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Saturday, May 27, 2017
OZON CITES DE PALMA, HITCH, CRONENBERG
AS STYLE-GUIDES FOR HIS NEW THRILLER 'L'AMANT DOUBLE' AT CANNES


The world premiere of François Ozon's new thriller, L'Amant Double, caused a stir at the Cannes Film Festival the other day. Reuters' Robin Pomeroy (courtesy the New York Daily News) reported, "The story of a young woman who has an affair with her psychiatrist and then his twin brother delivers lots of sex and even more Freudian symbolism in a film that Ozon said borrowed some of the styles of Alfred Hitchcock, Brian De Palma and David Cronenberg." According to Pomeroy, Ozon "said he had fun pushing the boundaries of the erotic thriller genre that he has visited before in films such as the 2003 movie Swimming Pool that also competed at Cannes." Pomeroy then quotes Ozon: "I love the way De Palma deconstructs the thriller and how he has fun playing with the codes of the genre."

Here are links and excerpts from some of the reviews:

Renan Cros at Cinema Teaser

Over-symbolic, the film descends into a completely sterile sexy-chic bad trip that is dreadfully threadbare. A haphazard amalgamation of Polanski’s neurotic cinema, De Palma’s twisted voyeurism and Cronenberg’s freak shows, L’Amant Double is an ersatz 80's movie corseted by the auteur of the 2000s. That is to say, in fact, a crazy film that looks at itself, always more theoretical than dynamic and embodied. Thus, Ozon unfolds his little supposedly perverse and eloquent program without ever succeeding in getting his salutary ideas and bad taste off the ground to anything other than an intellectual device. The intra-vaginal plane that opens the film is surprising. One smiles, one settles for the roller-coaster. But in the second, Ozon is mired in a worn-out metaphor, a nerdy symbolism that sees the vagina turn into an eye of the heroine - a heavy nod to the Story of the Eye of George Bataille, an essential work on eroticism. And the whole film works thus, in a painful back and forth between a falsely provocative (but rather funny) first degree and an over-intellectualization that ruins all pleasure. A hysterical film, L’Amant Double then becomes a frigid film that never succeeds in enjoying and making its audience enjoy its supposed excess. In vain multiply the effects and push the taboo, we remain impassive in front of a film devoid of intensity that looks more like Fifty Shades Of Grey than Body Double. Where De Palma embraces bad taste, nourishes him with his obsessions and his romanticism, Ozon makes a film brain where excess is only a clinical sign, a metaphor to decode. Disembodied, the film painstakingly follows its specifications, accumulates the clichés on the fantasy representation of female sexuality and sloughs in a climax that falls flat. Above all, and perhaps the most unpleasant, the film does not go anywhere, merely packing his little mystery in a long awaited resolution that finally extinguishes the fire that could have gushed out. Too bad, because the nagging disorder at the heart of this dual story, combined with the rather amusing performance of Jérémie Rénier, could have given, with a little more letting go and inventions, a thriller more shaking and endearing than this pale copy of a pupil too wise.

Robbie Collin at The Telegraph
The films of François Ozon operate on a heightened plane that should really be called the Ozon Layer – a realm of thin air, light heads and giddy views where the French provocateur has carved his niche. His latest, which drew screeches of delight from critics at the Cannes Film Festival last night, is an erotic thriller based on the Joyce Carol Oates novel Lives of the Twins, in which an initially sexually inhibited psychiatric patient (Marine Vacth) embarks on simultaneous affairs with her therapist (Jérémie Renier) and his twin brother (Jérémie Renier again, with his hair combed differently), who is also a therapist. Shiveringly sexy and slippery as satin, with its tongue stuck everywhere including its cheek, it’s like the wildest Frasier episode they never made, and hits all the parts – sometimes literally – the Fifty Shades of Grey films couldn’t hope to reach.

Before going further, it’s worth a cautionary word about what can only be described (even though it follows a brief prologue) as the film’s opening shot, which involves a certain female body part, an engaged speculum, and one of the most jaw-dropping camera pull-back-and-reveals in cinema history. The pale pink part in question belongs to Chloe (Vacth), an ex-model whose persistent stomach pains since puberty have baffled medics, so she enlists a therapist called Paul (Renier) to get to their possibly psychological root.

In their first session he’s clearly smitten within minutes of her breathy monologuing – as, in all likelihood, will be half the audience. Like her schoolgirl nymphet in Ozon’s 2013 film Jeune et Jolie, Vacth’s role here is a stock male fantasy character – the beautiful but frigid woman who just needs a good you-know-what – which she and the director go on to teasingly turn on its head. Wearing androgynous jumpers and sharp trouser suits and with her hair in a boyish crop, Chloe by no means conforms to the sugar, spice and all things nice template, and her sex scenes have an androgynous quality which the script goes on to push to ever-kinkier heights.

It begins with Chloe’s discovery of Paul’s estranged twin brother Louis, who runs a rival psychiatric practice across town – and who carries out his “applied techniques” on a fur-covered bed in his clinic, for €150 a session (she pays him). Unorthodox they may be, but they’re also undeniably effective: poor old Paul, who’s long since transitioned from medical caregiver to live-in boyfriend, can hardly compete. During one orgasmic gasp, Ozon’s camera slips between Chloe’s parted lips like an endoscope, before rushing through her insides to reveal various membranes appreciatively fluttering.

This arrangement isn’t exactly viable in the long term, but Paul and Louis are both harbouring secrets that make it extra shaky – and as Chloe pries into their pasts, she senses her own life may be at risk. (The film’s French title, L’Amant Double, The Double Lover, is a pun on L’Agent Double, The Double Agent.) Mirror images are everywhere: there’s barely a room in the film without a reflective surface somewhere, and Ozon stages his scenes so that characters seem to fracture into multiple versions of themselves before coalescing with a turn of the camera. During the therapy sequences, mirrors and split screens are deployed to make consultations look whisperingly intimate, shortening the space between his characters until they’re close enough to kiss – while a scene on a spiral staircase looks like a Saul Bass hallucination in architectural form.

Ozon’s Alfred Hitchcock influences have never been hard to spot. His previous film, Frantz, was an elegant rethinking of Vertigo in postwar Europe. But here he tears his shirt off and goes full Brian De Palma, with sinuous tracking shots, shattering glass and mad narrative gambits in which the lines between reality and illusion are deviously blurred, and certain objects are piled up with absurd degrees of metaphorical significance: just wait for the stuff with the cats. During one showpiece sex scene involving multiple partners, Chloe unfolds down the middle like a Rorschach print, all the better to simultaneously satisfy all participants. It’s a fantasy not of sexual satisfaction but sexual accomplishment, and perhaps no director other than Ozon would have the imagination and panache to carry it off.


Stephanie Zacharek at TIME
But if many of the movies at this year’s Cannes struck a somber or thoughtful chord, there was joy to be found too. In Francois Ozon’s rapturously twisted, Brian De Palma-style thriller Amant Double, a young woman suffering from possibly psychosomatic stomach pains (Marie Vacth) falls in love with her therapist (Jeremie Renier), whose secret life draws her into a web of deceit and kinky sex. Yet more proof, should you need it, that the French really know how to live.

Kyle Buchanan at Vulture
You would think, then, that there would be few taboos left to shock a Cannes audience, but at tonight’s screening of the new film from French director Francois Ozon, L’Amant Double, there was one nude moment so audacious that the press gasped, laughed, and ultimately applauded. The entirety of L’Amant Double is pretty sex-soaked — Ozon basically channels Brian De Palma as he tracks troubled Chloe (Marine Vacth), who’s carrying on some awfully explicit affairs with twin psychiatrists (both of whom are played by Jérémie Renier, who’s game to make out with himself and get pegged) — and Ozon signals his gleeful intent with the very first shot after the opening credits.

That shot, dear reader, is a close-up of Chloe’s vagina spread open by a speculum.

Now, it’s always a little startling when you’re greeted with surprise vagina so early into a movie, and if you’re used to comparatively tame American films, it’s certainly novel to see that female orifice projected onto an IMAX-size screen as the whole audience gasps and titters. Still, even though I’m a gay man, I’d like to think I’m a veteran of surprise vagina at Cannes: Just last year at the festival, a tender lovemaking sequence in Staying Vertical suddenly smash cut to a baby’s head messily protruding from a woman in labor. (And that, kids, is how I met your mother.)

What I’m saying is, while L’Amant Double’s lovingly photographed close-up of a vagina certainly sent a jolt through the audience, it wasn’t just the vagina that made this moment an instant classic. It’s what Ozon did next that sealed the deal: The director match cut from one oval shape to another, dissolving from Chloe’s vagina to a shot of Chloe’s eye, the folds of skin around each matching up almost exactly. And then, just as the audience thought to themselves, He really did that, huh? Ozon took things one step further: A single fucking tear fell out of the eye.

It was so ridiculous, so earnest, and so beyond the beyond that the audience had to applaud. That is a serious chutzpah cut, to match a woman’s spread vagina with her crying eyeball, and I can’t imagine the level of commitment it requires to script such a thing, let alone to explain it to your actors, shoot it, and not laugh every single day in postproduction. I would say Ozon has some serious balls, but I’m not sure that’s the right anatomical metaphor to use when we’re discussing a scene with surprise vagina.


Fionnuala Halligan at Screen Daily
You’ve got to hand it to a film which takes a speculum-eye shot of a cervical examination as one of its opening images. Like Elle last year, and playing almost in the same timeslot, Francois Ozon’s Amant Double is gleefully flashy, trashy fun. Paying homage to Brian De Palma — and, indeed Elle’s director Paul Verhoeven - it was a big surprise from a director whose last film was the sober and mysterious black-and-white World War I drama Frantz. And it’s such good fun to see a Ozon, who also wrote, enjoying himself like this, even if the film verges towards the hilariously lurid with its stuffed cats and sidelong glances. (Jury president Pedro Almodovar might have glimpsed some of his own influence at play here, in particular Cannes competitors Broken Embraces or The Skin I Live In. All roads lead back to Hitchcock, of course).

Body doubles, shattered glass and jagged mirrors are Ozon’s currency in this story of an emotionally unstable woman (Marine Vacth) who forms a relationship with her therapist (Jeremie Renier) and discovers he has a violent twin brother with whom she also becomes sexually entangled. It’s all rather salacious and determinedly frivolous, moving from cervix to strap-on in a most agile fashion. Renier is smooth in both parts, Vacth is riveting, if a little bug-eyed on occasion, Jacqueline Bisset lends gravitas.


Sam Gray at The Up Coming
At this point in the festival, when spirits are flagging and sleep is but a fond memory, a dose of unadulterated craziness is required to see critics through the final stretch. Step forward François Ozon. After a few attempts at mainstream success, he’s reverted to his craziest, most sexually charged instincts with L’Amant Double – which is basically Dead Ringers by way of Brian De Palma, with a dash of Rosemary’s Baby thrown in for good measure.

Beginning with a match cut so outrageous it prompted a round of applause, Ozon settles into the story of Chloé (Marine Vacth), a woman who starts attending therapy in the hope of curing the pains in her stomach. Her therapist Paul (Jérémie Renier) is so handsome, though, that they soon end up violating the ethical code of conduct, in several different rooms and positions. Along with Chloé’s sassy cat, they move into an apartment together, and all is apparent bliss – until she begins to visit a different therapist, who looks an awful lot like her beau… He’s also played by Renier, and he’s revealed to be Paul’s twin brother. Representing two different sides of masculinity, Chloé obviously starts screwing them both, while trying to uncover the reason behind their animosity towards each other.

And that’s just the start of it. Overripe and ridiculous, L’Amant Double is so filled to the brim with pure cinematic imagery and knowing irony, with innuendo and gleeful violations of taste, that it’s hard to resist its barrage of hilarious filth. Cats, mirrors and foetuses are mixed into a heady brew of double-crossing and sex – so much sex, including a memorable sequence involving “pegging”. (If you don’t know it, look it up in private.)

De Palma’s name has been mentioned once, but it demands to be summoned several times over, so clear is this film’s purpose in pushing the boundaries of taste in the name of not-so-guilty entertainment. It’s nonsense, of course – while based on a short story by Joyce Carol Oates, Ozon has only a passing interest in the identity issues of twins, instead devoting his time to titillating, shocking and amusing his audience. It might suffer outside the festival environment, but it’s almost certainly the most fun this critic’s had at Cannes so far.


Jon Frosch at The Hollywood Reporter
"Loosely based" on the Joyce Carol Oates novel Lives of the Twins (written under the pseudonym Rosamond Smith), this gloriously trashy, shamelessly derivative mashup of David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers, Brian De Palma's Sisters and Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby should have no problem finding an audience in European and North American art houses. Its reception in France's psychoanalytic and psychiatric circles may be less assured; the film is like a feature-length PSA against Gallic shrinks.

The story opens with Chloe (Marine Vacth of Ozon's Young & Beautiful), a quintessential Parisian beauty of 25, whom we see glowering into the camera as she gets her hair cut; the resulting pixie 'do recalls Mia Farrow's Rosemary, just the first in Ozon's giddy parade of cinephilic winks and nods. We then find Chloe in a gynecologist's examining room, where the doctor tells her that the abdominal pains she's been suffering from are surely anxiety- or depression-related. Chloe asks for a psych referral: "I think I'm ready," she says rather gravely.

Cue her first appointment with Dr. Paul Meyer (Dardenne brothers regular Jeremie Renier), a blond, boyishly handsome therapist whose sweater-and-spectacles look is as reassuring as his professional manner. Chloe immediately takes to their sessions, certain moments of which Ozon presents via split-screen placing the two characters in an intimate face-to-face formation. "When I see you, I feel like I exist," Chloe confides at one appointment, noting that her melancholy and ennui — as well as her stomach symptoms — have lifted.


Peter Debruge at Variety
While its grasp of human nature (especially that of the fairer sex) seems hopelessly dated, L’amant double nostalgically evokes such naïve psychological thrillers as Spellbound and Basic Instinct, suggesting some kind of mutant love child hatched between Alfred Hitchcock and Paul Verhoeven, though its fingerprints are undeniably Ozon’s.

The director announces his outré intentions from the get-go, opening with the unfamiliar sight of a gynecological exam, an extreme closeup of which fills the screen: pink, moist, and distorted just enough that it takes a moment to register what we’re looking at. By match-cutting from this ultra-intimate POV to that of a blinking eye turned sideways, Ozon intends to shock — although Lars Von Trier got there first, in Nymphomaniac, a movie whose playful perversity may well have made this project possible.

This peekaboo moment belongs to a 25-year-old ex-model named Chloe, who complains of stomach aches (to extend the Nymophomiac connection, she’s played by Vacth, who looks like Stacy Martin, and sounds like Charlotte Gainsbourg). Her doctor advises that she see a shrink, and so the timid young lady finds herself in the office of Dr. Paul Meyer (Renier), a tweedy, somewhat conservative therapist who listens quietly while she seductively over-shares. Ozon has fun with these sessions, framing them via split-screens and other Brian De Palma-esque visual tricks that serve either to double the characters, or else to push them in closer to one another, till they appear as familiar as lovers.


David Ehrlich at IndieWire
“What the hell am I looking at?” That’s the question most viewers will likely ask themselves during the opening moments of François Ozon’s (Swimming Pool) latest film. Following the opening credits sequence, in which a severe young woman’s face is revealed as her bangs are snipped away from over her face, Ozon cuts to an extreme close-up of something pink and fleshy and soft as gauze. Is it the soft tissue of a human brain? The camera begins to zoom out. The inside lining of an open mouth? The camera zooms out even further, until… the young woman’s clitoris comes into focus at the top of the frame, as do the gynecological devices that are prying her vagina open.

It’s a hilariously explicit way of starting a movie, even before Ozon punctuates the moment with a match-cut to the girl’s eyeball, cementing the relationship between her sex and her psychology.

Welcome to L’amant Double (The Double Lover), a fitfully amusing erotic thriller in which nothing is what it seems, anything could happen, and everything is at least a little ridiculous. Much sillier than anything Ozon has made before — it unfolds like an overcorrection to the prolific French filmmaker’s staid and serious Frantz — but still lubricated with his usual psychosexual Euro-sleaze, this kinky story of jealousy and obsession feels like it’s been genetically engineered from the D.N.A. of Dead Ringers and Possession with a little bit of Brian De Palma thrown in for good measure. Or maybe it’s just the horniest movie that Alfred Hitchcock never made? Or maybe there’s simply no precedent to a Cannes Competition film in which someone yells “Just get your fetus out of here before I kill you!”


John Bleasdale at Cinevue
Nothing here is supposed to be taken all that seriously and Ozon cheerfully piles on the weird: a quirky neighbour (Myriam Boyer) with a stuffed cat lurks next door and Jacqueline Bisset shows up though who she is will remain unclear until the end. Brian De Palma is an obvious influence and through him Alfred Hitchcock, though Ozon has credited a Joyce Carol Oates short story as his direct inspiration for L'Amant Double's story.

Tomris Laffly at Film Journal International
François Ozon can always be trusted to shake things up a bit at a film festival. During last year’s Telluride, his gorgeous, black-and-white period melodrama Frantz became a sleeper, word-of-mouth hit among festival-goers. It’s hard to believe the same artist is behind L’Amant Double, which charged the audience with a jolt of energy on top of the festival’s final weekend after more than a week of mostly heavy and serious competition titles. A sexy, deliciously silly and twisty thriller that laughs in the face of commonplace reason and ecstatically dials up its weirdness at every plot turn, Ozon’s film was a welcome reminder of the possibilities of cinema and its ability to fiendishly pull the rug from under a viewer. Everyone in Cannes was mesmerized by the presence of Twin Peaks at the festival, but those who mostly prioritized the competition section titles got a generous taste of Lynch with toppings reminiscent of Hitchcock and De Palma in L’Amant Double.

Jordan Farley at Games Radar
Opening with the most outlandish match cut of the festival – a gynaecological, frame-filling close up of a vagina that transitions into a weeping eye – François Ozon’s psychosexual thriller L’amant Double (The Double Lover) starts silly, and only gets more outrageous from there. Like De Palma directing Joe Eszterhas, it’s a film without a subtle bone in its immaculately sculpted body and, in its own self-consciously trashy way, is great fun.

A.A. Dowd at A.V. Club
L’Amant Double (Grade: B) is delirious premium trash, like Brian De Palma or Paul Verhoeven remaking Dead Ringers from the Geneviève Bujold character’s perspective. It’s ludicrous, sleazy, and silly—perhaps better suited to the beach down the street from the Palais, tucked within the pages of a paperback you purchased in the Nice airport, than in the theater itself. But Ozon stages it with a slumming Hitchcockian verve, and I confess that its pulp pleasures were just what the doctor ordered this late into the festival. The programmers knew what they were doing saving it for the homestretch.

Nikola Grozdanovic at The Playlist
Loading up Brian De Palma, David Cronenberg and Roman Polanski on three jukebox machines, and pressing play on all at the same time while running around the room with his pants down, Francois Ozon serves up L’Amant Double on a soiled platter. The provocative Frenchman is having a lot of fun with his new sexy thriller, and while you may hear some deriding it for its uncouth treatment of the central female character, or calling it sensationalist trash, you can still join Ozon’s party by putting your convictions and politics on the side and let the film surprise you with its eye-widening shocks and pitch-black humor. And besides, it is sensationalist trash and that’s OK. It doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a twisted riff on the age-old doubles motif (the French title literally translates to Double Lovers) and a lavish spectacle of style.

Within the first few seconds, Ozon already divides half the audience. An opening (emphasis on opening) that signals the film’s shameless attitude towards sex introduces us to distraught and stressed out 25-year-old Chloe, played by Marine Vacth (who previously starred in Ozon’s Young and Beautiful). Her stomach pains are diagnosed as a psychological symptom and she gets referred to psychoanalyst Paul (Jeremie Renier) to find out what’s really going on. We learn about Chloe’s lonely life: she doesn’t have many friends, lives alone with her cat Milo (reprising his role from Elle, apparently), is an only child, doesn’t have contact with her parents, and only recently just got a job. This job of hers becomes an outlet for Ozon, cinematographer Manu Dacosse and set designer Sylvie Olive to give L’Amant Double a chillingly absurd look. She’s a part-time security guard at a post-modern museum of Lynchian proportions; disturbing images of organs and installations of twisted trees, among other oddities, abound in this otherwise synthetically-white space. As Paul says at one point: charming.

After a few sessions, which Ozon’s screenplay rushes through with a montage of quasi-split screens and perplexing angles, patient and therapist fall in love. “When you look at me like that,” she says, “I feel I exist.” The meshing of identity is, of course, the film’s central theme and Ozon frantically uses all sorts of techniques with image to present it visually and pump the film with extra pulp. They move in together in a new condo (on the 13th floor, naturally), Chloe meets her new nosy neighbor who’s her own breed of cat person, and then, one day, she sees Paul talking to a woman on the street. Paranoia sets in, the stomach pains return, and with Paul in full denial, she does some investigating. The man she saw is, in fact, Louis (also played by Renier), Paul’s mysterious alpha-twin who is also a psychoanalyst but a much more virile one.

That’s when L’Amant Double switches gears and goes to full-on berserker mode, so divulging anything else from the plot would be taking away half the fun. Not knowing what’s going to happen next is one of the film’s greatest advantages; Ozon creates wrought tension in the atmosphere as the unreliable and fragile Chloe seems to be reacting more than acting to situations. Spiraling down the rabbit hole, our Alice is seen through a cracked looking glass throughout most of the film. The mirror is the primary visual motif here, often magnifying and duplicating Chloe in a visual language that immediately recalls De Palma’s affinity for playing with reflection. Adding to the unhinged atmosphere is Vacth’s unrefined and seductive performance; she never seems calm and truly at peace, as if something from within is looking to rip out of her skin at any given moment. Philippe Rombi’s sinister score metamorphoses L’Amant Double into a horror film somewhere around the middle mark, once the danger gets closer to the front door, and our suspicions of Chloe’s depersonalized state continue to rise while the laughs continue to pile up.

Borrowing heavily from films like Sisters, Obsession, Rosemary’s Baby and Dead Ringers, Ozon’s film has the appropriately sleazy touch of camp and bat-shit wonky direction to become a cult twin-thriller. The cinematic trickery on display – lurid dissolves, off-kilter juxtapositions, and bizarre dance numbers bouncing around Chloe’s brittle mindscape – compensates for the skin-deep thematics, and keep the rhythm of the film popping. As the shocking twists and ludicrous scenarios escalate, the tale twists towards a satisfying conclusion, and the lascivious tone becomes more and more humorous as the film’s thrifty pace slinks along. Ozon even manages to accelerate the momentum of the film’s most powerful animal motif – cats are tied into the film’s fabric of sex, twins, voyeurism and horror in a surreal and fundamentally creative way.


Nicholas Bell at Ioncinema
Ozon’s twin leitmotif recalls the obsessive erotic thrillers of Brian De Palma, a garbled barrage of doppelganger red herrings which casts doubt on Chloe’s psychological state. The possibility we’re merely existing in the mire of her repressed sexual fantasies is always hovering on the periphery. But if De Palma comes to mind, so does a slew of other 70s era genre stalwarts, and Amant Double seems to have been influenced by the body horror of Cronenberg, most obviously Dead Ringers (1988) and The Brood (1979).

Alejandro G. Calvo and Eulàlia Iglesias at Sensacine
The opening sequence of L'amant doublé, the return of François Ozon to the Cannes competition after presenting Young and Beautiful in 2013, is already a declaration of intentions: a close-up of a vaginal cytology that warns that this is going to be anything but an accommodating film. Almost as a tribute to the master Brian De Palma - both the early, Sisters (1973) and the late, Femme Fatale (2002) - the Ozon film delves into the high voltage psychological thriller, following the steps of a young woman (Marine Vacth, with a haircut reminiscent of Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby (1968)) caught between two men who are also twin brothers (and psychiatrists). With David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers (1988) as the most direct point of reference, Ozon has become a pirate, taking the dimensions of the girl's nightmare and his own discourse (recycled from many titles before) to a visceral level on the fragile and perfidious balance that exists between the strong brother and the weak brother in a pair of twins.

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, May 28, 2017 7:14 AM CDT
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Wednesday, May 24, 2017
CANNES REVIEWS - BRIEF DE PALMA MENTIONS
'THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER' AND 'WIND RIVER'
The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw on Yorgos Lanthimos' The Killing Of A Sacred Deer

"As in all his best work, Lanthimos is brilliant at summoning up a whole created world and immersing us in it. But its weirdness has a double meaning: it has a stylised element of absurdism and it is also a plausible expression of denial. It is intriguing to imagine John Carpenter or Brian De Palma or Richard Donner directing this script. Perhaps it would not look so very different, although De Palma or Carpenter might want the ending to be accelerated, or even rewritten to accommodate the twist that appeared to be promised by the protagonist’s interesting theory that the surgeon is never to blame for a failed operation, and that it is always the anaesthetist’s fault. What Lanthimos does is lead us into his own kind of eerie forest clearing in which this deer is to be horribly slain."

Flickering Myth's Sara Hemrajani on Taylor Sheridan's Wind River

"Wind River marks Sheridan’s first time behind the camera for a major feature – and it’s a confident debut. The Sicario and Hell or High Water scribe clearly understands what it takes to produce a muscular, gripping thriller. The story is raw, upsetting and socially astute. Sheridan offers a glimpse into the fringes of the American West, where ordinary people struggle to live among their barren surroundings, and where the Native American population is often plagued with crime, drug abuse, unemployment and discrimination. Any online searches on the Wind River reservation reveals a plethora of gloomy news articles and reports...

...If Sheridan continues with films of this calibre, he could certainly grow into the next Brian De Palma or Denis Villeneuve. A talent to watch."


Posted by Geoff at 3:32 AM CDT
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Sunday, April 30, 2017
FILM REVIEWS ROUNDUP - w/DE PALMA MENTIONS
THIRST STREET, FREE FIRE, UNFORGETTABLE, THE ASSIGNMENT


Here's a roundup of recent movie reviews and essays mentioning Brian De Palma in one way or another:

Rodrigo Perez on Thirst Street (The Playlist)

"To keep it indie 100 for a minute and hopefully not sound too obscure, if indie filmmaker Alex Ross Perry was to

Roman Polanski what his paranoiac feature Queen Of Earth was to Polanski’s The Tenant, then director Nathan Silver is to Rainer Werner Fassbinder what Thirst Street is to the German New Wave director’s Lola. Plus, well, throw in a little additional devilish Polanski for good measure, too.

Don’t be confused. This is all to say director Nathan Silver’s latest feature, the Euro-arty-influenced Thirst Street, a wry and disturbed look at lust and longing, is a terrific, vintage homage, and a deliciously arch little treat (and made by Washington Square Films, the same company that produced Queen Of Earth). Starring the exceptional and fetching Lindsay Burdge (A Teacher), who walks a thin line of heightened melodrama, sly comedy and sincere emotional distress, the actress carries the brittle movie on her back, but never falters while sticking the landing of its tricky tenors.

"In the vein of psychosexual thrillers of the ’80s or ’90s, with a ’70s throwback twist, Silver’s reading is more psychosexual comedy, as Thirst Street is slippery and mischievous in its depiction of anxiety and obsession — an easy cliff to fall off if you’re going to paint your heroine as a shrill nut job. Thankfully, Thirst Street is too smart and artful for that.

"Burdge stars as Gina, a emotionally despondent flight attendant reeling from the loss of her fiancé who, in a lonely, paranoid and jealous fit at her long stretch of absences away from home, suddenly committed suicide. Sweet but emotionally off-center from the tragedy, Gina sticks close to her flight attendant gal pals as they hit Paris for a brief overlay. Wallflowering through an evening of drinks, her friends bribe a tarot-card reader to bring her good fortune. The fortuitous moment changes her mood and eventually lands her in the arms of Jérôme (Damien Bonnard), a charming and sophisticated French louche (who doesn’t look dissimilar to Gina’s ex). A one-night stand ensues and really, that should be it, but a magical connection is made, at least for Gina, which sends her on a possessed mission to find Jérôme and essentially insinuate herself into his life. Quickly unhinged, Gina falls head over heels, over heels and over heels. It’s a glorious splatter, a warped tour through 1970s, European-flavored psychodramas, again, many of which Polanski was the grandmaster of. Throw in a soupçon of feathery fantasy, a DePalma diopter shot or two and sweaty Serge Gainsbourg lecherousness, and the recipe is complete.

"Narrated with delectable dry and deadpan wit by Anjelica Huston (an awesome get whose value to the tone cannot be understated), her purposefully emotionless, hilarious delivery is your first clue as to the askew nature of the movie. Esther Garrel co-stars as Clémence, an ex-girlfriend who becomes increasingly annoyed with Gina’s unwanted and ubiquitous presence.

"Shot by venerable indie DP Sean Price Williams (Heaven Knows What, Listen Up Philip, Queen Of Earth), the cinematographer must have had a blast imitating Fassbinder’s Douglas Sirk-inspired look from Lola (DP Xaver Schwarzenberger) and its dreamy gaze and saturated colors. Williams is just one of the many contributors here that elevate already rich material. Visually, Thirst Street is enchanting, expressing with bold feeling all of Gina’s strange obsessions. Composer Paul Grimstad’s gauzy and atmospheric soundtrack only bolsters the fraught and theatrical mood."

Katie Walsh on Unforgettable (Los Angeles Times)

"Unforgettable is tawdry, sometimes cheesy, and definitely soapy. There are some insane choices made in the production design, which is actually perfect for a movie like this. It’d be all too easy to write it off as 'guilty-pleasure' material, a higher-budget Lifetime movie. But that would denigrate female-driven entertainment that deals with the melodramas of the mind, body and soul from a woman’s perspective. Though this movie has its outrageous moments, Di Novi puts the female emotional journey front and centre and treats things respectfully.

"But every erotic thriller needs some crazy, and thank goodness for Heigl’s full commitment to her character’s insanity. That campiness is needed in a picture like this, allowing the audience relief from the tension while we giggle at her enthusiastic hair brushing or wild-eyed mania. In a final scene, she’s swathed gloriously in a mint caftan, her hair flowing. She calls to mind that other unforgettably controlling mother, Margaret White, from Brian De Palma’s 1976 film Carrie, played by Piper Laurie, who earned an Oscar nomination for that role. Heigl channels Laurie’s performance with her lilting tones and soft savagery. It’s a uniquely feminine kind of villainy that’s transfixed us since classical Hollywood, and Di Novi and Heigl understand it implicitly in order to execute it perfectly."

David Edelstein on Free Fire (Vulture)

"But Wheatley, for all his gifts, doesn’t quite hit his marks. Free Fire cries out for a spatial-temporal genius like Brian De Palma — though I imagine De Palma would have quickly gotten bored with the limited premise. When all hell breaks loose, you lose your bearings (who is with whom?), and the van that crashes with the still-blaring John Denver 8-track cassette is a good comic idea made excruciating by … too much John Denver. The movie is meant to be a nihilist joke, but it’s all fodder if you don’t give a damn about who’s being annihilated."

Jeff Simon recalls 1991 press screening of Reservoir Dogs (The Buffalo News)

Wheatley admits Scorsese was partly responsible for him becoming a filmmaker in the first place. Having Scorsese around to advice him during the making of "Free Fire" was a rarity. Compared to having to deal with a studio executive, it was like being steadied by "a kindly hand rather than a niggling presence."

Where does all this droll movie excess come from?

Consider Toronto's Varsity Theater a quarter of a century ago. It was, in 1991, a shabby, dirty and unhealthy room to begin with but, on this day, it was so full of people that some were trying to sit on the floor. It's a "Press and Industry Screening" for the film that was that year's buzz champion, Quentin Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs."

The room is packed with "press and industry" people from all over the world -- people who don't give a fig for luxury or comfort when the prospect of seeing a great film is nigh. Rex Reed sat directly behind me. Filmmaker Brian DePalma sat a couple seats in front of me and to the left. By the time we were all watching Michael Madsen merrily dancing around to Stealer's Wheel's "Stuck in the Middle With You" and slicing a bound cop's ear off, it was obvious that we were experiencing a new way of portraying movie criminals and the violent, sadistic things they do.

If sadism wasn't a defining characteristic of their endeavors, stupidity might be. That notion fully entered the pop cultural worldview in 1985 with the advent of the Coen Brothers' first film "Blood Simple." But some other things happened in that theater on that day.

--- Film Festivals -- and the kind of international "Press and Industry" people they attract -- were confirmed as a new audience for cinematic innovation in commercial films (not just art films.) In this case, it was ultra-violent excess conveyed with sardonic humor.

--- A new kind of film intellectual was born. Tarantino was a film intellectual from the video store, not the library or the cinematheque. There was very little that was bookish about him. He'd seen all these movies because he was a store clerk, not because a library told him to and a cinematheque scheduled them for him to see.

Wheatley likes to tell people that he's influenced by Tom and Jerry. He is, himself, a former animator. "Free Fire" then is taken from all kinds of sources, he said. "Silent cinema. And Hanna Barbera cartoons. And things like that." And it's what happens when you take it all "full throttle."

That's because in the movies of 2017, "full throttle" visuals don't have to be translated into other languages. Accents are so thick in "Free Fire" that a good 25 percent of the dialogue is incoherent. It scarcely matters. You know what you're watching, whether you live in Roanoke or Rangoon or Reykjavik.

When you've had part of a career in animation, you're familiar with a movie world of violence that doesn't affect characters. Think of all the things that happened over the decades to poor Wile E. Coyote in Chuck Jones' seven-minute masterworks about The Road Runner.

At the same time, Wheatley points out that there's a crazy kind of realism to "Free Fire" -- the difficulty, for instance, of hitting a moving target when you're shooting, and the ability of people to keep going after getting hit with many gunshots. "It's not unrealistic," says the man whose basic idea for the movie came from an FBI report talking about that very thing.

And, as he says, nice things and happy endings are "well-covered in America" at the movies and on TV, but "actual reality is not so well covered."


Armond White on The Assignment (National Review)

"The Assignment is less thrilling than [Walter] Hill’s career comeback Bullet to the Head (2012). The Assignment’s imperfection cannot be overlooked: Actress Michelle Rodriguez doesn’t achieve Frank’s androgynous potential. Her full-frontal nude strut is as phony as Mark Wahlberg’s rubber phallus in Boogie Nights, and she portrays Frank’s machismo with the same sullen sneer that reviewers foolishly equated with Brando in Rodriguez’s debut film, Girlfight (2000). Scenes with a working-class nurse (Caitlin Gerard) make Rodriguez’s acting limitations painfully apparent. Frank should have been as fascinating as the cross-gender characters in Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In, Brian De Palma’s Raising Cain, or Hill’s plastic-surgery classic Johnny Handsome, in which Mickey Rourke movingly portrays a man whose facial reconstruction reveals the good or evil potential in those around him. As bold as The Assignment is, Hill nonetheless must struggle with Hollywood’s sexual sanctimony."


Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, May 1, 2017 12:32 AM CDT
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Wednesday, April 5, 2017
'DARK/WEB' TV EPISODE INSPIRED BY DE PALMA
WRITER/DIRECTOR OF UPCOMING EPISODE 'VIRAL' ALSO DEVELOPED MYSTERY ANTHOLOGY SERIES WITH BROTHER


The anthology TV series Dark/Web, which explores themes related to our connected world, is still shopping for a home, but plans to be released sometime this year. The series was developed by brothers Michael and Tim Nardelli. Michael has written and directed an episode titled "Viral", and states in a Facebook post today that the style of the episode "was partially inspired by classic Brian De Palma films. As such, DP Sheldon Chau and I got a wee bit crazy with a split diopter to establish the visual language of a psychologically tormented young gal." The post, pictured above, is accompanied by a still from the episode that uses a split diopter.

The DARK/WEB Facebook page outlines the plot of the first season:
When Ethan (Brian Elerding), Sam (Lana McKissack) and James (Michael Nardelli) find themselves the target of cryptic emails from someone posing as their childhood friend Molly (Noemi Gonzales), they assume she’s been the victim of an all-too-common hack. After they reach out to alert her, however, they discover that Molly’s been missing for months and no one has any idea what happened to her. As the emails keep coming, each containing a tale written by Molly, her friends realize that this may be more than just a sick joke. Someone has hidden information in the stories, details pulled from real life that point them to people and places from Molly’s past; clues that may lead them to their missing friend, or something far sinister. DARK/WEB’s unique structure combines the classic, standalone stories traditionally found in an anthology with an overarching, season-long mystery.

Posted by Geoff at 7:34 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, April 5, 2017 7:42 PM CDT
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Sunday, March 26, 2017
DUCOURNAU ON HER DIRECT 'CARRIE' WINK IN 'RAW'
MEANWHILE, SEVERAL CRITICS SEEM TO BE REMINDED OF DE PALMA'S 'SISTERS', AS WELL
Julia Ducournau's directorial debut, Raw, opened a couple of weekends ago. Several reviews have mentioned Brian De Palma, as well as other filmmakers, as potential influences, and specifically De Palma's Carrie and Sisters, in relation to Raw. In the first link/excerpt below, Ducournau explains to Dan at Geekadelphia why Carrie was the only consciously deliberate reference she made to any film. Following that are links to other reviews of Raw:

Geekadelphia's Dan interviews Julia Ducournau
You combine in your narrative social commentary, comedy, gender and horror so effortlessly and fluid in Raw. What were some of the influences that helped you craft the film?

So the thing is when I write and I direct, I really, really try for once not to watch the movies that I love to watch in real life. I try not to be tempted to reproduce anything, I am kind of scared of that. I never go back to my main influences when I do the job. The funny thing is I do not make any direct reference to any of the main filmmakers, like Cronenberg, Argento or Lynch who are a holy trinity in my life. There is a however a direct Carrie reference, you know Brian De Palma. Carrie is a movie I like very much but it wasn’t a foundation experience for me, even though I love it, like how strong it is with a Cronenberg for example.

I did it because lots of members in the audience would think to themselves the premise of the movie, so I decided to make a small wink to it and play with this reference so we can move on to the next scene.

A lot of people have said they see Suspiria, and its funny because Suspiria was one of the biggest shocks in my life when I saw it. Even though I didn’t think about it when I was writing or directing, when someone tells me this, I am like yeah I think I understand it. Somehow its unconscious, but your identity is also what you’ve watched, what you’ve liked and what you’ve reacted to.


Joseph Friar, Victoria Advocate

"Many of the film’s gory moments are reminiscent of Cronenberg’s style and there is an ode to De Palma’s Carrie when the group of incoming freshman are doused with buckets of animal blood. However, the film shocks the most when it does it in a subtle way and Ducournau manages to fool the audience into believing that they are watching a coming-of-age drama that suddenly becomes the perfect double bill with Hannibal or one of my favorites Ravenous. But here the audience never loses sight that Justine is not becoming this terrible monster by choice. She can’t seem to escape what the future has in store and even when she begins to do the unthinkable the audience still finds itself rooting for her to find a way out. Raw is a brilliantly executed horror film that instantly becomes a classic of the genre. The final act is both shocking and satisfying."

April Wolfe, LA Weekly

"The women’s competitive, murderous relationship suggests the psychodrama of Brian De Palma’s Sisters, which tells of separated conjoined-twin serial killers, but in Raw the soul siblings hurt themselves just as much as they hurt other people. When Justine smears lipstick on her face and grinds her hips into a mirror to a song whose chorus is literally “I like to bang the dead,” or when she rips her teeth into her own arm to quell her cravings, these scenes echo Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession, in which a woman is so wracked by sexual madness that she hurls herself over and over into a wall in a subway tunnel.

"A scene where drunk-on-passion Justine rips into her kissing partner’s lips, snagging a tasty chunk of flesh, brings to mind Claire Denis’ archetypal cannibalistic-love thriller Trouble Every Day. But Raw isn’t derivative — it’s fresh, funny and grounded in reality. Underneath all the blood and guts, this is the story of a woman whose body demands love in extremity and the only person who’ll ever understand her fully: her sister."

Peter Keough, The Boston Globe

"Ducournau has some brilliant set pieces to come. A couple, one painted blue, the other yellow, make love, forming green until an abrupt interruption. And in one of the most disturbing horror scenes so far this year, we learn that a human finger tastes like curry.

"But then Ducournau throws in subtexts of patriarchal tyranny, elitism, vengeful mediocrity, colonial exploitation, homophobia, eating disorders, incest, sibling rivalry, and vegetarianism. Plus, a handsome array of allusions to such directors as David Cronenberg, Alfred Hitchcock, and Brian De Palma. But we never get much closer to answering the key question — what’s eating Justine?"

Steve Erickson, Nashville Scene

"Sisterhood is powerful. It’s also powerfully damaged, according to the exciting French horror film Raw. Writer-director Julia Ducournau synthesizes the influences of Claire Denis (especially her film maudit Trouble Every Day) and David Cronenberg, while paying explicit homage to Brian De Palma and Alfred Hitchcock. Like many of the best films, Raw remains enigmatic to the end. I could list a dozen subjects and themes that it’s about, but in the end, it resists being reduced to a metaphor or, even more so, a message. Ducournau captures the sense of terror and the sheer oddity powering the best work of horror writers like Poppy Z. Brite and Clive Barker."

Kalyn Corrigan, Birth. Movies. Death.

In both Sisters and in Raw sexual acts prompt and coincide with the tendency toward violent acts. Just as Danielle discovers that she is as protective and violent towards anyone who tries to insert themselves between she and Dominique, Justine realizes that she, too, wants to keep her sister all to herself, because only her sister truly understands her -- the same can arguably be said about Alexia’s feelings toward Justine. Both stories feature women who evolve into more actualized human beings once their sisters pave the way to understanding themselves. Only the one who shares the same infected blood can point the way to self-acceptance, and only your sister will truly be there for you when you have a body that needs disposing of. It takes a true sibling to stand by your side while you’re holding a bloody kitchen knife in your hand – or, in certain circumstances, a bloody ski pole.

The inspiration for Sisters actually comes from a startling image that director Brian De Palma stumbled upon in an article in a 1966 issue of Life Magazine. The picture showed two conjoined Soviet twins named Masha and Dasha, and a caption in the bottom right corner reads something along the lines of “Although they are physiologically normal, as they get older, they are starting to develop mental problems”. Intrigued by this strange scenario, De Palma dreamed up a story about two Siamese twins who would eventually be surgically separated, resulting in one sister going mad and attacking any man who would dare try to date her one and only human connection. Influenced, as always, by Hitchcock, De Palma took his grand idea of a sibling set slasher and filled it to the brim with nods to his favorite filmmaker, giving it a very Psycho first act, as he kills off a lead character more than thirty minutes in, followed up by a small Rope homage as he uses as long of a take as possible to show the detective and reporter Collier making their way around Danielle’s apartment while looking for a body, all the while keeping a cool Rear Window style ever present with several characters watching important plot points develop through binoculars, typically from across the street, just as Jimmy Stewart does as Hitchcock’s classic wheelchair bound neighborly hero. During the editing process, he and Paul Hirsch even grew to believe it was necessary to get Bernard Herrmann to do the score.

De Palma is not character driven or a man of many words. He finds that too much chatter makes for a dull movie, and instead opts to find inspiration in a large set piece, or a big idea, and then shapes his story around that idea to match the image that he has in his head. Likewise, Raw director Ducournau is more into scoring long moments of silence rather than incorporating a ton of dialogue to explain what’s happening, and finds herself inspired by images of certain peculiar body movements, which she then uses as a jumping off point to build a narrative around. Therefore, although each director has his or her own way of doing it, the story actually comes second to the aesthetics for both filmmakers. Despite the difference in age, sex, birthplace, and point in time, they do share the habit of conjuring up strong visceral visuals and writing whatever is necessary to bring that visual to life.

In the case of these films, both of those visuals eventually came to involve sisters, and each showed the power of coming to terms with one’s own identity through the guiding force of her own female sibling. Blood, sex and carnage lined the path to self-actualization, but once each sister sets out to find herself, there was no turning back from the murderess that they would inevitably become.


Posted by Geoff at 8:39 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, March 26, 2017 8:42 PM CDT
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Saturday, March 25, 2017
ASSAYAS ON DE PALMA
"DE PALMA OR CRONENBERG, THEY DEAL WITH ABSTRACTIONS, WITH THE MYSTERIES OF LIFE"
Hot on the heels of Harry Knowles calling Personal Shopper an "instant classic" that reminds of Nicolas Roeg and Brian De Palma, comes an interview with that film's director in which he is asked if he'd thought of De Palma at all while making it. Here's an excerpt from the interview, conducted by Calum Marsh at the National Post:
So much of this film takes place “inside” a cellphone, so to speak. Is it an iMessage movie?

I had the desire to make a movie that was simply one long conversation over text messages. That’s a bit of a stretch, and would get us into some kind of experimental area, which is not quite what I wanted. But I think that text messaging — which has become such a big part of our lives, for such a long time now — is a fascinating mode of communication. I think its potential has never really been fully explored in films.

How do you mean?

Because texting creates a relationship to words, to punctuation, and other very complex things — how long it takes to answer, how it feels when you’re waiting for an answer. It’s so complex, and it’s so charged, and the way we use the words is so careful. It’s very similar to poetry. Texting is the closest thing we have to poetry in everyday life — because all of a sudden every single word echoes in all of its meanings. It’s very complex. And also fascinating, because we have this strange and disturbing addiction to the screens on our phone. It’s mesmerizing; there’s something hypnotic about it.

What exactly is so engrossing?

I think that any kind of text conversation is pretty intense. And it’s more intense than actual live conversation, which is mitigated by politeness and social conventions. Text messages are straight to the point: you verbalize things in a much clearer, straightforward way than you would do in conversation, where you sort of wrap it in niceness. In text messages, it’s not wrapped. It’s raw. I always thought there was an intensity there — and we’re not even talking about sexting, which one can do or not do, but when you even get close to that area it’s disturbing.

That’s fascinating dramatically. But what about aesthetically? How did you determine how the texting would look on-screen?

To me, it was obvious I was going to shoot the phones, to have the phone be held and used in close-up. I was not going to have those little pop-ups; I don’t like that at all. Because for me it has to do with the screen. If you disconnect the words from the screen, they don’t function the same way. It’s all about the screen. It’s the screen that fascinates us. Again, if you print the words, you don’t have the icons. You don’t have the waiting, the “received at that time,” you don’t get that kind of suspense. And that’s very specific — and addictive.

We’re addicted to the suspense of waiting for messages to arrive?

To all of it. I realized, you know, even when I was I was shooting the phone footage, and we’d wait for the text to arrive on camera, I would think, is it coming, is it coming? And I liked the idea of movement. A lot of times we have inserts, closeups; some of them we did separately but a lot of them have to do with the movement and the way Kristen is typing. She used to say that it’s a movie where her thumbs are the co-star. The way she types is interesting.

Did you instruct her to put a space before her question marks?

No! She did it naturally. This is something that’s not part of English punctuation — it’s something you do in France. In French, there’s a space.

Oh. That makes sense.

No, it makes no sense! But yeah, I never told her, “change this,” “you misspelled this or that.” I thought that was all part of the process.

I love this idea of turning off airplane mode and having the texts come through.

That was part of the screenplay, yeah. I wanted the fear to rise. I like the idea of the text messages coming as a cascade. But it was difficult to get it right — we had to do it multiple times. And the version in the film, it’s the only moment that’s slowed down. There’s a slight slow-motion.

Was Brian De Palma on your mind at all?

I love Brian De Palma. Not so much the recent work, but I’m a huge fan. I’m a huge fan. Some of his Hitchcockian work is pretty amazing. I never interviewed him, but I wrote a long piece about Body Double. I love most of his films from that period. The Fury is amazing.

It was on my mind because of the police interview…

Well, the love I have for De Palma, it’s like the admiration I have for filmmakers like David Cronenberg or John Carpenter. They are guys who make genre films that are just way beyond the genre. They are great artists. Usually they use genre to make films that deal with more complex things. Things that are more powerful. De Palma or Cronenberg, they deal with abstractions, with the mysteries of life. They are just great, great filmmakers, great writers. The genre element just makes it more powerful. So I tried to learn the lessons.

You’ve made genre films before. Boarding Gate, Demonlover. How do you balance those genre elements with a more sophisticated arthouse style?

Well, the more what I have on my mind is abstract — the more it can even be a bit intellectual, but I hope in the better sense, meaning reflexive — the more I feel I need the genre element to make it exciting. But it’s all about the balance. It’s only when you’re writing or editing when you feel the right balance.

Did the balance change in editing?

Yes. The music changed a great deal. Horror movies, they are covered in music, from start to finish, and it’s always very similar. At some point… you know, I’m friends with the Daft Punk guys, one of the Daft Punk guys. I wanted to use his music for the film, to have some kind of electronic soundtrack. And then I realized it would literally destroy the film — because all of a sudden it would become a genre film. That’s when I started using baroque music instead. It’s totally not what you’d expect in a genre film, and it doesn’t give it a genre tone. For me it’s a movie about Maureen that once in awhile goes into genre territory. So that’s mostly where the fine-tuning was. Also the ghost scene. Using CGI, it’s not exactly my world, it’s kind of strange to me. I thought I kind of needed to give some reality to her vision.


Previously:

Harry Knowles: Personal Shopper reminds of Nicolas Roeg, Brian De Palma, moments of Spielberg/Hooper

Jason Shawhan, Nashville Scene review of De Palma's Passion:

"Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams play beautiful corporate warriors doing awful things to one another, and the end result is a delirious fusion of Assayas' Demonlover and Mean Girls."

Personal Shopper echoes Body Double, and De Palma in general


Posted by Geoff at 9:16 PM CDT
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Thursday, March 23, 2017
HARRY KNOWLES ON 'PERSONAL SHOPPER'
"REMINDS OF NICOLAS ROEG, BRIAN DE PALMA, MOMENTS OF SPIELBERG/HOOPER"


Previously:
Personal Shopper echoes Body Double and De Palma in general

Posted by Geoff at 8:13 AM CDT
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Sunday, March 12, 2017
VIDEO - EDGAR WRIGHT'S 'BABY DRIVER' TRAILER
"I'M EXCITED ABOUT DOING SOMETHING THAT'S ALMOST PURELY VISUAL"

Baby Driver International Trailer

While talking to The Playlist's Kevin Jagernauth about Scott Pilgrim vs. The World back in August of 2010, director Edgar Wright mentioned that he was working on an original script that delves into the "purely visual" in a way that a Brian De Palma film frequently does. According to Jagernauth, the script was called Baby Driver, and here is how Wright described it to him:
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.

Previously:
Edgar Wright influenced by De Palma for Baby Driver

Posted by Geoff at 9:31 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 4:50 AM CDT
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Friday, March 3, 2017
TWEET - 'DRESSED TO KILL' & 'NIGHTDREAMS'


See also:
NightFlight article on Nightdreams

by Bryan Thomas
There weren’t actually too many people working on Nightdreams, though. [Stephen] Sayadian’s partner, Francis Delia — credited as the director of photography (sometimes as director) on the film, using the pseudonym “F.X. Pope” — actually operated the camera. Delia — a native New Yorker — had studied at Cooper Union and worked as as commercial photographer for Madison Avenue Ad agencies, but he was still at the very start of his career, according to his IMDB credits.

(As an aside, your humble writer actually met him once and spent an afternoon talking with him at a screening of his 1988 movie Freeway — held in a tiny room at Raleigh Studios as I recall — when he was looking for a music label to release the soundtrack. Sadly, our label passed on that opportunity).

But make no mistake, despite any involvement in Nightdreams by others, even Delia and Stahl, this is clearly a Sayadian film, a vision borne from his unique imagination and talents.

Sayadian has said that maybe five people worked on the crew of the low-budget art/porn film — in addition to Sayadian and Delia, there was a focus puller who made sure the camera stayed in focus, and a construction supervisor who worked on the sets that Sayadian carefully had art directed and he helped build the sets too. Despite the budget limitations, this gorgeous 35mm production is about visually similar — with its German Expressionist-influenced lighting scheme — with the production values of a high-quality, low-budget TV adverts...

...The thriller sequence seems to be patterned on Brian De Palma’s Dressed to Kill (Delia did the key art photography for the movie poster for Dressed To Kill).


Badass Digest's Jacob Knight on Body Double and Nightdreams
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."

Film Comment - Guilty Pleasures: Brian De Palma
"There was a very strange movie [Night Dreams (1981, by F. X. Pope)] that was made by the people who made Cafe Flesh. I can’t remember the title, but it’s the one before Cafe Flesh, and is very avant-garde. What makes it so incredible is its surrealism. It was shot very surrealistically and very expensively. The premise is that there’s a woman, Dorothy LeMay, in a kind of psychological observation chamber which is being watched by this psychiatrist. She’s constantly masturbating the whole time she’s being watched. While she’s masturbating, she’s, of course, having all these fantasies. One was when she was a little girl and the jack in the box possessed her. Then she’s a housewife and a black guy, Fast Talkin’ Freddy, in an Aunt Jemima box comes after her—it’s obsessed with boxes."


Posted by Geoff at 4:23 AM CST
Updated: Friday, March 3, 2017 4:27 AM CST
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Wednesday, March 1, 2017
JOE AHEARNE'S BBC MINI-SERIES, SPLIT DIOPTERS
3-EPISODE MINI 'THE REPLACEMENT' - FROM CREATOR OF 'ONE WAY OR DE PALMA'


Previously:
Joe Ahearne discusses One Way Or De Palma
Must-See Video: One Way Or De Palma

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, March 2, 2017 12:06 AM CST
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