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Saturday, July 26, 2014

"[Scarlett] Johansson plays Lucy as a mouthy hanger-on who’s transformed into a ninja Carrie White in The Matrix."
David Edelstein, Vulture

"For himself, Besson manages two intriguing bits: When Lucy kisses an Arab cop (Amr Waked) and tells him 'You’re a reminder' and a DePalma-style scene where she likens fast-motion film to human experience: 'Time is the only measure of existence.' Flashy and pithy. Take that, Richard Linklater!"
Armond White, National Review

Posted by Geoff at 2:08 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, July 27, 2014 8:11 PM CDT
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Thursday, July 24, 2014
'PHANTOM' SCREEN PRINT REVEALED
NEW ART BY TOMMY LEE EDWARDS CREATED FOR NEXT WEEK'S 40TH ANNIVERSARY EVENT
At left is new art created by Tommy Lee Edwards for the 40th anniversary screening of Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise, which happens Wednesday, July 30th, at the Arclight in Hollywood. The limited edition screen print, which will be available for purchase at the event, will also be given to those with VIP tickets, according to the Swan Archives.

Posted by Geoff at 6:25 PM CDT
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Sunday, July 20, 2014
FORMAL ASPECTS OF 'PROXY' DEEMED DE PALMA-ESQUE
"STRIKINGLY STYLIZED SET PIECE" UPENDS THE NARRATIVE
The A.V. Club has posted a midyear look at the best films of 2014 so far, dubbing the article "a halftime report in superlatives." For "most jarring mid-film gear change," Mike D'Angelo writes about Zack Parker's Proxy, stating that the "slow-burn thriller about the dark side of motherhood is among the year’s most divisive movies, and a specific scene at its midpoint tends to divide yea-sayers from naysayers. The first half follows a young woman (Alexia Rasmussen) who turns to a support group after she’s viciously attacked while in the late stages of pregnancy, losing the baby as a result. Her subsequent friendship with another grieving mother (Alexa Havins) takes a series of increasingly odd turns, with Parker repeatedly upending assumptions about who these people are and what they want. Then comes the scene: a strikingly stylized set piece, equal parts Brian De Palma and Lars Von Trier, upending the narrative so completely that it takes a while to realize it wasn’t a dream sequence. Not everyone will appreciate Proxy’s abrupt new direction, which shifts focus to a degree meriting comparison to Psycho, but Parker’s willingness to risk failure and alienate viewers heralds an ambition too infrequently seen in contemporary genre fare. He’s the real deal."

Back in April, D'Angelo reviewed Proxy for The Dissolve, writing that Parker "combines a Hitchcockian penchant for disorientation with a Brian De Palma-esque formal bravado, and he’s made the rare film that’s impossible to peg all the way up to its final minutes—a truly unnerving study in multiple pathologies."


Posted by Geoff at 8:38 PM CDT
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Saturday, July 19, 2014
'SEX TAPE' HAS CRITIC WONDERING:
"WHERE DID HOLLYWOOD'S SEXINESS GO?"


Writing for Complex, Nick Schager uses this weekend's release of Jake Kasdan's Sex Tape to ask, "Where did Hollywood's sexiness go?" Schager begins by suggesting that in the current Hollywood cinema, sex is either funny, scary, or "uncomfortable and upsetting (at least when it’s not embarrassing and ridiculous)."

"Over the past decade," Schager states, "sex has remained an ideal subject for ribald comedies and brainy, tortured character pieces. But when it comes to actually being sexy, in a mature and serious way? Or even a tawdry, titillating, vulgar-but-hot way? Hollywood is no longer interested.

"This wasn’t the case very long ago. As recently as 2002’s Unfaithful, mainstream American movies were perfectly comfortable tackling stories built around steamy scenarios. However, since that Diane Lane-Richard Gere marital thriller (marked by sizzling extramarital encounters between Lane and co-star Olivier Martinez), the pickings in this arena have been woefully slim. There was the rough-and-tumble tussling of Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello in A History of Violence (2005). And the psychosexual tango of Angelina Jolie and Ethan Hawke in Taking Lives (2004). And just about everything in Brian De Palma’s undervalued 2002 masterwork Femme Fatale (which should have forever established Rebecca Romijn’s superstardom). And, um, well...that’s about it."

Schager points out that this could all change with "one out-of-left-field eroticized hit—perhaps, for instance, next year’s hotly anticipated adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey."

Meanwhile, Edge On The Net's Jake Mulligan mentions De Palma in his review of Sex Tape, which he points out was co-written by Nicholas Stoller, who also wrote and directed this year's Neighbors, "a somewhat similar movie, with completely identical jokes." Much of Mulligan's review highlights how the two movies are similar. "Director Jake Kasdan tries to do something with the material," Mulligan writes, "whipping... his camera back and forth across dinner tables with emphatic abandon like he's Brian De Palma. But you can't put spicy cinematography on a leftover script and then pretend we're being served a fresh meal." Mulligan also points out some of the product placement featured in the film, which, according to him, includes Scarface.


Posted by Geoff at 5:23 PM CDT
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Friday, July 18, 2014
MORODER: JAY Z WANTED 'SCARFACE' SOUNDTRACK
RAPPER WANTED TO REWORK SOME OF THE SONGS, BUT DE PALMA SAID NO
In preparation for his set as a DJ tonight at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, Giorgio Moroder was interviewed by the Chicago Tribune's Allison Stewart. "There was a time when Jay Z wanted to (remake) some of the songs from [Scarface]," Moroder tells Stewart, "but it didn't work out because Brian De Palma didn't want to do it. But I talked to several (rappers) like Jay Z, and they loved the movie. Some of them had seen the movie like twenty, thirty, forty times, and people remember the dialogue. It's one of those cult movies."

Back in 2003, as the film was turning 20, the Los Angeles Times' Elaine Dutka reported that the chairman of Island Def Jam, Lyor Cohen, had met with De Palma to suggest that the artists on his label compose a new soundtrack for Scarface, "with or without Moroder." Dutka added, "Though [Martin] Bregman and even [Al] Pacino made the case for the proposal, the director was aghast."

Dutka quoted De Palma: "They said it would help promotion, presenting the film in a different way. But Giorgio's music was true to the period, I argued -- and no one changes the scores on movies by Marty Scorsese, John Ford, David Lean. If this is the 'masterpiece' you say, leave it alone. I fought them tooth and nail and was the odd man out, not an unusual place for me. I have final cut, so that stopped them dead."

Dutka's article then continues:

---------------------------

Universal's [Craig] Kornblau hasn't given up on the thought of creating a "reinvigorated and more relevant soundtrack," however. Nor has Kevin Liles, president of Def Jam/Def Soul Records. "Hip-hop, as Chuck D says, is the 'CNN of the ghetto,' " Liles points out. "Incorporating it into a classic like this would convey the current reality. The message, unfortunately, is as relevant today as when the movie emerged. I'll be the first up to bat to rescore the film, which touched such a nerve in the 'hood. Though Montana is Latino, all those kids identify with his job in the burger shop, idolizing guys with the big Benz and flashy women. Music is the soul of any movie, and a new soundtrack would increase its power."
------------------------------

Within a year after Dutka's article was written, Cohen and Liles had left Def Jam, and Jay Z had been appointed president of the record label.

Posted by Geoff at 12:30 AM CDT
Updated: Friday, July 18, 2014 12:34 AM CDT
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014
AN ACIDEMIC LOOK AT DE PALMA & ARGENTO
BLOGGER: BORN SIX DAYS APART, THEY SHARE A "BIZARRE PSYCHIC TWIN CONNECTION"
Acidemic's Erich Kuersten takes a deep stab into the cinema of Brian De Palma and Dario Argento, dispensing early with the obvious Hitchcock comparisons (although Hitchcock does figure into the discussion) to focus on the pair's "bizarre psychic twin connection, a shared reptile dysfunction that springs from Catholicism, ancient Rome, and [a] kind of scopophilia-driven sexual obsession." Kuersten adds, "And I didn't even know this when I started this post, but they were born the same month (September) of the same world war-ridden year (1940), six days apart. They are both Virgo, sign of the virgin, sign of obsession, poring over film strips and sound boards with the repressed energy of a thousand unreached orgasms!"

Illustrated with a fascinating array of juxtaposed images from the films of both directors (as well as some other filmmakers thrown into the mix), Kuersten explores shared themes and motifs such as blindness, avenging angels, mirrors and doubles, dreams, photography, metatextuality, art, and more. A terrifically eye-opening and entertaining read, the post comes a year after Kuersten's post about Scarface, Suspiria and Carrie.

Posted by Geoff at 12:51 AM CDT
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Monday, July 14, 2014
VIGALONDO TALKS DE PALMA, 'OPEN WINDOWS'
'BLOW OUT'-INSPIRED THRILLER SCREENS AT FANTASIA FEST IN MONTREAL THIS WEEKEND


Nacho Vigalondo's Open Windows, which he has previously indicated was partially inspired by Blow Out, will screen at this year's Fantasia International Film Festival, as part of a themed section dubbed "Antisocial Media." Fantasia's co-director, Mitch Davis, tells the Montreal Gazette's T'Cha Dunlevy that Open Windows "takes place entirely on a character’s computer screen. It’s almost like a Brian De Palma thriller, by way of Mike Figgis. It’s super-dynamic, volume-11 storytelling. Vigalondo sets these bizarre limitations, but by going into close-ups of all these different (computer screen) windows — hence the title — and shifting focus in a propulsive way as the lead character goes into a rabbit hole of criminality and conspiracy, it works brilliantly."

Meanwhile, Sensacine's Alejandro G. Calvo interviewed Vigalondo a couple of weeks ago, mentioning that with Open Windows, there is a lot of talk about Alfred Hitchcock, "but the truth is that [it] has a lot of Brian De Palma. Blow Out, of course, but also Redacted."

To which Vigalondo responded, "Well, Blow Out is my favorite De Palma film. That is a reference with which I feel very comfortable. I think he's a very ambitious, but at the same time, very human filmmaker. His films have both virtuosity and weaknesses, all wonderful. I feel much more comfortable with De Palma with Hitchcock, as I name them. If you allow it to be tagged as such, it is a beast of an ambition that seems an unattainable task. Then people write things like "this guy is trying to be the Hitchcock of the 21st Century" and, well, I do not mean anything! They are the ones who have written it! (laughs). So I prefer to think about De Palma, someone who I see as like family."


Posted by Geoff at 8:32 PM CDT
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Sunday, July 13, 2014
ROBERT ENGLUND STILL SCARED BY 'SISTERS'
"IT'S REALLY, TRULY CREEPY"
News.com.au's Alice Clark asked Robert Englund to reveal his "10 deepest fears" ahead of his appearance last weekend at Melbourne's Oz Comic Con. At number 8, Englund lists "Conjoined twins," which leads him, of course, to think of Brian De Palma's Sisters. "There’s a 1973 film by Brian De Palma," Englund tells Clark, "it’s a very early film in his canon called Sisters about Siamese twins and it stars Margot Kidder in the absolute blush of her most beautiful moment on Earth. She’s playing these French-Canadian Siamese twins and it’s really, truly creepy. It’s great filmmaking, but I think down deep I’m scared of Siamese twins in a way.”

Englund has mentioned Sisters in several interviews in which he is asked to name some favorites. Last October, Englund was asked by the Chicago Daily Herlad's Josh Stockinger if he has a favorite scary movie, to which Englund named two films. "It's constantly changing," Englund replied to Stockinger, "but I always recommend the 1974 Brian De Palma film, Sisters, starring Margot Kidder and William Finley. I just think it's brilliant. It's sexy and there's a lot of surprises that make you jump. It has some of the best use of split screen for suspense ever done, very low-budget but great. I also love the 1961 version of The Innocents with Deborah Kerr and Michael Redgrave. It obviously has the Henry James' turn of the screw, and there's a really kinky follow-up with Marlon Brando that's really interesting, too."

Posted by Geoff at 7:22 PM CDT
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Saturday, July 12, 2014
ARTIST'S SCARY INSPIRATION MAY HAVE BEEN 'THE FURY'
CHANNEL-SURFING AS A CHILD CIRCA 1985, MOVIE ABOUT TELEKINESIS
The painting pictured here, by Janet Hill, is titled At The Ursula Academy For The Supernaturally Gifted, Fawn Fielding Enjoyed Medieval Poetry, Spoke Fluent Italian, And Possessed Above Average Telekinetic Abilities. In a post on her blog, Hill recalls the inspiration for the painting, which her husband told her is The Fury. "This [painting] is actually born out of a scary experience for me when I was young," Hill explains in her post. "I have this memory of turning on the television in the middle of the afternoon- likely on a Saturday. I seem to recall that I was enjoying a grape freezie and wearing my pink jelly shoes, but that could be my imagination just playing games on me. I likely did some channel surfing with one of those clunky looking channel changers circa 1985 until I came across this weird movie. There was a girl with big curly hair moving things with her mind. WITH HER MIND!! This terrified me but I didn’t understand why. I think I was familiar with the idea of telekinesis having spent many a bored afternoon focused on my Barbie trying to get it to move WITH MY MIND, but it must have been the way it was presented in the film. I mentioned this to John as I was painting this painting and he immediately recognized it as The Fury which was directed by Brian De Palma. It all made sense. No one can creep me out as much as Brian De Palma, thank you very much. John also mentioned that we own the movie so guess what I’m going to do tonight. Perhaps I’ll watch it while enjoying a cool and refreshing grape freezie too."

Posted by Geoff at 7:39 PM CDT
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Friday, July 11, 2014
LEND A HAND TO 'SCARFACE REDUX'
MIAMI GROUP'S GLOBAL COLLAB EFFORT TO REMAKE DE PALMA'S 'SCARFACE'


The Borscht Corp., an open-source collaborative dedicated to telling Miami stories, according to its web site, has started a project called Scarface Redux. The project is described as "a global collaborative effort to remake Brian De Palma’s Scarface." The web site (pictured above) lays out three steps: "First, Brian De Palma's Scarface is cut up into 15-second chunks"; "Then, you pick a scene, shoot and remake it however you like"; "Finally, we put it all together into a completely new version of Scarface."

You can see all the 15-second clips (636 of them) on the site, as well as the few scenes that have already been submitted for the project. In an e-mail about the project sent to Film School Rejects, the group states, "For better or worse, Scarface had held Miami’s image in a vice grip since it came out... As our mission is to redefine cinema in Miami (and vice-versa) we thought it was about time to get literal and take back our image! Or something."


Posted by Geoff at 6:38 PM CDT
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