DISCUSSES "HYPERREAL LOOK" OF 'BONFIRE', AND SAYS IT HAS SAME "SATIRIC THRUST" AS HIS EARLIER FILMS SUCH AS 'HI, MOM!' & 'RABBIT'
Hello and welcome to the unofficial Brian De Palma website.
Here is the latest news:
his recent films:
"What I was
trying to do with
those films was to
make three student
films in order to
try and set a new
trajectory and try to
say, 'Well, what
happens if I have no
resources?' Now, having
done that, my new
work is going to be
much more ambitious
and bigger in scope and
budget and ambition,
but now building on a
new confidence or
assurance. The three
little films were very
useful. I'm glad I did
it. I hope George Lucas
does it, because he
has a wonderful personal
filmmaking ability that
people haven't seen
for a while."
a la Mod:
Upcoming films in the series include three documentaries and a drama: Alex Gibney's Client 9, Charles Ferguson's Inside Job, Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story, and Oliver Stone's Wall Street. Previously this semester, the series screened Orson Welles' Citizen Kane and Alan J. Pakula's Rollover.
Payne: True. It’s often about compromise. I’m able to make this black-and-white movie because the studio has faith in me, but I’m having to do it with much less budget than I originally asked for had it been in colour. Little tip: it’s always worth over estimating the budget because there’ll always be cutbacks. This is now my fourth film in a row that will make money, so I do have that track record. They’re not huge hits by Hollywood standards, but they make money, so I get the benefit of the doubt more or less.
But you keep your budgets low, also.
Correct. Neat fact: I’ve never gone over budget or over schedule.
This is until you make the ‘big one’…
Bite your tongue. Brian De Palma, after [The] Bonfire of the Vanities, was quoted as saying, jokingly of course, ‘You’re nobody in Hollywood until you’ve brought a studio to its knees’.
Is it possible to recover from a major flop?
Maybe, but it’s hard. Michael Cimino had a hard time after Heaven’s Gate.
Is the fear of tanking motivating or crippling?
Anytime you have a movie that doesn’t do well, which [knocks table] I haven’t had so far, is always worrisome. But I think maybe if this one does well then people may think ‘Well even if he has a gap, he’s still got it’. Who knows…
ALAN RUDOLPH: "BRIAN DE PALMA SAID ONE OF THE GREATEST THINGS I'VE EVER HEARD"
Payne's De Palma quote above led me to Google the quote, and the only thing I came up with was this great article about Alan Rudolph's Trixie that was originally posted at About.com, but now only seems to be available at The Fabulous Brittany Murphy Fan Page. The article, by J. Sperling Reich, features interviews with Rudolph and Nick Nolte (among others) as their new movie, Trixie, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2000. In the following excerpt, Nolte leads into a discussion about the ironies of success and failure in Hollywood:
Nolte is surprised Rudolph ever had any doubt of his abilities as a filmmaker. "There isn't a thing he wants to do that he doesn't do," he said of Rudolph. "He does everything he wants to do. Now another brilliant director will complain, and will say, 'Well I wanted to do that but they wouldn't do it.' Well, to Alan, there is no 'they'. He just does it. He doesn't care about the arena, and the reason the other guys can't do it is because they care about the arena, not about the film."
Not all of Rudolph's seventeen films have been critically well received, and few have ever been big winners at the box office, a fact that Nolte shrugged off. "Failure is very important," he added. "I mean, Alan uses it as a metaphor, he says, 'I have never had a successful film, therefore I get to do anything I want'."
Rudolph began to laugh when he heard Nolte start in on this line of reasoning. He broke in before things got out of hand again, "We had a fun time one night at some festival, and Brian De Palma said one of the greatest things I've ever heard. He said, 'You're nothing until you've brought a studio to its knees'. And Nick said, 'You know why Alan's a success? Because he's never had any [success] and he doesn't need it. They think he's a failure, but he's a real success because he doesn't have to deal with that.' I don't know what success is. Success in Hollywood is if they think you are. I've left that game years ago. I can't imagine anybody more successful, maybe because I managed to figure out how to get my movies made. I must say, except for a few missteps early on, no one has ever told me what to do. I won't accept that. I've had more articles written about me. About, 'How the hell does this guy keep going?' Angry, jealous, bitter articles. Because it means I get to work with people like this. And I'm just starting to get good at this game inside."
“And what happened was two things: Number one, Warner Brothers completely undermined Brian’s casting of the picture. I don’t remember who all of the people were meant to be. Tom [Hanks] was in, that was OK. But, you know, Bruce Willis, that part was supposed to be played by Michael Caine. There were other casting choices that Warner Brothers totally interfered with, and [the studio] threatened to throw Brian off of the picture if he didn’t comply.
And then, finally, like three weeks or two weeks before we started shooting, they gave us the news that the film had to be two hours. It had to be under two hours. So, what was a really terrific script, and what would have made probably a very good movie, ended up being edited down in the space of 48 hours. I mean, we just cut the sh*t out of the script. And, what happened, because of that, was it took on a kind of broader, cartoon sort of feel that just didn’t work. It just didn’t work. Because, you know, when you’ve got something that’s filled with detail and you take out all of the detail and make it shorter, it just got broader, broader, broader and broader.
“I think that’s what did it: It was 180 pages of script that we had to cut down to like 110. And we didn’t have the time to do it. There was no time do it. You know, we didn’t have four or five weeks, we had to do it overnight. I’ve actually never read the book that Salamon wrote, The Devil’s Candy. I’ve actually never read it because I manged to avoid her during the entire shoot. [Laughs] So I know a lot of other stuff went on, but the basic problem, that was it, as far as I was concerned. I look at it now and I realize the script is ruined, so the movie is ruined.”
Meanwhile, the blogger at MovieShlep thinks Bonfire Of The Vanities deserves a second look.
Each take was a full 500' and the shot was over when the end of the film flapped through the gate.
I wanted a device to let Bruce pass by me a little too close to the camera for focus in the elevator, and he came up with the idea of scooping up some Salmon Mousse, and twirling a little drunkenly past me. This also delayed the action enough for the rest of the crew (same group as before except for Larry H. and the boom woman with a wireless boom mike who rode with me) to exit the elevator next to us. They were timing their elevator to synchronize with ours on the way up to maintain a good RF link to the mixer. If the elevators rose side by side it worked fine, otherwise complete dropout. After exiting, I wanted to get back in front of Bruce so he came up with the Mousse Toss onto the wall thereby backing away from the camera enough to allow me to make a clean exit. There were many other devices like this throughout that I came up with to make the shot flow... I figure the more work everyone else does, and the less work I have to do, the better it will look...
(Thanks to Rado!)
That's a very interesting thing because, when we were making it, that movie was huge. We couldn't make a move anywhere in New York City. Everyone was talking about it: "They took this book that had entered into the national consciousness and now they're making a film out of it and everybody is miscast!" Everybody was miscast, me particularly. Brian De Palma deals with iconography more than filmmaking. He is the most uncompromising filmmaker-- both in a good way and a bad way-- that you'll ever come across. This is the guy who made Scarface. Motherfucking Scarface. So his take on it was just one of those things. You can't take a book like that, that has changed the way people talk and think-- Masters Of The Universe, Styrofoam peanuts, and $900,000 a year and still going broke-- and change it into a palatable movie, or alter the thrust of what the source material is talking about. It may not translate in a way that is going to work.
(Since I could not find a scan of the Empire cover mentioned above, I dug up this American Cinematographer cover from the same period.)
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