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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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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Brian De Palma spoke for two hours during a class made up of filmmakers and students yesterday at the Festival of New Latinamerican Cinema of Havana. The photo above is one of several credited to José Raúl Concepción that can be seen at CubaDebate. Meanwhile, Lourdes Elena García Bereau at ACN provides the text (translation via Google):
Surrounded by Cuban filmmakers and students, the American film director Brian De Palma spoke in Havana about the challenges of making films, his stories and the elements that, in his opinion, directly influence the psychology of characters and interpreters.

Special guest of the 38th International Festival of New Latin American Cinema, the creator of such films as Scarface (1983), Casualties of War (1989), Dressed to Kill (1980), and The Untouchables (1987), among others, discussed during the two hours his conceptions as an artist, in an atmosphere of continuous exchanging of ideas.

"Young people have no excuses not to make art-- the digital era is conducive to less production costs, they only need a camera and a laptop to start creating," said the director of Redacted, a highly acclaimed film during the year 2007.

"Although it is good to tell our own stories, we must try to direct the materials of others, to get in touch with their way of creating, to think, to structure the characters," said this eternal admirer of the work of Alfred Hitchcock, well-known wizard of suspense.

On the violence in his films and the treatment of women, De Palma confessed smilingly that "the history of cinema is the history of men photographing women"; Which is why he does not hesitate to interfere with women in their films, even if they contain an exaggerated nuance of action.

He also commented to those present the need to pay attention to elements such as sound and music during the processes of conception of a work, since these intervene as an actor more within the plot and psychology of the film.

Finally, when asked about his expectations with the Havana Festival, he exclaimed: ¡Viva Cuba !, aware that for more than two decades the locals have been anxiously awaiting this visit.

Brian De Palma is passionate about the seventh art, focusing on the work of Alfred Hitchcock, Roman Polanski and Jean-Luc Godard.

The thriller was its standard for several years, although it is two works of fantastic genre The Phantom of the Paradise (1974) and above all, the enormous success of the first adaptation of a novel of Stephen King, Carrie (1976), that placed him as one of the most interesting authors of the new Hollywood cinema, which emerged in the 1970s.

Prensa Latina (arc/apc) has the following report (again, translated via Google):
The era of new technology and communications means opening young filmmakers to an unlimited universe of ideas to be developed, US director Brian De Palma said here Thursday.

Before an audience of mostly filmmakers and students from different latitudes, De Palma meant the cost of production of any film, a reason enough for young people to develop the projects they want.

However, warned the director of films such as The Untouchables (1987) and Scarface (1983), [they] should endeavor to give meaning to the film resources employed in terms of a story that, in this context and repeated so much, become clichés.

De Palma explained that with the new possibilities of technology, shots are often used without apparent reason for the development of the plot, to the detriment of the seventh art.

From their experience, the young directors must worry about writing a good story or working with someone who knows how to do it, choose the actors with criteria, assemble it and present it to the different film festivals, where, surely, they will find financing for their completion and distribution.

More focusing on himself, Brian De Palma acknowledged that sometimes it is important to escape his own stories and tell others, while sharing some of his most relevant creative experiences in the production of films such as Casualties of War and Redacted.

Influenced by the world of cinematography, De Palma detailed in passages of his films that are a clear evocation to the genius of the suspense Alfred Hitchcock, or the great innovator, the Soviet follower Eisenstein.

On the latter, he remembered the scene of the stroller with the baby that descends alone on the stairs in the middle of a shooting, which he then readapted for The Untouchables: 'it's very good, why do it only once,' he joked.

Held back from previous editions, the renowned filmmaker was finally able to attend the Festival of New Latin American Cinema, with the purpose of imparting a master class and to visit the International School of Cinema and Television of San Antonio de los Baños, to whose anniversary of foundation is dedicated this 38 edition.

Posted by Geoff at 12:34 AM CST
Updated: Tuesday, December 13, 2016 12:53 AM CST
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Friday, December 9, 2016

Kirk Douglas turns 100 today. Yesterday, Sam Irvin posted the following on his Facebook page:

"KIRK DOUGLAS' 100th BIRTHDAY! Friday, December 9, 2016! Thirty-nine years ago in 1977, I had the great privilege of working as a production assistant and extra on Kirk's supernatural thriller THE FURY directed by Brian De Palma. I was also lucky enough to interview him for CINEFANTASTIQUE magazine as part of my journal on the making of that film. Then, the following year, I associate produced and production managed De Palma's HOME MOVIES starring Kirk who was also an investor on the film. He was a powerhouse -- full of ideas, excited by the entire process of film-making. He made it a point to learn every name of every actor and crew member by Day 2, a respectful tradition that I adopted and religiously practice to this day on my own films. CONGRATULATIONS, KIRK!!!!"

Nancy Allen then posted a comment on Irvin's post: "We sure had some fun making Home Movies. Kirk was wonderful! How fortunate we were to work with him."

Meanwhile, this past Sunday, Live Mint's Uday Bhatia posted a tribute looking at five of Kirk Douglas' most memorable scenes, and included one from The Fury:

Last action hero

Along with George Miller’s The Man from Snowy River (1982), The Fury represents the best of late-period Douglas.

In this 1978 film by Brian De Palma, he plays Peter Sandza, an ex-CIA agent who survives an assassination attempt and resurfaces years later in search of his telekinetic son, who has been kidnapped by a shadowy intelligence organization.

Pursued by his son’s captors, he takes two bumbling beat cops (one of whom is played, hilariously, by Dennis Franz, the future NYPD Blue star) hostage and commandeers their vehicle. De Palma, master of the elaborate chase, wasn’t fond of cars, a possible reason why the sequence is played mostly for laughs.

De Palma gave impetus to several fledgling actors—John Travolta, Robert De Niro, Margot Kidder—in his early films, but this was the first time he worked with a huge star.

Douglas is very much the old-school pro in the film, and in this scene. He deadpans through most of it, which only serves to make the panic of his co-passengers more hilarious; his sideways glance when one of them says, belatedly, “Somebody’s after you, is that it?” is a minor classic. Few actors over 60 would have consented to ending a big action sequence with their pants around their ankles. That Douglas does this without looking ridiculous is testament to his willingness to subvert his own virile image, and belief in his own star quality.

Posted by Geoff at 10:59 AM CST
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2016 11:00 AM CST
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Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Vulture's Kevin Lincoln talked with Mackenzie Davis about her role in Sophia Takal's Always Shine:
Watching Always Shine, I thought a lot about a male director, Brian De Palma.
But the gaze feels very different. I really like De Palma, but his gaze is aggressive and undressing and voyeuristic. I’m very aware of being a spectator in De Palma’s movies, especially of the female body.

Whereas the voyeurism in Always Shine seems to come much more from a female perspective, like when Anna is watching Beth speak to the man at the bar.
Female friendships are so emotionally intense and rewarding and invasive — they’re my favorite friendships, but there is this extrasensory perceptiveness about betrayal, and also there’s just always a competition in women because we’ve been told that there’s a scarcity of opportunity. So there’s always this sense of like, Who’s being hit on? Who’s getting that job? I’m not saying that every woman feels that all the time, but I definitely felt it — a way that we’re raised culturally where it behooves us to beat the other girl, and you can see when you’re losing in a situation. I always grew up thinking that being undesirable is a mortal sin.

Always Shine Director Influenced by Hi, Mom!, More

Posted by Geoff at 11:57 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, December 8, 2016 12:06 AM CST
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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Peet Gelderblom posted the above video to Vimeo last week. In it, he examines, in very precise side-by-side split-screen detail, just how deeply the entire shower sequence from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho has embedded itself within the cinematic sensibility of Brian De Palma. Be warned that when the blood comes in this video, it does so rather prolifically, as Gelderblom spins out the sparks of stabbing violence from various De Palma films like a DJ spinning fireworks. And he does it expertly as one who has studied the shots from De Palma's films, as well as from Psycho. I myself have looked at De Palma's Mission: Impossible literally dozens of times, and have never before made the connection between this shot (below) and Psycho:

At RogerEbert.com, Matt Zoller Seitz posted Peet's video today, as well, writing, "Gelderblom's piece clarifies the relationship between the two directors by showing just how completely De Palma absorbed particular bits of Hitchcock's artistic DNA into his own body of work. Not content to rework the plots and themes of particular Hitchcock films ("Vertigo" as "Obsession" and "Body Double," for instance, or "Psycho" as "Dressed to Kill"), he has integrated discrete stylistic tics into his own directing, cherry-picking individual shots that run as short as one or two seconds into scenes in De Palma films where you might not necessarily expect to see them. And yet these appropriations are transformed into something uniquely De Palma; this becomes much more clear via Gelderblom's use of split-screen, a technique that Hitchcock didn't lean on with the same geometric playfulness as his most famous disciple has displayed in fifty years' worth of his own work."

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, December 7, 2016 12:02 AM CST
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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Scott Patterson, who plays Luke on the TV series Gilmore Girls, was a guest on last week's Vulture TV Podcast. At about the 47:26 mark of the podcast, Patterson talks about the day Brian De Palma visited the Gilmore Girls set with his daughter, Lolita:
Vulture: I wanted to ask, we were talking before about the scene in the kitchen that you guys did for "A Year In The Life," and what a great experience you said that was. Looking back at the original seven seasons, is there an episode that is your favorite, either because it challenged you in some way, you have fond memories of working on it, or it just turned out really great? Are there certain moments from the original seven that stand out in your mind?

Scott Patterson: Oh, there’s one. Ah, yes, there is.

Vulture: Okay.

Scott: Well, it was the day that Brian De Palma, the famed director, came to visit the set to bring his daughter by—Lola, who was a big fan of the show. And, I came off the diner set, into the back area, because they were taking a little break for them to set some lighting. And somebody said, “Scott, I’d like you to meet Brian De Palma” [starts laughing]. And I went, “Holy crap!” So, anyway, I know a little bit about him. He’s a Philadelphia boy, we share a birthday, I knew a little bit about how he grew up, why he got into the film business, and why he got into the gory, gory, gory Carrie side of the film business to begin with. And, so I was quite pleased to meet him and chat with him a little bit.

And then we were in the diner shooting—Lorelei and I were shooting a scene in there, and it was a really, really daunting scene for both of us, because she comes in to the diner in this real rush and huff, spitting out all kinds of dialogue, and I didn’t have a lot of lines. But that’s even, maybe, harder, because you don’t want to screw up the other actor by missing a cue, and like, she’s got a big chunk of dialogue, and then you go, “Huh?” Or, “What?” Well, I didn’t, you know, it’s all timing, right? So, the pressure was on me not to screw up her timing, because she had such a daunting monologue to do. And so De Palma came in, on the set—no, no, he didn’t come on the set, he was in video village watching her side of it. Then when they turn the camera around—and she, you know, she executed flawlessly—and we were both pretty nervous, because Brian De Palma’s like watching us on a monitor—so we’re thinking, God, if we do really well, you know, we could be in, like, you know, we could be in a big movie, you just never know. So when they turned the camera around to do my coverage, and do my close-ups, Brian De Palma, the famed director, the Oscar-nominated-winning director, decided to come in and sit right next to the camera, where I’m supposed to look. [Starts laughing] So it was Brian De Palma’s head next to the camera lens, and Lauren’s head right above his. [Laughing some more…] And I had to try not to look at Brian De Palma while I was doing my six or seven little lines while she was spitting out all of this dialogue. It’s hysterical. After it was done, he gets up and waits and he goes back to video village, and Lauren looks at me, and she goes, “How did you possibly get through that?” I said, “I don’t know, I was scared shitless” [laughing].

When the Vulture host asks Patterson if he recalls which season that might have been (when De Palma visited), he said it might have been season 5 or 6, but he really couldn't remember.

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CST
Updated: Monday, December 5, 2016 12:03 AM CST
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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Posted by Geoff at 8:53 PM CST
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Sunday, November 27, 2016
Paul Sylbert, the production designer on Blow Out and many other classic films, died November 19, at his home in Jenkintown, Pa., according to William Grimes at the New York Times. He was 88. Sylbert was the identical twin brother of production designer Richard Sylbert, who passed away in 2002. Richard had worked with De Palma on The Bonfire Of The Vanities and Carlito's Way. Both brothers began their careers working on Elia Kazan films, Baby Doll and A Face In The Crowd, while in between those two films, Paul Sylbert also worked on Alfred Hitchcock's The Wrong Man.

Here's an excerpt of interest from the New York Times obituary:
The film critic Vincent Canby, in an essay on production design for The New York Times in 1981, noted Mr. Sylbert’s chameleonlike ability to summon up entirely different visual worlds even within similar genres. For Brian De Palma’s suspense film “Blow Out,” he evoked Philadelphia in realistic terms, but the New York in the horror thriller “Wolfen,” released on the same day as “Blow Out” in 1981, was, Mr. Canby wrote, something entirely different.

“Mr. Sylbert’s Manhattan is a fantasy island under siege by some sort of superwolves,” he wrote. “Its South Bronx is dominated by the shell of a church that seems to have been blitzed during months of air raids.”

In his review of the film, Mr. Canby praised its “otherworldly look” and wrote, “Not since Nicolas Roeg’s “Don’t Look Now’ has there been such a beautifully mounted and designed scare movie.”

Mr. Sylbert received an Academy Award for his work on “Heaven Can Wait” and was nominated for a second Oscar for Barbra Streisand’s 1991 film “The Prince of Tides.” In 2009, the Art Directors Guild presented him with a lifetime achievement award.

Posted by Geoff at 11:55 PM CST
Updated: Monday, November 28, 2016 12:19 AM CST
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Thursday, November 24, 2016
Brian De Palma's Body Double will be paired with Krzysztof Kieślowski's A Short Film About Love this Friday (November 25) and Sunday (November 27) at Anthology Film Archives in New York. The screenings are part of the series, "Voyeurism, Surveillance and Identity in the Cinema." Here's the website's description:
This summer we inaugurated an ongoing collaboration with the International Center of Photography (now located in close proximity to Anthology, at 250 Bowery) with a film series inspired by the exhibition, PUBLIC, PRIVATE, SECRET. The ICP’s debut show in their new home explores the concept of privacy in today’s society and studies how contemporary self-identity is tied to public visibility. The film series expands on this idea by gathering a selection of films that engage the themes of voyeurism, surveillance, and privacy, and that demonstrate the various ways that media is used to fashion a sense of identity. Combining narrative films like De Palma’s BODY DOUBLE and Kieslowski’s A SHORT FILM ABOUT LOVE with experimental films, documentaries, and video art, the series demonstrates how central these ideas have been throughout the history of the cinema.

Brooklyn Magazine's Kenji Fujishima previews the screenings, as well:
Perhaps it’s best to view the much-maligned Body Double not as a serious thriller, but as a deadpan comedy with thriller elements. So overtly derivative are the Hitchcock homages here that one can’t help but laugh at how ridiculously blatant De Palma’s being this time around. But the joke’s not just on us, but also on Jake Scully (Craig Wasson), with much of the first half playing as a lampoon of the struggling-actor hero’s professional, personal and sexual inadequacies. De Palma reserves his most amusing meta-movie conceits, though, for the second half, with Jake playacting a porn producer in order to get close to adult star Holly Body (Melanie Griffith), his descent into the hardcore-porn underground depicted as a hedonistic music video set to Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax.” In the end, it’s Jake’s own re-imagining of the film’s opening scene—his claustrophobia-induced failure while playing a vampire in a low-budget exploitation flick—that helps him finally achieve the potency he so desperately seeks throughout. With the film’s central mystery pretty easy to guess if you know Vertigo well, one is free to simply enjoy Body Double as an endlessly playful lark from a filmmaker interested in gratifying himself and daring us to watch.

Posted by Geoff at 10:25 AM CST
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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

De Palma's Flashdance Parody, In The Seemingly Forgotten Video For Relax

Posted by Geoff at 11:43 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, November 22, 2016 11:48 PM CST
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Sunday, November 20, 2016
Dionysus In '69 was the first film ever screened at Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center, and now it will be included in next week's six-day program, celebrating Zeitgeist's 30th anniversary. Brian De Palma's split-screen documentary, filmed with Robert Fiore and Bruce Rubin, will screen at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, November 29th. The description of the screening at the Zeitgeist website claims that there are two more Performance Group productions that were filmed by De Palma: Makbeth, which they did in 1969, and The Tooth Of Crime, a Sam Shepard play they staged in 1972. The site states that Richard Schechner brought 16mm prints of all three films to be screened at a Zeitgeist fundraiser for its production of Schechner's Commune there in 1989. Here's the full Zeitgeist description:
An experimental theater film by Brian De Palma, Robert Fiore and Bruce Rubin; directed for the stage by Richard Schechner; portions of the text adapted from "The Bacchae" of Euripides as performed by The Performance Group. Schechner approached "The Bacchae" not so much to re-interpret the play as to re-experience some of the impulses surrounding and informing it—to which end Euripides's lines were sometimes useful, and sometimes not. Schechner's troupe, The Performance Group, would by turns chant, or dance, make love, plot murder, whisper to the audience, or among themselves hold group therapy sessions. With its full nudity, its audience-participation orgies and its range of theatrical invention, "Dionysus in 69" strives for a degree of sensuous presence. De Palma uses a split screen, and he uses it in a variety of ways. Both sides of the screen always record the same moment in the production. But sometimes they show different parts of the arena (the Performing Garage was a kind of multi-level theater in the round, with cast and audience often sharing spaces). Sometimes they develop different points of view toward a single action. Sometimes they place an apparently random event in formal perspective, and at the same time isolate important detail.

In 1989 Zeitgeist Theatre Experiments, inc (our original name) staged a large scale theatrical production at X ART GALLERY, at 333 Girod St. in the CBD (a cutting edge space run by the late-great Clinton Peltier, an early partner and patron of Zeitgeist and all things ahead of their time) of COMMUNE (aka White Exorcism), an environmental theater piece by Richard Schechner and the Performance Group. In Commune, actors and volunteers from the audience restaged the “Pattern of butcheries in American History from the point of view of the Manson Family as a justification of their actions”. One night we even got a pregnant biker chick in the audience to play Sharon Tate as the actors brutally killed her as she screamed for them to spare her babies life. Although the production was savaged in the local press, the production was a huge success and ran for three weeks.

Richard Dodds in the Times Picayune said “Call me a reactionary pig but…” and proceeded to attack the production “under the fascistoidal direction of Rene Broussard” claiming that cast members “soiled, stretched and scuffed his 180 loafers when they wore them on their filthy feet to reenact the murders”. So for the remainder of the production cast members wore tie-dyed t-shirts saying “Richard Dodds Is A Reactionary Pig”.

As a fundraiser for the production as well as to afford bringing in Richard Schechner for the opening of the play Richard loaned us 16mm prints of Dionysus in 69, Makbeth and Tooth Of Crime (three films of Performance Group productions filmed by then NYU student Brian DePalma). DIONYSUS in 69 was the very first film Zeitgeist ever screened. So please enjoy this very rare look back at Zeitgeist’ history.

The Times-Picayune's Mike Scott provides a nice set-up for next week's Zeitgeist program, with background information, in an article posted Saturday:

It started with a protest of sorts. Which, in this particular case, is fitting to the point of bordering on poetic.

It was 1986 and Rene Broussard, then a student at the University of New Orleans, was directing a stage production of the giddily depraved "Blood on the Cat's Neck." It was a production chock-a-block with sex, violence, necrophilia, human bondage and other such provocations that so tend to tickle and titillate undergrads.

Then, days before the first performance, the department head dropped in on one of the final dress rehearsals. He was neither tickled nor titillated. He was, however, provoked.

"He was shocked by the graphic violence and nudity and said, 'You can't do this at UNO!,'" Broussard recalls. "... And so the production got canceled and I ended up taking it off-campus and running it on Bourbon Street as a benefit for Artists Against AIDS. It ran for three weeks. That became the first Zeitgeist experiment."

Thirty years later, Broussard's Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center is still going, and still working hard to provoke, regularly delivering or the promise of its guiding principle: "Something for and against everybody."

On Friday (Nov. 25), Zeitgeist will kick off a week of special programming marking its first three decades in operation. Highlights include Brian De Palma's "Dionysus in 69," which was the first film Zeitgeist ever screened; Broussard's own autobiographical triptych "The Fatboy Chronicles"; the music documentary "Liquid Land," which was filmed at Zeitgeist; and other selections intended both to highlight and celebrate the theater's history.

Posted by Geoff at 11:57 PM CST
Updated: Monday, November 21, 2016 12:32 AM CST
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