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"What I was
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films in order to
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say, 'Well, what
happens if I have no
resources?' Now, having
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people haven't seen
for a while."

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and direct

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-De Palma's new
project with
Said Ben Said

-De Palma to team
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De Palma interviewed
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Sunday, October 14, 2012
MORE VIDEO FROM DE PALMA/BAUMBACH TALK
DE PALMA SAYS HE DOESN'T KNOW IF HIS PARENTS EVER SAW 'HOME MOVIES'
"THEY NEVER SAID A THING TO ME ABOUT IT"



After Noah Baumbach talks a bit about autobiographical elements in his own films (in which he notes that is is most often things no one would think are autobiographical that actually are autobiographical), moderator Scott Foundas asks Brian De Palma if he specifically looked for someone who resembled himself ("the you that you wished you had been at that age?") when he cast Keith Gordon in Dressed To Kill. "Well, we made Home Movies first," De Palma replies, "and that's where we found Keith. And then, he was such a good actor that when I was writing Dressed To Kill, I wrote the part for him. And of course, he went on to be quite a good director, too. It was quite an experience developing him, because he's extremely talented."

Foundas persists, "But did he in some way remind you of yourself at that age...?" De Palma replies, looking over at Baumbach, "Well, I don't think it's that... I don't think you think that way. [Baumbach nods in agreement.] You just, you know... you're not the best specter on yourself, you know. I think what happens when people make autobiographical films, the problem is they have the least insight into themselves sometimes. They usually miscast themselves. {Laughter from stage and audience.] You know, it's like, 'Why did you use that person? That's nothing like you.' And I think you have kind of blind spots about that to some extent."

The discussion in the rest of the video gets into the process of finding locations (and which comes first, the location or the idea). Here, De Palma stresses that if you're willing to do the work, you can find visually striking places that will look good on camera. "And I've told this to my film students, too: You've got to walk the location. And you should physically shoot every angle you're going to use, because if you can't take a picture of it, and it doesn't look right, don't use it. So I haunt the location, I walk all around it, and then when I finally think that it works for what I want to do, then you can also shoot video, too, having the actors walk in the different places. I mean, this is something, if you are hard-working enough, you can test out everything. Certainly in the day of the digital cameras, there's no excuses for having a crummy location. What I find in so much of what I see, all the time, is like, nobody's thinking about what anything looks like. I mean, you know, New York: helicopter shot of New York. Wow. [Laughter] Now there's an idea. I mean, I think they did it in the thirties, maybe the twenties, I mean, how many helicopter shots have you seen of Manhattan? You know, or a car driving up to a house. And also, in the beginning of movies, where they waste all this time, of, you know, coming into the city. You see the second unit going out there, shooting all those, you know, arriving in New York, arriving in Chicago, and all the titles go across. The audience is, in the beginning of a movie, you're ready for anything. You're all excited. And suddenly you start seeing this terrible travelogue... [Laughter]. Drives me crazy."

After Baumbach speaks a bit about beginnings of films, Foundas explains that he is now going to show a clip from Baumbach's Margot At The Wedding and a clip from De Palma's Carlito's Way. In each clip, Foundas' focus is on the introduction of a character: Margot in the first, and Penelope Ann Miller's Gail in the second.


Posted by Geoff at 11:37 AM CDT
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Thursday, August 9, 2012
DE PALMA TALKS TURKEYS
FORMER STUDENT SAYS DE PALMA "CONSTANTLY REFERRED TO ALL HIS FILMS AS TURKEYS"
The Oregonian News Network posted an interview with Anne Richardson, who runs the blog Oregon Movies, A to Z. Richardson indicates in the interview that she is a former student of Brian De Palma. It seems most likely that she would have been involved in the class De Palma taught at Sarah Lawrence College in 1979, where he taught students how to make a film by making Home Movies with them. In the Oregonian interview, Richardson is asked to tell her favorite story about the movies. "At film school," Richardson replies, "Prof. Brian De Palma constantly referred to all his films as 'turkeys'. When I was making my thesis film, I called him up to ask for advice on one particular shot. I was hugely honored when, as he was answering my question, he began referring to my film as a turkey."

Posted by Geoff at 10:54 PM CDT
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Monday, June 6, 2011
GET TO KNOW YOUR RABBITS & BEAVERS
SPIELBERG-PRODUCED SERIES MAKES SLY NOD TO DE PALMA'S 'HOME MOVIES'
In his review of Jodi Foster's The Beaver last month, Armond White makes mention of "the genial psychosis" of Harvey and the "ribald bunny rabbit Nancy Allen used as her unleashed id in the shrewdly titled filmmaking satire Home Movies." At the end of that latter film, directed by Brian De Palma, Allen discards her bunny, and it is picked up by a younger girl, and the bunny begins working on her id, as well. De Palma echoes this ending at the conclusion of Raising Cain when Jack brings Amy a bunny, and she drops it as she heads into the woods, where she is sure she can sense her father waiting for her.

The Steven Spielberg-produced Showtime series The United States Of Tara stars Toni Collette as a mother with multiple personalities. On a recent episode ("What Happens in the Corn Maze, Stays in the Corn Maze!"), Tara walks through a corn maze holding a bunny before her mind is taken over by the infantile "Chicken," who runs away and is eventually found sans bunny laying in a corn crib. At the episode's conclusion, Tara has a sudden feeling and goes back to the corn crib. Finding the bunny has been shredded, she is overcome with the knowledge that "Chicken" is dead-- one of her other personalities appears to have killed her.

The bunny seems a deliberate homage by Spielberg to De Palma's Home Movies, and, perhaps, to Raising Cain as well. Spielberg previously nodded to Home Movies about a decade ago with a key shot in The Terminal. In an interview with Vulture's Patti Greco last month, United States Of Tara creator Diablo Cody said that Spielberg is "always incredibly involved in everything he does. He does not just put his name on something. His soul and his input were with Tara throughout the entire journey, and I can’t believe I had the privilege of working with him." With his hands-on approach, Spielberg appears to have inserted a sly homage to De Palma's cinema. Unfortunately, United States Of Tara was canceled by Showtime last month, and is now playing out its final season.


Posted by Geoff at 8:54 AM CDT
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Saturday, April 3, 2010
HOME MOVIES GETS SOME LOVE
AND A BLOGGER GETS THE "DE PALMA LECTURE" FROM HER MOTHER
I Fry Mine In Butter's snarkysmachine has posted a highly entertaining summary of her feelings about Brian De Palma and her favorite film of his, Home Movies. There are also some words about getting the "De Palma lecture" from her mother:

My mother enjoys BDeP but must first always preface this by reminding me and anyone else in earshot that he does that violent sex/sexy violence thing and denounce his misogyny and obsession with violence. Then will proceed to wax on and on about The Untouchables.

It goes a little something like this:

“Oh that De Palma” said in a tone very similar to one a person might use to say, “Oh that Eddie Haskell!” Usually there’s a sigh and depending on the film the lecture might be deeply reflective or deeply dismissive. To be fair, any version is great, but the one used when a really provocative BDeP film is mentioned, just happens to be my favorite.

“Brian De Palma does that sexy violence/violent sexy thing and some times he just goes too far!” This always sound like a dissatisfied client complaining about her favorite hairdresser. The lecture is often riddled with caveats and grammatical landmines. Say the wrong thing and KABOOM.

I always say, “That’s so true, Ma.” because I don’t actually call her La Mommie and because, of course, it’s the right answer. Like me, La Mommie can seem deceptively lightweight when discussing pop culture, but she’s not. Heck, she made me the BDeP and Kube fan I am today. Yeah, send your complaint letters there. Though, I should also point out I gets my mellow harshing powers from her as well.

The lecture – if we’re getting the unabridged version – then goes on to compare and contrast his films in order to effectively illustrate her point. There is usually mention of Caine in drag, Connery crawling across the floor dragging his vital organs behind him and possibly – if the dogs haven’t started any herky jerky – a mention of the “race against the sun” scene in Bram Stroker’s Dracula, which while not being a De Palma film, is one of HER favorite scenes, thus applicable to any discussion (even when it’s not).

“And the way Sean Connery just played that scene,” she might say, “he really earned that Oscar. He did win it for that, right? Still, I don’t think we needed all of that!” All of that, meaning the blood, the crawling on the floor, the vital organs trailing behind like streamers and the seventeen thousand shotgun blasts it took to win the Oscar.

Speaking of The Untouchables, snarkysmachine states that she likes to watch that film, but only while folding laundry and organizing her closet.


Posted by Geoff at 11:51 PM CDT
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