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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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« September 2015 »
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De Palma interviewed
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De Palma discusses
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Fly Rule

Movie Mags

Directorama

The Filmmaker Who
Came In From The Cold

Jim Emerson on
Greetings & Hi, Mom!

Scarface: Make Way
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The Big Dive
(Blow Out)

Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
Official Web Site

The Phantom Project

Welcome to the
Offices of Death Records

The Carlito's Way
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The House Next Door

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FilmLand Empire

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italkyoubored

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Not Just Movies

Hope Lies at
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So Why This Movie?

Obsessive Movie Nerd

Nothing Is Written

Ferdy on Films

Cashiers De Cinema

This Recording

Mike's Movie Guide

Every '70s Movie

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EatSleepLiveFilm

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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.
All topics
Ambrose Chapel
Are Snakes Necessary?
BAMcinématek
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Blue Afternoon
Body Double
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Books
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Cannes
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Carlito's Way
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Columbia University
Columbo - Shooting Script
Conversation, The
Cop-Out
Cruising
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De Palma & Donaggio
De Palma (doc)
De Palma Blog-A-Thon
De Palma Discussion
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Dionysus In '69
Domino
Dressed To Kill
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Fatal Attraction
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Film Series
Fire
Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Fury, The
Genius of Love
George Litto
Get To Know Your Rabbit
Ghost & The Darkness
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Havana Film Fest
Heat
Hi, Mom!
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Home Movies
Inspired by De Palma
Iraq, etc.
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Key Man, The
Laurent Bouzereau
Lights Out
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Magic Hour
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Mod
Montreal World Film Fest
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Murder a la Mod
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Newton 1861
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Print The Legend
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Raising Cain
Red Shoes, The
Redacted
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Rotwang muß weg!
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Tuesday, September 22, 2015
'SCREAM QUEENS' OPENS WITH 'CARRIE' JOKE
IN THE USUAL RYAN MURPHY FASHION
Ryan Murphy directed the first hour of tonight's two-hour Scream Queens premiere on FOX. The premiere opens with a scene set in 1995, at a sorority house party. The first shot is a close-up on a girl's blood-soaked hands, the right one quivering. She holds them palms-up as she walks through a party crowd to her sorority sisters. When the head sister sees her, she says, "Did you just get your period all over yourself?" [Small SPOILER ALERT]..... It turns out that the blood belongs to a pledge who has just given birth in a bathtub upstairs. The kicker (and this is so very 1995) is that the girl didn't have any idea she had even been pregnant.

Scream Queens is a much jokier affair than Murphy and Brad Falchuk's American Horror Story, although it is cut from much the same tonal fabric, with a heavy syrup of Glee. (Falchuk, who directed tonight's second hour, co-created Glee as well as Scream Queens with Murphy and Ian Brennan.) Aside from Carrie, the premiere episode reminds of Heathers, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Halloween (via star Jamie Lee Curtis), Psycho, Friday The 13th, and Tim Burton's Batman. There's also an outrageous murder conducted via text messages and Facebook posts that you can't help but give in to-- I was laughing out loud, all the way to the final gasp of an implausible but uproarious punchline.

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 23, 2015 12:10 AM CDT
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Monday, September 21, 2015
'THE FURY' HELPED WHEDON NAVIGATE GENRE
FILM PROFESSOR & MENTOR SUGGESTED DE PALMA'S FILM WHILE WRITING SCRIPT FOR 'SERENITY'
Digital Spy's Emma Dibdin posted an article yesterday to mark thirteen years since the first episode of Josh Whedon's Firefly aired on FOX. One of the "11 things you may not know about" Firefly listed by Dibdin is this:
4. Whedon had trouble writing the script for movie sequel Serenity because of the wildly different genres its leading characters, Mal and River, represented.
"Mal is a Western fellow and River is kind of Noir, so how do I reconcile them?" His mentor, film professor Jeanine Basinger, helped him steer through the block with genre-blurring movies like Brian De Palma's The Fury and Nicholas Ray's classic Western Johnny Guitar.

Posted by Geoff at 3:27 AM CDT
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Sunday, September 20, 2015
SUNDAY TWEET - TIFF 2015
AND KIRKLAND PICKS THE MOST FASCINATING FILMS THAT CLOSED THE TORONTO FILM FEST


Bruce Kirkland, excerpt from The Toronto Sun
"The most fascinating films that closed the festival
"

In honour of TIFF’s 40th anniversary, we look back with wonder, and sometimes frustration, with some of the films that were Closing Night Galas. But first some thoughts on festival dynamics. All film events suffer from ‘End of Festival Malaise’. Many entertainment media have already abandoned TIFF this year, as always. That is exactly what happens in other cities including Cannes, the Grand Pere of filmfests.

Because of this phenomenon, producers, filmmakers and distributors want their prestige pictures to play in Toronto on the opening weekend. More impact, more media hoopla, better chances of coming out of TIFF with new sales or bigger box office or even an Oscar campaign underway.

“You’re right,” TIFF director Piers Handling says. “Every festival is front-loaded. It’s very difficult not to do that. There is too much pressure, because everyone feels that the press is here for the first week of the festival and they tend to kind of go after the Wednesday. But it still is a public festival — and obviously there is a large Toronto public that continues to go to the films. There are Galas and special events involving major names at the end, including our Closing Night Gala. But it does appear somewhat to be an irreversible trend.”

Handling says that TIFF is handling the situation “as best we can,” including offering a free screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 classic Vertigo on Sunday, 3:00 p.m. at Roy Thomson Hall. “It will be extraordinary — with the Bernard Herrmann score played live by the TSO (Toronto Symphony Orchestra) in RTH!”

As for TIFF’s Closing Night Galas, the first Festival of Festivals in 1976 showcased the Soviet film, Queen of the Gypsies (also known as Gypsies are Found in Heaven). Since then, some other fascinating films have taken the slot:

Divine Madness (1980): My first official Toronto Sun interview was Bette Midler for Michael Ritchie’s wildly entertaining musical and comedy doc. Great interview, great doc, great way to end TIFF 1980!
Threshold (1981): Richard Pearce’s medical drama, starring Donald Sutherland as a heart surgeon who pioneers artificial heart transplants, has never been given the accolades it deserves.
Children of a Lesser God (1986): With William Hurt and Marlee Matlin co-starring in Randa Haines’ romantic drama, Mark Medoff’s stage play became a worthy film about a deaf woman intersecting with a speech therapist.
Twist (1992): Celebrated Toronto documentarian Ron Mann still deserves a shout-out for his post-WWII popular dance doc. It focuses on the Twist — and what ‘60s youth can forget Chubby Checker?
Rudy (1993): David Anspaugh’s biopic about the runt of the litter who finally realizes his dream to play a few seconds of U.S. college football is a favourite of sports fans. But most forget it launched at the Toronto filmfest.
That Thing You Do! (1996): Tom Hanks made his feature directorial debut with this hep-cat rock ‘n’ roll drama. It got Toronto dancing in the aisles with Liv Tyler, Charlize Theron, Steve Zahn and Hanks in the ensemble.
Seven Years in Tibet (1997): I teased my filmmaking friend Jean-Jacques Annaud for casting Brad Pitt in the lead role, but this political film about an Austrian’s unlikely friendship with the young Dalai Lama is still visually striking.
Femme Fatale (2002): Brian De Palma, a festival habitue, delighted in screening his lurid crime drama at TIFF. Rebecca Romijn co-starred with Antonio Banderas.
Amazing Grace (2006): Based on reality, Michael Apted’s heart-felt film chronicles the desperate battle to take Britain out of the brutal slave trade late in the 1700s. The hymn’s guilt-ridden, anti-slavery origins story is told here.
Stone of Destiny (2008): Actor-filmmaker Charles Martin Smith delighted in telling this true-life tale about Scottish rogues who steal back the legendary Stone of Scone in the 1950s. But it missed its mark at the box office.
The Young Victoria (2008): Jean-Mac Vallee’s masterful Demolition opened this year’s TIFF. His first English-language success — a biopic of the young Queen Victoria with Emily Blunt — propelled his career into the mainstream.


Posted by Geoff at 7:46 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, September 20, 2015 7:49 PM CDT
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Friday, September 18, 2015
CARLOTTA WOWS W/'BODY DOUBLE' PACKAGE
LIMITED 'ULTRA COLLECTOR' EDITION: BLU-RAY, 2 DVDS, 200-PAGE BOOK w/UNRELEASED PHOTOS


Carlotta Films out of France shocked in the best way possible this morning when the company announced on its Facebook page that it will be releasing a limited "Ultra Collector" edition of Brian De Palma's Body Double on December 2, 2015. Limited to 3000 copies, the three-disc set will include a "new restoration" of the film, plus supplements, on Blu-ray/DVD, as well as a 200-page book featuring new and archived literature about the film, as well as previously unreleased photos.

Body Double will be the very first release in Carlotta's "Ultra Collector" series, of which it plans four titles per year.


Posted by Geoff at 11:49 AM CDT
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NYFF PRESS & INDUSTRY SCREENING OF 'DE PALMA'
HAPPENED YESTERDAY (THURSDAY 9/17), AMY TAUBIN ON STAGE W/PALTROW & BAUMBACH AFTERWARD



CHRIS KNIPP REVIEW: THE KIND OF FILM ONE SHOULD WATCH OVER AND OVER ON DVD
Here's an excerpt from Chris Knipp's review of De Palma:

"As De Palma talks, apparently in a single long interview, Baumbach and Paltrow, who claim a decade-long friendship with him, edit in clips to illustrate the movies and their influences. De Palma is very specific and not very theoretical, but makes several key general remarks along the way. The rest we have to deduce by ourselves. First he says he doesn't work from character as they (Baumbach and Paltrow) do, but starts with 'structure' and lets the film develop from there. He also says that everybody remarks on the genius of Hitchcock, but he is the only director to follow Hitchcock's methods extensively...

"The one long interview that seems to provide the material for this film includes De Palma's description of his dysfunctional family, his Quaker education, his undergraduate studies at Columbia and graduate work at Sarah Lawrence, and his various marriages and divorces, but personal details are firmly subordinated to the 28-film oeuvre, but he does describe his early and in some cases long-term relationships with major film figures who were contemporaries: Spielberg, Lucas, Coppola, Scorsese, De Niro. Baumbach and Paltrow's illustrative material is invaluable. Clips showing long tracking shots (Pacino, Nick Cage), of chases and shootouts, help give just a glimpse of De Palma's technical gift for storytelling with motion.

"The chronological approach means De Palma can describe developments in the film industry, his role in the New Hollywood when briefly directors could be independent and creative in a studio setting, followed by the takeover of the bottom-line obsessed aesthetically challenged producers of the Eighties and onward. As he comes to the end of his of a nearly fifty-year career, De Palma says a director's best work is usually done in his twenties and thirties and forties, and suggests that he may not be up to the physical demands of the job now as he nears seventy: so he takes us from the beginning to the end. He may not be the most profound or uplifting filmmaker, but he must be one of the frankest, humblest, and clearest. This is a highly informative film about De Palma's work; it's actually the kind of film one should have on DVD and watch over and over to focus on and cull out elements."


Posted by Geoff at 2:00 AM CDT
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Thursday, September 17, 2015
AMAZING INTERVIEW FROM VENICE, @ THE PLAYLIST
MORE LIKE A LONG CONVERSATION, ABOUT 'DE PALMA', THAT YOU SHOULD READ RIGHT NOW
What else can I say-- this interview in which The Playlist's Jessica Kiang talks to Jake Paltrow, Noah Baumbach, and, by the way, "Would you mind awfully if Brian De Palma was also present at your interview?"-- at the recent Venice Film Festival, is something you need to go read right now. Here's a small excerpt:
In the film, several times you mention your theory that it's only when directors are in their thirties, forties and fifties that they make their most interesting films...[Here De Palma's partner, who is sitting in on the interview and has obviously had words with him before about this act of gentle self-sabotage sighs "How many times did you have to say that?" and De Palma lets out a gust of laughter in response]
BDP: I'm sorry! What can I say? I'm a student of directors, and I noticed that.
Yeah, and the Hitchcock example you give in the film is perfect.
BDP: Exactly. "Torn Curtain" is not really the greatest picture. And let's not forget "The Birds" with that model stumbling about.
So what does that mean for your future directing career?
BDP: I'm finished. I'm done.
[Widespread protest. Expressions of disbelief.]
BDP: Anything else is just for kicks.
You can't be.
JP: You have like three things on!
NB: Oh dear. It was this interview that did it. The final ending.
JP: Oh come on, when are we gonna see your "Trouble with Harry," Brian?
BDP: [relenting a bit] Oh, I don't know. I always have ideas, and being on the independent film making stage, we try get them together. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. But yes, I'd like to keep working, because the brain keeps clicking. I guess I'll keep doing it until in the immortal word of William Wyler, "You can't walk anymore."
Pshaw, you can still be wheeled on.
NB: Thing is, you get to prove yourself wrong now. So with your next movie, all the critics will say, "Brian proves himself wrong, makes his best picture."
JP: All shot in your apartment from your La-Z-Boy
BDP: Maybe. If it was shot in the apartment.
JP: That would bring its own aesthetic.
Honestly, I feel like if you'd had a Kickstarter up at the end of the screening last night the audience would've have put their hands in their pockets and you'd probably have got instantly financed.
NB: So maybe now's the time to strike!
BDP: I'm open to offers….
You must have some passion projects somewhere in a drawer.
BDP: Oh, there's always passion projects...
[At this point I'm given the one-last-question signal, but De Palma kindly insists the PR gives us a little more time]

Posted by Geoff at 7:43 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, September 18, 2015 11:16 AM CDT
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TOM WOLFE TO SPEAK AT 'BONFIRE' SCREENING
25 YEARS ON, AUTHOR TO REFLECT ON THE NOVEL & FILM AT 92Y IN NYC, OCT. 27
Thanks to Hugh for letting us know that Tom Wolfe will speak following a screening of The Bonfire Of The Vanities, Brian De Palma's film adaptation of Wolfe's most famous novel. The event will take place at 7pm October 27th, at 92nd Street Y in New York City. The screening is part of the 10th Annual Forum on Law, Culture & Society Film Festival, which presents "films that illuminate the moral dilemmas and dramatic moments of the legal system."

The 92Y web page offers this description of the event: "This comedy-drama starring Tom Hanks, Melanie Griffith and Bruce Willis explores the mix of ambition, racism, politics and greed in 1980s New York, when being a Master of the Universe defined the very meaning of Wall Street excess and entitlement. Twenty-five years on, Tom Wolfe reflects on the novel and film, and United States Attorney Preet Bharata offers his view on its continued relevance."

In addition to Wolfe and Bharata, novelist and law professor Thane Rosenbaum will also be on hand for the post-film discussion.


Posted by Geoff at 12:04 AM CDT
Updated: Friday, September 18, 2015 11:14 AM CDT
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Wednesday, September 16, 2015
DE NIRO'S BEEN TALKING 'THE WEDDING PARTY'
"MY CAREER HAS JUST HAPPENED THE WAY IT DID"
Robert De Niro has been out promoting his new film, a Nancy Meyers comedy called The Intern. More Content Now's Ed Symkus has a nice little interview with De Niro in which he touches on his earliest film memories, his films with Brian De Palma, and De Niro's work as a director. Here's an excerpt:
Q: Can you recall any early memories at a movie theater that made you say I want to be an actor?

A: I don’t remember specifically. I saw the usual things; in those days there were a lot of Westerns, and there were the classic double bill features at the Loews Theater, movies with Spencer Tracy or Marlon Brando or Tony Curtis. One departure I remember was “Suddenly Last Summer” with Elizabeth [Taylor]. I also liked going to the movies because it was air conditioned when it was so stiflingly hot (laughs). I started studying acting when I was 10, going to acting school on Saturdays. I don’t know what actually kicked off my wanting to do it at that time. I forget. But when I was in my teens, I started up again.

Q: I first saw you in “Greetings” and “Hi, Mom!” so I was introduced to you as an offbeat comic actor. Has there ever been a plan of making a comedy then a serious one then a comedy?

A: No, you do what comes along, then find a way to rationalize why you want to do it or justify it. So my career has just happened the way it did. I guess I’m still a work in progress. I actually first worked for Brian De Palma on “The Wedding Party” when I was 19. I played one of the groomsmen. I think the only other person you would know in it is Jill Clayburgh.

Q: You’ve directed two films: “A Bronx Tale” in 1993 and “The Good Shepherd” in 2006. Any plans for another?

A: I don’t know. I want to do a sequel to “The Good Shepherd,” but I never planned on directing more than five movies in my life, so if I do another one ... well, it’s possible, but it would have to be really special.


"I WAS LOOKING AT THE CONTRACT AND IT SAID 50 DOLLARS"
A couple of weeks ago, The Mirror's Gerard Couzens reported that, in an interview with an unnamed Argentinian magazine, De Niro talked about picking up the check for that first role in De Palma's The Wedding Party: "When I went to pick up my check I was with my mom because I was under-age and she had to sign the contract for me. I was looking at the contract and it said 50 dollars. I thought it was 50 dollars a week but she explained that it was 50 dollars for the whole thing."

Posted by Geoff at 10:43 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 16, 2015 10:45 PM CDT
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Tuesday, September 15, 2015
MORE VENICE LINKS - INTERVIEWS, ETC.
"I MET NOAH AT A BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR PAUL SCHRADER TWENTY YEARS AGO AND JAKE AT A PARTY ABOUT TEN YEARS AGO"
Here are some more interviews and reviews of De Palma from the Venice Film Festival last week:

Owen Williams, interviewing Brian De Palma for EMPIRE
There were not many surprises at this year’s Venice Film Festival, but one film that proved an unexpected joy was De Palma. A simple talking-head documentary, featuring Brian De Palma gassing happily about his entire CV from Murder A La Mod to Carrie to Scarface to Passion, it’s directed by the unlikely team of Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow.

“I met Noah at a birthday party for Paul Schrader twenty years ago and Jake at a party about ten years ago,” De Palma told Empire in Venice. “And we just had a rapport and a love for movies”.

“There were so many conversations we had with Brian and things he would talk about that at a certain point we thought we should just ask him to talk about it on camera,” says Paltrow. “It was selfish at first. So we asked and he was up for it.”

The film drew overwhelmingly positive reviews after its first press screening because it’s not just a piece for fans of De Palma, but a thorough, sometimes rather indiscreet, monologue on what it’s like to go from being part of the explosion of young ‘70s filmmakers, alongside Spielberg, Lucas and Scorsese, to becoming part of the Hollywood establishment, to then falling out of favour.

“Well you don’t want people thinking they’ve heard the same anecdote 863 times, because I’ve been asked about certain films rather a lot,” says De Palma. “My relationship with these two directors and my feelings for them and the questions they’re answering, means I’m not going to be stylized and on script”.

“What we were looking for was to get the feeling of those dinners we’ve had where Brian would regale us with these incredible stories,” says Baumbach. “And I think that’s what we got”.

Jonathan Romney, The Observer

Noah Baumbach seems an unlikely director to be making a film about you – his films are very different from yours.
I tend to be attracted to film-makers who are not like me at all. I met Noah almost 20 years ago – I immediately liked him, he’s very bright. Because we approach cinema from different directions, we were fascinated by our different views on how to tell a story. They did their interview with me five years ago, in Jake Paltrow’s living room, shooting on this digital camera, with Noah doing the sound. It was like the old cinema school days – you had three people and that was your crew.

You and your contemporaries, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and George Lucas, were influenced by French directors such as Godard, yet you all ended up becoming American classics.
You’re in the right place at the right time, and you end up getting all these influences from the French New Wave, and the Hollywood system’s breaking down... We were all at Warner Bros at the same time – Francis had done Finian’s Rainbow there, Marty was there, I was there, and I knew Steven [Spielberg] through Margot Kidder, who was my girlfriend at the time, and that’s how we all came together...

You made a film about American involvement in Iraq – Redacted – before The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty made it respectable for US cinema to tackle such issues.
People disliked it in America. You can’t criticise the troops. It was [my Vietnam film] Casualties of War all over again – you put these kids in a situation, old men sending young men to war in places that are completely mysterious to them, and a culture that they don’t understand, driven by a political ideology that makes no sense whatsoever, and they go crazy. You feel so frustrated that your country is involved in something that you’re financing with your taxes, that you have no power to stop. Unlike Vietnam, where there were pictures that finally turned off the country, there are no pictures, there are just drones shooting people out of heaven.

De Palma contains some great stories about difficulties on set – like Orson Welles refusing to learn his lines on your 1972 film Get to Know Your Rabbit.
What does he care? He’s playing a tap-dancing magician in some silly comedy. A lot of actors, when they get older and extremely famous, think learning lines is not really necessary any more, whether it’s Brando or Orson or Bob De Niro, and they come up with excuses like, “It’s gonna be more spontaneous.” When you see them looking around the set, you think they’re taking a dramatic pause – they’re really looking for the line over there or over there.

Jill Lawless, Washington Times

“My movies tend to upset people a lot,” De Palma says in the documentary. Not that it particularly bothers him.

In the documentary - titled simply “De Palma” - the filmmaker turns out to be a funny, perceptive and candid judge of his own work...

De Palma, who received the festival’s Glory to the Filmmaker Award before a Venice screening of the documentary on Wednesday, said “it’s kind of overwhelming, literally, to have your whole life and movies lived in front of you in two hours.”

“But it’s very honest and it’s very much me,” he said. “I have a sense of humor about what I’ve done. How could you live life in this business and not have a sense of humor?”


Posted by Geoff at 2:55 AM CDT
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Monday, September 14, 2015
DE PALMA IS 'TOO WILD TO NOT BE REVILED'
AND 'THE MARTIAN' IS NOT AS GOOD AS DE PALMA'S 'MISSION TO MARS', SAYS JOHN SEMLEY
A couple of Mission To Mars-related items, beginning with John Semley, special to The Globe and Mail:
In past years covering TIFF, I’ve generally avoided the parties. There are a few reasons for this.

First, I am generally contemptuous (or at least wary) of celebrity and everything it connotes, and really don’t care if I am, technically, standing in the same room as George Clooney or Susan Sarandon or Pete Postlethwaite or whoever. Second, as a working journalist, parties have previously served a purely utilitarian function, providing free food and booze that I can suck back, hunched over a tiny cocktail napkin, wearing a knapsack like a cartoon turtle. I also generally try to avoid any social event where I’d have to wear much more than jeans and a t-shirt.

But in the spirit of experiencing new things, pushing myself outside my comfort zone, wearing pants that aren’t stained with mustard, etc., I accepted an invitation to the cocktail party celebrating the premiere of Ridley Scott’s The Martian, starring Matt Damon as a NASA botanist accidentally left behind on the Red Planet.

The movie itself is a fairly hollow crowd-pleaser, workshopped to feel massively appealing — funny enough, tense enough, propelled by Drew Goddard’s glib, Sorkin-lite dialogue. It’s fine. Is it as good as Brian De Palma’s Mission to Mars, in which Tim Robbins and Connie Nielsen’s slow dance in Zero Gs to Van Halen’s Dance the Night Away? No. Of course it isn’t. But then, what is?


And last month, Reb MacRath posted a highly entertaining rant on why De Palma is "the Real Deal," under the headline, "Too Wild to Not Be Reviled". I like his description of Passion as "a beautifully calm thriller." Check it out:
No matter what he did, though, two things could be counted on: bubble-headed critics would still call him a clone of Alfred Hitchcock with an obsessive interest in voyeurism and kinky sex,..and the hardest core De Palmians would stand by their man.

Until...Well, every story has one...Until he put out a completely non De Palma movie entitled Mission to Mars. And you'll have to travel far and wide to find a movie this reviled.

I mean, really, imagine a De Palma Movie with just one splashing bloody sequence, no kinky sex and almost no trademark camera work. What is [it] about? Well, it combines, quite wonderfully, elements of Gravity, Interstellar and the upcoming movie, The Martian. We begin, Interstellar-like, with a sequence set on earth, in which we get to know the characters. The 15 minutes are well-spent. The flight to Mars is shown in an interesting compression of time. The astronauts land, explore--and are gruesomely dispatched by--we cannot be certain if it's a force of nature or...maybe an alien presence. A rescue team is sent. Lovely scenes aboard their craft until the rocket springs a leak. Gravity-style repair work. Not entirely successful. Exquisite suspense and a heartbreaking loss as they abandon ship and try to reach the dispatched rescue vehicle. They land...search...find graves, indicating someone's still alive. And then...

Now comes the movie's first big surprise--which I won't reveal. Another, still bigger, is coming. What I will say is that, in a two-hour film, the structure and pacing are both spot-on. The acting and scripting are equally good. ('I didn't travel 100 million miles to stumble in the last ten steps.' Or: when chided because he can't dance, the hero tells his wife: 'Hey, some couples tango and some go to Mars.') The movie's inner Swiss watch ticks as we advance on schedule to the Big Reveal.

As for the last fifteen minutes...Here we come to the great I Don't Know. I didn't like the ending. I'd wanted something different. Many viewers have hated the ending and condemned the entire film because of it. Stand back, though. We can't have it all ways.

We can't have a Real Deal Rebel who's been completely housebroken and repeats all the tricks we love best, at our call. The Real Deal is subversive and loves to thwart expectations. The Real Deal will transform a kinky, borderline sleazy film like Femme Fatale into a dream, onto which he then tacks on a lush, romantic ending. The Real Deal, late in his career, [will] thwart all expectations with a beautifully calm thriller, Passion.

Because he refuses to 'heel' on command, we should never grow too comfortable in the presence of such an artist. The best are loving people--with a streak of junkyard dog.

But relax. They're not out to hurt but delight us as they take us by the throat. Now and then they succeed at that by showing us their hearts.


Posted by Geoff at 10:58 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, September 14, 2015 11:02 PM CDT
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