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De Palma a la Mod


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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 interviewed
in Paris 2002

De Palma discusses
The Black Dahlia 2006


De Palma Community

The Virtuoso
of the 7th Art

The De Palma Touch

The Swan Archives

Carrie...A Fan's Site


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


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
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The House Next Door

Kubrick on the

FilmLand Empire

Astigmia Cinema


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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

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This Recording

Mike's Movie Guide

Every '70s Movie

Dangerous Minds


No Time For
Love, Dr. Jones!

The former
De Palma a la Mod

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.
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Hi, Mom!
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Nicholas Rombes at The Rumpus has begun an experimental new approach to writing about film by choosing three arbitrary time codes of a film, freezing the frame, and then writing commentary based around each frame. The third film Rombes selected for this series, in which he freezes the frames at 10-minutes, 40-minutes, and 70-minutes, is Brian De Palma's Raising Cain. Of the frame pictured here, Rombes writes:

Lithgow, playing several characters, gives a wildly expressionistic performance, and the marvel of the film lies not in the usual De Palma trademarks (split and multiple screens, slow motion, long takes, extended tracking shots) but in prolonged shots like this, that allows the actors to act with their faces. There is nothing campy or ironic about Lithgow’s performance at this point. In nature, in the Garden, he witnesses the forbidden transgression, with sorrow, disbelief, voyeuristic curiosity, and lurking fury. In these moments, Carter is pitifully human, his combed hair, middle-class jacket, falsely-ordered life, none of this can compete with the perpetual crisis in his brain.

Posted by Geoff at 2:32 PM CDT
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Sunday, April 18, 2010
Film projects come along every now and then that seem perfectly fit for someone like Brian De Palma. For instance, when I read the news this past week about Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell being signed to star in a formerly lost Stanley Kubrick project, the dark mystery Lunatic At Large, it immediately struck me that the material seemed suitable for De Palma (who also seemed to have had a solid working relationship with Johansson on The Black Dahlia a few years ago). Production Weekly stated that a director had not yet been confirmed, but that production would start later this year. Another De Palma associate, Edward R. Pressman, was at one time attached to produce Lunatic At Large, but no longer appears to be involved. In any case, according to a 2006 article in the New York Times, the 1956-set story, which was modern at the time that Kubrick originated the project with pulp author Jim Thompson, features promising set pieces which include "a car chase over a railroad crossing with a train bearing down," a "romantic interlude in a spooky, deserted mountain lodge," and "a nighttime carnival sequence in which Joyce [the main female character], lost and afraid, wanders among the tents and encounters a sideshow’s worth of familiar carnie types: the Alligator Man, the Mule-Faced Woman, the Midget Monkey Girl, the Human Blockhead, with the inevitable noggin full of nails."

Another film idea that seemed ripe for De Palma's touch is the American film adaptation of Steig Larsson's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which might also be described as a remake of the Swedish film adaptation of Larsson's Men Who Hate Women, which was directed by Niels Arden Oplev. The photo above is from Oplev's film, which, according to The Moviegoer's Paul Matwychuk, includes a scene where the main protagonist "uses a bunch of old photos to make an 'animated' film of [a missing girl's] last moments of freedom." Matwychuk adds that the "nicely edited sequence... holds its own against a similar scene from Brian De Palma’s Blow Out." De Palma a la Mod reader Kim Thompson agrees that the sequence "unmistakably" echoes Blow Out. A couple of weeks ago, it was announced that David Fincher has signed on to direct the American film version-- should be interesting.

Posted by Geoff at 4:18 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, April 18, 2010 4:20 PM CDT
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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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