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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 discusses
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The Virtuoso
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No Harm In Charm

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The Filmmaker Who
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Jim Emerson on
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Scarface: Make Way
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Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
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italkyoubored

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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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Saturday, March 25, 2017
ASSAYAS ON DE PALMA
"DE PALMA OR CRONENBERG, THEY DEAL WITH ABSTRACTIONS, WITH THE MYSTERIES OF LIFE"
Hot on the heels of Harry Knowles calling Personal Shopper an "instant classic" that reminds of Nicolas Roeg and Brian De Palma, comes an interview with that film's director in which he is asked if he'd thought of De Palma at all while making it. Here's an excerpt from the interview, conducted by Calum Marsh at the National Post:
So much of this film takes place “inside” a cellphone, so to speak. Is it an iMessage movie?

I had the desire to make a movie that was simply one long conversation over text messages. That’s a bit of a stretch, and would get us into some kind of experimental area, which is not quite what I wanted. But I think that text messaging — which has become such a big part of our lives, for such a long time now — is a fascinating mode of communication. I think its potential has never really been fully explored in films.

How do you mean?

Because texting creates a relationship to words, to punctuation, and other very complex things — how long it takes to answer, how it feels when you’re waiting for an answer. It’s so complex, and it’s so charged, and the way we use the words is so careful. It’s very similar to poetry. Texting is the closest thing we have to poetry in everyday life — because all of a sudden every single word echoes in all of its meanings. It’s very complex. And also fascinating, because we have this strange and disturbing addiction to the screens on our phone. It’s mesmerizing; there’s something hypnotic about it.

What exactly is so engrossing?

I think that any kind of text conversation is pretty intense. And it’s more intense than actual live conversation, which is mitigated by politeness and social conventions. Text messages are straight to the point: you verbalize things in a much clearer, straightforward way than you would do in conversation, where you sort of wrap it in niceness. In text messages, it’s not wrapped. It’s raw. I always thought there was an intensity there — and we’re not even talking about sexting, which one can do or not do, but when you even get close to that area it’s disturbing.

That’s fascinating dramatically. But what about aesthetically? How did you determine how the texting would look on-screen?

To me, it was obvious I was going to shoot the phones, to have the phone be held and used in close-up. I was not going to have those little pop-ups; I don’t like that at all. Because for me it has to do with the screen. If you disconnect the words from the screen, they don’t function the same way. It’s all about the screen. It’s the screen that fascinates us. Again, if you print the words, you don’t have the icons. You don’t have the waiting, the “received at that time,” you don’t get that kind of suspense. And that’s very specific — and addictive.

We’re addicted to the suspense of waiting for messages to arrive?

To all of it. I realized, you know, even when I was I was shooting the phone footage, and we’d wait for the text to arrive on camera, I would think, is it coming, is it coming? And I liked the idea of movement. A lot of times we have inserts, closeups; some of them we did separately but a lot of them have to do with the movement and the way Kristen is typing. She used to say that it’s a movie where her thumbs are the co-star. The way she types is interesting.

Did you instruct her to put a space before her question marks?

No! She did it naturally. This is something that’s not part of English punctuation — it’s something you do in France. In French, there’s a space.

Oh. That makes sense.

No, it makes no sense! But yeah, I never told her, “change this,” “you misspelled this or that.” I thought that was all part of the process.

I love this idea of turning off airplane mode and having the texts come through.

That was part of the screenplay, yeah. I wanted the fear to rise. I like the idea of the text messages coming as a cascade. But it was difficult to get it right — we had to do it multiple times. And the version in the film, it’s the only moment that’s slowed down. There’s a slight slow-motion.

Was Brian De Palma on your mind at all?

I love Brian De Palma. Not so much the recent work, but I’m a huge fan. I’m a huge fan. Some of his Hitchcockian work is pretty amazing. I never interviewed him, but I wrote a long piece about Body Double. I love most of his films from that period. The Fury is amazing.

It was on my mind because of the police interview…

Well, the love I have for De Palma, it’s like the admiration I have for filmmakers like David Cronenberg or John Carpenter. They are guys who make genre films that are just way beyond the genre. They are great artists. Usually they use genre to make films that deal with more complex things. Things that are more powerful. De Palma or Cronenberg, they deal with abstractions, with the mysteries of life. They are just great, great filmmakers, great writers. The genre element just makes it more powerful. So I tried to learn the lessons.

You’ve made genre films before. Boarding Gate, Demonlover. How do you balance those genre elements with a more sophisticated arthouse style?

Well, the more what I have on my mind is abstract — the more it can even be a bit intellectual, but I hope in the better sense, meaning reflexive — the more I feel I need the genre element to make it exciting. But it’s all about the balance. It’s only when you’re writing or editing when you feel the right balance.

Did the balance change in editing?

Yes. The music changed a great deal. Horror movies, they are covered in music, from start to finish, and it’s always very similar. At some point… you know, I’m friends with the Daft Punk guys, one of the Daft Punk guys. I wanted to use his music for the film, to have some kind of electronic soundtrack. And then I realized it would literally destroy the film — because all of a sudden it would become a genre film. That’s when I started using baroque music instead. It’s totally not what you’d expect in a genre film, and it doesn’t give it a genre tone. For me it’s a movie about Maureen that once in awhile goes into genre territory. So that’s mostly where the fine-tuning was. Also the ghost scene. Using CGI, it’s not exactly my world, it’s kind of strange to me. I thought I kind of needed to give some reality to her vision.


Previously:

Harry Knowles: Personal Shopper reminds of Nicolas Roeg, Brian De Palma, moments of Spielberg/Hooper

Jason Shawhan, Nashville Scene review of De Palma's Passion:

"Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams play beautiful corporate warriors doing awful things to one another, and the end result is a delirious fusion of Assayas' Demonlover and Mean Girls."

Personal Shopper echoes Body Double, and De Palma in general


Posted by Geoff at 9:16 PM CDT
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Friday, March 24, 2017
PODCAST - SCREENWRITERS DISCUSS 'LIGHTS OUT'
ELEVATOR PITCH: "BLIND GIRL IN A HOUSE, SOME FOLKS BREAK IN, UNEXPECTED THINGS HAPPEN"

Yesterday's episode of The NYFA Hour Popcorn Talk podcast featured Lamont Magee and Jeff W. Byrd, the screenwriters for Brian De Palma's upcoming Lights Out. During the podcast, they briefly discussed the project with hosts Joelle Monique and Pegah Rad:
Joelle: You’re working on a movie that Brian De Palma is going to direct. Did you guys write it before Brian De Palma came on board?

Jeff: Yes.

Joelle: Okay… Did it change at all when he came on board? How you approached the project? Or was it done and you were like, here Brian, let’s go?

Jeff: No, I mean, well, it’s still changing now, because he’s still, you know, transforming it and all that stuff. So, but the essence of it is pretty much what we wrote. But Lamont’s been really dealing with him directly, with the changes that were made most recently. But at the end of the day the essence will usually stay the same. Obviously, words may change, and situations may change, and things like that. When we wrote it, it was a little simple movie—two million dollar, little small thing.

Lamont: Right, it was like a million dollars. It was, like, small.

Jeff: Yeah, and then De Palma comes on board, and it’s like, what, forty or fifty or something… something insane. So it had to grow.

Lamont: But, there’s a funny story. I was working at Virgin Entertainment, and Jeff was just directing, you know, doing what he does. And we met at Marie Callender’s at the SAG offices on Wilshire, and we’d sat down and had lunch, and he was like, “I have this idea, we just need to do it ourselves.” And he pitched me what turned into Lights Out. And I was in. How long did it take us to write that?

Jeff: It was pretty short, actually. To be honest. What was it, like… six months?

Lamont: No… it was like, a couple months? Two, three months?

Jeff: It was fairly quick. It came out very swiftly.

Lamont: But with this guy’s vision of what he wanted—because he wanted a bare-bones action movie, with a female protagonist. I’m all in on that. And… yeah, it was fun.

Jeff: It’s going to be interesting to see what happens, what De Palma does with it, but…

Joelle: Can you guys give us your elevator pitch for the script?

Jeff: Um… could we? Let’s see, what was that…? [laughter] Well, you know what, if we do, I would have to preface it with this: it was way before what you’re going to think of. Okay? Way before.

Lamont: Right.

Jeff: Way before. Okay, so, the elevator pitch is: blind girl in a house, some folks break in, and…

Lamont: Shenanigans occur.

Jeff: Ensue. Yes—unexpected things happen, from that moment forward.


Posted by Geoff at 4:14 AM CDT
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Thursday, March 23, 2017
HARRY KNOWLES ON 'PERSONAL SHOPPER'
"REMINDS OF NICOLAS ROEG, BRIAN DE PALMA, MOMENTS OF SPIELBERG/HOOPER"


Previously:
Personal Shopper echoes Body Double and De Palma in general

Posted by Geoff at 8:13 AM CDT
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Wednesday, March 22, 2017
VIDEO, FROM ARTE:
WHAT DO BRIAN DE PALMA'S CHARACTERS DREAM OF?

What do Brian De Palma's characters dream of?

Posted by Geoff at 4:37 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 4:46 AM CDT
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Tuesday, March 21, 2017
RICHARD LUCK ON TRUMP FIGURE IN 'SNAKE EYES'
"AS A SNAPSHOT OF ATLANTIC CITY IN THE LATE 1990s, THEN, SNAKE EYES SIMPLY CAN'T BE BEATEN


Richard Luck posted about Brian De Palma's Snake Eyes yesterday at Right Casino:
“Having done a lot of reading about Howard Hughes for another project, I found myself wondering what it would be like if a murder took place during a prize fight at a casino,” an unusually loquacious De Palma told [Charlie] Rose ahead of Snake Eyes’ release. “Hughes was always inviting bigwigs to the fights in Las Vegas and talking business. And as I'd grown up in Philadelphia and had seen how the casinos had come to effect Atlantic City, I thought that environment was the perfect place to stage a murder.”

Borrowing liberally from Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo [Editor's note: I think he really means Kurosawa's Rashomon] – in which a crime is viewed from a variety of different perspectives – and pretty much any Hitchcock movie you care to think of, De Palma fashioned a film that’s as big on style as it is small on substance. If the film is ultimately rather frivolous, it’s sure to fascinate anyone who’s either visited Atlantic City or harbours dreams of taking in the wretched hive of scum and villainy.

Of particular interest is the flamboyant Gilbert Powell. Played by John Heard of Cat People and Home Alone fame, Powell is very clearly the film’s equivalent of Donald Trump; The Donald being among the biggest names operating in Atlantic City around the time the movie was shot and set. Indeed, as the future president’s Historic Atlantic City Convention Center had played host to WrestleManias IV and V, so the man with the hypnotic hair had brought many a major box-office to the East Coast. Trump would also be instrumental in bringing MMA to Atlantic City, a bold move that led to UFC hefe Dana White being among the more unlikely speakers at the 2016 Republican Convention.

As a snapshot of Atlantic City in the late 1990s, then, Snake Eyes simply can’t be beaten. It’s just a shame that budgetary restraints prevented director De Palma from closing out the movie on his own apocalyptic terms. “I wanted to finish the movie with a tidal wave,” the filmmaker explains in the must-see documentary De Palma. “I thought that given the nature of Atlantic City and what goes on there, it might be interesting just to wipe the whole place off the map. So we shot that ending but then found that the effects budget wouldn't stretch to a tsunami. Because of that, we had to settle for the more conventional ending. Pity - I would've liked to see Atlantic City in ruins.”


Posted by Geoff at 7:08 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, March 21, 2017 7:15 PM CDT
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Monday, March 20, 2017
VIDEO LINK - 'BLOW OUT' IN ONE MINUTE
CLICK THE TWEET BELOW TO WATCH THE VIDEO, MADE FOR ARTE.TV

Posted by Geoff at 5:44 AM CDT
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CARLOTTA BOOK - 'DR. BRIAN AND MR. DE PALMA'
DE PALMA ON THE PERSONAL & THE COMMERCIAL: "WHAT IS A 'COMMERCIAL FILM' ANYWAY?...IT'S NOT THAT SIMPLE"


On its Facebook page last week, Carlotta Films revealed the title and cover of the 160-page book that will be included in its Phantom Of The Paradise Ultra Collector's Box, due to be released April 12. The book is titled "Dr. Brian And Mr. De Palma," and will include a lengthy interview with Brian De Palma, reviews of the film, press materials, lyrics of all the songs in the film, and 40 archive photos. Here is how the book is described on the Carlotta website:
"What is a 'commercial film,' anyway? How do you know if a director makes a film because it is commercial, or because it corresponds to a personal desire? People often think that a personal film is not necessarily commercial, but it's not that simple. I would like to make a film that people really want to see. Fellini too, and it does not make him a 'commercial' director. - Brian De Palma

Dr. Brian and Mr. De Palma explores the duality inherent in Brian De Palma's work in Phantom of the Paradise. Through an in-depth interview with him, analyses and press reviews, the iconoclastic approach of the director unfolds, between celebration and criticism of popular culture. An unpublished work embellished with the lyrics of all the songs of the film and 40 photos from the archives.


Most of the other special features in the Blu-ray-and-DVD set, which includes a brand new 2K restoration of the film, have appeared on previous editions of Phantom:

-PRESENTATION BY GERRIT GRAHAM
-PARADISE REGAINED (52 min)
-BRIAN DE PALMA IN THE COULISSES OF THE PARADISE (33 min) (a look back with De Palma)
-PAUL WILLIAMS INTERVIEWED BY GUILLERMO DEL TORO (72 mn)
-THE SWAN SONG FIASCO (11 min)
-CARTE BLANCHE WITH ROSANNA NORTON (10 min)
-PARADISE LOST AND FOUND (six cut or alternate scenes)
-KARAOKÉ 6 SONGS
-COMMERCIAL BY WILLIAM FINLEY
-RADIO SPOTS
-TRAILERS

As reported earlier, the cover art for the box was done by Matt Taylor.


Posted by Geoff at 5:16 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, March 20, 2017 5:55 PM CDT
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Friday, March 17, 2017
VIDEO - 'BODY DOUBLE' AS GUILTY PLEASURE


Go to the Hollywood Suite tweet to watch the video-- here's what Cam Maitland has to say:
I think if I had to choose, like, a fun guilty pleasure movie, I really like Brian De Palma’s Body Double. He’s kind of the king of guilty pleasures—he makes these beautiful movies that are really kind of cinematic objects, but that also have, like, a lot of sleaziness to them. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but I kind of love them all.

Brian De Palma made Body Double coming off of a lot of criticism of his previous film, Dressed To Kill. A lot of people said it was a little too gory, and that it focused a little too much on sex. But of course, being Brian De Palma, he just wanted to double-down on those criticisms.

It’s a big role for Melanie Griffith—I think a lot of people probably remember her character, Holly Body. And while this movie might seem a little trashy, she really credits it for doing a lot for her career. Specifically, she thinks she wouldn’t have gotten Working Girl or Something Wild without this movie kind of divorcing her from her childhood image as Tippi Hedren’s daughter.

My favorite sequence in it—and this is totally weird and out of place, but delightful—is in the middle of the film it breaks out into this Frankie Goes To Hollywood music video.


Posted by Geoff at 7:45 PM CDT
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Thursday, March 16, 2017
VIDEO - 'THE EYE IN THE SKY' SUPERCUT
CREATED IN BUILD-UP TO PRESENTATION OF 'BLOW OUT' THURSDAY AT LA CINEMATHEQUE FRANCAISE

The video above, a "supercut" of the God's-eye viewpoint throughout Brian De Palma's cinema, was created by La Cinémathèque Française in preparation for a screening of Blow Out taking place today (March 16th). The screening will be followed by a discussion with the philosopher and musicologist Peter Szendy.

The following description of the video presentation was written by Bernard Benoliel (Director of Cultural and Educational Action at the Cinémathèque Française) and Xavier Jamet (webmaster at Cinémathèque Française), translated with the help of Google Translator:
From the beginning (the end of the 60s) and until today (Passion, 2012), and tomorrow still certainly, the staging of Brian De Palma will never cease to play the game of cat and mouse. But in a version where the roles are constantly reversed: to be beaten at one's own game...

Split screens, double focal lengths, slow motion, 360-degree panning, dives and counter-dives, multiplication of angles and axes, aerial camera, so many ways to expose a mise en scène or to sum up all reality to its mise en scène. In short, a sophisticated device of signs as so many indices that give the viewer the illusion of his omniscience: if all reality holds in its staging as in a box, then nothing is supposed to escape the one who Looks in the box. De Palma likes nothing more than to drive the spectator-voyeur, to make him go around the owner, to direct his glance and to designate a detail (to better conceal another). Is that not the very subject of Body Double?

The vertical plunge holds a place of choice in the De Palma fireworks. It is even a recurring motif of his work, a motif that is often quickly interpreted as a tribute to Hitchcock (the opening credits of North by Northwest, the staircase of Psycho, the tower of Vertigo, the pipe organ of Secret Agent…). In the visual economy of the cinema of De Palma, it is also the ultimate ruse: the zenithal point of view seems to make each spectator a god. Nothing escapes it apparently, everything is given to see and everything is seen, the foreground doubled as background. But this phantasm of all power makes him forget his constitutive infirmity: the spectator, like a character of De Palma, has no eyes in the back (if it were otherwise, Carlito would still be alive ...). It is there, at his back, that De Palma stands, and with him the truth of all his staging: there is always someone or something that looks at the one who looks. As in a game of mirrors, or in the painting by Magritte (Not to be Reproduced), one is always seen as "the eye was in the grave and looked at Cain" (Victor Hugo , La Conscience).


(Thanks to Donald!)

Posted by Geoff at 3:37 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, March 16, 2017 8:06 AM CDT
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Sunday, March 12, 2017
VIDEO - EDGAR WRIGHT'S 'BABY DRIVER' TRAILER
"I'M EXCITED ABOUT DOING SOMETHING THAT'S ALMOST PURELY VISUAL"

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.

Previously:
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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