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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
for Domino online

De Palma/Lehman
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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


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Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
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AV Club Review
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De Palma a la Mod

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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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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Antonios Papantoniou searched his tapes and found a companion piece (above) to the CNN Raising Cain piece he posted last week. In this video, again from 1992, CNN's Jim Moret talks to John Lithgow about working on Raising Cain (which Moret calls a "quirky, satirical psycho thriller"), and also gets some words about Lithgow from Brian De Palma. "Most movie stars have such a strong physical persona that they're always John Wayne," De Palma tells Moret. "But John Lithgow has the ability to be many different people, and he can literally change his persona on screen without any make-up."

Lithgow tells Moret, "You're in a strange sort of isolation booth when you're acting in a film. You don't really have a sense of all the things going on around you. You only really see it when you see the whole film." [Al Pacino said something very similar about working on Carlito's Way. Seeing what the camera was doing while watching dailies, he would say, "Whoa, something's going on there."]

"One thing that really limits you as an actor," Lithgow tells Moret, "is to worry too much about whether you're likeable or not. Actors who worry about how they're coming off, how they look, whether they're sympathetic, those actors are really attaching shackles to their ankles."

Moret follows up, "Well, if not liking them, then what about understanding this person?"

Lithgow: "Yeah, that's what you try to do. You try to understand him, and trace the motives."

Moret: "Do you look to Brian to pull in the reins, so that you don't give a performance that's almost over the top?"

Lithgow: "Yeah, he modulates it. And chases me when I'm too... doing too much, and edits my acting."

After another clip from the film, Lithgow says, "People who see this movie, you know, the questions I've been asked, so many people say, 'God, wasn't it difficult?' Difficult parts to play are the ones where there isn't enough to do. This one was just so much fun. Playing this part is the kind of thing you became an actor hoping to be able to do."

Posted by Geoff at 5:28 PM CDT
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Alonso Duralde, The Wrap:

"Nothing really gets sabotaged in Sabotage, unless you're counting the career of director David Ayer, who got some of his best reviews to date for End of Watch just two years ago. Apparently forgetting everything he knows about filmmaking in the intervening months, he's delivered up a schlocky and semi-incoherent shoot-'em-up, the most notable factor of which is a torrent of fake blood that rivals the gallons of Karo syrup Brian De Palma sprayed over Scarface.”

The Telegraph:

"Arnold Schwarzenegger has defended 'brutal violence' in movies ahead of his new film Sabotage, in which the 66-year-old plays the head of a special unit of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) whose members are viciously killed and mutilated after a cartel bust.

"Schwarzenegger, the former Governor of California, said: 'It's a bit of an homage to the films that I grew up on, and directors like Brian De Palma, and Walter Hill and Sam Peckinpah who made very brutal kind of masculine movies. I think violence is political now: "maybe if there is no violence in movies, there will be no violence in the world." I don't believe that. The video games our children play are much, much more violent than anything in this movie.'"

Matt Singer, The Dissolve:

"The results are deliberately off-putting, a nasty film about mean people doing horrible things. That’s surely by design. Ayer is trying to paint a broad portrait of the poisonous effect this never-ending conflict has on its combatants, and to make a movie that mirrors its protagonists’ fractured psyches. Like Wharton’s DEA unit, Sabotage gets off on the adrenaline rush of badass brutality—but feels traumatized by its aftermath.

"That jibes perfectly with late-career Schwarzenegger’s onscreen persona, the man overwhelmed with grief and regret. Action heroes have rarely killed more people onscreen than Ahnuld—or done so while completely dismissing the emotional weight of those killings by delivering shamelessly goofy puns while committing murder. But as viewers slowly realize over the course of the film, John Wharton has witnessed the effect of violence first-hand, and it’s scarred him. That almost makes Sabotage Schwarzenegger’s (much less effective) version of Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven—his chance to wrestle with all the death he’s perpetrated onscreen, and to consider, once and for all in his twilight years, whether it was really worth it. The film’s final scene—one of the most fascinating of Schwarzenegger’s entire career—makes the Eastwood comparison even more overt, turning Wharton into something of a Western cowboy."

Posted by Geoff at 12:04 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, March 29, 2014 4:37 PM CDT
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Friday, March 28, 2014

Posted by Geoff at 10:43 PM CDT
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Posted by Geoff at 1:29 AM CDT
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Thursday, March 27, 2014
Ain't It Cool News' Jeremy Smith interviewed Grand Piano director Eugenio Mira a couple of weeks ago, and they talked quite a bit about Brian De Palma. Mira also indicates a cinematic kinship with Open Windows director Nacho Vigalondo. Here are some excerpts:

Q: I think we both speak fluent De Palma.

Eugenio Mira: Totally.

Q: It's interesting making a film in that style today. Everything is so much about coverage now.

Mira: And cutting.

Q: This is definitely a more modern film, but you are hearkening back to that style of filmmaking. Does that make things difficult for you?

Mira: Me being a kid born in Spain and being completely affected by American pop culture in the '80s, Steven Spielberg and Joe Dante, then going into David Cronenberg, David Lynch, the Coen Brothers... from the very beginning, I always loved directing as a performance. It's true that could've been a problem had I moved to Hollywood at nineteen years old, but staying in a country like Spain, the good news is that movies were made not because a producer wanted to do it. It's because there was a possibility, a chance... some people went for subsidies and stuff and they didn't give a fuck about what movie was going to happen, but a whole generation of directors, Nacho Vigalondo included, nobody had the balls to tell us how to do our [movies].

Yes, I know I'm in trouble when it comes to a world that is completely opposite to what I am defending and what I am crafting. On the other hand, after three movies, it's true that maybe there is some momentum. Maybe you can anticipate what problems you are going to have. What I've learned is that rather than have a hidden agenda, it's better to show your plans from the very beginning. Every single director is an asset before you start shooting, and if what you're shooting feeds what your selling - the storyboards and animatics - producers are like "Oh, he's doing it as planned. He's not behind schedule." The problems come with the editing. But if you do it properly, you are going to have just two or three major fights - compared to shooting a lot of coverage and losing control of the whole movie.

Q: When you got the script, how quickly did you figure out how you were visually going to tell this story?

Mira: I'm trying to capture the first impression that I have. If I'm on page thirteen, and there's something that the writer implied... I think my brain works very similarly to what Spielberg describes, it's like having this library of movies. I'm a musician, too, and we have notes. But notes are nothing if there's not a context. So I think that the same thing happens with cinema. Everyone thinks that everything is etherial, and you start from scratch every time. No. You know a shot from Tony Scott from one used by his brother, Ridley. Sometimes they are similar, but sometimes they are different. Alan Parker is different from Adrian Lyne. But those little nuances, some people don't give a damn, but to me I acknowledged those differences. So if I'm seeing a scene of a car parking in front of a diner, and someone steps out, I'm going to know if it's just an establishing shot, or if it's a dolly shot of a guy stepping out of the car and if we're going to go beyond the door or if we're going to be inside seeing the whole thing. It's what directors that I've been raised by do all the time. To answer your question, I wrote down every single thing. Damien Chazelle's script is an open love letter to Hitchcock and De Palma. So what I try to do is instead of just following that realm, I wanted to analyze where these mesmerizing effects came from, and that is silent films. Silent films are the pure sequential art. All you have is the size of the shot, the length and the semantics of the cutting. The semantics in cutting nowadays are two completely different things. Cut means shit nowadays. I can't stand it.

Q: I had the pleasure of interviewing De Palma last year, and I asked if he feels any pressure to shoot coverage nowadays. He said, "Coverage is a bad word."

Mira: I hate it. It's not in my vocabulary.

Q: But it's expected. And it weakens a director's position. They can easily take the film away from you because you've given them all of the options.

Mira: Totally. That's not directing. I will never do this if my work was confined to talking to the actors, going out to dinner and reminding them what we read in the script. The moment I don't have control of what you're seeing when you're seeing it and what level of attention, how am I going to sign [the film]? Coverage is for pussies...

Q: You feel like a filmmaker who could work on a bigger canvas. De Palma and Hitchcock made great big movies! You obviously like the widescreen. I think you could handle a big movie. But I read an interview where you said Jurassic Park 4 would just be about talking to the actors. The vision wouldn't be yours.

Mira: I'm glad you mentioned that. I felt a little bit... in terms of being political, it was a little controversial that I said that. But I'm disappointed. For Spielberg, coming from a filmmaker that I've always admired, I know there's a property, and I know there's a lot of stuff going on and different interests, but something tells me that when it comes to the big scenes of that movie, they were designed three years ago. They already have them. And they got a guy to go out to dinner. I love Safety Not Guaranteed, and I don't want to throw shit at it. I admire what [Colin Trevorrow] did, but if somebody tells me that they are going to hire for Jurassic World the director of The Spectacular Now, I would also be saying "What the fuck?" I don't get it. What about the kids who were raised with Joe Dante or Brian De Palma or Robert Zemeckis: people who really know how to craft movies.

Q: Those guys designed the whole world.

Mira: That's what I'm saying. You see a movie like Bonfire Of The Vanities... you can like it more or less, but that movie directs you into a world. You can talk about the movie, but as a vehicle of expression for Mr. De Palma, I don't see better or worse movies, I see more fortunate or more unfortunate vehicles for Mr. De Palma. That's the way I see it.


Posted by Geoff at 2:37 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, March 27, 2014 2:39 AM CDT
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014
If you haven't been able to watch Arrow Video's Blu-Ray release of Brian De Palma's The Fury from last year, you can at least view a short clip from a special feature produced by Fiction Factory, in which cinematographer Richard H. Kline discusses working on the film. "The Fury, to me," Kline says in the video clip, "looking back now 35 years, whatever it was, in re-running it to prepare for this interview, I’m going to put it at probably one of the best pictures I’ve ever made, technically—you’re never aware of the technique. With the reality, the freshness of it. Seeing it again, it reminded me of how good it is. It really… De Palma did a terrific job of directing it, without a doubt."

There is a nice long interview article with Kline, covering his entire career, in the current issue (Vol. 10, Issue 28) of Cinema Retro. Alas, the writer of the piece glides right on by The Fury-- must have been conducted prior to the Arrow video and Kline's refreshed opinion of the film.

Posted by Geoff at 12:49 AM CDT
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Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Rick Ross, whose love for Brian De Palma's Scarface is well known, released his latest album, Mastermind, earlier this month. Here are a couple of review clips:

Christopher R. Weingarten, Rolling Stone
"Reflective, a little nervous, full of references to feds intervening, Mastermind plays like the first Ross album that's actually seen the last act of Scarface.

Mikael Wood, Los Angeles Times
"Perhaps Rick Ross simply took his drug-lord act as far as it could go with 2012's God Forgives, I Don't, in which the portly Miami rapper somehow made a seizure he'd suffered on a private jet sound like the mark of a true player. But for the first time in a career that's gotten only more interesting since his background as a corrections officer was revealed, Ross has run out of imaginative ways to describe his power on his latest.

"'Before the crib you gotta clear the guard's gate,' he brags of his home in 'Rich Is Gangsta,' 'Elevators like Frank's on Scarface.' Snooze."

Posted by Geoff at 11:55 PM CDT
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Monday, March 24, 2014

The Scarface remake just got a lot more interesting. The Wrap's Jeff Sneider reports that Chilean director Pablo Larraín is in negotiations to direct Universal's remake of Scarface. Larraín's first film, Tony Manero (pictured above), has a violent main character, who looks like a middle-aged Al Pacino, obsessed with John Travolta's character in Saturday Night Fever.

Taking place in 1978, at the height of Travolta/disco mania, the character works as "a metaphor for the amorality and viciousness of the Pinochet regime," as the New York Times' Larry Rohter describes in a 2009 article about the film and its makers. Alfredo Castro, the actor who plays the Manera-obsessed Raúl Peralta, told Rohter that the character is "a social outsider, perfectly capable of appropriating the opportunity to kill with impunity. He lacks moral judgment, and his logic is demented, archaic, that of: ‘If the state is killing hundreds, why can’t I?’”

Rohter's article continues:


Released in Chile in 2008, Tony Manero was first shown in the United States at the New York Film Festival last fall. The festival’s program director, Richard Peña, said the film appealed to him because of its ability to convey “the feeling, the texture and tactile sense of life during that time” and its complicated and nuanced view of American pop culture.

Saturday Night Fever becomes a strange double-edged sword,” Mr. Peña said. “On the one hand it is free and easy and democratic and represents freedom and masculine flamboyance. But it also comes from America, which is seen as being at the root of the problem, behind the overthrow of Allende and the installation of Pinochet.”

In addition Mr. Castro’s character looks a lot like Al Pacino, as critics were quick to note after Tony Manero was shown at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. Mr. Castro and Mr. Larraín said they were amused by the comments that similarity has provoked, which they believe underline and amplify their theme of cultural domination. “The interesting thing is that here you have a Chilean actor who tries to look like John Travolta and ends up being said to look like Al Pacino,” Mr. Larraín said. “He’s never Alfredo Castro. He’s always somebody else, and what he does in the film is exactly that too.”

Mr. Castro added: “It’s like I’ve been erased, and there is something symbolic about that.”


In October of 2012, Deadline's Mike Fleming reported that Universal had hired Donnie Brasco screenwriter Paul Attanasio to rewrite David Ayer's original draft of the Scarface remake. In December of 2012, Latino Review's El Mayimbe claimed to have discovered, via unnamed sources, that the new Tony (not Montana, nor Manero) "is actually Mexican and the remake takes place in the world of drug cartels."

Now The Wrap reports that the new Scarface "will reimagine the core immigrant story told in both the 1932 and 1983 films. Universal's update will be an original story set in modern day Los Angeles that follows a Mexican immigrant's rise in the criminal underworld as he strives for the American Dream." The Wrap also states that the current draft of the screenplay is by Attanasio.

Sneider writes, "The filmmakers plan to cast an authentic Latino who is bilingual and bicultural as the lead character, whose name will be Tony, though his last name won't be Camonte (1932) or Montana (1983). While Oscar Isaac, Edgar Ramirez and Michael Pena rank among Hollywood's top Latino stars who are age-appropriate for the role, the producers are also open to casting a complete unknown in the name of authenticity." Sneider adds that "the new Scarface will be a more mythic origin story that explores where Tony's physical and emotional wounds come from and how they shaped him as a man.

"Larraín won the coveted job with his commanding and passionate vision. An insider told The Wrap that Larraín really connected to the material and, as someone who has never worked within the Hollywood studio system, he brought an outsider perspective that allowed him to relate to the main character and his narrative. "Harry Potter filmmaker David Yates had previously been in negotiations to direct but his commitment to Tarzan prevented him from signing on."

The new Scarface is being produced by Martin Bregman, who produced the Brian De Palma version, and Marc Shmuger.

Posted by Geoff at 8:30 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, February 27, 2018 1:19 AM CST
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Thanks to Donald for letting us know about the TCM Cinéma video embedded above. Below is a transcript of what Brian De Palma says in the video:

Well, you discover that you can tell stories in pictures, and you have these images, and you know how to photograph them, and you start out with a camera, and you take a lot of images, and you construct a story in which you employ these images, and then you put it up on the screen, and you see if anybody’s interested.

When I was very young, I was fascinated by computers. I built many of them, and won many science fairs.

[Talking about Blow Out] I was sort of fascinated by the fact that even if you had the correct information about the Kennedy assassination, no one would care. And I also wanted to create the mystery that can only be solved with filmic means. Only by syncing the sound, the basic building block of cinema solved the mystery. I wanted to use a purely cinematic visual to solve the mystery. And that’s why I think it’s so effective.

There’s a big white canvas up there. You can hold the audience with a series of images that are poetic and dramatic. And it takes a lot of thought in order to create these sequences. Non-verbal cinema is something that has almost died in the last couple of decades.

I like Rear Window. It’s a very clever idea, shooting everything from Jimmy Stewart’s point of view, and keeping the movie in the apartment of Jimmy Stewart, and dealing with the fact that he can’t get up and do anything, because he’s in a wheelchair.

Well, Hitchcock showed a way of telling a movie with pictures. And he was a genius at producing these sequences in his movies, and nobody really is following in that tradition.

And I remember seeing Vertigo when I went to college. Well, Vertigo is a movie that greatly affected me. I have used the idea and images in it throughout my career.

Some great cineaste once said the history of cinema is about men photographing women, and I think that’s pretty much true. I’ve made stories with lots of men in them, like The Untouchables, or Scarface, but if you’re interested in beauty, you’re interested in photographing women.

When I read about the incident in Iraq, about the rape and killing of an innocent Iraqi girl, I said, well, this is just like Casualties Of War, except it’s happening again. It was a great story, and a very tragic story. But our invasion and destruction of Vietnam was very much like the rape and murder of this girl. It was the best story from out of the Vietnam war. To me, it represented everything wrong we were doing there. [Now back to talking about Redacted] When I did the search about the original incident on the internet, it came up with all these blogs, and YouTube postings, and a montage of Iraqi casualties. [It was] totally original, in a whole new language, and that’s the form in which I told the story. I’d like to use their own dialogue, the real things that they said, but I couldn’t, because they were being prosecuted while the movie was being made. I’m afraid to say that if you haven’t learned from the lessons of the past, you’re doomed to repeat them, and obviously, America did not learn from those experiences in Vietnam. So maybe you have to tell the same story again so that maybe they’ll get it this time.

There were some very good reviews, but again, it was not an image of American soldiers that anybody wanted to see. Because it’s too disturbing. They don’t want to see the pictures. They don’t want to see the images. They don’t want to think that their soldiers are [anything] but valiant crusaders planting democracy in a mid-east country. And they’re difficult movies to get made, and you can only make them after you have some kind of success. And they sort of will not prevent you from making something that you think is important to be produced. Somehow because you’ve made a successful movie, they think you’re a charmed director, and you can make a success out of anything.

This is the Turner channel? I watch this channel a lot!

Posted by Geoff at 1:13 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 6:02 PM CDT
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Sunday, March 23, 2014

James Rebhorn, who so memorably played DA Norwalk in Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way, passed away peacefully Friday afternoon from Melanoma. Rebhorn was a well-loved character actor who appeared in many many films and TV shows, and appeared with Al Pacino in Martin Brest's Scent Of A Woman, a year before the two worked together again on Carlito's Way. His agent, Dianne Busch, tells Deadline, "He was a wonderful, wonderful man. I represented him since 1990, and I represented him for my entire career. He was an absolute joy to work with. He was very funny and was warm. He was drawn to projects with a social conscience. One of his favorite movies that he did was Lorenzo’s Oil because it made a difference. He had a very strong faith and loved his family. His family was extremely important to him and I saw him make career sacrifices for them."

Posted by Geoff at 7:25 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, March 23, 2014 7:27 PM CDT
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