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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 interviewed
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De Palma discusses
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Scarface: Make Way
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Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
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The Carlito's Way
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italkyoubored

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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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Wednesday, July 1, 2015
'BLOW OUT' JULY 4 @ THE NEW BEV, MIDNIGHT

Posted by Geoff at 10:54 PM CDT
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GEEK JUICE RADIO PODCAST LOOKS AT DE PALMA
PART ONE COVERS 'THE WEDDING PARTY' THROUGH 'BODY DOUBLE'
When the show begins with one of the hosts saying that De Palma's first feature, The Wedding Party, was "such a clunker" he didn't even bother watching it prior to the podcast, and another host says he "took one for the team" in watching it, you wonder why you're even listening to this clunker of a podcast. The team then moves quickly past De Palma's early films, because they are "pretty rough"-- really? Come on, guys, do your homework. Anyway, if you can stick with it past all that, they then begin discussing Sisters (and host Alex Jowski justly insists that De Palma is doing much more than simply aping Hitchcock), Phantom Of The Paradise (which Mister X calls "a glorious train wreck," while Mike White gets passionate, telling the others, "I dig it so much"), Carrie (which is one of Jowski's favorite films of all time-- he wrote about it a couple of months earlier, comparing it with Kimberly Peirce's recent remake), and just about everything up through Body Double. The discussion about Home Movies ("the most awkward" in De Palma's filmography, according to one of the podcast hosts) is typically lazy, even with one noting the very autobiographical nature of the film's plot. Moving on to Dressed To Kill, well, give it a listen and see what you think. They also cover Blow Out (which they loved a lot more than Dressed To Kill) and Scarface. Part 2 should be up later this week.

Posted by Geoff at 12:26 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, July 1, 2015 12:28 AM CDT
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Monday, June 29, 2015
LAUTNER'S CHEMOSPHERE HOUSE
IS ON VULTURE'S RANKING OF SWANK MODERNIST HOMES OF LOS ANGELES VILLAINS
Inspired by the new season of True Detective, Vulture enlisted New York Magazine design expert Wendy Goodman to compile a list of great modernist houses in which Los Angeles villains have taken up residence. (Greg Cwik co-wrote the Vulture article with Goodman.) John Lautner's Chemosphere House, built in 1960, is a prominent setting of Brian De Palma's Body Double, which comes in at number six on the list of eight.

"In one of Brian De Palma’s most meta, navel-gazing efforts," state the article's authors, "a struggling actor agrees to house-sit for a less-struggling actor friend. (The interior decorations are garish and gaudy, a bit of ’80s excess parody.) Since the house is basically one giant Peeping Tom platform, the struggling actor develops an unfortunate peeping penchant (all part of a plan, of course), accidentally witnessing a murder through his telescope. The Chemosphere seems to be Lautner’s ode to the spaceship. It’s his most daring and seemingly precarious house. It looks like an octagonal flying saucer balanced in midair on a 30-foot concrete pole."

Posted by Geoff at 11:46 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, June 29, 2015 11:48 PM CDT
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Sunday, June 28, 2015
LA TIMES ON 'THE TRIBE' SHOOTING STYLE
ONE PART EASTERN EUROPEAN (GLOOMY TABLEAUX), ONE PART DE PALMA (VOYEUR), WITH A DASH OF SCORSESE (GANGSTER KINETICS)
Los Angeles Times' Robert Abele reviews The Tribe:

"There's nothing like The Tribe, the astounding debut feature from Ukrainian writer-director Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy about a mob operating within a crumbling school for the deaf. One need not read it as a metaphor for the director's homeland to appreciate the movie as a tour de force.

"The Tribe is a vortex of filmmaking style and humanity's darker impulses, during which you may find yourself clawing the seat to resist its severe, sometimes exceedingly graphic pull. But denying its power is tough. A former crime reporter, Slaboshpytskiy has made one of the most unusual and disturbing films about criminality of the new century.

"Before the first image appears, the movie warns you of its gimmick: The characters all communicate in sign language, with no subtitling or narration. As raw as that deal may seem between an ambitious director and foreign-film audiences normally unfazed by language barriers, Slaboshpytskiy uses it to free up his visual storytelling and direction of actors, which is nearly always illuminative.

"It also fosters an abiding appreciation for the gesticulative art of the all-deaf performers, whose interactions — whatever the emotion at hand — have the expressiveness of choreography. Be assured, there's no lack of narrative clarity here, only the persistent sense that nothing cheerful is in store...

"The Tribe is marked not just by wordlessness — the ambient sound makes it not truly silent — but by Slaboshpytskiy's mesmerizing long takes. Each one is a mini-drama of movement, suspense and revelation, whether tracking characters around the rooms, hallways and grounds of the school, or parked in one spot for a scene of mischief, conversation, explicit sex, or, late in the film, an excruciating real-time abortion. It's shooting style, patient yet predatory, that feels one part Eastern European directors' penchant for protractedly gloomy tableaux, one part Brian De Palma in voyeur mode, with a dash of Martin Scorsese articulating the kinetics of gangster life.

"The film is made up of only 34 shots — fewer cuts than Michael Bay would use to film a commercial. But stitched together, the effect is bracingly alchemic in connecting us to a corrosive world, and characters for whom the mobility of sight is everything. Few first films have so confidently executed such a formalist approach to visuals and communication."


Posted by Geoff at 6:25 PM CDT
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Tuesday, June 23, 2015
JAMES HORNER DIES IN PLANE CRASH
AWARD-WINNING FILM COMPOSER ALMOST SCORED 'THE BLACK DAHLIA'
The film world was rocked by tragedy late last night when it was reported that James Horner, Oscar-winning composer of the scores for Titanic, Braveheart, and many other films, died in a plane crash in California. He was 61. According to The Hollywood Reporter's Mike Barnes, "Horner was piloting the small aircraft when it crashed into a remote area about 60 miles north of Santa Barbara, officials said."

In 2005, Horner had been the original composer announced to score Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia. "For a long time," De Palma told me in 2006, "we were trying to make a deal with James Horner. And, we just couldn’t make it. They kept on negotiating, and this went on for like a year. And it also had to do with, you know, all the finishing of the movie. They kept on saying, 'We don’t have enough money for this, we don’t have enough money for that.' So I had to move the mix to Toronto in order to find a way to mix the movie within the budget they sort of came up with. And Horner was the same problem. A year ago, they said they had closed the deal, and of course it was never closed. And I had to start looking for other composers." Mark Isham ended up scoring The Black Dahlia.

Posted by Geoff at 1:03 AM CDT
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Monday, June 22, 2015
COLIN CAMERON HAS DIED
PORTRAYED ONSCREEN BASS PLAYER FOR HOUSE BAND IN 'PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE'
Colin Cameron, who portrayed the onscreen bass player for the ever-evolving house band in Phantom Of The Paradise, has passed away after a long illness. He was 73. Cameron was a member of Paul Williams' band in the 1970s, which is how he and others in Williams' band found themselves pretending to play their instruments as part of the Juicy Fruits and the Beach Bums in Phantom. While several of the other musicians did play on the Phantom soundtrack, Cameron actually did not. Even so, Cameron was a highly-respected fluent bass player who you can hear playing bass on the Williams-penned songs in The Muppet Movie, and who played on soundtracks and records by Quincy Jones, Henry Mancini, Cher, Tina Turner, Kris Kristofferson, Del Shannon, Olivia Newton-John, and many many others. Over at The Swan Archives, the Principal Archivist writes of Cameron, "We're glad he was able to make it to the 40th Anniversary screening of Phantom at the Cinerama Dome last year, giving a lot of Phantom fans the opportunity to meet him."

Posted by Geoff at 12:03 AM CDT
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Friday, June 19, 2015
VIDEO: FOCUS ON 'CARLITO' POOL HALL SCENE

Posted by Geoff at 1:09 AM CDT
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Thursday, June 18, 2015
MORODER ON SCORING 'SCARFACE'
WROTE MAIN THEME AFTER READING SCRIPT, PRIOR TO VIEWING ANY SCENES
Earlier this month, I posted a quote from Giorgio Moroder, taken from an article in Entertainment Weekly, in which he talked a bit about working on Scarface, including writing the song She's On Fire (his favorite from that soundtrack). The other day, Complex's Brendan Frederick posted an interview with Moroder, who was asked about the process oof scoring Scarface. "When I met with the director Brian De Palma in New York," Moroder tells Frederick, "he told me about the movie and gave me the script. You had this character at the beginning who is a happy guy who made it to America, but then he gets into all kinds of problems with drugs. I went back to Los Angeles, and I composed a song even before I saw any scenes. And Brian liked the demo I did. I gave it that dark, hammering note—dong, dong, dong—to capture that feel of desperation. Sometimes, if you have the main theme done, then the rest is all relatively easy."

ON KANYE WEST SAMPLING TONY'S THEME

Frederick also asked Moroder whether he was familiar with the music of Kanye West, who has sampled the Scarface theme. "What I like about Kanye’s stuff is he always comes out with new sounds that are totally different. When I heard Mercy about two years ago, I said, 'What a weird song, and what an interesting sound.' The part when he sampled [Tony’s Theme] was quite clever because he took just those two chords, instead of sampling the whole phrase, which gave it that special sound. He did a good job with that one. And even the last song he did with Rihanna and Paul McCartney [FourFiveSeconds]—he’s inventive. I’m less connected to all his other affairs aside from music—calling himself the god of creativity and all that stuff. But he’s really good."

Posted by Geoff at 1:11 AM CDT
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Tuesday, June 16, 2015
STEPHEN ROMANO IMAGINES 'PHANTOM' SEQUEL
POSTER IS FINAL IN 'RETRO 13' SERIES, PRESENTING UNIQUE TAKES ON GENRE FILMS

The above poster by Stephen Romano imagines an R-rated sequel to Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise. This is the 13th poster in Romano's "RETRO 13" series. "You’re going to see thirteen all-new movie posters," Romano wrote on Dread Central last March, "done in the exact style of the eras they represent, complete with fold marks and aging, and it will be the MOST authentic series like this ever created."

Here is Romano's introduction/description of the new poster from Dread Central:

This week we come to the end of RETRO 13. Yep, this is NUMBER 13, kids. And what could be finer for our climax than the resurrection of horror’s most beloved Faustian rock star and king of 1970s camp? I’ve saved one of my very favorites for last, and that’s The Phantom of the Paradise Must Die! An epic tale of lust and revenge, music and madness, with all of your favorite characters from the original back from the dead and ready to party in the ultimate rock show from beyond the gates of hell!

The die-hards among you already know there was never a 1979 sequel to Phantom of the Paradise, but wouldn’t it have been damn cool if there had been? I can see it all now: legendary genre director Brian De Palma (desperate for a hit) and legendary songwriter/actor Paul Williams (stoned out of his mind)—collaborating one more time on a film that never would have been made in the real world. In our bizarro universe of infinite possibilities, the fat cats at 20th Century Fox somehow miss the fact that the original film made exactly nothing and failed with every citric in America who saw it. They also approve a ridiculously whopping EIGHT MILLION DOLLAR budget and pump every available resource into getting the sequel made (that was a bloody fortune in 1979; remember Star Wars only cost TEN MILLION a few years earlier) and then, of course, the film goes millions over budget, with fistfights and temper tantrums on set, affairs and lawsuits and drug binges on screen and off screen, as the film becomes the most controversial and talked-about Hollywood train wreck in recent memory. Finally, the results are unleashed on an unsuspecting public in the glorious summer of Alien and Phantasm and Mad Max. Is the film any good?

Well, fuck YES it is, people. It’s the sequel to Phantom of the Paradise.

Starting with a bang, the fallen Winslow Leach strikes a deal in hell with the Devil, played by John Lennon (in one of an unprecedented fifty-seven celebrity rock star cameos), and returns to Earth to haunt his one true love, Phoenix, played again by Jessica Harper—who has become the biggest rock star in history after the climactic events of the first film. Having only two weeks before his contract with hell expires, Winslow again becomes THE PHANTOM, wreaking a bloody vengeance on those who dare to cross Phoenix, including Beef, who was electrocuted in the first film and yet inexplicably has returned to Earth as a gay vampire. After a hilariously protracted battle, they all end up joining together to stage an epic rock opera production of Faust, which will open the gates of hell and bring about a “fiery apocalypse of music and mayhem.”

BUT WAIT!

The evil Swann (again played by Paul Williams) also returns to earth, motivated by greed and vanity, having made an even darker deal with the BIG GUY UPSTAIRS—with just 48 hours left on his contract. The war is waged on stage, in a musical finale pitting titan against titan. If Swann wins, he will rule the earth and regain his fame as the number one rock star in history. If the Phantom wins, the universe will fall into fire. And so THE PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE MUST DIE!

No other film in 1979 was as batshit crazy as this motherfucker.

And it’s our final film.

So please… if you are a fan of the RETRO 13, seek out the original Phantom of the Paradise and all the other movies I’ve championed here. They are some of my favorite films and some of the best ever made in our beloved genres. I’ve had great fun with this series and hope to return one day with a sequel of my own. Perhaps RETRO 13 PART 2? Anything is possible in a bizarro universe of infinite possibilities. So keep your eyes peeled. We may not be quite done yet, kids.

Moo-hoo-hah-hah…


Posted by Geoff at 1:14 AM CDT
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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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