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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 2015 »
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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


Cultural Weekly

A Lonely Place

The Film Doctor


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

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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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Tuesday, January 6, 2015
I'm a little late with this, but Cine Lume in São Luís, Maranhão, in Brazil, has been running a Brian De Palma retrospective since the first of January (2015). It winds down with a screening of Blow Out tonight (Tuesday), and Dressed To Kill tomorrow night (Wednesday). The other films in the retrospective are: The Untouchables, Carlito's Way, Scarface, Greetings, Carrie, and Body Double.

Posted by Geoff at 12:48 AM CST
Updated: Tuesday, January 6, 2015 12:51 AM CST
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Monday, December 22, 2014
R.I.P. JOE COCKER 1944-2014

Posted by Geoff at 7:53 PM CST
Updated: Monday, December 22, 2014 7:00 PM CST
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Friday, December 19, 2014
Thanks to Peter for sending in this link to a David Bordwell essay about Brian De Palma's Mission: Impossible, which was posted almost two weeks ago. Bordwell begins by stating, "The phrase 'visual storytelling' is a very modern invention." And yet, Bordwell points out, "Visual storytelling is seldom purely visual. In film, it needs concepts and music and noises and even dialogue to work most fully. We can learn a lot, I think, by starting with 'purely visual' passages and see how they’re reinforced by other inputs."

Bordwell briefly discusses Alfred Hitchcock as "the most vociferous defender of visual storytelling," before moving on to De Palma, defender of "the purity of the pictures in motion pictures." (Bordwell then lists four quotes from De Palma, including one from my own interview with the director from 2002.) This all leads up to Bordwell's discussion of the invasion sequence in De Palma's Mission: Impossible, which "runs an astonishing eighteen minutes and, as typical of a film’s Development section, constitutes almost pure delay. You can imagine doing it in a couple of minutes, or a lot more," states Bordwell.

Screenwriter David Koepp provided Bordwell with information about the production, and is quoted in the essay: "[De Palma] had another great idea, which was a reaction to the current state of summer movies at the time. He was tired of all the noise, of the bigger bigger bigger noisier noisier noisier setpieces, and desperately wanted to come up with one that used silence instead. He cackled at the idea of a big summer movie set piece that was predicated on silence."

"The result," Bordwell points out, "is nice case study in visual storytelling. It also indicates how even a pure instance needs non-visual elements to be understood."

Perhaps even more interesting is the next section of the essay, in which Bordwell analyzes the opening sequence of Mission: Impossible, focusing on the visual and audio information happening behind Emilio Estevez as Jack:

"Once the official Kasimov has given the name Ethan needs, the team’s goal is achieved and Jack can search it on his computer. In the meantime, Kasimov needs to be dragged off without fuss, and so must be given a drugged drink. That, we now understand, is the task of the woman hovering in the background of Jack’s shots. We’ve also been primed by the tray with bottle and glasses in the first shot.

"One option would be to pan or cut to the woman behind Jack and show her doping the drink. (This is what the shooting script seems to call for.) We might even see the woman’s face as she does it, but even if we don’t, a shot emphasizing her would give us a lot of other inessential information about the room.

"De Palma makes another choice. This woman is important only in terms of what she does. Panning to her, or supplying a separate shot, and showing her face might make her seem as important a character as Jack, Ethan, or Claire. She’s not. So De Palma reduces her to her function: doping the drink. And for economy, she does it in the same setup previously devoted to Jack’s reaction. She’s kept in the background."

As always, Bordwell illustrates his essay generously with many stills from the film.

Posted by Geoff at 1:15 AM CST
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Back in July I posted that The Borscht Corp., an open-source collaborative dedicated to telling Miami stories, had started a project called Scarface Redux. The project was described as "a global collaborative effort to remake Brian De Palma’s Scarface." The web site (pictured above) lays out three steps: "First, Brian De Palma's Scarface is cut up into 15-second chunks"; "Then, you pick a scene, shoot and remake it however you like"; "Finally, we put it all together into a completely new version of Scarface."

"Scarface Redux" will be unveiled this Sunday (December 21st) at 8pm in Miami Beach, according to the Miami Herald's Debra K. Leibowitz. The screening will be one of the final events of this year's Borscht Film Festival, which began December 17th, and ends on the 21st. The Herald article states that Scarface Redux will play from 8-10pm, but it doesn't explain why that is about 45-minutes shorter than De Palma's film (perhaps they did not receive submissions for each of the 15-second clips). Leibowitz reports in the Herald: "A contest was held for the best scene submitted. Top prize included hotel and airfare for two to Miami, plus VIP tickets to all screenings and parties. Turns out the winner was local: Miami-based filmmaker Martell Harding, a 25-year old Florida International University graduate for his redux of Scene 94: The Shoot Up. Contest judges included Miami Herald film critic Rene Rodriguez, Rakontur Film’s Billy Corben and NBC-6 anchor Adam Kuperstein. Scarface Redux party fee is a $10 donation; free to those who submitted a clip."

Also screening at the fest this year is The Voice Thief, a new short film from Adan Jodorowsky, son of Alejandro Jodorowsky, starring Asia Argento. Borscht executive-produced the short, according to Miami New Times' Hans Morgenstern.

Posted by Geoff at 10:05 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, December 18, 2014 7:29 PM CST
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Naomi Campbell (above) stars in Agent Provocateur's new campaign for spring/summer 2015, shot by Ellen von Unwerth. According to Fashion One's Stephanie Park, Agent Provocateur's creative director, Sarah Shotton, "was inspired by girl gangs and 1960s pulp fiction novels. She became fascinated with the idea of the 'perfect crime,' and cast Campbell to get away with it." Several articles, apparently sourcing from the same press release, highlight that the campaign is inspired by David Lynch's Lost Highway and Brian De Palma's Body Double. "Shotton became inspired by the different identities that women are portrayed as possessing," writes Park, "facets that have been described by the brand as 'coy, duplicitous, siren, [and] saint.'” Park quotes Shotton as saying, "Naomi and Ellen were perfect for this as they both have such strong, individual personalities that work well together. We chose Ellen as her aesthetic mirrors the sensual, mysterious undertones of the campaign concept impeccably."

Posted by Geoff at 11:08 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 11:30 PM CST
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My internet has been down the past few days-- my carrier tells me it's a big outage in my area. So with my limited internet time, I haven't been able to post much here the past week. But here are some things:

Page Six's Ian Mohr noted that Brian De Palma was among the guests at a screening of Jean-Marc Vallée's Wild last Thursday (December 4th). The screening was hosted by Ben Stiller and Noah Baumbach at NeueHouse in New York. Laura Dern, who appears in the film, was also in attendance, as was Meg Ryan and Chris Cornell.

Meanwhile, a couple of readers have sent along some very cool links that I have to share, even though I can't transcribe much right now. Rado sends along a link to a recent Vilmos Zsigmond Masterclass, a Higher Learning event which took place on August 8, 2014 at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Around the 35-minute mark, an audience member asks Zsigmond to talk about working with De Palma. Zsigmond talks about how De Palma had presented sketches for their first film together, Obsession. However, by the time they worked on The Black Dahlia three decades later, Zsigmond asked, "Brian, where are the sketches?" But De Palma waved him off, saying he didn't need them anymore. Zsigmond goes on to describe the complicated shots in The Black Dahlia and Bonfire Of The Vanities.

Drew sends along a link to the latest I Was There Too podcast, in which host Matt Gourley talks on the phone with Melody Rae, who played the woman with the baby carriage in the famous staircase scene in De Palma's The Untouchables. I can't listen to this one yet, but the podcast description says, "Melody tells us about completely improvising her memorable scene, how she handled the explosions, baby, & squibs, and working with Kevin Costner."

One more link: Cinema Space Tribute, a video montage put together by Max Shishkin that includes, among many others, imagery from De Palma's Mission To Mars.

Posted by Geoff at 6:35 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2014 7:33 PM CST
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Saturday, December 6, 2014

"Taylor was always aware of what she was doing. She invited us to look at her so that she would not be watched. A Rolling Stone cover story interview revealed her obsession with surveillance and paranoia that her private world could be invaded through technology. It was a year when a number of female celebrities had their privacy invaded in a very violent way, and Swift was well aware she was a target. Her paranoid outlook in the Rolling Stone profile — that she might be snapped changing in a dressing room or bathroom by some untrustworthy soul — was justifiable. We all increasingly live in a surveillance state. But Swift lives in a Brian De Palma movie.

"The extremely public Swift is, brilliantly, a cover for the extremely private Swift. It allows her to have publicity and privacy on her own terms. Just like anyone who creates a projected hologram of their meatspace existence through the use of social media, what Taylor is really giving the world is just the appearance of her everything."

--from an essay by Molly Lambert, posted at Grantland

[The "poster" presented here is an altered version of the illustration by Jonathan Bartlett that accompanies Lambert's essay at Grantland.]


Director Mark Romanek has been influenced by Stanley Kubrick, Brian De Palma, and now, Taylor Swift.

Posted by Geoff at 3:06 AM CST
Updated: Saturday, December 6, 2014 3:10 AM CST
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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Unloved - Phantom of the Paradise from RogerEbert.com on Vimeo.

Above is the twelfth edition of Scout Tafoya's video series, The Unloved (found at RogerEbert.com), which examines Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise. The series takes films that were received indifferently upon initial release and reveals the artistry that seemed to be overlooked in the critical and public dismissals of their time.

"Cult movies usually have to do something wrong in order to miss out on a first-run audience," Tafoya states in the video. "Idiosyncrasies and eccentricities pile up, and only a handful of people can see them as integral to the film's success as a crowd-pleasing oddity. In the case of Phantom Of The Paradise, the indifference that greeted it from critic and public alike seems much more baffling than its continued success in Winnipeg.

"It's easy to why Rocky Horror failed with mainstream audiences at first. It's entirely too pleased with itself, and features nothing in the way of sex or violence that audiences couldn't find in movies without self-conscious glam-rock all over the soundtrack. Phantom Of The Paradise had something to say, not to mention something to prove. Though it's rarely lumped in with many of its landmarks, the Phantom came out of the New Hollywood movement. By 1974, American artists were finally digging in and starting to take advantage of the creative autonomy offered by more adventurous studios. 1974 was a watershed year in particular, because it was when passion projects started flowing out of major studios. Directors were taking immense formal risks left and right, telling dark stories in daring ways, bowing to no one but their muse. There were huge successes, films that changed everything. And then there were films like Phantom Of The Paradise.

"Up until this point, Brian De Palma had been making bizarre little movies that mixed Godard and Hitchcock with abandon. Phantom Of The Paradise was his biggest film to date, and it remains his best. Perhaps sensing that he was the right man to make a crazed irreverent hash of classic literature, he grabbed his own pet influences to make a film that did for rock and roll what fellow enfant terrible Ken Russell had been doing for classical music."

Posted by Geoff at 12:11 AM CST
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Monday, December 1, 2014

Frank Yablans, who produced Brian De Palma's The Fury, passed away of natural causes Thursday at the age of 79, according to the Los Angeles Times and BBC News. In a 1978 promotional interview with Carolyn Jackson, Yablans was asked about his cameo in The Fury, saying it was "something Brian asked me to do." He added, "I've been trying to cut it out of the film ever since, but he won't let go of it." In the same interview, Yablans talked briefly about two scenes he directed in The Fury: one involving a telephone call with Kirk Douglas, and "the Arab sequence in Old Chicago." Yablans characterized all of these as "token contributions," stressing to Jackson that the producer role was his major impact.

In that same interview, Yablans told Jackson that he and De Palma would next be "doing a little film called Home Movies, with college students in New York." He said that after that, the two would be working on The Demolished Man. De Palma would indeed make Home Movies as his next film, but Yablans did not end up producing it. And unfortunately, the pair were never able to mount The Demolished Man, as The Fury, which is well-loved now, was not the hit they'd been hoping it would be.

Prior to taking it to 20th Century Fox, Yablans had begun The Demolished Man with De Palma at Paramount, where Yablans had been president from 1971 to 1975, presiding over the studio as it released the first two Godfather movies, The Conversation, Chinatown, The Parallax View, Harold And Maude, Serpico, Paper Moon, and The Day Of The Locust, among many others.

Posted by Geoff at 4:51 AM CST
Updated: Monday, December 1, 2014 4:53 AM CST
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Thursday, November 27, 2014
BAMcinématek in Brooklyn began a "Sunshine Noir" film series last night (Wednesday) with a screening of William Friedkin's To Live and Die in L.A. Brian De Palma's Body Double is included in the series, and will screen this Tuesday, December 2nd. The series "explores what happens when noir steps out of the shadows and into the neon-lit boulevards of LA," according to the BAM website. "Burrowing beyond the glitz and glamour of Tinseltown, these hard-boiled tales of outsiders and antiheroes expose the seedy underbelly of the City of Angels." There are almost too many great movies in the series to name them all here, but today and tomorrow, Roman Polanski's Chinatown will play, and on December 8 will be Paul Thomas Anderson's new film, Inherent Vice.

In previewing the series, Blouin Art Info's Craig Hubert states, "Noir was born in Southern California." Here is an excerpt in which Hubert discusses several of the films in the series, including Body Double:
The cynicism of “Chinatown” opened up the floodgates for a new strain of bitter Sunshine Noir. But there were also increasing levels of pollution and the emergence of postmodern architecture in Los Angeles (the glass cylinders of the Bonaventure Hotel were constructed between 1974 and 1976) that made the city feel more inhuman. As we crossed into the 1980s, and the former Governor of California was the President of the United States, Sunshine Noir took the city’s nickname, “The Big Orange,” quite literally. William Friedkin’s “To Live and Die in L.A” (1985), screening on November 26, presents a city cast under an atomic tangerine sky as if illuminated by a Dan Flavin fluorescent glow. Demarcated lines of good and evil were completely eroded, with police officers performing robberies and artists counterfeiting money in their painting studio. Jim McBride’s pop-art remake of Godard’s “Breathless” (1983), screening on December 4, takes place in a candy colored Los Angeles where past and present, the Hollywood myth and the tarnished reality, have collided. Both films end ambiguously, portraying Los Angeles as an inescapable landscape of continual violence.

The first sign that the bitterness of the post-“Chinatown” era of Sunshine Noir was mutating once again was Brian De Palma’s “Body Double” (1984), screening December 2, which used John Lautner’s Chemosphere as the swank bachelor pad of the main character, a struggling b-movie actor, and the site where he witnesses a murder. The new sanitized Los Angeles of glass buildings is just a veneer for the city’s inherent seediness, where blood can still stain your minimalist furniture. Michael Mann’s "Heat” (1995), screening on November 6, is the prime result of this shift. The bloated crime drama fully takes place in this Los Angeles, where crimes of passion have been completely erased by crimes of commerce — everything is a transaction, everything is business. Criminals and cops can sit down for a meeting at a diner and nobody blinks and eye. They are practically interchangeable, and both sides have shootouts in the business district wearing Versace suits. Sunshine Noir takes on a different meaning here. The light of Los Angeles is a false light, illuminated from the inside of sprawling towers. A different, softer glow, but nothing has changed.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice” (2014), screening December 8, opens up a new chapter, once again looking to the past. Adapted from the novel by Thomas Pynchon, it presents a vision of Los Angeles that has not stopped believing in its own myths but completely wigged out on an overdose of them. Hippiedom is just another variation of the tangled lie of prosperity, and Pynchon’s world is one of confusion and paranoia. This is Sunshine Noir pushed to absurdist proportions, where the most far-fetched conspiracies suddenly seem possible, and the rotten core of the municipality stretches beyond the city limits. But it’s also the Sunshine Noir that speaks to our present condition. Take a look at the news and you’ll realize it’s closer to the truth than you want to admit.


Posted by Geoff at 1:00 AM CST
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