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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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« December 2016 »
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Interviews...

De Palma interviewed
in Paris 2002

De Palma discusses
The Black Dahlia 2006


Enthusiasms...

De Palma Community

The Virtuoso
of the 7th Art

The De Palma Touch

The Swan Archives

Carrie...A Fan's Site

Phantompalooza

No Harm In Charm

Paul Schrader

Alfred Hitchcock
The Master Of Suspense

Alfred Hitchcock Films

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Mission To Mars
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Sergio Leone
and the Infield
Fly Rule

Movie Mags

Directorama

The Filmmaker Who
Came In From The Cold

Jim Emerson on
Greetings & Hi, Mom!

Scarface: Make Way
For The Bad Guy

The Big Dive
(Blow Out)

Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
Official Web Site

The Phantom Project

Welcome to the
Offices of Death Records

The Carlito's Way
Fan Page

The House Next Door

Kubrick on the
Guillotine

FilmLand Empire

Astigmia Cinema

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A Lonely Place

The Film Doctor

italkyoubored

Icebox Movies

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Hope Lies at
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Motion Pictures Comics

Diary of a
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So Why This Movie?

Obsessive Movie Nerd

Nothing Is Written

Ferdy on Films

Cashiers De Cinema

This Recording

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EatSleepLiveFilm

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De Palma a la Mod
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Entries by Topic
A note about topics: Some blog posts have more than one topic, in which case only one main topic can be chosen to represent that post. This means that some topics may have been discussed in posts labeled otherwise. For instance, a post that discusses both The Boston Stranglers and The Demolished Man may only be labeled one or the other. Please keep this in mind as you navigate this list.
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Are Snakes Necessary?
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Friday, December 30, 2016
'SCARFACE' POSTER ART

Posted by Geoff at 5:47 PM CST
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Thursday, December 29, 2016
LEGUIZAMO ON WORKING WITH DE PALMA
SPECIFICALLY 'CARLITO'S WAY' - SAYS CONTRACT WITH FOX KEPT HIM FROM BEING IN 'MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE'
Birth.Movies.Death.'s Jacob Knight posted an interview with John Leguizamo two weeks ago, and asked him about his work with Brian De Palma. Here is the excerpt:
BMD: Before I let you go, I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you about working with Brian De Palma. He’s my favorite filmmaker of all time and you were in one of his absolute masterpieces, Carlito’s Way.

JL: Aw man, I was supposed to be in Mission: Impossible, too, but had a Fox contract that they wouldn’t let me out of. I was so looking forward to being in that movie. It would’ve been the third time I got to do something with Brian. I was so devastated. I loved working with him. I owe my career to him. He creates this environment where anything is possible.

In Carlito’s Way, I found myself as an actor. With my entrance as Benny Blanco, he let me do between twenty and thirty takes. And we’re talking about doing this on film, not digital. This was the era when you usually got three takes and had to beg for more. Not with Brian. Brian would let you play, because he was digging what I was doing; all my flamboyance and improv.

BMD: Do you have any specific recollections about how he directed you on that set?

JL: He loves to tell one actor one thing and another actor another thing and then just watch them go at it. It’s all about conflict with Brian. He just wants to get everyone riled up. He gets off on tension and watching actors cross the line. I’m so glad you brought him up because he’s really one of the geniuses of our time.

BMD: Earlier this year, I got to watch Carlito’s Way on 35mm and took my girlfriend, who had never seen it, and she was completely blown away.

JL: I think it’s due to finally get recognized for what it is. I was so proud of my work in that.

BMD: As you should be. You got to play against peak Pacino and killed it.


Posted by Geoff at 11:57 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, December 29, 2016 11:58 PM CST
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Wednesday, December 28, 2016
TWEET - SERRA'S 'DEATH OF LOUIS XIV'

Posted by Geoff at 11:54 PM CST
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Friday, December 23, 2016
GARRETT BROWN - STEADICAM IN 'CARLITO'S WAY'
IN CONJUNCTION W/CUTS, SUBWAY SEQUENCES "ACQUIRE AN ENERGY & DYNAMISM" THAT WOULD BE DIMINISHED AS SINGLE-TAKE
As reported here last weekend, Brian De Palma's Raising Cain and Carlito's Way were screened back-to-back Friday afternoon/evening at The Film Society of Lincoln Center, as part of its current series, "Going Steadi: 40 Years of Steadicam." The Lincoln Center series is the cover story of the current issue of Film Comment, which includes an interview with Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown, who mentions Carlito's Way as a prime example of the Steadicam being used to shoot in conjunction with cuts, or edits, to create a dynamic flow of images (as opposed to elaborate single-take sequences). The interview was conducted by John Bailey-- here is the excerpt:
What do you think of movies that use the Steadicam as a real-time technique-- the entire film being shot in a continuous take? I think of a movie like Russian Ark.
Of course I enjoyed Russian Ark, and likewise several more recent, less rigorous examples that invisibly devided the operating chore into more manageable hunks. But they are tours de force and inevitably degrade the stoytelling to achieve a continuousness that non-cineastes might not even notice. I love cuts. Moviegoers don't even notice them, and I loved shooting for cuts with Steadicam. At best, such as in the subway sequences of Carlito's Way, they acquire an energy and dynamism and pure bold kinetic energy that would be inevitably diminished by any attempt at a "one-er." I cherish the Western cinema tradition as is... cuts and all!

"A DEVASTATING ARGUMENT AGAINST HANDHELD"

Earlier this month, No Film School's Emily Buder interviewed Brown, and asked him to name "some of those greatest Steadicam shots which you have not operated yourself"...

Well, I was immediately a fan of the Goodfellas shot. God, there are just tons of them. The one from Boogie Nights I loved. Carlito's Way has some fantastic shots in it. Kill Bill. There's astounding Steadicam in that. And a vast number of foreign films. An inability to think of them as a sign that there are so many that are spectacular. It's like asking somebody, "What are your favorite violin solos in history?" and they flood in on you, the most astonishing ones by this and that artist.

The important thing that I learned—and we've all learned—is Steadicam is a rather crappy invention. By itself, it doesn't do a thing. In the hands of a gifted operator, it is an instrument and is of no more use than the skill of the operator. It just barely allows a gifted human being to do this amazing trick: to run along with their ever-moving corpus. Out the other end comes an astonishing dolly shot smooth as glass.

Not only that, it's a dolly shot that can do stuff a dolly can't. As a fingertip operation, you could put the lens precisely where it wants to be, not just in dolly to the right, but in French curves. It would drive a dolly group crazy. Instinctively putting the lens where you want as boom up and down, and traverse left and right and aim, pan, and tilt. Everywhere your feet can take you and your arms can put this thing, there is the potential path for a lens. But the point isn't to be flashy.

The point is to let these storytelling shots show you what you—the viewer—ideally would love to see; where you would put your eye if you were standing on that set looking. We do this a million times a day. Human beings are fabulous camera operators of our own eyes, and our own eyes are superbly stabilized. When you run, you don't see a jerky shot. You see a very smooth Steadicam shot. We instinctively lean left and right, stand up and move around, to see what we want to see. I think that is a devastating argument against handheld: human beings don't see in the shaky way that handheld presents the world. In fact, it's stupid that your audience would see a shakier vision than your actors would see.

There's a strong argument, I think, for at least being as stable as your own magnificent little internal Steadicam. Your inner ear tells your eye muscles how to move to eliminate the bumps. Look straight across the room and fix your eyes on something and shake your head up and down violently. It just sits there, right? Shake your head side to side. It just sits there. But if that was a camera, you couldn't watch it. Now, watch this: tilt your head to one side. The room does not tilt. Your brain is conditioned to perceive the room as level no matter what angle your eye is. Why? Because evolution didn't find that of any interest for keeping us alive. It's really fundamental stuff. I could be a great bore on this subject, but I'm not a fan of handheld, and that's why the Steadicam exists. I wouldn't have been able to put it in those terms 40 years ago, but it's become quite clear to me.

When you dart your eyes around left or right and fix on something and dart to the other side of the room and look, there are only maybe 30% or 50% of Steadicam operators that can do that with a Steadicam. There's almost nothing else that can do what is called a saccad. A saccad is when you dart your eyes from one side of the room to the other.


Posted by Geoff at 9:41 PM CST
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Thursday, December 22, 2016
ZACHAREK ON 'PASSENGERS' & 'MISSION TO MARS'
SAYS "ALMOST BRILLIANT" NEW FILM INCLUDES "FAILED ATTEMPT TO CHANNEL THE INTENSE DOOMED ROMANTICISM" OF DE PALMA'S 'M2M'
TIME's Stephanie Zacharek mentions Brian De Palma's Mission To Mars in her review of Passengers, which was released in theaters yesterday:
Passengers’ director is Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game), working from a script by Jon Spaihts, and he vests much of the movie with a buzzing neon glow. (The space-walk scenes, contrasting glo-stick luminescence with inky blackness, are particularly beautiful.) But the movie runs aground in the last third: It’s as if Tyldum and Spaihts know they can’t get too wiggy, so they take a hard right and try to land their ship in more conventional territory.

Along the way they make what appears to be a failed attempt to channel the intense doomed romanticism of Brian De Palma’s Mission to Mars (specifically, the sorrowful and glorious scene in which astronaut Connie Nielsen fails to save her fellow astronaut husband, Tim Robbins). By that point, Tyldum has crashed his ship, figuratively speaking—inside this failed picture there’s a sicker, darker, more truthful one crying to get out. But for a while, Passengers is really going for something. The movie it might have been is lost in space, alone, never to be seen by mere mortals. All we can see from Earth are its few brightly burning scraps, but at least it’s something.


Previously:
Zacharek on Gravity and Mission To Mars
"Cuarón is even more of a romantic than De Palma, if such a thing is possible."

Zacharek on The Martian and Mission To Mars
"De Palma, himself a high school science fair winner, approached space as a mystery, a problem beautiful in its vast unsolvability. Scott, all about solutions, gives us the most seemingly authentic Mars money can buy. That doesn't make it the best."


Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CST
Updated: Friday, December 23, 2016 12:14 AM CST
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Wednesday, December 21, 2016
LABUZA & ABRAMS - DE PALMA AS BEST ACTOR '16

EACH INCLUDED DE PALMA IN TOP 3 BEST ACTOR CATEGORY FOR 2016 VILLAGE VOICE POLL
As can be seen at left, Peter Labuza included a couple of documentary subjects, including Brian De Palma, in his top three actors list for the Village Voice Film Poll 2016. Simon Abrams placed De Palma as his third best actor. De Palma ranks as the seventh best documentary of 2016 in the poll.



Six other critics who participated in the poll mentioned De Palma: Sean Burns (#7 Best Film / Best Doc), Laura Kern (Best Doc), Calum Marsh (#7 Best Film / Best Doc), Joshua Rothkopf (#9 Best Film / Best Doc), Kyle Smith (#6 Best Film / Best Doc), and Matthew Wilder (Best Doc).

Posted by Geoff at 10:39 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, December 22, 2016 12:49 AM CST
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Tuesday, December 20, 2016
PODCAST: GELDERBLOM DISCUSSES 'RAISING CAIN'
SPECIAL GUEST ON "PODCASTING THEM SOFTLY"


Peet Gelderblom is the special guest on episode 33 of Podcasting Them Softly. The podcast and host seem to avoid referring to Peet's Re-Cut of Brian De Palma's Raising Cain as a "director's cut" (I've always thought "Re-Cut" is the perfect name for what Peet has put together), and the discussion is fun and engaging at a relatively lean 37 minutes (most podcasts these days seem to go on and on for over two hours). Well worth a listen, as both hosts and Peet obviously enjoy the chance to discuss De Palma's work.

Posted by Geoff at 4:32 AM CST
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Monday, December 19, 2016
'THE FURY' IN MINNEAPOLIS MONDAY & TUESDAY
7PM AT THE TRYLON, IN 35MM, PART OF KIRK DOUGLAS CENTENNIAL SERIES


Brian De Palma's The Fury will screen from a 35mm print tonight and tomorrow (Monday December 19 and Tuesday December 20) at The Trylon microcinema in Minneapolis. The screenings are part of the Trylon's Kirk Douglas Centennial series (The Fury also screened there yesterday afternoon), which also included Spartacus, The Vikings (both of which have already screened), and also includes Lonely Are The Brave, screening December 25-27.

Posted by Geoff at 8:07 AM CST
Updated: Monday, December 19, 2016 8:08 AM CST
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Sunday, December 18, 2016
CAIN & CARLITO PART OF STEADICAM FEST IN NY
CAIN TONIGHT AND FRIDAY; CARLITO ALSO FRIDAY AT LINCOLN CENTER
The Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York began a series on Friday (December 16th) titled "Going Steadi: 40 Years of Steadicam." Brian De Palma's Raising Cain screens tonight at 8:45 as part of the series, and again on Friday December 23rd, at 4:30pm. On Friday, you can make it a De Palma double feature by sticking around for the 6:30pm screening that day of Carlito's Way, also part of the series.

"Combining the freedom of a handheld camera with the stability of a dolly," reads the series program description, "Steadicam made its groundbreaking debut in Hal Ashby’s 1976 film Bound for Glory, which won the Oscar for best cinematography. Since then, it has become an essential tool of filmmaking and has allowed cinematographers to execute some of their most iconic, astonishing camera movements. And while Steadicam has left an indelible mark on Hollywood filmmaking (especially in the films of Martin Scorsese, Paul Thomas Anderson, Brian De Palma, and Quentin Tarantino), it has also been used to striking effect in works by international filmmakers such as Hou Hsiao-hsien, Béla Tarr, Bertrand Tavernier, and many others. Steadicam enabled the camera to move with the same grace as the bodies, objects, and spaces that it films, expanding the medium’s visual possibilities in ways that many of the key filmmakers of the past four decades have found indispensable. The Film Society is proud to celebrate 40 years of Steadicam’s usage, with Steadicam inventor and cinematographer Garrett Brown appearing in person."

Here is the program description of Raising Cain:

"Brian De Palma’s darkly comic, hall-of-mirrors thriller stars a deliciously deranged John Lithgow in a diabolical double role: as a mild-mannered child psychiatrist and his evil twin brother, who both take to kidnapping and murder in order to procure toddlers for a bizarre psychological study. Out-of-left-field plot twists, electrifying set pieces, and Hitchcockian doubles (and triples and quadruples) abound, while the film’s labyrinthine plot and disorienting, dreamlike tone are enhanced by the intricate, maze-like Steadicam shots."

I'll do a couple more brief posts centered around this fest in the next couple of days.


Posted by Geoff at 5:45 PM CST
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Thursday, December 15, 2016
CARRIE FISHER BOOK EXCERPT @ io9
'THE PRINCESS DIARIST' ON HER AUDITION FOR 'CARRIE'/'STAR WARS'
io9's Katharine Trendacosta posted an excerpt today from Carrie Fisher's new book, The Princess Diarist, in which she writes about her experience making Star Wars. The excerpt is about the dual auditions for Star Wars and Carrie, including a few exchanges between Fisher and Brian De Palma, as well as George Lucas, of course:
George Lucas held his auditions for Star Wars in an office on a lot in Hollywood. It was in one of those faux-Spanish cream-colored buildings from the thirties with dark orange-tiled roofs and black-iron-grated windows, lined with sidewalks in turn lined with trees—pine trees, I think they were, the sort that shed their needles generously onto the street below—and interrupted by parched patches of once-green lawns.

Everything was a little worse for the wear, but good things would happen in these buildings. Lives would be led, businesses would prosper, and men would attend meetings—hopeful meetings, meetings where big plans were made and ideas were proposed. But of all the meetings that had ever been held in that particular office, none of them could compare in world impact with the casting calls for the Star Wars movie.

A plaque could be placed on the outside of this building that states, “On this spot the Star Wars films conducted their casting sessions. In this building the actors and actresses entered and exited until only three remained. These three were the actors who ultimately played the lead parts of Han, Luke, and Leia.”

I’ve told the story of getting cast as Princess Leia many times before—in interviews, on horseback, and in cardiac units—so if you’ve previously heard this story before, I apologize for requiring some of your coveted store of patience. I know how closely most of us tend to hold on to whatever cache of patience we’ve managed to amass over a lifetime and I appreciate your squandering some of your cherished stash here.

George gave me the impression of being smaller than he was because he spoke so infrequently. I first encountered his all-but-silent presence at these auditions—the first of which he held with the director Brian De Palma. Brian was casting his horror film Carrie, and they both required an actress between the age of eighteen and twenty-two. I was the right age at the right time, so I read for both George and Brian.

George had directed two other feature films up till then, THX 1138, starring Robert Duvall, and American Graffiti, starring Ron Howard and Cindy Williams. The roles I met with the two directors for that first day were Princess Leia in Star Wars and Carrie in Carrie. I thought that last role would be a funny casting coup if I got it: Carrie as Carrie in Carrie. I doubt that that was why I never made it to the next level with Carrie—but it didn’t help as far as I was concerned that there would have to be a goofy film poster advertising a serious horror film.

I sat down before the two directors behind their respective desks. Mr. Lucas was all but mute. He nodded when I entered the room, and Mr. De Palma took over from there. He was a big man, and not merely because he spoke more— or spoke, period. Brian sat on the left and George on the right, both bearded. As if you had two choices in director sizes. Only I didn’t have the choice—they did. Brian cleared his bigger throat of bigger things and said, “So I see here you’ve been in the film Shampoo?”

I knew this, so I simply nodded, my face in a tight white-toothed smile. Maybe they would ask me something requiring more than a nod.

“Did you enjoy working with Warren?”

“Yes, I did!”

That was easy! I had enjoyed working with him, but Brian’s look told me that wasn’t enough of an answer.

“He was . . .”

What was he? They needed to know! “He helped me work . . . a lot. I mean, he and the other screenwriter . . . they worked with me.” Oh my God, this wasn’t going well. Mr. De Palma waited for more, and when more wasn’t forthcoming, he attempted to help me.

“How did they work with you?”

Oh, that’s what they wanted to know! “They had me do the scene over and over, and with food. There was eating in the scene. I had to offer Warren a baked apple and then I ask him if he’s making it with my mother—sleeping with her—you know.”

George almost smiled; Brian actually did. “Yes, I know what ‘making it’ means.”

I flushed. I considered stopping this interview then and there. But I soldiered on.

“No, no, that’s the dialogue. ‘Are you making it with my mother?’ I asked him that because I hate my mother. Not in real life, I hate my mother in the movie, partly because she is sleeping with Warren who’s the hairdresser. Lee Grant played my mom, but I didn’t really have any scenes with her, which is too bad because she’s a great actress. And Warren is a great actor and he also wrote the movie, with Robert Towne, which is why they both worked with me. With food. It sounded a lot more natural when you talk with food in your mouth. Not that you do that in your movies. Maybe in the scary movie, but I don’t know the food situation in space.” The meeting seemed to be going better.

“What have you done since Shampoo?” George asked.

I repressed the urge to say I had written three symphonies and learned how to perform dental surgery on monkeys, and instead told the truth.

“I went to school in England. Drama school. I went to the Central School of Speech and Drama.” I was breathless with information. “I mean I didn’t just go, I’m still going. I’m home on Christmas vacation.”

I stopped abruptly to breathe. Brian was nodding, his eyebrows headed off to his hair in something like surprise. He asked me politely about my experience at school, and I responded politely as George watched impassively. (I would come to discover that George’s expression wasn’t indifferent or anything like it. It was shy and discerning, among many other things, including intelligent, studious, and— and a word like “darling.” Only not that word, because it’s too young and androgynous, and besides which, and most important, George would hate it.)

“What do you plan on doing if you get one of these jobs you’re meeting on?” continued Brian.

“I mean, it really would depend on the part, but . . . I guess I’d leave. I mean I know I would. Because I mean—”

“I know what you mean,” Brian interrupted. The meeting continued but I was no longer fully present—utterly convinced that I’d screwed up by revealing myself to be so disloyal. Leave my school right in the middle for the first job that came along?

Soon after, we were done. I shook each man’s hand as I moved to the door, leading off to the gallows of obscurity. George’s hand was firm and cool. I returned to the outer office knowing full well that I would be going back to school.

“Miss Fisher,” a casting assistant said.

I froze, or would have, if we weren’t in sunny Los Angeles. “Here are your sides. Two doors down. You’ll read on video.” My heart pounded everywhere a pulse can get to.

The scene from Carrie involved the mother (who would be memorably played by Piper Laurie). A dark scene, where the people are not okay. But the scene in Star Wars—there were no mothers there! There was authority and confidence and command in the weird language that was used. Was I like this? Hopefully George would think so, and I could pretend I thought so, too. I could pretend I was a princess whose life went from chaos to crisis without looking down between chaoses to find, to her relief, that her dress wasn’t torn.


Posted by Geoff at 11:57 PM CST
Updated: Friday, December 16, 2016 12:26 AM CST
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