"ALWAYS SHE'D BE THERE - NEVER BETWEEN US, ALWAYS IN THE MIDDLE"
Hello and welcome to the unofficial Brian De Palma website.
Here is the latest news:
a la Mod:
Saturday, January 1, 2022 - 4:56 PM CSTName: "Tex"
The Black Dahlia was the last half professional decent film DePalma constructed. After The Black Dahlia for me has been a disappointment.
Saturday, January 1, 2022 - 9:50 PM CSTName: "Raven Mockery"
Happy whatever everyone.
I also think "Black Dahlia" is De Palma's last partially valid film. There are some very beautiful things, even if it was impossible to adapt the novel into a commercial movie. Mia Kirshner should have played both roles. The plot is already not very clear on the script side, but with Hillary Swank who physically does not really look like Mia Kirshner, the necrophilia and obsessive aspect does not work at all. Tilden's character is also totally reduced as Hugo's Gwynplaine pattern. How can we remove the confrontation with Bucky in Tilden's museum of horrors in a Black Dahlia's adaptation? The film opening is brilliant, and I love the discovery of Liz Short's corpse chained to the gunfight. Critics always forget to point (or maybe they do not see) that De Palma is one of the few filmmakers to use long sequence-shots, including a lot of important information inside. It's not just a style gimmick. Same for the split-screen in other films. All critics applauded the opening of Altman's "The Player", yet it is only movement, and it does not reach Brian De Palma's knee!
Sunday, January 2, 2022 - 10:50 AM CSTName: "Geoff"
The Black Dahlia is great - nothing partial about it, in my opinion. There are, of course, the expected trimmings when condensing the novel into a 2-hour film. In the process, De Palma made an adaptation that is also a personal film - and the casting of William Finley as George Tilden is one key aspect of that. As for Hilary Swank not looking like Mia Kirshner, yes, they took a chance with this casting, but also, to my mind, it highlights a valid point about perception and reality. In a sort of Brechtian way, we as viewers can clearly see that the characters involved are soaking in it - buying into this idea of Madeleine trying to look/be like Betty, reinforced by word-of-mouth rumors and media frenzy. When Kay shouts at Bucky that "She looks like that dead girl," Kay knows Bucky well enough to see things from his point of view. She sees (or perceives) that Bucky is taking on Lee's obsessions. All of this is to say that it bothers me not that Hilary Swank does not look like Mia Kirshner.
As for the films De Palma has made after The Black Dahlia: Passion is pure De Palma, an adaptation of a thriller for which he wrote the screenplay, with an assist from the original film's co-screenwriter. There is nothing compromised about it, and it's a film I like very much.
Redacted is also pure De Palma, aside from the fact that the images at the end were redacted against his will.
Domino Is far better than Get To Know Your Rabbit, but both of these films are compromised by the fact that De Palma did not get to finish either one. In the case of DOMINO, there came a point where De Palma was so frustrated by the producers, he handed them his cut but then did not supervise the re-recording of the dialogue, the color corrections, nor even the recording of the music - these are things he is always involved with on some level. All of that said, De Palma never removed his name from DOMINO, nor even Get To Know Your Rabbit. There is something noble about that, I think. Like, This is the work, and I'm resonsible for it. It is what it is.
Sunday, January 2, 2022 - 1:56 PM CSTName: "anonymous"
BLACK DAHLIA, REDACTED have soul and a strong sense of humanity. PASSION is a beautiful visual painting that has a demented logic all to itself. DOMINO is a compromised film that has nifty sequences here and there throughout its brief quick narrative. DePalma has always faced obstacles but has always never given up. Hope this new year we can get a vintage DePalma visual masterpiece.
Sunday, January 2, 2022 - 5:25 PM CSTName: "Raven Mockery"
Geof : I mean by "valid" that the film, despite its qualities and a great look, is so far below Ellroy's novel. And yet De Palma did an excellent job. Anyway, I don't think the film's weaknesses come from the director's work, but from the project itself. Because it's a big budget movie and producers want it to be seen by the biggest audience. Unfortunately, when you devitalize so much a summit of "roman noir", when the adaptation is so watered down (the story becomes crypted to those who don't know the book) and erase many of the crucial dark and hard aspects, you can't have a satisfying result. When De Palma adapts "Carrie", he uses a fairly average novel with strong ideas in it. It was quite the case too for "The Fury" which is a film full of great ideas, but which perhaps arrived a little too early in his career. When he adapts "Bonfire of the Vanities", it's already more difficult, because the story is anything but politically correct. The novel is excellent, although a bit overrated, in my opinion. But to sell the stuff without causing riots, you have to buy the last part in the courtroom with this ridiculous moralizing verse. "Black Dahlia" is a top of the genre (is a top. Period!). It's difficult to be really convinced. Your point of view about the differences between the two characters (Kirshner and Swank) is interesting - maybe more interesting than an obvious "look alike" -, but I think the audience is more basic. When Madeleine says she looks like Elizabeth and Kay barks : "She looks like this dead woman", people are confused! If there was at least a slight resemblance or something in the attitude. But Kirshner and Swank are opposite on everything. If you have Jennifer Connelly and Mia Kirshner, ok, the public will understand. It's the same problem with the Gwynplaine's reference. Fortunately, if "The Man Who Laughs" is hardly known (and it's very sad because it is a brilliant novel), the Joker is famous all over the world! Yes, it's true that seeing Bill Finlay again after all this time in a De Palma film was a great pleasure, but he just does extra. The sequence in which he talks to Liz and when she escapes (when she sees you-know-who), looks like being played by rookies! "Redacted"...well...De Palma made a masterpiece with the same theme before. I prefer to see "Casualties of War" again.
Sunday, January 2, 2022 - 10:59 PM CSTName: "Neil "
100 percent with Raven Mockery. Has me convinced.
Monday, January 3, 2022 - 8:22 PM CSTName: "Tex"
El Lay will never let Brian DePalma back into the playground after he made the extremely badly written Redacted. If one wants to witness a masterpiece with this distressing subject matter watch Casualties If War then the turgid raw digital boredom of Redacted. DePalma has canceled himself out of the game and is traversing the unforgiving empty streets of America with his unfortunate choices.
Tuesday, January 4, 2022 - 9:07 AM CSTName: "Raven Mockery"
Regardless of the real or supposed qualities of "Redacted", some media have gone so far, they called De Palma a "traitor"! Which is obviously silly. Of course, I understand the director's desire to have been one of the first to illustrate the Iraq operation's dark sides (well...where are the brighter?), but "Casualties of War" is a very great film while "Redacted" is just a cheap and clumsy kind-of-copy. Yes, certainly in Hollywood nobody cares about this film today. On one hand, De Palma don't want to work on blockbusters. He don't give a fuck about public's expectations, and even less those of producers and distributors. One of the most famous sequences of "Mission: Impossible", when Ethan imagines the action as it really took place, has totally lost the audience! You have to keep it simple, otherwise people are dumped! On the other hand, he is a filmmaker who is no longer a young man. He is now considered, for the best, as a controversial legend and for the worst, a controversial nasty and cynical movie thief. But above all, I think today, cinema is really washed up! Series are generally more interesting, even if they suffer from some formatting and lack of personal style. Everyone does the same stuff the same way. In cinema too. About De Palma, I don't know if it's only a matter of wrong choices. He was so controversial and was attacked with anger, a fairly rare hate from critics and the movie system that he ultimately fell into dead ends or blind bargains. How could it be otherwise when you make original and clever films as "Phantom of the Paradise", "Blow Out", as strong and courageous as "Casualties of War" and you know they're good! They are unique and bear the mark of a real and major artist. You put your soul into films and that small critic and pop corn audience don't even understand?! When David Lean directed "Ryan's Daughter", his masterpiece, the public and critical results were so disastrous that he did not make films for 14 years! Brian De Palma could have directed "Mission: Impossible #43" or "Predator #55", maybe "Rocky #71", and why not "Matrix #10"? but he's not this kind of guy. He made some concessions to the system, with the art of bringing the project to him (Scarface, Mission: Impossible, The Untouchables, Carlito's Way - all quality films) but he's 81 now. I hope he gets the chance to do this thriller about the Weinstein case.
Tuesday, January 4, 2022 - 9:17 PM CSTName: "anonymous"
All this bitching and moaning of a great filmmaker. All I'm interested in is an amazing filmography and what's next on the horizon!
Sunday, January 9, 2022 - 1:19 AM CSTName: "Tex"
I thought the last twenty minutes was a mess of jumbled editing with its flashback thoughts. It was all over the place that smacks either of studio interference all bad editing.
Sunday, January 9, 2022 - 3:40 PM CSTName: "Neil "
I agree with Tex. I want to see the cut that James Ellroy saw.
Sunday, January 9, 2022 - 7:48 PM CSTName: "Geoff"
When it comes down to it, I think we would all love to see that cut that James Ellroy saw. I have to say, though, that I love the last twenty minutes of the film. there are a lot of revelations, and some real abstractions in the flashbacks that are pure De Palma, but I don't find them jumbled. It is true that Bill Pankow has said they had to start trimming some things throughout the movie because they were sort of told they had to keep the film around 2-hours long. But, keep in mind it was Bill Pankow who was making the cuts the whole way through, with De Palma's final stamp on it.
Sunday, January 9, 2022 - 10:24 PM CSTName: "Harry Georgatos "
Why are studios afraid of lengthy movies? More movies today have long running times. Netflix has limited series with six to eight hours of movie material as subscribers devour the content in one day of ferocious viewing of total immersion. Hollywood will have to make long running movies to compete with the overpowering streaming service that has crippled the cinema industry. Ninety minute movies don't cut it any longer. Longer running times make story and characters breathe better and stronger and immersive world building. THE BLACK DAHLIA needed a longer running time for a lurid and dark look into the evil that lies underneath. Longer running times is fact the industry is just beginning to understand with streaming running a wrecking ball through the cinema industry.
Monday, January 10, 2022 - 12:40 PM CSTName: "Raven Mockery"
As anybody there knows, the more a film costs, the more producers want to make it profitable. Because the original material is loaded with sex and horror, unless to make a miniseries à la Netflix or Showtime, it was impossible to respect the book and at the same time not to restrict the audience. Bucky becomes clearly a necrophiliac loony! So, cut and cut and cut! The whole problem is there. De Palma couldn't help it more. This is the second time in his career that a clown has given him harsh time! I've watched the movie again these days and read the comic book adaptation of Hyman, Matz & Fincher. And when you read the comic, you can see how De Palma managed to visually give interesting sequences. The comic follows Ellroy's novel much more faithfully but has no relief and a lack of imagination. Each time I see the film, I have the same impression. It's clear that the screenplay, despite some good points, is incomprehensible and precipitates thumbnails like a selection from Rated R Reader's Digest! On the actors side, Hartnett and Eckhart are an interesting choice. But Hartnett makes the same grimace every time he plays anger. He's physically perfect for the role but suffers from a lack of strength. The sequence with Johansson - an unfortunate choice - are catastrophic. Eckhart, I like his fast phrasing James Cagney or Warner movie gangsters style even if he's sometimes a bit over the top. Hilary Swank is good too - despite the terrible "Stay, Sugar, Stay!", but her lack of resemblance with Mia Kirshner is a handicap. Ok, she sucks in the last sequence, punctuating each of her words with her cigarette holder! Mike Starr is a perfect Russ Millard as John Kavanagh is a perfect Irish "Scottish" Emmett - a gem actor totally underestimated. As for Fiona Shaw, whose interpretation was hated by a large part of the public and the critics. She is absolutely fantastic in her character à la "What Happened To Baby Jane". The problem is her importance has been reduced too much. Perhaps the "bye, bye" before shooting himself was not necessary. Mia Kirshner is simply sublime. What a pity that she did not also incarnate Madeleine. I am not bothered by the succession of flashbacks. It's also retrospective visions in the novel when Dwight reconstructs the puzzle. Sadly, it's quite weak and, due to the absence of the confrontation between Dwight and Tilden, falls apart like a soufflé. I really think "The Black Dahlia" could have been a great film, but the production screwed it up. When there are so many countries producing a project that lingers to exist, we should not expect a miracle. Too bad for Brian De Palma, James Ellroy and Elizabeth Short. The good point is that today people are saying that the movie didn't deserve all these bad reviews and like some aspects, including the atmosphere (and the fabulous Mark Isham score). The gorgeous combined work of Zsigmond and Ferretti also has something to do with it. The memory of Elizabeth Short survives. And this is the greatest quality of the film anyway.