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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 a la Mod

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Saturday, July 1, 2023

After yesterday's announcement that the upcoming Arrow Video edition of Carlito's Way will include "De Palma’s Way, a brand new appreciation by film critic David Edelstein," I thought it would be interesting to revisit Edelstein's Vulture review of Domino from 2019:
Underfunded, sketchily written, and heavily cut (maybe one reason the writing seems sketchy), Brian De Palma’s Domino still puts contemporary thrillers to shame. The story is standard-issue right-wing melodrama with some loop the loops: Two Danish cops, Christian (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, fresh from Game of Thrones) and Alex (Carice van Houten, same) hunt a Libyan immigrant named Ezra Tarzi (Eriq Ebouaney) who killed Christian’s partner (who was also Alex’s illicit lover) — not fully realizing that Tarzi is being protected by the CIA, led by Guy Pearce’s Joe Martin. Why does the agency allow Tarzi to hack a bloody path through Europe? Because he can do (and is very talented at doing) what the CIA by law cannot: locating, torturing, and killing ISIS operatives in a quest to kill the sheikh who murdered his humanitarian father.

The script is full of little digs at liberals (the sheikh was released from Guantánamo; Denmark is so fashionably leftist), but De Palma doesn’t seem interested in the politics. For him, Domino is a late-career exploration of ideas that have obsessed him for 50-odd years. One is the hypnotic pull of subjective camera footage. The ISIS terrorists use filmed violence to turn people on, at one point sending a young woman to document her murders on the red carpet of the Netherlands Film Festival (“Ending the lives of infidels is a great thing. Scaring the millions of others who see it live on TV is something even greater!”) and planning a massacre in a bullfight arena that will be shot by a hovering drone.

Most of all, De Palma proves that greatest suspense (and horror) come from helplessness, a sense of impotence. Christian sees his partner bleeding out and the suspect escaping over a slate roof and is torn between his dual duties, but De Palma doesn’t quicken the pace the way most directors would. Instead, time stretches out, gravity pulls harder, and the air seems to thicken, agonizingly. The showstopper climax has the stately, “Bolero”-like rhythm of the first sequence of Femme Fatale, while also recalling the nightmarishly protracted tragedies of The Fury and Blow Out and so many other De Palma films. The heroes have to work out complex spatial-temporal equations at lightning speed — but slowed down by factors of two, then four, then eight, until your heart feels like it will explode.

What has pissed off early audiences (and many critics) about Domino is that the payoffs fall short of the buildups. A swift kick in the groin is unintentionally comic. A major character dispatched too abruptly makes De Palma seem glib. I’d like to see his full cut someday. Meanwhile, you should ignore the terrible reviews. I’d like to think the crates of tomatoes that are a running motif and figure in the plot are a tacit acknowledgment that the Tomatometer doesn’t always tell the truth.

Of course, we've been back and forth here a million times about the idea that there was ever a longer cut of Domino out there - there were so many money and production issues with the actual filming of Domino that it seems to be the case that many scenes people think are "missing" were simply never filmed. Meanwhile, in June of 2019, the screenwriter Petter Skavlan was interviewed for an Italian website, and said, "Before Brian got on board, the script was a darker and more intricate story. Some of my dominoes have been removed, creating a simpler and more linear plot that best suited his vision of the film." Near the end of the interview, Skavlan added, "Working with a legendary director like Brian De Palma was an incredibly interesting privilege. Although I felt the need to adapt my existing script to his vision of the film, he always made sure that the heart and soul of the story remained intact. He is very sharp and analytical, and a true gentleman in the creative process."

Posted by Geoff at 6:53 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, July 1, 2023 6:54 PM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (4) | Permalink | Share This Post

Saturday, July 1, 2023 - 8:31 PM CDT

Name: "Harry Georgatos "

DOMINO is second tier DePalma. Second tier DePalma is better then most first tier of other filmmakers. There's a lot to admire in DOMINO. It's not as bad as most critics would say about this troubled production. The premise is a really great one of terrorists staging bombings for the internet. If DePalma got to make the film he wanted people would still be talking about DOMINO today. I've grown to appreciate the film through repeat viewings, picking up on all its nuances.

Monday, July 3, 2023 - 12:43 PM CDT

Name: "Christian G"


I think it's really quite good.

I think the end sequence elevates it into my top 20 or so De Palma-films, which is as you say, much better than most.

Probably my favorite De Palma since Femme Fatale. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2023 - 12:02 AM CDT

Name: "Jimmy Rolex "

I believe that the director's cut exists.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023 - 12:19 AM CDT

Name: "Jimmy Rolex "

Opening shot in the trailer of a river which ain't in the movie hints at a directors version.

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