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Domino is
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straight-forward"
work that "pushes
us to reexamine our
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but metaphysically"
-Collin Brinkman

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

Listen to
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De Palma/Lehman
next novel is Terry

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"a horror movie
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in the news"

Supercut video
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edited by Carl Rodrigue

Washington Post
review of Keesey book

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Exclusive Passion
Interviews:

Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
Leila Rozario

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AV Club Review
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Thursday, August 15, 2019
SUBMERGED IN CINEMA - KATIE STEBBINS ON 'THE FURY'
FUSION OF PERFORMANCE & FORMAL STYLIZATION MAKE THE EMOTIONS PALPABLE
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/furydiopterdarkroom.jpg

Katie Stebbins' most recent Top Ten By Year zine looks at her ten favorite films of 1978 (buy a copy at her Etsy page-- it's only $6.99). Brian De Palma's The Fury comes in at #3 for her (in between Terrence Malick's Days Of Heaven at #4, and Hal Ashby's Coming Home at #2). Yesterday she shared a "Zine Peek" by posting her fantastic essay about The Fury at Cinethusiast:
The Fury is the best X-Men film ever made, and in an ideal world it’d be considered a model for what pop cinema can be. But as Brian De Palma’s follow-up to his masterpiece Carrie it was destined to disappoint, in part because of how much they have in common. Both are based on novels about a telekinetic girl. Both feature Amy Irving as an empath who tries and fails to save a peer-in-need. And both enjoy playing at an offbeat pitch; but while Carrie does so within an unmistakable horror designation, The Fury is an ice cream sundae of genres – a coming-of-age supernatural espionage government conspiracy horror-thriller. Got all that? Add an experimentally self-reflexive cherry on top, and you have a film that audiences and critics did not, and largely still don’t, know what to make of. But to De Palma devotees (and some film devotees) it is an essential work, and an irresistible opportunity for writers to intellectualize De Palma’s relationship with cinema through cinema. It’s an exercise that often, for all its worth, makes the film itself sound like a narrative thesis. There is often a clinical disconnect that obscures The Fury’s entertaining and emotional immediacy.

Watching The Fury, the main thing you notice is that even through its early slower section it is blisteringly alive, as if De Palma has some unspoken knowledge that this will be the last film he ever makes (spoiler alert: it wasn’t). It is so in tune with its own wavelength, and with the emotional stakes of its characters, that the preposterously schlocky story feels like it matters (this is greatly helped by John Williams’s momentous Herrmann-eqsue score, by turns eerie, epic, and playful. “For Gillian” is his Harry Potter before Harry Potter). It maintains the same two-fold hold on me every time I watch it — a mix of uncommonly strong investment in the characters and story, and a near-constant awe at its formal power. With an opening set-piece that involves a betrayal by way of (who else but?) John Cassavetes, a terrorist attack, a kidnapping, and a shirtless 62 year-old Kirk Douglas letting loose with a machine gun, an “all-aboard!” line is drawn in the sand. Either hop on or get ready for a long two hours.

That ice cream sundae also contains eccentric pockets of comic relief. Scenes open on oddball peripheral characters, whether it’s the cop who just got a brand new car, the little old lady who delights in helping out a trespasser, or the two security guards who pass the time by negotiating trades of Hershey bars and coffee (it also has the priceless reveal that the elderly Kirk Douglas’s ingenious disguise is to make himself look, wait for it, old!). All that Kirk and quirk gradually give way to the more sincerely executed dilemmas of the teenage Gillian (Amy Irving in a performance that belongs in my personal canon), a new student at the Paragon Institute coming to grips with her increasingly cataclysmic and all-seeing powers.

It’s trademark De Palma to toy around with the nature of cinema, and as The Fury unfolds it begins to self-engage, reaching back into itself in ways that are still hard to fully fathom. Gillian’s telekinetic link to the missing Robin (Andrew Stevens) is depicted visually, including us in the intimate and exclusive psychic link they share. Since Gillian’s visions are triggered by touch and experienced by sight, she acquires information by watching scenes play out in front of, or all around, her. She learns and we learn through her. She becomes submerged in cinema — part of the audience. Gillian experiences harrowing psychic access to Robin, and through the immediacy of the filmmaking we are given that same experiential access to Gillian. This is cinema as the ultimate form of communication, information (surveillance is a recurring theme here too, another De Palma favorite), and feeling, seen as capable of transcending the confines of the screen. As part of his brainwashing, Robin is even shown the first five minutes of the film. Cinema weaponized and all that jazz.

The tricks in De Palma’s formal playbook make all this possible. The editing (at times flickering in-and-out like a flip-book) and rear-screen projection are used to emphasize and envelop. Characters are brought together by overlapping space and sound. The camera often tracks conversation by circling around characters, knowing that the more an image changes, the more we can percieve. A bravura slow-motion sequence turns the notion of the escape scene into a cathartic reverie gone wrong. It isn’t until the end that we realize the slow-motion is in fact stretching out a character’s final moments. It is the perfect encapsulation of how De Palma, at his best, uses pure stylization to not only enhance, but become emotion. Gillian’s shake-ridden fright and confusion, Hester’s (Carrie Snodgress) heartache and longing, and Peter (Douglas) facing the consequences of his quest, are all deeply palpable through this fusion of performance and form.

The Fury carries the devastating punch of his most emotional works like Carrie, Blow Out, or Carlito’s Way, but without the ever-lingering bleak aftertaste. It hijacks the senseless loss that came before with a vengeful ascendance so absolute it can only be called the money shot to end all money shots. And it wouldn’t be The Fury if it didn’t replay from every imaginable angle — wiping our memory out with pure orgasmic vindication.


Posted by Geoff at 12:00 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, August 15, 2019 12:10 AM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (8) | Permalink | Share This Post

Thursday, August 15, 2019 - 1:48 AM CDT

Name: "Harry Georgatos"

THE FURY is  easily in my top ten De Palma flicks.

I remember back in 1978 being turned away at the cinema door because I was under-age. I was a sad little puppy that day. 

Saturday, August 17, 2019 - 2:46 AM CDT

Name: "Mustafa"

His least creative movie when he was at the peak of his craft for me, hell even him didnt like it, he said it in the Doc De Palma, he said I didnt like that movie! It was the only movie he was outspoken about disliking it!

 

Saturday, August 17, 2019 - 9:09 AM CDT

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

Mustafa, you are mistaken-- he does not say those words in that doc.

Saturday, August 17, 2019 - 11:29 AM CDT

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

Here's a full transcript from the "De Palma" doc, with De Palma talking about THE FURY:


"Well, then I got offered another studio picture. Or a couple of different studio pictures, and the best one I could get was The Fury. Which suddenly had a huge budget. Which was like five million dollars, or something... unheard of. It was something that had all these movie stars, you know, Cassavetes, and Kirk Douglas, and I said, 'Wow, let's do this! I've never done this before.' Plus we had a whole bunch of charming girls, in this. And even though it's kind of not the movie you would have top on your list to make, there were a lot of things in it I really liked.

"I like the scene where Amy is on the steps, and she touches the scar on Charlie Durning's hand. And then remembers Robin being chased up there and going out the window. And I loved the Johnny Williams score. I thought John did a great job with the score. That's one of my favorite scores, that score.

"I had to do a car chase in The Fury. I don't like car chases. I find them a very boring thing. I'm not a car person. I don't get excited taking shots of wheels turning, point-of-views out of windshields, or cars banging into-- it just doesn't do anything for me. You know, you're forced because of the script to do certain things. You have to go, 'Oh, how am I going to do this," or 'How am I going to make it interesting.' And after The French Connection, there are no car chases. It's just ridiculous to even think about doing a car chase. It's the best idea in the world: subway, car underneath. You know, there's not a better idea than that.

"But I like Cassavetes, and it was interesting working with him. He hated a lot of what he had to do. The only time that John really sort of went ballistic was when we had to do a body cast of him and stick him in all this gook, for the blowing up of himself. He hated that, drove him crazy. You know, it's on the page, and you've got to figure out how to do it, but it doesn't come from you, essentially. You're basically directing someone else's ideas. And you're trying to do the best that you can, but, it's not one of my favorite films by a long shot."

Saturday, August 17, 2019 - 1:31 PM CDT

Name: "Mustafa"

"And you're trying to do the best that you can, but, it's not one of my favorite films by a long shot" I saw this as a pretty much a polite and a reserved way to say that he didnt like it

Saturday, August 17, 2019 - 3:13 PM CDT

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

Okay. However, I would say his earlier comment that "there were a lot of things in it I really liked" complicates that interpretation of what he is saying there...

Wednesday, August 21, 2019 - 12:12 PM CDT

Name: "Dorian Pimpernel "

I think the so-called "money-shot"ending of The Fury proves this is one of De Palma's most creative movies. De Palma slyly invokes the end of Zabriskie Point with a near shot-for-shot recreation of the desert manor exploding from a multitude of different angles when Cassavetes goes up in smoke in a similar construction of shots. I also think the Ferris wheel set piece is among De Palma's greatest and the way he uses Chicago like a jungle gym for Kirk Douglas is riveting. I think "Mustafa" should take another look at this underrated gem of a picture. His post struck me as nonsensical. De Palma didn't care for the car chase, the only thing he dislikes about the film. Just picked up the zine and loved it. 

 

Thursday, August 22, 2019 - 1:22 AM CDT

Name: "harry georgatos"

Filled with great set-pieces and sequences. My only problem was Dennis Franz annoying perfromance, and killing Franz car into the lake. That type of humour belongs in a BLUE BROTHERS movie. As for the rest of the film pure movie-making magic within this type of genre and sub-genres.

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