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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Over at Indiewire's Press Play blog, our old friend Peet Gelderblom has posted his Raising Cain Re-Cut, which is his "attempt to approximate Brian De Palma’s original vision of Raising Cain, before the director chose to compromise its structure in post-production." According to Gelderblom (the blog includes a video essay about the project), "The re-cut uses all of the scenes in the theatrical release and puts them back in the order they were intended, giving rise to a dramatically different viewing experience." To get a good idea of De Palma's original intent, Gelderblom researched interviews with the director, as well as an early draft of the screenplay, when it was still called Father's Day. Gelderblom explains at the blog how he overcame the problem of missing certain needed transitions for this version: "One transition in the re-cut proved particularly tricky. To make up for a lack of coverage, I deployed a technique De Palma repeatedly relies on in the second draft of his screenplay: repetition. By quickly playing back a key moment earlier in the film, the viewer is reminded of where the upcoming scene fits in the overall chronology. To soften the transition, I lifted an establishing shot from the epilogue."

While the re-cut version, which is available to view on the blog for a limited time, is intriguing for the way it shifts the focus of the film (mirroring a bit of the structure of Dressed To Kill), it nevertheless lacks a certain crazed vigor that De Palma's final cut has. It could perhaps be that I am so used to the released version, that I need to watch this one again to see how it sinks in. Either way, I'm very glad Peet has provided us with this version, so we can get a sense of what De Palma's original idea for the film may have been. Let's hear what you all think of the new version!

By the way, Peet has been directing some fine commercials, music videos, and his own short films. Here is a link to one of his latest commercials.

Posted by Geoff at 5:39 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 5:04 PM CST
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Rachel McAdams was in Munich Friday to promote her upcoming film, The Vow, and mentioned to Trailer Seite reporter Marcus Fliegel that she will be in Berlin soon to film Brian De Palma's Passion. Here is the exchange from the very beginning of the interview:

[Fliegel] You’ve already been in Germany a couple of times, do you like it here?

[McAdams] I really like Germany. It is a sophisticated and creative country. Munich, unfortunately, I’ve only seen from inside my hotel, but I’ve already spent time in Berlin and I’ll be going back soon for a film with Brian De Palma, a very dark thriller. I’m really looking forward to it and I hope by then the lilacs will bloom. That was just beautiful last time to ride a bike and smell the scent of lilacs.

(I found out about this article via the terrific Rachel McAdams Online.)

Posted by Geoff at 6:28 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 6:29 PM CST
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Alexander Payne, Oscar-nominated earlier today as director of The Descendants, was interviewed last week by Little White Lies' Adam Woodward. Payne got into a good discussion about how the seven-year gap came about between his last film, Sideways, and his latest (he's been busy, it's just that the project he'd been spending most of his time developing hasn't quite gotten off the ground yet). Later in the interview, Payne talks about convincing the studio to allow him to make his next film, Nebraska, in black-and-white. When Woodward asks him if he can see how a film like The Artist might be a hard sell to a studio, Payne replies, "Sure, but my obligation to the studio is to be honest and to tell them, at all times, what I think a cool movie would be. My job is to see things that your research studies and your financial models cannot see. I have X-ray vision." Eventually, this discussion leads Payne to quote Brian De Palma:

Woodward: No one’s a sure bet though?

Payne: True. It’s often about compromise. I’m able to make this black-and-white movie because the studio has faith in me, but I’m having to do it with much less budget than I originally asked for had it been in colour. Little tip: it’s always worth over estimating the budget because there’ll always be cutbacks. This is now my fourth film in a row that will make money, so I do have that track record. They’re not huge hits by Hollywood standards, but they make money, so I get the benefit of the doubt more or less.

But you keep your budgets low, also.

Correct. Neat fact: I’ve never gone over budget or over schedule.

This is until you make the ‘big one’…

Bite your tongue. Brian De Palma, after [The] Bonfire of the Vanities, was quoted as saying, jokingly of course, ‘You’re nobody in Hollywood until you’ve brought a studio to its knees’.

Is it possible to recover from a major flop?

Maybe, but it’s hard. Michael Cimino had a hard time after Heaven’s Gate.

Is the fear of tanking motivating or crippling?

Anytime you have a movie that doesn’t do well, which [knocks table] I haven’t had so far, is always worrisome. But I think maybe if this one does well then people may think ‘Well even if he has a gap, he’s still got it’. Who knows…

Payne's De Palma quote above led me to Google the quote, and the only thing I came up with was this great article about Alan Rudolph's Trixie that was originally posted at About.com, but now only seems to be available at The Fabulous Brittany Murphy Fan Page. The article, by J. Sperling Reich, features interviews with Rudolph and Nick Nolte (among others) as their new movie, Trixie, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2000. In the following excerpt, Nolte leads into a discussion about the ironies of success and failure in Hollywood:

Nolte is surprised Rudolph ever had any doubt of his abilities as a filmmaker. "There isn't a thing he wants to do that he doesn't do," he said of Rudolph. "He does everything he wants to do. Now another brilliant director will complain, and will say, 'Well I wanted to do that but they wouldn't do it.' Well, to Alan, there is no 'they'. He just does it. He doesn't care about the arena, and the reason the other guys can't do it is because they care about the arena, not about the film."

Not all of Rudolph's seventeen films have been critically well received, and few have ever been big winners at the box office, a fact that Nolte shrugged off. "Failure is very important," he added. "I mean, Alan uses it as a metaphor, he says, 'I have never had a successful film, therefore I get to do anything I want'."

Rudolph began to laugh when he heard Nolte start in on this line of reasoning. He broke in before things got out of hand again, "We had a fun time one night at some festival, and Brian De Palma said one of the greatest things I've ever heard. He said, 'You're nothing until you've brought a studio to its knees'. And Nick said, 'You know why Alan's a success? Because he's never had any [success] and he doesn't need it. They think he's a failure, but he's a real success because he doesn't have to deal with that.' I don't know what success is. Success in Hollywood is if they think you are. I've left that game years ago. I can't imagine anybody more successful, maybe because I managed to figure out how to get my movies made. I must say, except for a few missteps early on, no one has ever told me what to do. I won't accept that. I've had more articles written about me. About, 'How the hell does this guy keep going?' Angry, jealous, bitter articles. Because it means I get to work with people like this. And I'm just starting to get good at this game inside."

Posted by Geoff at 8:40 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 8:44 PM CST
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Monday, January 23, 2012
Angie Dickinson was the "super special guest star" at The Catro Theatre's Noir City X festival this past Saturday in San Francisco, where they held a double feature of The Killers and Point Blank. De Palma a la Mod reader Chris was there, and tells us that Dickinson, looking strong at 80, "was introduced with a montage of famous and not-so-famous roles that featured the Dressed To Kill elevator scene in surprising detail." Surprising in that Chris felt there was a spoiler involved (for those that had never seen the film), and also because it showed her hand getting sliced. The montage then wittily cut from the razor attack to Dickinson giving Dean Martin a shave in a clip from Rio Bravo, a film she said she regards very highly, according to Chris.

Here is Chris' account of the stage interview:

Interviewer Eddie Muller said he thought DRESSED TO KILL was her best role and that she should have gotten an Academy Award for it. “I had met BD at a (Canadian) film festival and some time later he sent me a script...I read it and I said Brian...in the back of a taxi..? We’ll use a double, he said...I said ok. The reason he had trouble getting an actress for that part was that she had to be someone the audience liked instinctively, since there wasn’t time to give her any backstory, and she had to die 25 minutes into the picture (and there was a third reason she gave: I believe it was due to the perceived explicitness of the scenes)

paraphrasing: “BD was great, had a vision of what he wanted and made everyone work hard to get it”: Michael Caine told her there were 27 takes of him coming down the stairs in Bellevue. She agreed that she deserved an Oscar for the role (as supporting actress); said that due to it being a Filmways production there was no big studio to give a push to get her nominated, and that doing such a thing oneself was extremely expensive and she thought it was too much of a longshot to be worth the gamble.

She said she thinks THE UNTOUCHABLES is BD’s best film, and advised everyone to see it. When Muller asked if she loved Sean Connery in it she said yes but then — in a way that made it clear where her interest lay, and got a big laugh — said , “and, um , Andy Garcia

She says she loves movies, goes all the time and current faves are MY WEEK WITH MARILYN, HUGO (“they sold it as a film for kids...it’s a film with kids, for adults”), THE ARTIST (“love it...I’ve seen that many times”) and MIDNIGHT IN PARIS. She’s also a fan of runpee.com (which I’d never even heard of -- subject came up because interviewer mentioned that Angie doesn’t appear in POINT BLANK until about 30 minutes in, at which point she interjected “so if you need to pee, that’s when to go”).

Jonathan Farrell provides another account of the evening over at Digital Journal.

(Thanks to Chris!)

Posted by Geoff at 7:55 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 6:50 AM CST
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Sunday, January 22, 2012
The new issue of Fangoria (issue #310) includes an interview with Barbara Crampton, who had a brief but key role as Jake Scully's girlfriend in Brian De Palma's Body Double. As Crampton tells Fangoria's Chris Alexander, the screenplay had given her three scenes to prepare for, including two dialogue scenes with Craig Wasson. Those two dialogue scenes were never filmed, however. Here's what Crampton told Alexander:

Well, I originally had three scenes. They were conversations with Craig Wasson, where he was trying to reconcile with me after we broke up. The day before shooting, they said they were cutting the two dialogue scenes and I'd only have the one; you know which one that is. I was like, "Darn, oh well, it's Brian De Palma; I'm sure it will lead to something." And it didn't; I'm still waiting for Brian to call me with something else. For what it's worth, we did that scene about 60 times, which was sort of interesting.

Very interesting, indeed... And here we have a picture of the once-happy couple, and a tinge of the dialogue scenes that may have been...

Posted by Geoff at 6:03 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, January 22, 2012 6:04 PM CST
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Saturday, January 21, 2012
A Carrie reunion will take place Friday, May 4th, when the Texas Frightmare Weekend, a horror convention sponsored by Anchor Bay Entertainment and Rue Morgue magazine, holds Prom Night from 9pm to 1am at Hyatt Regency's Filmmakers Hall. Set to attend are Nancy Allen, Piper Laurie, Betty Buckley, and P.J. Soles. The latter two were just announced as guests last week, so there may be more announced later, although the fest's web site gives no indication of that. Also in attendance will be Anthony Michael Hall. Here's the official description from the festival:

We have a special evening planned for you. Music. Dancing. Costumes. TERROR!Prom photos will be available for purchase with Anthony Michael Hall and other special guests along with a cash bar, music provided by GGC Productionsand dancing. Costumes are strongly encouraged as celebrity hosts will close out the evening by crowning King and Queen to the best costumed attendees!

WHEN: Friday May 4th, 9:00pm – 1:00am
WHERE: Filmmakers Hall, Hyatt Regency DFW
COST: Free for VIP, $5 for Weekend Pass holders, $10 for all others (pay at the door)

The festival itself runs May 4-6 2012 in Dallas. Also in attendance at the festival will be Barbara Crampton, who appeared in Brian De Palma's Body Double. I'll have a post about her tomorrow...

Posted by Geoff at 6:36 PM CST
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Friday, January 20, 2012

Vertigoed: Brian De Palma's "Obsession" from Brandon Brown on Vimeo.

Brian De Palma famously started off on a treacherous foot with Bernard Herrmann when he showed the composer a rough cut of Sisters sprinkled with cues from Herrmann's scores for various Alfred Hitchcock films. Herrmann immediately told De Palma to turn off the music, because, he said, he couldn't possibly hear the music for this new movie in his head while listening to works he'd composed for other films. The two hit it off, however, and Herrmann returned to score De Palma's Vertigo-inspired Obsession. Herrmann's music for Obsession is widely considered one of his greatest works, as is, of course, his score for Vertigo.

In the wake of Kim Novak's recent cry of "rape" over the use of one of Herrmann's cues from Vertigo as soundtrack for a scene in Michel Hazanavicius's The Artist, Indiewire's Press Play blog held a contest, called "Vertigoed," that concluded earlier today. As editor Matt Zoller Seitz explained, "Novak's word choice was unfortunate -- more than one person, including yours truly, said that was akin to somebody sitting through the Star Wars prequels and witlessly declaring, 'George Lucas raped my childhood.' Press Play contributor and film editor Kevin Lee followed this Novak/Lucas line of thought to its logical -- or illogical -- end. Just for the hell of it, he matched the Vertigo cue used in The Artist with the last three minutes of the Death Star battle in Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope, uploaded it, and sent the link to several Press Play contributors to get their reactions. And it's here that things got interesting: rather than generate cheap laughs at the expense of Novak, Lucas, The Artist or Star Wars, the mash-up inspired delight. Simply put: Kevin's experiment confirmed that Bernard Herrmann's Vertigo score is so passionate and powerful that it can elevate an already good scene -- and a familiar one at that -- to a higher plane of expression. Score one for the master of film scoring!"

So these were the rules to the contest:

1. Take the same Herrmann cue -- "Scene D'Amour," used in this memorable moment from Vertigo -- and match it with a clip from any film. (You can nick the three-minute section from one of Kevin's mash-ups if it makes things easier.) Is there any clip, no matter how silly, nonsensical, goofy or foul, that the score to Vertigo can't ennoble? Let's find out!

2. Although you can use any portion of "Scene D'Amour" as your soundtrack, the movie clip that you pair it with cannot have ANY edits; it must play straight through over the Herrmann music. This is an exercise in juxtaposition and timing. If you slice and dice the film clip to make things "work," it's cheating. MONTAGES WILL BE DISQUALIFIED.

3. Upload the result to YouTube, Vimeo, blipTV or wherever, email the link to pressplayvideoblog@gmail.com along with your name, and we'll add your mash-up to this Index page.

The above Obsession entry, by Brandon Brown, creates a sort of Bernard Herrmann mind warp, but actually works pretty well. It came in at number 86 in the contest. Number one was Kevin B. Lee's entry for Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.

Posted by Geoff at 8:53 PM CST
Updated: Friday, January 20, 2012 8:55 PM CST
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Costume designer Richard Bruno died of kidney failure Wednesday at the age of 87. Bruno worked on several films with Brian De Palma. He was costume designer for Wise Guys and Casualties Of War, and, having established a strong working bond with Robert De Niro on films by Martin Scorsese and Sergio Leone, among others, Bruno was a wardrobe assistant to Mr. De Niro on De Palma's The Untouchables. The Los Angeles Times' obituary for Bruno states that, "Along with tailor Henry Stewart, Bruno helped create an authentic 1930s wardrobe for DeNiro's Al Capone character in the 1987 blockbuster The Untouchables, whose costumes were overseen by Marilyn Vance-Straker. Bruno did extensive research to fine-tune the costumes; he tracked down old hats at Capone's favorite shop in Chicago and had them fashioned into new ones for DeNiro, and he had Capone's monogram embroidered on wardrobe items, including silk socks and underwear."

Posted by Geoff at 6:16 PM CST
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012
In the January 6 2012 issue of Entertainment Weekly, Mark Harris takes a look at what went into the re-creation of Lisbeth Salander for David Fincher and Steven Zaillian's American remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. But before he gets to that point, he discusses the seeming antecedents to the character created by the late author Stieg Larsson. "By the time Larsson conceived her a decade ago," states Harris, "there were plenty of forerunners he could scavenge and strip for parts. In a way, Salendar's two godmothers are Sissy Spacek as the telekinetic wallflower-turned-destroyer in 1976's Carrie and Daryl Hannah as Pris, the cartwheeling death doll in 1982's Blade Runner. Like Lisbeth, Carrie is an outcast whose abusive treatment by both her family and her society (a.k.a. high school) triggers the surge of her special power into something dangerous. And like Lisbeth, she never seems more emotionally remote-- removed even from herself-- than when she's unleashing hell."

Harris names a number of other "stone-cold female badasses" that were possible influences in creating Lisbeth: Tim Burton and Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman, Neil Gaiman's Death, and Luc Besson's Nikita. "Recently," he writes, "we've seen variations embodied by Angelina Jolie (Wanted), Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass), Saoirse Ronan (Hanna), and Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse)."

Posted by Geoff at 10:30 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 10:37 PM CST
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Monday, January 16, 2012
Hollywood News' Roger Friedman talked with Kimberly Peirce Friday, and says that she told him "all about her remake of Carrie." According to Freidman, Peirce said, "I’m the biggest Stephen King fan. And Brian De Palma, believe me."

Posted by Geoff at 5:47 PM CST
Updated: Monday, January 16, 2012 5:51 PM CST
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