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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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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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Friday, October 16, 2015
GRANTLAND: 'TWILIGHT OF THE MOVIE BRATS'

"THE MOVIE BRATS WERE LIKE THE CINEMATIC VERSION OF CLASSIC ROCK" -- "DE PALMA IS LED ZEPPELIN" 

Grantland's Steven Hyden yesterday posted a piece about Steven Spielberg, and included the following discussion about the Movie Brats:

"To understand Spielberg’s 'I’m just a weird kid' self-mythology, it helps to know about the Movie Brats, the group of upstart filmmakers that invaded Hollywood in the late ’60s, fostered an unprecedented era of auteurism in the ’70s, and then ushered in the age of blockbusters that began with Jaws and has grown only more massive over the next 40 years.

"Along with countless other budding cinephiles, an obsession with the Movie Brats coincided with my first flash of serious interest in movies. It didn’t matter that most of these directors were well past their peaks by the time I discovered them in the ’90s. I dug everything that the Movie Brats stood for: self-conscious artiness, difficult genius, downer endings, rock and roll soundtracks, salt-and-pepper beards, fabulous scarves and/or ascots, and, like, bucking the system, man!

"The Movie Brats were like the cinematic version of classic rock — the art they created was infused with the faded idealism and decadent glamour of a bygone era. When I read Stephen Davis’s Hammer of the Gods as a teenagerthe book did the opposite of humanizing Led Zeppelin — it made Jimmy Page seem like a fictional demon with discomforting interests in heroin. It made these banana-stuffing Vikings seem larger than life. The coke- and sex-fueled antics depicted in Peter Biskind’s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls — a defining account of the 'New Hollywood' that I reread even more times than Hammer of the Gods — planted similar illusions in my head about my favorite directors.

"This even applied to Spielberg, who initially didn’t want to make Jaws('I wanted to be Antonioni, Bob Rafelson, Hal Ashby, Marty Scorsese. I wanted to be everybody but myself,' Spielberg told Biskind.) With his rebel heart and populist instincts, Spielberg infused his early hits with antiauthoritarian overtones: You couldn’t trust Amity’s mayor in Jawsthe federal government in Close Encountersor the evil scientists in E.T. Spielberg even questioned movie authority: Why stage an elaborate fight sequence when Indiana Jones could just take out that swordsman with one bullet?

"So who were the Movie Brats? Here’s a roll call of important players:

"Steven Spielberg: The most famous of the bunch, his near-universally adored work would come to define the center of mainstream taste. Steven Spielberg is the Beatles.

"Martin Scorsese: Not as popular as Spielberg in the ’70s, he’s come to be viewed as the most respected (and coolest) director of his generation. Martin Scorsese is the Velvet Underground.

"Francis Ford Coppola: His early work was visionary and established a beachhead for those that followed, though by the early ’80s he seemed to have lost his mind. Francis Ford Coppola is Bob Dylan.

"George Lucas: Starting out as an experimental filmmaker on the fringes, he then reinvented himself as the epitome of mass-appeal space-themed entertainment. George Lucas is Pink Floyd.

"Robert Altman: Iconoclast to the end, he was also prolific to a fault, resulting in a filmography that varies wildly in quality. At his best, nobody was better at reflecting the sardonic cynicism at the heart of the ’70s. Robert Altman is Neil Young.

"Brian De Palma: He’s bombastic and derivative, but such a gifted stylist and technician that it scarcely matters. Brian De Palma is Led Zeppelin.

"Peter Bogdanovich: The early work is beautiful and tragic, but he’s ultimately stifled by limited range and nostalgic tendencies. Peter Bogdanovich is the Beach Boys.

"Hal Ashby: He’s a gentle poet whose work is imbued with a mix of bracing sweetness and clear-eyed bitterness over the decline of civilization. Hal Ashby is the Kinks.

"A few of these directors have since gone the way of AOR. But for the most part, we’re still living in a world that these guys created. While Jurassic World reigns as 2015’s biggest moneymaker, it might soon by supplanted by the Lucas-shepherded Star Wars: The Force AwakensLike Spielberg, Scorsese is virtually guaranteed a raft of Oscar nominations each time he puts out a movie — perhaps that’s why there’s never a shortage of Scorsese imitators in film (Black Mass) or television (Narcos) ready to lap up his residual prestige.

"Even lesser-known Movie Brats are having a moment this year: The 76-year-old Bogdanovich directed his first narrative feature in 13 years, She’s Funny That Waya screwball comedy with an all-star cast of ringers that includes Owen Wilson, Imogen Poots, Will Forte, Jennifer Aniston, and Kathryn Hahn. As for De Palma, 75, he’s the subject of a new documentary, De Palmathat’s garnered rave reviews after playing the festival circuit.

"Many of those critics — like DPalma’s directors, Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow — grew up enthralled by the exploits of the Movie Brats. This childhood affection is now touched with a new sense of mortality. Spielberg turns 69 in December, which makes him the pup of his peer group. Lucas is 71. Scorsese turns 73 in November, and Coppola is 76. (Ashby died in 1988, and Altman died in 2006.) The New Hollywood directors have been entrenched longer than the studio-era legends they swept out nearly 50 years ago. But nothing lasts forever." 


Posted by Geoff at 1:46 AM CDT
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Wednesday, October 14, 2015
SCORSESE/SPIELBERG DISCUSS 'BRIDGE OF SPIES'

IN THE LAST 5 MINUTES, DISCUSSION GOES FROM 'SPARTACUS' TO 'THE FURY', VIA KIRK DOUGLAS ANECDOTE

CLICK IMAGE BELOW TO WATCH FULL HOUR-LONG TALK AT DGA FROM A FEW DAYS AGO


Posted by Geoff at 11:22 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, October 15, 2015 12:00 AM CDT
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Monday, October 12, 2015
'FINAL GIRLS' DIRECTOR ON HIS FILM'S INFLUENCES

"THERE'S ONE SEQUENCE IN PARTICULAR THAT FEELS LIKE A DE PALMA SCENE ON STEROIDS"

Last Friday, USA Today's Brian Truitt posted an interview with Todd Strauss-Schulson, the director of the horror-comedy The Final Girls. In one part of the interview, Strauss-Schulson discusses some of the film's influences:

"There’s a little bit of Sam Raimi in there in terms of some of the camera work and there’s color swatches like Dario Argento,” he says. “There’s one sequence in particular that feels like a (Brian) De Palma scene on steroids. It’s like a fun drinking game to go through the movie and see what you can catch.” 


Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CDT
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Sunday, October 11, 2015
RUTANYA ALDA RELEASES 'MOMMY DEAREST DIARY'

SAYS EARLY FILMS W/DE PALMA "WERE VERY CREATIVE" - INTERVIEW AT SHOCK TILL YOU DROP

A couple of days ago, Shock Till You Drop's Shade Rupe posted an interview with Rutanya Alda, who recently released a book of memoirs, The Mommie Dearest Diary. Early in the interview, Rupe says to Alda, "You mention relationships with people like Sam Peckinpah, Robert Altman, and Brian De Palma. Peckinpah and Altman have left us though De Palma was just at the New York Film Festival. How does he feel about being mentioned in your book? Are you still in touch?"

Alda replies, "I dont know if Brian has even read my book. We rarely see each other. When we do we have a very warm friendship. I think he comes off well in my book. I loved working with Brian. The early films I worked on with Brian, Greetings and Hi, Mom! were very creative and there was a lot of improvisation which I loved. The Fury was more structured and a studio film." 


Posted by Geoff at 8:50 PM CDT
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Saturday, October 10, 2015
DAVID SIMS: 'THE MARTIAN' IMPROVES UPON 'M2M'

DE PALMA'S FILM "IS BETTER WHEN IT FOCUSES ON THE SCIENCE, LOSES GRIP WHEN STORY TURNS HOKEY" 

David Sims, associate editor for The Atlantic, covering culture: 

"In 2000, two films emerged that were obviously inspired by recent successful NASA missions that uncovered evidence Mars had once borne water (and possibly life). As such, they felt less rooted in that Western spirit—instead, both serve as darker parables on the dangers of exploration. Antony Hoffman’s Red Planetstarring Val Kilmer and Carrie-Anne Moss, is a grunting techno-thriller with a terrific electronic score but horrible, muddy visuals. In the 2050s, Kilmer’s character and his NASA team discover evidence of giant insect life on Mars, somehow awakened by human exploration. It’s ultimately a grim tale of survival against the odds, with its colorful ensemble (including Terence Stamp and Benjamin Bratt) getting picked off one by one. At the end, Kilmer blasts off the surface with a middle finger raised to it, screaming 'Fuck this planet!' Budgeted at $80 million, Red Planet grossed only $33 million worldwide.

"Brian De Palma’s Mission to Mars is a more elegant beast in the hands of a director who happily apes Stanley Kubrick’s greatest hits from 2001The film is most assured when its crew is in space, en route to Mars to rescue the survivors of an exploration mission gone wrong. It also plays on some of the planet’s most recognizable and strange surface features, like the Cydonia region that features an outcropping that looks, from satellite imagery, like a giant face. But on the whole, Mission to Mars feels like a religious pilgrimage. There are nasty moments, like when a sand tornado rips one astronaut into pieces, but the film dwells on its final realization that the planet once harbored alien life that seeded human existence on Earth. Like its genre-mates, Mission to Mars is best when it focuses on the science, and it loses its grip when the story turns hokey.

"That’s the ultimate achievement of The Martian. When Watney grows his potatoes, the director Ridley Scott makes each sprout feel like an achievement; every effort to cross Mars’s terrain follows weeks of forethought. Though it’s lacking Martians, ancient edifices, or even a threatening algae bloom, it comes closest to Burroughs’s original romantic conception of the world as one so similar, yet so frighteningly different to the one we know. There’s a reason pundits are predicting the film will set off renewed interest in manned exploration of the Solar System. Though Watney clings to survival throughout, the idea of creating life and a home in such an empty new world is as challenging and stirring as the most idyllic visions of the Wild West."


Posted by Geoff at 5:23 PM CDT
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Friday, October 9, 2015
DENNIS COZZALIO POSTS 'DRESSED TO KILL' FILM STRIP

AT 'SERGIO LEONE AND THE INFIELD FLY RULE' BLOG - CLICK IMAGE BELOW FOR A NICE SERIES OF SCREENGRABS 


Posted by Geoff at 5:26 PM CDT
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Thursday, October 8, 2015
ARMOND WHITE ON 'THE MARTIAN'

AND DE PALMA'S "VISUAL POETRY" IN 'MISSION TO MARS'

 

Writing for National Review, Armond White reviews Ridley Scott's The Martian

"Scott’s extravagant, hackneyed approach to genre overtakes The Martian’s drawn-out narrative. As Watney struggles, his crewmates atone, NASA watches, China lends a hand, and a diverse gathering of Earth-bound well-wishers wish each other well, the pile-up of clichés reminded me that all this has been seen and done before: Gregory Peck, Gene Hackman, James Franciscus, Richard Crenna, and Lee Grant were more relatable at it in John Sturges’s conventional but effective Marooned. James Caan’s stranded yet ecstatic astronaut in Robert Altman’s Countdown was the purest expression of space-age aspiration. The distress metaphor was singlehandedly accomplished by Sandra Bullock in Gravity and Robert Redford in All Is Lost. Watney’s crew captain Jessica Chastain just endured a similar predicament in Interstellar. Best of all, Brian DePalma turned the dilemma into visual poetry with Mission to Mars (2000). It owed little to Kubrick’s 2001; instead it boasted DePalma’s exquisite languor, tension, and humor. Mission to Mars leapt beyond death to spiritual evolution in vibrant sci-fi hues. The ultimate disappointment of The Martian is Scott’s lackluster post-Alien style. He can’t disguise his detachment. Without highly aesthetic imagery, Scott’s just a low-NRG J. J. Abrams."


Posted by Geoff at 12:12 AM CDT
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Tuesday, October 6, 2015
CARLOTTA 'BODY DOUBLE' SPECS REVEALED

FRENCH TRANSLATION OF DWORKIN'S 'DOUBLE DE PALMA' IS THE BOOK; NEW NAPOLITANO SUPPLEMENT

According to the listing at Amazon.fr, the book part of Carlotta's upcoming Body Double Ultra Collector's Box is the first-ever French translation of Susan Dworkin's terrific Double De Palma, which is all about the making of the film. In addition, the collection will carry each of the four supplements that were included on the limited Twilight Time Blu-ray edition of Body Double, as well as the film's trailer.

Not on the Twilight Edition: There will also be an introduction from Samuel Blumenfeld, co-author (with Laurent Vachaud) of Conversations With Brian De Palma, as well as a 38-minute featurette called "Pure Cinema: Joe Napolitano Talks About Body Double." According to the Amazon description, "Joe Napolitano, first assistant and right-hand man to Brian De Palma on the set of five of his films in the 1980s, revisits Body Double shooting locations by analyzing not only the 'De Palma method,' but also the contributions of other collaborators, such as Stephen H. Burum (director of photography) and Ida Random (artictic director)."

Carlotta's Body Double collectors set will be released on December 2nd. 


Posted by Geoff at 12:42 AM CDT
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Monday, October 5, 2015
NYFF PIC - DE PALMA AT 'MY GOLDEN DAYS' SCREENING

"DIRECTORS CLUB" IN ACTION

Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach, Arnaud Desplechin, Brian De Palma, Jake Paltrow, and Kent Jones attend the "My Golden Days" screening during the 53rd New York Film Festival on October 2. (Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images) Posted at Yahoo News.


Posted by Geoff at 1:12 AM CDT
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Thursday, October 1, 2015
DOC INCLUDES ORIGINAL 'SNAKE EYES' ENDING
AND 1976 SUPER 8 HOME MOVIE FOOTAGE OF SPIELBERG CALLING DE PALMA FROM CAR PHONE

Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images, posted at Yahoo News

Following last night's screening of De Palma, New York Film Festival director Kent Jones moderated a discussion on stage with Brian De Palma, Jake Paltrow, and Noah Baumbach, all pictured above. We'll watch for video of that discussion to show up on YouTube in the next few days.

Meanwhile, the Principal Archivist at The Swan Archives attended last night's screening of the documentary, and reports on that site's news page that the Baumbach/Paltrow film includes "the original deus ex machina tidal wave ending from Snake Eyes, which, so far as we know, hasn't been seen publicly since the movie's ill-fated preview screening that resulted in the ending being removed and replaced with a far more conventional finale." The Archivist is right-- it is hard to believe no one seems to have even mentioned this. Earlier this year, screenwriter David Koepp had trouble even remembering what the original ending was.

Four years ago, Carla Gugino recalled the original ending rather clearly: "I feel like that came about just before they started doing (much more often) alternate endings on DVDs, etc. Because I saw that ending, and it was awesome! I prefer that ending to the ending that’s in the movie now. But I know that there was a thing at the moment with Snake Eyes where they felt like it was a bit of, like a ‘70s conspiracy thriller, and then all of a sudden it became an action movie with that tidal wave sequence. But in fact, I kind of loved that about it. We shot it on VistaVision, so it looked, you know, phenomenal. I actually did get pneumonia while shooting that sequence, and I was like, ‘It’s okay, suffer for your art, it’ll be great.’ And then they cut the sequence out of the movie!"

THE ORIGINAL ENDING
Back in 2001, "BWL," a member of the forum at Bill Fentum's currently defunct "Directed By Brian De Palma" website, was able to view an alternate version of the Snake Eyes ending on VHS, but with no sound effects or music soundtrack. Here is how BWL described that ending:

It starts off the same as we have all seen. Rick Santoro stumbles into the tunnel, bloodied and beaten up, with Kevin Dunne following from behind him, waiting to see where Julia Costello is hiding. Anthea and her cameraman are outside getting shots of the storm and Anthea says "I'd sure like to know what I did wrong to get all the shit assignments!" The cameraman yells "Just roll so we can get out of here!" Then Anthea goes into her countdown and says, "Well, it looks like tropical storm Jezebel just may be a hurricane after all!" Meanwhile, as Rick and Kevin approach the door to the area where Julia is locked inside, Rick sees the shadow of Kevin holding a gun. We cut to a shot from high atop the room where Julia is hiding and see rain seeping in (this is the first shot I recognized as different). Rick turns around and faces Kevin. With his face all beaten up Rick says, "Kevin, am I still pretty?" Kevin tells him calmly to unlock the door and have Julia come outside. Rick says, "No I won't tell her. I won't let you kill her" and covers the door with his body and his arms. Kevin loses his patience and says "TELL HER TO OPEN THE DOOR!"

We cut to Anthea and her cameraman outside on the boardwalk as the cameraman pans his camera off the boardwalk towards the water(not a POV shot) and then it cuts to a huge wave that is gathering steam and headed straight for the boardwalk. We cut back to Rick, who finally agrees to ask Julia to let him in since Kevin is seriously threatening him and yelling "OPEN THE DOOR!" Meanwhile, we cut back out to the boardwalk as the camera zooms in closely on Anthea who says "HOLY SHIT!" as the tidal wave smashes through a ferris wheel and amusement park on its way towards them. The cameraman grabs Anthea and pulls her inside the van. Rick tells Julia that it's him and she should open the door. Inside Julia says "Rick is that you?" and grabs the handle to the door. She fumbles with the door handle for a few moments but the door is not opening- it's stuck. Kevin loses his patience and fires off 6 or 7 shots right through the doorway. Julia recoils in fear and lets out a scream. Similar to the version we've seen, the shots manage to cause the outer doors that lead to the boardwalk to open up. Rick and Kevin rush inside the room where Julia is hiding. Rick covers Julia with his body to protect her from Kevin and she stands behind Rick scared out of her mind. Kevin says, "All right, Rick. I'll give you one more chance. Get out of the way or I'll shoot right through you." Rick looks outside and sees the gathering wave. He says to Julia, seemingly out of capitulation, "Sorry baby, I tried."

Then we cut to Kevin's henchmen driving in their van to "pick up the package on the boardwalk" (a scene referenced in the regular version when Kevin radios them and they respond while they're in the middle of putting the dead bodies into the concrete). The henchmen see the large globe detached from The Millennium rolling down the boardwalk by Anthea's news van. One of the henchmen says, "What the hell is that?" (which in the regular version was said verbatim by the emergency rescue personnel). The wave hits the boardwalk and washes over the news van and into the globe (this shot is also in the regular version). We cut back inside as Kevin is standing in the middle of the room about to shoot Rick, who is still covering Julia off on the side of the room. We see a wideshot of these three in the tunnel when all of a sudden the globe comes SMASHING through the tunnel wall and in an instant it rolls right over Dunne. The globe is followed from behind by a huge blast of water that rushes over Julia and Rick as they cling to each other and struggle to keep their footing. The water continues to rush in over them, filling up the tunnel, but after a few moments it recedes. Once it is safe the cameraman from the boardwalk comes running into the tunnel with his camera. As we pan down over the scene we see the large globe stopped dead in its tracks in the middle of tunnel with Kevin's crushed body and dangling from it, apparently impaled by a jagged piece of metal. Rick is lying on the ground coughing up water and still badly hurt from his beating. Julia comforts him by her side as the cameraman rushes over to them yelling to Anthea, "there's people in here!" But he says it less out of concern than out of opportunity. We then see from the POV of the cameraman's camera (as we similarly do in the regular version) a shot of Julia and Rick. Julia says with disgust "Would you just get away!" The cameraman zooms in on Rick's bloodied face and he stares blankly into the camera, and then the scene dissolves to the Mayor's awards ceremony (which is back the movie we all know).


SUPER 8 FOOTAGE OF SPIELBERG USING CAR PHONE TO CALL DE PALMA IN 1976

Another aspect of the De Palma documentary that I hadn't seen mentioned before is that it contains Super 8 footage of Steven Spielberg from 1976. Vadim Rizov does mention it, though, in an NYFF Critics' Notebook piece for Filmmaker Magazine:

"Film writers (I’ve been guilty of this) often leap to conclusions about why directors take on assignments or make aesthetic choices; this practical, peer-to-peer chat is a useful reminder that keeping up with business movie journalism and thinking about production logistics is as useful a tool to understanding a body of work as any. The movie also helps slightly revise the now-beyond-ossified canon of the Easy Riders and Raging Bulls who either changed the world or crashed and burned, reminding us that extremes (the Lucas vs. Cimino binary) are overstating the case, that middle ground existed, and that past failures and successes only count for so many years. De Palma and George Lucas were both legitimately part of the underground before channelling their ambitions into more financable form. Another close friend was Steven Spielberg (seen calling De Palma from his early-adopter car phone in a Super 8 home movie from in 1976, a nice get); given different proclivities, it could’ve been an equally lucrative career.

"De Palma largely sticks to the numbers and production hassles, which is smart: really, what could he contribute to yet another formulation of Voyeurism And You, The Implicated Viewer? The film is edited at a lucid gallop, which makes it easier to connect the dots between De Palma’s recurring visual motifs as expressed and developed over time. E.g., you can see his aesthetic in early motion at MoMA in his 1965 op-art exhibition doc The Responsive Eye, in elegant but comparatively shaky handheld, and how he revisited his approach to the space with gliding Steadicam in Dressed To Kill. The doc is implicitly a work of critical advocacy for a currently somewhat unfashionable director, though it’s realistically for the already converted. It’s illuminating and edifying, if not precisely revelatory: the big Rosebud anecdote/thematic decoder key (about De Palma filming his cheating father’s partner entering his office from across the street, then charging in confront dad) has been told many times before. But it’s useful to be reminded how directors can think of themselves and their work: as conscious artists, of course, but also as endlessly badgered managers and worker drones, depending on where they are in their career."


Posted by Geoff at 1:02 AM CDT
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