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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
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in Snakes

De Palma/Lehman
next novel is Terry

De Palma developing
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"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
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AV Club Review
of Dumas book


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De Palma a la Mod

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Saturday, January 7, 2012
"I’ve always been known for my concern for the beauty of the actresses. That’s because I grew up seeing the films from the 1940s to the 1960s, in which the actresses were shot like goddesses.” That is a quote from José Luis Alcaine, the cinematographer who has worked on five films with Pedro Almodóvar since 1988, including Almodóvar's latest, The Skin I Live In. According to the IMDB, Alcaine will be the cinematographer on Brian De Palma's Passion, a film of which De Palma has stated will have "a lot of beautiful women in it." Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams are set to play the leads. De Palma had previously told us that Thierry Arbogast would be shooting the film, but that was back when they were trying to get the project off the ground last spring, so Arbogast may be tied up with other projects right now. In any case, Alcaine is a welcome, fantastic choice, having done incredible work with Almodóvar and others. The Skin I Live In has been compared on more than one occasion to De Palma's Femme Fatale.

Alcaine is known for being the first to use fluorescent tubes as a primary lighting source back in the '70s. He talked a bit about his lighting techniques in a recent interview with Below The Line's Jack Egan, telling him that the bedrock of all good cinematography is "sculpting with light... You have to bear in mind that the lighting in all my films, even though they’re very different, starts from reality. That means I like very gentle lights, but with great contrasts; and soft lighting that envelopes colors, without making them explode.”

Also according to the IMDB (and confirmed by Film Music Reporter), Dario Marianelli will compose the score for Passion. Marianelli is an award-winning composer who has scored many films, including The Brave One, Atonement, Pride and Prejudice and V for Vendetta. The IMDB also lists François Gédigier (Dancer In The Dark, Queen Margot) as the editor on Passion. As previously reported, Cornelia Ott is the art director.

Posted by Geoff at 4:38 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, January 8, 2012 10:32 AM CST
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Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Deadline's Mike Fleming reported today that Kimberly Peirce is in talks to direct the MGM/Screen Gems remake of Carrie. Peirce is best known for her feature debut Boys Don't Cry. Since that picture in 1999, she has directed one other feature, the effective Iraq war-themed drama Stop-Loss, which was released in 2008. In between, she directed several episodes of Showtime's The L Word.

Peirce tends to be a hands-on director, meaning she is heavily involved in the screenplay development of her projects, usually co-writing as well as directing. Last February, Fleming reported that Peirce had set up a gang drama at Universal called The Knife. "We spent about four months working for free to put this together," Peirce told Fleming at the time, "because directors and writers have to go in with a movie like this totally figured out. Many of my filmmaker and screenwriter friends tell me they’ve had to do the same. You just have to look at it as the answer to the question, what do I have to do to get a good movie made? A two-minute pitch isn’t good enough, and is there anything more mind-numbing than reading an outline? I fell in love with the two characters and immediately saw a classic buddy movie with this rookie gang-banger and a hard-nosed FBI agent who have to overcome a mutual distrust. The agent wants to infiltrate the gang at a time when the FBI had no understanding of gang structure. They were effective but there are so many conflicts that play out, like can you be an informant without being a rat, to can you trust an informant if his reason for cooperating isn’t that you will otherwise send him to prison for another crime he committed? I love true undercover crime stories like On The Waterfront, The Departed and Donnie Brasco, but Hollywood is moving away from films like these. We walked in and said, here’s the movie, it will cost under $30 million. And we walked out with much more than a development deal. It also helped that The Town and Takers came in at $30 million or less and grossed over $100 million. The studio told us to move as fast as we can and that’s what we’re doing.”

With that project seemingly stalled, Peirce may be jumping onto the Carrie remake as a way to have a potential hit and get some of her other projects made. Fleming states that Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has already written the new adaptation of Stephen King's novel, but if Peirce signs on, she will undoubtedly reshape it to fit her vision.

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, January 5, 2012 12:21 AM CST
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Friday, December 23, 2011
I'll get this minor SPOILER ALERT out of the way first (don't read if you don't want to know)-- Brad Bird's Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol ends with a cameo from Ving Rhames, playing Luther Stickell. After Ethan Hunt's latest adventure, Bird does a direct echo of the post-adventure scene in Brian De Palma's Mission: Impossible by pointing the camera at a Seattle cafe's television, on which can be seen a newscaster explaining away the "official" cover-up version of the events which have just transpired in the film. The camera then pans through the cafe to find Ethan and Luther sitting at a table, enjoying a drink together as the two discuss the latest mission. (Bird's film also touches on the J.J. Abrams Mission story after the De Palma homage... not sure if the John Woo Mission is in here somewhere or not.)

I liked Ghost Protocol quite a bit. Bird really brought the playfulness to it that he spoke of in interviews, and the film has more than a few laughs coming from several directions, while still keeping a palpable spy-genre tension. The opening prologue brings the viewer right into the movie with a fast-paced chill, followed by a highly entertaining jailbreak mission. Worth noting is that Paul Hirsch, who edited the De Palma Mission, returns for the new one, as well.

While I feel the new film is the best one since the first one, I still feel that De Palma's is the best Mission so far. De Palma's film moves in a cooly fluid, insidiously beautiful way, with a layered, subversive element to the images. Bird's film advances in animated leaps and bounds, thrilling to the moment. Each version works, but it seems to me that the De Palma film has so much more to say about the dirty business of being a spy, and it does so rather chillingly.

Two critics who really like Bird's film are Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman and City Arts' Armond White. Gleiberman includes Ghost Protocol at number ten on his list of 2011's best films, calling it the best in the Mission series. "In an action-ride culture that offers so much fake adrenaline," states Gleiberman, "it's cathartic to encounter the real thing."

Meanwhile, White begins his review of Bird's film this way: "Brian De Palma’s 1996 Mission Impossible was a cartoon even though he didn’t direct it like one. The sheer, exhilarating pleasure of Mission Impossible IV (officially subtitled Ghost Protocol) comes from star-producer Tom Cruise’s ingenious decision to cast animation master Brad Bird." White later continues, "Whereas De Palma’s hyper clear visual style was gravely emotional even when the action was absurd, it didn’t quite transform the TV-based material into the Fritz Lang revelation De Palma intended (despite the helicopter/train Chunnel sequence’s very obvious reference to Lang’s 1929 Spies). Bird’s movie is lighter, yet more visionary."

White further compares Abrams to Bird and De Palma: "Co-producer J.J. Abrams tried and failed to make a deluxe TV-movie in Star Trek. Abrams simply lacks a cinematic eye comparable to Bird (comparable to De Palma? Forget it.) Bird’s conceptual staging of a prison break, a choreographed seduction at a ball in India and a chase during a desert dust storm display a big-screen sense of movement that harkens back to great animation as well as silent movie slapstick."

In the final paragraph of the review, White claims that the Besson stable of directors is still the crew to beat when it comes to the action genre: "If Ghost Protocol was any better, it would match the splendid advance of action movie aesthetics that Luc Besson has spearheaded in the Transporter movies (especially Olivier Megaton’s Godardian Transporter 3) as well as Angel-A, Taken, From Paris with Love and this year’s terrific Colombiana. These recent heroic action narrative innovations by Besson, Paul W.S. Anderson and Neveldine-Taylor are accomplishing what De Palma was after. Hollywood is slow on the uptake. Tarantino, Eli Roth and their ilk can only amp-up brutality; they lack visual wit. But in Ghost Protocol, Cruise and Bird are catching up. It is a rare pleasure to salute a Hollywood action movie that gets it right."

Posted by Geoff at 7:48 PM CST
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

While we're on the subject of De Palma fans making films, last October, Drafthouse Films held an open competition for a four-minute horror film based on the letter T. The winning film will be part of The ABCs Of Death, which brings together 26 directors (most of them already established in the horror genre), each giving their four-minute perspective on a letter of the alphabet. De Palma a la Mod reader David Guglielmo directed the above short, T Is For Toga, for the competition. Although he did not win, Guglielmo's entry was directly influenced by the films of Brian De Palma, and so we present it here for your entertainment. Guglielmo also reviewed the Blu-Ray release of De Palma's Dressed To Kill for Films In Review last week.

Posted by Geoff at 9:25 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 9:27 PM CST
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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Romain Desbiens (who runs the site Brian De Palma: Virtuoso Of The 7th Art) has completed a new short film, Un Après-midi à Paris ("An Afternoon In Paris"), which you can watch above. The film now has subtitles-- if you cannot see them, make sure to click "show annotations" at the bottom of the YouTube player. The plot follows a man who has a break between trains in Paris, where by chance he sees an ex-girlfriend. Romain, who now goes by the name Romain Lehnhoff (because "nobody knows how to pronounce 'Desbiens' even in France"), says the story was "conceived in a symmetric way:

First part: the train arrives/the guy walks in the streets/meets the girl/discuss with her in a café.
Second part: they discuss in the room/they split up/she walks in the streets/the train leaves."

Certain shots in the film were inspired by Brian De Palma, especially the double-mirror shot in the red bathroom, which Romain says is his little reference to the sort of "natural split screen" during the meeting of Holly Body in Body Double. There is also a "Passerelle Debilly shot" that is very similar to a shot in De Palma's Femme Fatale. Romain also took inspiration from Conversations with Other Women, and says that An Afternoon In Paris is "a kind of story about french 30-year-old people of today, my generation, who don't really know what they want, and about the speed of life."

Posted by Geoff at 8:34 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, December 18, 2011 7:58 PM CST
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Thursday, December 15, 2011
Following yesterday's exciting scoop from Thompson On Hollywood's Liza Foreman, Deadline's international editor Nancy Tartaglione followed up today by stating that Rachel McAdams is set to star in Brian De Palma's Passion along with Noomi Rapace (yesterday's report said that McAdams was still "in talks"). The Deadline post adds that "a major male role and a smaller female role have yet to be cast. Those will likely be played by Europeans, with deals expected to be firmed up in January." The $20 million film, set to begin filming in Berlin March 5th, will shoot for ten weeks, looking toward a late 2012 release, according to Deadline. The German company Integral Films will be the co-producer along with France's SBS Productions, which is owned by the film's producer, Said Ben Saïd, who also produced Alain Corneau's Crime D’Amour, on which De Palma's film is based. As we've known for some time, De Palma has written the screenplay for Passion himself.

While none of the recent reports have mentioned it, we know from previous reports that De Palma's film was to be set in London. Filming was to be done on sound stages in Berlin, with exteriors to be shot in the U.K. De Palma told us in May that Thierry Arbogast (Femme Fatale) would be the cinematographer, and that the art director will be Cornelia Ott. In April, De Palma told Time Out New York's Joshua Rothkopf that he was in the process of getting Passion ready, "and there are going to be a lot of beautiful women in it." Asked to elaborate on the project, De Palma told Rothkopf, "It’s based on a French film called Love Crime with Kristin Scott Thomas. It has an extremely complex relationship between two women executives who are basically destroying each other—plus it has a murder in the middle. It’s great material to visualize and make erotic and fun."

Posted by Geoff at 5:33 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, December 15, 2011 6:11 PM CST
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Thompson On Hollywood's Liza Foreman has an exclusive scoop today, stating that "Brian De Palma is wasting no time moving forward on Passion," which she adds is marked to begin shooting on March 5 in Berlin (previous reports had mentioned the film is to shoot in Cologne, Berlin, and London). Foreman adds, "Word is that Rachel McAdams is in talks to join Noomi Rapace in the film based on Alain Corneau's twisted murder tale" Love Crime. If so, Rapace and McAdams must really like each other, as they both star together in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, which opens Friday. This, to my mind, would be a dream cast for the leads in this film, which De Palma is scripting himself.

Foreman's article mentions that "De Palma had been prepping The Key Man for QED productions, which was readying for a late 2011/early 2012 shoot date." She does not say whether that production has stalled, or is still trying to make its planned start soon. De Palma would have a short but workable window in which to shoot The Key Man if they had it ready to go by early January, but if not, we might assume they were moving that project to late spring at the earliest. It seems likely we will begin to hear a little more about both projects in the very near future...

Posted by Geoff at 7:30 PM CST
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Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Thanks to Romain at the Virtuoso of the 7th Art for sending along an interesting paragraph from the October 2011 issue of Cahiers du Cinéma, which featured a cover story on Michael Cimino. For the issue, writer Jean-Baptiste Thoret journeyed with Cimino for three days between Los Angeles and Colorado, to see the landscapes of Cimino's cinema. On the trip, Thoret met Michael Stevenson, who was an assistant director on Cimino's Heaven's Gate. Stevenson told Thoret an interesting story, which Romain has kindly sent along to us:

I worked on Mission: Impossible with Brian De Palma. We came back from Roma, from a James Bond-like set, and we were going to shoot that scene on the train with Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames and Vanessa Redgrave. During a break, Brian sat on a chair and talked about cinema in general with his crew. Suddenly, Cimino's name came up. They knew I'd worked with him, so they invited me to join the conversation. Everybody was wondering why Cimino doesn't make movies anymore. Then, one of them said: "But is he really such a good film director?" De Palma shot daggers at him and told him, straight in the eye, with an icy calm: "The guy who made The Deer Hunter is a great filmmaker." That was the end of the conversation."

(Thanks to Romain!)

Posted by Geoff at 11:04 PM CST
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Monday, December 12, 2011
Nancy Allen is the cover story interview in the new issue of Shock Cinema. The interview was conducted by Justin Bozung, and covers Allen's entire career, including her many films with Brian De Palma. Allen discusses how she had to endure slap after slap from Betty Buckley on the set of Carrie, as De Palma kept calling take after take, looking "for a certain reaction" out of Allen.

Allen recalls how De Palma had read the script for Robert Zemeckis' I Wanna Hold Your Hand, and told her, "This is really good. It's not for me, but there are some really good parts in it for you." Allen auditioned and got the part.

Also covered if De Palma's Home Movies, which Allen tells Bozung came about when De Palma and his friends, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, were talking one day and wondering where all the young filmmakers were. From this came a project designed to teach students how to make a low-budget film. The three of them all invested in it, and then Kirk Douglas also kicked in some money (and acted in it, to boot).

Of course, the interview also delves fairly deeply into Allen's work on De Palma's Dressed To Kill (after Allen read it and told De Palma it was "amazing," he said, "I'm glad you like it. I wrote it for you.") and Blow Out. Amidst these discussions, Bozung asks Allen whether she thinks De Palma gets a fair rap being criticized for his cinematic "borrowings," considering that Quentin Tarantino's similar stylings frequently get him labeled as a "genius." Allen suggests that the difference in criticisms stem from De Palma being considered an outsider who "actively pushes it all away," while Tarantino "is right in the middle of it," a guy who "plays by Hollywood's rules" while De Palma "never has." Allen then adds: "I will say that personally, I feel very disappointed with where Brian has gone, hasn't gone or hasn't evolved to yet. I happen to think he's a brilliant filmmaker. I think he should stop writing and he should bring in a writer and do other people's stuff. I think that as human beings, unless we go through a dramatic incident that puts our life on a completely different course to a certain degree, we remain who we are or have been. We keep telling the same story from the same perspective in our life. Some of the movies Brian has done over the last few years-- the scripts and the stories-- have been very hashed over. Are you making this movie again? I think it's built up frustration for many. I don't know what to say. I would just love for him to do a great film again."

The discussion also touches on some of the things that led to De Palma and Allen's divorce, and then continues with coverage of Allen's work with Paul Verhoeven, Paul Bartel, Steven Soderbergh, and more. A great interview-- look for the magazine on stands now, or order from the Shock Cinema website.

Posted by Geoff at 12:34 AM CST
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Friday, December 9, 2011

Get More: Movie Trailers, Movies Blog

MTV News' Josh Horowitz
talked with Tom Cruise on the red carpet as he was promoting Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, and asked him which of the set pieces in the M:I series was his favorite. When Cruise had trouble coming up with just one, Horowitz said it was hard to top the Langley break-in sequence of the first film. The article states that Cruise credits Brian De Palma for that scene's success. "I remember when I was doing it, my head kept hitting the floor," Cruise told Horowitz. "I was running out of energy, and we were running out of time. So Brian said, 'Look, if you don't get it on the next take, I'm going to have to edit that scene,' and cut to where I fall down. So I said, no, I don't want to do that. To one of the stunt guys, I said, 'Give me your pound coins out of your pocket.' I put the pound coins in my shoes, the tips, so that's what allowed me to be able to balance and keep off the floor for that whole shot. That kept my face from hitting the floor. And then De Palma knew that we had the shot, and he just held it, and held it. I was like, 'How long can I hold off the floor?' Brian had a fantastic laugh, and then he said, 'All right, cut.'"

Posted by Geoff at 6:23 PM CST
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