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Recent Headlines
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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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A note about topics: Some blog posts have more than one topic, in which case only one main topic can be chosen to represent that post. This means that some topics may have been discussed in posts labeled otherwise. For instance, a post that discusses both The Boston Stranglers and The Demolished Man may only be labeled one or the other. Please keep this in mind as you navigate this list.
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Wednesday, January 20, 2016
'SISTERS' THURSDAY NIGHT IN ASHEVILLE, NC
THURSDAY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, HOSTED BY CRITICS KEN HANKE & SCOTT DOUGLAS
Brian De Palma's Sisters will screen at 8pm Thursday (January 21, 2016) at The Carolina, movie theater six, in Asheville, North Carlina. The screening is free, as part of the weekly Thursday Horror Picture Show, which also featured De Palma's Body Double last April. Thursday's screening will be hosted by Mountain Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.

"Sisters (1973) is by no means the first Brian De Palma film," states Hanke in his Mountain Xpress mini-review, "though it might fairly be called the first De Palma film as we know them. The theme is, in part, voyeurism — so we're right at home from the onset. The tone is set as much by Michael Powell's Peeping Tom (1960) as it is by Hitchcock, which is a pretty heady mix. The most surprising thing about the film, however, is not that it looks forward to future De Palma (he really lays on the split-screen), but that it has a distinct air of David-Cronenberg-to-come about it."

Posted by Geoff at 8:53 PM CST
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Tuesday, January 19, 2016
TWEET: 'BONFIRE' STAFF ASSISTANT

Posted by Geoff at 10:12 PM CST
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Monday, January 18, 2016
'HOME MOVIES' CO-WRITER RECALLS DE PALMA
DIDN'T FREAK OUT AS MUCH AS OTHER STUDENTS WHEN HE WOULD TOSS THEIR SCRIPTS TO THE FLOOR
Gloria Norris was a student of Brian De Palma's at Sarah Lawrence College, co-writing the class project, Home Movies, and also working as De Palma's assistant on the film, as a student director. Norris has been promoting her new memoir, KooKooLand, in which she details the traumatic extreme violence of her childhood, centered around her abusive father, Jimmy. In a profile article of Norris from earlier this month, Broadly's Mitchell Sunderland writes, "While a student at Sarah Lawrence College, where she transferred from Bennington, Gloria learned to appreciate her background. There she also connected with the director (and Sarah Lawrence alum) Brian De Palma. The auteur would toss students' scripts aside, sometimes on the floor, Gloria says, and tell kids his treatment would prepare them for Hollywood. While Gloria's peers freaked out over his behavior, she felt she could handle it because Jimmy had toughened her up as a child. A few years later, De Palma recommended Scorsese hire his former student as an assistant on the set of a boxing movie. She scored the job, and it launched her career in Hollywood."

[Note: the boxing movie was, of course, Raging Bull, which would likely have started filming very shortly after Home Movies.]

Norris' own Bio states that she was Scorsese's research assistant on Raging Bull, and quotes Richard Schickel's 2010 "Making of Raging Bull" article:

De Niro suggested a period of total isolation and immersion—no phones, no distractions of any kind. They chose the La Samanna resort, on St. Martin, in the Caribbean—a complex of separate villas. They shared one of them and installed a young assistant in another nearby. She was Gloria Norris, a recent Sarah Lawrence graduate who had worked with Scorsese’s pal Brian De Palma on his early picture Home Movies. Better still, her grandfather had been a fight promoter in New England, so she was no stranger to the boxing world. She brought “tons” of books along to help them with research. She remembers De Niro rising early to run along the beach. She remembers him and Scorsese talking out the script scene by scene in the mornings. She remembers Scorsese writing up the new material on yellow legal pads in the afternoons. She remembers “his handwriting was bad, so he’d have to read some of it out to me. It was full of profanity, and he’d get embarrassed saying those words to me.”

After that, Norris would retreat to her typewriter, and De Niro and Scorsese would sometimes head out in their Jeep to dinner in one of the several extremely good restaurants on the island.


Posted by Geoff at 1:15 AM CST
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Thursday, January 14, 2016
RICHARD LIBERTINI HAS DIED
Richard Libertini, who had a brief role as a high school teacher in Brian De Palma's The Bonfire Of The Vanities, died January 7. He was 82. According to the Associated Press, Libertini's ex-wife Melinda Dillon said he'd had a two-year long battle with cancer. According to an obituary in the New York Times, Libertini began his career as part of the Second City improvisational troupe in Chicago, and went on to have memorable roles in films such as The In-Laws and All Of Me, as well as many roles on Broadway and TV. "Richard Libertini is a master of what could be called the comedy of madness," wrote Mel Gussow in a 1986 New York Times review of Neapolitan Ghosts on stage. "His funniest characters are furious and at least on the borderline of delirium. Those of us who have been enjoying his performances since he and MacIntyre Dixon first created the 'Stewed Prunes' comedy team in the 1960's - through his appearances in films such as The In-Laws - have been waiting to see him play a leading role in a classic farce..."

Posted by Geoff at 3:50 AM CST
Updated: Thursday, January 14, 2016 3:52 AM CST
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Tuesday, January 12, 2016
DAVID MARGULIES HAS DIED
CHARACTER ACTOR PORTRAYED DR. LEVY IN 'DRESSED TO KILL'
David Margulies, who played Bobbi's psychiatrist Dr. Levy in Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill, passed away Monday afternoon, according to Deadline (and thanks to Ryan for the early word). He was 78. A New York character actor of the stage and screen, Margulies played the Mayor of New York in the Ghostbusters movies, and worked with Woody Allen on more than one occasion, including in Martin Ritt's The Front and Allen's own Celebrity. According to the Deadline article, he had "recently finished filming his role as Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel in the upcoming ABC miniseries Madoff with Richard Dreyfuss, scheduled to air February 3."

Margulies' psychiatrist in Dressed To Kill has an intense scene in a stairwell with Michael Caine's Dr. Elliott-- a scene that is perhaps even more intense, verging on the surreal and comic, upon repeat viewings when the viewer knows who's who and what's what. Margulies' other big scene in the film also plays with a subtle comic tension lying underneath, as his Dr. Levy explains to our characters, who are gathered in the police station, exactly how Bobbi's psychosis brings him to murder. The scene, of course, echoes and parodies the psychiatric explanation scene near the end of Hitchcock's Psycho, released twenty years earlier.


Posted by Geoff at 10:34 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, January 12, 2016 10:39 PM CST
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Sunday, January 10, 2016
THE SIMPSONS 'PUSH IT TO THE LIMIT' w/ '80s GAG
AND SEAN PENN CITES/QUOTES SCARFACE "BAD GUY" SPEECH TO HELP DESCRIBE EL CHAPO

The above couch-gag intro kicked off tonight's episode of The Simpsons, "Teenage Mutant Milk-Caused Hurdles." Using the montage song (Scarface (Push It To The Limit), written by Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, and performed by Paul Engemann) from Brian De Palma's Scarface, the intro sees Homer donning shades and envisioning characters from the show as 1980s action movie characters.

Meanwhile, Sean Penn secretly interviewed fugitive Mexican drug lord El Chapo Guzmán for Rolling Stone. El Chapo had escaped from prison in October. "Today," Penn states in the article, El Chapo "runs the biggest international drug cartel the world has ever known, exceeding even that of Pablo Escobar. He shops and ships by some estimates more than half of all the cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana that come into the United States." Later in ther article, Penn quotes Al Pacino's "Bad Guy" monologue from Scarface in order to help describe El Chapo's brazen claims during the interview. You'll note that Penn refers to the film as "Oliver Stone's Scarface," leading some to claim Penn has made a mistake, or that he needed an editor, etc. Well, Stone did write the words that Penn is quoting in the article, and having worked with Pacino and De Palma on Carlito's Way, we're pretty sure Penn is aware that De Palma also directed Scarface in his operatic, baroque style. Which is all to say, Penn knows of which he speaks. Here's an excerpt from the Rolling Stone article:
"How much money will you make writing this article?" he asks. I answer that when I do journalism, I take no payment. I could see that, to him, the idea of doing any kind of work without payment is a fool's game. Unlike the gangsters we're used to, the John Gotti's who claimed to be simple businessmen hiding behind numerous international front companies, El Chapo sticks to an illicit game, proudly volunteering, "I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world. I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats."

He is entirely unapologetic. Against the challenges of doing business in such a clandestine industry he has ––built an empire. I am reminded of press accounts alleging a hundred-million-dollar bounty the man across from me is said to have put on Donald Trump's life. I mention Trump. El Chapo smiles, ironically saying, "Ah! Mi amigo!" His unguarded will to speak freely, his comfort with his station in life and ownership of extraordinary justifications, conjure Tony Montana in Oliver Stone's Scarface. It's the dinner scene where Elvira, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, walks out on Al Pacino's Tony Montana, loudly assailing him in a public place. The patrons at the restaurant stare at him, but rather than hide in humiliation, he stands and lectures them. "You're all a bunch of fucking assholes. You know why? You don't have the guts to be what you wanna be. You need people like me. You need people like me. So you can point your fucking fingers and say, 'That's the bad guy.' So what's that make you? Good? You're not good. You just know how to hide...how to lie. Me? I don't have that problem. Me?! I always tell the truth even when I lie. So say good night to the bad guy. C'mon. Last time you're gonna see a bad guy like this again, lemme tell ya!"


See also:

New York Times: Sean Penn’s Excursions Into Writing Often Mix Activism With Journalism.


Posted by Geoff at 8:13 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, January 10, 2016 11:32 PM CST
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Thursday, January 7, 2016
SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND
FALLON IMITATES PACINO FOR KRISTEN STEWART DURING WHISPER GAME



Posted by Geoff at 11:40 PM CST
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Wednesday, January 6, 2016
VIDEO: VILMOS ZSIGMOND TRIBUTE

Vilmos Zsigmond: Painter of Light from Brad Jones on Vimeo.


Posted by Geoff at 11:48 PM CST
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Tuesday, January 5, 2016
STEPHANIE ZACHAREK ON VILMOS ZSIGMOND
AND INDIEWIRE'S ZACK SHARF PICKS NINE ESSENTIAL SHOTS


Yesterday, Stephanie Zacharek posted about the passing of Vilmos Zsigmond for TIME:
But what about movies in which people are often indoors, talking? Zsigmond could put his subtle mark on those, too, as he did with the three films he shot for Woody Allen, Melinda and Melinda (2004), Cassandra’s Dream (2007), and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010). But among Zsigmond’s finest work are the four movies he did with [Brian] De Palma, Obsession (1976), Blow Out (1981), The Black Dahlia (2006) and The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990). Zsigmond had the technical skill to handle the elaborate tracking shots and split-screen effects so beloved by De Palma, but just as significantly, he could effectively key into the director’s particular brand of bleak romanticism and political mistrust. He gave Obsession—in which Cliff Robertson plays a man who becomes obsessed, Vertigo-style, with a woman who resembles his dead wife (Geneviève Bujold)—a look that balanced the coolness of old marble with the textured warmth of a peeling fresco, suitable for a love story wrapped in its own cozy little crypt. Zsigmond earned an Oscar nomination for his work on The Black Dahlia, a flawed picture whose visual magnificence is almost enough to hold it together. Zsigmond doesn’t just give the movie, set in the late 1940s, a period look; he lends it a burnished immediacy that unifies past and present, making whatever stereotypical sense we have of tawdry old Los Angeles seem as clichéd, and as wrong, as last year’s crushed hat.

Zsigmond also left his signature, paradoxically both vivid and translucent, on one of the greatest of De Palma’s movies, Blow Out. John Travolta is a movie sound-effects guy who inadvertently captures audio evidence of an assassination when he witnesses a car driving off a bridge; Nancy Allen is the young woman he rescues (and falls for), a pawn in the plot. This is a quietly shimmering movie about disillusionment and doomed romance, and Zsigmond’s nighttime exteriors, both alluring and vaguely spooky, foreshadow despair rolling in like like fog.

Yet that thing we so casually think of as movie magic is really, when you boil it down, the even more magical summation of what happens when people know how to do their jobs. Zsigmond talked a little about Blow Out in in The Devil’s Candy, Julie Salamon’s superb study of the making of De Palma’s Bonfire of the Vanities: “There we were in the middle of the winter and there was this huge canyon and we were shooting a frog in the foreground and the river beyond and the trees and bridge above, and [De Palma] just walked up to it and said, ‘Light it. I don’t care how long it’s going to take. Light it.’ ” Zsigmond laughed in the story’s retelling. But also—damned if he didn’t light it.

INDIEWIRE: REMEMBERING VILMOS ZSIGMOND IN 9 ESSENTIAL SHOTS

Meanwhile, Indiewire's Zack Sharf posted nine essential shots by which to remember Zsigmond. Choosing the climactic shot of Jack holding the lifeless body of Sally as fireworks go off in the sky, Sharf writes, "Climaxes don't get more gorgeous than this one. As John Travolta's Jack Terry races through Philadelphia's Liberty Parade in order to save an escort (Nancy Allen) from the hands of an assassin, fireworks begin exploding in the sky as Zsigmond captures these blasts of color on their faces like bombs in a hectic war zone. Only when Terry holds Sally's lifeless body in his arms does the camera spin to reveal the actual display exploding in the sky —it's a moment of pure visual and emotional opera."


Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, January 6, 2016 12:04 AM CST
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Monday, January 4, 2016
DOUBLE FEATURE - 'BODY DOUBLE' & 'BODY HEAT'
WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT THE BRATTLE THEATRE IN CAMBRIDGE
The Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA, will screen a double-double feature Wednesday night (January 6th), with two screenings of Brian De Palma's Body Double (projected from DCP) at 4:30pm and 9:30pm. Sandwiched in between will be a single screening of Lawrence Kasdan's Body Heat, at 7pm (from a 35mm print). The screenings are part of the series, "Sex & Death & Venetian Blinds: Neo-Noir of the 1980s & 90s," which runs through January 14th.

"For this particular series," reads a description on the Brattle website, "we focus on the neo-noir films made during the 1980s and 1990s when an explosion in popularity filled movie screens with sultry femme fatales, hapless everyman heroes, corrupt cops, convoluted plots, and a plethora of sliced shadows due to a practically pathological fetishization of venetian blinds. Join us for this knockout line-up of stylistically bold and provocative cinema ranging from 1981’s BODY HEAT to HARD EIGHT from 1996 – the directorial debut of Paul Thomas Anderson. (N.B. Unfortunately, the apotheosis of ‘90s neo-noir, L.A. Confidential, is unavailable for theatrical screenings at this time.)"

"A CLEVERLY CONTRASTING DOUBLE BILL THAT BOTH VENERATES THE GENRE AND PUNKS IT"

The Artery's Sean Burns previews the double feature with fine insight:

Things kick off on Wednesday, Jan. 6, with the dynamic duo of “Body Heat” and “Body Double,” a cleverly contrasting double bill that both venerates the genre and punks it. A case can be made that “Body Heat,” screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan’s 1981 directorial debut, kick-started this entire noir revival, updating old-timey 1940s tropes for Ronald Reagan’s America by adding a healthy hunk of R-rated eroticism. Riffing on Billy Wilder’s “Double Indemnity,” Kasdan’s picture stars William Hurt as a dim-bulb, ambulance-chasing lawyer who finds himself head-over-heels and in way over his head with Kathleen Turner’s man-eating Matty Walker. “You aren’t too smart, are you?” she notes upon their first meeting, “I like that in a man.”

Turner, then just 27, commands the screen with the brassy presence you’d expect from a Stanwyck or Bacall or any of the bygone icons in whose period fashions Kasdan has Matty rather anachronistically dressed (during the rare scenes when she’s wearing clothes). The hilarious Hurt has an awful mustache and the self-satisfied smirk of a man not nearly as clever as he thinks he is. She’s constantly touching him, keeping the schmuck in a slack-jawed state of arousal while he stumbles through her nefarious plan. Check out where Turner’s hands are just beneath the frame-line during a crucial scene and you can see she’s literally leading him around by the you-know-what.

Amusing as this may be, there’s something a bit studious about “Body Heat.” Kasdan’s ceiling fans and, yes, Venetian blinds often come across as film school affectations. Much of the film’s second half is the inelegant dispensing of information crucial to the plot. It’s rescued by loosey-goosey performances from the supporting cast, most famously a brief, star-making turn from Mickey Rourke as a gentle-hearted arsonist lip-syncing to Bob Seger. But watching the film again I was even more taken with Ted Danson’s ballroom-dancing prosecutor. His job is basically to stand next to Hurt and provide exposition, and yet the future Boston bartender is tirelessly toying with props and putting unexpected spins on unexciting lines. These original side characters break through Kasdan’s hermetic homages and references. They keep the movie from feeling too much like a museum.

You’ll see no such reverence in Brian De Palma’s “Body Double,” a spectacularly sleazy send-up that finds the puckish, thin-skinned director confronting his critics and, if you’ll forgive the term, doubling down on everything that upstanding, respectable people hate about Brian De Palma films. In his New York Times review, Vincent Canby described the director as “someone at an otherwise friendly dinner party who can’t keep himself from saying the one thing that will infuriate everybody. It’s as if he were daring the host to ask him back.”

Chafing at the then-widespread complaints that he was just a misogynistic Hitchcock knock-off obsessed with graphic violence and nudity, De Palma concocted this hilarious mash-up of “Rear Window” and “Vertigo” that just so happens to be chock full of graphic violence and nudity. Middle finger aloft, he cast the daughter (Melanie Griffith) of one of Hitch’s iconic blondes (Tippi Hedren) as a porn star and has the villain penetrating helpless women with a massive power drill held at crotch-level as the most unsubtle phallic symbol in the history of cinema.

If you can get on its perverse wavelength the film is screamingly funny — one of the more playful entries in De Palma’s filmography, boasting one of his rare happy endings. “Body Double” teases and explodes those old noir conventions that Kasdan and “Body Heat” hold so dear, simultaneously coating every sinuous camera movement with a slick sheen of totally ’80s gloss. The notorious centerpiece sequence is a dialogue-free porno movie shoot scored with Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Relax” that doesn’t look anything remotely like any porno movie ever made, but it’s a pretty good excuse for some cheeky virtuosity and dirty jokes.

As you might imagine, “Body Double” was not warmly embraced by audiences upon its theatrical release in 1984. (It opened the same day as “The Terminator” and was gone in three weeks.) But the film found a second life on late night cable, where Melanie Griffith became an object of considerable fascination for a generation of pubescent boys. Indeed, one of the nice chances afforded by the Brattle series is to finally see these films in an actual theater, instead of sneaking around the house watching with the volume turned down low after your parents or the babysitter have gone to sleep.


Posted by Geoff at 11:56 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, January 5, 2016 9:48 PM CST
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