AARON CRAWFORD: "I REALIZED HOW RAD IT WOULD BE TO REVERSE THE VOYEURISTIC ROLES"
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She had come to Brian's attention during the winter before Body Double started shooting, when Howard Gottfried, the executive producer, went to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The X-rated home video marketers had been denied space on the convention floor, but their wares and their stars were available in hotel rooms close by.
Howard threw up his hands. "Can you imagine, I went to Las Vegas with my casting lady to look at porno movies?! Can you imagine, I go in, I say..."--he straightens his jacket which he always wears with jeans and cocks his head like David Niven--"... Uh hello, I am from Columbia Pictures and I would like to talk with you about a major motion picture.... I mean, they look at you like you're some kind of lunatic!"
It is true that Howard Gottfried is not the sort of man you would ordinarily imagine as a sex scout. A voluble New Yorker with a burning concern about social issues, he made his name in the film industry as the partner of Paddy Chayefsky in such literate and relevant films as Hospital and Network and Altered States. Culturally and intellectually, Howard was made a little crazy by the porn connections of Body Double, all the more so because unlike Brian, unlike Steve Burum, the director of photography, and Joe Napolitano, the first assistant director, Howard Gottfried had children. Howard was the one who had to go home to his family in New York and be assaulted by feminist friends at dinner parties who wanted to know if it was true, was Howard really making a pornographic movie?! ... It was lucky for Howard, therefore, that he had a sense of humor. And Brian De Palma's sense of humor meant as much to him as any other element in the movie.
"Why do they say Brian hates women more than other filmmakers?" Howard asked. "Saturday Night Fever treated women like pieces of meat. And look at Flashdance. Sure she had a job, she had ambition, she was liberated. But how does she show us she's liberated? When the ex-wife stops at the table and asks, 'What do you two do?' she answers 'We fuck our brains out.' It's insulting to women because it means to be a serious portrayal. Now, look at this scene in Body Double with Linda Shaw. Is this a serious portrayal? They're both on these water beds and she's massaging her breasts in this television interview and she's screaming, 'I'm coming! I'm coming!' and the interviewer says, 'So while she's coming, we'll break fr this clip.' Now that's funny. That's fun-nee! How can all these women despise a guy who's as funny as that?!"
Popular, wildly flamboyant Pino Donaggio horror soundtrack gets facelift! Columbia Pictures presents, Brian De Palma directs, Craig Wasson, Melanie Griffith, Gregg Henry - and a really big drill star. De Palma pays homage to Hitchcock with this fascinating tale of murder and obsession. Donaggio, frequent collaborator with De Palma, provides vivid, full-blooded score with balance of French horn-led power, string-led romance, quasi-soft rock beat to cover all the bases of this over-the-top thriller. Donaggio offers haunting, achingly beautiful theme for piano, strings over the titles to anchor, but interestingly precedes it with intentionally cheesy faux-horror vampire music for on-screen low budget film in production. With two ideas established, Donaggio then takes listener on multi-path listening experience: source music with rhythm at core, dramatic suspense material, powerful fortissimo horror sequences, rousing chase music, gentle melancholy, you name it. Donaggio excels with the horror genre, especially for De Palma. Dressed To Kill, Blow Out, Carrie are other favorites of the genre and Donaggio brings each a blend of haunting beauty and terrifying thrills. Body Double is arguably the most involved in terms of scoring, offering the widest range of material and the most florid in execution. The highlights are numerous: sensual major-key melody of “The Telescope” with its sexy female voice mingling amongst the orchestral colors, varied action and orchestral drama of “Rendezvous; Purse Grab; Tunnel Claustrophobia”, lengthy and incredible unison French horn power of “The Big Drill” underscoring hair-raising murder scene, hypnotic repeating phrases of “Detective McClane, Please!”, pulsating action of “A Night On Mulholland Drive; A Grave For Holly”, “Terror In The Grave”, many others. Orchestrational tidbit: Donaggio scores for full symphony but tacets trumpets. Resulting brass sound imbues score with darker, intenser quality. Originally premiered by Intrada in 2008, new 2017 edition of Body Double is presented from all new master incorporating several important sonic advantages including much-improved levels, stereo balancing of many tracks, courtesy pristine source elements from Columbia Pictures. New edition also premieres original trailer music by Jonathan Elias, with its lush, romantic John Barry-ish vibe, also presented in stereo. Otherwise, selections and packaging remain similar. Crisply recorded at The Burbank Studios across two weeks in September 1984. Pino Donaggio composes, Natale Massara conducts. Intrada Special Collection CD available while quantities and interest remain!
Petra Collins: Do you like Fiona Apple? I remember seeing the ‘Criminal’ video – seeing someone displaying themselves so honestly and showing to us that she was sick, it scared me. She turned the ‘heroin chic’ thing on everyone by saying, ‘This is how I am, this is real.’
Selena Gomez: I love Fiona, and that video. My mom introduced me to her. I’ve been listening to her since my childhood. She was doing something very raw for her time. She is an icon, what she does creatively is on another level.
Petra Collins: What is your current obsession or ‘fetish’?
Selena Gomez: Right now, I have a fetish for Brian De Palma films. The way he shoots women is so sexy. I’m printing out pictures to hang up in my new house right now. Melanie Griffith in Body Double. So sexy.
Petra Collins: Oh my God. Brian De Palma. I love him. I’m with you on that one, that’s my fetish right now too.
I think if I had to choose, like, a fun guilty pleasure movie, I really like Brian De Palma’s Body Double. He’s kind of the king of guilty pleasures—he makes these beautiful movies that are really kind of cinematic objects, but that also have, like, a lot of sleaziness to them. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but I kind of love them all.
Brian De Palma made Body Double coming off of a lot of criticism of his previous film, Dressed To Kill. A lot of people said it was a little too gory, and that it focused a little too much on sex. But of course, being Brian De Palma, he just wanted to double-down on those criticisms.
It’s a big role for Melanie Griffith—I think a lot of people probably remember her character, Holly Body. And while this movie might seem a little trashy, she really credits it for doing a lot for her career. Specifically, she thinks she wouldn’t have gotten Working Girl or Something Wild without this movie kind of divorcing her from her childhood image as Tippi Hedren’s daughter.
My favorite sequence in it—and this is totally weird and out of place, but delightful—is in the middle of the film it breaks out into this Frankie Goes To Hollywood music video.
For younger viewers previously unfamiliar with Almodóvar – it should be noted this is the first film of his I’ve seen – you’ll find that his visual sense is strongly akin to Wes Anderson in his use of garish color palettes to make the mise-en-scène pop and purposefully call attention to the focal points of the frame. But while most cases of Anderson’s use of color bears some semblance of uniformity, Almodóvar’s in Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down goes all over the map with light and vibrant hues of blue, green, red and orange. It’s a purposeful clash that draws our attention, tells us where to look and exists as a visual rebellion, of sorts.
It may bear the mark of the decade it left behind, but so does Ennio Morricone’s curious score. In what can only be described as electronic camp, Morricone’s compositions bounce in and out between the romantic and the sinister, often to the confusion of audience members as the film is in the early stages of labeling Banderas’s Ricky as an amorous man or unbalanced sociopath. But, the amalgamation of production design and score is key here, and in fact is reminiscent of Brian De Palma’s work, particularly 1984’s Body Double.
Almodóvar uses both similarly in their respective conflicts with the film’s tone, and derives most of the film’s humor from those contradictions. There are a few instances when Almodóvar’s irreverently pitch black humor is made explicit in the language, but he’d much rather emotionally unsettle his viewers by, for instance, having Banderas’s Ricky carry a bound and gagged Marina (Abril) across the threshold amidst the most dazzling array of reds and blues. It isn’t just the context of the scene that’s uncomfortable, but arguably, it’s the choice of color that makes this feeling even more pronounced.
That sort of responsibility is what speaks to Almodóvar’s cunningly sensitive direction, as well as José Luis Alcaine’s cinematography. The aesthetics never make the premise any less disturbing, but rather heighten our discomfort at their deliberate opposition.
Adapted from three short stories by Alice Munro, Julieta has a nimble structure, one that spans multiple time periods, family drama, cultural and religious conflict, the bonds of fidelity, and even a sexy train-based mystery with a very specific tribute to the fashions and hair of Brian DePalma’s Body Double. But its spine (and heart) is the chasm at the center of the titular character’s life left by the 12-year absence of her daughter Antía, and it’s a mystery we unravel one brightly colored thread at a time. The performances are stellar, with Emma Suárez and Adriana Ugarte bringing Julieta (as her older and younger selves, respectively) to tangible life. These women are the emotional foundation upon which Almodóvar builds another of his magnificent houses of catharsis, with the added bonus of an iconic return for Rossy DePalma.
This summer we inaugurated an ongoing collaboration with the International Center of Photography (now located in close proximity to Anthology, at 250 Bowery) with a film series inspired by the exhibition, PUBLIC, PRIVATE, SECRET. The ICP’s debut show in their new home explores the concept of privacy in today’s society and studies how contemporary self-identity is tied to public visibility. The film series expands on this idea by gathering a selection of films that engage the themes of voyeurism, surveillance, and privacy, and that demonstrate the various ways that media is used to fashion a sense of identity. Combining narrative films like De Palma’s BODY DOUBLE and Kieslowski’s A SHORT FILM ABOUT LOVE with experimental films, documentaries, and video art, the series demonstrates how central these ideas have been throughout the history of the cinema.
Perhaps it’s best to view the much-maligned Body Double not as a serious thriller, but as a deadpan comedy with thriller elements. So overtly derivative are the Hitchcock homages here that one can’t help but laugh at how ridiculously blatant De Palma’s being this time around. But the joke’s not just on us, but also on Jake Scully (Craig Wasson), with much of the first half playing as a lampoon of the struggling-actor hero’s professional, personal and sexual inadequacies. De Palma reserves his most amusing meta-movie conceits, though, for the second half, with Jake playacting a porn producer in order to get close to adult star Holly Body (Melanie Griffith), his descent into the hardcore-porn underground depicted as a hedonistic music video set to Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax.” In the end, it’s Jake’s own re-imagining of the film’s opening scene—his claustrophobia-induced failure while playing a vampire in a low-budget exploitation flick—that helps him finally achieve the potency he so desperately seeks throughout. With the film’s central mystery pretty easy to guess if you know Vertigo well, one is free to simply enjoy Body Double as an endlessly playful lark from a filmmaker interested in gratifying himself and daring us to watch.
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