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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


« January 2014 »
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12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31


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
Fan Page

The House Next Door

Kubrick on the

FilmLand Empire

Astigmia Cinema


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A Lonely Place

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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

Cashiers De Cinema

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.
All topics
Ambrose Chapel
Are Snakes Necessary?
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Genius of Love
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Get To Know Your Rabbit
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Hi, Mom!
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Inspired by De Palma
Iraq, etc.
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Laurent Bouzereau
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Murder a la Mod
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Newton 1861
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Phantom Of The Paradise
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Raising Cain
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Responsive Eye
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Rotwang muß weg!
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Thursday, January 16, 2014
The not so bad news is that Arrow Video's Blu-ray release of Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise has been delayed one week, to February 24th. The wonderfully awesome news is that the reason for the delay, according to The Swan Archives' News page, is because a 72-minute interview between Paul Williams and Phantom-fan Guillermo del Toro had to be delayed, and was finally shot "just a couple weeks ago on location at del Toro's man-cave," according to the Principal Archivist. "In addition to that brand new interview," reports the Archivist, "the extras on the Arrow disk will include a new featurette (scripted by our Principal Archivist, and utilizing our Swan Song Fiasco footage) discussing the last minute changes made to the film as a result of the claims brought by Peter Grant, which you can read more about, if you're so inclined, on our Swan Song Fiasco page. The disc will also feature all of our collection of deleted footage and outtakes, run together from beginning to end, available for the first time in a hi def transfer (which Arrow made directly from our archival camera negatives and interpositives). Arrow has licensed Deborah Znaty's terrific "Paradise Regained" featurette, which was first released on the Opening DVD in 2006, the "Carte Blanche" interview with costume designer Rosanna Norton, and William Finley's faux advertisement for the Phantom action figure, also from the Opening disc. Arrow is also using Randy Black's backstage photographs (which Mr. Black had unearthed specifically for the Swan Archives a few years ago, and which appear in lower resolution on our Production page). And, the collector's booklet that accompanies the disk contains some writings by our Principal Archivist, as well as new writing on the film by festival programmer Michael Blyth. In addition to our deleted footage, Arrow borrowed our radio spots, and will be stocking the release with the original trailers as well. In terms of technical features, the disc will showcase the film in 1080p with the original uncompressed stereo soundtrack (PCM) and a 4.0 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, as well as, for the first time anywhere, an isolated music and effects soundtrack (so that you can hear the incidental music without dialogue playing over it!)."

The rest of the Archivist's news post is worth reading for its details about how the Archivist was holding on to the outtakes and deleted scenes, in the hopes they could be used for a special edition just like this. "We attempted on numerous occasions to get in touch with Criterion," states the Archivist, "but they never responded. We made sure that both Brian De Palma and (Phantom editor) Paul Hirsch knew that we had the footage. We told Mr. De Palma that we'd be happy to deliver it to him should he so request; he told us that we should just hang on to it, and that the materials were better off in the Archives' hands. Mr. Hirsch told us that if anyone wanted to try to restore the film using our footage, he'd be happy to help."

Here are the complete specs for Arrow's Phantom, as posted at Blu-ray.com:

Special Features:

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the feature, available in the UK for the first time!
  • Original uncompressed Stereo PCM / 4.0 DTS-HD Master Audio options
  • Isolated Music and Effects soundtrack
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
  • Paradise Regained – A 50 minute documentary on the making of the film featuring director Brian De Palma, producer Ed Pressman, the late star William Finley, star and composer Paul Williams, co-stars Jessica Harper and Gerrit Graham and more!
  • Guillermo Del Toro interviews Paul Williams (72 mins, 2014)
  • The Swan Song Fiasco: A new video piece exploring the changes made to the film in post-production
  • Archive interview with costume designer Rosanna Norton
  • William Finley on the Phantom doll!
  • Paradise Lost and Found: Alternate takes and bloopers from the cutting room floor
  • Original Trailers
  • Radio Spots
  • Gallery of rare stills including behind-the-scenes images by photographer Randy Black
  • Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by festival programmer Michael Blyth and an exploration of the film's troubled marketing history by Ari Kahan, curator of SwanArchives.org, illustrated with original stills and promotional material
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by The Red Dress [Amaray release only]
  • Limited Edition SteelBook™ packaging featuring original artwork [SteelBook only]

Posted by Geoff at 5:42 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, January 16, 2014 11:10 PM CST
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Brian De Palma's Sisters screened in Chicago last night as part of Doc Films' De Palma Retrospective, running Wednesdays through March at the University of Chicago. Cine-File included the screenings (it was shown twice) in the "Crucial Viewing" portion of its weekly guide to alternative cinema. Contributor Kian Bergstrom wrote very enthusiastically about the film:

"After a decade in training," Bergstrom begins, "making movies that are variously interesting (GREETINGS, THE RESPONSIVE EYE), fascinating (HI, MOM!, MURDER A LA MOD), or catastrophic (GET TO KNOW YOUR RABBIT), De Palma burst into artistic maturity with this astonishingly accomplished and subtle masterpiece. It marks the moment De Palma went from being the geekiest of the American New Wave brats to simply the greatest American filmmaker working, a title he's maintained with an almost unbroken string of subsequent wonders. Like many of De Palma's films, SISTERS is antagonistic towards its audience, barraging us with images of brutality, damaged bodies, damaged people, pushing us uncomfortably interrogating us at all times to defend our continual decision to keep watching. It is as though every segment were structured around a question, asked of the audience, as to whether the upcoming visual offense would finally prove to be too much for us to justify. Is it OK to watch this? would be film's ideal motto, with the emphasis on the question mark. At its heart are the Blanchion twins (in a disarming and mesmerizing performance by Margot Kidder), conjoined at birth but surgically cloven from one another as young women. A young model in New York, Danielle picks up a fellow game show contestant, only to find her erotic trajectory frustrated by her astonishingly creepy ex-husband, Emil. Eluding Emil, the amorous couple finds their way into bed together with the casual revelation that the next day will be Danielle's birthday. But that birthday brings with it not joy but murder as Dominique, the evil twin of sweet-natured Danielle takes control of the narrative. As always with De Palma, though, there's much more at play than there seems. Quick as a knife-strike, he introduces the real main character, Jennifer Salt's Grace Collier, a combative investigative journalist whose apartment overlooks the twins' abode. Desperate to discover who her strange neighbors really are, and what they really did with the body she saw killed there, Grace and a private detective pry into the history of the Blanchions, only to discover that peering to closely into their lives threatens indeed their own very existences. SISTERS moves rapidly through a succession of set-pieces, each extraordinary in stylization, exacting in execution, and monstrous in implication: invasions of privacy, hypnotism, madness, and horrifying errors of judgment. This is a film troubled by doubles, by two detectives, by two policemen, by twins, and also by duplication: the duplication of a person when death strikes, the duplication of an image by the television screen, the duplication of cells within a woman's womb, the duplication of space by the split screen. Many critics of De Palma see him as working in hermetic structures, narratives so precise and specifically and idiosyncratically realized that his films are comprehensible only when we understand them to be entries in grand artistic conversations with his inspirations (Hitchcock, Hawks, Lang, Welles). They miss so much: the nausea the film expresses towards the casual misogyny and power of the mysterious Emil; the fragility of the social world, as easily ripped to shreds as a Grace's thin shirt; the arbitrariness of the normal, broken and shattered by the slightest action. SISTERS is no insular work, pillaging all its best ideas from Hollywood's graying masters, but a living, beating, furious wasp's nest of a work, stable at a distance, but ready to explode with the slightest touch."

Posted by Geoff at 12:45 AM CST
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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

OregonLive's Jeff Baker yesterday reviewed Giuseppe Tornatore's The Best Offer, which opens Friday in Oregon. Baker notes that this is Tornatore's first all-English film. "The movie, shot in Trieste and Prague, looks great and has a soaring score by Ennio Morricone," says Baker. "It wants badly to be a sophisticated Euro-thriller in the Hitchcock tradition. It ends up as a lame Brian De Palma knockoff, more Femme Fatale than Blow Out. The plot twists are telegraphed from one end of the villa to the other, and if you somehow missed something, Tornatore signals it with portentous dialogue or shows it in a flashback." Well, if we happen to love De Palma's Femme Fatale, will we love this movie?

The Chicago Tribune's Gary Goldstein states that "Although writer-director Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso, Everybody's Fine) certainly puts his own stamp on the intriguing art-world thriller The Best Offer, there's an effective dash of Hitchcock and even a soupcon of 1970s-era De Palma (remember Obsession?) tossed in for good measure."

Posted by Geoff at 1:06 AM CST
Updated: Saturday, February 8, 2014 1:25 AM CST
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Monday, January 13, 2014

Posted by Geoff at 7:52 PM CST
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Friday, January 10, 2014
Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise, which turns 40 this year, is part of the January line-up at Nashville's Cult Fiction Underground, a theater and lounge located in the basement of Logue’s Black Raven Emporium, according to Nashville Scene's Randy Fox. The film will play there on Saturday, January 18th. Meanwhile, according to The Swan Archives, Phantom Of The Paradise will get a theatrical rerelease in France beginning February 26th, courtesy of Solaris Distribution. Watch the trailer for the French rerelease at the Swan Archives news page. As noted two weeks ago, Phantom Of The Paradise will be screened in DCP as part of Doc Films' De Palma Retrospective in Chicago, which started this week. Phantom screens there January 22nd.

Posted by Geoff at 12:44 AM CST
Updated: Monday, January 13, 2014 7:54 PM CST
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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Posted by Geoff at 7:34 PM CST
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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Last week, we compiled 2013 best movie lists from several critics who placed Brian De Palma's Passion either in their top ten for the year, or otherwise gave it honorable (or, in one case, dishonorable) mention. Thanks to Carsten for directing us to Sight & Sound's lists of the best films of 2013. A few of the individual ballots from critics placed Passion in their top five:

Adrian Martin (Goethe University)

You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet
Stray Dogs

Martin also compiled the year's "Ten Best Confrontations" for Fandor's Keyframe blog, and again included Passion, writing, "One occasionally reads nonsense on the order of: 'Brian De Palma is not a director of actors.' The wonderful 'kissing confrontation' in Passion between Christine (Rachel McAdams) and her assistant’s assistant Dani (Karoline Herfurth), undoubtedly improved by the actors from what was in the script, proves otherwise: McAdams’ mock outrage as she rips her shirt open and begins to imagine her sexual harassment complaint–having just forced a kiss onto the (at this stage) helpless minion–is an hilarious expression of the power relations elsewhere expressed, in a much darker key, by the film."

Sergio Angelini (British Universities Film & Video Council)

Blue Jasmine
Hyde Park On Hudson
Rigor Mortis

"Brian De Palma refashioned Alain Corneau's Love Crimes into the criminally neglected Passion, a sly and inventive take on narcissism in the PR industry that includes a typically audacious use of split screen."

Matthew Thrift (Critic)

Norte, The End Of History
12 Years A Slave
To The Wonder
It's Such A Beautiful Day


Posted by Geoff at 12:08 AM CST
Updated: Monday, February 16, 2015 12:37 AM CST
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Thursday, January 2, 2014

As we transition into the new year, several 2013 year-end lists of best and worst movies have, of course, included Brian De Palma's Passion. Here are some of them:

Editors and Contributors at La Furia Umana 

1.  Leviathan
     The Canyons
3.  Camille Claudel, 1915
4.  Passion
     The Immigrant
     To The Wonder
7.  Le Dernier Des Injustes
     Spring Breakers
     Venus In Furs
10. Mille Soleils  
Toni D'Angela, La Furia Umana  

(No order)

To the Wonder

The Canyons



The Immigrant

Le dernier des injustes

Mille soleils

Venus in Furs

Norte, the end of History

The Unspeakable Act 
Carlos Losilla, La Furia Umana 
  1. 1.  Passion

  2. 2.  The Immigrant

  3. 3.  Stray Dogs

  4. 4.  Camille Claudel 1915

  5. 5.  The Canyons

  6. 6.  The Master

  7. 7.  In Another Country

  8. 8.  Viola

  9. 9.  To The Wonder

  10. 10. Before Midnight

 Ricardo Adalia Martin, La Furia Umana 
  1. 1.  Alegrías de Cadiz

  2. 2.  L'inconuu du Lac

  3. 3.  Spring breakers

  4. 4.  Passion

  5. 5.  Nobody's Daughter Haewon

  6. 6.  Three Disasters

  7. 7.  Les Saluds

  8. 8.  Viola

  9. 9.  Los ilusos

  10. 10. Mapa

 Aureliano Tonet, Le Monde 

1. La Bataille de Solférino

2. Inside Llewyn Davis

3. Tirez la langue, mademoiselle

4. L’Inconnu du lac

5. Passion 
Peter Sobczynski, RogerEbert.com 
(Listed without numbers) 
Blue Is the Warmest Color
The Wolf of Wall Street
Inside Llewyn Davis
American Hustle
Before Midnight
The Bling Ring
Bullet to the Head
"Brian De Palma's remake of the 2010 French thriller Love Crime—detailing the increasingly brutal attempts by co-workers Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace to climb the corporate ladder—wass a sexy and stylish knockout of a film and his finest and most consistent work since his 2002 masterpiece Femme Fatale. Darkly funny, breathlessly exciting and teasingly erotic in equal measure, this was the work of a master director firing on all cylinders and the end results put most other contemporary movies of its type to shame." 
Shawn Stone, Metroland 

1. Gravity

2. Before Midnight

3. The World’s End

4. Fruitvale Station

5. Frances Ha

6. Spring Breakers

7. Blue is the Warmest Color

8. Passion

"Brian De Palma is back, baby! This remake of a French thriller is sleek, sexy and—of course—bonkers."

9. American Hustle

10. Rush 
Patrick Cooper, Bloody Disgusting 
1.   Cheap Thrills
2.   The Conjuring
3.   Drug War
4.   Lord Of Tears
5.   Passion
6.   Prisoners
7.   Savaged
8.   Spring Breakers
9.   Stoker
10. You're Next 
"Brian De Palma took a few years off after The Black Dahlia – that lazy shrug of a film. In 2013 the master craftsman came out swinging with Passion – his best film since 1992′s Raising Cain. He didn’t break any new ground with Passion or reinvent himself – instead he did what he does best: present a sexy as hell Hitchcockian thriller with style out the ass. Honestly, De Palma hasn’t seemed this confident since the ’80s.Passion is basically his thesis film containing all of the elements that have made him one of the best thriller directors of our time. Pretty much 100 percent of the marketing revolved around the Rachel McAdams/Noomi Rapace lesbian stuff, but that makes up such small part of the film. The rest is classic De Palma: style, sex, doppelgangers, and stylish sexy doppelgangers. The final scene is devilishly comforting for what it is. It’s so great to know De Palma is still out there doing his thing." 
Gerard Alonso Cassado, Fotogramas  
19. MAPA
Glenn Heath Jr., San Diego City Beat 
"Brian De Palma's kinky Passion" is listed among Heath's "10 superb honorable mentions."
Noel Murray, The Dissolve 
Murray lists Afternoon Of A FaunPassion as his Scene of the year:
"Brian De Palma’s Passion starts out as a fairly flat and faithful adaptation of Alain Corneau’s Love Crime, but then after about half an hour, De Palma loosens up and starts making his most visually expressive and delightfully delirious movie since Femme Fatale. In Passion’s best sequence—and one of the best setpieces of De Palma’s formidable career—a ruthless businesswoman played by Rachel McAdams is stalked by a killer on half the screen, while the other half shows her protégée (Noomi Rapace) watching a performance of The Afternoon Of A Faun. The score rises to a peak, and the dancers look directly into the camera, underlining Passion’s theme of misdirection. De Palma keeps pulling viewers’ eyes back and forth, while heightening the tension to the point of distraction. He also calls back to some of his earliest films, like Dionysus In ’69 and Hi, Mom!, where the theater played a central role. Passion isn’t one of De Palma’s top-tier films, but it’s playful and creative, and the Afternoon Of A Faun sequence is a model of how to layer images and move characters with a multiple frames. 
Anne Billson, The Telegraph  
"The Lana Turner Award for Best Breakdown goes to Noomi Rapace in Brian De Palma's preposterous thriller Passion (so preposterous it went straight to DVD in the UK). Noomi, wearing a career girl trouser suit, is checkmated by her scheming boss-cum-love-rival (Rachel McAdams). In the carpark afterwards, she crashes her Peugot into a vending machine, sets off the sprinkler, kicks the car and sinks to the ground, dripping wet and crying hysterically as the camera rises to capture the scene with a crane-shot. Welcome to Planet De Palma, no relation whatsoever to life as we know it, but packed with more barking mad coups de cinéma than the rest of the year's films laid end to end. It also has the best shoes."
Edward Douglas, Coming Soon  
Douglas places Passion at number five on his "Terrible 25 of 2013" list. 


Posted by Geoff at 3:04 AM CST
Updated: Sunday, February 15, 2015 11:36 PM CST
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Monday, December 30, 2013


OpEdNews' Joan Brunwasser last week posted an interview with Robert Avrech, screenwriter of Brian De Palma's Body Double. Avrech discussed working with De Palma, and the screenplay he wrote about the Yom Kippur War that led to De Palma hiring him for Body Double.

"I was in Israel in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War," Avrech tells Brunwasser, "and I wrote a pretty powerful script about three women whose husbands were on the front lines. The script cut back and forth between fairly brutal scenes of war, and the more mundane, but tortured lives of the waiting wives. The structure was complex, but it read effortlessly, and the characters were quite vivid. I knew that this script was special. It was just a gut feeling that finally I had written something that was professional and entertaining.

"After I returned to America, I sent the script to every agent in NY, Naturally, my queries were completely ignored. But then, a year later, I got a call from director Brian De Palma, who had read my script--his agent thought it was really good and dropped it on Brian's desk. Brian told me he greatly admired my script. He asked me to come to his office for a meeting. He had no interest in making my script into a movie, but he had an idea for a thriller and wanted me to write it. He thought I had the right sensibility to author the movie he had in mind. Both Brian and I greatly admire Alfred Hitchcock so we were pretty much on the same page aesthetically. That's how I came to write Body Double, a superb thriller that immediately thrust me into the Hollywood limelight."
Brunwasser asks Avrech whether it is difficult to craft a screenplay based on someone else's idea, and if, being a "young pup," he was intimidated upon meeting with De Palma. Avrech responds, "I have written original scripts (A Stranger Among Us), scripts based on novels (The Devil's Arithmetic), scripts based on non-fiction best sellers (Into Thin Air).

"Writing a screenplay based on an idea by someone else, if the idea is solid, is just another corridor in the (futile) search to craft a flawless, air-tight narrative. What happens with me, and I suspect, all professional screenwriters, is a process of  of internalization: The story becomes you. 

"Brian De Palma came to me with a very general idea for Body Double. I immediately responded to its Hitchcockian theme of an innocent man drawn into a murder by a beautiful woman (Deborah Shelton), who then sets out to solve the mystery with the aid of a beautiful blonde (Melanie Griffith). Both Brian and I were, and are, huge fans of Alfred Hitchcock's movies. Together we screened Rear Window and Vertigo, and discussed the narrative strategies Hitch used in both films. So in a sense, I was working off of De Palma's ideas of Hitchcock's ideas."

Continuing with Brunwasser, Avrech notes, "One must also keep in mind that movies are a collaborative endeavor. The Hollywood screenwriter works alone only when he's at the keyboard. In truth, a professional screenwriter is always working with a studio/network, a line of producers, a director, and of course, when the film goes into production, his words then become the property of the actors. Obviously, the army of technicians who go into the making a multi-million dollar Hollywood production are vital: the cinematographer, the set designer, the costume designer, the prop people, etc.

"Another issue when working from someone else's idea is there are only 36 plots in the universe of narratives. Thus, every story is a reworking of an old myth or legend that we have seen and heard countless times. The trick is to reinvent these 36 stories in a manner that makes them feel new and original. So, in a very real sense, a screenwriter is always working from a classic idea. And in the end, it's really just one idea: because all great stories are... love stories.

"I was hugely intimidated by Brian De Palma... for about ten minutes. And then, as with all Hollywood celebrities with whom I have worked, he became just another homo sapiens, with all the virtues and flaws one finds in our species."

Posted by Geoff at 11:38 AM CST
Updated: Monday, December 30, 2013 11:47 AM CST
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Friday, December 27, 2013


Several essays about Brian De Palma's Passion are now available to read online at La Furia Umana . I haven't yet read them all, but I am quite taken with Sara Freeman's essay, Kisses and Dress-Up: Cinematic Cruelty in Brian De Palma's Passion . Freeman links the power struggles in Passion to the cruel and tragic high school situations in De Palma's Carrie. "Besides possibly hinting at [Passion's] very own dual identity," Freeman writes, "what at first appears to be a fun, catty back and forth between Christine and Isabel frequently turns into blatant abuse, almost like a contemporary version of Nancy Allen’s merciless treatment of Sissy Spacek’s Carrie."

Although Freeman gets the timeline of Passion wrong when she discusses three things that happen in the film back-to-back "at almost precisely the halfway point" (all three happen well before the halfway point), she does a nice job of explicating how the characters in Passion seem to exist in virtual worlds of their own individual participation. "As women who work in the advertising industry," writes Freeman, "both Christine and Isabel live for the thrill of social media acceptance and technological ingenuity. Their livelihood depends on their ability to create faces for different companies and brands and they themselves have adapted to that methodology as well. From the very first shot of Christine and Isabel sitting in front of the cold metallic screen of a Mac Book and the many computer monitor reflections and Skype video chats that follow, it’s clear that the presentation of image, realistic or not, is the most important element of the character’s lives. 

"This air of virtual reality lends the film an odd sense of miscommunication because it’s almost as if each character is living inside her very own Facebook profile or twitter account. Like dress-up for grown-ups. Resembling the two other movies released this year that comment on the high school and college era’s use of social media, Spring Breakers and The Bling Ring, Passion examines how this capability has affected adult participants. Rather than take selfies of themselves smoking crack or wearing Paris Hilton’s high heels, the women in Passion remove their personalities from the equation to present their own version of the ideal contemporary career woman. They’re simply cipher cunts hiding behind the safe-guarded guise of technology, even when they appear to be talking face to face." 

Earlier in the essay, Freeman discusses the importance of the clothing worn by the two main characters. "This movie is really about the clothes," states Freeman. "Clothing, the most important part of anyone's appearance, can be precisely tuned to project much in the same way a Facebook page or an Instagram feed can. Women in particular know the power clothing can have over the imaginations of their peers. In essence, Passion is a costume drama disguised as a flick about female competition and crime solving. Like any fierce cinematic bitch with a large bank account, Christine is dressed to the nine’s in designer duds and fancy make-up. She favors bold colors, sexy necklines and the most crimson and fuchsia of lipsticks. Isabel, on the other hand, is almost completely void of color and sex appeal. She wears boxy black collared shirts paired with loose slacks, blunt, Edith Head-esque bangs and a thin swish of brown eyeliner.

"Christine’s attire matches her persona perfectly – she oozes confidence, easy charm and store bought charisma. The clothes she wears are as beautiful as she is, but something’s not quite right with the whole package. Like a vulnerable little girl little girl playing dress-up to escape her abusive parents, Christine wears just a tad too much make-up, colors her hair a shade too blonde and her silky clothes just aren’t the right color or shape for her body. She’s a cheap imitation of a powerful career woman as well as an imitation of past De Palma heroines. Utilizing almost exact replicas of costumes worn by Margot Kidder in Sisters (large black hat and black circular sunglasses) and Scarlett Johansson in The Black Dahlia (‘40s style turquoise slacks and sweater), Christine treads upon the familiar territory of feminine identity in De Palma’s filmography. In those two movies, the question of individuality and the battle for uniqueness are at the center of these character’s stories – the conjoined 'twins' in Sisters fought for separate lives yet Danielle stills feels responsible for Dominique’s misdeeds and Johansson’s boring Kay struggles to be noticed by both of her police beaus after a dead girl and her lookalike steal the limelight.

"Isabel by contrast, is meek and mousy in demeanor and appearance. She is the true puppet master of the duo. With an alarmingly sincere and affected way of carrying herself, she weaves her way into and out of Christine's strange power plays with none of the reservations or lack of conviction that eventually sink Christine and her schemes... Maybe. Or maybe not. What we're left to sift through in the end is enough for a whole other essay. Perhaps the most important question lies with Isabel - When did her dual identity begin? Was it present all along? Was it constructed just to compete with Christine? To the film's credit, these questions are never answered.

"Christine and Isabel brawl for leadership and distinctiveness by using their costumes like boxing gloves. In one of the first scenes of the movie, Christine gives Isabel a chic periwinkle scarf to liven up her wardrobe. She wears it occasionally and, as I mentioned earlier, it becomes a key piece of evidence in the murder mystery. As the more obvious of the two, Christine is trying to bring Isabel down by modeling her in her image – in one scene she dresses Isabel in whore-red high heels and lipstick for a networking event knowing full-well that it would embarrass her. She also frequently kisses Isabel in an attempt to dominate her completely. Even Christine’s lipstick is venomous. It’s fascinating to watch these two characters interact with one another on screen because they move through space so differently. Isabel is seemingly the wallflower who envies Christine for her confidence and secretly wants to be her. Christine envies Isabel for her brilliance and overcompensates by being the biggest bitch possible."

Posted by Geoff at 11:01 PM CST
Updated: Friday, December 27, 2013 11:49 PM CST
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