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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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Scarface: Make Way
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De Palma a la Mod

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010
More than one critic has been reminded of Brian De Palma's Carrie while watching The Runaways, Floria Sigismondi's biopic about the real-life all-girl rock band, currently in theaters (the film still hasn't made it my way yet, so I have not seen it). The Globe and Mail's Liam Lacey states that the film "opens with a quarter-sized spot of blood hitting a sidewalk." Lacey continues, "The sidewalk is on Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip, the blood is menstrual – perhaps a nod to Brian De Palma’s crypto-feminist horror movie Carrie. Either way, it’s a declaration that this is teenaged girl territory."

Writing in the New York Press, Armond White notes that the "drop of menstrual blood at the beginning of The Runaways recurs in Bluebeard, Catherine Breillat’s adaptation of the 17th-century Charles Perrault fairytale." White adds that "for the cinema-savvy, Breillat’s film may also recall the opening sequence of Brian De Palma’s 1976 Carrie, where menstrual blood evokes shame and vengeance (same as in The Runaways)." Comparing the two newer films, White writes:

Both blood images are bold, modern signs of female coming of age, but Breillat, like The Runaways’ director Floria Sigismondi, is also advancing a consciousness of female being that rarely makes it to the screen. (This is especially surprising— and welcome—coming right after Kathryn Bigelow gets rewarded for fitting into the status quo rather than challenging it.) The best way to understand Breillat’s very free fairytale adaptation might be to appreciate its aggressive, almost punk-rock, impudence: Breillat uses female blood for an extraordinary, unnerving finale that climaxes the film’s confrontation with erotic myths that are taught to us—via religion and art—since childhood.

Click here for Armond White's review of The Runaways, in which he compares Michael Shannon's androgynous overplayed performance as producer Kim Fowley to that of Gerrit Graham’s Beef in De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise.

Speaking of fairy tales, Susan Kim, co-author of Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation, mentioned last December in an article for the Huffington Post that De Palma's Carrie "is one of the most whoppingly effective fairy tales ever made for adults." Kim continues:

It's a Gothic horror story, a supernatural fable about menstruation, the taboos surrounding it, and the power it can unleash -- filtered through a Roman Catholic sensibility and juxtaposed against 70s American suburbia. To some, it's a cheesey camp-fest; to me, it's one of the best horror films ever made and, I bet, probably the only one about primary amenorrhea.

Finally, Brenda at Moot Point saw both Carrie and The Runaways last weekend, and points out that the films are both set in the mid-seventies (Carrie was released in 1976, while The Runaways takes place in 1975). Brenda writes, "Both of them are about different ways the power of womanhood runs away with the main characters. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Sigismondi chose to start The Runaways with that image, also." While Carrie, according to Brenda, shows that "menstruation and therefore the female body are scary and monstrous," The Runaways presents a different perspective. "In the hands of a lady filmmaker making a movie about lady culture," writes Brenda, "the period is no longer a source of supernatural horror. It’s just a pain in the ass."

Last month, Edgar Wright was one of several filmmakers contributing to The Guardian's "The Greatest Film Scenes Ever Shot." Wright chose the "Blood at the Prom" scene from Carrie. Here is what he said about the scene:

I always describe Carrie as the Grease of horror movies: it resonates with all ages because everybody remembers their awkward teenage phase and can watch it and say – I was the bully or the victim or the person who did nothing. It explores how apocalyptic your rage can be as a teenager. Carrie's not a killer, she's a girl who has been bullied and through a terrible confluence of events ends up burning the school down.

It's also unusual for a horror film. It doesn't have someone being killed every 20 minutes and then a climax – it builds to one huge climax at the prom. School bullies have fixed the prom so that Carrie White will win and they can humiliate her by tipping a bucket of pig's blood over her in front of the whole school. The scene and the excruciating build-up to it is one of the greatest set pieces of all time, full of suspense, with a monumental payoff.

A crane shot sets up the sequence so you know where everyone is positioned and that the bucket of blood is above Carrie and Tommy's heads. Once the plot is set in motion Pino Donaggio's score takes over. The resulting sequence is pure opera.

I first saw Carrie on VHS with my brother's friend when I was about 12. I obsessively read about horror movies and was dying to see it. I've watched it so many times since. De Palma planned the sequence for months and battled the studio over the time spent on filming it. But it was worth the blood, sweat and tears. It still leaves audiences speechless.

Also in the Guardian article, producer Stephen Woolley chooses the mirror scene from Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, and recalls watching De Palma's Hi, Mom!, which was made five years earlier, and thinking, "I can't believe it – the thing he does in Taxi Driver!"

Posted by Geoff at 6:24 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 6:27 PM CDT
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Thursday, April 8, 2010
According to Mr. Peel, Quentin Tarantino was among the audience at a midnight screening of Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill this past weekend at Los Angeles' New Beverly Cinema, which Tarantino now owns and operates. Mr. Peel was still coming down from the screening days later. Here is an excerpt from his post on the matter:

...as much as Hitchcock is mentioned looked at how the film feels amazingly giallo-tinged, daring to bring a true sense of art to all that sleaze in those films, elements that usually make me want to take a shower—just where this movie begins in a sequence with its famous body double, come to think of it. How many giallos had De Palma taken a look at during the seventies? What is this film’s connection to the opening scene of THE CASE OF THE BLOODY IRIS? Is there anything to be gained in pointing out the resemblance of white-clad Angie Dickinson to the also white-clad Anna Maria Rosati in TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE? So you really think that Autotron’s going up? Why can’t I stop staring at Nancy Allen as she runs through that subway station?

Posted by Geoff at 11:27 AM CDT
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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

David Mamet, who wrote the screenplay for Brian De Palma's The Untouchables, will be on hand to discuss the film April 15, as the American Cinematheque at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica presents the film in 70mm. The event begins at 7:30pm.
(Thanks to Chuck!)

Posted by Geoff at 9:35 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, April 7, 2010 9:36 PM CDT
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Romain at the Virtuoso of the 7th Art sends news that Carlotta will release a DVD of Brian De Palma's Hi, Mom! in France May 5th. The DVD will include an introduction by Samuel Blumenfeld, co-author of Brian De Palma: Conversations with Samuel Blumenfeld and Laurent Vachaud, and an analysis by legendary French filmmaker and critic Jean Douchet, as well as other bonus features.

Posted by Geoff at 9:03 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, April 8, 2010 1:07 AM CDT
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Monday, April 5, 2010

A member of the Australian comedy group The Complete First Season has an idea for a Scarface musical that he can't seem to get out of his head-- at least until he saw last week's "Scarface School Play" video. In any case, First Season's Jimmy laid out several of his ideas:

•Tony arrives on a boat from Cuba with his best friend Manny and dreams of making it big (“The World Is Yours”).

•A Sondheim-like conversation-song with the two officers joking around with him (“The Interrogation”).

•The Sunset Motel sequence in interpretive dance (“The Chainsaw Ballet”).

•A Do-Re-Mi style teaching song where Tony tells his lovelorn friend Manny how to impress a girl (“You Get The Money, Then The Power, Then The Women”).

•Frank pleads with Tony not to kill him, and offers him Elvira. Tony refuses. (“Stay Loyal”).

•The good times montage (“Take It To The Limit”, from the original movie) where Tony marries Elvira.

•Tony, out of his mind on cocaine, sings a tormented solo of how he’s betrayed/murdered so many of his friends and family (“Oh Manolo”)

•… which transitions into Tony’s explosion of rage (“My Little Friend”) and a spectacularly choreographed dance piece with explosions and gunfire.

•The finale with Tony and all of his victims rising from the grave, warning the audience about the dangers of having too much ambition and greed (“The World Is Yours (Reprise)”).

•The show ends by exploding talcum powder (i.e. cocaine) over the front row of the audience.

Posted by Geoff at 9:27 PM CDT
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Saturday, April 3, 2010
I Fry Mine In Butter's snarkysmachine has posted a highly entertaining summary of her feelings about Brian De Palma and her favorite film of his, Home Movies. There are also some words about getting the "De Palma lecture" from her mother:

My mother enjoys BDeP but must first always preface this by reminding me and anyone else in earshot that he does that violent sex/sexy violence thing and denounce his misogyny and obsession with violence. Then will proceed to wax on and on about The Untouchables.

It goes a little something like this:

“Oh that De Palma” said in a tone very similar to one a person might use to say, “Oh that Eddie Haskell!” Usually there’s a sigh and depending on the film the lecture might be deeply reflective or deeply dismissive. To be fair, any version is great, but the one used when a really provocative BDeP film is mentioned, just happens to be my favorite.

“Brian De Palma does that sexy violence/violent sexy thing and some times he just goes too far!” This always sound like a dissatisfied client complaining about her favorite hairdresser. The lecture is often riddled with caveats and grammatical landmines. Say the wrong thing and KABOOM.

I always say, “That’s so true, Ma.” because I don’t actually call her La Mommie and because, of course, it’s the right answer. Like me, La Mommie can seem deceptively lightweight when discussing pop culture, but she’s not. Heck, she made me the BDeP and Kube fan I am today. Yeah, send your complaint letters there. Though, I should also point out I gets my mellow harshing powers from her as well.

The lecture – if we’re getting the unabridged version – then goes on to compare and contrast his films in order to effectively illustrate her point. There is usually mention of Caine in drag, Connery crawling across the floor dragging his vital organs behind him and possibly – if the dogs haven’t started any herky jerky – a mention of the “race against the sun” scene in Bram Stroker’s Dracula, which while not being a De Palma film, is one of HER favorite scenes, thus applicable to any discussion (even when it’s not).

“And the way Sean Connery just played that scene,” she might say, “he really earned that Oscar. He did win it for that, right? Still, I don’t think we needed all of that!” All of that, meaning the blood, the crawling on the floor, the vital organs trailing behind like streamers and the seventeen thousand shotgun blasts it took to win the Oscar.

Speaking of The Untouchables, snarkysmachine states that she likes to watch that film, but only while folding laundry and organizing her closet.

Posted by Geoff at 11:51 PM CDT
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Friday, April 2, 2010
Jonathan Rosenbaum has reposted his 2002 review of Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale. After reading Rosenbaum's review of Snake Eyes in 1998, in which he seemed to feel De Palma had, in his eyes, finally come into his own as a filmmaker whose vision was wholly his own, I remember reading this review of Femme Fatale and really thinking that Rosenbaum was in the midst of some kind of reconsideration of De Palma's work (in the review, he cites Pauline Kael's ebracing "of what she called De Palma’s trashiness" as getting in the way of Rosenbaum's ability to appreciate De Palma "for what he is instead of disliking him for what he isn’t"). We'll see if anything like that ever comes along in his future writing, but back in 2002, Rosenbaum called Femme Fatale "a grand synthesis" of De Palma's oeuvre. "As I watched it the first time two months ago," Rosenbaum states in the review, "I found myself capitulating to its inspired formalist madness — something I’ve resisted in [De Palma's] films for the past 30-odd years." Here are some of the very interesting things Rosenbaum had to say about Femme Fatale (which he labeled a three-star must-see):

However ludicrous the opening heist sequence of Femme Fatale might seem, it proposes a kind of willful symmetry. The movie’s climactic slow-motion catastrophe — which we actually see assembled and disassembled like a jigsaw puzzle in two separate versions — is an equally implausible form of symmetry that’s governed by chance and fate. Both sequences are of course conceived and constructed by De Palma, and the metaphysical distinctions between how and why they unfold add up to a philosophical position, if not a moral or ethical one.

The first time Laure sees Lily playing Russian roulette in a Paris flat, there’s a leaking aquarium in a corner of the room. Since we see the leak before any bullet is fired, we may be puzzled by this detail — which arguably gets explained, after a fashion, when we return to the same scene much later in the film. I was surprised to be reminded of the unexplained rainfall glimpsed inside a house in Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris, but it occurred to me later that this parallel might not be as implausible as I supposed — and not just because De Palma is a compulsive moviegoer who sees a lot more than Hollywood product. (He has often noted that he’s virtually the only mainstream filmmaker who regularly attends foreign film festivals as a spectator.)

Tarkovsky — a formalist who’s often been misidentified as a humanist, perhaps because of his mysticism — sometimes showed a similar indifference to his characters, such as the family of the hero who burns his house down in the final sequence of his last film, The Sacrifice. Formalism and an absence of humanism don’t necessarily entail a lack of artistic seriousness. Indeed, looking for symmetry and coherence in a universe that seems to consist only of chaotic fragments from other movies — a very contemporary and very real dilemma — might constitute a genuine quest for transcendence.

Posted by Geoff at 10:08 PM CDT
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Thursday, April 1, 2010
It's been a week of pranks, what with the "Scarface School Play" video making the rounds. For April Fools Day today, Kindertrauma's Unkle Lancifer has posted a preview of Tootsie 2: The Curse Of Dorothy Michaels (also known in the article as "The Revenge of Dorothy Michaels"), a new "Brian De Palma film" with plans for a 3D version, no less. Originally poised to go "head-to-head" with James Cameron's Avatar, according to the article, the once "Oscar hopeful" film, which sees Melanie Griffith replacing Jessica Lange from the original Tootsie, will now go straight to DVD. According to "Dustin Hoffman," "Dorothy is alive and well and living inside Michael, whether she’s a crazed, blood thirsty killer or just a friendly entity on hand to help solve the riddle is the film’s big mystery!" The victims are played by "an Oscar Who’s Who," including "Marisa Tomei," who refers to the film as "The Tootsies," and says that "Brian's plan was to outdo Hitchcock. Only instead of a shower, he’d use a bidet." The article suggests that De Palma "shot over four hundred hours of footage for the three minute scene." Hoffman, alluding to De Palma's Carrie, tells Kindertrauma, "As an actor you know when a character has outlived their welcome and I don’t see that ever happening with Dorothy. I’ve made sure that each and every ending we’ve filmed whether on the Earth or on the moon includes a shot of her hand coming up from the grave." He then suggests a sort of Predator vs. Alien sequel involving his Dorothy and Julia Andrews' Victor from Victor Victoria.

Posted by Geoff at 11:11 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, April 1, 2010 11:12 AM CDT
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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In the video above, CNN's Mike Galanos acts mightily perturbed by the viral video showing Scarface reenacted by kids. To emphasize his point that the subject matter is naturally appalling when represented by children, one of the clips shown from the Marc Klasfeld-directed video actually censors out some of the "motherfudging" dialogue with audio beeps. Galanos aggresively chastizes Klasfeld, hardly giving him a chance to speak his mind much of the time. Of course, Klasfeld is really only there to sell commercials for CNN, which is using his video for the entertainment of its viewers while simultaneously denouncing it with stern introductions such as "Watch this...".

A more even-tempered article by Ninette Sosa appears on the CNN website, where Klasfeld states that in comedy and satire, opposite is what attracts. "What is the most opposite film there is to children? It's Scarface." In both the video (where he is accused of nothing more than self-promotion) and the article, Klasfeld suggests that his aim is to start a dialogue about how our media culture is saturated with sex and violence, and, as Sosa puts it in the article, "how it blankets children on a daily basis." Regarding the art of viral videos, Klasfeld is quoted, "I love the aesthetics, and it's a brand new avenue of expression for filmmakers to express themselves freely."

Meanwhile, NBC Chicago reports that parents of Grade School District 66 in Bartonville, Illinois (which "cindymomof6", the identity of the person that posted the clip on YouTube, listed as "her" hometown), have been concerned. According to the report:

Superintendent Shannon Duling has fielded scores of phone calls about the video that range from incensed to disappointed.

“We’re a really small school so most people know that it didn’t happen here,” Duling said. “Most of our parents are just upset that we’re getting a bad rap.”

But a few callers fell for the hoax.

“One called and was upset because they thought it actually happened here,” he said. “I think it’s interesting how quickly people jump to conclusions.”

Posted by Geoff at 11:54 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, April 1, 2010 2:35 AM CDT
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The Scarface as school play video that caused a stir yesterday was created by the award-winning viral, commercial, and music video director Mark Klasfeld and his company Rockhard Films. According to TMZ, the Scarface video was produced in Los Angeles "within the last few weeks and the audience members were a mix of cast family members, colleagues and friends." The child actors were "selected through a casting agent known for finding child actor look-alikes for adult stars."

Klasfeld told Geoff Boucher at the L.A. Times blog Hero Complex that (as Boucher puts it) he is "smitten with the wildfire immediacy of viral video." Klasfeld told Boucher, "It's a rare place where you can be creative and express yourself freely and it's a very democratic process and I'm very excited to part of it. It was a lot of fun." Boucher's post continues:

With the quirky homage to "Scarface," Klasfeld said "we had a great cast, great kids and great parents ... they enjoyed the process." The director said it was amusing to watch the pockets of outrage as the purposely provocative video spread out across the Internet.

"We definitely suspected that would happen," said Klasfeld, a father of two who says he wonders why the most vocal critics of the ironic video don't speak out more against the sexualization of young girls in American culture or the relentless violence on screens of all sorts.

"Everyday when I wake up with my daughter and I turn on the television for her and we're constantly guarding her against all these unnecessary sexual [messages] bombarding her ... so for us to see the reaction against this, well, that was a little shocking," Klasfeld said. "I found it all fascinating."

What's next? Klasfeld said he's going to sit back and enjoy the parodies, mash-ups and imitations of "Scarface School Play" that have already begun. Despite the success of his viral video he quickly dismissed the idea of making a sequel like, say, "Taxi Driver School Play" or "Leaving Las Vegas Schoolplay." "No, I don't see that happening."

Meanwhile, Oliver Stone was asked by New York Magazine's Vulture blog if he thought there might be a line in his upcoming Wall Street sequel to match his "greed is good" catch phrase from the first film. "When I wrote Scarface," Stone replied, "I wouldn’t have been able to say what people would pick up on. I mean, ‘Say hello to my little friend!’? Who the fuck thought they’d pick up on that?"

Posted by Geoff at 2:02 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 6:22 PM CDT
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