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Washington Post
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Exclusive Passion
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AV Club Review
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Thursday, July 21, 2016
CAHIERS DU CINEMA ON 'NEON DEMON'
Thanks to Patrick for translating the following passage for us, from the June 2016 issue of Cahiers du Cinéma-- it's Cyril Béghin writing about Nicolas Winding Refn's Neon Demon:
Only God Forgives was already searching for a collage of archetypal or primal scenes, but Refn goes further this time, yielding only very little to the sirens of the genre and instead crystallizing clear and solitary visions that coexist and create a sequence of heterogeneous spaces for Jesse to circulate through. Thus the distant sensation his film owes even more to Carrie than to Mario Bava or Valley of the Dolls: when Jesse appears to float in the air, at the edge of a diving board, she recalls the omnipotent levitation of De Palma's adolescent, which is at the same time the invention of an image, aerial statue or demon of neon.

Previously:
'NEON DEMON' REVIEWS OFTEN MENTION DE PALMA

Posted by Geoff at 8:06 AM CDT
Updated: Sunday, July 24, 2016 2:23 PM CDT
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Tuesday, July 5, 2016
'NEON DEMON' REVIEWS OFTEN MENTION DE PALMA


Corey Craft, Arts Bham

"Earlier this week I saw the documentary De Palma, a feature length interview with the great director Brian De Palma, whose many films [include] Carrie, Scarface and The Untouchables. It’s a terrific watch for film fans, but most notably, one is struck by De Palma’s detail-oriented craft and complete control. Every shot, camera movement and actor’s blocking is motivated by a larger artistic purpose, even as his films delve into some outright sleazy subject matter from time to time.

"Now readers are probably wondering what this all has to do with the latest provocation from Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn. I saw The Neon Demon right after De Palma. They seemed to be appropriate bedfellows: a movie about a filmmaker who walks the fine line between art and trash, and then a movie that hopefully does that itself. Instead, the deficiencies of The Neon Demon were thrown into stark relief. Nicolas Winding Refn, it turns out, is no Brian De Palma."

Drew McWeeny, HitFix

"I’ll be the first to admit that I am drawn to filmmakers who use cinema as a way of pushing buttons, and I am a fan of the outrageous and the extreme. When I saw De Palma, the new documentary about Brian De Palma and his filmography, it sent me scrambling to watch a number of his older films again. They are so familiar at this point, so well-worn, that it surprised me to see how new they still feel when I took a step back. The next day, I went to a screening of the latest film from Nicolas Winding Refn, and the back-to-back timing of the two films made me laugh. More than anything, this feels like Refn working in the genre that De Palma had largely to himself in the late ’70s and early ’80s before getting relegated to mere late-night Cinemax fodder."

Andrew O'Hehir, Salon

"Any number of movies have been made about the depravity of Los Angeles and the moral vacuum of the illusion industries at that city’s heart. It’s virtually a genre of self-loathing all to itself, from Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard to Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring. Nicolas Winding Refn’s fashionista horror film The Neon Demon, which is something like the bastard offspring of Brian De Palma and David Cronenberg, with a dollop of David Lynch on the down-low, definitely belongs to that tradition. But The Neon Demon is a striking and unusual L.A. story in several respects, not least because most of it occurs indoors."

Stephen Silver, Splice Today

"The Neon Demon is a tale of jealousy and bitterness set in L.A.’s fashion world, and has more than a little bit in common, thematically and stylistically, with Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. There are continuing motifs involving blood, large panthers, stylized violence and skinny models with visible ribcages. I could see Brian De Palma watching The Neon Demon and thinking the director should’ve taken it down a notch."

Edward Douglas, New York Daily News

"Over the past few years, Refn has been given a lot of free reign as a cinematic craftsman in the vein of David Fincher, Stanley Kubrick and Brian De Palma. But viewers will quickly realize that the real stars of Refn's film are his cinematographer Natasha Braier and composer Cliff Martinez, whose beautiful shots and ambient score are often the saving graces of The Neon Demon. (Even Martinez's synth noodlings start to get tiring once you realize the movie isn't going anywhere you may have any interest in going.) As with many supermodels, The Neon Demon is gorgeous to the eye but ultimately quite vacant and shallow."

Beth Accomando, KPBS

"I love Refn’s work and seeing The Neon Demon right after seeing the documentary De Palma was perfect. Brian De Palma was a filmmaker dedicated to a particular vision and he crafted his film with great care. Refn has that same obsession with that sense of cinematic craft. Both directors make films that at their core also seem to be about the act of making a film."

Randall King, Winnipeg Free Press

"While the film has components of sex and violence, do not expect some kind of Brian De Palma-esque thriller. Refn is one for long, lingering takes and slow buildups, steeping the audience in the existential horror of it all. But as unsavoury as the material is — be warned there is a necrophilia scene that makes the pervy 1996 Canadian movie Kissed look like a Disney film — one can’t deny the sheer potency of Refn’s painstakingly composed images, even if the cumulative impact of it all leaves one feeling as empty as the glamourous amazons populating the screen."


Posted by Geoff at 12:48 AM CDT
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Saturday, June 18, 2016
WE'RE BAAACK
AND WE HAVE SOMETHING SPECIAL: ALFONSO GOMEZ-REJON ON DE PALMA, HIS "CINEMATIC HERO"


Our host site, Lycos, was down for three days due to some kind of major data transfer that took longer than they expected. We'll get back on track this weekend with the documentary and related roundups, but first, something kind of special: yesterday, The Hollywood Reporter posted a guest column from director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (several episodes of American Horror Story, feature film Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), titled "Why Brian De Palma Is My Cinematic Hero." Gomez-Rejon's column opens with him fighting with his producers to keep all of his split-diopter shots in an unnamed early film (which may or may not have been his remake of The Town That Dreaded Sundown). "I did my best to explain the power and psychological effect of a split diopter," he writes. "The paranoia I was trying to convey in this particular scene. How the entire film was an homage to the movies. How a film had defined a town and fictionalized it’s pain -- how those particular shots were an homage to my hero, Brian De Palma, and Blow Out, specifically. You can’t approach a split diopter shot intellectually; it’s a feeling."

Definitely go to the link above and read the entire column-- here's an excerpt:

Filmmaking has been my obsession since growing up in Laredo, Texas. I woke up thinking about movies. I fell asleep at night watching them. For me, De Palma was the apostle of cinematic technique. Delivering his sermons through the VHS tapes in my video store church. Pointing me in the direction of my own projection light. Bridging the gap between my cinematic fantasies and cinematic reality. This is how I watched Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Scarface and Body Double. De Palma’s camera was a character; he embraced it -- these were works of art that were defining the medium and moving it forward. He was breaking and reinterpreting the form. There was constant strategic and spectacular movement. There was color, sexuality, absurdity. He was literally directing you, telling you where to see. Everything seemed to be at the service of the movie. The images were alive. Iconoclastic works of energy that inspired cinematic curiosity. This first film of his that I watched in the theater was The Untouchables. I was 14 or 15 and went back with my father half a dozen times. I found myself mesmerized by the production design, the lighting, the score -- the great spectacle. Another monolith arose from the ground and I realized that cinema was also a collaborative enterprise.

My first week at NYU in the fall of 1990, while walking in the Village, I saw Brian De Palma walking on the opposite side the street. We were on Sixth Avenue. He turned on to 8th Street towards Fifth Avenue. And I did the natural thing: I followed. There he was, walking like a regular person. Propelling himself forward, one foot in front of the other, like any other mortal. Movies stars always looking smaller in the flesh, but De Palma was even bigger. I felt like a small-time mobster casing a target, or a De Palma steadicam shot. This was my secret, privileged moment.

Here was the man who taught me about storyboarding in a Premiere Magazine article that published his early Macintosh boards for Casualties of War. He opened me up to the actual craft. The engineering. The planning -- skills that would later lead to a tiny career of me boarding my way through college for extra money, working on independent and graduate thesis films.

Once in New York, I practically lived at Bobst Library, going through their video library, discovering films my local video store didn’t carry. Dionysus in '69, Sisters, The Fury, Blow Out and Phantom of the Paradise. And then, of course more Hitchcock -- and then there it was, De Palma’s playful relationship with the past and nod to the masters that shaped him. Studio films with a Hollywood scope that defied and maybe even played the system. He was exploring the past but remaining a trailblazer that energized me in the present. Although I was an intensely shy kid, I found myself in full-on attack mode when a classmate would dismiss one of his films. The Untouchables and Scarface could never be contested. But if someone would dismiss Blow Out, I’d pounce. There was an innate sense that I needed to protect the masters and their extraordinary vision, especially those who I felt were under-appreciated. It was my duty.

A couple of years later, he was shooting Carlito’s Way down the street from my dorm in the West Village. They were working nights and I would just watch from the sidewalk -- as close as a PA would let me get. Pacino. De Palma and Stephen Burum. Fake rain. The biggest set I had ever seen. It was quite literally the realization of my dreams; an extraordinary sensation that overwhelmed me and cemented that I had chosen the right career ... however long and however painful that journey might be. This search for an identity that had always plagued me because of the nature of where I was from, went away. I only needed to be defined by my dreams and hopefully, resilience, not unlike what -- from the outside -- De Palma has shown throughout his career.


Posted by Geoff at 11:15 AM CDT
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Sunday, May 22, 2016
'PERSONAL SHOPPER' ECHOES 'BODY DOUBLE'
AND OTHER CRITICS' NOTES FROM CANNES 2016 - 'ELLE' - 'NEON DEMON'
Some of the films at Cannes the past week and a half have reminded critics of Brian De Palma, with Body Double mentioned specifically in regards to two of them. Here's a roundup:

OLIVIER ASSAYAS' 'PERSONAL SHOPPER'

Screen Daily's Lee Marshall

"In some ways, Personal Shopper feels like a Gallic cineaste’s attempt to recapture some of the freewheeling, kooky genre-drama of a 1980s Brian De Palma movie – and there’s more than an echo of Body Double here – but what’s missing is the latter’s style and verve. The lack of glamour in [Kristen] Stewart’s introverted, depressed personal shopper character leaches into the visual style of a film that, with the exception of a couple of scenes set in a scary old house and a spoof period movie reconstruction, often feels flat and conventional."

Jessica Kiang, The Playlist

"There are, at a conservative count, four different movies inside Olivier Assayas' new film, led by his Clouds of Sils Maria star Kristen Stewart, and two of them might even be quite good. There’s the full blown ghost story, complete with creaking floorboard, haunted house, CG-phantasms-hanging-out-of-chandeliers-spewing-ectoplasm, which is unexpected. There’s the straight-up grief movie, in which a twin mourns the recent death of her brother while the others in his life circle around her anxiously, which is promising but underdeveloped. There’s the Brian De Palma-esque elaborate and illogical murder mystery with added modern tech aspects (texting), which is twaddle. And there’s the fashion industry/celebrity satire part which is a lot of fun, because we get to see Kristen Stewart topless and trying things on, looking at jewellery, sneaking a go in her employer’s haute couture, forking over thousands for perfectly unremarkable handbags and generally purchasing the clothes that, at least half the time with Personal Shopper, the emperor isn’t wearing."

Allan Hunter, The List

Personal Shopper is "an awkward fusion of ghost story, celebrity culture satire and half-baked Brian De Palma-style thriller. There are enough intriguing elements to keep it watchable but it never manages to gel into a coherent whole...

"...Assayas heads off the rails when he attempts to shoehorn way too many other elements into the story. We also spend time following Maureen on her day job among the haute couture houses and Cartiers of Paris, choosing items for her demanding celebrity boss Kyra (Nora von Waldstätten). Perhaps part of Maureen even wishes she was Kyra and that is what leads to the De Palma-inspired secret stalker, who acts like a refugee from Scream and urges Maureen to give in to her secret desires. Unfortunately, their cat and mouse games are played out in exchanges of text messages, which makes for deadly dull cinema. In some respects, Personal Shopper is rather stylish, with hints of Polanski and even Kieslowski in the execution, and Stewart’s nervy, edgy performance nearly manages to keep everything on track. Almost but not quite is the final verdict."

No De Palma reference in this next one, but interesting as a counterpoint to the negative reviews above:

Guy Lodge, Time Out London

"Among the many things that appear to be on Assayas's mind is the disembodied – and disembodying – nature of modern-day communication and social media, which makes ghosts of us all to those with whom we text far more than we talk. Perhaps no film has ever made the mobile phone quite such an instrument of tension: the on-screen iPhone ellipsis of an incoming message takes on a breath-halting urgency here.

"For the preservation of enjoyment, no more should be revealed about the film's gliding, glassy sashay through multiple, splintered genres and levels of consciousness – except to say that Assayas, working in the high-concept, game-playing vein of his Irma Vep and demonlover, is in shivery control of it all. And he's found an impeccably attuned muse in Stewart, who wears the film's curiosity with the same casually challenging stride that she does – in a key scene of sensual self-realisation – a jaw-dropping silk-organza bondage gown."

PAUL VERHOEVEN'S 'ELLE', WITH ISABELLE HUPPERT

Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

"Not unlike Brian De Palma, another filmmaker who likes to skirt the boundaries of good taste, Verhoeven has inspired no shortage of gender-based arguments over the years: Whether his female characters are misogynist constructs or avatars of empowerment is a topic open to continual debate and reappraisal. That seems unlikely to change with his latest work, Elle, a breathtakingly elegant and continually surprising French-language thriller that brought the 69th Cannes Film Festival competition to a rousing close on Saturday."

Robbie Collin, The Telegraph

"Michèle also finds herself curiously attracted to Patrick (Laurent Lafitte), her married neighbour across the road – and in a sequence worthy of Brian De Palma, she pleasures herself while peering at him through a pair of binoculars from her study window, while he sets up an outdoor nativity set."

NICOLAS WINDING REFN'S 'NEON DEMON'

Rodrigo Fonseca, Omelete

"It's a gory, bloody, and erotic thriller that evokes David Lynch (in Mulholand Drive) and Brian De Palma (in Body Double), making direct reference to Under the Skin (2013), with Scarlett Johansson."

Luca Celada, Golden Globe Awards

"What starts out as a glossy, Brian De Palma-style thriller soon veers sharply into David Lynchian territory and finally into surrealist horror. It turns out this is not All About Eve, nor Star 80 after all, but another Refn taunt which embraces camp and revels in horror to the extreme. And there is nothing like cannibalism and necrophilia to set Cannes tongues wagging."

Neon Demon Press Conference

Journalist asks Refn if the film was inspired by Brian De Palma at all, because it reminded him of De Palma's Dressed To Kill. Refn responds, "Well, I love Brian De Palma. I mean, who doesn't love Brian De Palma?"


Posted by Geoff at 4:19 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 2:29 AM CDT
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Friday, April 29, 2016
TWEET: 'ALWAYS SHINE' LIKE DE PALMA'S '3 WOMEN'

Posted by Geoff at 10:52 PM CDT
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Thursday, April 21, 2016
'ALWAYS SHINE' DIRECTOR ON HER INFLUENCES
HI, MOM! / PSYCHO / 3 WOMEN / OPENING NIGHT / IMAGES / MORVERN CALLAR / PERSONA
Sophia Takal's Always Shine (the followup to her 2011 debut, Green) had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival last week. "The early reviews have been positive," states Tasha Robinson at The Verge, "and occasionally rapturous. Like Green, Always Shine deals with jealousy and competition between two women. But where Green is a loose mumblecore drama, Always Shine is a nervy thriller that owes as much to Single White Female as it does to deliberate touchstones like Ingmar Bergman’s Persona."

In a review of the film for The Playlist, Kimber Myers writes, "Always Shine has echoes of Brian De Palma, David Lynch and Ingmar Bergman, though it simultaneously maintains a presence all its own. While the work of those filmmakers often focuses on female characters, a woman director brings a unique perspective to its story of friendship, jealousy and obsession, framing it within the larger concerns of feminism. While it does explore current issues, you’re not getting handed a syllabus in Women’s Studies 101. Instead, its energies are focused toward showcasing the environment its characters reside in and how that shapes who they are and their actions. Even though Takal was likely influenced by the aforementioned auteurs, her directorial vision is still distinctly her own. Always Shine is a film with plenty of style, from its title sequence with an '80s font and frenetic pace to its final cut to black."

Going back to Robinson's article at The Verge-- she interviews Takal, at one point asking about her influences:

You’ve cited Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, John Cassavetes’ A Woman Under The Influence, and Lynn Ramsay’s Morvern Callar as major influences on this film. What did these films bring to the table?

All the movies from the 1970s with slow zooms were visual influences. With my director of photography, Mark Schwartzbard, we watched Robert Altman’s 3 Women and Images, and I really wanted to build suspense through slow zooms and a moving camera like he does. Theme-wise, 3 Women was also a big influence, as was Cassavetes’ Opening Night. The idea of the ghost that becomes more and more threatening to Gena Rowlands’ character was something we wanted to incorporate. And with Morvern Callar — Larry showed me that movie, because a lot of the feedback we were getting from traditional financiers, when we were trying to make this movie in a more traditional way, was that the main character wasn’t likable, and it was unclear why she was doing these things. Larry said, "There’s this great movie you need to see, where the protagonist’s motivations aren’t really explained in a way where everything ties up neatly, and with a character who’s flawed." That really opened things up for me.

I don’t know if this is true, but I feel like female directors are better able to understand the complexity of a female character without needing to explain everything, and without needing to make the character "likable." Likability to me is such a frustrating thing. I think there’s more awareness around this now, but in general, male characters can be so flawed, but if a woman is mildly annoying, "She’s not likable!" It mirrors this box of femininity in the real world, too, where you have to be this one narrow, certain way, and if you’re not, you’re intolerable.

Who do you consider the main character? One of the interesting things about the film is that there’s such a balance between Anna and Beth, in terms of perspective and sympathy.

Psycho was also an influence, in that you start off being in one character’s psychology, and then it shifts. Anna is based on me, so I always thought of her as the main character. But I did want to start with Beth and have that shift, so you understand both characters’ point of view. I think you transition into Anna’s headspace around that scene at the bar with the handsome older dude. If we were aping Psycho, that was our shower moment, our transition moment.

Brian De Palma also feels like an influence here, given how much you’re looking at voyeurism and sex and the film industry, and questions of identity and escape. Was he part of the mix?

I’ve loved the films I’ve seen of his, and I’m sure he was an influence for Larry and my DP, but I’m not so familiar with his movies. I saw Body Double and a really good one with Robert De Niro called Hi, Mom! which was also an influence, because it’s not experimental, but it’s just totally wild, and it narratively goes off on these wild diversions, which I did in the scene here with Jane Adams. It’s just a diversion that may have been inspired by the diversions in Hi, Mom! I love that movie.

But I’m not that well-versed in cinema. Zach Clark, my editor, he knows so much about movies, and I’ve had so many collaborators who know so much more about movies than I do that they were able to infuse in choices I might not have thought of. They just have a bigger cinematic vocabulary.


Posted by Geoff at 11:34 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, April 21, 2016 11:36 PM CDT
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Tuesday, March 8, 2016
'HELL'S CLUB PART TWO ANOTHER NIGHT'
CARRIE MEETS CARRIE, OPENS WITH CARLITO "IN MEMORIAM" w/PATRICK DOYLE MUSIC, MORE 'SCARFACE'

Last week, Antonio Maria Da Silva posted a sequel to last year's Hell's Club, the just-under-ten-minutes mash-up video that brought together several high-profile movie characters using scenes from nightclubs. In that video, Tony Montana met eyes with Carlito Brigante. The new video opens with Patrick Doyle's theme music from Carlito's Way, showing a framed poster on the wall of Carlito, "in memoriam," edited with shots of Gail in the nightclub, looking sad and missing him. At one point, Montana pays his respects to the poster, as well. The much longer video that follows (the running time of this sequel, titled Hell's Club Part Two Another Night, is around 17-minutes) includes Tony Montana battling with aliens, and a moment in which Carrie (Sissy Spacek) meets eyes with Carrie (Chloë Grace Moretz). Watch the new video below:

Posted by Geoff at 7:54 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, March 8, 2016 7:56 PM CST
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Monday, March 7, 2016
JOE & ANTHONY RUSSO TALK MORE DE PALMA
AS CARRYOVER INFLUENCE ON UPCOMING 'CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR'
Collider's Matt Goldberg was among a large group of reporters that visited the set of Captain America: Civil War in May of 2015, where they were able to discuss the film with writers/directors Joe and Anthony Russo, who mentioned that the De Palma influence they spoke of regarding their previous Captain America film is present in the current one, as well:
Something I really loved about the commentary you guys did on Winter Soldier was you kept listing all the films and directors that influenced a certain sequence or how you broke a story or how you shot something, I was wondering if you could talk about some of the films that helped influenced how you approached this one.

ANTHONY: In general, just as a framing we always thought about Winter Soldier very specifically as a political thriller. This movie we think of more as a psychological thriller. It’s connected to what we’re doing in Winter Soldier, but it evolves into a more sensitive, complicated character thriller. Again, I think based upon the fact we’re dealing with our protagonists clashing with one another.

JOE: The movies we’ve been referencing a lot on this one are Se7en, weirdly. We like smashing genres into each other, so if you can find something that’s really idiosyncratic in respect to superhero genre and you can smoosh it into it you usually wind up with something fresh and different. Se7en, Fargo, just as far as we’re not making comparisons in terms of quality we’re just talking influences, The Godfather, because that’s a sprawling film with a lot of characters that tells very intricate stories. Each character has an arc. What else?

ANTHONY: De Palma is also.

JOE: De Palma is the one carry over between both movies, because he’s so good at tension and empty space. Trying to think of who else…

ANTHONY: It’s hard to talk about it because then you give stuff away. We could probably talk about 100 of them.

JOE: We were referencing this sequence as our Rumble Fish sequence.

ANTHONY: We’ve been also referencing westerns a lot as we start to think about these character showdowns.


Posted by Geoff at 8:26 PM CST
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Sunday, January 31, 2016
ANYTIME THERE'S A SPLIT SCREEN THESE DAYS...

Posted by Geoff at 6:41 PM CST
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Monday, December 28, 2015
TWEET: 'HATEFUL 8' CH. 6 AS DE PALMA HOMAGE

Posted by Geoff at 1:54 AM CST
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