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a la Mod:

Domino is
a "disarmingly
work that "pushes
us to reexamine our
relationship to images
and their consumption,
not only ethically
but metaphysically"
-Collin Brinkman

De Palma on Domino
"It was not recut.
I was not involved
in the ADR, the
musical recording
sessions, the final
mix or the color
timing of the
final print."

Listen to
Donaggio's full score
for Domino online

De Palma/Lehman
rapport at work
in Snakes

De Palma/Lehman
next novel is Terry

De Palma developing
Catch And Kill,
"a horror movie
based on real things
that have happened
in the news"

Supercut video
of De Palma's films
edited by Carl Rodrigue

Washington Post
review of Keesey book


Exclusive Passion

Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
Leila Rozario


AV Club Review
of Dumas book


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De Palma interviewed
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Carrie...A Fan's Site


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Greetings & Hi, Mom!

Scarface: Make Way
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(Blow Out)

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De Palma a la Mod

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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Domino was released yesterday on Blu-ray and DVD. Fanboy Nation's Sean Mulvihill took a second look and found he had originally "undervalued" Brian De Palma's latest:
It’s something that has repeatedly happened over the years. Legendary director Brian De Palma released a new movie that was shrugged off as a minor work from the filmmaker despite its singular vision and meticulously crafted set pieces. This spring when De Palma’s Domino was released in select theaters and VOD, I, too, thought the film was a minor work from De Palma that featured two incredible sequences. I can’t believe that I, an absolute De Palma fanatic, made the same mistake that so many others had made. I undervalued a new De Palma flick. Revisiting Domino for its Blu-ray release, I was struck that De Palma has once again made an absolute killer thriller, a cynical film with strong political overtones and the director’s incredible knack for crafting suspense in the vein of Alfred Hitchcock. Simply put, despite what anyone has said, Domino rips.


The screenplay for Domino by Petter Skavlan taps right into Brian De Palma’s cynicism, especially when it comes to American international interventionism. Look throughout De Palma’s filmmaking career and you see example after example of this robust skepticism about America’s ability to dictate its wishes to the world and Domino fits right in that mold, embodied by the brash, outlandish performance by Guy Pearce. Within the world of Domino, which is set in 2020, the reality of American involvement means that a rather simple murder case becomes increasingly complicated, with the CIA pull string behind the scenes and creating layers of distrust even amongst allies.

The way in which Domino features Islamist terrorists has caused a bit of an uproar because of the stereotypical nature. But De Palma injects a few wrinkles that take the director deeper into what terrorism truly is. He’s not interested in the religious motivations for terrorism, but how technology and visual storytelling can be used to spread the horror. Al Din and his cabal of terrorist cohorts speak of their religious jihad but they’re more focused on creating glossy portraits of terror, sensationalized videos of violence that will dominate news cycles and spread on the internet. De Palma is fascinated to see how easily his beloved visual medium can be utilized to spread evil.

Unfortunately, behind the scenes issues between the producers and De Palma have led to the director to all but abandon his film. The Blu-ray for Domino sadly boasts no special features. While one of the great American filmmakers continues to languish outside of the Hollywood system, he proves once again that when given the resources he can craft a sequence as good if not better than anyone. Domino is another highly cinematic work from Brian De Palma that dives into themes that the director has been exploring throughout his career, going all the way back to his breakthrough hit Greetings in the ‘60s. Time will tell if people finally get around to catching up with Domino, but I have a feeling that De Palma’s latest will build its dedicated cult following as it shows once again the master hasn’t lost his touch.


Dave Taylor, Dad at the Movies

This genre is propelled by action sequences, and director Brian De Palma offers up some exciting set pieces, first with the attack that results in Lars’ death and a 007-worthy rooftop chase, then a gripping sequence at Spanish bullfight. The film itself is typical De Palma too, self-conscious of its medium even as it’s slyly self-referential. For example, a video posted by the terrorists is analyzed by the police for its use of camera angles and sophisticated cinematography techniques. Later, one of the terrorists attacks a film festival in a sequence told through video sequences watched on various computer laptops, a film-within-a-film.

Eriq Ebouaney has so much presence on camera that I also really wished for more of his story, more about Ezra Tarzi, his family, and how he ended up stuck in the middle between the Danish police, the CIA and ISIS. He’s an actor to watch, for sure, and has already had great success in Three Days to Kill, Kingdom of Heaven and Hitman.

Still, there’s a lot wrong with this story, not the least of which is that Christian is a miserable cop, so busy saying goodbye to his female friend that he forgets his gun as he heads out on patrol. He’s later suspended from the police force for such negligence, but that entire sequence – and its consequences in the subsequent story – are quickly subsumed and never appear again in the narrative. There are also long periods when Christian and Alex are driving or tailing the terrorists where there’s a weird absence of dialog. Moody? Yes, but in the “are we there yet?” sense.

What’s more frustrating is the lazy and somewhat insulting tendency of De Palma to zoom in on something to clue us in that it’s important to the story. This doesn’t just happen once (gun on table, cut to naked woman, cut to Christian walking out the door, cut and linger on gun still on table) but recurs throughout the film. Entirely suitable for manga, it’s a pet peeve of mine in cinema. Let us figure it out, don’t break the narrative with these foreshadowing close-ups or oh-so-obvious placements on camera.

There are a lot of pretty awful movies out there, however, so in the end I would assess Domino as a B grade film. If you like actioners, if you’re a big fan of Coster-Waldau (I am!) and van Houten (I am!), if you are a Brian De Palma completist, or you’re just looking to burn a few hours, Domino is mostly well assembled and muchly fun to watch. I’m just hoping for the director’s cut that chops out some of the banal elements and smooths the many narrative hiccups and cuts to weave the main story with the many secondary narrative elements. Now that would be a really good cop film.

Posted by Geoff at 8:17 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, July 31, 2019 6:23 PM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (13) | Permalink | Share This Post

Wednesday, July 31, 2019 - 9:02 AM CDT

Name: "rado"
Home Page: http://rado.bg

Yes, let them follow the narrative by handing them a book.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019 - 1:33 PM CDT

Name: "Dave Taylor"
Home Page: http://https://gofatherhood.com/

As I said in my response to your comment, Geoff, whether there are actual cuts in that scene or it's a single, seamless take, the intention of the scene and its "Hey! Notice he didn't take his gun, viewer!" remains the same. Disappointed you decided to pick out that one comment from my review, I encourage your readers to pop over and read through the entire review so you can get a better sense of what I liked - and disliked - about De Palma's latest film.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019 - 4:59 PM CDT

Name: "Harry Georgatos"

DOMINO is better then what a whole lot of critics have said about the film.

Deserves to be revisited on Blu-ray. 


Wednesday, July 31, 2019 - 5:30 PM CDT

Name: "Geoff"
Home Page: https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/blog

Sorry, Dave-- somehow I never saw your response to my comment on your blog. I'll look again-- and thanks for the clarification. However, I disagree that the intent of the scene is along the lines of ""Hey! Notice he didn't take his gun, viewer." I mean, yes, we are to notice, but it also adds a certain inevitability factor that one can see throughout De Palma's work. It is almost as if a melancholic observer from above is watching events transpire, with total illumination.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019 - 6:13 PM CDT

Name: "Geoff"
Home Page: https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/blog

I have to disagree, still, Dave. It's a simple but clever shot, well-conceived, far from lazy, and the rhythm of it is musical and beautiful. From an above angle, the camera lens pushes in so slowly it takes a few seconds before we even realize it's happening. The table in question is always smack dab in the center, and it's the actors who make everything else happen-- the bra being lifted from the gun, the woman jumping from the bed and running toward Christian, her naked body briefly catching in the light from the window, his gun dropping back onto the table as she pulls him back into bed and wraps her legs around him. The insistent buzzing from outside as Lars is trying to get Christian's attention. Finally, he says, he has to go, but the camera does not leave with him. Donaggio's sinuous music strikes a note of inevitability. It's a very well-executed scene all around.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019 - 6:21 PM CDT

Name: "Geoff"
Home Page: https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/blog

I've added more of Dave's review to the post here above, now, as well.

Thursday, August 1, 2019 - 8:04 PM CDT

Name: "Harry Georgatos"

My Blu-ray purchase of DOMINO has no special features.

Friday, August 2, 2019 - 1:37 AM CDT

Name: "Dr. Nix"

I 100„… agree with you Geoff, it's a great scene, with a bit of initial sleight of hand and misdirection as you are focussing on Christian and the girl and not what is central of the camera. Something hiding in plain sight, or at least until the camera slowly ominously moves in. Is it the same girl from the cafe at the start of the film in bed with Christian? I think this scene is also central to the plot as the forgotten gun could be seen as the first domino piece which, once toppled, sets all the other events in motion.

Friday, August 2, 2019 - 7:27 AM CDT

Name: "Geoff"
Home Page: https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/blog

Dr. Nix, yes, "hiding in plain sight." Is it the girl from the cafe? I recall one reviewer stating that it was, but... we have no real indication of that, and it is hard to see her well enough to make that certain identification. I seem to recall that the woman who played the barista had that one day on set in the cafeteria, so I am leaning toward saying this is not the same woman.

And I agree, the gun seems to be the initial domino, even if we will later see there is a killer out there motivated by earlier events we will view via video.

Friday, August 2, 2019 - 2:49 PM CDT

Name: "baffled"

I think his bedmate is Helena Kaittani ("Stine"). The end credits list cast in order of appearance. The actress who plays the barista (Sus Wilkins) seems to have noticeably darker skin than the bedmate.

Friday, August 2, 2019 - 6:45 PM CDT

Name: "Harry Georgatos"

The film festival massacre is a disturbing brave trademark sequence. The best part of the movie for me. It could be seen De Palma commenting on the death of cinema. The bull-ring climax has a hypnotic delerious quality and the opening set-piece on the roof-top is dazzling, hanging on the roof gutters and falling down in smooth slow-motion with circling CIA operatives. De Palma has been about the set-pieces and they're executed with precision.

Also I appreaciated how the CIA deals with terrorists to infiltrate terrorist cells and organizations, something Noam Chomsky has been saying for decades! 

Friday, August 2, 2019 - 10:04 PM CDT

Name: "Geoff"
Home Page: https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/blog

A comment on "the death of cinema" -- you could be right on about that, Harry.

Friday, August 2, 2019 - 10:58 PM CDT

Name: "Harry Georgatos"

De Palma films have been layer within layer of meaning disguised with further layers of subtext. That's why I watch this particular film-makers movies over and over. They work on a visual level that penetrates the subconscious. Of all the film-makers that have come and gone De Palma films are the one's that require repeated viewings. 

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