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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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Scarface: Make Way
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italkyoubored

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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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Saturday, June 13, 2015
JOACHIM TRIER WAS INITIALLY INTO DE PALMA...
AS WELL AS ANTONIONI & RESNAIS - STILL HAS "ONE FOOT IN THAT KIND OF FORMALISM"
An interesting excerpt from an Cannes 2015 interview with Louder Than Bombs director Joachim Trier, posted yesterday by The Upcoming's Christian Herschmann:

Herschmann: How did the diary of Conrad, Isabelle’s youngest son, take shape – a multilayered compilation of a young boy’s mindset and perception?

Trier: We had to write it and then write it again and again and again during editing; it was like making a feature film, that diary. We have many versions of it and I’m very happy with the one we used. We even have the clip from Opera by Dario Argento in it. One of our producers is Italian and knows Dario Argento and we got that through him. We wanted to get different elements of different cultural expressions into the diary. We tried to find poetry in the truth of the character. I love the film Kes by Ken Loach. My favourite moment in that film – the one where I always cry – is when the kid, who doesn’t know how to express himself, is suddenly asked by his teacher to talk for the first time and tell them how he takes care of his bird – he knows the boy is with this bird all day. And the kid speaks for the first time and talks freely about who he is. That’s not exactly what we’re doing, but I wanted Conrad’s diary to be a revelation of the discrepancy between his social inability and his inner life, which is so rich.

It is not only a written text in the film, but presented in a very visual way, as a montage of imagery. You used a similar technique in Oslo, August 31st and they both work very well. How did you become interested in this form of expression?

I went to the National Film and Television School in London, we called it National Social Realist Film and TV School. Steven Frears was a teacher there and Mike Leigh, people that I now admire tremendously for their skills in drama, but at the time I was really into Antonioni, Alain Resnais and Brian De Palma. I wanted montage and the break of the image and the form to be really at the essence of what I did, and I think I changed. Also by going to that school, I discovered Ken Loach and the fact that, in the middle of social realism, there is poetry and truth and not only social commentary hitting you on the head. In the best of these films there’s something more that transcends. However, I still have one foot in that kind of formalism. Showing thought patterns in cinema through montage I find very interesting. And it’s been appropriated by commercials, but I always try to show that it could be more expressive and, ideally, more complex.

What do you mean by thought patterns?

The train of thought. How people think. The structuring of thought, which I think is the temporal experience of images on the screen. We always talk about stories, because it’s a literary term and it’s very easy to say, but the fact is we’re watching images in time and they either correlate or don’t with our sensomotoric thought patterns. And it sounds very technical, but I feel it’s a fact, you’re actually dealing with theme and image when you make a movie, all the time. It can be quick or slow: how do you pace the information? Is it possible to express, to show thinking literally, the association chain of a young boy thinking randomly about his life? Yeah, let’s try. That’s what I mean with thought pattern.

There are a lot of memories in the film, a lot of dreams…

That’s what we constitute our identity on, these frail things that we believe are truths about ourselves and that’s very scary and also liberating. AndI feel the film is very much about that: the questioning of identities.


Posted by Geoff at 2:48 PM CDT
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Thursday, June 11, 2015
CHRISTOPHER LEE DIES AT 93
MOVIE BRATS: "WE WERE BROUGHT UP ON YOUR MOVIES"
Christopher Lee died over the weekend at the age of 93. In 2001, at the age of 79, when he was in the midst of making films with George Lucas, Peter Jackson, and Tim Burton (among others), Lee talked to The Guardian's Will Hodgkinson about the Gothic Hammer Horror films he'd made between the 1950s and the 1970s. "Hammer was an important part of my life, and generally speaking, we all had a lot of fun," Lee said at the time. "Fun seems to be a three-letter word these days, although with directors like Tim Burton and George Lucas, it's fun, fun, fun while working yourself to death. But if you compare those Hammer movies to what has been made in the last 20 years, Brian De Palma, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, Wes Craven, Tim Burton and Peter Jackson have all said the same thing to me: 'We were brought up on your movies.' And it certainly shows in theirs."

Posted by Geoff at 7:26 PM CDT
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Wednesday, June 10, 2015
REFN: IT ALL LEADS BACK TO 'SCORPIO RISING'
TALKING ABOUT USING "POP MUSIC OF ITS TIME TO UNDERSCORE THE EMOTION WITH IMAGES"
Director Nicolas Winding Refn has partnered with Milan Records to create a line of deluxe vinyl soundtrack LPs, curated by Refn himself. NWR editions of Oldboy and It Follows are now joined by the soundtrack to Refn's own Bronson, which was released yesterday. July 14 will see the release of Basil Poledouris’ score for Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop.

In an interview with Noisey's Joseph Yanick, the following exchange takes place:

Noisey: What are some other films and/or filmmakers that have soundtracks that particularly inspire you?
Refn: There are a couple of films that define the combination of music and images. The greatest achievement in that collaboration is, of course, Once Upon a Time in the West. That is the most consequential, orgasmic arena of music and images. That’s where it’s like, ‘Fuck. How the hell do you do that.’ And then you have Battle of Algiers by Gillo Pontecorvo and Ennio Morricone. There’s Psycho with Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann and, even though North by Northwest, Rear Window, and Vertigo have better soundtracks, Psycho is really where it comes together in a different way. Of course you have Fellini and a lot of Dario Argento’s early films, especially his work with Goblin. Suspiria is wonderful. You also have, of course, Martin Scorsese’s ability to use music in his films. I remember when I saw Mean Streets when I was nine years old, and I still remember the scene when Robert DeNiro walks in to “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (Rolling Stones), and being like, ‘fucking hell, now I know how it works.’

Noisey: Absolutely, Scorsese kind of transformed the use of pop music in cinema.
Refn: Yea, it’s unique but you know what is weird, for everyone (whether it is Kubrick or Scorsese, or even like the work that Pino Donaggio did with Brian De Palma — and of course, we are not even touching the whole Asian world. All of the Japanese filmmakers that use composers well) all lead back to one movie…Scorpio Rising by Kenneth Anger. That was the first time that a filmmaker would use pop music of its time to underscore the emotion with the images. Its very interesting that it all leads back to that film.


Posted by Geoff at 3:00 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 10, 2015 3:02 AM CDT
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Monday, June 8, 2015


Posted by Geoff at 11:07 PM CDT
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Sunday, June 7, 2015
MORODER TALKS 'SCARFACE' / 'SHE'S ON FIRE'
AND FORMER CASTRO BODYGUARD SAYS MARIEL BOATLIFT PREMISE WAS TRUE TO LIFE
In this week's issue of Entertainment Weekly (June 12 2015), Giorgio Moroder gives Clark Collis "the stories behind the songs." One of the songs Moroder talks about is She's On Fire, which was sung by Amy Holland for the Scarface soundtrack. "Brian De Palma called me and said he's doing a remake of the old movie Scarface," Moroder tells Collis. "I read the script and loved it. I went to where they were filming some of the last scenes of the movie, so I got a little bit involved during the shooting. She's On Fire has some great lyrics and the melody's great. It's my favorite one off Scarface. I never tried [cocaine] and I'm so happy [I didn't]. I think I'm the only one in Hollywood, in the music business, who did not try it."

Meanwhile, last month, the New York Post posted an excerpt from Juan Reinaldo Sanchez' recent book, The Double Life of Fidel Castro: My 17 Years as Personal Bodyguard to El Lider Maximo. The excerpt suggests that there was a whole lot of truth to the premise of De Palma's film:

"In 1980, after weeks of negotiation, 100,000 Cubans were permitted to seek exile in the United States. Fidel Castro allowed them to go to the port of the town of Mariel and embark for Florida.

“It has been said that the Comandante took advantage of the situation by emptying the prisons. It is completely true: I saw him selecting them personally. I was present when they brought him lists of prisoners with the name, the reason for the sentence, and the date of release.

“Fidel read them and with a stroke of a pen designated which ones could go and which ones could stay — ‘yes’ was for murderers and dangerous criminals, ‘no’ was for those who attacked the revolution. In total, more than 2,000 criminals found themselves free…in the streets of Miami.”


Posted by Geoff at 3:40 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, June 7, 2015 3:42 PM CDT
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Saturday, June 6, 2015
'HANNIBAL' SEASON PREMIERE
LEADS TO MORE DE PALMA MENTIONS FROM AT LEAST TWO VIEWERS


NBC's Hannibal had its third season premiere this past Thursday. Shock Till You Drop's Samuel Zimmerman mentions Brian De Palma, among other filmmakers, in his review of the episode:

"'Antipasto,' the premiere of Hannibal’s third season (directed by Vincenzo Natali and written by Bryan Fuller & Steve Lightfoot) is arguably the series’ most stylish installment yet. Though Hannibal is regularly a pageant of hypnotic, high fashion horror, its move out of the harsher seasons of the Mid-Atlantic to the wealth and fine arts appreciation of Europe would necessitate it even further. The sensual cinema of Peter Greenaway, De Palma, Bertolucci, Roeg, Peter Strickland—maybe even fucking travel ads—swirl through the streets, the suits, the dresses, the cuisine, the lectures, the wallpaper and yes, the bloodshed."

This past January, a Dressed To Kill action figure of Bobbi was created by Retroband and Gabe Hernandez, at the request of Hannibal series creator Bryan Fuller.

See also previous posts/tweets:

Matt Zoller Seitz: "Dear @NBCHannibal producers: Just go ahead and bring in Brian De Palma next season. You know you want to."

TWEETS: May 16, 2014 Episode of Hannibal brings De Palma to mind for several viewers


Posted by Geoff at 3:32 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, June 6, 2015 3:42 PM CDT
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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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