INCLUDES A COUPLE OF POSTER NODS TO DE PALMA FILMS
Click here to watch the trailer for Romain Lehnhoff's new short film, Métropolitain.
Hello and welcome to the unofficial Brian De Palma website.
Here is the latest news:
to direct remake
says she's the "perfect
choice" to direct
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:
At its wooziest, Lee's direction reminded me of Brian DePalma or John Carpenter in nightmare reverie mode, or Alfred Hitchcock when he seemed possessed by whatever horrible muses drove him. It's purely intuitive, at times musical, direction. The lack of a political dimension seems to have freed Lee to be looser and more (cruelly) playful than usual. There's news footage on Joe's hotel room TV, but when we see, for instance, scenes from 9/11 or the Iraq war, it's not meant to drive home anything but the passage of time and its effect on Joe's psyche. The performances are all over the map, in what struck me as a DePalma-like way. Some actors give fairly naturalistic performances (Brolin and Olsen) while others (Jackson and Copley) chew the scenery into fine shreds and then pluck them from their shiny teeth. Lee presides over the madness with a droll serenity that says, "This is the movie; deal with it."
The big problem with Lee's "Oldboy" is that for all its dark confidence, it doesn't reimagine the original boldly enough. This isn't like Martin Scorsese's "Cape Fear," David Cronenberg's "The Fly" or Jonathan Demme's "The Manchurian Candidate"—or the recent superhero-inflected version of "Carrie," which I liked better than most critics—all of which drastically rethought their inspirations. Lee's "Oldboy," in contrast, is more like "Point of No Return," the American remake of "La Femme Nikita." It's so close to its predecessor in so many ways that I can't see much reason for it to exist, except to give xenophobic viewers an experience similar to the original, but minus the subtitled Korean and the octopus-eating scene—and with a more ostentatiously cartoonish bad guy, and lot more monologuing to explain the convoluted plot.
That's not a bad thing, though, when you consider the current climate for mainstream American films. For people who haven't seen the original "Oldboy" or anything like it, this will be a rare studio release that feels shocking and abrasive and perverse and in some way new. I'd love to sit through Lee's movie again in a theater with newbies who came to see a straightforward revenge picture starring a guy who's been locked up for a long time and have no idea what they're actually in for: a swan-dive into the toxic id. Few American auteurs are making mainstream studio movies in the vein of Spike Lee's "Oldboy": unabashedly hardcore genre pictures that aren't afraid to treat sex and violence as colors on a palette, and get nasty and raw, in that seventies-movie way. Park's "Oldboy" was no skip through the daisy field, but this one is even harder to watch, sometimes indulging in savagery that blurs the line between Old Testament morality play and straight-up exploitation.The filmmakers seem obsessed with making everything as extreme as possible, replacing, for example, a bruising bit of hammer torture with a prolonged sequence in which the hero uses an X-acto knife to slice a dotted-line-shaped pattern into a former jailer's throat.
Roger Ebert's four-star review of the original praised it as "the kind of movie that can no longer easily be made in the United States" thanks to content restrictions imposed by "a puritanical minority." The same sentiments apply here, but even more so, because Park's film came out ten years ago, and things have only gotten more restrictive since then. Plenty of international filmmakers are working in this mode—Park, Takashi Miike, Nicolas Winding Refn and Lars von Trier spring immediately to mind—but not too many English-language directors, aside from Quentin Tarantino and sometimes Oliver Stone ("Savages"). Martin Scorsese and David Cronenberg used to make this sort of picture all the time, but haven't in a while, perhaps because it's just too much for some people, and "just too much" movies tend not to get made at a major studio level because the financial stakes are too grave. I don't like or approve of everything in "Oldboy," but I'm glad it exists. The multiplexes are filled with PG-13 movies that should have been R-rated movies, released by studios that don't make adults-only genre films anymore. This is one such film, starring a real actor, directed by a real director. It deserves to be seen and argued about.
Peary then asks Olsen, "What is it that makes some dark films fail while others become classics?"
Olsen replies, "I think it has to do with it being something new. You can remake Carrie, for instance, but the reason why [Brian de Palma's] Carrie was Carrie was because it was groundbreaking. It could still be a great new story to tell people who haven’t seen it, with great actors and actresses, but the reason the original was a classic was because there was nothing like it before."
Samuel Zimmerman, Fangoria
"It is not rare to find a director appropriating, or recalling, the stylistic flair of Alfred Hitchcock, Brian De Palma or Dario Argento. Just at Fantastic Fest alone, we’ve encountered director Mark Hartley employing a great deal of split diopter throughout his remake of 1978’s Patrick. What is rare, however, is to find such influence utilized in clever, thematically appropriate and more breathtaking than endearing manner. As you may expect, this is leading to the arrival of such a film: Eugenio Mira’s Grand Piano, an utter joy of high concept, artfully composed and absolutely thrilling pure cinema."
Chris Tilly, IGN
"Brian De Palma has spent much of his career imitating Alfred Hitchcock, oftentimes to great effect and success. And now Spanish helmer Eugenio Mira has made a movie that pays homage to both men, crafting a musical thriller that could just as easily have been called The Man Who Played Too Much."
Jette Kernion, Slackerwood
"'Like Phone Booth, but with a piano.' 'It's what you'd get if Brian De Palma decided to rework Unfaithfully Yours.'
"Glib descriptions of Grand Piano like the ones above (overheard at Fantastic Fest) don't do the film justice, not at all. I'm not even certain they give you an accurate idea of what you're about to see. On the other hand, a plot summarization of the thriller makes it sound ridiculous ... and thanks to filmmakers and stars, it is instead breathtakingly suspenseful."
Marjorie Baumgarden, Austin Chronicle
"Grand Piano is a high-concept suspenser that owes obvious debts to such masters as Alfred Hitchcock, Brian DePalma, and Dario Argento. Yet it’s infused with originality and so expertly executed that viewers will be stimulated by the comparisons and thrilled by the film’s confident presentation."
Todd Gilchrist, The Playlist
"A welcome reminder that high-concept thrillers needn’t rely on stupid coincidences and even stupider characters in order to succeed, Grand Piano turns the unlikeliest of scenarios into a riveting battle of wills. The story of a concert pianist whose comeback performance gets hijacked by a sniper with a secret agenda, director Eugenio Mira’s latest film breathlessly combines artistic anxiety and personal desperation, providing its character with a journey as intense emotionally as it is physically. In fact, probably the best Brian De Palma movie he never made, Grand Piano expands the boundaries of single-location, real-time mysteries like Phone Booth and Panic Room with a brilliantly simple concept and nimble, elegant style...
"Serving as more than a welcome contrast to the handheld, improvisational camerawork of too many other movies these days, Mira’s direction is a marvel of fluidity and poetry. The careful composition of each shot enhances the film’s melodramatic sweep without distracting from the story and performances; whether simply taking inspiration or outright stealing pages from (classic) De Palma’s playbook, Mira distinguishes his film with a classical, muscular visual style that suits its high-society backdrop, and mirrors Selznick’s mental scramble to focus on his performance and his potential murder at the same time."
Jeremy Kirk, First Showing
"While the story in Grand Piano, courtesy of Damien Chazelle, is simple and the locations are scarce, Mira moves the camera around the hall, down the corridors, and over and above the stage, giving us interesting angles of everything at play here. His usage of split screens and deep focus makes Grand Piano a nice homage to the films of Brian De Palma, though its intentions may have been more aimed at Hitchcock. DePalma is just fine, though, as Snake Eyes - the film Grand Piano most resembles in terms of tone - is an underappreciated thriller."
As Chris tells it, "Wright then said that in fact his list to Criterion had been alphabetical and he didn't realize that numbers would be assigned. He said that he did love the film though, as well as others of De Palma's: saying he loved Carrie also, but that his favorite was probably Phantom Of The Paradise. He finished by saying that yes sometime he would like to do a 'straight thriller, or horror film'."
'BABY DRIVER' & SOMETHING CLOSE TO SILENT MOVIES
As he was making the rounds three years ago for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (which was partially under the influence of De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise), Wright talked to The Playlist's Kevin Jagernauth about a screenplay he was working on called Baby Driver that had a strong De Palma influence: "Well, it’s something I’ve been meaning to write for ages. I really planned to recharge my batteries and get back into writing. I’m excited about doing something that’s almost purely visual, because I’ve done three films—and even though Scott Pilgrim is very visual, it’s very dialogue heavy as well, which is great. And music heavy. Yeah. I think I’d like to try something—I’m a big Brian De Palma fan, and I’ll sit and look at something like Carrie, and I like the fact that it starts to play out like a silent movie. There’s a point in Carrie in the last half hour where there’s no need for any more dialogue because the plot is in motion. Or something like [Jean-Pierre Melville's] Le Samourai, I look at something like that and think, wow, there’s hardly any dialogue in this film. Something like that can be enjoyed around the world. I’d really like the challenge of doing something where the dialogue is really stripped back and it’s all about the cinema."
(Thanks to Chris!)
Davis also talked about the film to Brendan Kelly of the Montreal Gazette. "“Oh my God, the masterpiece of 2013, in my opinion... It’s riveting, it’s funny, it’s brilliant filmmaking. Imagine an Israeli version of the Coen brothers, mixed with early Brian De Palma, and Park Chan-wook. Also imagine Les Sept jours du talion re-imagined as the most sinister black comedy, but at the same time wickedly entertaining and funny. It’s just the perfect movie.”
'DISCOPATH' RECALLS ITALIAN GIALLO, JOHN CARPENTER, & BRIAN DE PALMA
Making its world premiere at the Fantasia fest on August 3rd will be Discopath, the feature debut of Renaud Gauthier, who sold his own home to finance the film, according to Marc Lamothe on the Fantasia web site. Gauthier served as director, screenwriter, art director, and music composer on Discopath, about a man who goes into a homicidal trance whenever he hears disco music. "Nostalgia is already [Gauthier's] stock in trade, his knack for evoking the smiles and styles of the ’70s, so it’s no surprise that his first feature is soaked in disco culture," Lamothe states in the notes. "But beyond the art direction, the mise en scene connects to the era by recalling the golden age of Italian giallo and lessons of masters like John Carpenter and Brian De Palma."
Computer Chess opened this past Wednesday in New York. Salon's Andrew O'Hehir calls it a "profound, peculiar work of genius."
Armond White writes of the film, "Mumblecore originator Bujalski has found the wit to break out from its conspicuous routines and make the genre’s most stylistically varied, artistically adventurous film with Computer Chess. Bujalski actually employs montage and style–idiosyncratic style–that goes past simply being unHollywood and creates its own uniquely nerd vision."
A. O. Scott of the New York Times calls it "peculiar and sneakily brilliant." And NPR's Ella Taylor writes, "The beguiling Computer Chess is about the dawn — one of many, but that's another story — of the tech revolution. It's also a reminder that you don't need state-of-the-art toys to make a formally playful comedy about man versus machine."
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