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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


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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

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The Master Of Suspense

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and the Infield
Fly Rule

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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
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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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Friday, August 14, 2015

'Scarface' Remake Moving Forward With 'Straight Outta Compton' Writer

Flashback 2003: Angry NWA rapper calls for boycott of Def Jam Scarface CD
"I saw this shit on BET talking about Music Inspired By Scarface and I said, 'What the hell?' Def Jam know they're wrong with that shit and they had us, NWA, on that shit with a gang of new artists. The movies that inspired me was KRUSH GROOVE, BEAT STREET and WILD STYLE, not no damn SCARFACE, and Def Jam is just doing anything for money. None of them Def Jam fools ever asked me or any other member of NWA if that bullshit-ass movie influenced us. Def Jam need to think before they do some bitch shit like that, because niggas like me will check their ass. So if y'all see that bitch-ass record - leave that shit in the store."

-MC Ren (The collection of music "inspired by" Scarface features the track "Dope Man" by NWA.)

Posted by Geoff at 5:12 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, August 15, 2015 7:52 PM CDT
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Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Venice Film Festival announced today that it will honor Brian De Palma with the festival’s Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award. The award, which is dedicated to "personalities who have made particularly original contributions to contemporary cinema," will be presented to De Palma on September 9 in the Sala Grande of the Palazzo del Cinema.

"Following the ceremony," writes Variety's Leo Barraclough, "the festival will present the world premiere, out of competition, of the documentary De Palma, which is directed by Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow. The film grew out of the time the two directors’ have spent with De Palma over more than 10 years, in which they chronicle De Palma’s six-decade long career, his life and his filmmaking process."


In a statement, festival director Alberto Barbera said:

"The child of an artistic era (the ‘70s) full of innovative ferment, Brian De Palma has made a name for himself as one of the most skillful directors in constructing perfect narrative mechanics with great creative freedom, experimenting with new technical solutions, rejecting the classic rules of the language, abandoning himself to aesthetic virtuosity, and celebrating his favorite authors.

"When watching a movie by Brian De Palma, we revert to being basic spectators. Although our eyes are wide open to avoid falling into the trap, we know full well we’re bound to fall into it anyway.

"De Palma’s cinema is playful to the nth degree; it is a pleasure for the eyes and at the same time a game that tantalizes the cinephile. He has never lost the curiosity of the experimenter as he reinvents the already-seen, and when it comes to constructing and manipulating images, this fundamental trait makes De Palma one of the greatest innovators who came of age in the shadow of the New Hollywood."

According to Broadway World, Daniel Riedo, CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre, said, "Jaeger-LeCoultre is proud to pay tribute to Brian De Palma with the Glory to the Filmmaker Award. For ten years, our company has supported the seventh art and the Venice International Film Festival through continuous promotion of cinema's creativity and ingenuity. Precision watches and the maximum expression of the cinematographic art are fruit of the same passion. Both call for months and even years of concentration and patience, in order for the virtuosity of talented professionals to lead to the creation of masterpieces of aesthetic and technical perfection, destined to last forever."

De Palma has presented seven films at the Venice Film Festival: Sisters (in the section Proposte di nuovi film, 1975), Blow Out (in the section Mezzogiorno/Mezzanotte, 1981), The Untouchables (special event, out of competition in 1987), Raising Cain (the closing film in competition, 1992), The Black Dahlia (which opened the 2006 festival in competition), Redacted (which won the Silver Lion at the 2007 festival), and Passion (2012, in competition).

Posted by Geoff at 4:56 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, August 13, 2015 5:15 PM CDT
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Brian De Palma's Blow Out will screen tonight and tomorrow night (8pm Thursday August 13 and 8pm Friday August 14) at Cinema Under The Stars in San Diego. (Thanks to Brian!) Glenn Heath Jr. at San Diego CityBeat has a nice preview write-up:
"Unlike other great conspiracy thrillers like The Parallax View and Twilight's Last Gleaming, Brian De Palma's Blow Out has a demented sense of humor. In some ways this makes its theme of institutional failure all the more discomforting. The plot surrounding a political assassination grows more outlandish by the scene, lending darkly comic implications and an overwhelming sense of helplessness to a film about the worst kind of warped patriotism.

"While recording sound in the countryside for a horror film, audio technician Jack Terry (John Travolta) accidently captures a car crash on tape. The occupants of the vehicle careen off a bridge and into a creek. Terry saves aspiring make-up artist Sally ([Nancy] Allen) but the driver, governor of Pennsylvania and a presidential hopeful, perishes. His death sends a shockwave throughout the nation, but the real drama unfolds when Jack and Sally begin to piece together how and why he was killed.

"De Palma, ever the cinephile, utilizes the components of film sound (repetition, recording, scratching) to great effect in scenes of tension. There's the woozy 360-degree shot in which Jack slowly discovers all of his tapes have been erased by a proactive assassin (John Lithgow), and the diabolical ending where a character's murder is captured on tape only to be reclaimed for use in a schlock horror film.

"Long takes and crane shots are pivotal to De Palma's examination of corrupt power structures and personal vulnerability. Multiple murder sequences are shot from above, looking down at the victim who is unaware they are about to perish.

"Blow Out, which screens at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Aug. 13 and 14, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills, is unflinchingly cynical about how quickly our individual freedoms can be compromised. "I hate to be observed," Sally confesses early on, but in De Palma's film she really has no choice in the matter."

Meanwhile, a little later this month (8:30pm Wednesday August 26, and 6:30pm Thursday August 27), Blow Out screens from DCP at The Cinematheque in Vancouver. Each night is a double bill with the other film in the sidebar, Alan J. Pakula aforementioned The Parallax View, which screens from a 35mm print before Blow Out on August 26, and after Blow Out on August 27. The sidebar is part of The Cinematheque's Film Noir 2015 program, for which they've crafted a limited edition T-shirt featuring Rita Hayworth as Gilda.

Posted by Geoff at 3:33 AM CDT
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Wednesday, August 12, 2015
On Monday, The Washington Post's Dennis Drabelle posted a review of Douglas Keesey's recent book, Brian De Palma's Split-Screen: A Life In Film. Here are some excerpts:
Keesey has taken an unusual approach to his subject. Rather than lay down a biographical foundation at the outset, he introduces elements of De Palma’s private life as they crop up in his movies: 29 in all, which Keesey summarizes and analyzes in chronological order. (To avoid plot spoilage, save Keesey’s chapter on a given film until after you’ve seen it.) This works better than one might expect because, more than most directors, De Palma pours his psyche into his work. “When you’re making a movie,” he has said, “you think about it all the time — you’re dreaming about it, you wake up with ideas in the middle of the night — until you actually . . . shoot it. You have these ideas that are banging around in your head, but once you objectify them and lock them into a photograph or cinema sequence, then . . . they no longer haunt you.” De Palma has also written the scripts for many of his films, but Keesey could have done a better job of helping us keep track of who did what. The book cries out for a filmography.

As it turns out, De Palma has a highly charged past to draw on. When he was in his late teens, his father, an orthopedic surgeon in Philadelphia, allowed the boy to watch him in action. “I was standing right next to him in front of the operating room table,” De Palma recalled of one episode. “He cut off a patient’s leg and then gave it to me!” When Dr. De Palma had an extramarital affair, Brian found out about it, sided with his mother and got busy gathering evidence on her behalf with a tape recorder and a camera. And for all his eventual success, Brian was not the standout among the offspring. That honor went to his mathematically gifted older brother Bruce, with whom Brian had to compete as a kid. (Bruce later descended into what Keesey calls “a kind of hubristic madness.”)

De Palma works out that sibling rivalry in Sisters, in which the eponymous women — both played by Margot Kidder — were born as conjoined twins and then surgically separated. De Palma’s harrowing experience in that operating room helps account for the dismemberment in Body Double. As for using a tape recorder to gather incriminating evidence, look no further than Blow Out...

One more thing about Blow Out. Although it obviously owes something to Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up (as even the titles suggest) and Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation, I think Blow Out outclasses both forerunners in sheer entertainment value. In any case, that seems to be the way with De Palma: He is one of those artists whose forte is spinning variations on themes pioneered by others. And what’s wrong with that? What contemporary mystery writer hasn’t been strongly influenced, at least indirectly, by Wilkie Collins and James M. Cain? What writer of romances doesn’t owe a big debt to the Brontë sisters and Daphne du Maurier?

Hollywood has shamefully neglected De Palma; he’s never even been nominated for a best director Oscar. Brian De Palma’s Split-Screen announces that it’s time for a reassessment of his unjustly slighted oeuvre.

Posted by Geoff at 1:15 AM CDT
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Tuesday, August 11, 2015
The Hollywood Reporter's Jordan Mintzer reviews a new French thriller:

"It may sport one of the longer titles in recent memory, but retro French thriller The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun (La Dame dans l’auto avec des lunettes et un fusil) nonetheless comes up way too short in the storytelling department. That said, this third directorial effort from cartoonist Joann Sfar (The Rabbi’s Cat) is filled with plenty of throwback stylistic flourishes, a terrific '60s-'70s soundtrack and an eye-popping lead turn from Skins star Freya Mavor — all of which could help the early August release gain a minor cult following at fests and on the small screen.

"The prolific Sfar scripted his first two films — one an animation flick based on his popular graphic novel, the other a dreamlike biopic of legendary French crooner Serge Gainsbourg — but this is the first time he's worked with someone else's material. He could have chosen more wisely: Based on Sebastien Japrisot’s 1966 crime novel (previously adapted by Anatole Litvak in a forgotten 1970 version starring Samantha Eggar), the screenplay by Gilles Marchand and Patrick Godeau offers up one major third-act twist amid an otherwise weary psycho-suspenser that fails to bring the audience on board.

"What will however lure some viewers in is deliberately old-school filmmaking that gives nods to 70’s-era Brian De Palma and Dario Argento, while bringing to mind recent nostalgic genre pieces like Berberian Sound Studio, Amer and The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears. Sfar may not have much to work with here, but he works it to the bone, employing split-screen, flashbacks, flash-forwards and suggestive jump cuts, with cinematographer Manu Dacosse (Hallelujah) capturing it all in exquisite sepia-toned widescreen...

"Clearly pushing style over substance, Sfar lavishly exercises his cinematic chops but fails to bring us along for the ride. He’s got a great eye, plus a great ear for period music – including classic cuts like Wendy Rene’s 'After Laughter' and James Carr’s 'Love Attack' — yet none of it builds to more than B-level fluff. Sure, all a movie may need is 'a girl and a gun' as Jean-Luc Godard once said (he never mentioned the glasses), but a good story never killed anyone."

Posted by Geoff at 7:32 AM CDT
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Sunday, August 9, 2015
Now that Criterion has announced that most people will be receiving the corrected version of Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill, it seems that only a select few will end up seeing the original version that has been getting the bad press. Even so, here are links to two more reviews of the incorrect version:

Mondo Digital

"It's difficult to imagine a horror thriller more purely enjoyable than Dressed to Kill, one of the highest peaks of Brian De Palma's career and a gleeful joyride of a film that continues to reward after countless viewings. Though it received a mixed critical response due to De Palma's perceived cribbing from Hitchcock (which didn't affect a huge turnout from the public), the film has gone on to be considered one of the '80s' most accomplished directorial feats in the horror genre and ground zero for the modern erotic thriller, still sitting high above its many successors. Much of the fun here lies in the insidious surprises tucked into both its plot and cinematic language, on the surface a playful riff on Psycho, as well as visual flourishes found in the foreground and background of the frame in every single scene."

[Note: read this Mondo review for a terrific summary of the history of Dressed To Kill in its various home video releases. Below is the final part of this, the now-early, incorrect Criterion version...]

"Two years later, De Palma's classic got another round on both American Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of The Criterion Collection, presenting a combination of new and preexisting extras. However, the presentation of the film itself is a baffling beast indeed. Touted as a new 4K transfer supervised by De Palma, it starts off promisingly enough with the restoration of the original scope Filmways logo (finally!) after the MGM one and looks significantly more detailed than before, with potent albeit somewhat more golden colors compared to the past MGM version. It also sports more picture information on the left side, in fact quite a bit more in many shots. Then after the first reel (when Dickinson leaves the gallery), things go haywire as the image squishes in significantly, resembling a major anamorphic squeeze as everyone suddenly looks anorexic and distorted. The jump is obvious right away when Dickinson starts walking down the museum steps, and this strange anomaly remains for the rest of the running time (complete with that wealth of additional but possibly extraneous information on the left, which has a habit of throwing the compositions out of whack in some shots). The frame grabs seen in the body of this review are from the Arrow release, but you can see the same shots from the Criterion one by clicking here for images one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven. As you can see, the compositional balance veers all over the place along with the color saturation, which ranges from pale and yellow in some shots to beautiful and significantly improved in others (such as the first split diopter one of Nancy Allen and Bobbi). The LPCM mono audio is true to the original theatrical mix and sounds excellent, while optional English subtitles are provided. UPDATE: Criterion has implemented a disc replacement program for anyone who purchases the Blu-ray or DVD; at least the first wave of retail copies will all be as described above but can be exchanged for a version with the correct framing."

Ian Jane, DVD Talk

"The new extras on this disc start off with an interview conducted with De Palma by filmmaker Noah Baumbach that runs just under twenty minutes. It's an interesting piece that sees the director talk about how his style evolved over the years, how this film was initially received during its original run, working with Michael Caine on the film, his admiration for the score and quite a bit more. We also get a new sixteen minute interview with lead actress Nancy Allen who shares her thoughts on being cast in the film, her character and related wardrobe and what it was like working with some of her fellow cast members on the film. Producer George Litto talks for twelve minutes about working with De Palma not just on this movie but on a few other pictures as well and he shares some input on his relationship with the director. Composer Pino Donaggio gets sixteen minutes in front of the camera to also discuss what it was like working with De Palma not just here but on some other projects. He also offers some insight into his creative process and his thoughts on the movie itself. Body double Victoria Lynn Johnson is an interesting choice for an interview, she gets nine minutes here to talk about her work in the movie and as a model (she was a Penthouse Pet Of The Year in 1978) and what it was like doubling for Dickinson. The last of the new interviews conducted for this release is a ten minute segment with Stephen Sayadian who was the art director in charge of the photography for the film's original poster. He gives some input on creating the image, that has since gone on to be pretty iconic, and the importance that it played in properly marketing the film to theater goers. Aside from the new interviews we also get a featurette called Defying Categories: Ralf Bode that features filmmakers Michael Apted and Peer Bode and runs just under eleven minutes. Here they talk about the effectiveness of the methods employed by the film's late cinematographer and specifically what they bring to the movie."

Posted by Geoff at 1:52 PM CDT
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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Posted by Geoff at 1:27 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, August 8, 2015 1:30 PM CDT
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Sorry I missed this, but two days ago, Criterion posted an update about its upcoming edition of Dressed To Kill:
Update, 8/6/15: Good news, everyone. The Dressed to Kill street date is moving to September 8. Thanks to the concerns of our customers and the efforts of reviewers at websites like DVDBeaver.com, who helped point out the problems with the release early, we were able to make the fix before the bulk of orders had shipped. We will, of course, replace any faulty copies that may find their way into circulation, but we are working to ensure that all customers, including those who have placed preorders, and all major retailers will have corrected product in time for the new street date. To be certain that you have the correct version, look for the words “Second printing” on the back of the package and on the disc.

Posted by Geoff at 4:07 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, August 8, 2015 4:07 AM CDT
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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

In this week's podcast The Canon, Amy Nicholson praises Brian De Palma's Mission: Impossible, and also Tom Cruise as an actor and a producer of the film and franchise. Nicholson, who has written a book about Cruise, says the friction between De Palma and Cruise arose from Cruise as producer trying to reign De Palma in financially a bit (she says De Palma finally got some money to do a big film, and wanted to play with those toys). She points out that this tension led to the two, along with Cruise's producing partnet Paula Wagner, shooting Mission: Impossible almost like an independent film-- renegades who, for instance, shot at the restaurant (in the fishbowl scene) without the proper license (Faraci points out that it is clearly a set, at least in the explosive part). Devin says the film is a little boring. Amy says, whaah? He says it’s not propulsive, and maybe he’s having a little bit of ADHD response to it. They both agree, however, that Emilio Estevez' death scene is not only the greatest death in the franchise, but is one of the greatest death scenes in any movie, ever. Fun to listen to, mostly because of Amy's enthusiasm for the film. As it says above, they also discuss the other films in the franchise, and rank them.

Posted by Geoff at 3:26 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, August 8, 2015 4:09 AM CDT
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Tuesday, August 4, 2015
Late this afternoon, Criterion posted an updated announcement regarding image distortion in its upcoming Dressed To Kill release:
In our haste to respond to customer concerns about the anamorphic compression on our release of Dressed to Kill, we posted incorrectly that the change had been made at the behest of the director. Brian De Palma did ask for a change to the geometry of the scan, but it was to address the distortion he saw in the image, not to apply it. Unfortunately, that change was never carried over in the final product, and the resulting discs are wrong. Therefore, we are reauthoring discs without the squeeze and will make them available to all purchasers of our release of Dressed to Kill free of charge. Simply e-mail Jon Mulvaney (mulvaney@criterion.com) with your name, address, and some proof of purchase, such as a receipt, and we will send you a corrected copy. We regret the inconvenience, but we hope that in the end all of our customers will end up with a copy of Dressed to Kill that accurately reflects the film as well as the director’s intentions.

Earlier in the day, prior to the above update, Criterion had posted the following announcement:
In the course of preparing the master for Criterion’s new release of Dressed to Kill, director Brian De Palma asked if there was anything that could be done to correct what he felt was a distortion in the image that caused everyone to appear slightly wide or squat. A modest anamorphic compression was applied, and De Palma was satisfied. On reviewing the final product, we feel the adjustment doesn’t accurately reflect the look of the film, and we are reauthoring discs without the squeeze and will make them available to all purchasers of our release of Dressed to Kill free of charge. Simply write to Jon Mulvaney (mulvaney@criterion.com) with your name, address, and some proof of purchase, such as a receipt, and we will send you a corrected copy. We regret the inconvenience, but we hope that in the end all of our customers will end up with a copy of Dressed to Kill that accurately reflects the film as well as the director’s intentions.

Mulvaney had sent an email to Criterion customers following the initial announcement that stated, in part, "We are not 'correcting' or 'fixing' this release. We will offer a disc in addition to the current release that will not have the anamorphic compression that Brian De Palma requested."

Posted by Geoff at 7:25 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, August 5, 2015 3:08 AM CDT
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