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Monday, September 22, 2014
Robbie Collin, The Telegraph
"But above all, it’s is a delicious exercise in audience-baiting: what begins as a he-said, she-said story of mounting, murderous suspense, lurches at its fulcrum into the kind of hot mess Brian De Palma might have cooked up 20 years ago in his attic."

Graham Fuller, Screen Daily
"Psycho is a touchstone (as is Body Heat), though Fincher utilises suspense as a smokescreen for social critiquing. As it traces what went wrong in the marriage, Gone Girl simultaneously evolves as a mordant satire of the mediating of domestic violence as mass entertainment."

Michael Nordine, Indiewire
"Fincher likely prides himself on turning coal into diamonds at this point, but Flynn's script can feel so retrograde at times that one wonders whether it might have been better served by a De Palma, Bigelow, or even a Verhoeven — which is to say, a filmmaker less concerned with making the lascivious seem prestigious. (It's doubtful anyone else could have filmed a certain blood-soaked scene with such unsettling verve, however.)"

Xan Brooks, The Guardian
"In the meantime the film keeps changing costumes, covering its tracks. It’s nodding freely to everything from Fatal Attraction, to Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion, to The War of the Roses; all but tripping over itself in its rush to the climax. Thank heavens for Fincher, who keeps the tale so coiled and intense that we are prepared to stick with it, even as it pitches towards outright hysteria. He whips up a bracing, scalding sketch of a marriage in meltdown; a banner-headline study of the domestic hell that we make for each other."

Justin Chang, Variety
"Among other things, “Gone Girl” functions as a wickedly entertaining satire of our scandal-obsessed, trash-TV-addicted media culture; this is a movie as conversant with the tawdry true-crime sagas of Scott Peterson and Casey Anthony as it is with classic thrillers of domestic entrapment like Rebecca, Diabolique, Rosemary’s Baby and Fatal Attraction.”

Posted by Geoff at 8:27 PM CDT
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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Rose McGowan is doing what she really wants to do now, which is to direct films. Her short film, Dawn, is getting positive reviews, and to qualify the short for Oscar consideration, she's been hosting the Dawn Festival at the Downtown Independent in Los Angeles. The fest, which began Friday, runs for seven nights. Each night begins with a screening of the 18-minute Dawn, followed by a Q&A with McGowan, who then introduces a feature film in which women are given a strong voice. One of those features is Brian De Palma's Carrie, which will be introduced by McGowan this Wednesday night. (The other films are Ridley Scott's Thelma And Louise, John Hughes' Sixteen Candles, Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby, Jonathan Demme's Silence Of The Lambs, Hal Ashby's Harold And Maude, and David Swift's The Parent Trap.


In an interview with Under The Radar, Austin Trunick tells McGowan, "You’ve worked with some great directors across your career, in particular ones who have been known to sometimes handle dark subject matter – such as Wes Craven, Brian De Palma, even Quentin Tarantino to a degree. Was there anything you learned from watching or working with those directors that you brought to your own directing style?"

McGowan replies, "I think De Palma, out of any of them, for sure. I love his tracking shots. I’ve just been inspired by him, as a filmmaker. Even some of his later movies. It’s so hard to make a movie come out right, or do anything like that. But the actual art of what he does is really, really inspiring to me.

"For me, I probably lean more on things from the past than things from the present. People, I should say." When pushed to name some of those older directors who inspired her for Dawn, McGowan replies, "I would say Douglas Sirk, Charles Laughton, Jacques Tourneur … For me, art is a really big part of it, as well. The loneliness that I wanted to capture is what I feel when I look at certain Edward Hopper paintings. The life of an artist should be rich and encompass many different art forms. It can all coalesce into one piece; all of your random bits of knowledge. For me, I hosted a show on TCM for a year, and I’m on the board of the Film Noir Society with Dennis Lehane and [James] Ellroy, people like this. I’m really steeped in the classics, but I love modern film as well, obviously." (Speaking of Ellroy, of course, McGowan appeared in De Palma's adaptation of the author's The Black Dahlia.)

McGowan similarly tells Ain't It Cool's Papa Vinyard, "It's like when you're, I'd imagine, a [sculptor]. Every chip off the block is what you don't want until it's what you do want. And there have definitely been- I worked with De Palma, and I was really inspired by some of his tracking shots, and certain people like that. But by and large, most of the stuff I did as an actor wasn't [incredibly] inspirational to me as a director."


In a Rotten Tomatoes Podcast, host Grae Drake tells McGowan, "Carrie is actually a note that I made while I was watching [Dawn], because Dawn’s mother is like a less-aggressive Piper Laurie to me. And even in a very short amount of screen time, and a very kind of realistic portrayal of a mom, it wasn’t over-the-top. I went, ‘Oooh, she's gonna be lockin’ Dawn in a closet at some point during this movie.’ [Laughter] Like, this is not going to go well. And so without revealing too much, I thought it was a really good way of foreshadowing what was going to go on, and the kind of world that this poor young girl is finding herself in."

McGowan then replies, "Yeah, [she's] trapped. And I really did it for women. You know, my mom is 60, she just turned 60. And I’m kind of fascinated by that era, and that they were raised to be pleasant and da-da-da, and essentially your goal is to take care of a man and his children. And then I’m fascinated by the fact that later in the ‘60s, the sexual revolution happens, and they’re supposed to be loose and free. But you’re actually programmed to please a man. It was just a really interesting era, and my mom was raised by a very similar mother to Dawn’s, and I wanted to bring that to the screen. Ironically, or, oddly enough, I had Piper Laurie cast in the original short I was planning on doing... Except, she’s 86, I had her in the woods, sub-zero temperatures, getting killed by… it was an adaptation of a Flannery O’Connor piece. Which is a heavy, you know, some great material. So well-written. But I think it all turned out for the best."

The Flannery O'Connor piece sounds likely to have been A View Of The Woods.

Posted by Geoff at 10:33 PM CDT
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Saturday, September 20, 2014

About 30-minutes into the directors' commentary on the DVD/Blu-ray of Captain America: Winter Soldier, Anthony and Joe Russo mention their debt to Brian De Palma for two specific sequences in the film. "As we were talking about making a thriller," says one of them, "we went and looked at, obviously, the masters of tension. And nobody had really done a great De Palma-esque sequence in a while, since probably the white vault room in Mission: Impossible. And so we said, can we find a couple of sequences in this film where we put our very likable characters in impossible situations, and protract it, and really keep the audience on edge as to how they’re going to escape the sequence. Fury in his car was one of them, and Cap in the elevator was another one of them."

(Thanks to Andy!)


Posted by Geoff at 11:21 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, September 21, 2014 10:43 PM CDT
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Friday, September 12, 2014
Variety's Justin Chang on The New Girlfriend, which had its world premiere this week at the Toronto International Film Festival:

"An air of Hitchcockian menace and free-floating sexual perversity is by now nothing new for Francois Ozon, but rarely has this French master analyzed the cracks in his characters’ bourgeois facades to such smooth and pleasurable effect as he does in The New Girlfriend. A skillfully triangulated psychological thriller about a woman who learns that the husband of her deceased BFF is harboring a most unusual secret, this delectable entertainment is as surprising for its continually evolving (and involving) dynamics of desire as for its slow-building emotional power, making for a warmer, more open-ended experience than the creepy Ruth Rendell tale from which it’s been 'loosely adapted.' Powered by beautifully controlled performances from Anais Demoustier and Romain Duris, Ozon’s Girlfriend should have willing arthouse escorts lining up worldwide. It opens Nov. 5 in France.

"Rendell, that icy master of British detective fiction, has been best served onscreen by European filmmakers outside the U.K., at least on the evidence of Claude Chabrol’s La Ceremonie and Pedro Almodovar’s Live Flesh. Viewers may well recognize some signature Almodovarian flourishes in this particular saga of gender subversion and forbidden lust; in significantly reshaping Rendell’s taut, chilling short story (mainly by killing off a key character and adding an infant to the mix), Ozon has effectively transformed the material into a clever fantasia on the many varieties of sexual perversity. It will require some mental gymnastics on the viewer’s part to keep up with the increasingly unstable laws of desire that govern the second act, but the director crucially maintains a lifeline to reality even when things threaten to go deliciously over-the-top.

"From the moment they seal their bond in blood to their respective weddings some years later, childhood best friends Claire (played as an adult by Demoustier) and Laura (Isild Le Besco) are utterly inseparable. And so it comes as a particularly devastating blow when Laura becomes ill and dies, leaving her husband, David (Duris), to raise their newborn daughter, Lucie, by himself — albeit with help from godmother Claire and her spouse, Gilles (Raphael Personnaz). All this is compressed into a marvelously economical opening sequence, marked by a distinctly Brian De Palma vibe with its elegant camera moves and morbidly beautiful overhead shots of Laura’s impeccably dressed corpse, plus the mildly unnerving sense that the film is simultaneously mourning and mocking its characters’ unhappiness, as signaled by the swoons and sobs of Philippe Rombi’s extravagantly soapy score."

Posted by Geoff at 12:25 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, September 13, 2014 3:05 PM CDT
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Friday, August 29, 2014

Simon Abrams, RogerEbert.com

"I found The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears to be mesmerizing because it's a weird mix of De Palma-like precision, and Argento-esque immediacy. Which is to say: it feels like a formally accomplished experiment that doesn't need to add up to much to be really impressive. There's so much information swimming on the film's top-heavy surface, especially speculation about how guilt and voyeurism inevitably go hand-in-hand, that the plot's various gaps can be filled in a couple of different ways each time you rewatch it. Cattet and Forzani's confidence as image-makers forces interest in where they take Dan to next, even if it's ultimately nowhere more memorable than a bracing shot or two (the mirror-sex scene is especially memorable). I've deliberately kept the film's plot and many of its details a secret for that reason. The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears is a movie you really should see and judge for yourself since so much of its charms are visceral. It's a pleasure to behold because it doesn't try to be anything more than a beautiful, troubling trip."

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CDT
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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Posted by Geoff at 12:41 PM CDT
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Saturday, July 26, 2014

"[Scarlett] Johansson plays Lucy as a mouthy hanger-on who’s transformed into a ninja Carrie White in The Matrix."
David Edelstein, Vulture

"For himself, Besson manages two intriguing bits: When Lucy kisses an Arab cop (Amr Waked) and tells him 'You’re a reminder' and a DePalma-style scene where she likens fast-motion film to human experience: 'Time is the only measure of existence.' Flashy and pithy. Take that, Richard Linklater!"
Armond White, National Review

Posted by Geoff at 2:08 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, July 27, 2014 8:11 PM CDT
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Sunday, July 20, 2014
The A.V. Club has posted a midyear look at the best films of 2014 so far, dubbing the article "a halftime report in superlatives." For "most jarring mid-film gear change," Mike D'Angelo writes about Zack Parker's Proxy, stating that the "slow-burn thriller about the dark side of motherhood is among the year’s most divisive movies, and a specific scene at its midpoint tends to divide yea-sayers from naysayers. The first half follows a young woman (Alexia Rasmussen) who turns to a support group after she’s viciously attacked while in the late stages of pregnancy, losing the baby as a result. Her subsequent friendship with another grieving mother (Alexa Havins) takes a series of increasingly odd turns, with Parker repeatedly upending assumptions about who these people are and what they want. Then comes the scene: a strikingly stylized set piece, equal parts Brian De Palma and Lars Von Trier, upending the narrative so completely that it takes a while to realize it wasn’t a dream sequence. Not everyone will appreciate Proxy’s abrupt new direction, which shifts focus to a degree meriting comparison to Psycho, but Parker’s willingness to risk failure and alienate viewers heralds an ambition too infrequently seen in contemporary genre fare. He’s the real deal."

Back in April, D'Angelo reviewed Proxy for The Dissolve, writing that Parker "combines a Hitchcockian penchant for disorientation with a Brian De Palma-esque formal bravado, and he’s made the rare film that’s impossible to peg all the way up to its final minutes—a truly unnerving study in multiple pathologies."

Posted by Geoff at 8:38 PM CDT
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Monday, July 14, 2014

Nacho Vigalondo's Open Windows, which he has previously indicated was partially inspired by Blow Out, will screen at this year's Fantasia International Film Festival, as part of a themed section dubbed "Antisocial Media." Fantasia's co-director, Mitch Davis, tells the Montreal Gazette's T'Cha Dunlevy that Open Windows "takes place entirely on a character’s computer screen. It’s almost like a Brian De Palma thriller, by way of Mike Figgis. It’s super-dynamic, volume-11 storytelling. Vigalondo sets these bizarre limitations, but by going into close-ups of all these different (computer screen) windows — hence the title — and shifting focus in a propulsive way as the lead character goes into a rabbit hole of criminality and conspiracy, it works brilliantly."

Meanwhile, Sensacine's Alejandro G. Calvo interviewed Vigalondo a couple of weeks ago, mentioning that with Open Windows, there is a lot of talk about Alfred Hitchcock, "but the truth is that [it] has a lot of Brian De Palma. Blow Out, of course, but also Redacted."

To which Vigalondo responded, "Well, Blow Out is my favorite De Palma film. That is a reference with which I feel very comfortable. I think he's a very ambitious, but at the same time, very human filmmaker. His films have both virtuosity and weaknesses, all wonderful. I feel much more comfortable with De Palma with Hitchcock, as I name them. If you allow it to be tagged as such, it is a beast of an ambition that seems an unattainable task. Then people write things like "this guy is trying to be the Hitchcock of the 21st Century" and, well, I do not mean anything! They are the ones who have written it! (laughs). So I prefer to think about De Palma, someone who I see as like family."

Posted by Geoff at 8:32 PM CDT
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014
In a recap of this week's episode of FOX-TV's 24, Vulture's Aaron Aradillas states that one moment brought Brian De Palma's The Untouchables to mind:

"[This] led to the centerpiece action sequence of the episode," writes Aradillas. "Unlike the car chase from a couple episodes ago, the shootout and cat-and-mouse hunt for Margot’s precise location was a terrifically sustained piece of action moviemaking. Director Milan Cheylov does some nice close-quarter handheld camerawork, especially when Jack is working his way up several flights of stairs to get to Margot’s hideout. The score by Sean Callery during this sequence had a thrumming, Tangerine Dream–like intensity. Jack managed to stop the drone from destroying Waterloo Station in a classic bit of 24 keyboard precision. Margot looked particularly pathetic as she continued to taunt Jack even when she was in custody. She sneered, 'Hundreds of people died because of you and Heller … Their deaths are on your head!' Then, in a shocking moment that had echoes of Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables, Jack pulled an Eliot Ness and threw Margot out the window. 'The only death tonight on my head is yours!' he snarled. We can debate the murky morality of the moment, but there’s no denying the immediacy of it. Jack Bauer had done our dirty work. Again."

The full episode can be viewed at FOX.com.

Posted by Geoff at 10:38 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 10:39 PM CDT
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