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Domino is
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De Palma on Domino
"It was not recut.
I was not involved
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mix or the color
timing of the
final print."

Listen to
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Supercut video
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Washington Post
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Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
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AV Club Review
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Thursday, February 9, 2012
An article yesterday by Variety's John Hopewell mentions who plays who in Brian De Palma's Passion, which begins a ten-week shoot in Berlin on March 5th. According to the article, Rachel McAdams will play the CEO (the role played by Kristin Scott Thomas in Alain Corneau's Love Crime), Noomi Rapace will play her deputy (the role that was played by Ludivine Sagnier), and Karoline Herfurth will play Rapace's assistant. The latter role is particularly interesting, as it was portrayed by a male actor, Guillaume Marquet, in Corneau's film.

The Variety article, which is primarily about SBS Productions having closed key pre-sales on the film, states that the Passion screenplay is "by De Palma, with additional dialogue by novelist Natalie Carter." Carter is also credited as Corneau's co-writer on Love Crime, which, like Passion, was produced by Saïd Ben Saïd's SBS Productions. The article states that Passion will be released in France in early 2013. It is expected to be released in the U.S. before the end of 2012.

Posted by Geoff at 12:55 AM CST
Updated: Thursday, February 9, 2012 12:58 AM CST
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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Brian De Palma had been developing a movie based on the Donald Westlake underworld character Parker for a while between 2010 and 2011, and that project ended up in the hands of Taylor Hackford, with Jason Statham starring. But now it looks like De Palma will pair up with Statham on a remake of Heat, the 1986 movie that starred Burt Reynolds. The film was based on a novel by William Goldman, who also wrote the screenplay. According to a press release from Sierra/Affinity (which Collider has provided in its entirety), Goldman will also write the screenplay for this modern take on the material. The film was announced in Berlin ahead of the festival that begins tomorrow, and appears to be creating quite a buzz. Statham will co-produce the film with Steven Chasman, who is also a producer on Statham's Parker (which was also sold by Sierra/Affinity at last year's Cannes market).

The press release describes the film like this:

This tightly-wound, fun action-thriller, tells the story of a tough recovering gambling addict (Statham) who makes his living providing protection in the rough edges of the gambling world. Statham’s character refuses to resort to gunplay, strictly using hand and edged weapon combat. When a dear friend is brutally beaten by a high-rolling mobster, he helps her get her revenge and he ends up in more trouble than he ever imagined.

Sierra's Nick Meyer states in the press release, "We are pleased to once again be working with Jason and Steve on another project which in this case is based on great source material from a rare combination of an acclaimed novelist who is also at the top of his game as a screenwriter. We look forward to bringing this elevated action-thriller from Brian De Palma to distributors around the world. We feel this project has it all—a first rate piece of material, a legendary director and a global action star."

The 1986 version of Heat is currently streaming on Netflix.

Mark at Good Efficient Butchery recalls seeing the film back in the day, and notes that the Netflix version is different from the U.S. theatrical release. "It seems this alternate version was released on the budget-priced R1 DVD by Platinum Disc," he writes, "and is not the version released in US theaters or on the Paramount VHS." This could possibly be the U.K. version of the film, which was released in 1986. Heat was not released in the U.S. until 1987.

According to Mark, the film seems a "noble failure" that shows its behind-the-scenes troubles on screen. According to Mark, who seems to know his stuff, Heat "was started by Robert Altman, who left after a day of shooting. He was replaced by Tootsie producer Dick Richards, who helmed most of the film (and got his ass kicked by Burt), then veteran TV director Jerry Jameson was brought in to finish it. Richards gets sole credit, under the name 'R.M. Richards.'"

Posted by Geoff at 12:41 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 11:07 PM CST
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Monday, February 6, 2012

Posted by Geoff at 11:14 PM CST
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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Looks like Chronicle isn't the only movie opening this weekend that pays homage to Brian De Palma's Carrie. Promoción fantasma (Ghost Graduation) opened Friday in Spain, and features the scene above, in which two boys pour fake blood over a girl as she showers in the school locker room. That clip can be caught briefly in the film's trailer, and it's not the only moment in Ghost Graduation that has Carrie on its mind. The film is a comedy about a paranormal professor who tries to help a group of dead boys (ghosts) graduate high school. According to CINEMANÍA, Ghost Graduation spoofs high-school moments from the likes of The Breakfast Club, Carrie, Back To The Future and Glee, with a little Ghostbusters thrown in for good measure.

In another Carrie reference, the article states, one of the young protagonists becomes the laughingstock of his classmates when he is kissed by a ghost at a big dance. The film's director, Javier Ruiz Caldera, told CINEMANÍA about yet another: "The scenes in which the students play volleyball has a lot to do with Carrie: on a formal level, it's a film that has been much in my head." A bit of the volleyball scene (as well as a bit of the scene at the dance) can be seen in the trailer linked to above. De Palma's Carrie, of course, opens with a scene of the high school girls playing volleyball during gym class.

With all of these recent homages, Rado, the webmaster of The De Palma Touch, has put together a page he calls De Palma's Brutal Legacy in the 2010s.

Posted by Geoff at 3:57 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, February 5, 2012 4:03 PM CST
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Saturday, February 4, 2012
Several German newspapers are reporting this morning that German actress Karoline Herfurth has joined the cast of Brian De Palma's Passion. Herfurth made quite an impression a few years ago as "The Plum Girl" in Tom Tykwer's Perfume (pictured here). According to the Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten's Jana Haase, the Berlin-Brandenburg Media Board's Kirsten Niehuus revealed Herfurth's casting as part of an announcement ahead of the start of the Berlin International Film Festival, which opens Thursday, February 9th. The Media Board will promote the film with 400,000 euros. The article states that Passion will film in Berlin, and also perhaps Babelsberg, which is home to Studio Babelsberg, the oldest large-scale film studio in the world, according to Wikipedia.

Speaking of Tykwer, the ambitious film he is making with the Wachowski brothers, Cloud Atlas, recently completed filming and is now in post-production. According to the IMDB, Patrick Herzberg, who worked as a set designer on Cloud Atlas, has joined Passion as assistant art director. Herzberg has worked with Passion's production designer Cornelia Ott on the Wachowski-scripted V For Vendetta, as well as Paul Verhoeven's Black Book. Also listed at IMDB now is Ute Bergk, who will be the set decorator on Passion. Bergk has also worked with Ott and Herzberg before on V For Vendetta, and was assistant set decorator on Christopher Nolan's first two Batman films.

Posted by Geoff at 8:35 AM CST
Updated: Saturday, February 4, 2012 8:38 AM CST
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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Chronicle is a new film that opens tomorrow, written by Max Landis (son of John Landis) and directed by Josh Trank. According to several critics, the film calls to mind Brian De Palma's adaptation of Stephen King's Carrie, as well as a blend of other influences. In January, Landis explained to Comic Book Movie's Ed Gross that he wrote Chronicle "very much intending to be an antidote to all of the other superhero movies. We've sort of forgotten in this slew of comic-based superhero movies that what made those characters iconic is not the giant set pieces or the action that happens in comics. All of those movies feel like the same film by the second act; they all blur together.

"I wrote Chronicle specifically to show people that a movie about people with powers doesn't have to be the way it's been presented so far. It can be something character based. Chronicle is closer to Carrie than Captain America. It's definitely not Stephen King, but it's definitely got an edge to it that these movies don't usually have. It doesn't exist in a fantastical world. Ultimately the consequences aren't Spider-Man has to save the girl from falling off the bridge; there's a more serious set of consequences than that."

The New York Times' Manohla Dargis explains that one of the main characters is seen at the beginning of the film recording himself in his bedroom mirror on a digital camera, and that later, after breaking that camera, he gets a new, more expensive one that he begins to operate via newly found powers of telekinesis. Dargis states that the visual polish derived from this plot turn "truly lifts the movie."

Dargis calls Chronicle "a slick, modestly scaled science-fiction fairy tale with major box-office aspirations... It’s a classic pop creation in that its hook — three teenage boys mysteriously acquire fantastic powers — seems fresh even if the whole thing feels inspired by someone’s Netflix queue: a revenge-of-the-outsider tale like Brian De Palma’s Carrie; the first-person perspective of The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield; and average Joes turned super-Joes as in the television shows Heroes and No Ordinary Family.”

Later in the review, Dargis writes, "For a while the mysterious hole and its cave hold out the promise that Chronicle will be as creepy-freaky as Carrie, and that the filmmakers will mine the cavity’s depths for all its psycho-sexual terror instead of settling for a boy’s super-neato adventure. No such luck."

Meanwhile, TIME's Richard Corliss' review has the headline, "Chronicle: It's Carrie Plus X-Men, With Found Footage." Corliss, who finds Chronicle "simultaneously diverting and annoying," concludes his review with a wry discussion of how the film plays with the current trends of the "Found-Footage Faux-Doc" (FFFD):

The obvious liability of an FFFD is the requirement that the main character lug a camera everywhere, like Sisyphus with his damned rock, no matter how mortal the peril. The convention turns Chronicle sillier than it needs to be at times, as when Matt and Steve are trying to save a man’s life and Andrew can’t help because he’s filming. Things will be so much simpler when someone markets a camera that can be inserted in the customer’s forehead — the iBrain.

The movie does offer two innovations in the form. First, Andrew can make his camera levitate, giving moviegoers an occasional God’s-eye view of the action. And it happens that Casey (Ashley Hinshaw), a school friend of Matt’s, is also a compulsive videographer; when Matt visits her, we see her reflected in a mirror as she talks to him.

The second camera! This could be a breakthrough in found-footage movies, similar to but not quite on a par with the moment in ancient Athens, when Aeschylus introduced a second character — the deuteragonist — to Greek tragedy, thus turning the theatrical art from monologue to dialogue. (Voilà: drama!) Chronicle‘s second camera opens up dizzying possibilities: the footage of Andrew and Casey’s cameras could be edited into reaction shots, or into coverage of the same action from different vantage points. Or Casey could become the sleuth-heroine in a movie deficient in essential females.

Alas, she proves a minor character, and her camera doesn’t figure important in the story, as Andrew and Matt climactically reprise the two-man air battle from the end of the first Iron Man movie. Landis and Trask — preoccupied with aping and synthesizing other films into an ultimately ordinary one of their own — don’t exploit the opportunities they created with their second camera. It’s as if Edison thought his light bulb had no other function but to inspire jokes about how many people it took to screw it in.

The Boston Herald's James Verniere calls Chronicle "surprisingly insightful, terribly titled." Verniere says the film's found-footage conceit is more like Cloverfield than The Blair Witch Project. He concludes his review by writing, "You might describe Chronicle as The Office of teen superhero movies and say it owes a debt to Brian De Palma’s Carrie (1976) and The Fury (1978). But it’s also remarkably resonant and, yes, smells like teen spirit."

Finally, FEMPOP's Alex Cranz states, "Take Carrie. Now rub it up against the seminal Japanese film Akira. Now take out all the cool 'superpowers as allegories for teenager junk' stuff. And add a ton of fight scene that are really really fun. That is Chronicle." While Cranz was put off by some of the film's "incredibly dogdy" special effects, he also loves the shots produced by telekinetically-operated cameras. "Shots that are impossible in most found footage films are liberally used," Cranz writes. [Minor SPOILER] "If the characters are controlling the cameras with their minds then yes we can see all of them at once without worrying about whose holding the camera and yes we can do cool crane shots and yes we can get multiple angles on a scene because they’ve stolen a dozen cameras and are controlling them all with their minds."

Posted by Geoff at 7:54 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, February 2, 2012 11:47 PM CST
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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Rachel McAdams visited ABC's Live! with Kelly yesterday, with Daniel Radcliffe sitting in as co-host. Early in the interview, Kelly congratulates McAdams on Midnight In Paris being nominated for the best picture Oscar (McAdams appears in the film, directed by Woody Allen). McAdams said she was happy just to be in a Woody Allen movie, not caring what happened with it, although she is very happy for its recognition. Then came the following exchange, in which McAdams said she will not attend the awards show (which takes place February 26th), because she will be in Berlin working with Brian De Palma...

Kelly: So will you go to the Academy Awards?

Rachel: [Big sigh, then delicately] Um... no.

Kelly: No?

Daniel: Why?

Rachel: I have to work.

Kelly: Awww.

Rachel: Work always...

Daniel:That's a good reason to not be going.

Rachel: Yeah, yeah, no, it's great. I'm going to Berlin to shoot a Brian De Palma movie.

Daniel: Oh!

Kelly: Oh, that's great!

Posted by Geoff at 8:02 PM CST
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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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