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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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De Palma interviewed
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De Palma discusses
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Scarface: Make Way
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Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
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Entries by Topic
A note about topics: Some blog posts have more than one topic, in which case only one main topic can be chosen to represent that post. This means that some topics may have been discussed in posts labeled otherwise. For instance, a post that discusses both The Boston Stranglers and The Demolished Man may only be labeled one or the other. Please keep this in mind as you navigate this list.
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Friday, March 10, 2017
CONRAD BRUNSTROM ON 'DIONYSUS IN '69'
"THE AUDIENCE WONDERS WHETHER THEY ARE WATCHING A STAGED OR A REAL ARGUMENT"
Conrad Brunstrom, literary scholar and blogger, posted today about Dionysus In '69:
Many years ago, I read a book by Bill Shepherd about the experience of preparing for and performing Dionysus in 69. Shepherd describes the process of rehearsing for Dionysus as something akin to cult membership – [an] exhausting and all demanding process that lasted many months. This kind of “living theatre” has a tendency to treat the performance as a mere symptom of a process rather than as the defining end product.

I recall that Shepherd describes how Richard Schechner created and sustained The Performance Group in that garage that wasn’t really a garage. At one point, he reported to the cast that Jerzy Grotowski (no less) had seen an early production and complained that the partial nudity looked a bit tacky. On Grotowski’s second-hand authority therefore, Schechner persuades the cast to get the rest of their kit off.

The name Dionysus in 69 does a number of things in the context of a 1968 production. 69 is a rude number – which helps. It’s also “next year” – an imminent revolution. And of course, there is the important context of the 1968 US election, in which the Vietnam War is a decisive issue. [Finley]-Dionysos is the candidate to become President in 69.

The casual use of “real” names alongside Euripidean roles has a genuinely unsettling effect in the production. The audience wonders whether they are watching a staged or a real argument, a play or a group therapy session.

Does it all work? Is the blood and the nudity and the dicing with mental health all justified in the name of art? Well…. yeah… I think so. I was worried that the production would seem desperately ponderous and self important. In fact, the wit of the production is what shines through. Euripides is a disturbingly funny playwright, and enough of the Arrowsmith translation is integrated into this theatre work to demonstrate the joyous absurdity of religious conflict. And William [Finley] is a remarkable Dionysos – calm, comical, terrifying and seductive. The scene where he demands oral sex from Pentheus and/or Bill Shepherd is as careful and exquisitely delivered as anything I’ve ever seen on stage or in a film, or in a film that’s also a stage or a stage that’s also a film. Yes, it’s heavy on sex and death and liturgy – but there is a constant playfulness on show here as well. It’s consistently entertaining.

Brian De Palma uses a split screen technique to show the audience and the cast simultaneously. It’s a technique he would use in more famous films like Carrie and Dressed to Kill. On the one hand, this reminds us that everything we see is designed for a live audience. On the other hand, this “division” of the screen is precisely the division that is continually being violated by the Performance Group. It is increasingly impossible to separate cast from audience – and not just when they’re all groping one another. Apparently, this film joins together two separate productions. I for one, cannot see the join.

The one barrier that can’t be transcended of course is the essential “pastness” of film itself. The cast transgress every conceivable barrier between actors and audience, between cast names and “real names” and finally, with the triumphant bursting forth into the streets – between theatrical reality and the so-called “outside world”. The final gimmick that De Palma might have added might be a smashing through a cinema screen to terrify a theatre full of complacent movie goers. And then we’d be able to extrapolate and imagine Dionysos and company bursting out of our smaller screens to invade our dull and safe little worlds.


Posted by Geoff at 9:21 PM CST
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Thursday, March 9, 2017
VHS REVIVAL LOOKS AT 'CARLITO'S WAY'
"A MOVIE OF GREAT STYLE & ENERGY"


Last week, C.J. Smith at VHS Revival revisited Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way. Here's an excerpt:
Carlito’s Way is a movie of great style and energy, one that delights in the heady decadence of the disco scene while mired in the scum of the barrio, a place described as being ‘like them old cowboy movies, only instead of tumbleweed and cow dung we got stripped car wrecks and dog shit.’ Since Carlito went away, things have changed, and although some of those old faces remain, they look at him differently, and those who came up while he was gone have no respect for what went before. Respect for ones peers is a thing of the past it seems – and perhaps never existed; the moral code to which Carlito clings appears to be illusory.

Whether that was always the case we will never know. Carlito is a new man having beat a thirty year rap on a Kleinfeld-spun technicality, and when his old partner Rolando scoffs at this notion, you can only imagine what Carlito had been like before his sentence took him out of the game. The only window we have into that part of our protagonist’s life is through the people who now fill it. The movie features a wonderfully colourful cast, both lead and supporting, characters who are laced with slick and sleaze, while the bold and brightly coloured become dulled by greed and desperation.

Perhaps the most blatant hint at the person Carlito is trying to escape is young hothead Bennie Blanco, who boldly introduces himself as being ‘from The Bronx’. Bennie is a brash up-and-comer with a devil moustache and sinister glare, the kind of full-throttle delinquent who will either crash prematurely or rampage his way to the very top. Bennie is reminiscent of another De Palma character – Tony Montana from Scarface – and you can imagine this movie as kind of a quasi-sequel. Bennie seems to be smarter than your average thug, with the sense and ambition to offer Carlito some restraint as he sets about picking his brains. Of course, Carlito isn’t interested. He simply wants to take enough out of the club he has invested in to escape the streets that stalk him at every turn. He sees himself in Bennie and resents him for it, and eventually his ego takes hold as the new kid in town flaunts his growing power on his premises. Carlito is who Montana could have been had he been stopped in his tracks before he careened over the proverbial canyon.

In spite of these parallels, Carlito’s Way is very much a different animal. Unlike Pacino and De Palma’s previous foray into the world of crime, the movie is free of political leanings, extricated from the vengeful scribe of screenwriter Oliver Stone – but that doesn’t mean the screenplay is any less quotable. Adapted from a novel of the same name, the film is saturated in Elmore Leonard style prose, punchy and lyrical, with the kind of pulp poignancy which adds a peculiar depth to a world spray tagged with grandiose caricatures. Hypnotised by our protagonist’s narration, we are led wandering through a cinematic dreamworld, so dazzled by the poetic deceit and colourful language that we are unable to see the path in front of us, and by the time we arrive at our hero’s fated destination we fail to see it coming.


Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CST
Updated: Friday, March 10, 2017 12:18 AM CST
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Wednesday, March 8, 2017
ADAM CURTIS PRESENTS 'BLOW OUT' MARCH 19
AT THE CINEFAMILY IN LOS ANGELES;
"SHOWS JUST HOW POWERFULLY CONSPIRACY THEORIES CAN CORRODE OUR MODERN SENSE OF REALITY"








Previously:
HyperNormalisation effectively uses clips from De Palma's Carrie to illustrate shock/uncertainty/confusion of our current times


Posted by Geoff at 2:46 AM CST
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Sunday, March 5, 2017
NEW VIDEO FROM ROMAIN LEHNHOFF
LOOKS AT 'BLOW OUT' / 'BLOW-UP' / 'THE CONVERSATION' / 'DEEP RED'

Posted by Geoff at 6:13 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, March 5, 2017 6:29 PM CST
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Saturday, March 4, 2017
MIRIAM COLON DIES
ACTRESS WAS 80; CO-FOUNDED PUERTO RICAN TRAVELING THEATER; PORTRAYED TONY MONTANA'S MOTHER IN 'SCARFACE'
Miriam Colón, who portrayed Tony Montana's mother in Brian De Palma's Scarface, died Friday. She was 80. According to Deadline's Patrick Hipes, Colón's husband "told the Associated Press that Colon died owing to complications from a pulmonary infection."

Colón was born in Puerto Rico, and moved to New York City in 1953, where "Elia Kazan accepted her into the Actors Studio after a single audition and she won a Broadway role in In the Summer House with Judith Anderson," according to a 1971 New York Times profile of Colón by Patricia Bosworth. In 1967, Colón "became a driving cultural force in New York barrios when she founded the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater and began bringing free drama into the most deprived areas of the ghetto, often to audiences that have never seen theater before," wrote Bosworth.

In the early 1980s, Al Pacino was based in New York, and thus most of the parts for Scarface were cast from auditions that had been set up at the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, including, of course, Colón herself. Underneath the frame from Scarface below is an excerpt from a 2003 Fresh Air interview with Colón (hosted by Terry Gross; transcription via Puerto Rico Herald) in which she discusses her role in the film.

GROSS: You're now starring in "The Blue Diner." What does that role mean to you professionally?

Ms. COLON: It's a good role. It's a woman that is very simple, that is hardworking, that has a sense of honor and dedication. She cares for her daughter, and she's very vigilant about what that daughter is going through, what is she getting involved, you know, like all mothers. In a way this woman reminds me very much of my own mother, whom I lost about three years ago; may she rest in peace.

GROSS: What about this character reminded you of your mother?

Ms. COLON: Because my mother was this hardworking, she and I would fight sometimes. My mother maybe went to the sixth or the seventh grade, but she had a wisdom in herself, a kindness, a humanity that really determined my life. I had such admiration for her, and I was so sorry that she had to work so hard. But such dignity and pride, she was the best image I had. I wish I could be like her.

GROSS: Is it fair to say, though, lately you've been playing mothers who are more conservative and strict than their children, I mean, you know, who are from a culture that is more conservative and strict than the culture their children are growing up in?

Ms. COLON: Yeah. And I just relish--I guess that's why the people loved so much what I did in "Scarface." This was another woman--in fact, I enjoyed...

GROSS: Describe your role in that.

Ms. COLON: Oh, the mother was my mother. The mother in "Scarface" is my mother, so that's another instance in which I just swam into it. It was like a tailor-made dress that was made for me: the mother that also works very hard; that is very stern; that has standards in her house; the fact that she is poor and they may not have an automobile, that they may not have a nice house, that they may live in the outskirts of the city cannot under any circumstances be used to try to put them down or to be disrespectful to the them. And this is what she did to the character played by Pacino. The thing of honor, the stern--well, she's the only one that defied him, told him, `Get the hell out of here,' that didn't wind up with her head cut off. I love characters like that, and I think I can play them very well. And that's also great because I have such sympathy for those women.

GROSS: Do you have a favorite scene from "Scarface" that you're in?

Ms. COLON: The scene with Pacino where I'm watching him coming to introduce himself into our life again. And I know that he's pushing drugs, and I know that we may be poor, but we are not in the drug world. And I know that those suits cannot be bought from working in a factory or something like that. So I think I instinctly know. But what is worse is his insinuating himself into my kitchen, into my house, into the relationship with my daughter, which is all I have left, is very dangerous. And that's why I throw him out. And everything I said would happen happened. He destroyed her...

...GROSS: Do people recognize you a lot from that role?

Ms. COLON: Oh, yes.

GROSS: "Scarface" is such a cult film now. I mean, it has such a following.

Ms. COLON: Oh, yes. You know what? Youngsters. I've had the weirdest, the weirdest, all true, episodes in the subway platform.

GROSS: Yeah?

Ms. COLON: It's happened not twice, not four times, at least a half a dozen times. They're staring, and I say, `Oh. Oh, my God, they're coming in my direction. What are they here for? Are they going to push me off the platform or something, or are they going to take my ring or something?' And then it turns out that they come close and they say, `Mama Montana?' I say, `Si, I'm Mama Montana.' They say, `Yeah!' They have done this scene for me saying my lines and his lines. They have memorized the entire scene. But I've seen kids that I know they don't have any money, and they told me, `Oh, I own that film.'


Posted by Geoff at 9:10 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, March 5, 2017 11:21 AM CST
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Friday, March 3, 2017
TWEET - 'DRESSED TO KILL' & 'NIGHTDREAMS'


See also:
NightFlight article on Nightdreams

by Bryan Thomas
There weren’t actually too many people working on Nightdreams, though. [Stephen] Sayadian’s partner, Francis Delia — credited as the director of photography (sometimes as director) on the film, using the pseudonym “F.X. Pope” — actually operated the camera. Delia — a native New Yorker — had studied at Cooper Union and worked as as commercial photographer for Madison Avenue Ad agencies, but he was still at the very start of his career, according to his IMDB credits.

(As an aside, your humble writer actually met him once and spent an afternoon talking with him at a screening of his 1988 movie Freeway — held in a tiny room at Raleigh Studios as I recall — when he was looking for a music label to release the soundtrack. Sadly, our label passed on that opportunity).

But make no mistake, despite any involvement in Nightdreams by others, even Delia and Stahl, this is clearly a Sayadian film, a vision borne from his unique imagination and talents.

Sayadian has said that maybe five people worked on the crew of the low-budget art/porn film — in addition to Sayadian and Delia, there was a focus puller who made sure the camera stayed in focus, and a construction supervisor who worked on the sets that Sayadian carefully had art directed and he helped build the sets too. Despite the budget limitations, this gorgeous 35mm production is about visually similar — with its German Expressionist-influenced lighting scheme — with the production values of a high-quality, low-budget TV adverts...

...The thriller sequence seems to be patterned on Brian De Palma’s Dressed to Kill (Delia did the key art photography for the movie poster for Dressed To Kill).


Badass Digest's Jacob Knight on Body Double and Nightdreams
Near the beginning of the article, Knight writes about one of the movies De Palma had picked for his "Guilty Pleasures" article in a 1987 issue of Film Comment. "Amongst the apologetics," Knight writes, "was a 1981 slice of smut titled Nightdreams, directed by FX Pope. In reality, FX Pope doesn’t exist. The name was a nom de skin, belonging to commercial photographer and artist Francis Delia who, along with partner Stephen Sayadian, designed ads for everything from Hustler magazine to key art for major motion pictures. Included in their portfolio of immaculately designed one sheets (which also boasts John Carpenter’s The Fog and Escape From New York) was the iconic image for De Palma’s own Dressed to Kill. The admiration wasn’t one sided; in Nightdreams, Delia and Sayadian recreated the image from the piece of art they invented to help sell De Palma’s infamous murder mystery, repurposing it into one of the most harrowing scenes in the history of hardcore."

Film Comment - Guilty Pleasures: Brian De Palma
"There was a very strange movie [Night Dreams (1981, by F. X. Pope)] that was made by the people who made Cafe Flesh. I can’t remember the title, but it’s the one before Cafe Flesh, and is very avant-garde. What makes it so incredible is its surrealism. It was shot very surrealistically and very expensively. The premise is that there’s a woman, Dorothy LeMay, in a kind of psychological observation chamber which is being watched by this psychiatrist. She’s constantly masturbating the whole time she’s being watched. While she’s masturbating, she’s, of course, having all these fantasies. One was when she was a little girl and the jack in the box possessed her. Then she’s a housewife and a black guy, Fast Talkin’ Freddy, in an Aunt Jemima box comes after her—it’s obsessed with boxes."


Posted by Geoff at 4:23 AM CST
Updated: Friday, March 3, 2017 4:27 AM CST
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Wednesday, March 1, 2017
JOE AHEARNE'S BBC MINI-SERIES, SPLIT DIOPTERS
3-EPISODE MINI 'THE REPLACEMENT' - FROM CREATOR OF 'ONE WAY OR DE PALMA'


Previously:
Joe Ahearne discusses One Way Or De Palma
Must-See Video: One Way Or De Palma

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, March 2, 2017 12:06 AM CST
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Tuesday, February 28, 2017
HOWARD DEUTCH TOOK ADVICE FROM DE PALMA
"IF YOU CAN'T CAST IT, DON'T MAKE IT"
Salon's Kevin Smokler spoke with Howard Deutch and Lea Thompson, who met and fell in love 30 years ago while (respectively) directing and acting in the John Hughes movie Some Kind Of Wonderful. Deutch talks about landing in "movie jail" after taking advice from Brian De Palma, although he would eventually end up being brought back in to make the movie. Here's the excerpt:
Here in the present, how often does “Some Kind of Wonderful” come up for each of you?

Howard Deutch: Quite a bit, actually. Which is ironic because it wasn’t considered a hit when it came out. But it’s a meaningful movie to people and I met my wife on set so it’s a meaningful movie to me.

Most people talk about it like I talk about a movie I didn’t direct and I don’t think the other person has heard of. They don’t talk about “Some Kind of Wonderful” as completely unknown or an underdog but they cherish it because it hadn’t been this massive hit movie. It’s not like they’re saying, “Have you ever seen this little movie, “Back to the Future?”

Lea Thompson: It wasn’t a bomb, but definitely a disappointment. Yet it seems to have a broad base around the world that are really touched by it and quote it. I just asked on Instagram and Twitter about everyone’s favorite line from the movie and was amazed how many people have so many different memories of it.

I also hear from more men than women who love it, but I can’t tell you why. Maybe because it’s two girls fighting over a guy? Or because it’s about a guy trying to find himself? I also hear from a lot of gay women who love Watts.

You both have worked more or less continuously in films and television since 1987. Where do you see “Some Kind of Wonderful” in the arc of your work?

Deutch: I had only made one other movie up to that point and couldn’t cast the role Eric Stoltz ended up playing. Around that time, I ended up on a plane with (director) Brian De Palma, whom I didn’t really know. He told me, “If you can’t cast it, don’t make it.” I mentioned this to John and suggested I do one of his other scripts and ended up in movie jail. Paramount locked the door of my office.

Martha Coolidge (director of “Valley Girl”) was brought on to replace me. The script was originally a broad comedy and John made rewrites to take it in the direction of Martha’s sensibility, which was darker and more adult. Martha cast Eric. But when she and John had disagreements, I was brought back with a different script, a leading actor. A different movie.

Thompson: I was 26 when I made “Some Kind of Wonderful.” Right before, I had made “Howard the Duck,” which got terrible reviews. I thought my career was over. Eric Stoltz, whom I had become friends with while working together on both “Back to the Future” [Stolz was the original Marty McFly] and “The Wild Life,” acting as a messenger for Howard, delivered the script to my house. Howie saw me as right for Amanda even though I had already turned it down because I thought Watts [the character ultimately played by Mary Stuart Masterson] was the better part. I needed a job. Amanda was my second chance.


Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, March 1, 2017 12:06 AM CST
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Sunday, February 26, 2017
ARMOND WHITE ON JORDAN PEELE'S 'GET OUT'
"DOES NOT RANK WITH AMERICA'S NOTABLE RACE COMEDIES," AMONG THEM DE PALMA'S 'HI, MOM!'
I really enjoyed seeing Jordan Peele's uproarious Get Out in a packed theater a couple of weeks ago, and found it to be one of the more creative films I've seen in a while. National Review's Armond White is not a fan, and mentions Brian De Palma's Hi, Mom! a couple of times in his review, which is titled "Return of the Get-Whitey Movie"...
Get Out does not rank with America’s notable race comedies — Brian De Palma’s Hi, Mom!, Ossie Davis’s Gone Are the Days! (Purlie Victorious), Robert Downey Sr.’s Putney Swope, Melvin Van Peebles’s Sweet Sweetback, Hal Ashby’s The Landlord, Rusty Cundieff’s Fear of a Black Hat, Skin Game or any of the genre spoofs by the Wayans family, particularly the ingenious Little Man, or the recent Eddie Murphy films (The Klumps, Norbit, Meet Dave, A Thousand Words) that are so personal and ingenious, they transcend racial categorization.

But unlike Eddie Murphy, a masterful actor with a mature sense of humor, Peele fails because has not created credible characters. Chris and his ghetto friend Rod (Lil Rel Howery), who works for the TSA, are attitudes, not complex beings. The other blacks Chris encounters as servants on Rose’s family estate are no better than Trayvon Martin–type effigies — zombie-like when not sorrowful and tearful. Exploiting black people’s tears, paranoia, and pain without providing reflex is offensive — whereas the great “Be Black, Baby” sequence of Hi, Mom! caught audiences in their own racial prejudices and forced them to laugh. (Here, LaKeith Stanfield’s impersonation of comic Dave Chappelle’s still-puzzling neurosis is too alarming to laugh at.)

Peele’s self-congratulatory revenge humor has one particularly notable irony: It’s tailored to please the liberal status quo. His pace seems slow largely because the jokes are obvious: Bitch-goddess Rose trolls black sports websites in her bedroom, which is covered with basketball posters, recalling Scatman Crothers’s Afro erotica in The Shining. Chris even gets confined in a symmetrically furnished den with a 1960s TV console, Kubrick-style.

Once again, the 1960s serve as a race hustler’s vengeful reference point. But when the get-whitey genre was initiated in those blaxploitation movies made after the turmoil of that decade, artists from Melvin Van Peebles and Larry Cohen to Bill Gunn and Gordon Parks toyed with various genres to dramatize American social and economic circumstances. Black political consciousness was being realized on screen for the first time. Get Out is the recrudescence of Obama-era unconsciousness. Reducing racial politics to trite horror-comedy, it’s an Obama movie for Tarantino fans.


Posted by Geoff at 4:07 PM CST
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Saturday, February 25, 2017
'BLOW OUT' KICKS OFF 5-WEEK FILM/STYLE COURSE
SUNDAY, FEB 26, AT FILM STREAMS IN OMAHA; COURSE ALREADY FILLED TO CAPACITY
Brian De Palma's Blow Out will be the first of five films to be screened and discussed as part of a five-week course titled "Film/Style." The course, currently filled to capacity, will be taught by Diana Martinez at Film Streams in Omaha, Nebraska, every Sunday from February 26 to March 26. The course syllabus lists Blow Out as the film to be screened and discussed February 26 in terms of frames. Here is how the Film Streams site describes the course:
Film/Style is currently at capacity. To be added to the wait list or receive notifications about our next Courses offering (coming in Spring 2017!), please email Film Streams Education Director Diana Martinez.

Film Streams Courses is a new program of themed, multi-week seminars that will provide adults with an introduction to the tools of film analysis. Every participant will leave better equipped to analyze film aesthetics and examine the tremendously important role film plays in our culture.

Film/Style

Step in the vivid worlds of cinema’s most stylish films.

Instructor: Diana Martinez, Film Streams Education Director
Dates: Sundays, Feb 26 – Mar 26, 2017, 11am – 2pm

There is no art form more capable of provoking our senses than film. It can create fantastic places and expose the stark reality of life. Film/Style is an introduction to the aesthetic techniques employed by some of the most influential and challenging filmmakers in the medium’s history.

Film/Style will explore the complex interplay of mise-en-scène, cinematography, sound, and editing that shapes our viewing experience. An international tour of film aesthetics begins with a classic from Brian De Palma, and will conclude with a film by the great Chinese auteur Wong Kar-Wai, with films in between from Czechoslovakia, France, and Germany.

COURSE SYLLABUS
Frames: Blow Out 1981
Rhythm: Daisies 1968
Sound: Holy Motors 2012
Color: The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant 1972
Texture: In the Mood for Love 2000

Cost: $125 General, $75 Film Streams Members, $100 Student/Teacher/Senior/Military Includes Course materials and snacks


Posted by Geoff at 11:53 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, February 25, 2017 11:56 PM CST
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