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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
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edited by Carl Rodrigue

Washington Post
review of Keesey book


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Brian De Palma
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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Baby Driver International Trailer

While talking to The Playlist's Kevin Jagernauth about Scott Pilgrim vs. The World back in August of 2010, director Edgar Wright mentioned that he was working on an original script that delves into the "purely visual" in a way that a Brian De Palma film frequently does. According to Jagernauth, the script was called Baby Driver, and here is how Wright described it to him:
Well, it’s something I’ve been meaning to write for ages. I really planned to recharge my batteries and get back into writing. I’m excited about doing something that’s almost purely visual, because I’ve done three films—and even though Scott Pilgrim is very visual, it’s very dialogue heavy as well, which is great. And music heavy. Yeah. I think I’d like to try something—I’m a big Brian De Palma fan, and I’ll sit and look at something like "Carrie," and I like the fact that it starts to play out like a silent movie. There’s a point in "Carrie" in the last half hour where there’s no need for any more dialogue because the plot is in motion. Or something like [Jean-Pierre Melville's] "Le Samourai," I look at something like that and think, wow, there’s hardly any dialogue in this film. Something like that can be enjoyed around the world. I’d really like the challenge of doing something where the dialogue is really stripped back and it’s all about the cinema.

Edgar Wright influenced by De Palma for Baby Driver

Posted by Geoff at 9:31 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 4:50 AM CDT
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Saturday, March 11, 2017
The Guardian's Anthony Quinn looks at Blow-Up 50 years on:
And here is where the film unfolds its most brilliant and memorable sequence, the part you want to watch over and over again. Alone in his dark room, our hero blows up the photos from the park and discovers that he may have recorded something other than a tryst. Cutting between the photographer and his pictures, Antonioni nudges us ever closer until we see the blow-ups as arrangements of light and shadow, a pointillistic swarm of dots and blots that may reveal a gunman in the bushes, and a body lying on the ground. Has he accidentally photographed a murder?

Contemporary audiences watching the way Thomas, the photographer, storyboards his grainy images into “evidence” would surely have been reminded of Zapruder’s film of the Kennedy assassination in 1963: the same patient build-up, the same slow-motion shock. When Thomas returns to the park he does indeed find a corpse. It’s the grassy knoll moment. We feel both his confusion and his excitement at turning detective – he’s involved in serious work at last instead of debauching his talent on advertising and fashion. But, abruptly, his investigative work goes up in smoke.

Next morning, the photographs and the body have disappeared. The woman has gone, too. This links to larger fears of conspiracy, a sense that shadowy organisations are hovering in the background, covering up their crimes – and getting away with it.

Blow-Up looks back to Zapruder but also ahead to Watergate and a run of films that riffed in a similar manner to Antonioni, with his inquiring, cold-eyed lens: Gene Hackman, stealing privacy for a living as the surveillance genius in The Conversation (1974); witness elimination and the training of assassins by a corporation in The Parallax View (1974); later still, Brian de Palma’s homage to the sequence via John Travolta’s sound engineer in the near-namesake Blow Out (1981). But these sinister implications are not on the director’s mind. Where we anticipate a murder mystery, Antonioni balks us by posing a philosophical conundrum. “It is not about man’s relationship with man,” he said in an interview at the time, “it is about man’s relationship with reality.”

Having created the suspense, he declines to see it through and sends Thomas off on an enigmatic nocturnal wander – to a party where he gets stoned, to a nightclub full of zombified youth where, bafflingly, he makes off with a broken guitar. (The film’s other symbolic artefact is an aeroplane propeller he buys in an antique shop). Finally, and famously, he encounters a bunch of mime-faced rag-week students acting “crazy” and playing a game of imaginary tennis on an empty court. We even hear the thock of the tennis ball, though there isn’t one in sight. Antonioni seems to offer only a shrug: reality, illusion, who can tell the difference? Whenever I watch Blow-Up, I feel a sense of anticlimax, of a road not just missed, but refused. Yet as much as it irritates, it still intrigues, and asks a question that relates not merely to cinema but to any work of art: can we enjoy something even if we don’t “get” it?

Posted by Geoff at 8:54 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, March 12, 2017 12:01 AM CST
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Friday, March 10, 2017
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

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

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

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 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

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 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
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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