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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


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De Palma interviewed
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Carrie...A Fan's Site


No Harm In Charm

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Fly Rule

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Came In From The Cold

Jim Emerson on
Greetings & Hi, Mom!

Scarface: Make Way
For The Bad Guy

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(Blow Out)

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Deborah Shelton
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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.
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Ambrose Chapel
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Carlito's Way
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Daft Punk
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Monday, February 3, 2014

Cultural critic Steven Shaviro, who in recent years has articulated the current post-cinematic atmosphere (in which cinema is no longer a cultural dominant) by way of what he calls "Post-Cinematic Affect" (flows of new media forms in confluence with digital technologies and postmodern capitalism), recently wrote on his blog that he "was quite impressed" with Spike Jonze's Her, "though I didn’t really like it very much. For me, it is more interesting to think about than it actually was to watch." Shaviro suspects that Jonze was attempting to tap into the deep sadness of his previous film, Where The Wild Things Are, "but despite considerable formal inventiveness, he doesn’t quite achieve it this time."

Shaviro continues, "But Jonze does sort of (inadvertently?) display the hollowness of the aching sincerity that has come to prominence in our recent (white, liberal, well-meaning) culture as an impotent reaction formation against the hyper-cynicism of official Capitalist Realism. I vastly prefer the 'post-irony' of films like Joseph Kahn’s Detention to the non-ironic sincerity of Her; but they are both reactions against the same thing, the way that hip irony, or what Sloterdijk long ago called 'cynical reason', is the 'official' affect, as it were, of 'there-is-no-alternative' neoliberal capitalism."

Shaviro concludes, "Ultimately, Her is the exact inverse, or the flip side, of a much better film — Brian De Palma’s recent masterpiece Passion. De Palma shows the actuality of neoliberal subjectivity, in which everything is vicious competition in the service of self-entrepreneurship, with female sexuality as the linchpin of the whole structure. In contrast, Jonze shows neoliberal subjectivity’s self-deluding idealization of itself as total sincerity, maintaing this emotional nakedness and yearning within the parameters of a world in which 'sincerity' can itself only be a commodity, or a form of human capital to bring on the market. And the punchline is that even this self-congratulatory idealization is a weak and unsustainable facade. It is ultimately too hollow and sad to serve even its ideological function. Most self-delusions are self-congratulatory and even megalomaniacal; but Theodore’s self-delusion, which is also that of all the other human beings he meets (or for whom he works, writing 'handwritten' personal letters for other people) is lame, vapid, and devoid of true imaginativeness. Her — rather than The Matrix — is really the film whose motto should be, 'welcome to the desert of the real.'”

Posted by Geoff at 2:05 AM CST
Updated: Monday, February 3, 2014 2:07 AM CST
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Saturday, February 1, 2014
Nancy Buirski's documentary Afternoon Of A Faun: Tanaquil Le Clercq, looks at the life of "Tanny" Le Clercq, the ballerina for whom choreographer Jerome Robbins created his staging of Afternoon Of A Faun. Brian De Palma has said he'd always been fond of Robbins' version, and adapted it as part of his latest film, Passion. The documentary premiered at the New York Film Festival last year (one year after Passion played there), and will open this Wednesday, February 5th, at Film Society Lincoln Center, and will also screen at the Berlin International Film Festival this month.

Variety's Ronnie Scheib, reviewing the film after its New York screening last October, says the documentary "has a lot going for it: extraordinary footage of the exquisite dancer in signature roles created for her by master choreographers George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins; a romantic triangle involving those artistic giants; full-blown tragedy as Le Clercq is struck down by polio in her prime; and enough terrible ironies to fill several documentaries. Questionable emphases sometimes skew the film’s proportions, but between the beauty of the dance imagery and the lyricism of passages culled from Le Clercq’s personal letters, Faun often soars.

"Buirski opens and closes her film with excerpts from the titular Debussy pas de deux, choreographed by Robbins and featuring Le Clercq and partner Jacques d’Amboise. The soft-focus kinescope footage, shot from a particularly felicitous camera angle, highlights the elegant, articulated movement, coltish grace and gestural wit that distinguished the incredibly long-legged Le Clercq from the petite, compact ballerinas that preceded her, inspiring choreographers to experiment with moves they had never before envisioned. Balanchine 'discovered' her at his School of American Ballet when she was 14 and soon shaped many of his seminal ballets around her unique talents...

"Le Clercq became Balanchine’s third wife in 1952, the revered ballet master winning out over her best friend and confidant, Robbins, whose impassioned letters to her fill the soundtrack and whose choreography for her often fills the screen. The docu’s final irony finds a tired Le Clercq postponing her Salk polio vaccine before setting off on the troupe’s European tour, fearing it might further debilitate her, then succumbing to the disease weeks later in Copenhagen."

Below is the BIFF trailer for the film, followed by a video of Buirski discussing the film on stage at the NYFF last year.
(Thanks to Rado!)

Posted by Geoff at 2:15 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, February 1, 2014 2:21 PM CST
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Friday, January 31, 2014
Drew McWeeny's Movie Rehab series examines Brian De Palma's Casualties Of War as a movie that got "lost in the tidal wave of Vietnam films in the late '80s." McWeeny goes through the film scene-by-scene, and says that David Rabe's screenplay "is beautifully structured, and far more than 'just' another movie about Vietnam."

After looking at the tunnel scene near the beginning of the film, McWeeny delves into the contrasting acting styles of Michael J. Fox and Sean Penn:

"One of the main reactions I heard from people who dismissed Casualties Of War during its theatrical run in August of 1989 was that they didn't want to watch Michael J. Fox in a Vietnam film, that they simply didn't believe he was right to be a soldier. Even then, I didn't buy that as a legitimate gripe. First, Fox is a good actor, and always has been. Second, Vietnam wasn't a particularly picky war in terms of who the Army was willing to send over, and if a guy like Fox had enlisted or been drafted, they would have sent him happily. I think De Palma and Rabe get the racial balance right in the film, and beyond that, I think it's a nice cross-section of types so that when things go south… and they do… it's not just an either/or situation between Eriksson and Meserve. The acting styles of Sean Penn circa-1989 and Michael J. Fox circa ever couldn't be more different, and I like that friction that seems to exist between them. There's this huge macho swinging dick energy that Penn gives off where he basically tries to annihilate Fox through sheer force of personality alone. The Fox casting not only is not a problem for me, it's one of the things I love about the film the most. I was thrilled that he decided to try and stretch and ended up working with one of my favorite filmmakers at the time, and I thought it paid off in a genuine tension onscreen."

McWeeny doesn't seem to be a fan of the "director's cut" version of the film, for which De Palma restored the scenes he'd reluctantly cut from Casualties for its initial release, and also doesn't think the ending works. "The rest of the movie feels anti-climactic, honestly," McWeeny writes, "including an interrogation scene with two guys questioning Eriksson exhaustively, trying to pick holes in his story that was added to the director's cut of the film that is the only DVD currently available. The courtroom scenes at the end are necessary, but it's the least interesting stretch of the film. The one great beat is watching the four of them march out of the court martial, and Meserve leans in to whisper something to Eriksson and then --

"--- and then comes the unfortunate coda, where De Palma reaches for some profound beat between Eriksson waking up on the train and following the girl out to return a scarf to her. It's supposed to offer him some sort of closure, but it doesn't work as a moment at all. I think sometimes an ending like this can deflate a film, and in the case of Casualties, it's hard to deny that things end with a fizzle. There's something very odd about the way De Palma dubbed Amy Irving's voice over the English dialogue by Thuy Thu Le, and the dialogue she has is corn of an almost preposterous degree."

Posted by Geoff at 1:22 AM CST
Updated: Friday, January 31, 2014 1:23 AM CST
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Thursday, January 30, 2014
Bíó Paradís in Reykjavik, Iceland, will screen a "Master's Weekend" trio of Brian De Palma films this weekend, all from the early 1980s: Dressed To Kill on Friday (January 31st), Scarface on Saturday (Feb. 1st), and Blow Out on Sunday (Feb. 2nd). The series has been programmed by Svartir Sunnudagar. We really like the artwork (at left) they put together to promote it.
(Thanks to Arni!)

Posted by Geoff at 11:11 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, January 30, 2014 11:15 PM CST
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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The title of David Perrault's wrestling noir Our Heroes Died Tonight is, according to AFI, an obscure reference to Robert Wise's The Set-Up, which was released in France under the title Our Heroes Won Tonight. Perrault tells Twitch's Ben Croll that the idea for Our Heroes originated from a picture he saw. "Masks always fascinated me," he explains to Croll. "They fired up my imagination, made me think about identity, and as a director, I simply found them visually interesting. Somehow, a lot of films that made me fall in love with cinema featured masks as well. Films like Phantom of the Paradise, Halloween, Eyes Wide Shut. I ate it up.

"So I stumbled on this picture where you saw a masked wrestler, sitting at a zinc bar in a typically Parisian bistro, sipping his red wine with a straw, and it blew me away. It looked like something out of a superhero movie directed by Jean Pierre Melville. As if a comic book character had ended up in a film noir. And that's it; I knew there was a film, so I started writing the script."

Posted by Geoff at 1:03 AM CST
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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Posted by Geoff at 9:56 PM CST
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Monday, January 27, 2014

Daft Punk's Random Access Memories won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year last night, and "the robots" left it to their collaborators Paul Williams and Nile Rodgers to speak in acceptance of the award (Pharrell Williams had already spoken on the robots' behalf for two other awards they had won earlier for the song Get Lucky). You can watch video of Williams' speech below.

Meanwhile, in the video above, at a press conference backstage following the ceremony, Williams is asked by a journalist if he ever spoke with Daft Punk about Phantom Of The Paradise. "You know, it’s interesting," Williams replies. "In 1974 I made a movie with Brian De Palma called Phantom Of The Paradise that nobody went to see in this country. [Laughing] I made movies and albums that even my family didn’t go to or buy, you know. But through the years there have been some people that have kind of discovered Phantom Of The Paradise. Two of the collaborations that I’m working on right now are direct results of Phantom Of The Paradise. One is the guys in Daft Punk saw Phantom Of The Paradise twenty times, and they loved the movie. I’m writing a musical based on Pan’s Labyrinth with Guillermo del Toro, and my whole relationship with Guillermo del Toro is based on his love for Phantom Of The Paradise. I’m writing that with Gustavo Santaolalla, who’s a brilliant, brilliant composer from Argentina. Yeah, my life’s pretty good right now, you know? My life’s pretty good right now. Thank you."

As reported earlier this month, Arrow Video's upcoming Blu-ray of Phantom Of The Paradise will include a 72-minute segment in which Guillermo del Toro interviews Paul Williams about the movie.

Posted by Geoff at 10:38 PM CST
Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014 10:43 PM CST
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Posted by Geoff at 7:44 PM CST
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The photo above was posted two days ago on the Twitter page of StarWars7783. The photo was taken in late 1979, and everybody looks pretty happy. Seated at the table (or squatting), from left to right, are Marcia Lucas, actress Verna Bloom, George Lucas, screenwriter Jay Cocks, and Nancy Allen. Standing from left to right are Paul Hirsch, Brian De Palma, and Paul Hirsch's wife, Jane.
(Thanks to Nancy Allen for filling in the gaps for us, and thanks also to Romain!)

Posted by Geoff at 1:51 AM CST
Updated: Saturday, February 1, 2014 1:33 AM CST
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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Writing about Kenneth Branagh's Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, South Philly Review's Kurt Osenlund states that "Branagh’s approach helps at virtually every turn, from getting us through verbose debriefing scenes that might bog down the pace to de-cluttering Jack’s relationship to Cathy, who’s uncannily understanding of her partner’s secrecy, then brought into the fold for a remarkable con sequence (Branagh channels Brian De Palma’s Mission: Impossible, and that’s a huge compliment). Car chases are swift and compelling, scam specifics are choreographed with great sleekness, and in moments that need to underscore Jack’s dueling competence and inexperience, Pine delivers as a leading man."

And it turns out there is a good reason Branagh's film might channel De Palma's Mission: Impossible, because David Koepp was a key screenwriter on both projects. But the route taken by the Jack Ryan screenplay is an interesting one. Once upon a time, Adam Cozad wrote a spec script titled Dubai that made the Black List of best unproduced screenplays in 2007. Paramount (home of the Mission: Impossible franchise), looking to reboot a Jack Ryan franchise, bought Dubai and hired Anthony Peckham to rework it, and the title changed to Moscow, with Cozad doing another rewrite after Peckham. Interestingly, at that point, Paramount talked to Steven Zallian (who had worked with De Palma on the initial structure of Mission: Impossible) about working on the Moscow script, but he passed, and they then hired Koepp, who took over with gusto, working on it for well over a year with Branagh at the helm (Jack Bender had been the director initially attached in the early stages of the project).

I saw Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit yesterday, and liked it quite a bit. Branagh gives a terrifically strong performance as the Russian villain, there are some nicely-shot sequences, and the story is compelling enough, even with a typical time-bomb ending. Aside from the M:I-style con sequence mentioned above, I noticed a bit of dialogue that seems to echo De Palma's Carlito's Way, which was also written by Koepp. In Carlito's Way, after their little "boat ride," Carlito angrilly gives Kleinfeld some advice: "You ain’t a lawyer no more, Dave. You’re a gangster now. You’re on the other side. Whole new ball game. You can’t learn about it at school, and you can’t have a late start."

We posted last week some quotes from Kevin Costner about taking on the "Sean Connery mentor role" in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. In the film, after Jack Ryan has a deadly run-in with a baddie out to kill him, Costner's shadowy CIA agent tells him, "You're not just an analyst anymore. You're operational now." That clip is below:

Posted by Geoff at 11:14 AM CST
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