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Wednesday, June 4, 2014
AUDIOVISUAL ESSAY ON '[DE PALMA'S] VISION'
BY CRISTINA ALVAREZ LOPEZ & ADRIAN MARTIN, NOW ON MUBI


MUBI Notebook has published the latest audiovisual essay from Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin, "[De Palma’s] Vision." In the written introduction to the audiovisual essay, the authors explain, "There is a story of how Brian De Palma works with his film editors: he looks at what they have already done in assembling a scene, and then instructs them on how to improve it, to his precise specifications, by tapping out a particular beat: ‘1 … 2 … 3 … cut there!’ His work on cinematic form is rhythmic, musical—and always keyed to emotional, physical patterns of tension and relaxation. So he counts out the beats to draw all the elements of image and sound, gesture and architecture together, in a masterful choreography/orchestration of elements.

"In approaching an audiovisual analysis of De Palma’s films (which we dearly love, and find inexhaustible as objects of study), we too faced the task of not merely enumerating the abundant motifs and structures in his work, but also bringing them together and drawing out their unfolding logic—unfolding both within each film, and across his whole career."

Álvarez López and Martin then describe how various accounts of De Palma's cinema build from lists of recurring themes and motifs in his work. They note that in his essay for the Criterion edition of Sisters, Bruce Kawin "sought a logic to cohere and unify the various motifs in De Palma’s films, as do we. If we take a cluster of these motifs relating to the idea of vision, then we quickly realise that they allow De Palma to create compositional effects and narrative extravagances of every kind. But this director’s obsession for the visual does not cover only the style and narratives of his films; it is also, frequently, the true, deep theme of his cinema. The very act of looking and its consequences; the relationship between the subject who looks and the object of their gaze; the way of processing, decoding and interpreting what we see; the value of absolute truth that we tend to give the information that reaches us through the organ of sight ... All these issues are central to his films."

The essay, then, explores the question of "how, according to what concrete forms, does vision become such a central concern for De Palma?"


Posted by Geoff at 3:50 AM CDT
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Tuesday, June 3, 2014
'BLOW OUT' IN AUSTRIA, WITH 'BLOW-UP', 'UP & OUT'
AT ALBERTINA MUSEUM; ALSO, ARTWORK IN PHILLY REMINDS CRITIC OF 'BLOW OUT'


The great image above, showing Brian De Palma overseeing John Travolta during the shooting of a scene in Blow Out, while Vilmos Zsigmond crouches below the camera, showed up at The Auteur's Tea Room this past February.

Blow Out will be screened this Thursday at Austria's Albertina Museum, as part of an exhibition revolving around Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up. The latter film will be screened after Blow Out, and the night of screenings will conclude with Christian Marclay's Up and Out, which juxtaposes the images of Blow-Up with the soundtrack from Blow Out. The films are part of an overall Blow-Up exhibit which includes stills from Antonioni's film, along with "photographs illuminating the cultural and artistic context of the film production, London of the Swinging Sixties," according to the Albertina web site.

(Thanks to Rado!)

Meanwhile, The Philadelphia Enquirer's Edith Newhall visited a Jon Manteau exhibition, titled "Philadelphia Historical Artifacts," and ends her article with the following:

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The second time around, I accepted that I could not take in absolutely everything in this show and that allowing for the occasional serendipitous encounter might be the best approach. The individual works that make up wall-mounted rows of dozens of postcard-size painted digital scans of Philacentric photographs, which at first I'd found almost off-putting in their multitude and abundance of Philly references, turned out to be consistently clever and affecting. I came across my favorite pieces (besides the painted carpets) on the wall of the back office: three ink-jet prints of views of Philadelphia from the 1970s (I.M. Pei's Society Hill Towers among them) poured with house paint that simultaneously reminded me of Gene Davis Franklin's Footpath, painted on the Parkway in 1972, and Brian De Palma's Blow Out.

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 4, 2014 2:49 AM CDT
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Sunday, June 1, 2014
'PHANTOM' 40TH IN HOLLYWOOD, JULY 30TH
PAUL WILLIAMS, JESSICA HARPER, GERRIT GRAHAM IN PERSON, MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED

Posted by Geoff at 12:47 PM CDT
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Wednesday, May 28, 2014
TARANTINO ON COUNTING DOWN TO 'SCARFACE'
"WHEN DE PALMA WOULD COME OUT WITH A NEW MOVIE, I WOULD COUNT DOWN THE DAYS"


Thank you to Antonios for sending us the link to the video above, in which Quentin Tarantino speaks at a press conference last week at the Cannes Film Festival. At about the 9:27 mark, while answering a question about dealing with pressure amidst expectations of each new film he makes, Tarantino mentions how, when he was younger, he would wait with heightened anticipation for each new Brian De Palma film. Vulture has a pretty good transcription of what Tarantino said, but the video above shows that certain points were left out (such as when Tarantino talks about how he would have "Scarface dreams," he adds that that was easy to do, having seen the original Howard Hawks movie). Anyway, here's the excerpt from Vulture:

When asked if he finds it harder and harder to top himself as he gets more famous and established, Tarantino said it's not something he thinks about. "Frankly, it’s not a pressure I ever feel because, to me, that should always be there. I want people to expect a lot from me. I want people waiting with great expectation for my next movie." It makes him feel connected with directors he grew up idolizing. "I mean, when Brian De Palma would come out with a new movie, the whole first two weeks before the movie opened, I would count down the days. That week before Scarface opened, that was Scarface Week. You know, 'Six more days to Scarface!' 'Five more days to Scarface!' I’d have Scarface dreams ... And then the new De Palma movie would open. I’d go see the first show, the first day, and no one could come with me. I had to see it by myself. Then I’d ruminate about the film all day long and then I’d go to see the midnight show that night, and then I could actually have some friends with me. That kind of excitement for a filmmaker is one of the things that keeps filmmaking alive, and vital, just like in Bob Dylan’s time waiting for Bob Dylan’s next album. Or in Norman Mailer’s time waiting for his new novel. I don’t consider that pressure. I consider that a luxury, that I actually have people who like my stuff and are waiting for the new one. I wouldn’t want it any other way. The opposite of what you’re talking about is I’m making a movie and no one gives a damn and it opens up and no one cares. That would be horrible."


Posted by Geoff at 3:35 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 3:36 AM CDT
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Tuesday, May 27, 2014
NEW SHORT FILM FROM ROMAIN LEHNHOFF
'USERNAME: CARMEN' INCLUDES A COUPLE OF NODS TO DE PALMA


The upper image above is a shot from the new short film by Romain Lehnhoff, Username: Carmen (the title is a play, of course, on the title of Jean Luc Godard's First Name: Carmen), juxtaposed with a shot from Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill (itself informed by Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho). Username: Carmen, which you can watch here, is a comedy created for Welcome To The Other Side, a short film festival contest that asked entrants to create a film of six-minutes or less, that involves the provided synopsis: "Following a misunderstanding, an individual walks into a room of absurdity (or nonsense)." The film also had to take place on May 23, 2014, and include "Un plan à l’envers."

Username: Carmen won Lehnhoff the top prize in the contest in Lille, France. The film is in French, with no subtitles, but you can follow it if you know it involves a guy (a student) who has an essay due the next day about the place of opera in today's music. Desperate, he finds a forum of opera lovers and asks them for help.

Thinking he's being clever while his girlfriend is in the shower, he uses the name "Carmen" as his user name, but finds that the forum is full of horny guys who only want to help "her" if he shares a picture-- he's about to tell them he's sorry, but he is a guy, but they insist on the pic as the only way they'll help "her," so he posts a pic of his girlfriend. After they go gaga over how "pretty" she is, etc., etc., the student gets ticked off by the whole thing, resulting in a hilarious act of rage, which his girlfriend walks in on at the end.

Aside from the above nod to Dressed To Kill, Romain also threw in a "quote" from De Palma's Mission: Impossible -- when the student types in his password, you'll see that the password is "JOB314."


Posted by Geoff at 12:31 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, May 29, 2014 6:55 PM CDT
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Monday, May 26, 2014




Posted by Geoff at 12:46 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, May 26, 2014 12:48 AM CDT
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Sunday, May 25, 2014










Posted by Geoff at 8:36 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, May 25, 2014 8:43 PM CDT
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Saturday, May 24, 2014
ZSIGMOND HONORED AT CANNES
ACCEPTS PIERRE ANGENIEUX EXCELLENCE IN CINEMATOGRAPHY AWARD


Hot on the heels of his retrospective/master class tribute at Paris' Le Grand Action, Vilmos Zsigmond was in Cannes last night to accept the second annual Pierre Angénieux ExcelLens in Cinematography Award. As seen in the picture above, John Travolta was on hand to congratulate Zsigmond backstage. The two worked together, of course, on Brian De Palma's Blow Out. Also attending the event were Catherine Deneuve, John Boorman, and Jerry Schatzberg, among others.

In a pre-award interview at Cannes, Zsigmond was asked by Le Monde's Clarisse Fabre how he had approached the transition to digital camera in the early 2000s. "I had no a priori," Zsigmond replied. "For example, The Black Dahlia, Brian De Palma, was shot on film, and then we did the post-production digital. This allowed me to reduce the color and give an impression of black and white. I love digital to 'manipulate' the film: the color with less color! I like black and white, when the shadows are growing."


Posted by Geoff at 6:15 PM CDT
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Thursday, May 22, 2014
SCREAM ANNOUNCES 'PHANTOM' BLU-RAY DETAILS
AND THE FILM SCREENS FROM DCP AT MIDNIGHT THIS SATURDAY AT THE NEW BEVERLY
Scream Factory today released the details about its upcoming Blu-ray edition of Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise, which will be released August 5th. If you pre-order straight from ShoutFactory ($21.95), they are offering an exclusive 18"x24" poster of the new cover artwork, but only while supplies last. The Scream Factory press release repeats the news that the Swan Archives reported a couple of weeks ago: that there will be two discs included in the package. The first is a Blu-ray of the original movie, along with several new commentaries and new interviews, and the second disc is a DVD packed with special features old and new. Below is the rundown from the press release, but be sure to check the Swan Archives' News Page for a details about where each feature originally appeared.

DISC ONE (BLU-RAY):

High-Definition transfer of the film
NEW Audio Commentary with Jessica Harper, Gerrit Graham and the Juicy Fruits (Archie Hahn, Jeffrey Comanor and Harold Oblong aka Peter Eibling)
NEW Audio Commentary with Production Designer Jack Fisk
NEW Interview with director Brian DePalma (36 minutes)
NEW Interview with Paul Williams talking about the music of PHANTOM (30 minutes)
NEW Interview with Make-up Effects wizard Tom Burman discussing the Phantom Helmet

DISC TWO (DVD):

Paradise Regained – documentary on the making of the film featuring director Brian DePalma, Producer Edward R. Pressman, William Finley, Paul Williams, Jessica Harper, Gerrit Graham and more… (50 minutes)
Interview with Paul Williams moderated by Guillermo Del Toro (72 minutes)
Interview with costume designer Rosanna Norton (10 minutes)
NEW Interview with producer Edward R. Pressman (15 minutes)
NEW Interview with drummer Gary Mallaber (15 minutes)
NEW Alvin’s Art and Technique – a look at the neon poster (15 minutes)
NEW Phantom of the Paradise Biography by Gerrit Graham - 1974 Publicity Sheet written by and read by Graham (8 minutes)
Alternate Takes (40 minutes) Swan Song Outtake Footage (10 minutes)
Radio Spots
TV Spots
Theatrical Trailer
Still Gallery

'PHANTOM' AT THE NEW BEVERLY SATURDAY
Meanwhile, Phantom Of The Paradise will be screened from DCP at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles this Saturday at midnight.

VULTURE: MICHAEL JACKSON HOLOGRAPH MAKES HIM AKIN TO THE PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE
This past Sunday, the Billboard Awards show on ABC-TV included a Michael Jackson holograph performing one of the songs included on the new posthumous release, Xscape. Today, Vulture's Geeta Dayal posted an essay that, at one point, linked the ghostly Jackson to the Phantom Of The Paradise. Here's an excerpt from Dayal's post:

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Sunday's unsettling hologram performance at the Billboard Awards showed, once and for all, that the thriving Michael Jackson industry doesn’t need Michael Jackson to survive. Jackson is a global corporation, a portfolio of investments — a lucrative moneymaking machine that hums along, with or without a human at the controls.

Xscape — a potpourri of exhumed Jackson demos and discarded tracks, organized by L.A. Reid and fleshed out by top producers including Timbaland and Rihanna hitmakers Stargate — is currently the No. 2 album in the country. While it’s a bit odd to see the King of Pop lagging behind the Black Keys, the current No. 1 act, being second best isn’t too shabby when you’ve been dead for five years. All in all, Xscape — eight “new” songs in total, which go back as far as 1983 — is an admirable effort to make a full meal out of reheated leftovers...

Part of what made Jackson’s holographic performance so bizarre was the song itself: “Slave to the Rhythm,” a song on Xscape that was originally recorded in 1991 during the Dangerous sessions. The song is not half bad, though it’s easy to see why it was kept on the cutting-room floor until 2014. “She’s a slave to the rhythm,” Jackson sings, ostensibly about a woman. “She danced through the night/In fear of her life/She danced to a beat of her own,” Jackson continues urgently, filling in gaps with his requisite “hee-hees” and perfectly placed hiccups. But the song sounds autobiographical — you could think of it as Jackson’s ghost, talking about his own tortured afterlife. Jackson, five years after his death, is a slave to the rhythm — shackled by the corporate interests that refuse to let him rest in peace. He’s the phantom in Brian De Palma’s creepy 1974 classic Phantom of the Paradise — the sad, undead guy in the skintight black leather outfit who forgot that he signed a recording contract in his own blood, who’s now trapped in a recording studio and forced to craft megahits for eternity.

Jackson is an unending source of income, spinning out in all directions until the end of time. Like the Star Wars franchise, there will be sequels — and when the sequels are done, there will be prequels. Hundreds of unused songs — demos, outtakes, and other bits and pieces — are said to be in Jackson’s vaults. As holographic technology inevitably improves, the possibilities for live performances in the future will be endless. But perhaps we should leave Jackson be instead of trying to digitally reanimate him for eternity. In the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi in Revenge of the Sith, after witnessing a Darth Vader hologram slay a Jedi, “I can’t watch any more.”

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Posted by Geoff at 5:26 PM CDT
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Wednesday, May 21, 2014
DE PALMA RETROSPECTIVE BEGINS TODAY IN BRAZIL
FREE ADMISSION, 15 FILMS, CRITICS' DISCUSSIONS, & 2-DAY COURSE ON CINEMA OF DE PALMA
Beginning today, the Caixa Cultural Curitiba in Brazil presents a 15-film Brian De Palma retrospective, which runs until May 25th, with free admission. The full program can be read online at issuu.com. The program consists of three films per day, with a focus on De Palma's mostly lesser-known films, although Carrie is included, as well. Today the series opens with Bonfire Of The Vanities, Snake Eyes, and Redacted. Each day's final film will be followed by an audience discussion led by a guest critic. The line-up of critics: Ruy Gardnier, Nikola Matevski, Victor Guimarães, Francis Vogner dos Reis and Marcelo Miranda. In addition, there will be a two-day course on May 24-25, titled "The Cinema of Brian De Palma - Belief in the Suspect Image," conducted by critic Paulo Santos Lima.

The retrospective's curator, critic and filmmaker João Toledo, is quoted at Suplemento Cultural: "Brian De Palma flirts with a grandiose and operatic form of cinema, but also with the vulgarity of its falsity, with the levity of its dreams - and his images collide in this middle ground between the tacky , the caricature, the grotesque and the magical, the sublime, the beautiful."

(Thanks to Renato!)


Posted by Geoff at 1:19 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 1:20 AM CDT
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