at a lot for this film was Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now, specifically for that film's look. We use a lot of zooms and lenses that are directly influenced by Don't Look Now. We put a lot of thought into everything. The best horror films, for me, are always divisive. Like with Argento, I don't love all of his stuff but I do love Suspiria. Films like that are so divisive—people either love them or violently hate them. That's the perfect type of film."

Elsewhere in the interview, Kavanagh discusses Brian De Palma: "Another filmmaker I really love, as well, and whom I've become an apologist of over the years is Brian De Palma. He's a bit like Dario Argento in how he uses color beautifully, especially in his early films. Argento and De Palma both have this thing where their color schemes can almost seem too over-the-top at times but it adds so much to the atmosphere of their films. Maybe we don't quite reach that level in The Canal, but I understand what they're after—it's not reality, it's something else. It's inside the protagonist's mind."

Kavanagh discusses more of his inspirations with the Hollywood Reporter's Matt Patches.


Posted by Geoff at 12:38 AM CDT
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Wednesday, May 7, 2014
SLASHER-MUSICAL 'STAGE FRIGHT' PULLS FROM DE PALMA
'PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE' & 'CARRIE' CITED AS INSPIRATIONS
The new movie Stage Fright is not a remake of the old Alfred Hitchcock classic, but a slasher-musical starring Meat Loaf and Minnie Driver. It was directed by Jerome Sable, who co-wrote the music with Eli Batalion. In a dual interview with Den Of Geek's David Crow, Sable mentions, among other things, a couple of Brian De Palma films that helped inspire Stage Fright, which is currently available on VOD. Here is an excerpt from the interview:
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GEEK: Speaking of Rocky Horror though, what were the musicals and, for that matter, slasher movies that influenced both of you and then which ones influenced this movie?

EB: It’s interesting, because we love musicals, but we don’t necessarily love all musicals. I wouldn’t describe us as Broadway fanboys. Actually, there’s probably a lot of stuff on Broadway that we violently detest. [Laughs] But there’s a bunch of stuff. Our musical influences, going to more traditional music, certainly Kander and Ebb, some Gilbert and Sullivan as well. We were just talking a little earlier about Lionel Bart.

JS: The guy who wrote Oliver! There’s influences there not only in terms of the music, but also in terms of the directing Carol Reed. Just the kids in the lunchroom at the beginning in the orphanage if you’ve seen that version of Oliver! And of course, there’s then the rock influences.

EB: Which I say is less Rocky Horror—we’re influenced by Rocky Horror in terms of it setting the precedent, but in terms of the specific rock sound, I think that’s more along the lines of AC/DC, Black Sabbath, some Led Zeppelin, some of the vocal stylings of Axl Rose. That’s the stuff we listened to in high school, so it was an interesting combination of combining that stuff with stuff we had accumulated as enjoyers of music since our teens, and to then throw them together in one film.

GEEK: I felt the whole thing had a very obvious nostalgia for the 1980s. The slasher elements were very Friday the 13th and also Carrie—though that’s the ‘70s—but also the musical that it was most parodying was Phantom of the Opera. I bring that up to ask do you have a love/hate relationship with some of this genre? Because you say Led Zeppelin, and I hear Van Halen in “Metal Killer.” People who listen to Van Halen probably did not like Andrew Lloyd Webber in the 1980s.

JS: Yeah, it is love/hate. It’s like our love letter and it’s also like hate mail. So, it’s our love/hate mail to musical theatre. But here’s the thing, Andrew Lloyd Webber does <>Jesus Christ Superstar, which in itself was more of a rock musical. And then he chose to do his version of Phantom, which is intentionally, and I think he would admit this, high on the cheese factor, high on the romance. He just wanted to take what essentially is a slasher story, because it’s about this guy who offs people in a theatre one-by-one, and takes a slasher and says, “Let me do a slasher completely dripping with romance!” And oozing with this sort of red rose [imagery]. And I think he’d admit that’s exactly what he did. I think on their first draft of the music and lyrics, he thought it was just too haunting or serious. He’s like “let’s just make it more romantic.” Sure Andrew, we can do that.

So, he’s done that, and then we said, “Okay. What about dialing it the other way and making it just more brutal, but also with a sort poking-jabbing at the belly of the beast.” Because of course, it’s such an iconic—when I was young, my mother took us to see Phantom, and the chandelier fell, and it was a hugely impressionable moment. “Oh shit!” [Laughs] So, it makes an impact whether you love it or hate it, it’s a huge part of our culture, which is his take of that story. And by the way, in prepping for this movie, we went back and watched the original movie, the 1925 Phantom of the Opera, and also Brian De Palma’s take, Phantom of the Paradise, which people may not remember [precedes] Andrew Lloyd Webber’s take on the Gaston Leroux story.

EB: I guess a lot of people have done that story.

JS: Yeah, even Dario Argento did one. Even Freddy Kruger himself, the actor Robert Englund, was in a weird version of Phantom of the Opera.

GEEK: To transition a little to the slasher movies, which slasher movies really influenced this? For example, I think you used a lot of in-camera effects for the gore.

JS: Yeah, to your point about there being a lot of nostalgia for the ‘80s and the late ‘70s, yes, there is. I just think those are awesome movies and to name a few others like Black Christmas from ’74, and of course Halloween from John Carpenter, as well as Nightmare on Elm Street, Carrie, Texas Chainsaw, and also Hellraiser. But even the Dario Argento movies, the Giallo, movies like Opera and Susperia; these movies that take place with the ballerinas and opera singers. It’s cool to mix high-class theatre and opera with low-class slashing.

GEEK: Was it hard to get them to sing or lip-synch with all the fake blood splattering around?

JS: They were really singing! We did all live-singing. That was another thing that was tricky to do in-camera singing and in-camera effects. Once we had our cast, they were so talented they could nail it over and over again, being of that theatre ilk and having those chops. But like you say, practical effects take time, and you can’t control splatter, as much as you would like to, so you’d just have to take your time and go again. There was stuff that could go wrong, and it was a complicated shoot, to say the least.

GEEK: Why did you approach it with live-singing as opposed to pre-recorded music?

JS: Same reason as the gore. The results that you get have a certain grit and texture, whether it’s live-singing or in-camera gore. We talk about the splatter. With CG blood splatter, the gravity just never quite looks or feels the same. And maybe you only perceive it on a subconscious level, but if something is fake, it might just feel fake. It is the same with singing. You may not know it, but you feel that you connect more to the character, because it was just what they did in that moment. That’s the result part of things. The other is when you’re on set, having the actors not only singing then and there, but also get splashed with something or see something, that just affects their whole emotional performance. It is throwback, but is also just better in general, I find, to do as much as you can in-camera. It just brings more out of the people then and there.

EB: When you have a canned musical like Singin’ in the Rain, and you can tell that they’re clearly not singing, as a viewer and an enjoyer that takes you out of the moment. It’s very distancing.

JS: Imagine this whole interview was lip-synched, and we weren’t saying what we’re saying.

EB: But we’re still saying these things, but it’s pre-recorded. That would be weird.

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'STAGE FRIGHT' REVIEWS

The Black Saint, HorrorNews.net
"As I watched Stage Fright I couldn’t help but notice a lot of similarity to De Palma’s Phantom Of The Paradise and I wonder if that wasn’t intentional either. A few times I recognized some shots seemingly lifted part & parcel from De Palma’s film. There’s also a nifty little Carrie (1976) homage (another film directed by De Palma) near the end of the film that made me wonder how much of a BDP fan Sable actually is."

Clayton Dillard, Slant Magazine
"If one didn't know any better, Stage Fright might appear to be some sort of explicit homage to Brian De Palma, loosely held together by post-Scream clichés. At least, the litany of references to De Palma's cinema would suggest as much: a roaming, tormented killer amid a musical production like William Finley from Phantom of the Paradise; a bucket of blood straight out of Carrie; and a power tool in desperate need of an outlet, à la Body Double. The similarities end here, however, as Jerome Sable's debut feature couldn't be further from De Palma's delirious cinematic essays on vision and genre. Instead, Sable operates under the most requisite notions of intertextuality, blankly referencing and parodying far better, more exuberant films less as a form of revision or reflexivity than to engage a pop nihilism that has characterized numerous Scream imitators over the last two decades."

Patrick Bromley, F This Movie
"Like so many up and coming horror filmmakers, Sable loves horror and gets a kick out of paying homage to the films that inspired him. Sometimes, it's a heavy-handed and obvious nod to Brian De Palma's Carrie; other times, it's a fun little throwaway reference to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The greatest influence on the film, however, is the Italian giallo film; from the mystery of the masked murderer to the over-the-top brutality of the kills, Stage Fright is steeped in the look and feel of that subgenre. Even the poster looks like an '80s giallo.

"Stage Fright feels distinguished from almost anything else in horror. The songs probably help, but so does the setting and the energy with which Sable stages everything. I can't wait to program my 24-hour horror marathon in October, because Stage Fright is definitely getting a spot. It's the perfect movie to break up the monotony of a marathon -- it's incredibly entertaining, very much its own movie and still delivers the goods when it comes to the horror (the gore is over the top in the best way). While Stage Fright is never going to be my favorite musical horror -- Phantom of the Paradise cannot be topped -- it definitely earns a spot near the top of the list. I smiled the whole way through and wanted to watch it again as soon as it ended. This movie is too much bloody fun."

Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter
"Playing like a very special slasher film-themed episode of Glee, Stage Fright mixes horror and Broadway –style show tunes to decidedly mixed results. While this sort of stylistic hybrid has worked in the past—The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Brian De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise being two eminent examples—Jerome Sable’s directorial debut lacks both the anarchic wit and musical chops to make it anymore more than the sort of horror film curiosity best seen on late night cable television. Despite Meat Loaf’s hammily entertaining turn as the desperate owner of a musical theater summer camp, the film fails to live up to its obvious inspirations."

Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times
"The shoddy plotting — Did the mother’s murder go unsolved? Does the siblings’ adoptive father (Meat Loaf) run the camp single-handedly? — is just pretext for Brian De Palma-esque pastiche, including a killer who sings heavy metal. Give the movie some zip, a few memorable songs and a stronger third act, and (to paraphrase Mr. Sondheim) something good’s just out of reach.


Posted by Geoff at 10:19 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, May 12, 2014 10:11 PM CDT
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Wednesday, April 30, 2014
'TRAP FOR CINDERELLA'
CRITIC: "ONE OF THE MOST WILDLY ENJOYABLE THRILLERS SINCE THE HEYDAY OF BRIAN DE PALMA"
The Record's Amy Longsdorf has a capsule review of Trap For Cinderella in her DVD roundup this week, indicating that the film might be De Palma-esque. Here's what she says:

"The thrills come fast and furious in this engrossing whodunit from Iain Softley (Wings of a Dove) about two childhood pals who reconnect after a decade apart. When Do (Alexandra Roach) runs into Micky (Tuppence Middleton) in London, the pair resume their friendship, as if the years had never passed. But Do has changed — and not for the better. Amnesia, mistaken identity, infidelity and a sinister secretary (Kerry Fox) all factor into one of the most wildly enjoyable thrillers since the heyday of Brian De Palma."

Posted by Geoff at 12:37 AM CDT
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Friday, April 4, 2014
'CAPTAIN AMERICA' ELEVATOR SCENE
DID IT TAKE SOME INSPIRATION FROM DE PALMA'S 'DRESSED TO KILL'?


The brief clip above is an ESPN ad for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, showing two people waiting for an elevator, unaware of the mayhem taking place as they wait. It shares a comedic/tension cross-cutting tone with the elevator scene in Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill.

Captain America co-screenwriter Stephen McFeely tells Superhero Hype's Edward Douglas how the film's directors, Anthony and Joe Russo, applied other inspirations to the movie, leaving the impression that the elevator scene, at least in part, was perhaps directly influenced by De Palma. "The very first draft of the screenplay looks a lot like the movie," McFeely tells Douglas. "That said, the Russos came in and had all the same and even better touchstones than what we were talking about. They came in and would say, "This feels like a William Friedkin section, feels like a Brian De Palma section," so like that elevator scene was something not quite as interesting as that elevator scene but the Russos came in and went, "Why don't we do this tense built-up elevator thing" and it was all very exciting the whole time we were working on the second draft with them. Chris and I would talk to each other and say, "They're talking a great game. If they can do what they say they want to do, this will be great," and then we had no idea whether the guys from TV would be able to do this. In a way, it was a really great mesh of that they really got the material and they elevated it. It was a real pleasure.

In an interview with Mother Jones' Asawin Suebsaeng, the Russo brothers talk about how the film was influenced by Sydney Pollack's Three Days Of The Condor, itself a film that heavily influenced De Palma, particularly on Mission: Impossible. They also mention several other movie influences, as well as how their film reflects current political anxieties. Here is an excerpt from the Mother Jones article:

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According to Joe, the brothers pushed to make their Captain America political thriller even more political and topical than it initially was. "There were already things in the script that just needed to be pulled out to make it more [relevant]," he recalls. One of the film's stars, Robert Redford, was approached for the role in large part because he starred in the 1975 political thriller Three Days of the Condor.

"[That film] was a big influence on this movie," Joe says. "You could really call this movie 'Three Days of Captain America,' if you wanted to. The structure is so similar...We felt like we had a decent shot at getting [Redford] because the script had a political component to it and we thought that might motivate him."

But don't take any of this to mean the film is a stern lecture on American foreign policy. It's thrilling as hell, and also the best to emerge in the recent string of Marvel movies. "We're action fetishists," Joe says. "And we love '70s thrillers." The brothers drew on the influence of some of their favorite action-flick moments: The famous bank heist and shootout in Michael Mann's Heat. William Friedkin's The French Connection. John Schlesinger's Marathon Man. John McTiernan's Predator. Gareth Evans' The Raid: Redemption. (And for the Washington, DC-set car chase in The Winter Soldier, the brothers consulted YouTube, searching for videos of actual car chases. One video—wherein two escaped convicts in Brazil get stuck in traffic and plow through cars as police pursue them on foot—was especially helpful.) "Choreographing action, it's like choreographing a Broadway show," Anthony says.

But at the heart of the explosion and melee -filled film are the political themes, including targeted killing. "The question is where do you stop?" Joe says. "If there are 100 people we can kill to make us safer, do we do it? What if we find out there's 1,000? What if we find out there's 10,000? What if it's a million? At what point do you stop?"

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Posted by Geoff at 7:19 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, April 5, 2014 10:41 PM CDT
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Saturday, March 29, 2014
SCHWARZENEGGER ON 'SABOTAGE'
HOMAGE TO BRUTAL MASCULINE MOVIES MADE BY THE LIKES OF DE PALMA, PECKINPAH, HILL
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap:

"Nothing really gets sabotaged in Sabotage, unless you're counting the career of director David Ayer, who got some of his best reviews to date for End of Watch just two years ago. Apparently forgetting everything he knows about filmmaking in the intervening months, he's delivered up a schlocky and semi-incoherent shoot-'em-up, the most notable factor of which is a torrent of fake blood that rivals the gallons of Karo syrup Brian De Palma sprayed over Scarface.”

The Telegraph:

"Arnold Schwarzenegger has defended 'brutal violence' in movies ahead of his new film Sabotage, in which the 66-year-old plays the head of a special unit of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) whose members are viciously killed and mutilated after a cartel bust.

"Schwarzenegger, the former Governor of California, said: 'It's a bit of an homage to the films that I grew up on, and directors like Brian De Palma, and Walter Hill and Sam Peckinpah who made very brutal kind of masculine movies. I think violence is political now: "maybe if there is no violence in movies, there will be no violence in the world." I don't believe that. The video games our children play are much, much more violent than anything in this movie.'"

Matt Singer, The Dissolve:

"The results are deliberately off-putting, a nasty film about mean people doing horrible things. That’s surely by design. Ayer is trying to paint a broad portrait of the poisonous effect this never-ending conflict has on its combatants, and to make a movie that mirrors its protagonists’ fractured psyches. Like Wharton’s DEA unit, Sabotage gets off on the adrenaline rush of badass brutality—but feels traumatized by its aftermath.

"That jibes perfectly with late-career Schwarzenegger’s onscreen persona, the man overwhelmed with grief and regret. Action heroes have rarely killed more people onscreen than Ahnuld—or done so while completely dismissing the emotional weight of those killings by delivering shamelessly goofy puns while committing murder. But as viewers slowly realize over the course of the film, John Wharton has witnessed the effect of violence first-hand, and it’s scarred him. That almost makes Sabotage Schwarzenegger’s (much less effective) version of Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven—his chance to wrestle with all the death he’s perpetrated onscreen, and to consider, once and for all in his twilight years, whether it was really worth it. The film’s final scene—one of the most fascinating of Schwarzenegger’s entire career—makes the Eastwood comparison even more overt, turning Wharton into something of a Western cowboy."


Posted by Geoff at 12:04 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, March 29, 2014 4:37 PM CDT
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Friday, March 28, 2014


Posted by Geoff at 10:43 PM CDT
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Thursday, March 27, 2014
MIRA ON 'GRAND PIANO'
SCRIPT IS OPEN LOVE LETTER TO HITCHCOCK & DE PALMA, MESMERIZING EFFECTS OF SILENT FILM
Ain't It Cool News' Jeremy Smith interviewed Grand Piano director Eugenio Mira a couple of weeks ago, and they talked quite a bit about Brian De Palma. Mira also indicates a cinematic kinship with Open Windows director Nacho Vigalondo. Here are some excerpts:
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Q: I think we both speak fluent De Palma.

Eugenio Mira: Totally.

Q: It's interesting making a film in that style today. Everything is so much about coverage now.

Mira: And cutting.

Q: This is definitely a more modern film, but you are hearkening back to that style of filmmaking. Does that make things difficult for you?

Mira: Me being a kid born in Spain and being completely affected by American pop culture in the '80s, Steven Spielberg and Joe Dante, then going into David Cronenberg, David Lynch, the Coen Brothers... from the very beginning, I always loved directing as a performance. It's true that could've been a problem had I moved to Hollywood at nineteen years old, but staying in a country like Spain, the good news is that movies were made not because a producer wanted to do it. It's because there was a possibility, a chance... some people went for subsidies and stuff and they didn't give a fuck about what movie was going to happen, but a whole generation of directors, Nacho Vigalondo included, nobody had the balls to tell us how to do our [movies].

Yes, I know I'm in trouble when it comes to a world that is completely opposite to what I am defending and what I am crafting. On the other hand, after three movies, it's true that maybe there is some momentum. Maybe you can anticipate what problems you are going to have. What I've learned is that rather than have a hidden agenda, it's better to show your plans from the very beginning. Every single director is an asset before you start shooting, and if what you're shooting feeds what your selling - the storyboards and animatics - producers are like "Oh, he's doing it as planned. He's not behind schedule." The problems come with the editing. But if you do it properly, you are going to have just two or three major fights - compared to shooting a lot of coverage and losing control of the whole movie.

Q: When you got the script, how quickly did you figure out how you were visually going to tell this story?

Mira: I'm trying to capture the first impression that I have. If I'm on page thirteen, and there's something that the writer implied... I think my brain works very similarly to what Spielberg describes, it's like having this library of movies. I'm a musician, too, and we have notes. But notes are nothing if there's not a context. So I think that the same thing happens with cinema. Everyone thinks that everything is etherial, and you start from scratch every time. No. You know a shot from Tony Scott from one used by his brother, Ridley. Sometimes they are similar, but sometimes they are different. Alan Parker is different from Adrian Lyne. But those little nuances, some people don't give a damn, but to me I acknowledged those differences. So if I'm seeing a scene of a car parking in front of a diner, and someone steps out, I'm going to know if it's just an establishing shot, or if it's a dolly shot of a guy stepping out of the car and if we're going to go beyond the door or if we're going to be inside seeing the whole thing. It's what directors that I've been raised by do all the time. To answer your question, I wrote down every single thing. Damien Chazelle's script is an open love letter to Hitchcock and De Palma. So what I try to do is instead of just following that realm, I wanted to analyze where these mesmerizing effects came from, and that is silent films. Silent films are the pure sequential art. All you have is the size of the shot, the length and the semantics of the cutting. The semantics in cutting nowadays are two completely different things. Cut means shit nowadays. I can't stand it.

Q: I had the pleasure of interviewing De Palma last year, and I asked if he feels any pressure to shoot coverage nowadays. He said, "Coverage is a bad word."

Mira: I hate it. It's not in my vocabulary.

Q: But it's expected. And it weakens a director's position. They can easily take the film away from you because you've given them all of the options.

Mira: Totally. That's not directing. I will never do this if my work was confined to talking to the actors, going out to dinner and reminding them what we read in the script. The moment I don't have control of what you're seeing when you're seeing it and what level of attention, how am I going to sign [the film]? Coverage is for pussies...

Q: You feel like a filmmaker who could work on a bigger canvas. De Palma and Hitchcock made great big movies! You obviously like the widescreen. I think you could handle a big movie. But I read an interview where you said Jurassic Park 4 would just be about talking to the actors. The vision wouldn't be yours.

Mira: I'm glad you mentioned that. I felt a little bit... in terms of being political, it was a little controversial that I said that. But I'm disappointed. For Spielberg, coming from a filmmaker that I've always admired, I know there's a property, and I know there's a lot of stuff going on and different interests, but something tells me that when it comes to the big scenes of that movie, they were designed three years ago. They already have them. And they got a guy to go out to dinner. I love Safety Not Guaranteed, and I don't want to throw shit at it. I admire what [Colin Trevorrow] did, but if somebody tells me that they are going to hire for Jurassic World the director of The Spectacular Now, I would also be saying "What the fuck?" I don't get it. What about the kids who were raised with Joe Dante or Brian De Palma or Robert Zemeckis: people who really know how to craft movies.

Q: Those guys designed the whole world.

Mira: That's what I'm saying. You see a movie like Bonfire Of The Vanities... you can like it more or less, but that movie directs you into a world. You can talk about the movie, but as a vehicle of expression for Mr. De Palma, I don't see better or worse movies, I see more fortunate or more unfortunate vehicles for Mr. De Palma. That's the way I see it.

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Posted by Geoff at 2:37 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, March 27, 2014 2:39 AM CDT
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Saturday, March 22, 2014
COMPANION PIECES
'GRAND PIANO' & 'OPEN WINDOWS'


Variety's Justin Chang on Open Windows:

"A fiendishly inventive thriller built around an audacious if unsustainable gimmick, Open Windows elevates Hitchcockian suspense to jittery new levels of mayhem and paranoia. Essentially conceived as a technologically sophisticated mash-up of Rear Window and Rope, this latest mind-bender from Spanish genre trickster Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes, Extraterrestrial) unfolds entirely in one carefully manipulated 'shot,' with the camera glued to the lead character’s computer screen, employing desktop videos, images and pop-ups to tell its lurid tale of celebrity obsession, stalking, hacking, surveillance, blackmail and murder. Barely maintaining coherence if not plausibility, the compulsively watchable result should enjoy a vigorous fest and VOD life; fitting as it might be to stream it on your laptop, its complex visual layers and blink-and-you-miss-’em plot turns are best suited to the bigscreen.

"One of former adult star Sasha Grey’s higher-profile vehicles since her mainstream debut in Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience, Open Windows also plays like a companion piece of sorts to Eugenio Mira’s Grand Piano, another recent thriller in which a justifiably freaked-out Elijah Wood found himself at the mercy of a menacingly disembodied voice. If that film suggested an ivory-tickling riff on Brian De Palma, then Vigalondo’s picture feels like a high-tech Hitch homage on speed, one that exerts a strong narrative grip for about an hour before tumbling down a discomfiting series of rabbit holes that strain credulity and internal logic to the breaking point."


Posted by Geoff at 5:18 PM CDT
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014
'THIS SCENE SHOULD BE LIKE EARLY DE PALMA'
SCREENWRITER USES ABOVE QUOTE AS EXAMPLE IN WORKING WITH CAPTAIN AMERICA DIRECTORS
At a press junket for Captain America: Winter Soldier, Den Of Geek's Don Kaye interviewed the film's screenwriting duo, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. The movie, which will be released in theaters April 4, was directed by Anthony and Joe Russo. In giving an example of what it is like to work with the directors, McFeely mentions Brian De Palma, suggesting a possible influence, at least for a scene. Here's the interview excerpt:
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Den Of Geek: What’s your interaction been like with the Russos? Is it interesting for you guys to work with a co-directing team?

Markus: It’s been really great, very collaborative. It is interesting to work with another team, because I think when there’s two versus one on either side it can feel unintentionally like ganging up. But when there’s four people it just becomes this very free flowing exchange where, you know, one of us and one Russo can side against the other Russo and the other writer.

McFeely: That happens a lot.

Markus: It’s like whole new teams have developed. It’s a different Marvel team-up.

Den Of Geek: Right.

Markus: But seriously, we had a draft before they came in and they saw everything we were trying to do and, you know, took it to another level and it had all the right reference points.

McFeely: When directors come in and say this scene should be like early Brian De Palma, we go, oh yeah, of course it should.

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Screen Daily's Mark Adams has an early review for Captain America: Winter Soldier in which he says it "is closer to a 1970s conspiracy thriller than a muscle-bound superhero effects-driven romp." Adams adds that the casting of Robert Redford "helps consolidate" this link, evoking films such as Three Days Of The Condor.

Posted by Geoff at 7:51 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, March 20, 2014 4:38 PM CDT
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