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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
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AV Club Review
of Dumas book


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Carrie...A Fan's Site


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Scarface: Make Way
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De Palma a la Mod

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Friday, September 30, 2016

Chris Randle, a New York writer who has contributed to Hazlitt, The Guardian, Pitchfork, and the New York Times Magazine, among other publications, has written a long essay about Brian De Palma's cinema, which was posted earlier this week at REAL LIFE. The essay is titled "Night Visions," posted with the subheadline, "Does the voyeur need the exhibitionist or does he want to be her? Brian De Palma’s movies see it both ways." It is an engrossing essay, definitely worth reading in its entirety. Here's an excerpt:
De Palma’s earliest films were less precise, and sometimes more revealing: They don’t disguise his fixations as genre. The mercurial black comedy Hi Mom! trails like a disorderly kid after Jean-Luc Godard, through whom De Palma arrived at Brechtian ideas of estrangement — telling a story while displaying the artifice involved, so that viewers might act upon the fiction rather than just receiving it. A woman testing out a movie camera zooms in on the salesman, bearing the device to bare the device: “You twist this like so, and your subject will come closer and closer and closer…” An antic young Robert De Niro stars as Jon Rubin, who films neighbours fucking and tries to contrive porn spying on himself — then as now, the wrong angles will ruin your nude. Later he rehearses the cop’s role for a militant theater troupe, clanging his baton against a ladder with unnerving enthusiasm: “What are you protesting? Let me see your permit. You don’t need a permit?” (During the early 1960s De Palma was shot in the leg by New York police, albeit while drunkenly stealing a scooter.)

In “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” Walter Benjamin marveled: “The painting invites the spectator to contemplation; before it the spectator can abandon himself to his associations. Before the movie frame he cannot do so. No sooner has his eye grasped a scene than it is already changed. It cannot be arrested.” De Palma tosses his narratives like a bloody knife into the laps of bystanders, who then feel compelled to solve the crime, to absolve their complicity. He’s always resisting arrest. A long Steadicam shot from Raising Cain (1992) glides with unnatural grace past the walkways, staircases and elevators of a police station, tilting sinuously around a criminal psychologist as she explains the plot; exposition is a maze De Palma dances through. His Battleship Potemkin tribute in The Untouchables — staircase, baby carriage, crossfire — seems alien to the movie around it, a bubble trembling over a gun barrel.

The split screen, De Palma’s favorite technique, concentrates distraction. It suggests the flux of sexual difference, darting between signals, your lens rupturing, your life juxtaposed against itself. Some of these compositions turn slyly dialectical: Passion (2012) places scenes from a Jerome Robbins ballet next to a sinister prowler, the bodies hovering in parallel. But that sequence also misdirects the viewer’s attention at crucial moments, a trick De Palma has used since 1973’s Sisters, his first thriller.

Sisters opens with a blind woman entering the wrong change room. A watching man stops her as she begins undressing, and the camera cuts away to reveal that people are watching them too, on the test-your-ethics game show Peeping Toms. The woman turns out to be a Quebecois model/actress named Danielle (Margot Kidder), and she convinces that fellow contestant to take her home with him, away from the ex-husband who’s been following her. After they wake up on the couch together, he learns of her twin Danielle, too late to realize that the other sister’s protective urges are homicidal. A neighbor sees his hand flash scarlet from window to window. Split-screen shots break the aftermath into fragments, that cubist shape of time experienced through security cameras, making everyone’s movements look both frantic and dazed.

The neighbor, Grace (Jennifer Salt), happens to be a journalist, and she tracks down an old documentary about Danielle and Dominique, revealing that the pair were once conjoined. Dominique died during the botched operation meant to give Danielle’s ex Emil Breton a compliantly solitary wife, her personality somehow absorbed by the remaining twin. Investigating a mental hospital, Grace gets drugged by Dr. Breton, who nearly manages to portray her suspicions as symptoms. She hallucinates herself inside that documentary, lying beneath a surgical blade passed around on reverent palms. Thirty years ago the critic Robin Wood argued: “One can define the monster of Sisters as women’s liberation; adding only that the film follows the time-honored horror tradition of making the monster emerge as the most sympathetic character.” The medical system encourages Emil’s urge to discipline anyone complicating gender or anatomy.

Evil twins have more fun. In his study The Double, the psychoanalyst Otto Rank argued that doppelgangers often serve as a “bad self,” the splinter persona responsible for each forbidden urge. The sadistic executive played by Rachel McAdams in Passion invites lovers to wear a mask stylized after her own face. No character spends much time having sex per se. The perverse intimacies of jealousy get them off: They all want each other, or to kill each other, or to be each other. No wonder so many people fantasize about their double — about knowing what it looks like from the outside.

Posted by Geoff at 2:29 PM CDT
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Thursday, September 29, 2016
Variety's Justin Kroll reported yesterday that Terence Winter has signed on to whip the Scarface remake screenplay into something-close-to-final shape. Winter has worked with Martin Scorsese on scripts for The Wolf Of Wall Street, Vinyl, and Boardwalk Empire, as well as on The Sopranos. Antoine Fuqua is the director currently signed to direct the new Scarface. In March 2015, Jonathan Herman was hired to rewrite the screenplay on the heels of his screenplay for Straight Outta Compton. The initial draft of this new Scarface was written by David Ayer, the writer of Training Day, which was directed by Fuqua. In between Ayer and Herman, Universal brought in Donnie Brasco screenwriter Paul Attanasio to do a rewrite on Ayer's draft.

Meanwhile, Fuqua has talked about the project a little bit in the past couple of weeks:

Fandango article by Erik Davis--

Fandango had a chance to talk with Fuqua in advance of The Magnificent Seven arriving in theaters (stay tuned for more of that conversation this week), and we asked about the current status of this Scarface remake. Is it still happening?

"I read the script they have and it's actually really interesting and very timely," Fuqua said. "We're dealing with a lot of stuff now coming out of Mexico. And again, we still have those issues dealing with the "American Dream", and the fact that the game is rigged, right? It's not really an even playing field, but the promise is that it is. The promise is that everyone gets a fair shot, but that's not always the case. So that's always relevant, and right now with what's happening in Mexico, which is where [the main character] comes from -- he comes out of Mexico -- that's relevant, especially when you've got people talking about putting up walls and other kinds of stuff. We're still dealing with immigration, we're still dealing with what would turn someone into Scarface."

Fuqua went on to talk about how this new contemporary version of Scarface will deal with the problems many immigrants face when they arrive in the United States looking for a fair shot only to find anything but.

"They all leave these small countries, and it's hard to become Scarface unless you're someone like El Chapo," he said. "It's hard to become that guy in America. But what happens when you have a guy who has that same appetite and the doors keep getting shut in his face? What happens when he only knows one thing, for sure -- which is how to go and take it? I just think being disenfranchised is dangerous. When people are disenfranchised and delusional, it's just dangerous. I think it's more relevant than ever right now, and it can be extremely entertaining. So we'll see."

Is he bringing his Training Day and Magnificent Seven stars Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke with him to Scarface? "So far, no," Fuqua said. "We still need to do the casting and I have to have a couple more meetings on it. I would love to, though! I just haven't wrapped my head around it yet."

As for that Equalizer sequel currently scheduled to hit theaters next September, Fuqua says he'll make another movie before that, all but confirming there will be no Equalizer 2 in 2017. Will Scarface take its place? "Whether it's Scarface or something else, there will be another movie before that happens," he revealed.

HipHopDX article--
HipHopDX: After the tumbleweeds clear for Magnificent 7 and everything, you are moving on to Scarface correct? You know that’s like Hip Hop’s favorite movie.

Antoine Fuqua: [Laughs] Yeah, I know. I’m having real conversations about it. It’s something I’m talking about doing right now. I would like to do it honestly man; at one point I was hesitant. But again, when I read the script, even on that one, it’s all about is it relevant today? Does it speak to today? And it does! This cat comes up in Mexico. He’s not Cuban [like Al Pacino’s 1983 character]. And it’s pretty hardcore.

HipHopDX: That’s how it should be.

Antoine Fuqua: Right? Because you dealing with El Chapo and everyone else, it’s a different world now. That’s where they’re coming from. And it touches on a more modern day, not just gangsterism but how everything moves now on the streets. How money moves now. The Scarface [from 1983], he couldn’t survive today. We saw that. The Pablos came and went. El Chapo is about to go. So what’s next?

HipHopDX: Could you see a rapper playing that role?

Antoine Fuqua: I’ll say never to anything. If somebody come in the room and they have what it takes and they got the right skill set and presence to do that, then why not? I believe in those kind of movies. You gotta be raw. You gotta be a fuckin’ animal, man. You gotta be highly intelligent but you gotta be an animal. Now Scarface was an animal. He was a fuckin’ beast. Period. So that’s how I see that. It’s gotta be somebody that young people connect to because Scarface was all about taking the dream. You can’t wait for somebody to give it to you.


The Scarface remake just got a lot less interesting
Scarface remake is Larraín's dream project
The Scarface remake just got a lot more interesting

Posted by Geoff at 8:24 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, September 29, 2016 6:07 PM CDT
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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Posted by Geoff at 12:17 AM CDT
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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

As Antoine Fuqua's remake of The Magnificent Seven plays in theaters, Laurent Vachaud reminds us that Brian De Palma had considered a remake of that film around 1990, which would have set the story within the Medellin Cartel. "Mercenaries would have come to the aid of peasants enslaved by cocaine traffickers," De Palma told Vachaud and Samuel Blumenfeld in their interview book on the director. "I developed a script that was very good, with Daniel Pyne, who had written Pacific Heights for John Schlesinger. And then, over time, my interest in this project has dissipated."

In the same interview, De Palma mentions that around that time, he had also signed on to direct a remake of Billy Wilder's Ace In The Hole, "a film denouncing the power of the media," for which David Mamet had written the screenplay. Eventually he made The Bonfire Of The Vanities, which dealt with similar themes.

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 28, 2016 12:10 AM CDT
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Monday, September 26, 2016

Posted by Geoff at 11:10 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, September 26, 2016 11:15 PM CDT
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Sunday, September 25, 2016
The Final Girls (Anna Bogutskaya and Olivia Howe) hosted a screening last night of Brian De Palma's Carrie at the ICA in London. The screening, which was part of Scalarama film month, was followed by a panel discussion made up of Michael Blyth (BFI Festivals Programmer), Catherine Bray (Film4 Editorial Director and Producer) and Dr. Alison Pierse (Lecturer at York University). The discussion is summarized by Smoke Screen's Owen Van Spall:
Brian de Palma's films and his own statements have been controversial to say the least, something the Carrie panel tackled right from the start of their conversation. This is a film that begins with a tracking shot that has become somewhat notorious; the camera journeys through a steamy changing room as Carrie’s high school gym class are seen in various stages of nudity. This is far from the last time in the movie de Palma’s camera will linger on female flesh either: with female cheerleaders on the pitch and high school bad girl Chris’s bra-less torso getting plenty of screen time. This is also one of many de Palma films that put their female characters through the wringer, to put it politely.

Thus the panel agreed that at some point they had all been driven to ask themselves: “Is it cool to like Carrie [and de Palma]?” But the consensus was that, after repeat viewings and after taking a few steps back to reconsider de Palma’s career as a whole, rejecting Carrie entirely as mysoginistic felt too much like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Alison Pierce for example praised the way the film - largely through Sissy Spacek’s intense performance - effectively transmitted the desperate sadness of the plight of this hapless but incredibly powerful young woman. You empathise with Carrie as almost a Frankenstein-like figure, a victim created by monstrosity. The panel also noted how both De Palma and King explored her victimhood in interesting ways - with the narrative and characterisation of Carrie seeming at times to provoke the viewer to almost want this pathetic figure to get tormented. De Palma arguably manipulates viewers to effectively swing between delighting in seeing Carrie suffer, and yearning to see her inflict terrible vengeance on her tormentors turn. The bucket of blood sequence, with its long, almost gleeful build up in slow motion, was much discussed as an example of this. Viewers might want to ask themselves; do you maybe sneakily want that rope to be pulled, and the bucket to fall, knowing both what the immediate humiliating result will be, and what will happen next?

Author Stephen King and de Palma also have an interesting kingship, as Catherine Bray noted: they are good at “serious fun” - taking a ludicrous concept and imbuing it with genuine terror and emotional weight. Of course, Carrie can simply be enjoyed as campy, shlockly fun, with Michael Blyth half-joking if you could convert this film easily into a musical given its tone and setting. Regardless, the panel noted that the film remains very striking from a cinematographic perspective, with a visual approach that teeters on the deliciously overblown at times. De Palma throws in a tonne of tricks that he would become well known for, including diopter lens shots, and the use of montage which really works well in the prom terror sequence, as Carrie starts to come apart, her attention and powers jumping to various points as she singles out her enemies for destruction. The Smoke Screen in particular was struck by the deliriously bold lighting throughout the film too. Much of the film’s early sequences seem drenched in a warm, apple pie glow, but in the prom night sequence sees de Palma start us off with a dreamy kaleidoscopic mix of purples and yellows that highlight how carried away Carrie is by her one moment of bliss, only to drench the entire affair in an insanely deep red shade once the psychic assault starts.


Meanwhile, blogger Harry Faint posted a brief review after watching Carrie, seemingly for the first time:

Even though I knew the plot and knew the rampage that was about to ensue when the bucket finally dropped, I was still in shock. The build up of this film is masterful, with the final slow motion sequence becoming a sickly sweet fantasy. The narrative is relatively simple and the pace is snappy, which makes the final sequence all the more painful to watch as carnage unravels as quickly as Carrie’s happiness. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it. There is an interesting use of De Palma blurring two images into a shot and I came away feeling that every visual was vital to the story – the prom sequence is such a great accomplishment in filmmaking. It felt real, Carrie’s telekinesis is never questioned or explained as the supernatural. In fact, nothing is over explained, or if things are explained it is through use of visuals and absence of voice. However, one thing I disliked is the reuse of Herrman’s 4 notes from Psycho (Hitchcock, 1960), but it still works.

Hearing the bucket swing back and forth and nothing else is as clever as it is haunting. You know you like a film when you wake up the next morning still thinking about it.

Posted by Geoff at 4:30 PM CDT
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Saturday, September 24, 2016
Indicator is a new British Blu-ray/DVD spinoff of Powerhouse Films that will focus on cult movies. Its first two releases, both on October 24, will be limited dual-format editions of Brian De Palma's Body Double and John Carpenter's Christine (the latter will include audio commentary by Carpenter and star Keith Gordon). Both are region 2 releases limited to 5000 copies each.

The Body Double release will include the film's recent 4K restoration, as well as last year's 38-minute bonus feature, "Pure Cinema," in which first assistant director Joe Napolitano discusses De Palma's working methods and visual approach. It will also include the film's isolated score, an 8-minute TV interview with Craig Wasson from 1984, and a 40-page booklet "with a new essay by Ashley Clark and archival reprints, including a lengthy 1985 interview with De Palma." It will also have bonus features that had previously appeared on the 2002 DVD editions of the film.


The Telegraph's Robbie Collin previews the Indicator release by saying, "When it was released in 1984, Brian De Palma's follow-up to Scarface was dismissed as exploitative trash. And that's exactly what he wanted." Here's a bit of an excerpt:

Few directors seize an opportunity like Brian De Palma. In 1983, riding high on the success of Scarface, De Palma was offered a three-film deal by Columbia Pictures, who wanted to see where this stylish and controversial pulp auteur would go next.

The following year, he repaid them with a film that was so squalid, so bloodthirsty, and so critically pummelled that three weeks after its release – roughly, the amount of time it took to vanish from cinemas – the studio had torn up his contract, painted out his private parking space, and thrown him off the lot.

The film the then-44-year-old director gave them was Body Double: a Los Angeles-set erotic thriller in which a Peeping Tom becomes the key witness in the murder of a nymphomaniac trophy wife. Among its notable traits are an apparently wilfully bad lead performance from a virtual nobody, entire scenes openly plagiarised from Alfred Hitchcock, walk-on appearances from genuine adult film stars, and a sequence in which the aforementioned desperate housewife is skewered on an enormous safe-cracking drill. As far as Columbia was concerned, it was a $10 million fiasco. But for De Palma, the outrage was worth every last buck...

...Talking to Quentin Tarantino for a 1994 edition of the BBC’s arts series Omnibus, De Palma admitted that “after these battles…I said, ‘OK, you want to see violence? You want to see sex? Then I’ll show it to you.’” In short, the film was an almighty up yours – aimed not just at the censors, but also the critics, commentators and Hollywood players for whom Brian De Palma films were just brand-name misogynistic trash.

Except Body Double isn’t trash, misogynistic or otherwise. It’s unrepentantly trashy – not the kind of film you watch while your parents or kids are in the house, or with your curtains open. But it’s also a complex, provocative suspense thriller that bears comparison with the three immaculate Hitchcock classics – Vertigo, Psycho and Rear Window – it gleefully drags through the sludge.

Posted by Geoff at 4:18 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, September 24, 2016 4:31 PM CDT
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Friday, September 23, 2016
Joe Napolitano passed away July 23 in Los Angeles, following a battle with cancer, Variety reports. He was 67. Napolitano was a respected TV director who spent the early part of his career as first assistant director on feature films, where he worked most prominently on every Brian De Palma picture between 1981 and 1987: Blow Out, Scarface, Body Double, Wise Guys, and The Untouchables. He also worked with De Palma on the Bruce Springsteen music video, Dancing In The Dark (1984). Napolitano discussed the making of Body Double for the Carlotta Ultra Collector's Box of the film, which was released in France last December.

In her 1984 book on the making of Body Double (Double De Palma), Susan Dworkin describes Napolitano as one of the three major figures on the set (aside from De Palma). Napolitano "had worked with Brian on Blow Out and Scarface and knew him as well or better than anyone else on the production," Dworkin writes. "Short and good-looking, with an uptilting mouth always ready to grin, Joe was responsible for seeing to it that Brian got exactly what Brian wanted. Howard Gottfried called him by the affectionate Yiddish diminutive 'Yossele' because he gave the impression of being such a sweet guy, a regular pussycat."

Following Wise Guys, which had co-starred Danny DeVito, Napolitano worked as first assistant director on DeVito's directorial feature debut, Throw Momma From The Train.

Napolitano can be seen shadowing De Palma on the sets of Body Double and The Untouchables in the two pics below:

Posted by Geoff at 8:24 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, September 24, 2016 10:57 AM CDT
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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Posted by Geoff at 8:29 AM CDT
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Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Danny McBride, co-creator of HBO's Vice Principals, talked to Uproxx's Steven Hyden about the show, mentioning Brian De Palma in regards to the upcoming second season. Here's the excerpt from Hyden's article:
Even by the insane standards of the HBO comedy’s inaugural season, Sunday’s Vice Principals season finale was, well, very insane. Over the course of nine polarizing episodes, in which co-creators Jody Hill and Danny McBride walked the razor’s edge between pitch-black comedy and disquieting psychological drama, Vice Principals followed the efforts of school administrators Neal Gamby (Danny McBride) and Lee Russell (Walton Goggins) to overthrow their new boss, Belinda Brown (Kimberly Hebert). Along the way, there were some extremely uncomfortable moments, including an act of arson at Brown’s home and a horrifying night of destruction prompted by a bottle of gin.

And then there was Sunday’s episode, in which [SPOILERS AHEAD] Gamby and Russell finally succeed in getting rid of Brown. Better yet, they’re appointed co-principals of the school. But just when everything appears to have worked out for the show’s protagonists/villains, Gamby is gunned down in the school’s parking lot by a mysterious masked figure, and apparently left for dead.

Vice Principals ended its first season as it began — uneven, erratic, and yet also thrillingly unpredictable and unique. It wasn’t perfect, but Vice Principals was a welcome oddity amid an increasingly conformist television landscape. As the conventions of “Good TV” are codified and reduced to formula — with an established set of clearly defined storytelling perspectives and moral objectives — Vice Principals stubbornly went against the grain, never letting the audience off the hook by telling it how to feel about its deeply flawed characters.

Initially conceived as an 18-episode limited-run series, Vice Principals already has its second and final season in the can. “Everyone could watch it now if HBO would just release it. It’s ready. It’s there for you to see,” McBride told us Monday in a phone interview.

As for what viewers should expect from Vice Principals moving forward, McBride says “we were channeling a lot of John Hughes and ’80s teen comedy in the first season, and I feel like in the second season we start channeling a lot of Brian De Palma.”

Posted by Geoff at 12:22 AM CDT
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