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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
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


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Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
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AV Club Review
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Carrie...A Fan's Site


No Harm In Charm

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Jim Emerson on
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Scarface: Make Way
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Deborah Shelton
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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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Thursday, March 5, 2015

The New York Times' Alex Williams wrote a style piece with the headline, "Taxi Flings Take a Back Seat to Uber." The article uses the image above from Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill to help illustrate "the strange erotic power of the New York taxi." Here's the opening few paragraphs of Williams' article, which appeared in today's print edition of the newspaper:
It started innocently enough: Rachel Rabbit White, a journalist in her 20s who writes about sex, was hailing a taxi with her boyfriend at the time and a female friend after a Lower East Side party.

But “as soon as we got into the cab,” Ms. White said, “it became clear that this was going to be a threesome.” Within moments, the taxi ride turned into Plato’s Retreat on wheels, a montage of hair pulling, collar tugging and bodies writhing in darkness.

Far from being an impediment to passion, the unglamorous setting was an enabler. “It was as if being in the space of the cab decided it for us,” Ms. White said.

Ah, the strange erotic power of the New York taxi. On the surface, these utilitarian urban people movers that sometimes smell like old gym socks would seem about as sexy as a Yankee Stadium bathroom. But for countless reasons, some New Yorkers long considered the taxi back seat a pay-by-the-hour love shack.

But that illicit tradition is under threat of late, as ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft sanitize yet another dark corner of New York night life. Unlike traditional taxis, where anonymity is the rule (and the attraction), these services know exactly who has been naughty or nice in their back seats. Not only do drivers know a passenger’s name and mobile number, but they are also asked to review a passenger’s behavior.

These customer reviews, which function like a credit score that is based on conduct rather than financial standing, have put a damper on back-seat shenanigans. Indeed, acting out under those circumstances is a bit like streaking through Grand Central Terminal with a “Hello, My Name Is ______” tag plastered to your chest.

With some users feeling motivated to limit their back-seat behavior to job-interview politeness, the raunchy back-seat hookup — immortalized in films like “Dressed to Kill” and shows like “Taxicab Confessions” — suddenly looks like a vestige of a Lost New York, doomed to go the way of peep shows, streetwalkers and Al Goldstein’s “Midnight Blue.”


Later in the article, Williams writes, "While 20-somethings might regard such four-wheeled misadventures as just another instant-gratification indulgence of the Tinder generation, cab hookups have a storied legacy in the city, a point made clear in countless movies. Perhaps the most famous taxi sex scene is in Dressed to Kill, the 1980 Brian De Palma thriller, in which Angie Dickinson’s character, a sexually frustrated middle-aged woman dressed in virginal white, unfurls herself across the queen-bed-size back seat of a Checker cab with a sideburned stranger she picked up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, her shrieks of pleasure drowned out by blaring horns as they roll down Fifth Avenue. In the free-for-all ‘70s, it seems, back-seat sex occurred nightly, at least if Travis Bickle, Robert De Niro’s hollow-eyed hack driver character in Taxi Driver, from 1976, is to be believed."

Posted by Geoff at 11:54 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, March 5, 2015 11:56 PM CST
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Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Patricia Norris, the costume designer for Brian De Palma's Scarface, passed away February 20 of natural causes, Variety reported today. She was 83. Norris was nominated for Oscars six times in her lifetime. She worked regularly with David Lynch, and was both the production designer and the costume designer on Keith Gordon's 2003 film adaptation of The Singing Detective. A year ago, around the time of her Oscar nomination for costume design on Steve McQueen's 12 Years A Slave, Norris told The Film Experience's Nathaniel R that on Scarface, De Palma and producer Martin Bregman "knew exactly what they wanted." She added that Michelle Pfeiffer helped make the costumes iconic. "She's a beautiful girl and it was perfect for the character."

Norris is quoted several times about the making of Scarface in Ken Tucker's 2008 book, Scarface Nation:

"I did think they'd have killed us if we'd stayed in Miami. There were members of the community who hated us because they thought we were doing a pro-Castro movie, which was absurd, but their anger was very serious. And then there were real drug people around. Colombians who came on the set. The day a fellow sat down in the chair next to me, and crossed his legs, and I saw a gun strapped to his ankle, I knew I wanted to get back to Los Angeles. Thank God we did, within two weeks."

"Pacino was very nice. I had been told he was going to stay in character and all that, so I was prepared for it." Tucker writes that Pacino spoke to Norris with his Cuban accent, even through his wardrobe fittings.

"Let me put it this way. After Scarface, I almost didn't want to work in the movies again. You're making a movie that's not about nice people, being made by people many of whom aren't nice people... It was tense, pretty distant. I don't like being condescended to. I worked with David Lynch for over twenty-five years because he was a nice person and an artist, and he appreciates the artistry other people bring to their work.

"I didn't get that feeling with De Palma. He was tense a lot of the time; he could be cold and rude, dismissive. I don't think he liked clothes. I shouldn't say that-- the only clothes he was interested in were the women's clothes, Michelle's clothes. He and Marty Bregman both. They wanted a lot of input in how she should look-- it was more than a little creepy, if you ask me. I'd overhear them arguing about how she should be dressed, how sexy, how much skin they wanted her to show."

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, March 5, 2015 11:58 PM CST
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Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Last summer, Playbill announced that La Mirada Theatre in southern California would be premiering Carrie The Musical in March of 2015 as an audience-immersive theatrical event. Now that the premiere is coming up next week, Playbill's Sheryl Flatow has posted an article in which director Brady Schwind discusses his vision for the show. Noting that the space at La Mirada Theatre "has been reconfigured to accommodate an audience of 250," Flatow quotes Schwind: "It's intimate but epic, because that's what I think the story is and what it requires." Here's an excerpt from Flatow's article:
Schwind has been fascinated by the show since he was a teenager in Texas and read about it in Ken Mandelbaum's book, Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops. He then found a bootleg recording of the score, and "fell in love" with the music. Many years later he saw a video of Terry Hands's RSC production, which became the legendary Broadway production that ran five performances in 1988. He was also in the audience in 2012 when Stafford Arima directed an Off-Broadway production that received mixed but respectful reviews.

"I really liked how the material had been reevaluated and changed for that production," says Schwind. "And I immediately thought of doing Carrie as an environmentally immersive production. I think Stephen King's story has endured because the horror of the piece is rooted in the memory that we have of our own high school experiences. And because we all have memories to bring to this piece, I thought it would work as immersive theatre."

Schwind brought his idea to composer Michael Gore, lyricist Dean Pitchford and book writer Lawrence D. Cohen — who also wrote the screenplay for the 1976 Brian De Palma film — and they were eager to reexamine the material yet again. "They are still in love with the show, and they are very open to new ideas," says Schwind. Together they explored the material for two years, with the previous productions serving as a catalyst for this new incarnation.

"Terry Hands saw the show as a Greek myth, but he wasn't interested in the high school stuff," says Schwind. "Stafford had the idea of making the show a parable about high school bullying. He was not as interested in the supernatural aspects. But I feel the show is about many things and you have to hit on all of them. You have to make the audience care about these characters, and you must find plausibility in over-the-top situations.

"It's a horror piece and a visceral piece, and the audience wants to feel frightened. They want blood. They want it to be an overloaded sensory experience, because that's closer to the feeling that we all have in high school. I wanted this to be a Greek tragedy and a horror story and entertaining and fun. You should root for Carrie till she kills you."

At La Mirada, part of the audience will be in seating units that move throughout the piece, following the actors along. They'll also have the opportunity to get out of their seats and go to the prom. "We're hoping to dissolve the fourth wall so that the audience becomes one with the cast and characters by the end," says Schwind. Those who prefer to watch from a safe distance will also be accommodated. "To me, immersive theatre is about creating an environment in which people can choose their own adventure."

If successful, producers Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman (On the Town, Clybourne Park) plan for more productions. "It's a grand experiment," says Schwind. "I think some of the ideas we're playing around with have never been done before with a linear book musical. The audience will tell us what we've created."


Posted by Geoff at 12:50 AM CST
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Saturday, February 28, 2015
In an interview with Bollywood Hungama's Joginder Tuteja, Bollywood director Sriram Raghavan, whose new film Badlapur opened last week, discusses making thrillers and, shades of yesterday's post on Big Bad Wolves directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, blending genres and inspirations. "Ek Haseena Thi could be termed as a romantic, revenge thriller or a jail drama," Raghavan tells Tuteja. "Johnny Gaddaar was a caper heist movie. Agent Vinod was a spy thriller. Now Badlapur is a psychological thriller. I like exploring this genre to the fullest." With a laugh, Raghavan continues, "Everyone I meet asks me why do I make only thrillers. My point is that even within the genre, there is so much variety. Every film requires its own kind of focus and internalization I guess."

For the new movie, the director tells Tuteja, "We, my main actors and HoDs watched several films in the zone that we were working on, ranging from Robert Bresson to Brian De Palma. I saw many world cinema thrillers. Iran's The Separation is also a thriller. I made a list of reference films for Badlapur which I shared with the gang. I made Varun [Dhawan] watch a lot of movies that he may never have heard of. He had a great time and subconsciously helped his performance."

Shades of Hitchcock promotion for Psycho, which stated that no one would be admitted into the theater once the picture begins, the poster and trailers for Badlapur simply and plainly tell viewers, with a tease, "Don't miss the beginning."

Posted by Geoff at 11:39 AM CST
Updated: Saturday, February 28, 2015 12:36 PM CST
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Friday, February 27, 2015
Back in 2013, I posted some quotes from Fantasia Film Fest co-director Mitch Davis enthusing about Big Bad Wolves as a mix of the Coen Brothers, Park Chan-wook and Brian De Palma. Later that year, Quentin Tarantino declared the film his favorite of 2013.

Today, Impact's Sam Todd posted an interview with Navot Papushado, who co-directed Big Bad Wolves with Aharon Keshales. Prior to Wolves, the pair had made a feature called Rabies (pictured here), and they more recently provided a short film for the horror anthology ABCs of Death 2.

When asked by Todd to talk about what films or filmmakers have influenced Papushado and Keshales, Papushado replies, "Rabies was not only influenced by horror films. Our favourite directors, if I had to list them, would be Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Brian De Palma, Francis Ford Coppola, Roman Polanski and William Friedkin. We realised that many of the great directors started in horror. Specifically for Rabies, we wondered what it would be like if Robert Altman directed a horror film, or something like Magnolia, where all these people are brought together by terrible circumstances. We drew inspiration from a lot of genres, horror films and just films we liked. We also took influence from recent Korean films, specifically their blending of genres, it’s dramatic, it’s horrific, it’s funny, it’s everything. We are great fans of the Coen brothers and Quentin Tarantino. Rabies was our first attempt at mixing it all up. We took everything we liked and mixed it up in one crazy film."

Near the end of the interview, Todd asks, "Which director should every aspiring filmmaker be familiar with?"

Papushado: "I’d go straight for the source: Sergio Leone, especially The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, it was the bible for me as a kid. I watch it every time I begin shooting a movie. Obviously Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, the way Spielberg uses the camera to tell a story is a masterclass, it’s the best school for moving the camera. Of course Tarantino and the Coen Brothers from recent years. I can’t not put Francis Ford Coppola and Brian De Palma. Everyone is inspired by these 70’s filmmakers because they invented everything."

Posted by Geoff at 11:20 PM CST
Updated: Friday, February 27, 2015 11:27 PM CST
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Thursday, February 26, 2015
Slit, written, edited, and directed by Colin Clark, will be released online in the coming weeks, according to the film's Facebook page. The description at the Slit website reads, in part:

"Passion and murder are in store for two party girls whose steamy sexual encounter turns bloody when a black-gloved killer follows them home.

"Taking its cue from Italian 'giallo' thrillers of the 1970's, SLIT is a contemporary horror experience that mixes together a color-saturated visual style, vivid sensuality, and shocking violence, set to a pulsating synthesizer score.

"'Giallo' - Italian for 'yellow' - refers to a genre of films inspired by pulp mystery novels published in Italy with distinctive yellow covers. 'Giallo' films of the 1960's-1970's bear a distinct, baroque cinematic style -- and are known for their vivid colors and bizarre camerawork, fetishistic close-ups, iconic black-gloved killers, and nerve-jangling scores. Practitioners of the 'giallo' arts include Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Umberto Lenzi, and Lucio Fulci.

"SLIT was envisioned as a mashup between the sizzling eroticism of early Brian De Palma (his Body Double, Dressed to Kill and Blow Out are unofficial 'giallos') and the colorful-yet-brutal cinematic overkill of Argento (Suspiria, Deep Red), accompanied by an 80's-style electronic score reminiscent of Giorgio Moroder (Cat People, Scarface), Jan Hammer, or Tangerine Dream."

There is also a trailer for the film on YouTube.

Posted by Geoff at 12:06 AM CST
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Canon is a podcast that premiered last November in which Badass Digest's Devin Faraci and L.A. Weekly's Amy Nicholson discuss a movie with the aim of deciding whether or not it should be included in "The Canon" of the greatest films of all time. Sometimes the two disagree fervently, but not always. This week, they invited "Mr. Beaks" himself, Jeremy Smith, who chose Brian De Palma's Blow Out as the film up for discussion. And it is a lively discussion, touching on other De Palma films, his style, his themes, etc. All three are very positive about the film, and eager to talk about it. There's an interesting back-and-forth about style, and how much is too much. Well worth a listen, and afterward, listeners can have their say about whether Blow Out belongs in "The Canon" by commenting here.
(Thanks to Andreas!)

Posted by Geoff at 12:33 AM CST
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Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Betty Buckley was interviewed by the Miami Herald's Steve Rothaus, ahead of her concerts this weekend in Miami Beach. Buckley tells Rothaus a bit about getting her start on and off Broadway from the late 1960s to early 1970s, before entering the world of film:
She then auditioned for Brian De Palma’s film, Phantom of the Paradise. “He didn’t pick me for that, but he hired me to do voices in three of his movies after that.”

Buckley says De Palma wanted her to re-record (“loop”) dialog for other actresses who were pretty but couldn’t act.

“I said, ‘Listen, Brian, you can’t do this man. There are all these people like me who are studying acting in New York or L.A. or wherever, paying for our classes and working really hard to become better actors and any one of these parts would be great debut parts for us. I’m just telling you right now, I won’t do this anymore.’ He was like, ‘Oh.’ Six months later, he called me and he gave me the book of Carrie. He said ‘This is my next movie. I want you to be the gym teacher.’”


Posted by Geoff at 12:02 AM CST
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Monday, February 23, 2015
Thanks to Matthew for letting us know about Monday night's 7:30 screening (February 23) of Brian De Palma's The Untouchables at the ArcLight in Pasadena, California. The screening is part of the ArcLight's Road to Gold Academy Awards series.

A few weeks ago, Daily Herald columnists Jamie Sotonoff and Dann Gire wrote about Dan Clancy, a production designer who got his start as a production assistant on Brian De Palma's The Untouchables. The column began:
The moment he stepped into the 1920s Chicago, Dan Clancy knew he'd found his life's calling.

"My dad told me that a movie filming in Chicago was looking for production assistants," the Park Ridge resident told us. "I got lucky enough to get on the movie 'The Untouchables.'

"It was amazing to meet Sean Connery, to meet Brian De Palma. That was pretty cool. On a street off Ogden Avenue on the West Side, they transformed the entire neighborhood into the 1920s and it was just mind-boggling! I saw that and said, 'I want to do this for the rest of my life.'"

That was 1986.

Today, Clancy works as a production designer after moving up through the ranks as a production assistant, set dresser, leadman and set decorator.



Meanwhile, Kevin Costner was on the promotion trail last month for Black Or White. The Chicago Tribune's Luis Gomez asked Costner if Chicagoans had showed any resistance to them while filming a movie that included Al Capone as a character.

"No, not at all," replied Costner. "They wanted to see Sean Connery and Robert De Niro. Dallas has a little bit of insecurity about what happened there with Kennedy [Costner filmed the 1991 John F. Kennedy assassination film, JFK in Dallas], but Chicago doesn't apologize for nothing. You don't apologize for Capone. We were here filming for two and a half or three months. I hadn't spent time in a big city before that. I also had never lived 15 floors up where you could look across and see your neighbor. I'd never experienced anyone that close to me in my life. You got to know a person without ever talking to them because you got to see the patterns of their life. You could almost turn into a peeping Tom here."

Posted by Geoff at 12:12 AM CST
Updated: Monday, February 23, 2015 12:16 AM CST
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Saturday, February 21, 2015
If you're in Kansas City on Oscar night tomorrow, you can catch Brian De Palma's Body Double at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema at 6pm. In preparation for screenings at multiple Drafthouse locations across the country, Badass Digest's Jacob Knight has written rather lovingly about the film. "The choice to make Scully as vanilla pudding as possible is deliberate," Knight states of the main character played by Craig Wasson, "and it’d feel like an insult to Wasson if the actor weren’t so knowingly game for the entirety of the movie’s near two-hour runtime. Yet there’s an almost impish glee Wasson conveys as he goes from helpless Peeping Tom to gullible murder suspect to undercover porn hustler in a mere matter of Acts. To criticize Scully for being a schmuck is missing the point entirely, for we are all dopey, doe-eyed adventurers in this cum-stained playground just looking for something to get off on.

"But even if a viewer can’t get over Wasson’s jokingly willful naïveté, it’s hard to imagine anyone who truly loves cinema dismissing the virtuoso display of craftsmanship De Palma yet again employs in service of creating this sticky jungle. As Scully stalks, De Palma yet again unleashes his love of the Steadicam, transforming a California shrine to consumerism (The Rodeo Collection at 421 Rodeo Drive) into a veritable maze through which his camera can cruise. Later, De Palma stops the entire film dead in its tracks in order to stage an elaborately choreographed song and dance number set to Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s 'Relax,' all of which ends in a round of softcore pawing. Had De Palma been allowed by the studio to execute his original concept (he wanted Body Double to be the first big budget picture to sport unsimulated sex scenes), it would’ve resulted in the most cinematically daring act of onscreen sex ever created. All the while, Pino Donaggio’s twinkling pianos, shimmering synths and soft drums add a playful sheen of eroticism, as the composer (and longtime BDP collaborator) seems most at home in this den of misdeeds.

"None of this would matter if it weren’t for Holly Body (Melanie Griffith), the gyrating soul living in the movie’s black heart. De Palma initially cast Annette Haven, but Columbia Pictures made the director rethink the role once they discovered that she was an actual porn queen, having starred in numerous classic fuck films since 1973. But Columbia’s pearl-clutching became a blessing in disguise for the director, as Griffith ends up giving the greatest performance of her entire career. Holly Body is a marvel of a character, completely sexy while never once relinquishing control to her male counterparts. When propositioned to star in the fake movie Scully’s producing, she rattles off a litany of lewd acts that decimates the impotent actor’s confidence. The woman is a professional, direct and to the point, and no man is going to dictate what she does with her body just because he’s offering a paycheck. Griffith straddles the line between pixie dream girl and art rock ass-kicker with such command that it’s impossible to look away from her whenever she’s on screen. Casting a real life porn star in the role would’ve been a great gimmick, but we would’ve never been graced with such a scene-stealing performance."

Near the beginning of the article, Knight writes about one of the movies De Palma had picked for his "Guilty Pleasures" article in a 1987 issue of Film Comment. "Amongst the apologetics," Knight writes, "was a 1981 slice of smut titled Nightdreams, directed by FX Pope. In reality, FX Pope doesn’t exist. The name was a nom de skin, belonging to commercial photographer and artist Francis Delia who, along with partner Stephen Sayadian, designed ads for everything from Hustler magazine to key art for major motion pictures. Included in their portfolio of immaculately designed one sheets (which also boasts John Carpenter’s The Fog and Escape From New York) was the iconic image for De Palma’s own Dressed to Kill. The admiration wasn’t one sided; in Nightdreams, Delia and Sayadian recreated the image from the piece of art they invented to help sell De Palma’s infamous murder mystery, repurposing it into one of the most harrowing scenes in the history of hardcore."

Posted by Geoff at 9:12 PM CST
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