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Recent Headlines
a la Mod:

Domino is
a "disarmingly
straight-forward"
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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Exclusive Passion
Interviews:

Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
Leila Rozario

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AV Club Review
of Dumas book

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De Palma a la Mod
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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
Are Snakes Necessary?
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Genius of Love
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Friday, June 5, 2015
OZON CITES 'DRESSED TO KILL' AS AN INSPIRATION
FOR HIS LATEST MOVIE, "THE NEW GIRLFRIEND"


Reporting from the Toronto International Film Festival last September, Variety's Justin Chang wrote that the "marvelously economical opening sequence" of François Ozon's new film, The New Girlfriend, was "marked by a distinctly Brian De Palma vibe with its elegant camera moves and morbidly beautiful overhead shots of Laura’s impeccably dressed corpse, plus the mildly unnerving sense that the film is simultaneously mourning and mocking its characters’ unhappiness, as signaled by the swoons and sobs of Philippe Rombi’s extravagantly soapy score."

According to GARÇONNE Magazine, Ozon recently revealed to i-D Magazine the five films that inspired The New Girlfriend: Some Like it Hot, In A Year of 13 Moons, Tootsie, Crossdresser, and Dressed To Kill. Of the latter, Ozon told i-D Magazine, "Dressed to Kill is a 1980 film by Brian De Palma. He plays with the idea of gender; it’s a little bit kitsch to watch but there’s a real pleasure there. It’s an erotic thriller centred on a murder, in which Michael Caine cross dresses."

Meanwhile, The Montreal Gazette's T'Cha Dunlevy reports that at TIFF last September, Ozon told him the film was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock, as well as Brian De Palma.

Previously:
Ozon's Young & Beautiful reminds critic of De Palma & Lynch.


Posted by Geoff at 7:36 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, June 6, 2015 3:34 PM CDT
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Tuesday, June 2, 2015
PODCAST - 'PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE'
TWO GUYS WATCH DE PALMA'S FILM - ONE OF THEM FOR THE FIRST TIME - AND DISCUSS

Posted by Geoff at 8:05 PM CDT
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Monday, June 1, 2015
PODCAST & BOOK GIVE PROPS TO DE PALMA
FOR HIS "CRUCIAL" ROLE IN THE MAKING OF 'STAR WARS'
This week's Projection Booth podcast focuses on Star Wars (the film now known as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope). Beginning around the 11-minute mark, while discussing Michael Kaminski's book The Secret History Of Star Wars, co-host Mike White says that while the book talks about people coming in and giving advice to George Lucas, "one of the things missing, for me, was some of the people who gave input on the project—especially Brian De Palma, and just how, for me, crucial De Palma was in the history of Star Wars. And he kind of got short-shrifted in that. And really, not too many people talk about the role that De Palma has played in, at least, the first Star Wars film.

"So one of the things that De Palma is kind of infamous for," White continues, "was tearing down one of the first screenings of Star Wars, and, you know, it didn’t work for him, basically. But before that, before he was there as one of the initial audience members, it was him who really kind of helped out the very socially-awkward George Lucas with the auditions."

Another podcast to keep an eye out for: White also just recorded an episode of Geek Juice Radio, as the first part of a director series on De Palma.

BOOK: "HOW STAR WARS CONQUERED THE UNIVERSE" - DE PALMA & COCKS REWRITE THE CRAWL
A more recent book, How Star Wars Conquered The Universe by Chris Taylor, highlights De Palma's role in editing and rewriting the opening crawl of the film. Here's an excerpt:

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Star Wars remains one of the best examples of the storytelling dictum that it is best to begin in the middle of things. (Quite literally so, as it would turn out: Lucas's six-episode saga was the first in world history to open at its precise midpoint.) And he did insist that the roll-up remain, in the face of Fox executives who complained that children wouldn't read any kind of scrolling text at the start of a film. About the time they started, Lucas said.

Credit for the words that roll up the screen following the Star Wars logo is only one part Lucas: the other credit goes to the unlikely duo of director Brian De Palma and then Time movie critic, later filmmaker, Jay Cocks. Lucas had screened an unfinished cut for them in spring 1977, along with a house full of other friends. Over dinner afterwards, while Spielberg declared the film was going to be a huge hit, the naturally acerbic De Palma-- who had sat in on most of the Star Wars casting sessions, looking for actors for Carrie at the same time-- openly mocked Lucas: "What's all this Force shit? Where's the blood when they shoot people?" Perhaps urged on by Marcia, who knew George deeply respected De Palma, Brian later made a peace offering: he offered to rewrite the roll-up.

Lucas was crushed but agreed: the opening crawl had been too wordy in each of its four drafts, and he was down to the wire. His pastiche of lengthy, Flash Gordon-style introductions clearly wasn't coming across to viewers. De Palma sat down the next day, with Cocks at the typewriter. The result: an object lesson in the power of editing.

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Taylor then presents Lucas' version of the crawl, with his own editorial comments interspersed throughout. "The De Palma and Cocks edit is the crawl that survives to this day," Taylor continues afterward. "It is a spare and simple four sentences, revealing exactly what you need to know, with not a word going to waste."

Lucas himself talked a bit about this screening, De Palma's criticisms, and the rewriting of the crawl during a conversation on stage with Stephen Colbert at the Tribeca Film Festival this past April. You can hear the conversation on YouTube-- the bit about De Palma, etc., begins around the 42-and-a-half-minute mark.

SUPERSNIPE - COMIC BOOK STORE IN 1970s MANHATTAN
Another excerpt of interest from Taylor's book, from an earlier chapter:

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Meanwhile on the East Coast, yet another young bearded filmmaker, Edward Summer, had graduated from NYU's film school with dreams of making a science fiction film. He'd made a short film called Item 72-D. Because everyone kept mistaking it for THX 1138, he added the subtitle The Adventures of Spa and Fon. While he waited to get funding for his other science fiction scripts, he opened a comic book store in Manhattan. Called Supersnipe, it soon became a mecca for comic book and film nerds including Brian De Palma, Robert Zemeckis, Martin Scorsese, and their friend George Lucas.

Years later, in 1999, the critic Peter Biskind wrote a boook called Easy Riders, Raging Bulls. His thesis was that the "rock and roll generation" of directors split in two in the 1970s: that Spielberg and Lucas went one way, into space fantasy and other popcorn fare, which changed the course of cinema and pushed out the edgier work of directors such as De Palma and Scorsese. But Biskind completely missed the fact that those edgy directors spent a good portion of the decade just as Lucas did: in comic book stores, reading science fiction, trying to get space movies off the ground.

"The 1970s was a perfect storm for something like Star Wars to happen," Summer says. He remembers Scorsese optioning stories by the great paranoid science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, while De Palma wanted to make a movie out of The Demolished Man, a science fiction classic by Alfred Bester. "Everybody, everybody wanted to make a movie of The Stars My Destination," Bester's other hit novel, Summer remembers. "I was involved with three separate productions of it, and nobody could get it right. The special effects were so difficult."

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Posted by Geoff at 1:26 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, June 1, 2015 1:38 AM CDT
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Thursday, May 28, 2015
KEESEY'S BOOK ON DE PALMA IS OUT NOW
I just received my copy of Douglas Keesey's new book, Brian De Palma's Split-Screen: A Life In Film. I'll have to write more after I've read it, but upon initial browse-through, it appears to be a thoroughly-researched examination of De Palma's cinema, and an interpretation of each feature film (each one has its own chapter) as it relates to De Palma's personal life and career.

There is also a nice bit in the Acknowledgments: "No accounting of intellectual indebtedness would be complete without recognizing the key role that Geoff Beran and his website, De Palma a la Mod, have played in keeping viewers informed about all things directly or even tangentially related to De Palma. Beran's site is an endless treasure trove of facts, interpretations, opinions, and Web links, and it would be impossible for me to count how many times I visited it during the writing of this book." In the same paragraph, Keesey goes on to thank Bill Fentum, Romain Desbiens, and Ari Kahan.

Posted by Geoff at 12:45 AM CDT
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Monday, May 25, 2015
CHASSOL RECALLS DONAGGIO'S 'BLOW OUT' SCORE
FOR SONG COLLABORATION WITH FRANK OCEAN
French pianist Christophe Chassol was interviewed recently on Gilles Peterson's BBC Radio 6 Music show, and talked about working on Frank Ocean's new album, which will be released in July. NME's Luke Morgan Britton transcribed part of the interview, including this bit in which Chassol talks about what it was like to work in the studio with Ocean: "The guy is smart. He’s really smart. The way he works in the studio is really cool. He has a printer, he has a lot of pictures of architecture, contemporary art, a lot of pictures of different kinds of things. So we start to work on a track and he says, this track is this - that car that you can see. He makes me work on a song, and I'm like, 'oh this sounds like Pino Donaggio's score for Blow Out, by Brian De Palma'. I start to work on a song and five minutes later on the pro-tools screen you have the movie, the score, stretched to fit the song - just to try. I’ve never worked with that much money in music. It's good sometimes to have money, because you can try things."

Elsewhere in the BBC interview, Chassol tells Peterson that he likes classic film composers such as Bernard Herrmann and Jerry Goldsmith, and Peterson plays a cue from Goldsmith's acore for Planet Of The Apes, which Chassol says is his favorite. Chassol tells Peterson that aside from Jonny Greenwood and Alexandre Desplat, the composers working today do not really compare with the older ones.

Posted by Geoff at 5:57 PM CDT
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Saturday, May 23, 2015
TORNATORE TO FILM MORRICONE DOCUMENTARY
DEADLINE: INTERVIEWS & NARRATIVE WILL EXPLORE SIDE OF COMPOSER NEVER BEFORE REVEALED
Deadline's Nancy Tartaglione reported yesterday from Cannes that Giuseppe Tornatore will direct a "documentary feature based on the life and work of legendary composer Ennio Morricone." Tartaglione writes, "Tornatore first collaborated with Morricone on Oscar winner Cinema Paradiso. He is shooting interviews for the doc in several locales and filming a narrative piece alongside. Both the narrative and the interviews are designed to highlight a side of Morricone that has never been revealed. The narrative component will reconstruct key moments, anecdotes, and situations which have been essential steps of the artistic and personal path that Morricone’s life has taken."

Posted by Geoff at 1:52 AM CDT
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Thursday, May 21, 2015
'BLOW OUT' THURSDAY NIGHT IN ASHEVILLE, NC
HOSTED BY XPRESS MOVIE CRITICS KEN HANKE & JUSTIN SOUTHER


Posted by Geoff at 12:46 AM CDT
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Wednesday, May 20, 2015
CRITERION POSTS NEW IMAGE OF NOAH & BRIAN
NEW INTERVIEW FOR THE 'DRESSED TO KILL' RELEASE!


This afternoon, Criterion posted the photo and caption above on its Facebook page. The listing for Criterion's upcoming Dressed To Kill release has also been updated since Monday's initial announcement to add the following: "New conversation between De Palma and filmmaker Noah Baumbach."

On Monday, I mentioned that I had e-mailed Criterion the day before with the idea of including De Palma's Home Movies as a bonus on the Dressed To Kill edition. If they are still adding features to the set, it sounds like perhaps that is still a possibility...

A comment on the Facebook post linked to above mentions that Baumbach's latest released feature, While We're Young, shows a De Palma influence, and I have to say I thought the same thing when I saw the film last month. [Mild spoiler, if you will] Baumbach's film includes a bit of conspiracy, and, like Blow Out (the previous Criterion edition for which Baumbach interviewed De Palma), a character who sees conspiracy "everywhere" has trouble convincing others of his perspective.


Posted by Geoff at 7:03 PM CDT
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Monday, May 18, 2015
CRITERION'S 'DRESSED TO KILL' SET FOR AUG 18
NEW INTERVIEWS W/NANCY ALLEN, LITTO, DONAGGIO, BODY DOUBLE VICTORIA LYNN JOHNSON, RALPH BODE PROFILE, MORE
Criterion announced its August slate of releases today, and included is Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill, which will be released in a one-disc Blu-ray set and a two-disc DVD set on August 18, 2015. Just yesterday, I thought how great it would be if this edition included De Palma's Home Movies as a bonus, since it features Nancy Allen and Keith Gordon together just prior to making Dressed To Kill (not to mention that Home Movies also includes Mary Davenport, who has a humorous cameo in Dressed To Kill, listening in on a conversation between Allen and Gordon in a restaurant). I sent Criterion an e-mail with the suggestion yesterday, but obviously forces were already in motion, and my suggestion was too late. (Who knows, maybe they had already thought of that idea, but just couldn't work it out.)

In any case, here is the description and specs from the Criterion page:

Brian De Palma ascended to the highest ranks of American suspense filmmaking with this virtuoso, explicit erotic thriller. At once tongue-in-cheek and scary as hell, Dressed to Kill revolves around the grisly murder of a woman in Manhattan, and what happens when her psychiatrist, her brainiac teenage son, and the prostitute who witnessed the crime try to piece together what happened while the killer remains at large. With its masterfully executed scenes of horror, voluptuous camera work, and passionate score, Dressed to Kill is a veritable symphony of terror, enhanced by vivid performances by Angie Dickinson, Michael Caine, and Nancy Allen.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION:

New, restored 4K digital transfer of director Brian De Palma’s preferred unrated version, approved by the director, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
New interviews with actor Nancy Allen, producer George Litto, composer Pino Donaggio, shower-scene body double Victoria Lynn Johnson, and poster photographic art director Stephen Sayadian
New profile of cinematographer Ralf Bode, featuring filmmaker Michael Apted
The Making of “Dressed to Kill,” a 2001 documentary featuring De Palma
Interview with actor-director Keith Gordon from 2001
Video pieces from 2001 about the different versions of the film and the cuts made to avoid an X rating
Gallery of storyboards by De Palma
Trailer
PLUS: An essay by critic Michael Koresky

Cover based on original poster


Posted by Geoff at 6:54 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, June 18, 2015 4:46 PM CDT
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Sunday, May 17, 2015
'THE CONNECTION' TO DE PALMA & OTHERS
JIMENEZ: "OF COURSE YOU CAN SEE THE '70s AMERICAN CINEMA LIKE SCORSESE, COPPOLA, FRIEDKIN, DE PALMA, FOR SURE"
Some quotes noting the influences on Cédric Jimenez' The Connection:

Brad Brevet, Rope Of Silicon

"Described as a 'European flipside to William Friedkin's The French Connection', The Connection is much more than a marketing blurb intent on piquing the interest of hard-to-attract general audience members. This is a down-and-dirty '70s crime thriller, with all the texture of the 35mm film it was shot on. In fact, marketing blurbs with this one are easy as you'll find odes to [Michael] Mann, Brian De Palma and Martin Scorsese. This isn't to say it reaches the heights of those filmmakers, but the debt Jimenez owes to his predecessors is quite clear...

"The Connection isn't without its flaws, however. While the comparisons to Mann, De Palma and Scorsese are apt, it runs into trouble when it can't live up to its influences. Outside of some of the colorful flourishes reminding me of De Palma, this is very much a Michael Mann film though it lacks in Mann's control of sound, the hammering of gunfire Mann jars you out of your seat with, and the score and soundtrack is far from what Mann would deliver. A verbal confrontation between Tany and Michel almost immediately conjures memories of the sit down between Pacino and De Niro in Mann's Heat and if you're going to bring to light those comparisons you better be operating at the highest level and as much as I found it entertaining, The Connection can't stand with the big boys.

"But this isn't to diminish this movie in any way. As a piece of period entertainment, The Connection is rock solid."

Jonathan Harris, The Upcoming

"Jimenez has done well with this high-budget piece, and it’s a sure winner in its native country. The writing is not the best, however, the acting is superb, the soundtrack is fantastic and the cinematography is at times stunning. It’s clear there’s been an influence from the likes of many cat-and-mouse crime thrillers; the work of Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma, and even Quentin Tarantino is significant within The Connection, as various scenes clearly remind viewers of those from Goodfellas, The Untouchables, The Departed, and Scarface. Particular moments set in the Krypton club leave viewers almost expecting to see Tony Montana giving the famous stare."

Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

"The Connection mixes elements from other films — Heat, The Untouchables — with its own style to tell a familiar tale well. It creates a world and pulls you in only to remind you at the end that this warm, sunny fantasy is actually the cold, dark world called reality."

Frank J. Avella interviews Cédric Jimenez at EdgeBoston.com

The film's look is dazzling, stunning, yet, quite gritty. "We shot in 35mm, which is always really beautiful. There's something special with 35mm that you can never have in HD. I am very close with my DP (Laurent Tangy). And I told him, we have to adapt the aesthetic of the movie around the story and not the story around the aesthetic...the shooting had to be instinctive."

It's easy to watch the film and get a certain Scorsese/"Mean Streets" sense. Jimenez acknowledges his influences, "Of course you can see the '70s American cinema like Scorsese, Coppola, Friedkin, Brian dePalma, for sure. I also love the French gangsters cinema, too, like Verneull, Melville. And Italian cinema."

What is interesting is that he says he didn't screen any of the works of those filmmakers to prep for "The Connection," Instead he watched Alejandro Inarritu films (like "Babel") and Darren Aronofsky's work, "looking for reality and looking for something very intense and very visceral." He adds, "But in the end you have you make your own movie with your own personality."

"The Connection," which will be released here by Drafthouse Films, marks the self-taught director's third feature after getting his start as a producer a decade ago. He's currently working on an English language film with American actors but didn't want to elaborate further.


Posted by Geoff at 5:52 PM CDT
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