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Friday, July 3, 2015
Brian De Palma's Body Double is on the schedule for the Sony Movie Channel this month including a showing Saturday night), while over on MGM-HD, De Palma's Blow Out is programmed throughout this holiday weekend.

Over at Letterboxd, Cameron Morewood recently posted a thoughtful review of Body Double. Here are excerpts from the beginning and end of his review:
"It is difficult to label any one film industry, from its conception to its present day stature, as the greatest of all time. Many, however, would argue that Hollywood has maintained its status as the most extravagant. From the silent spectacles of the roaring twenties to the technicolor marvels of the 1950's, American cinema has always possessed a distinct opulence, a resounding declaration of stature and celebrity. The formula is most commonly associated with Alfred Hitchcock: a leading man, a beautiful woman by his side, and an gaudily enigmatic conflict designed to bewilder audiences far and wide. Thirty years after what most believe to be Hitchcock's golden age, bravura filmmaker Brian De Palma decided to deconstruct this image of Hollywood, and he used the master of suspense himself as the focal point of his refracted image.

"The narrative presented in Body Double is an intentionally and loudly obvious resurrection of Hitchcock's diagram, albeit a resurrection that has been carefully exaggerated and over-sexualized to deliberately twist a knife in the heart of mainstream cinema's blatant exploitations. Jake Scully is an actor who suffers from a severe case of claustrophobia. He is the symbol of the young American discontent to exist in an ordinary aesthetic where his entrance is lethargically greeted with inaudible applause. He is caustically frustrated by the world's inability to accommodate him and continuously distracted by a pumping libido that facilitates a penchant for peeping. Jake Scully, whose tallest ambition is to achieve Hollywood stardom, is De Palm's leading man, his Carey Grant, so to speak...

"So in the end, once the audience has been captivated and subverted, what does De Palma's steamy, self-reflexive thriller amount to? Is it anti-Hollywood? Post Hollywood? I don't think so. Because despite De Palma's stentorian rancor in his illumination of mainstream cinema's implicit misogyny, much of the material in Body Double exhibits a strong, faithful love of both old and new Hollywood. De Palma adores the chicanery and exorbitance of Hitchcock's narrative. He worships the movement and utilization of the camera. He, like many of us, is a lover of cinema. But he does not idealize it either. He sees Hollywood's faults, cinema's imperfections and absurdities. He wraps them all together, the positives and negatives, and meticulously winds them through the world of this film. Body Double is an American movie about American movies and the Americans who enjoy them. It is a shamelessly ostentatious, visually immaculate, textually capacious masterpiece."

Posted by Geoff at 6:42 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, July 3, 2015 6:43 PM CDT
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Monday, June 29, 2015
Inspired by the new season of True Detective, Vulture enlisted New York Magazine design expert Wendy Goodman to compile a list of great modernist houses in which Los Angeles villains have taken up residence. (Greg Cwik co-wrote the Vulture article with Goodman.) John Lautner's Chemosphere House, built in 1960, is a prominent setting of Brian De Palma's Body Double, which comes in at number six on the list of eight.

"In one of Brian De Palma’s most meta, navel-gazing efforts," state the article's authors, "a struggling actor agrees to house-sit for a less-struggling actor friend. (The interior decorations are garish and gaudy, a bit of ’80s excess parody.) Since the house is basically one giant Peeping Tom platform, the struggling actor develops an unfortunate peeping penchant (all part of a plan, of course), accidentally witnessing a murder through his telescope. The Chemosphere seems to be Lautner’s ode to the spaceship. It’s his most daring and seemingly precarious house. It looks like an octagonal flying saucer balanced in midair on a 30-foot concrete pole."

Posted by Geoff at 11:46 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, June 29, 2015 11:48 PM CDT
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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Neon Dreams Cinema Club meets for a screening every first Thursday of the month, at The Royal Cinema in Toronto. The club kicked off last month with a screening of William Friedkin's To Live And Die In L.A., and continues May 7th with a 9pm screening of Brian De Palma's Body Double.

"Imagine a world where people’s worst impulses and darkest desires are stimulated by a landscape of synth-pop and bright neon lights," reads the website/Facebook description of the Neon Dreams Cinema Club. "Nothing is quite as it seems as you surrender yourself to the dazzling sights and soothing sounds of the Neon Dreams Cinema Club, a monthly film series exclusive to The Royal Cinema bringing you the best in delightfully surreal neo-noir cinema from the 70's, 80's, and beyond. So come on down, grab a beverage, get comfortable, and let us usher you into a state of adrenaline-fuelled excess."

Posted by Geoff at 9:53 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, April 29, 2015 9:00 PM CDT
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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Brian De Palma's Body Double will screen at 8pm Thursday (April 9, 2015) at The Carolina, movie theater six, in Asheville, North Carlina. The screening is free, as part of the weekly Thursday Horror Picture Show, which is hosted by Mountain Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.

Hanke wrote a review of the film in advance of the screening in which he says he is "not quite a four-square fan" of De Palma. "My introduction to him was Phantom of the Paradise (1974), which I saw first-run at least twice and then many times during the days of the midnight cult movie. It probably remains my favorite — nearly matched by Carrie (1976). Those are my De Palma touchstone works — the ones I never tire of and have no reservations about. After that, it gets tricky, but I’m finding increased admiration for much of his subsequent work and am slowly reassessing it. Well, I’m reassessing some of it. I have no interest in revisiting Scarface (1983) or Raising Cain (1992). That brings us to Body Double, which I more or less enjoyed when it came out, but didn’t think was by any means great. I liked it enough, however, to pick it up for five bucks when I came across it in a Wal-Mart dump bin — and then promptly left on the shelf for years before getting around to actually watching it. I’m sorry I waited. I’m not sure it’s a great film, but it might be a great movie, and it’s definitely great De Palma. It’s also neck and neck with his much-maligned The Black Dahlia (2006) for the screwiest picture he ever made — but it’s a lot more fun."

Posted by Geoff at 11:19 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, April 9, 2015 12:20 AM CDT
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Saturday, February 21, 2015
If you're in Kansas City on Oscar night tomorrow, you can catch Brian De Palma's Body Double at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema at 6pm. In preparation for screenings at multiple Drafthouse locations across the country, Badass Digest's Jacob Knight has written rather lovingly about the film. "The choice to make Scully as vanilla pudding as possible is deliberate," Knight states of the main character played by Craig Wasson, "and it’d feel like an insult to Wasson if the actor weren’t so knowingly game for the entirety of the movie’s near two-hour runtime. Yet there’s an almost impish glee Wasson conveys as he goes from helpless Peeping Tom to gullible murder suspect to undercover porn hustler in a mere matter of Acts. To criticize Scully for being a schmuck is missing the point entirely, for we are all dopey, doe-eyed adventurers in this cum-stained playground just looking for something to get off on.

"But even if a viewer can’t get over Wasson’s jokingly willful naïveté, it’s hard to imagine anyone who truly loves cinema dismissing the virtuoso display of craftsmanship De Palma yet again employs in service of creating this sticky jungle. As Scully stalks, De Palma yet again unleashes his love of the Steadicam, transforming a California shrine to consumerism (The Rodeo Collection at 421 Rodeo Drive) into a veritable maze through which his camera can cruise. Later, De Palma stops the entire film dead in its tracks in order to stage an elaborately choreographed song and dance number set to Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s 'Relax,' all of which ends in a round of softcore pawing. Had De Palma been allowed by the studio to execute his original concept (he wanted Body Double to be the first big budget picture to sport unsimulated sex scenes), it would’ve resulted in the most cinematically daring act of onscreen sex ever created. All the while, Pino Donaggio’s twinkling pianos, shimmering synths and soft drums add a playful sheen of eroticism, as the composer (and longtime BDP collaborator) seems most at home in this den of misdeeds.

"None of this would matter if it weren’t for Holly Body (Melanie Griffith), the gyrating soul living in the movie’s black heart. De Palma initially cast Annette Haven, but Columbia Pictures made the director rethink the role once they discovered that she was an actual porn queen, having starred in numerous classic fuck films since 1973. But Columbia’s pearl-clutching became a blessing in disguise for the director, as Griffith ends up giving the greatest performance of her entire career. Holly Body is a marvel of a character, completely sexy while never once relinquishing control to her male counterparts. When propositioned to star in the fake movie Scully’s producing, she rattles off a litany of lewd acts that decimates the impotent actor’s confidence. The woman is a professional, direct and to the point, and no man is going to dictate what she does with her body just because he’s offering a paycheck. Griffith straddles the line between pixie dream girl and art rock ass-kicker with such command that it’s impossible to look away from her whenever she’s on screen. Casting a real life porn star in the role would’ve been a great gimmick, but we would’ve never been graced with such a scene-stealing performance."

Near the beginning of the article, Knight writes about one of the movies De Palma had picked for his "Guilty Pleasures" article in a 1987 issue of Film Comment. "Amongst the apologetics," Knight writes, "was a 1981 slice of smut titled Nightdreams, directed by FX Pope. In reality, FX Pope doesn’t exist. The name was a nom de skin, belonging to commercial photographer and artist Francis Delia who, along with partner Stephen Sayadian, designed ads for everything from Hustler magazine to key art for major motion pictures. Included in their portfolio of immaculately designed one sheets (which also boasts John Carpenter’s The Fog and Escape From New York) was the iconic image for De Palma’s own Dressed to Kill. The admiration wasn’t one sided; in Nightdreams, Delia and Sayadian recreated the image from the piece of art they invented to help sell De Palma’s infamous murder mystery, repurposing it into one of the most harrowing scenes in the history of hardcore."

Posted by Geoff at 9:12 PM CST
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Monday, January 26, 2015
Noah Baumbach's Mistress America had its world premiere at Sundance Saturday. The film, co-written by and starring Greta Gerwig, was well-received by a "lively, laughing audience," according to The Wall Street Journal's Barbara Chai. At a Q&A after the screening, according to Chai, Baumbach explained that Mistress America was inspired by films he saw in the 1980s, when he was a teenager. "There was a subgenre of movies of people who get taken out of their comfortable lives to a strange environment," he told the audience, leading Gerwig to inject, "Something Wild, After Hours... Like being pulled into this crazy thing, and there’s a motorcycle!”

Here's the last part of Chai's article, in which Gerwig mentions another '80s film, Brian De Palma's Body Double:

In Mistress America, Gerwig plays Brooke, a capricious, free-spirited woman who lives in Times Square and takes her future stepsister, Tracy (newcomer Lola Kirke), under her wing.

The film begins with scenes set on the campus of Barnard College, where Tracy’s a freshman, and Times Square, where Brooke hangs out. But as Brooke runs into financial trouble, she seeks help from an ex-fiance and former best friend who live in a lavish house in Connecticut – an entirely different environment from Manhattan.

In an extended sequence midway through the film, an ensemble of actors move in and out of rooms in the glass house and spout rapid-fire repartee at each other.

“When we got to the house, we loved doing something old-fashioned,” Baumbach said. “Something where you can see everybody in their environment, where the doors didn’t slam.”

Gerwig noted the irony of trying to film a screwball comedy “in a house with sliding doors. Why did we get the Body Double house to make a farce in?” she said, referring to the Brian De Palma thriller.

Baumbach, the director of films such as The Squid and the Whale, Greenberg and Frances Ha, said he often shied away from shifting the tone and environment of the story in his movies. But with Mistress America, “we had the guts to try it,” he said.


Posted by Geoff at 1:36 AM CST
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Naomi Campbell (above) stars in Agent Provocateur's new campaign for spring/summer 2015, shot by Ellen von Unwerth. According to Fashion One's Stephanie Park, Agent Provocateur's creative director, Sarah Shotton, "was inspired by girl gangs and 1960s pulp fiction novels. She became fascinated with the idea of the 'perfect crime,' and cast Campbell to get away with it." Several articles, apparently sourcing from the same press release, highlight that the campaign is inspired by David Lynch's Lost Highway and Brian De Palma's Body Double. "Shotton became inspired by the different identities that women are portrayed as possessing," writes Park, "facets that have been described by the brand as 'coy, duplicitous, siren, [and] saint.'” Park quotes Shotton as saying, "Naomi and Ellen were perfect for this as they both have such strong, individual personalities that work well together. We chose Ellen as her aesthetic mirrors the sensual, mysterious undertones of the campaign concept impeccably."

Posted by Geoff at 11:08 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 11:30 PM CST
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Thursday, November 27, 2014
BAMcinématek in Brooklyn began a "Sunshine Noir" film series last night (Wednesday) with a screening of William Friedkin's To Live and Die in L.A. Brian De Palma's Body Double is included in the series, and will screen this Tuesday, December 2nd. The series "explores what happens when noir steps out of the shadows and into the neon-lit boulevards of LA," according to the BAM website. "Burrowing beyond the glitz and glamour of Tinseltown, these hard-boiled tales of outsiders and antiheroes expose the seedy underbelly of the City of Angels." There are almost too many great movies in the series to name them all here, but today and tomorrow, Roman Polanski's Chinatown will play, and on December 8 will be Paul Thomas Anderson's new film, Inherent Vice.

In previewing the series, Blouin Art Info's Craig Hubert states, "Noir was born in Southern California." Here is an excerpt in which Hubert discusses several of the films in the series, including Body Double:
The cynicism of “Chinatown” opened up the floodgates for a new strain of bitter Sunshine Noir. But there were also increasing levels of pollution and the emergence of postmodern architecture in Los Angeles (the glass cylinders of the Bonaventure Hotel were constructed between 1974 and 1976) that made the city feel more inhuman. As we crossed into the 1980s, and the former Governor of California was the President of the United States, Sunshine Noir took the city’s nickname, “The Big Orange,” quite literally. William Friedkin’s “To Live and Die in L.A” (1985), screening on November 26, presents a city cast under an atomic tangerine sky as if illuminated by a Dan Flavin fluorescent glow. Demarcated lines of good and evil were completely eroded, with police officers performing robberies and artists counterfeiting money in their painting studio. Jim McBride’s pop-art remake of Godard’s “Breathless” (1983), screening on December 4, takes place in a candy colored Los Angeles where past and present, the Hollywood myth and the tarnished reality, have collided. Both films end ambiguously, portraying Los Angeles as an inescapable landscape of continual violence.

The first sign that the bitterness of the post-“Chinatown” era of Sunshine Noir was mutating once again was Brian De Palma’s “Body Double” (1984), screening December 2, which used John Lautner’s Chemosphere as the swank bachelor pad of the main character, a struggling b-movie actor, and the site where he witnesses a murder. The new sanitized Los Angeles of glass buildings is just a veneer for the city’s inherent seediness, where blood can still stain your minimalist furniture. Michael Mann’s "Heat” (1995), screening on November 6, is the prime result of this shift. The bloated crime drama fully takes place in this Los Angeles, where crimes of passion have been completely erased by crimes of commerce — everything is a transaction, everything is business. Criminals and cops can sit down for a meeting at a diner and nobody blinks and eye. They are practically interchangeable, and both sides have shootouts in the business district wearing Versace suits. Sunshine Noir takes on a different meaning here. The light of Los Angeles is a false light, illuminated from the inside of sprawling towers. A different, softer glow, but nothing has changed.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice” (2014), screening December 8, opens up a new chapter, once again looking to the past. Adapted from the novel by Thomas Pynchon, it presents a vision of Los Angeles that has not stopped believing in its own myths but completely wigged out on an overdose of them. Hippiedom is just another variation of the tangled lie of prosperity, and Pynchon’s world is one of confusion and paranoia. This is Sunshine Noir pushed to absurdist proportions, where the most far-fetched conspiracies suddenly seem possible, and the rotten core of the municipality stretches beyond the city limits. But it’s also the Sunshine Noir that speaks to our present condition. Take a look at the news and you’ll realize it’s closer to the truth than you want to admit.


Posted by Geoff at 1:00 AM CST
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Brian De Palma's Body Double, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, will screen Tuesday, September 16th, at the W Hotel London in Leicester Square, as the final film of Little White Lies' "Around The World In Eight Films" series. According to the web site, Body Double was chosen to represent the USA because: "Melanie Griffiths' porn star character is called Holly Body," and "the molten sexual charge and vicarious bodily pleasures are but window dressing for a film that's Hitchcockian thriller on one level and — on a more elevated one — a playful metatextual exploration on the seedy side of cinema." Guests arriving at 6:30 pm will receive a complimentary themed cocktail and a box of popcorn. The film will begin at 7pm.

Other films in the series included John Mackenzie's The Long Good Friday (England), Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless (France), Michelangelo Antonioni's L'Eclisse (Italy), Jan Švankmajer's Alice (Czech Republic), Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's Black Narcissus (representing India), Akira Kurosawa's Ran (Japan), and David Michôd's Animal Kingdom (Australia).

Posted by Geoff at 12:23 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 9:34 PM CDT
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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Posted by Geoff at 12:04 AM CDT
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