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Saturday, December 6, 2014

"Taylor was always aware of what she was doing. She invited us to look at her so that she would not be watched. A Rolling Stone cover story interview revealed her obsession with surveillance and paranoia that her private world could be invaded through technology. It was a year when a number of female celebrities had their privacy invaded in a very violent way, and Swift was well aware she was a target. Her paranoid outlook in the Rolling Stone profile — that she might be snapped changing in a dressing room or bathroom by some untrustworthy soul — was justifiable. We all increasingly live in a surveillance state. But Swift lives in a Brian De Palma movie.

"The extremely public Swift is, brilliantly, a cover for the extremely private Swift. It allows her to have publicity and privacy on her own terms. Just like anyone who creates a projected hologram of their meatspace existence through the use of social media, what Taylor is really giving the world is just the appearance of her everything."

--from an essay by Molly Lambert, posted at Grantland

[The "poster" presented here is an altered version of the illustration by Jonathan Bartlett that accompanies Lambert's essay at Grantland.]


Director Mark Romanek has been influenced by Stanley Kubrick, Brian De Palma, and now, Taylor Swift.

Posted by Geoff at 3:06 AM CST
Updated: Saturday, December 6, 2014 3:10 AM CST
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Sunday, October 19, 2014
Armond White, Out
on Justin Simien's Dear White People

"Turns out it’s passive, late-to-politics Lionel—the black gay dude—who represents Simien’s concerns. His evolution counters the old gay-until-graduation truism. Lionel sports a blooming Afro as significant as Dante DeBlasio’s. He’s awakened politically after his sex and writing life disappoint and once he discovers a Halloween party where the white students dress in blackface (based on those at Dartmouth, Penn State, and other campuses). This has a weak comic payoff (except for Coco’s counterintuitive costume choice), yet it brings out the desperation in Simien’s farce structure. Campus turmoil drives Simien’s suffering main characters a bit mad. Simien doesn’t critique them; his imperfect film shares the ideological confusion that has confounded all comedians during the Obama era—from the partisan satirists on Saturday Night Live to those Obama effigies Key & Peele on Comedy Central.

"Working post-Dave Chappelle, Simien presupposes a general racial awareness. Sam states Simien’s p.o.v. when she says 'Satire is the weapon of reason' and 'The job of the counterculture is to attack the mainstream.' Now that identity humor has become mainstream fodder, with subtle insistence on everyone’s assigned roles, Dear White People continues the assumption that everybody understands what gays, blacks, and women want. (A reality-TV subplot goes nowhere except offering the misinformation that '"re-enactment" is a documentary term.')

"Simien observes a lost generation of gays, blacks and women who forget what their protesting forbears fought for. (To wit: Sam frantically proclaims: 'It wasn’t speeches that turned the tide for civil rights, it was the anarchists that got the press'—a terrible reduction of history.) These 'post-racial' youth are shocked to discover there really is no such thing. This sad truth gives poignance to Dear White People's narrative mess...

"Simien’s satire isn’t as sharp as Joseph Kahn’s audacious Detention and it lacks the radicalism of Brian De Palma’s 1970 classic Hi, Mom! with its unforgettable 'Be Black Baby' mockery of white liberal fantasies. In the Obama era, comics have lost the ability to mock their own prejudices. Simien’s efforts cost him the depth of his four main characters—gay Lionel in particular. But I must admit: By movie’s end, Lionel’s confusion is more affecting than at the beginning."

Posted by Geoff at 1:51 AM CDT
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Monday, October 13, 2014

Garry Marshall
Joe Mantello

Posted by Geoff at 8:46 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, October 13, 2014 8:52 PM CDT
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Friday, October 3, 2014
French superstar actor Mathieu Amalric, who gives a truly great performance in Roman Polanski's latest film, Venus In Fur, co-wrote, co-stars, and directed the psychological thriller The Blue Room, which screened at the New York Film Festival Monday night. The film is based on an early '60s mystery novella of the same name by Georges Simenon. While discussing the film with Showbiz 411's Paula Schwartz on the red carpet at the fest's Monday night screening, Amalric spotted Brian De Palma, who was there to see the film, and the two made plans to meet up later. Here's the passage from Schwartz' article, from which the photo seen here was taken:

[Discussing why he chose to do The Blue Room] “It was I think a sort of love for a genre and to do a small budget film quickly, a police film, with love as a theme. It is about this sexual attraction that we are all capable of falling into and the fact that those moments you are someone else but maybe you are in fact yourself in those moments and you’re not allowed to live that.”

Added the charming actor who looks a bit like an elf, “You have to restrain that inside you in every day life, the fact that the body just talks at your place and you have to listen to it and that’s, I don’t know…Oh God!” Amalric called out. He just spied famed director Brian De Palma on the other side of the barricades where no one else noticed him.

De Palma came racing over to the red carpet and hugged Amalric, who thanked him for coming.

“The film is not long,” Amalric told the “Dressed to Kill” director. They made plans to meet afterwards at a restaurant around the corner.

After De Palma went inside the theater, Amalric– who played the villain in “The Quantum of Solace” — pretended to bite his fingernails in nervousness.


The next day, Schwartz posted a slightly reworded version of this story in her Reel Life With Jane column, adding, "Amalric seemed surprised and touched that De Palma was there to see his film... After De Palma went into the theater, Amalric turned to me and said softly, 'That was Brian De Palma.' Nervously, he pretended to start biting his nails. Then looking a bit like a charming elf, he smiled with those hugely expressive eyes and walked lightly into the theater."

In his Salon review of The Blue Room, Andrew O'Hehir states that Amalric's film "makes a fascinating European companion piece to David Fincher’s Gone Girl.” O'Hehir adds, "I suppose it’s just coincidence that both movies are premiering at the New York Film Festival and then opening in theaters right away, but it feels like fate. In relative terms, almost nobody will see Amalric’s movie, and that’s too bad: Like Gone Girl, it’s a study of a middle-class marriage in terminal decay that contains both a dreamlike, symbolic level and also a more conventional murder mystery, built around the archetype of the 'dangerous woman.' But this film hews an entirely different path to reach essentially the same destination."

Posted by Geoff at 3:35 AM CDT
Updated: Friday, October 3, 2014 7:09 PM CDT
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Stephanie Zacharek is the guest on the latest episode of Peter Labuza's podcast, The Cinephiliacs. Toward the end of their discussion, Labuza asks Zacharek to talk a little bit about why she loves the films of Brian De Palma:

Labuza: Speaking of illusionists, Brian De Palma-- You’re a really big fan of him. Some might say that’s because you’re a Paulinista, to use your phrase. What makes Brian De Palma one of the great film artists for you? Because I certainly know I’ve been a big fan of his work, but what sort of, you know, trickery, brings you under his spell every time?

Zacharek: Well, I think a certain taste for kind of sick stuff. [They both laugh] But beyond that, I really love… I love this classical structure of his films, and the attention to… like so much attention to detail, which I really appreciate. And I love… there’s just a lot of passion in them. You know, particularly, I’m thinking of… I guess my two favorite films of his are probably Blow Out and Carlito’s Way. It’s really hard for me to choose between those two. And now also Casualties Of War. But to me there’s a lot of emotional depth in those movies that I don’t think people really give him credit for. You know, people are always talking about how kind of twisted he is, and what a trickster he is, and all that. And all the visual stuff, which of course, is all there, and I love all that stuff. It’s really fun. There’s also… sometimes I find his movies actually kind of painful to watch. There’s just like a lot of raw feeling in them, that is almost, like, hiding behind the technique. I don’t really know how else to explain it.

Labuza: Yeah. No, I think I see. I mean, I always think of, one of his most belabored movies, but Mission To Mars has that moment where Tim Robbins, sort of floating, he’s about to take off his helmet. And that scene always kills me. I don’t know why.

Zacharek: Oh, boy oh boy. I mean, well, the recurring theme in his movies is the man who is unable to save the woman, like John Travolta not being able to save Nancy Allen in Blow Out. And Michael J. Fox, you know, not being able to save that poor girl who is raped by his comrades. But here you have an instance of the woman not being able to save the man. As a woman, that’s kind of intense. I mean, I’m sure it’s intense if you’re a guy, too, but it’s just interesting to see the tables turned.


Posted by Geoff at 11:53 PM CDT
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Acidemic's Erich Kuersten takes a deep stab into the cinema of Brian De Palma and Dario Argento, dispensing early with the obvious Hitchcock comparisons (although Hitchcock does figure into the discussion) to focus on the pair's "bizarre psychic twin connection, a shared reptile dysfunction that springs from Catholicism, ancient Rome, and [a] kind of scopophilia-driven sexual obsession." Kuersten adds, "And I didn't even know this when I started this post, but they were born the same month (September) of the same world war-ridden year (1940), six days apart. They are both Virgo, sign of the virgin, sign of obsession, poring over film strips and sound boards with the repressed energy of a thousand unreached orgasms!"

Illustrated with a fascinating array of juxtaposed images from the films of both directors (as well as some other filmmakers thrown into the mix), Kuersten explores shared themes and motifs such as blindness, avenging angels, mirrors and doubles, dreams, photography, metatextuality, art, and more. A terrifically eye-opening and entertaining read, the post comes a year after Kuersten's post about Scarface, Suspiria and Carrie.

Posted by Geoff at 12:51 AM CDT
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Monday, June 30, 2014

Laurence F. Knapp, editor of Brian De Palma: Interviews, has edited a similar volume of David Fincher interviews, which will be published in August. Fincher Fanatic interviewed Knapp about the book and his views on Fincher, some of which are spoken in the video embedded above. Near the end of the interview, Fincher Fanatic asks Knapp if he, as a professor, has ever taught a class on Fincher, and if so, what would be discussed. Here is Knapp's reply:

"As mentioned, I have taught a Generation X class before. I welcome the opportunity to teach a Fincher/Tarantino seminar in the near future, or perhaps a Fincher/De Palma class. I’ve always felt that Fincher is as misanthropic and as formally schematic as De Palma, but because of Fincher’s upbringing (the Bay Area instead of Philadelphia) or generation (Gen X’ers are too jaded, melancholy, and overwhelmed by capitalism to openly resist the dominant order), Fincher does not share De Palma’s countercultural need to expose the cinematic artifice and contest and parody the prevailing ideology of postwar America. Fight Club is as contemptuous as Greetings, Phantom of the Paradise, or Body Double, but Fincher, like many Gen X’ers, doesn’t have it in him to risk a Blow Out, Casualties of War, or Redacted, or even an over-the-top film like Dressed to Kill, Scarface, or Femme Fatale. De Palma would never end Fight Club with two lovers holding hands. He would just blow up downtown Los Angeles and have Brad Pitt expose his penis and wave to the camera like Robert De Niro in Hi Mom!. Fight Club, in true Fincher fashion, prescribes my generation not to surrender to cynicism but to grow up, accept your significant other, and get married. That’s all the sanctuary you will get in this world. Worked for me."

Posted by Geoff at 1:23 AM CDT
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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Posted by Geoff at 11:55 AM CDT
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Friday, June 20, 2014
Two days ago, in an article about his disappointment with Brian De Palma's films post Blow Out, Movie Morlocks' Greg Ferrara wrote, "the Odessa steps/Railway station scene in The Untouchables is less a nod to Eisenstein than a 'look, here’s the Potemkin sequence with different actors' setup." Well, no, that's not true at all-- it actually is more of "a nod to Eisenstein," but uses the idea of the baby carriage, and specifically its shots of the wheels hitting each step on the way down, to add suspense and tension to the already suspenseful shoot-out happening on the train station steps. De Palma's contrast here of the innocent (the baby) and the dangerous men all around is part of a theme that runs through the entire film.

All anyone has to do is watch Eisenstein's Odessa Steps sequence side-by-side with De Palma's to see that aside from a lot of steps, a baby in a pram, and people falling violently, what De Palma has constructed in The Untouchables in terms of set-up, staging, story, cinematography, suspense, slow motion, sound, humor, etc. is far different from what is on the screen in Eisenstein's construction. YouTube it for yourself.

Posted by Geoff at 1:58 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, June 21, 2014 11:41 AM CDT
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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Posted by Geoff at 7:15 AM CDT
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