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Tuesday, November 24, 2015
John Leguizamo, who has appeared in two Brian De Palma films (Casualties Of War and Carlito's Way), has adapted his one-man-show Ghetto Klown into a graphic novel, illustrated by Christa Cassano and Shamus Beyale, and published by Abrams ComicArts. A couple of weeks ago, Alex Dueben posted an interview with Leguizamo at Comic Book Resources, which included the following exchange:
Dueben: In the book you talk about some of the people you worked with, and I have to say that both Brian De Palma and Steven Seagal seem nuts -- De Palma in a different, more interesting way than Seagal. What was it like working with them?

Leguizamo: I disagree -- Brian does not come across as nuts, he comes across as a filmmaker who knows how to work actors and manipulate them to get the best performance out of them. If you have ever worked with actors, it's a lot of psychology, babysitting and handholding. I know; I've directed. I love actors and they bring so much to their work but you still have to do lots of diplomatic tiptoeing. I would work with De Palma any time. He is one of the great, American, original directors.

Now Seagal is not interesting crazy, just dickish! He has no respect for others and that is so damaging to the whole creative process that real actors subscribe to. I'm not the only person he's hit without warning. He's done it many times and it's inexcusable. We are there to make a great story and help everyone achieve this task, be they the director or the writer or the other actors. He only cares about himself to the point of inflicting harm to others.


Posted by Geoff at 12:18 AM CST
Updated: Tuesday, November 24, 2015 12:21 AM CST
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Friday, October 16, 2015


Grantland's Steven Hyden yesterday posted a piece about Steven Spielberg, and included the following discussion about the Movie Brats:

"To understand Spielberg’s 'I’m just a weird kid' self-mythology, it helps to know about the Movie Brats, the group of upstart filmmakers that invaded Hollywood in the late ’60s, fostered an unprecedented era of auteurism in the ’70s, and then ushered in the age of blockbusters that began with Jaws and has grown only more massive over the next 40 years.

"Along with countless other budding cinephiles, an obsession with the Movie Brats coincided with my first flash of serious interest in movies. It didn’t matter that most of these directors were well past their peaks by the time I discovered them in the ’90s. I dug everything that the Movie Brats stood for: self-conscious artiness, difficult genius, downer endings, rock and roll soundtracks, salt-and-pepper beards, fabulous scarves and/or ascots, and, like, bucking the system, man!

"The Movie Brats were like the cinematic version of classic rock — the art they created was infused with the faded idealism and decadent glamour of a bygone era. When I read Stephen Davis’s Hammer of the Gods as a teenagerthe book did the opposite of humanizing Led Zeppelin — it made Jimmy Page seem like a fictional demon with discomforting interests in heroin. It made these banana-stuffing Vikings seem larger than life. The coke- and sex-fueled antics depicted in Peter Biskind’s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls — a defining account of the 'New Hollywood' that I reread even more times than Hammer of the Gods — planted similar illusions in my head about my favorite directors.

"This even applied to Spielberg, who initially didn’t want to make Jaws('I wanted to be Antonioni, Bob Rafelson, Hal Ashby, Marty Scorsese. I wanted to be everybody but myself,' Spielberg told Biskind.) With his rebel heart and populist instincts, Spielberg infused his early hits with antiauthoritarian overtones: You couldn’t trust Amity’s mayor in Jawsthe federal government in Close Encountersor the evil scientists in E.T. Spielberg even questioned movie authority: Why stage an elaborate fight sequence when Indiana Jones could just take out that swordsman with one bullet?

"So who were the Movie Brats? Here’s a roll call of important players:

"Steven Spielberg: The most famous of the bunch, his near-universally adored work would come to define the center of mainstream taste. Steven Spielberg is the Beatles.

"Martin Scorsese: Not as popular as Spielberg in the ’70s, he’s come to be viewed as the most respected (and coolest) director of his generation. Martin Scorsese is the Velvet Underground.

"Francis Ford Coppola: His early work was visionary and established a beachhead for those that followed, though by the early ’80s he seemed to have lost his mind. Francis Ford Coppola is Bob Dylan.

"George Lucas: Starting out as an experimental filmmaker on the fringes, he then reinvented himself as the epitome of mass-appeal space-themed entertainment. George Lucas is Pink Floyd.

"Robert Altman: Iconoclast to the end, he was also prolific to a fault, resulting in a filmography that varies wildly in quality. At his best, nobody was better at reflecting the sardonic cynicism at the heart of the ’70s. Robert Altman is Neil Young.

"Brian De Palma: He’s bombastic and derivative, but such a gifted stylist and technician that it scarcely matters. Brian De Palma is Led Zeppelin.

"Peter Bogdanovich: The early work is beautiful and tragic, but he’s ultimately stifled by limited range and nostalgic tendencies. Peter Bogdanovich is the Beach Boys.

"Hal Ashby: He’s a gentle poet whose work is imbued with a mix of bracing sweetness and clear-eyed bitterness over the decline of civilization. Hal Ashby is the Kinks.

"A few of these directors have since gone the way of AOR. But for the most part, we’re still living in a world that these guys created. While Jurassic World reigns as 2015’s biggest moneymaker, it might soon by supplanted by the Lucas-shepherded Star Wars: The Force AwakensLike Spielberg, Scorsese is virtually guaranteed a raft of Oscar nominations each time he puts out a movie — perhaps that’s why there’s never a shortage of Scorsese imitators in film (Black Mass) or television (Narcos) ready to lap up his residual prestige.

"Even lesser-known Movie Brats are having a moment this year: The 76-year-old Bogdanovich directed his first narrative feature in 13 years, She’s Funny That Waya screwball comedy with an all-star cast of ringers that includes Owen Wilson, Imogen Poots, Will Forte, Jennifer Aniston, and Kathryn Hahn. As for De Palma, 75, he’s the subject of a new documentary, De Palmathat’s garnered rave reviews after playing the festival circuit.

"Many of those critics — like DPalma’s directors, Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow — grew up enthralled by the exploits of the Movie Brats. This childhood affection is now touched with a new sense of mortality. Spielberg turns 69 in December, which makes him the pup of his peer group. Lucas is 71. Scorsese turns 73 in November, and Coppola is 76. (Ashby died in 1988, and Altman died in 2006.) The New Hollywood directors have been entrenched longer than the studio-era legends they swept out nearly 50 years ago. But nothing lasts forever." 

Posted by Geoff at 1:46 AM CDT
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Sunday, October 11, 2015


A couple of days ago, Shock Till You Drop's Shade Rupe posted an interview with Rutanya Alda, who recently released a book of memoirs, The Mommie Dearest Diary. Early in the interview, Rupe says to Alda, "You mention relationships with people like Sam Peckinpah, Robert Altman, and Brian De Palma. Peckinpah and Altman have left us though De Palma was just at the New York Film Festival. How does he feel about being mentioned in your book? Are you still in touch?"

Alda replies, "I dont know if Brian has even read my book. We rarely see each other. When we do we have a very warm friendship. I think he comes off well in my book. I loved working with Brian. The early films I worked on with Brian, Greetings and Hi, Mom! were very creative and there was a lot of improvisation which I loved. The Fury was more structured and a studio film." 

Posted by Geoff at 8:50 PM CDT
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Saturday, September 5, 2015

Posted by Geoff at 8:55 PM CDT
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Thursday, August 27, 2015

One Way Or De Palma from Joe Ahearne on Vimeo.

Rob Dean at A.V. Club asked Joe Ahearne about the creation of the excellent video he posted on Vimeo recently, One Way Or De Palma, in which he masterfully edited images from the films of Brian De Palma, setting them to a soundtrack of Blondie's One Way Or Another. Here is what Ahearne had to say to Dean:

I saw my first De Palma film when I was 17—Dressed To Kill—and that film taught me what it was a director does. It was only on repeated viewings that I realised what was happening with the slow motion (so gripped was I, I didn’t even realise the film had slowed down), the music, the colour, the editing, the framing, the camera moves, the story-telling (later on of course I realised what a superb director of actors he was too). And I hunted down all his films before and since (almost—haven’t seen Get To Know Your Rabbit yet!). I grew up on spectacle like Star Wars but De Palma showed me how a director could invest human scale drama with even more extraordinary emotion and intensity. Anyone who’s seen any of the stuff I’ve done who loves De Palma will easily spot the influences.

For a long time I’ve wanted to use De Palma’s images against Blondie’s “One Way or Another.” They share a certain obsessive quality. It was so great viewing De Palma’s last 22 films and appreciating him like a great composer, enjoying the reworking and recapitulation and reframing of themes - hearing his voice, I suppose. What really came home to me this time (I’ve seen them all many times) was what a master of colour he is. I tried to reflect that in the cut.

Ahearne said 22 films, but his video actually includes clips from De Palma's last 23 films, from Sisters on through Passion (with Home Movies and Wise Guys included in the mix).

Posted by Geoff at 11:50 PM CDT
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Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Joe Ahearne, the writer/director whose Trance was recently made into an excellent feature film directed by Danny Boyle, edited together an amazing supercut of shots from Brian De Palma films set to Blondie's One Way Or Another. Titled One Way Or De Palma, the video was put together with great revelatory skill by someone who obviously knows these movies very well. This has to be the best "megamix" of De Palma's films I've seen yet-- it's a stunner, done with superb care and wit. Below is the tweet from Edgar Wright that brought my attention to the video (I cannot embed the video, so you'll have to watch it on Vimeo, where you can also download it).

Posted by Geoff at 11:50 PM CDT
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Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Italian TV channel Studio Universal will present a tribute to Brian De Palma to mark his 75th birthday on September 11, 2015, according to TV Numeriuno. The Cinechat, which has already been recorded (with De Palma sitting in the yellow chair seen here), will be followed by a showing of De Palma's Casualties Of War. The TV Numeriuno article/press release includes several quotes from De Palma, pulled from the Cinechat:

"My Italian origin is rather rooted in me... it's a kind of baggage that I always carry."

"When I returned to Italy I was in college. I arrived in Rome with two friends and I bought a Lambretta. I will never forget the tours I made by Vittorio Emanuele... then I took a car and drove from Venice all the way to Paris. During the trip I saw the beautiful cities of Siena, Perugia, Florence with a sensation of how much beauty there is in this country."

"My experiences and my feelings are part of my films and the Italian cinema affected me very much. I remember Rossellini, Anna Magnani, and also the way in which Antonioni visually conceptualized his ideas. I will never forget movies like L’Avventura or Red Desert."

"In my opinion the best American film about Italy is The Godfather, and not because we talk about mafia, but because it tells us that the family is an integral part of Italian culture."

Posted by Geoff at 10:55 PM CDT
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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Posted by Geoff at 2:29 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, July 26, 2015 2:30 PM CDT
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Tuesday, July 14, 2015
John Leguizamo will be the guest on the July 14 episode of Dan Rather's The Big Interview, which airs on AXS TV. According to a press release posted at Monsters & Critics, "multi-talented actor, producer, comedian, and writer John Leguizamo talks about working with Sean Penn, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brian DePalma and Al Pacino; studying method acting; fist-fighting with Patrick Swayze in full drag; his troubled relationship with his father; and his career goals."

Posted by Geoff at 4:09 AM CDT
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Friday, July 10, 2015
After almost two years online, The Dissolve posted a farewell editorial on July 8, by founder and chief editor Keith Phipps (today would have marked the site's two-year anniversary). In the editorial, Phipps made it clear there is no one to blame for the shut-down, other than the "various challenges inherent in launching a freestanding website in a crowded publishing environment, financial and otherwise." Here at De Palma a la Mod, we will miss The Dissolve, not just because the site's talented group of writers were consistent proponents of the work of Brian De Palma, but also for the consistently engaging devotion to cinephilia that bled from the digital pages those writers regularly produced.

Here are some highlights from the De Palma-related articles published by The Dissolve over the past two years:

Passion review by Noel Murray

"With Passion, De Palma is on more familiar ground, using the world of the erotic thriller to note how Skyping, sexting, and tiny pocket cameras are changing behavior, putting everyone in the spotlight and distracting the eye. That’s ultimately what makes Passion a more effective film than the one it’s remaking. While Corneau and Carter were telling a story about what their characters do and don’t see, De Palma is more engaged with what the audience sees. There’s always something to look at in the background of Passion, from the erotic paintings on the walls of Christine’s flat to the video billboards posted around Berlin, and always something eye-catching in what the characters wear, or how they’re posed. The movie is one long game of misdirection, playing tricks on viewers from scene to scene, and showing how easy it is to steer a crowd into missing something important. That’s the real De Palma touch, even more than the operatic overtones and excess."

Scott Tobias interviews Brian De Palma about Passion

The Dissolve: Does it frustrate you as a filmgoer to see the language of a film employed less carefully than that? All that work is elided in a lot of movies.

De Palma: Yes, I would agree. I’m astounded by—whether you’re making a science-fiction movie, a zombie movie, a Star Trek, a Marvel Comics Spider-Man movie—these action sequences that seemingly go on endlessly, without any type of shape or form. So much in action has to do with choreography, and orienting the viewer in where everything is. And I’m amazed all the time that nobody seems to pay much attention to that. So you basically get action and reaction, and it’s like an endless drumming without any shape.

The Dissolve: It seems like they’re trying to make up in sheer, visceral force things that could be done much more elegantly.

De Palma: And obviously, in order to have a crescendo, you have to have some silence. It’s just so simple, but nobody seems to pay much attention to it. They’re basically banging at you constantly. And then in a movie, it’s two hours, too, and then everybody says, “My God, when is this going to be over?” [Laughs.]

Noel Murray's Favorite Scene of 2013: Afternoon Of A Faun, Passion

"Brian De Palma’s Passion starts out as a fairly flat and faithful adaptation of Alain Corneau’s Love Crime, but then after about half an hour, De Palma loosens up and starts making his most visually expressive and delightfully delirious movie since Femme Fatale. In Passion’s best sequence—and one of the best setpieces of De Palma’s formidable career—a ruthless businesswoman played by Rachel McAdams is stalked by a killer on half the screen, while the other half shows her protégée (Noomi Rapace) watching a performance of The Afternoon Of A Faun. The score rises to a peak, and the dancers look directly into the camera, underlining Passion’s theme of misdirection. De Palma keeps pulling viewers’ eyes back and forth, while heightening the tension to the point of distraction. He also calls back to some of his earliest films, like Dionysus In ’69 and Hi, Mom!, where the theater played a central role. Passion isn’t one of De Palma’s top-tier films, but it’s playful and creative, and the Afternoon Of A Faun sequence is a model of how to layer images and move characters with a multiple frames."

Alan Jones investigates why Phantom Of The Paradise was/is Big In Winnipeg

"Regardless, it became a weekly ritual for young Winnipeggers, playing into May of the following year, and encouraging repeat visits. A columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press claimed he had met many people who had seen it 13 or 14 times. 'In many ways, it was almost like a big rock ’n’ roll party for us,' says Carlson. 'At that age, the most subversive thing we might have seen would have been Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo or something.' Perhaps the permissiveness of Winnipeg parents played a role in Phantom’s success, but the film may have also been a generation’s introduction to rock ’n’ roll. For this audience, Williams’ glam rock played as the real thing, their first introduction to 'adult' music, a ripe starting point for a film and musician whose reputation within the city grew with nostalgia and age."

The double vision of Phantom Of The Paradise by Noel Murray

The devil’s bargains and unsparing satire of Phantom Of The Paradise, a discussion by Noel Murray, Keith Phipps, Nathan Rabin, Matt Singer, and Scott Tobias

(Thanks to Drew!)

Posted by Geoff at 1:03 AM CDT
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