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Saturday, September 6, 2014
TIFF NOTES - RED CARPET PICS, SCREENINGS, ETC.
'HAPPY VALLEY' SCREENWRITER DAVID MCKENNA ALSO INDICATES HE IS AT THE FESTIVAL
Brian De Palma is pictured here with his friend Greta Gerwig, who appears with Al Pacino in Barry Levinson's The Humbling, which had its North American premiere at the Toronto Film Festival Thursday. The photo is one of several taken by Jemal Countess that appear on the WireImage page of pics from the event. We can bet that Gerwig and De Palma will be in attendance for tonight's world premiere of Noah Baumbach's While We're Young.

Another interesting note: Pacino and De Palma are working on bringing the Joe Paterno story Happy Valley to the screen, and in a message posted on his Twitter page Friday, that film's screenwriter, David McKenna, wrote, "Bill Murray Day here in Toronto." And indeed, Friday September 5th was Bill Murray Day at TIFF, during which it held free screenings of three Bill Murray classics, leading up to last night's world premiere of Murray's new film, Theodore Melfi's St. Vincent. Seriously wowed, Deadline's Pete Hammond says it has the best performance of Murray's career.

'FORCE MAJEURE'

According to a tweet posted by Ethaniel Vestby, De Palma also attended a Friday morning screening of Ruben Östlund's Force Majeure, which has been well-received by critics. "Östlund masterfully manages the marital tensions that drive the film's plot forward," writes The House Next Door's Tomas Hachard, "while imbuing the scenario with these carefully layered philosophical reflections. He tells us as much visually as through the dialogue and is all the more powerful for that restraint. The static and uncut shot of the avalanche lets Tomas's dash stand out within the larger panic of the situation without grossly accentuating it. Throughout the film, Östlund contrasts wide-angle, magisterial outdoor shots of Tomas and his family skiing—free, as it were, in the grand isolation of nature—with tightly framed shots of the family together inside the hotel, cramped against each other and breaking through the margins of the frame. There's hardly a moment when Östlund's command of tone and pacing, his clarity of expression, isn't on display, all of which makes Force Majeure thrilling, intellectual, and beautiful at once. With time, the film digs ever deeper into the frayed psyches of its characters, and if the finale doesn't leave us mired in a confused battle of humans against their worst instincts, it certainly leaves us wrangling with any illusion that civilized behavior is a natural instinct."

'NIGHTCRAWLER'

A couple of TIFF reviews so far have briefly mentioned De Palma in interesting ways (or at least, in ways that may be of interest). CraveOnline's Brian Formo says that "Jake Gyllenhaal is creepy, and very funny" in Dan Gilroy's Nightcrawler. Formo writes that "while an 'it bleeds it leads' tv news critique has been done numerous times, Gilroy has his sights set on a film that’s more Brian De Palma than Network. As [Gyllenhaal's] Lou works exclusively at night to feed Nina’s late night segments, he becomes a scavenger, searching for bodies and consuming their last breaths with his camera. In a world where people feel like access to everything private will create a better story he begins entering the homes of the victims. He becomes interested in framing shots. It starts with moving family photos on a fridge to being placed in between two bullet holes. It will escalate to creating shootout situations so that he can be there to film the high speed pursuit. And he legitimizes everything because they’re all a means to expand his business model.

"Gyllenhaal lost weight for Nighcrawler. He’s slender as a snake. His eyes are puffy. We never see him eat. Even when he takes Nina out to a Mexican restaurant in an uncomfortable quid pro quos scene (maybe he’s been reading some men’s rights blogs). The reason why he’s closer to De Niro’s Pupkin than Travis Bickle is that, while he is lonely, he’s aware that one has to try to be likable in order to succeed. So he smiles a lot and often at the wrong time. He’s extra-composed and aware when he’s being filmed by a security camera. And he performs for people like he’s always mugging for an uncaring camera.

"What makes Nightcrawler enjoyable is that Gyllenhaal finds humor in his role without ever making fun of his character. It’s actually a very funny performance. Lou can convince people that his methods are sound because he delivers them with a soft voice that can also aggregate various quick-source news articles on the spot for some sort of leverage. And longtime screenwriter, first-time director Gilroy (here armed with Paul Thomas Anderson’s main cinematographer Robert Elswit) films one hell of a meta shootout and police chase. Lou already seemed uncomfortably desensitized to dead bodies. But his interest in finding the right mis en scene for his increasingly staged scenarios that has dead bodies created in front of him is deliciously macabre."

PLAY WITHIN 'CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA' RESEMBLES 'LOVE CRIME'

Meanwhile, Twitch's Kurt Halfyard notes the story of Olivier Assayas' Clouds of Sils Maria includes a play that "bears remarkable similarity to Alain Corneau's final film, Love Crime (which was recently remade by Brian De Palma as Passion.)" Rado points out for us that Sylvie Barthet, who has worked as a producer on several of Assayas' films, was also a producer on De Palma's Passion. Describing the plot of Assayas' latest, Halfyard writes, "In Clouds of Sils Maria, he has Juliette Binoche playing a fictional version of herself named Maria Enders. An actress at a point in her career where she is an international movie [star] who did a stint in Hollywood blockbusters before returning to the European art house and stage. A young director asks her to appear in his revival of the play that made her famous, only this time she will be playing the broken-down wealthy businesswoman part instead of the aggressive and domineering young personal assistant who sexually dominates the stage...

"The middle portion of Clouds of Sils Maria, the best portion of the film, sees Enders living in isolation in the Swiss mountains, negotiating a messy divorce and occasionally going for a hike all the while rehearsing the part with her own personal assistant. Kristen Stewart in tangled hair and random tattoos, exuding the casual confidence and 'above-it-all' attitude that often gets the Twilight-actress excruciated by the media at Awards shows, delivers a convincing, performance as the personal assistant, Valentine.

"The rehearsal starts to mimic the content of the play, in subtle ways, only with many more messy complications. Enders is trying to play the older part, but cannot shake her desire and her memories of the younger. There is possible sexual attraction between Binoche and Stewart, but really it is more about the envy of unfettered freedom of youth, as opposed to the obligation and baggage of age.

"An overly simple read of the film would be that the personal assistant is merely a figment of the actress's psyche. Assays peppers the visual language of the film with many hints and visual cues, notably strange cellphone reception on a train in the films opening, and a stylized double-exposed driving sequence when Stewart returns from a sexual tryst with a photographer and vomits on the side of the road. Clouds of Sils Maria would make a curious double-bill with Binoche's other recent breezy self-reflective puzzle, Certified Copy. You can try to parse the details of what is going on in both films, but really you should just sit back and take in the universal human bits that make both films great. The truth however, that cinema is an object, and our own perspective, and viewpoints shape what is perceived to be going on, is the brain of the film, while Juliette Binoche essaying an aging actress grappling with this, is the heart.

"The emotionally vulnerable aging actress is also obsessed with the young Hollywood tabloid train wreck who is cast in the role that made Enders famous. A small role occupied by Chloe-Grace Moretz has some fun with TMZ internet celebrity, old-timer european paparazzo, and pop-blockbuster cinema. There is even a silly, sci-fi action movie created in the film, featuring Moretz's character that is exposition heavy to the point of hilarity."


Posted by Geoff at 2:42 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, September 8, 2014 4:29 PM CDT
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Thursday, September 4, 2014
MORE PICS FROM PACINO GALA
AND DE PALMA ATTENDED TIFF SCREENING OF 'THE HUMBLING' THURSDAY


The National Post's Ishmael N. Daro posted some pictures Thursday from the Al Pacino-focused charity gala Wednesday night. Above, from left to right: TIFF Director Piers Handling, Ivan Reitman, Norman Jewison, Al Pacino, Brian De Palma and Barry Levinson.

Meanwhile, according to Roger Friedman's Showbiz 411, De Palma attended a screening of Levinson's Pacino-starring The Humbling on Thursday. "Famed novelist Philip Roth really owes Oscar winning director Barry Levinson," Friedman states in his recap. "The Rain Man director has made a stellar, quirky, and really hilarious film out of Roth’s novel The Humbling. I think it’s Levinson’s best work in years, hugely accomplished for its mixed tones of utter zaniness and comic beauty.

"Al Pacino is simply outstanding as Simon Axler, a fading self obsessed famous theater actor who does a swan dive off a Broadway stage and announces his retirement. At a country house he falls into a relationship with Pegeen (luminous Greta Gerwig), daughter of his friends (Dianne Wiest and Dan Hedaya). Nina Arianda has a scene stealing recurring role as a super fan Simon meets in a psychiatric hospital.

"The audience last night at the Elgin loved this film. No less a presence than Brian DePalma was in the theater. You know a movie’s good when the introductory speech is short– no horsing around, just 'here’s the movie.' When Levinson and Pacino made quick remarks, I thought, wow, they know what they’ve got and they want us to see it. Not to be missed is a hilarious scene in a veterinarian’s waiting room. It recalls the tone of Levinson’s Wag the Dog."


Posted by Geoff at 11:51 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, September 5, 2014 6:55 PM CDT
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Wednesday, September 3, 2014
TIFF RED CARPET PHOTOS - CHARITY GALA
THESE AND MORE POSTED AT O.Canada.com - Kenai Andrews blog


Posted by Geoff at 8:08 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 3, 2014 8:10 PM CDT
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PACINO ON STAGE TONIGHT AT PRE-TIFF EVENT
DE PALMA, LEVINSON, JEWISON WILL ALSO BE PRESENT
Al Pacino is pictured here from the Venice Film Festival this past weekend, where he made a big splash with two world premiere movies. Now tonight (Wednesday), he will be in Toronto, where, according to The Star's Martin Knelman, Pacino will be interviewed on stage by George Stroumboulopoulos in a fundraising event related to the Toronto International Film Festival, which officially kicks off Thursday. In his article, Knelman adds, "Three famous directors who have worked with Pacino will also be present: Barry Levinson, Norman Jewison and Brian De Palma." Pacino and De Palma are revving up to shoot their third film together, the Joe Paterno picture, Happy Valley.

ZACHAREK: PACINO'S "PERFORMANCE IN 'CARLITO'S WAY' IS THE ZENITH HE'LL NEVER TOP"
Pacino stars in Levinson's new movie, The Humbling, which will have its North American premiere at TIFF Thursday night. Based on a Philip Roth novel that Pacino had acquired the rights to, the film had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival last weekend, where it moved LA Weekly's Stephanie Zacharek to compare it to one of Pacino's De Palma performances. "The Humbling," writes Zacharek, "...is a bracing and fascinating piece of work, a movie made by an old man, about an old man, starring an old man, from source material written by an old man. Those factors aren’t a liability – they’re what give The Humbling its bittersweet vitality. Pacino is marvelous here – he writes in big, loud loops, as usual, and just when you want to suggest that maybe, just for a bit, he might try to use his Indoor Voice, he pulls himself back to reveal the gruff, subterranean grandeur that made him a great actor in the first place. [Greta] Gerwig is the weak link here: She doesn’t have the aura of hauteur you need to play the womanly schemer – there’s nothing remotely mysterious about her. But Pacino makes us believe that there is: When he looks at her, he’s an anguished lion with a thorn in his paw – his eyes hold the weary truth that if love will kill you, not loving at all will kill you quicker. Pacino is so good at being lovesick that, even if his performance in Carlito’s Way is the zenith he’ll never top, it’s still a deep, shivery pleasure to watch him play a man consumed with love. If we ever get too old for that, it’s the end of movies as we know them."

Zacharek liked (loved) The Humbling much more than she did Pacino's other Venice world premiere, David Gordon Green's Manglehorn. However, some critics seemed to have the reverse opinion about each of these. In his review of Manglehorn, The Guardian's Xan Brooks writes, "Pacino's Manglehorn is a subtle master class in neutral shading, with none of the garish flashes that sometimes bedevil his work. The actor's natural tendency is to hit for the fences and crank up the volume, often magnificently (Dog Day Afternoon), occasionally not (The Scent of a Woman). But Manglehorn provides him with a grand late renaissance, a fresh string to his bow. It takes the splenetic livewire of American film and installs him as condemned human property, boarded up and fenced off. The irony is that, by playing this wreck, Pacino looks as vital and exciting as he did in his pomp."

[Note: In July of last year, De Palma appeared on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight, where he talked about Passion, played around with the idea of texting during dates, discussed the lack of a current counterculture in film, Robert De Niro, and quotes from Scarface.]


Posted by Geoff at 5:12 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, September 4, 2014 7:16 AM CDT
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Sunday, October 9, 2011
TIFF 2011 WRAP-UP
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
No, That's not Brian De Palma pictured at left, but Ralph Fiennes, who, as Malene Arpe notes, "kinda looks like Brian De Palma." Fiennes was at the Toronto International Film Festival with his directorial debut, Coriolanus, which sets the play by William Shakespeare in contemporary Europe.

We don't know whether or not De Palma had a chance to catch that film while he was at the festival, but, thanks to various tweets and other posts online, we're aware of about a handful of screenings the director was spotted at last month. According to indieWIRE's Meredith Brody, De Palma attended a screening of Bruno Dumont’s Outside Satan on the first day of the festival (September 8th). Brody writes that the film, which she likes, is classic Dumont: "simple rural people in pastoral landscapes, interesting compositions, brutal sex, brutal violence, brutal religion." At the screening, Brody met up with Atom Egoyan and his wife, Arsinée Khanjian, and they all ran into De Palma outside the theater. Brody told De Palma that she was looking forward to seeing A Separation, but De Palma had to be at the Talent Lab later that night at the time of that screening.

Later into the festival, De Palma was spotted with his friend, filmmaker Noah Baumbach (who interviewed De Palma for Criterion’s recent Blow Out package) at a screening of Whit Stillman’s Damsels In Distress. On another day, De Palma was spotted at a screening of ”an Egyptian doc” that was most likely Tahrir 2011: The Good, The Bad and the Politician, a three part documentary that looks at the recent uprising in Egypt from the points of view of three Cairo-based filmmakers.

In his entry on Fandor’s TIFF wrap-up, Slant’s Simon Abrams wrote about seeing De Palma twice:

Seeing Brian De Palma (twice!) at the festival was frankly more thrilling than several of the films I saw at the festival. Seeing him seated just across the aisle from me at Dark Horse, Todd Solondz’s newest and maybe best film, was a delight. Mostly because I identify with Solondz’s latest to a freakish degree and think its a potent and deeply unnerving film. But also because I could look straight ahead and freak out one way and then look to my right and freak out another. Diversity rules.

De Palma was later spotted at a screening of Terence DaviesThe Deep Blue Sea. John R. Kennedy noted that “Fans outside Intercontinental on Front don't recognize iconic director Brian De Palma as he strolls past them.” Jesse Hawkin said it made his day when he got to “directly assist Brian De Palma.” Hawkin added, “Resisted the urge to thank him for all his great films.” And finally, the win for best tweet from the festival goes to Erik Childress, who wrote, “Earlier today saw Brian DePalma enter men's washroom and then exit immediately. Assume he saw no lesbians making out & just left.”


Posted by Geoff at 10:05 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, October 15, 2011 12:00 PM CDT
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Friday, September 9, 2011
DE PALMA TO TALENT LAB FILMMAKERS:
'YOU HAVE NO EXCUSES - YOU SHOULD ALL BE GOING OUT AND MAKING MOVIES'
The Montreal Gazette's T’Cha Dunlevy interviewed four of the twenty-four participants at this year's Talent Lab at the Toronto International Film Festival. All four participants seemed energized by Brian De Palma's one-hour talk to close the opening day of the workshop yesterday. Here is the first part of Dunlevy's article:

“It ended with Brian De Palma,” Halima Ouardiri said.

Her ’nuff-said reply came in response to my query about how the first day of the Toronto International Film Festival’s (TIFF) eighth annual Talent Lab had gone. Ouardiri and three other budding Montreal filmmakers – Omar Majeed, Catherine Chagnon and Mark Slutsky – are part of the four-day workshop that puts them and 20 other participants in close quarters with their idols.

Among Talent Lab’s guest speakers this year are Gus Van Sant, documentary icons Frederick Wiseman and Alfred Maysles, Fred Schepisi (Six Degrees Of Separation) and Davis Guggenheim (whose U2 doc From the Sky Down was the opening film of this year’s festival). But we’re getting ahead of ourselves – one at a time:

“(De Palma) was awesome,” Slutsky said, explaining how the director of such films as Scarface and Mission: Impossible had spent an hour with the group, sharing insights and telling stories. “He’s very, very smart – he’s obviously got a huge brain; and he’s pretty outspoken and honest.”

“He gave us notes,” Chagnon said, “very direct notes.”

“He said, ‘You have no excuses,’ ” Majeed continued. “‘You should all be going out and making movies.’”

Slutsky: “He also said, ‘If you can’t put a movie on a credit card, get financing from friends or make a movie with no money – give up!’ ” (General laughter.)

(Pictured above from left to right: Catherine Chagnon, Omar Majeed, Halima Ouardiri and Mark Slutsky.)

OTHER VISITS ON DAY ONE: SARAH POLLEY, FERNANDO MEIRELLES, JASON REITMAN
According to Dunlevy, day one began with an introduction by the three governors of this year's Talent Lab: Jason Reitman, documentary director Jennifer Baichwal, and Bingham Ray. The three governors "split their charges into groups for smaller discussions," according to Dunlevy. “They didn’t seem too prepared,” Slutsky told Dunlevy. “It was more, ‘What do you want to know?’” Other visitors included Sarah Polley (who brought along the crew from her new film, Take This Waltz) and Fernando Meirelles.


Posted by Geoff at 10:35 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, September 9, 2011 10:54 PM CDT
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DE PALMA TO TALENT LAB FILMMAKERS:

'YOU HAVE NO EXCUSES - YOU SHOULD ALL BE GOING OUT AND MAKING MOVIES'
The Montreal Gazette's T’Cha Dunlevy interviewed four of the twenty-four participants at this year's Talent Lab at the Toronto International Film Festival. All four participants seemed energized by Brian De Palma's one-hour talk to close the opening day of the workshop yesterday. Here is the first part of Dunlevy's article:

“It ended with Brian De Palma,” Halima Ouardiri said.

Her ’nuff-said reply came in response to my query about how the first day of the Toronto International Film Festival’s (TIFF) eighth annual Talent Lab had gone. Ouardiri and three other budding Montreal filmmakers – Omar Majeed, Catherine Chagnon and Mark Slutsky – are part of the four-day workshop that puts them and 20 other participants in close quarters with their idols.

Among Talent Lab’s guest speakers this year are Gus Van Sant, documentary icons Frederick Wiseman and Alfred Maysles, Fred Schepisi (Six Degrees Of Separation) and Davis Guggenheim (whose U2 doc From the Sky Down was the opening film of this year’s festival). But we’re getting ahead of ourselves – one at a time:

“(De Palma) was awesome,” Slutsky said, explaining how the director of such films as Scarface and Mission: Impossible had spent an hour with the group, sharing insights and telling stories. “He’s very, very smart – he’s obviously got a huge brain; and he’s pretty outspoken and honest.”

“He gave us notes,” Chagnon said, “very direct notes.”

“He said, ‘You have no excuses,’ ” Majeed continued. “‘You should all be going out and making movies.’”

Slutsky: “He also said, ‘If you can’t put a movie on a credit card, get financing from friends or make a movie with no money – give up!’ ” (General laughter.)

(Pictured above from left to right: Catherine Chagnon, Omar Majeed, Halima Ouardiri and Mark Slutsky.)

OTHER VISITS ON DAY ONE: SARAH POLLEY, FERNANDO MEIRELLES, JASON REITMAN
According to Dunlevy, day one began with an introduction by the three governors of this year's Talent Lab: Jason Reitman, documentary director Jennifer Baichwal, and Bingham Ray. The three governors "split their charges into groups for smaller discussions," according to Dunlevy. “They didn’t seem too prepared,” Slutsky told Dunlevy. “It was more, ‘What do you want to know?’” Other visitors included Sarah Polley (who brought along the crew from her new film, Take This Waltz) and Fernando Meirelles.


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Thursday, September 8, 2011
DE PALMA SPOKE AT TIFF TALENT LAB TODAY
WAS AT DEAUVILLE OVER THE WEEKEND, AS FESTIVAL SEASON HITS FULL SWING
Brian De Palma is pictured speaking at the Talent Lab at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier today, the first day of the festival. This year's TIFF will include the premiere of Paul Williams Still Alive, a documentary by Stephen Kessler. Colin Geddes provides a TIFF description of the film, which premieres this Sunday (De Palma's birthday)...

With songs about loneliness and his outsider persona, Williams struck a chord with many, including director Stephen Kessler. When he began to investigate his childhood idol, Kessler was surprised to learn that Williams is still very much alive, and set out to make a documentary. Williams allows Kessler to accompany him on his travels, but the director soon discovers that his subject isn’t the same man from television that he once idolized.

Despite Kessler’s initial plan to stay behind the camera, Williams coaxes him out, and Kessler becomes part of the story. He follows Williams from small hotel gigs to celebrity golf tournaments to a stadium show in the Philippines — where the downright manic and nervous director must accompany Williams on a six-hour bus ride through a terrorist-infested jungle to get to a gig. During this expedition, their strained relationship helps shape a candid examination of an artist who fought against his own drug-fuelled ego run amok and then became more in love with the attention than the music.

Paul Williams Still Alive is both a rollicking pop-culture flashback filled with great television and performance clips, and the humorous journey of an awkward documentarian and his reluctant subject. Yet it ultimately evolves into the touching tale of a man who has made peace with the beast that fame and celebrity awoke.

DE PALMA PICTURED AT DEAUVILLE
De Palma was photographed at the Deauville Film Festival in France over the weekend, courtesy News De Stars.


Posted by Geoff at 11:57 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, September 8, 2011 11:58 PM CDT
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Saturday, September 18, 2010
TORONTO TIDBITS
JULIA'S EYES, DETECTIVE DEE, BANG BANG CLUB, AND MORE BLACK SWAN
The Toronto International Film Festival winds down this weekend, and Brian De Palma was spotted as recently as yesterday, when Guardian critic David Cox tweeted that De Palma was sitting behind him at a screening for Tsui Hark's Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame. Regarding De Palma, Cox tweeted, "Don't think there's time to get him to explain FEMME FATALE." Regarding the film, which is said to have stunning visuals, Cox tweeted that it "was a flamboyant way to bring my festival to a close. It even had fire turtles." On Monday (September 13th), Empire Movies' Liam Cullin tweeted that he saw De Palma waiting in line for a screening of Steven Silver's gonzo journalist film The Bang Bang Club, which Screen Daily's Mark Adams was quite impressed by. Based on true events, The Bang Bang Club follows "a band of freewheeling, hard-partying, daredevil photographers in South Africa of 1994, in the turbulent moments of the final days of apartheid" according to Adams. "The sequences of them photographing the violence around them," writes Adams, "a violence the[y] start to become immune to – is wonderfully staged, and a scene of Ryan stumbling onto a brutal photograph of a killing that will win him a Pulitzer Prize is quite memorable. So too a similar (though very different) scene where Carter travels to the Sudan and take a photo of a starving girl stalked by a menacing vulture, which will eventually win a Pulitzer for him as well."

BLACK SWAN
Meanwhile, De Palma' name keeps popping up in reviews of Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan. Empire critic Damon Wide on Monday blogged, after seeing Black Swan in Toronto, that "At the moment, the film, for me, is still too fresh to filter, but I suspect that once it has settled, and I've stopped wondering why it reminded me of films as diverse as Brian De Palma's Sisters, P&P's Black Narcissus and John Cassavetes' Opening Night, it will reveal itself as a film of great power and longevity." Jorge Mourinha calls Aronofsy's film a "smart shocker of the sort Brian de Palma knew how to do so well in his prime, with a strong lead and confident handling making the slightly overwrought plot work." Writing from the Venice fest early this month, TIME's Richard Corliss also mentioned De Palma in his Black Swan review:

I've also heard from folks at Venice who think Black Swan is a junky horror show and [Natalie] Portman way too strident. Me, I'm of two minds about a movie that wants to be a nail-ripping thriller and a statement on an artist's unholy communion with her role. It's reminiscent of older, better movies: the late-'40s backstage dramas A Double Life (Ronald Colman plays Othello, becomes fatally jealous of his actress ex-wife) and the classic ballet melodrama The Red Shoes; and of films about tender, troubled psyches in the films — I won't say which ones — of Roman Polanski, Dario Argento, Brian De Palma, David Cronenberg and David Fincher. Black Swan also takes a view of women that might kindly be described as old-fashioned.

JULIA'S EYES SUGGESTS DE PALMA, SAYS SALON CRITIC
And finally, Salon's Andrew O'Hehir sees a De Palma influence in the Guillermo del Toro-produced Julia's Eyes, a horror film directed by Guillem Morales. O'Hehir writes that Julia's Eyes, "which reassembles much of the creative team that made The Orphanage in 2007," is "altogether a chillier, slicker and colder affair, formal and beautiful in composition and shot through with a sadistic eroticism that strongly suggests Brian De Palma." O'Hehir concludes, "I doubt this project occupied much of del Toro's attention, and it's fundamentally an exercise in genre and style -- but what style! The brooding skies and gray-green trees, the closely packed prewar houses, the naked bodies in a locker room full of blind women, the deepening shadows as Julia's sight gives way and evil comes ever closer. Even the deep, dark crimson when we finally see blood. (Despite this movie's moodiness, it's not without its share of gruesome gore.) In the long arc of Guillermo del Toro's career, Julia's Eyes is a minor side project -- but we can only wish that one in 20 American horror films were this well made."


Posted by Geoff at 11:24 AM CDT
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Saturday, September 11, 2010
DE PALMA AT TIFF AS HE TURNS 70
SPOTTED NEAR BLACK SWAN & BAD FAITH SCREENINGS
Brian De Palma turns 70 today, and he appears to be celebrating by attending the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, of which he has been a loyal patron for years. On Thursday, Roger Ebert tweeted that he spotted De Palma at the festival ("Brian de Palma, the only big-time director who often attends film festivals on his own dime," wrote Ebert). Grey Goose's Mohit Rajhans also saw De Palma on Thursday. "The bulk of the buzz so far was centered around the press office yesterday while people gathered the necessary passes," wrote Rajhans. "I spotted Brian De Palma chatting just outside the office with friends – word has it Toronto is one of his favourite cities for movie watching." Today, Fernando F. Croce tweeted that he "saw Brian De Palma just outside yesterday's screening of Black Swan," adding that he "should have wished him happy b-day." (Croce is covering the festival for Slant Magazine.) And finally, Swedish journalist Rebekah Åhlund, while attending the premiere yesterday of Kristian Petri's Bad Faith, spotted De Palma in the lounge, prompting her to recall the days when she used to watch De Palma's Carlito's Way once a month. Steve Gravestock's description of Bad Faith at the TIFF website sounds intriguing:

Monia (Sonja Richter), a rather strange young woman who may be in the midst of a nervous breakdown, walks alone through the streets of a Gothenburg. Walking past a sinister alleyway, she sees a badly injured man struggling to breathe. The man’s been dispatched by the Bayonet Killer, a murderer who’s been plaguing the city for the last couple of months. Monia is immediately plunged into a mystery only she and the strangely solicitous and philosophical Frank (Jonas Karlsson) seem to care about. As Monia stumbles on one killing after another, she confronts a shady hoodlum (Kristoffer Joyner) who, rather suspiciously, seems to be at the scene of every crime.

With Bad Faith, Swedish director Kristian Petri intelligently riffs on the history of the suspense film, deftly combining its highs and lows. On one hand, the film offers up a gloss on giallos – the lurid, visually stylized, Italian-thriller form popularized by Mario Bava and later by Dario Argento. At the same time, Petri and his collaborators make reference to the most cerebral and self-conscious mysteries ever made, from Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up to Paul Verhoeven’s international breakthrough, The Fourth Man. Like Verhoeven’s underrated classic, Bad Faith is propelled by the characters’ awareness that they’re caught in a narrative they should recognize but refuse to – a conflict which allows for ample amounts of suspense and for a very sly comedy.

Central to the film’s success is our suspicion that Monia isn’t playing with a full deck. As she grows more and more obsessed with the murders and her daily life crumbles around her (she hides in her apartment for weeks on end), we begin to question her sanity and, by extension, the rules and assumptions of the genre which she inhabits. It’s a genuinely postmodern thriller, a sublimely funny movie that questions its characters mental soundness and our own addiction to narrative.


Posted by Geoff at 11:08 PM CDT
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