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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Posted by Geoff at 7:03 PM CDT
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Sound On Sight posted an essay a couple of weeks ago by Guido Pellegrini, with the headline, "Inconstant selves in Brian De Palma’s Sisters." It's a very good read, so be sure to check it out.

"Without Dominique, Danielle has no identity," Pellegrini states in the opening paragraph. "To weave the fiction of her socially acceptable behavior, she must have Dominique bear the burden of her most disturbing desires. Yet the film, oddly enough, is not about Danielle or Dominique, but about the journalist Grace Collier. As Dominique recedes into the background, Danielle and Grace become the main antagonistic pair, a transition that culminates in an intense climax, a hypnosis dream, that imagines them as conjoined twins...

"Significantly, the introduction of Grace coincides with a memorable use of split-screen, which allows viewers to track Danielle and Grace simultaneously during a dramatic juncture. They are also opposed in other ways, not just compositionally. Released in 1973, the film riffs on contemporary sexual politics, contrasting Danielle’s traditional femininity to Grace’s brashness. Independent and self-sufficient, Grace seems indifferent to matrimony and children, and when her mother babbles on about the subject, she pays no attention. Danielle is more conservative. In one of her opening lines, she stresses that she is not one of those 'liberated American women' who spend 'their whole lives hating men,' an example of which might be Grace, notorious for her coverage of police brutality, obviously carried out by men. The joke is that, for all her coyness, Danielle is actually far more dangerous to the opposite sex. Grace constitutes a threat to Danielle, not only as an investigator, since she probes Danielle’s crimes, but also as a woman."

Read the entire essay at Sound On Sight.

Posted by Geoff at 1:35 AM CDT
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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Jennifer Salt was the guest last week on Brian Flaherty's The New Hollywood, a podcast that focuses on the films of the 1970s. As you might expect, Salt discussed, among other things, Brian De Palma, Sisters, the Malibu Beach House she shared with Margot Kidder, and much more. Here are some notes from the interview, with direct quotes from Salt in bold:

-She & Jon Voight became a couple on Midnight Cowboy
-Salt & De Palma were pals who'd met at Sarah Lawrence College; they dated for a little while, but mostly stayed close through the years.

“I quite adored him. He was so dark and funny. And… nobody’s like Brian [laughs]. He has the best sense of humor. The darkest sense of humor. It completely lines up with mine. And so in some way I felt like we were soul mates.”

Flaherty: "Did they invent the term, 'Does not suffer fools lightly,' for him? I mean, is he the type, does he have little patience…?"

“Very little patience. Yeah.”

Flaherty: "But it’s kind of charming. He’s so smart and he’s charismatic if he wants to be."

“Well, it’s charming to me, when he’s being… when I’m not the target. I think there are plenty of people who are scared to death of him. But that’s just who he is.”

-Salt and Margo Kidder met during auditions for Fat City (John Huston movie)
-Malibu Beach House – they hosted many new wave of Hollywood directors

“The truth is it all started because Brian came out to visit, because Brian and I were tight. And he began bringing his friends out, and Marty was his friend, Trader was his friend, Harvey Keitel was anywhere Marty was, um, and Spielberg was, you know, a little acolyte.”

Paul Schrader was following De Palma around as a journalist.

“One of the people who came out was a director named Paul Williams, who I had made a movie called The Revolutionary with, and his producing partner was Ed Pressman. They had gone to Harvard together. And they came out and they loved the scene, and became part of it, and Ed Pressman became friendly with Brian. And somehow, Brian convinced Ed to finance the movie Sisters. Now, the thing is, I didn’t know much about it. Because Brian was off doing his thing, I was off doing mine, and whatever, but it was Christmastime, Christmas Day, we were all together and we had a big Christmas tree. Brian was living there. He was dating Margot, and he was living at the house. And so, we all were sitting around the Christmas tree, giving out presents, and he went over to the Christmas tree and took out two presents and handed one to Margie and one to me, and we opened them up, and it was Sisters. The script! And he said, 'Girls, we’re going to New York, we’re gonna make this turkey in April! Pack your bags. Go to the gym.' So, and that’s what we did… Ed was the producer, and Ed financed the movie.”

Flaherty: "That’s amazing. And you shot it all in New York?"

“Mostly Staten Island.”

Flaherty: "It is such a beloved movie. By the way, I own that poster. Print, framed, hanging in my garage, not in the house, but I love it."

“My friend Tim Hunter gave that to me. He found it somewhere.”

Flaherty: "And how was Sisters? You had already worked with Brian. I mean that’s just a crazy… it’s like Hitchcock on acid a little bit, right?"

“I think it’s a fantastic movie. And I mostly think Margie is brilliant. That’s the thing I think more than anything. She’s so amazing that I can’t believe it. And I love... it’s so original, and the way he shot it, when you look at it now, I mean, it’s like, everybody and their mother has been shooting like Brian shot that movie, since then. You know what I mean?”

Flaherty: "He loves Hitchcock so much, you know, you’re like Margo’s looking for the pills, and the cake, and the guy’s starting to write ‘Happy Birthday’ and he’s barely …"

-Salt said they pay homage to De Palma on a daily basis on American Horror Story, for which Salt is a co-producer and screenwriter.

Posted by Geoff at 12:04 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 12:07 AM CDT
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Sunday, July 13, 2014
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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Monday, April 21, 2014
An early review at [SIC] of Arrow Video's new edition of Brian De Palma's Sisters includes a paragraph about the special feature supplements. "In the absence of a commentary," the reviewer states, "the main feature is a fantastic (albeit spoiler-heavy) 45-minute essay on the film, recorded specially for Arrow, which tallies up the references as well as providing a wealth of information on the creation of the film, how De Palma's later films build on his experiences, and any number of other interesting facts and anecdotes. Supplementary material includes a selection of interviews with cast and crew, of which Jennifer Salt's is particularly interesting. There's also a breathless half-hour summary of De Palma's career that made me want to watch everything he's ever made, and the hilarious original trailer, which makes the film look about ten times trashier than it actually is."

As for the film itself, the reviewer is again very positive: "De Palma is now known primarily for his suspense thrillers, but prior to Sisters he had mainly made low-budget counter-cultural comedy films. Sisters was an attempt to make his name more 'bankable' by making a more mainstream film, so it would be understandable if it had not aged too well. However, there's no feeling of cynicism to the plot - it's a pulpy thriller that is heavily rooted in exploitation, but even within that fairly rigid framework, De Palma can't help experimenting. The ways in which Sisters stands out from the pack make it a real treat that holds up to anything else in the director's filmography."

Posted by Geoff at 10:49 PM CDT
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Friday, April 18, 2014

Posted by Geoff at 2:02 AM CDT
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Goregirl's Dungeon yesterday posted several production stills from the set of Brian De Palma's Sisters, including the one above, of De Palma and Margot Kidder.

Posted by Geoff at 12:33 AM CDT
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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Posted by Geoff at 12:41 AM CDT
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Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Bloody Disgusting has an exclusive video of Maitland McDonagh talking about Brian De Palma's Sisters, which will (maybe?) be part of the extras on Arrow Video's upcoming Blu-Ray/DVD edition of the film. McDonagh wrote an essay about De Palma's Dressed To Kill for Arrow's Blu-Ray edition of that film, released last year. There are a couple of curious discrepancies here, though: for one, while the video shows that Sisters will be released April 14, the Arrow website shows the release date as April 28; the other odd thing is that the Bloody Disgusting headline calls the Maitland McDonagh video an "outtake," although the article by MrDisgusting never uses that word once.

In any case, don't get excited-- there does not appear to be any promise that the upcoming release will include outtakes from the film itself. Whether or not the Maitland McDonagh interview is itself an outtake remains to be seen, as she is not listed in the list of extras included in the Bloody Disgusting article, but MrDisgusting does call the video "one of the extras." Here are the extras that are listed:

- Brand new High Definition digital transfer
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
- Original Mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
- What the Devil Hath Joined Together: Brian De Palma’s Sisters – A visual essay by author Justin Humphreys (47 mins)
- All new interviews with co-writer Louisa Rose, actress Jennifer Salt, editor Paul Hirsch and production manager Jeffrey Hayes
- The De Palma Digest – a film-by-film guide to the director’s career by critic Mike Sutton
- Archive audio interview with star William Finley (excerpt)
- Gallery of Sisters promotional material from around the world
- Theatrical trailer
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
- Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by author Kier-La Janisse (House of Psychotic Women), Brian De Palma’s original 1973 Village Voice essay on working with composer Bernard Herrmann as well as a contemporary interview with De Palma on making Sisters, and the 1966 Life magazine article that inspired the film, illustrated with original archive stills

Incidentally, in the video at Bloody Disgusting, McDonagh mentions William Castle's Homicidal, contrasting that film's lack of critical attention to the type of attention De Palma's Sisters received upon its release. De Palma listed Homicidal as one of his "Guilty Pleasures" in an article for Film Comment back in the 1980s.

Posted by Geoff at 5:15 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 5:56 PM CDT
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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

According to Twitch, Arrow Video announced its "Q2 line-up" today, and it includes a release date for its Blu-ray edition of Brian De Palma's Sisters, which will be released April 14th. Along with a high-definition digital transfer of the film, the edition will have "newly created exclusive content- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys- Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film, archive content and more!- More to be announced closer to the release date." Arrow's Blu-ray of Phantom Of The Paradise is officially released Monday (February 24th).

Posted by Geoff at 5:10 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 5:13 PM CST
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