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Sunday, May 22, 2016
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:


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."


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."


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

Posted by Geoff at 10:52 PM CDT
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Thursday, April 21, 2016
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

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
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

Posted by Geoff at 6:41 PM CST
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Monday, December 28, 2015

Posted by Geoff at 1:54 AM CST
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Thursday, December 17, 2015
The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw posted a five-star review of Quentin Tarantino's new film, The Hateful Eight, calling it an "old-fashioned three-hour masterpiece." He also mentions a strong resemblance to Brian De Palma's Carrie:

"The Hateful Eight are snowed in together like Agatha Christie characters in a country house, or indeed the Big Brother house," states Bradshaw in the review. "But unlike an Agatha Christie story — but very much like, say, Reservoir Dogs — there is no notional authority figure to exert control over everyone. The only authority is violence and superior firepower, or the superior firepower of talk — the threat of violence. Everyone is armed of course, and there are other weapons to hand, and the mere presence of criminals with bounties on their heads creates a market force in favour of violence. The pre-violence tension, including the scattershot N-bombing, is unbearable, and coolly sustained by the dialogue. It is itself a kind of violence and leads to a quite extraordinary climax just before the Intermission. That, along with the Overture, is part of the film’s old-fashioned furniture.

"There is a little of Sergio Leone and the classic pulp westerns of Elmore Leonard, and as a big drama in a little place it could almost be a Sam Peckinpah version of a swearified Harold Pinter. Later, for obvious reasons, it will look like Brian De Palma’s Carrie. But this movie is just so utterly distinctive, it really could be by no-one else but Tarantino. The inventive, swaggering dialogue is what drives it onward: quintessentially American. (I continue to think that Inglourious Basterds [is] the weakest of Tarantino’s films because he strays away from the American wellspring.) And The Hateful Eight repeats a classic trope from Reservoir Dogs: the idea of being in unbearable pain from a gunshot wound, but still talking, still being a threat. There is a horrible kind of black-comic heroism in continuing to threaten and crack wise while being in the same kind of unbearable agony you are planning to inflict on someone else. 'Thriller' is a generic label which has lost its force. But The Hateful Eight thrills."





Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CST
Updated: Friday, December 18, 2015 12:24 AM CST
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Friday, November 20, 2015
Gaspar Noe, whose new film Love is playing in theaters this month in both 3D and 2D, talked to Rotten Tomatoes' Kerr Lordygan about his five favorite films. Here's what Noe said about one of the five, Gerald Kargl's Angst, from 1983:

"Maybe ten years later [after seeing Salò], I had written some shorts and I was talking with a friend who said, 'Oh, have you seen this Austrian movie that has been banned in France for extreme violence?' That came out in VHS. And the German title was Angst. And the VHS was called Schizophrenia — the French VHS with French subtitles. And I tell you it was weird, it was like the beginning of some kind of new thing — that some movies could be banned for theatrical release but they could still come out on VHS. So I got the VHS. Nowadays there are maybe things that are banned out there, but you can find it with one click on the net. But this time, something that was banned could be found on VHS. I bought that VHS; that was quite hard to find. And I believe that I watched that movie 50 times because each time a friend said, 'Let’s go see a movie,' I said, 'Come to my house. I’ll show you Schizophrenia.' So one by one I was showing that movie to all my friends.

"And it’s got the most amazing camera work in the history of cinema. Not so many movies that really impress when it comes to the camera work. Maybe Brian De Palma’s movies… or 2001. Or, for example, lately, the images of Gravity. But the camera work of this movie is so real. It added to a very violent story of the guy coming out of jail and killing a whole family in order to go back to jail where he felt better, and it’s based on a true story. And it’s got a [unique] voiceover. But the mix of that cruelty, the voiceover and the camera put in positions that you’ve never seen before made me be obsessed with the movie. Now, since three or four months ago, it’s for sale [on DVD here in America]. So if anybody is interested you can go on Amazon.com and buy that movie called Angst."

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, November 21, 2015 12:05 AM CST
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Monday, October 12, 2015


Last Friday, USA Today's Brian Truitt posted an interview with Todd Strauss-Schulson, the director of the horror-comedy The Final Girls. In one part of the interview, Strauss-Schulson discusses some of the film's influences:

"There’s a little bit of Sam Raimi in there in terms of some of the camera work and there’s color swatches like Dario Argento,” he says. “There’s one sequence in particular that feels like a (Brian) De Palma scene on steroids. It’s like a fun drinking game to go through the movie and see what you can catch.” 

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CDT
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