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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

Paul Schrader

Alfred Hitchcock
The Master Of Suspense

Alfred Hitchcock Films

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a la Mod

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a la Mod

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and the Infield
Fly Rule

Movie Mags


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
Official Web Site

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Not Just Movies

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So Why This Movie?

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De Palma a la Mod

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Friday, August 21, 2015
The New York Film Festival announced today that Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow's De Palma documentary will have its North American premiere at this year's fest as part of its Special Events lineup. In conjunction with that screening, De Palma's Blow Out will screen at the festival under its Revivals section. Both films will screen on Wednesday, September 30th (De Palma at 5pm and Blow Out at 8pm). The NYFF runs September 25 through October 11. Below are the festival's descriptions of both films:
De Palma
Noah Baumbach & Jake Paltrow, USA, 2015, DCP, 107m

Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow’s fleet and bountiful portrait covers the career of the number one iconoclast of American cinema, the man who gave us Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, and Carlito’s Way. Their film moves at the speed of De Palma’s thought (and sometimes works in subtle, witty counterpoint) as he goes title by title, covering his life from science nerd to New Hollywood bad boy to grand old man, and describes his ever-shifting position in this thing we call the movie business. Deceptively simple, De Palma is finally many things at once. It is a film about the craft of filmmaking—how it’s practiced and how it can be so easily distorted and debased. It’s an insightful and often hilarious tour through American moviemaking from the 1960s to the present, and a primer on how movies are made and unmade. And it’s a surprising, lively, and unexpectedly moving portrait of a great, irascible, unapologetic, and uncompromising New York artist. In conjunction with this film, we will also be showing De Palma’s masterpiece Blow Out. North American Premiere

Blow Out
Brian De Palma, USA, 1981, 35mm, 107m

One of Brian De Palma’s greatest films and one of the great American films of the 1980s, Blow Out is such a hallucinatory, emotionally and visually commanding experience that the term “thriller” seems insufficient. De Palma takes a variety of elements—the Kennedy assassination; Chappaquiddick; Antonioni’s Blow-Up; the slasher genre that was then in full flower; elements of Detective Bob Leuci’s experiences working undercover for the Knapp Commission; the harshness and sadness of American life; and, as ever, Hitchcock’s Vertigo—and swirls and mixes them into a film that builds to a truly shattering conclusion. With John Travolta, in what is undoubtedly his greatest performance, as the sound man for low-budget movies who accidentally records a murder; Nancy Allen, absolutely heartbreaking, as the girl caught in the middle; John Lithgow as the hired killer; and De Palma stalwart Dennis Franz as the world’s biggest sleaze. This was the second of three collaborations between De Palma and the master DP Vilmos Zsigmond. MGM Home Entertainment.

Posted by Geoff at 12:39 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, August 26, 2015 12:24 AM CDT
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The Globe And Mail's Barry Hertz posted a profile piece yesterday on Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig. Here are the last few paragraphs:
The director was also careful to separate the work environment from the home front, though he admits part of the appeal in working with Gerwig is that oft-permeable barrier. “Making a movie is all-encompassing. When I’m writing and casting and prepping and shooting, it’s a huge part of my life, so naturally I’m thinking and talking about it a lot, everywhere. But when we’re doing it together, it can be almost easier,” he says. “We both have the same thing in mind. Even when we have dinner, when we go off-topic, if something comes up that strikes us, we’ll be, ‘That’s good, write that down.’”

While the easy relationship was a boon for the film, working on a Baumbach film is never easy, with or without Gerwig. “There were very challenging days on set – Noah is a demanding filmmaker,” says [Lola] Kirke, a relative newcomer to the film world. “On IMDb, it says one scene was shot in 65 takes. No, all scenes were shot that way. I don’t think I ever did less than 30, even of something like my hand putting pasta down on a table. … Noah and Greta are very particular about saying the lines as they are on the page – you have to be word-perfect.”

If some intimidation and repetitiveness was the cost of the film, then it was well worth it. Mistress America is built on tight, twisty language and the almost inpercetible tics that make up a personality – not something easily captured on the fly. It’s also the rare film focusing on two strongly defined female characters, neither of whom is fighting over something so trivial as a man or money.

"Noah and Greta were intent on telling another narrative, something that’s been reserved for more, like, art-house films,” Kirke says. “This movie lends itself to a wider audience because it is a comedy, and that’s the thing that Greta brings to Noah’s already stellar work: pathos and heart.”

For his part, Baumbach isn’t quite ready to completely abandon his independent work. “We’re both going to do things separately, but it’s something we’d definitely like to do,” the director says of future Gerwig collaborations. Until then, he is putting the finishing touches on a project a world apart from Mistress America’s sunny humour: a documentary about thriller master Brian De Palma.

Now if someone could only get the three of them in a room together, we’d have something truly special.

Posted by Geoff at 12:06 AM CDT
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Monday, August 17, 2015
Brian De Palma was among the guests at the New York premiere of Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig's Mistress America, which took place last Wednesday, August 12, at Landmark Sunshine Cinema. According to Examiner.com, other guests included Jake Paltrow, Wes Anderson, Darren Aronofsky, John Cameron Mitchell, Taylor Hackford, Whit Stilman, Marisa Tomei, Sam Rockwell, Salman Rushdie, James Murphy, Griffin Dunne, Saffron Burrows, and Wallace Shawn.

Following the screening, the filmmakers and guests headed to the after party at The Boom Boom Room at Top of the Standard. The pictures at left were taken at the party by Marion Curtis, and are posted at StarTraks Photo. In the top two photos: Jake Paltrow, Brian De Palma, Noah Baumbach, and Wes Anderson together. The middle photo (#3): Saffron Burrows and De Palma. The fourth photo is of Jake Paltrow and his wife Taryn Simon (the latter is the artist who took the photo that appears at the end of De Palma's Redacted). And the last photo is, of course, Baumbach and De Palma.

The morning after this party, it was announced that De Palma would be honored with the Glory to the Filmmaker Award at next month's Venice Film Festival, with the world premiere of the Baumbach and Paltrow documentary on De Palma to follow immediately afterward.

A few days before the Baumbach premiere, Sonia Moskowitz snapped this photo (at right) of De Palma and an unnamed friend on August 8, at the Authors Night for the East Hampton Library.

Posted by Geoff at 1:05 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, August 17, 2015 1:17 AM CDT
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Sunday, August 16, 2015
The Guardian's Jeremy Allen picks Tony's Theme as #7 on his "10 of the best" Giorgio Moroder list:

"The commissions kept rolling in, and, in 1983, Moroder got to record perhaps his finest soundtrack of all for Brian De Palma’s Scarface, starring Al Pacino as Cuban immigrant and white powder enthusiast Tony Montana. Tony’s Theme (not to be confused with the Pixies’ song of the same name) is a moody and moving requiem featuring synthetic voices chanting in unison like a choir, with a simulated cello chugging underneath. Musically, the instrumental track is one of Moroder’s most ambitious, an elegiac mass that bursts into a full widescreen experience before tapering away again at the end; it’s just a shame that the full orchestral flourishes weren’t actually played by an orchestra. According to the director, Universal had intended to re-release Scarface in 2004 with a rap soundtrack, but De Palma put the kibosh on it, saying the score was already perfect. Whether they were going to use Mobb Deep’s 1997 G.O.D Part III single, which purloins a hearty sample from Tony’s Theme, is a moot point."

Posted by Geoff at 2:43 PM CDT
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Saturday, August 15, 2015
Variety's Guy Lodge reviews "Anurag Kashyap's Bollywood ode to Hollywood gangsterism..."
Martin Scorsese is thanked in the opening credits of Bombay Velvet, but that’s far from the last time this splashy Bollywood gangster spectacular pays its respects. As it charts the corrupt historical development of Mumbai into a Western-styled megalopolis, Anurag Kashyap’s garish but engrossing film reflects the transition through blatant hat-tips to Hollywood crime cinema, ranging from Jimmy Cagney star vehicles to Scorsese’s own underworld sagas. The result — co-edited, no less, by the latter’s right-hand woman, Thelma Schoonmaker — may lack the charging formal brio of Kashyap’s 2012 Cannes sensation Gangs of Wasseypur, but it’s clear why the pic has already achieved substantial international distribution. Its Locarno festival date could usher in a second wave of cinephile appreciation.

“Our love story will be epic; our life, a smash hit,” our hero informs his paramour toward the end of a sprawling narrative that has already seen its fair share of drama writ large. It’s a line perfectly representative of a script that’s bigger on suds than subtlety, and hyper-conscious throughout of its medium — its every character living in a movie of their own making. When another states that “life is not Double Indemnity,” he’s only partially correct: Life, at least as Bombay Velvet knows it, simply follows a different frame of genre reference, as Kashyap packs proceedings with unveiled allusions to gangster-cinema touchstones. A recurring line of dialogue is appropriated from The Roaring Twenties (itself excerpted on screen), a climactic shootout slavishly restages Brian De Palma’s Scarface, and so on and so forth.

Some may see this as idle pastiche, though it aptly reflects the characters’ own painstaking attempts at occidental self-styling: Young street punk Balraj (Ranbir Kapoor, grandson of golden-age Bollywood idol Raj) is rechristened “Johnny” when he begins work as a lackey for a sharp-suited local crime lord, ultimately managing the American Art Deco-style jazz club that gives the film its name. (Not for nothing, in this ersatz world of spangly imitation, does Bombay Velvet also sound like a cut-price brand of gin.) A sizable portion of the film’s heavily knotted plot, meanwhile, revolves around the aggressive urban planning of Mumbai’s city center in the 1960s and 1970s, whereby land was reclaimed from the sea for an overtly Manhattan-aping CBD.

Posted by Geoff at 7:51 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, August 15, 2015 7:53 PM CDT
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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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