Hello and welcome to the unofficial Brian De Palma website.
Here is the latest news:

De Palma a la Mod

E-mail
Geoffsongs@aol.com

De Palma Discussion
Forum

-------------

Recent Headlines
a la Mod:

Domino is
a "disarmingly
straight-forward"
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
Interviews:

Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
Leila Rozario

------------

AV Club Review
of Dumas book

------------

« February 2022 »
S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28

Interviews...

De Palma interviewed
in Paris 2002

De Palma discusses
The Black Dahlia 2006


Enthusiasms...

De Palma Community

The Virtuoso
of the 7th Art

The De Palma Touch

The Swan Archives

Carrie...A Fan's Site

Phantompalooza

No Harm In Charm

Paul Schrader

Alfred Hitchcock
The Master Of Suspense

Alfred Hitchcock Films

Snake Eyes
a la Mod

Mission To Mars
a la Mod

Sergio Leone
and the Infield
Fly Rule

Movie Mags

Directorama

The Filmmaker Who
Came In From The Cold

Jim Emerson on
Greetings & Hi, Mom!

Scarface: Make Way
For The Bad Guy

The Big Dive
(Blow Out)

Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
Official Web Site

The Phantom Project

Welcome to the
Offices of Death Records

The Carlito's Way
Fan Page

The House Next Door

Kubrick on the
Guillotine

FilmLand Empire

Astigmia Cinema

LOLA

Cultural Weekly

A Lonely Place

The Film Doctor

italkyoubored

Icebox Movies

Medfly Quarantine

Not Just Movies

Hope Lies at
24 Frames Per Second

Motion Pictures Comics

Diary of a
Country Cinephile

So Why This Movie?

Obsessive Movie Nerd

Nothing Is Written

Ferdy on Films

Cashiers De Cinema

This Recording

Mike's Movie Guide

Every '70s Movie

Dangerous Minds

EatSleepLiveFilm

No Time For
Love, Dr. Jones!

The former
De Palma a la Mod
site

Entries by Topic
A note about topics: Some blog posts have more than one topic, in which case only one main topic can be chosen to represent that post. This means that some topics may have been discussed in posts labeled otherwise. For instance, a post that discusses both The Boston Stranglers and The Demolished Man may only be labeled one or the other. Please keep this in mind as you navigate this list.
All topics ал
Ambrose Chapel
Are Snakes Necessary?
BAMcinématek
Bart De Palma
Beaune Thriller Fest
Becoming Visionary
Betty Buckley
Bill Pankow
Black Dahlia
Blow Out
Blue Afternoon
Body Double
Bonfire Of The Vanities
Books
Boston Stranglers
Bruce Springsteen
Cannes
Capone Rising
Carlito's Way
Carrie
Casualties Of War
Catch And Kill
Cinema Studies
Clarksville 1861
Columbia University
Columbo - Shooting Script
Conversation, The
Cop-Out
Cruising
Daft Punk
Dancing In The Dark
David Koepp
De Niro
De Palma & Donaggio
De Palma (doc)
De Palma Blog-A-Thon
De Palma Discussion
Demolished Man
Dick Vorisek
Dionysus In '69
Domino
Dressed To Kill
Eric Schwab
Fatal Attraction
Femme Fatale
Film Series
Fire
Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Fury, The
George Litto
Get To Know Your Rabbit
Ghost & The Darkness
Greetings
Happy Valley
Havana Film Fest
Heat
Hi, Mom!
Hitchcock
Home Movies
Inspired by De Palma
Iraq, etc.
Jared Martin
Jerry Greenberg
Keith Gordon
Key Man, The
Laurent Bouzereau
Lights Out
Lithgow
Magic Hour
Magnificent Seven
Mission To Mars
Mission: Impossible
Mod
Montreal World Film Fest
Morricone
Mr. Hughes
Murder a la Mod
Nancy Allen
Nazi Gold
Newton 1861
Noah Baumbach
NYFF
Obsession
Oliver Stone
Palmetto
Paranormal Activity 2
Parker
Parties & Premieres
Passion
Paul Hirsch
Paul Schrader
Pauline Kael
Peet Gelderblom
Phantom Of The Paradise
Pimento
Pino Donaggio
Predator
Prince Of The City
Print The Legend
Raggedy Ann
Raising Cain
Red Shoes, The
Redacted
Responsive Eye
Retribution
Rie Rasmussen
Robert De Niro
Rotwang muß weg!
Sakamoto
Scarface
Scorsese
Sean Penn
Sisters
Snake Eyes
Sound Mixer
Spielberg
Star Wars
Stepford Wives
Stephen H Burum
Sweet Vengeance
Tabloid
Tarantino
Taxi Driver
Terry
The Tale
To Bridge This Gap
Toronto Film Fest
Toyer
Travolta
Treasure Sierra Madre
Tru Blu
Truth And Other Lies
TV Appearances
Untitled Ashton Kutcher
Untitled Hollywood Horror
Untitled Industry-Abuse M
Untouchables
Venice Beach
Vilmos Zsigmond
Wedding Party
William Finley
Wise Guys
Woton's Wake
Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile
You are not logged in. Log in
Saturday, February 19, 2022
'MORTAL SERIOUSNESS MASKED IN A CARTOON SHADE'
A DEEPLY FINE-TUNED ESSAY ON 'PHANTOM' BY SARAH WELCH-LARSON AT BRIGHT WALL/DARK ROOM - w/ART BY TOM RALSTON
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/tomralstonbrightwall.jpg

Over at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Sarah Welch-Larson has written a deeply fine-tuned analysis of Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise, accompanied by a beautiful illustration from Toronto-based artist Tom Ralston. Go read the entire article from start to finish, but here's an excerpt:
Where the Juicy Fruits come across as unselfconscious and ironic, and where Phoenix comes across as earnest almost to the point of desperation, their successor (Gerrit Graham) is willing to lean into knowing camp, and all the excesses that come with it. Even his improbable (incredible!) name—Beef—is a wink toward voracious appetites, and more than just a nod to sexual innuendo. Beef is artificial, swimming in irony. Beef knows the rules of the production game, and he’s in on the joke. He matches Swan’s excesses with excesses of his own, slipping across the stage in wooden high-heeled shoes, his hair caked in glitter and coiffed like that of a classical Greek statue. He pronounces the word “professional” with extra syllables. The Juicy Fruits’ presentation might have been cobbled together from genre to genre, but Beef beats the label band at their own game by performing dressed as Frankenstein’s monster—a man created by the label purely to sell music in spectacular fashion.

And De Palma—like Swan and his cronies—sells spectacle here, more than anything else. The entire film is soaked in color: crimson and gold in the hallways of the titular Paradise club, metallics shining in the microphones and musical instruments, and the flash of neon lights in pink, green, and yellow in the background at every show. Paradise attendees and auditioning hopefuls wear clothing in natural fibers and floral prints, nature untouched by Swan, the devil in a shag haircut and leisure suit. The performers on stage, in contrast, wear sequins and spandex, synthetic materials in spectacular colors and shapes. Phoenix starts off dressed simply enough, but dons a coat made entirely of pheasant feathers once she’s been crowned Swan’s newest favorite. The Phantom wears black skin-tight leather, a void of a man who’s been emptied of his art by a soulless producer. Even the blood, when it’s finally spilled, is cherry red. It pops off the screen, mortal seriousness masked in a cartoon shade.

The cartoony nature of the visuals sells the faux-glamor of the Paradise better than any realistic style could; the exaggerated nature of the sets, cheap as they might look, gives the movie an appearance of being that much larger than life. Swan’s production company, Death Records, features winding, impractical black-and-white corridors that twist through the building with no discernible logic, in an inefficient and extravagant use of space. Before he becomes the Phantom, Winslow Leach enters the building hoping to be signed by Swan. He finds nothing of substance: no recording studios, no instruments, no producer, just a woman in a Death Records t-shirt filing her nails behind a desk, and a record press that will maim Leach’s face, driving him to haunt the Paradise for revenge.

Where Death Records is sparse, the Paradise is ornate: the club is festooned with mirrors, doing double duty to make the building’s interior look bigger, even though the images those mirrors reflect have no real substance. Swan can see himself from any angle in those mirrors, can admire his own self-declared perfection whenever he’d like. He knows himself for the devil he is. The Phantom, on the other hand, can’t confront himself in those same mirrors. He shies away; they magnify his burned face, and with it his failure to hold on to the rights to his own music. The Phantom covers his face in shining metal armor to protect him from pity and scorn, including his own.

 

***

Before it all goes to hell, before Leach is signed to a contract under Swan, before he’s disfigured and trapped within the Paradise’s walls as the Phantom, before the opulence of the Paradise is shown to be a sham, Leach plays piano in a club. He might be an unsigned artist playing unpopular music, but De Palma treats that art with respect. The camera swirls around Leach as he plays and sings, the lens holding a tight focus on his face. Everything else falls away. There’s no artifice: Leach’s music, with no frills added, is the only art in the world that matters. He’s certainly the only artist in the building; he’s playing to an empty club. The only person in-film who can hear him is Swan, and tragically, Swan doesn’t hear Leach the way we do. He only hears a song that he wants to repurpose for the opening of the Paradise.

Months in the future and miles away, Phoenix is pushed on the stage at the opening of the Paradise. Beef has flamed out on stage, murdered by the vengeful Phantom, and in his desperation to keep the show going, Swan turns to the singer he’d rejected for being too perfect and too innocent. She steals the show with a song Leach wrote for her.

“Old Souls” is an anomaly—a slow love ballad, far more restrained than any other song in the film. The piano accompanying Phoenix’s performance takes a back seat to Jessica Harper’s voice. The maximalist stage setting from Beef’s performance is gone, replaced by a simple velvet curtain; the raucous audience screaming that they want Beef is silenced. They’re held rapt by everything Swan has previously discarded. Instead of glitter, darkness; instead of Beef’s stagy hypermasculinity, Phoenix’s unpracticed and unguarded femininity; instead of processed false youth, a song about a love older than the lovers experiencing it.

“All souls last forever so we need never fear goodbye,” sings Phoenix, and for a moment, the artifice driving Phantom of the Paradise falls away. There’s no need to sell youth anymore, because there’s nothing to fear from aging. Phoenix’s song is genuine because it embraces change and age, and it refuses to put a price tag on the love around which the lyrics turn. Phoenix isn’t selling anything to her audience; she’s giving it away for free.


Posted by Geoff at 6:01 PM CST
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post

View Latest Entries