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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
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De Palma/Lehman
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in the news"

Supercut video
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edited by Carl Rodrigue

Washington Post
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Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
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AV Club Review
of Dumas book


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Monday, September 10, 2012
The picture here is from Toronto on Monday, but the interviews in this story happened at Venice. First, the picture: Brian De Palma at the Hollywood Reporter's TIFF Video Lounge.

Now, the interviews from Venice. De Palma discussed technology and the internet as a source for visual ideas with Loud Vision's Francesca Magini. De Palma mentioned that for the commercial created by the executives in Passion, he had originally come up with an idea inspired by Christopher Nolan's Inception. Here is the passge from the interview:

I find it fascinating, the possibility of developing visual forms through the use of new technologies. In "Redacted" all the narrative forms had originated from the web. In this case, the very idea of the commercial is taken from a true story that I found on the Internet: there was a video shot by two girls, one had a cell phone tucked in her back pocket that filmed everyone who turned to look at her ass. This video has been a huge success, especially because it seemed to have been completely made by amateurs. It turns out that the girls were, in fact, two executives of an advertising company and that the video was a real commercial.

It [the internet] provides a wealth of information and images. Do you believe this is an opportunity for enrichment or a threat?
I think it is an extremely useful tool; it is like a huge library, and during the making of a film, it's really valuable because it not only allows you to quickly search information on the location, the actors, but also to find inspiration and ideas. You need to choose what is most functional to the story you want to tell. I had several ideas for the ad to be included in the film; originally, I thought of a commercial inspired by "Inception," which I loved: it was an extremely sophisticated and particular idea, but it did not convince me at all. I needed something more concrete and real, so I continued to do research and when I found the video shot by the girls I thought it was perfect and I used it.

In a Venice interview with Le Monde's Aureliano Tonet, De Palma again referred to Inception, this time in the context of how in Hollywood, you have to make so many films you don't really want to make in order to make that one special one. Here is a passage from the article:


"In the street, nobody looks at the trees or the sun. We're glued to our screens. For the films in the movie, I was inspired by an amateur clip that was posted on the web in Australia and sex videos shot with smartphones, with a subjective point-of-view."

A reference to the Ponzi scheme indicates, moreover, how these cathedrals of glass are fragile: "The economic crisis does not scare me. Hollywood has always been in crisis," says De Palma, who failed to achieve his last two projects, respectively on the scandals of Jessica Lynch [Print The Legend] and John Edwards [Tabloid]. "I've worked in all genres; I've experienced the triumphs and disasters, the independents and the major studios. Make three "Batman" in order to make Inception, like Christopher Nolan, I have neither the time nor the inclination. A blockbuster, it is primarily a series of endless meetings ... I prefer to shoot in Europe, with small budgets. We lost the beauty of film. I try to find it," sighs the admirer of Steven Soderbergh and Wes Anderson.

Still suffering setbacks he suffered in the 2000s, he keeps a grudge against the press: "As soon as Terrence Malick makes a film, it's a miracle in your eyes ... My films are often misunderstood, probably because I am a very visual director." I dare to ask if Passion, his duet for actresses (Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace), can be read as an insight into the Hollywood psyche: "After seeing the film, my agent told me that it was like attending a day's work in his office," he said, grinning.

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, September 14, 2012 7:04 PM CDT
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Posted by Geoff at 10:32 PM CDT
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Bill Daly, an influential sound mixer who "developed one of the first 'smart' time-code movie slates," according to the Hollywood Reporter, has died at the age of 65. Daly did uncredited work as a sound transferer on Brian De Palma's Greetings, and also went uncredited as a neighbor in that film's sequel, Hi, Mom!. Daly also was the sound mixer for the Dealey Plaza scenes in Oliver Stone's JFK.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Daly was "described by his peers as a 'sound artist' and a 'soundman’s soundman.'" The Hollywood Reporter article explains briefly how Daly developed the time-code movie slates:

While serving as a location sound coordinator for the filming of the Muhammad Ali-George Foreman 1974 heavyweight boxing match in Zaire known as “The Rumble in the Jungle,” Daly developed one of the first “smart” time-code movie slates (the devices that signal "action!") that would have a huge impact on the business.

The bout was preceded by a three-day concert featuring the likes of B.B. King and James Brown, and the filmmakers wanted to film the concert and fight with multiple cameras -- but not multiple soundmen -- and to be able to sync all the cameras with the multitrack recordings of the music acts onstage. To do this quickly and efficiently, they needed to visually display the time code for the camera, but there were no portable crystal-controlled clocks at the time.

Daly, though, modified a Heuer executive desk clock that had a crystal control and plasma display to DC power and turned it into the first smart slate. He built a series of the devices and used them in Zaire for what would become When We Were Kings, the 1997 Oscar winner for best documentary.

“That clock was probably the most significant impact I’ve had on the business,” Daly said in a 1998 interview with Filmcrew magazine. Daly also used the slates for a Grateful Dead documentary in 1977.

Posted by Geoff at 10:06 PM CDT
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Visit Rachel McAdams Online for more photos of Rachel from tonight's premiere of Terrence Malick's To The Wonder.

Posted by Geoff at 6:51 PM CDT
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Brian De Palma is pictured here from earlier today at the Variety & Ortsbo Live In Toronto broadcast, which runs daily at 7pm eastern. I guess it's not actually live, though, as it appears that De Palma has already done his part. I am thinking that they will run the De Palma interview Tuesday night, since that is when Passion premieres at the festival. De Palma also spoke with Anne Thompson this afternoon at Indiewire's TIFF Filmmakers Lounge (see Instagram photo at bottom of this post). Rachel McAdams is expected to attend tonight's premiere of Terrence Malick's To The Wonder.

Meanwhile, Slant's Jordan Cronk has posted the most thoughtful and descriptive (and positive) review of Passion that I've read so far. "As Pino Donaggio's dramatically sensual score... greets the opening titles of Passion, De Palma's first film in five years, it's clear that this master of the erotic thriller is back on home turf, with all the luscious violence, sensationalistic flourishes, and base pleasures that has come to entail."

Here are the last three paragraphs or so of Cronk's review:


As in many of De Palma's great wars of will, there's just enough of Christine reflected in Isabelle to trigger the aesthetic and narrative techniques—visual doublings, doppelgangers, voyeurism, shifting identities—needed to ignite the stylistic formulations on which the film hinges.

Close readings of De Palma's work in this mode often prompt accusations of shallowness and questions regarding the level of seriousness at play beyond the surface. And if Passion does indeed lack substance, I'd argue that it features at least the necessary amount of subtext to carry it's outlandish plot past parody (which it does directly engage with on occasion) and into the realm of social and economic commentary. The first half of the film is particularly critical of the work environment that brings these women into physical and psychological contact. Christine's rise to executive prominence has apparently coincided with the loss of her ability to engage emotionally despite selling tales of a damaged past in an effort to elicit sympathy from Isabelle, who herself can't advance professionally without ceding to her superiors and engaging in morally compromising situations. Technology is likewise prodded as computers, cell phones, and various recording devices facilitate greed, blackmail, and corruption.

This is obviously material ripe for dramatic staging, and De Palma continues to deploy his trademark aesthetic touches with a master's hand. After undercutting Isabelle with a particularly evil display of public embarrassment, the movie shifts tones from corporate drama to psychosexual thriller, with canted angles, split-screen dioramas, and dramatically shadowed sequences of violence and eroticism (though it's surprising how little actual sex is on display here). De Palma utilizes Rapace's blank features as another surface from which to refract the drama, while McAdams's glowing visage is exploited to its fullest extent, transforming from plastic grin to a unchecked rage to outpourings of tears, sometimes within the same scene. Their hair, wardrobe, even postures, are in direct contrast to one another, and in typical De Palma fashion, their varying states of mental stability are questioned and eventually collapsed as visions fold into dreams and dreams engage with waking life, to the point where one is nearly inseparable by the time the film closes.

The film occasionally veers perilously close to losing the thread, but at all times it's apparent who is truly pulling the strings and manipulating these characters, as scenes oftentimes dramatically contradict one another only to play off the tension provoked by such juxtapositions just to pull the rug out from under the viewer. De Palma has long since abandoned verisimilitude, but there's an emotional truth to the narrative that precludes reading these characters strictly as ciphers. The mileage De Palma has gotten out of this formula, which itself is a knowing revision of the modes of the classic thriller construct, is impressive. And while Passion never demands anything above direct engagement with our basic fears and emotions, it's all the more fun when one allows the surface pleasures to bolster its themes, thus enhancing our understanding of De Palma and his continued pursuit of realizing the potential of the cinematic form.

Exclaim's Robert Bell suggests that De Palma uses Alain Corneau's film as a template "to satirize and reference his entire career." According to Bell, once the two female executives begin backstabbing each other, "the melodramatic score and aesthetic go full-tilt insane, featuring endless candid angles and noir lighting up until a split-screen takes over during the climactic third act." Here are the last couple of paragraphs of Bell's review:


Amusingly, Christine tells a story about a dead twin sister, which references De Palma's Sisters and later plays a trick on Isabelle that clearly reflects on the callous treatment of Carrie. An actual shot reconstruction from Raising Cain pops up in the final moments and the Body Double mask is omnipresent. This just scratches the surface of the inside joke observations peppered throughout this increasingly ridiculous melodrama, making the actual storyline between Isabelle, Christine and an even lower hanging fruit, Dani (Karoline Herfurth), secondary to the intense stylization and comedy of self-criticism that Passion really is.

Still, McAdams clearly has a blast playing a calculating bitch and the inevitable hyper-stylized and meticulously edited climax sequence, which De Palma is known for, is as riveting in exaggerated comic form as it is in sincere thriller form.

It's just unfortunate that those unfamiliar with the director's work will have absolutely no context for the abstract and oblique tonal shifts or the references, leaving them to dismiss the film as terrible.

A.V. Club's Moel Murray writes, "As the two play a game of spy-vs.-spy, using corporate and personal secrets against each other, De Palma (via Corneau) comments on business ethics, cronyism, gender roles, and technology—in the latter case returning to some of the techniques of the multimedia experiment Redacted, but more fruitfully." Murray's fellow A.V. Club critic Scott Tobias adds, "De Palma’s vision of an office constructed of glass and screens is a witty play on transparency—no secrets can be obscured when every surface is a window."


Posted by Geoff at 5:53 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, September 10, 2012 10:34 PM CDT
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Sunday, September 9, 2012

The above video was posted to YouTube by people from Padova University webradio, who really seemed to enjoy the World Premiere of Brian De Palma's Passion. On the YouTube description, they thank De Palma for "this erotic thriller that kept us clinging to the chairs of the cinema." The video was taken while the closing credits rolled for Passion, so one can hear a bit of the score by Pino Donaggio. Regarding the score, Donaggio said at Venice that "to compose the soundtrack, I followed from the plot and images, because the film completely changes: the first part is mild, the second is more sinister."

On Friday, The Hollywood Reporter posted an article stating that De Palma's film had sparked "extreme responses -- both positive and negative -- from moviegoers." The report also stated that Passion had been nominated for the Gay Lion prize, which "is awarded each year to the best film from the official selection or one of the three main sidebars that 'accurately portrays lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender characters.'” However, that prize went to Jeon Kyu-hwan's The Weight.

Author Cat Bauer posted on her Ventian Cat blog from the Venice Film Festival, where she saw Passion on Friday. "Brian De Palma says that Passion is a woman's film," Bauer wrote. "Perhaps that's true, since several of the reviews I've read that were written by men are scathing. I thought the chemistry between Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace was real and dynamic."

Bauer, who says that De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise is one of her "absolute favorite films" (she says she must have seen it a dozen times in the '70s), worked as an extra on Robert Zemeckis' I Wanna Hold Your Hand, which starred De Palma's future wife, Nancy Allen. "I was actually kind of a 'special' extra," Bauer writes. "I worked every day, and I had specific action to do, but no lines; it was my first time on a movie set. So, Nancy Allen made a big impression on me."

Bauer writes that "something about Rachel McAdams reminds me of Nancy Allen thirty-five years ago." Bauer adds that she thought Rapace was "terrific" in Passion, which she feels is "way too campy" to be "an erotic thriller in the tradition of Dressed to Kill and Basic Instinct, as it is being billed. "But if you look at the film from a steamy romance-novel point of view, it works," writes Bauer. "I could definitely see it as a cult chick flick, a Fifty Shades of Grey kinda thing, a girl's night out -- and that's how I would market it." At the end of her post, Bauer adds, "The film is set in an international advertising agency in Berlin, which I thought worked extremely well. I loved the euro-look; the fashion; the 'tude. Change the marketing and you can get the girls out to the theaters just to look at the sex toys and cartoon-kink."

Posted by Geoff at 11:29 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, September 9, 2012 11:33 PM CDT
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Posted by Geoff at 9:42 PM CDT
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Posted by Geoff at 8:50 PM CDT
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I cannot seem to embed these Rai TV videos, which include interviews with Brian De Palma, Noomi Rapace, and (in the second video) Pino Donaggio, but the first can be viewed here, and the second video can be viewed here. And click here to view Rai TV's video of the entire press conference from Friday.
(Thanks to Maurizio and Patrick!)

Here are some more videos...

Posted by Geoff at 8:40 AM CDT
Updated: Sunday, September 9, 2012 11:54 AM CDT
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Saturday, September 8, 2012


Best Film (Golden Lion): Pieta, Kim Ki-duk (South Korea)

Best Director (Silver Lion): Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master (United States)

Special Jury Prize: Ulrich Seidl, Paradies: Glaube (Paradise: Faith) (Austria)

Best First Feature: Kuf (Mold), Ali Aydin (Turkey)

Best Actress: Hadas Yaron, Fill the Void (Israel)

Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master (United States)

Best Screenplay: Apres Mai, Olivier Assayas (France)

Best Cinematography: E Stato Il Figlio, Daniele Cipri (Italy)

Posted by Geoff at 10:31 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, September 8, 2012 10:40 PM CDT
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