DISCUSSES SISTERS / PHANTOM / CARRIE / OBSESSION / THE FURY
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José Luis Alcaine, noted for his strong colors and photography that highlights shade and form while remaining always believable, even at extremely high contrast, has worked with some of the most important and influential auteurs in Spanish and international filmmaking. Among many: Pedro Almodóvar, Victor Erice, Montxo Armendáriz, Basilio Martìn Patino e Fernando Fernan Gomez. Further fundamental collaborations in his career were those with Vicente Aranda, with whom he made a dozen films, including Amantes (1991), and, again in Spain, with Fernando Trueba (El sueño del mono loco, 1989 and Belle Epoque, 1992), with Carlos Saura (¡Ay, Carmela!, 1990 and Sevillanas, 1992) and Bigas Luna (Jamón Jamón, 1992, Huevos de oro, 1993 and La teta y la luna, 1994). Outside Spain, apart from his various forays in the U.S., Alcaine worked several times with Italian filmmakers, directing photography for Alberto Lattuada (Così come sei, 1978), Fabio Carpi (Barbablù, Barbablù, 1987) and Giovanni Veronesi (Il mio West, 1998). He is currently engaged on set for Domino, the new thriller from Brian De Palma, with whom he previously made Passion (2012), and on a new project by Asghar Farhadi, with Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz.
José Luis Alcaine will receive the Vision Award TicinoModa in Piazza Grande on Thursday 10 August. He will also be holding a Master Class on Friday 11 August at the PalaVideo at 3.30 pm. The Festival tribute will include a screenings of the films La piel que habito (Pedro Almodovar, 2011), Passion (Brian De Palma, 2012), Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (Pedro Almodóvar,1988) and Belle Epoque, (1992).
We recently chatted with Van Houten to find out what she sees in the flames for the rest of this season. Reached by phone from Amsterdam, where she’s at work on the upcoming Brian De Palma thriller “Domino,” Van Houten was stoked to be co-starring with none other than Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, with whom she has yet to share a scene on “Game of Thrones.”
“Even I am like, ‘Look at me, I am here filming a scene with Jaime Lannister,’ ” she said. “It’s so cool!”
Paths are finally crossing this season, and you were able to interact with a number of actors for the first time in Sunday’s episode. Was that exciting?
It’s very exciting. Because I’m always on my own with Stannis and Davos [Liam Cunningham]. That was my little gang, and it was fun because it was like being around Laurel and Hardy a little bit sometimes — two funny, completely different, opposite actors, and I had such a great time with them. But this was like a completely different show! And I was starstruck myself. Again I felt like, “Look at me, and I am here with the dragon girl and Peter Dinklage and Missandei!” Wow! I was quite impressed with everyone, and I just had a baby six weeks before, so I was in a state.
You're shooting a Brian De Palma movie, Domino, with a Game of Thrones co-star right now: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. What can you say about that experience?
It's really great. It's very scattered so far. We'll have a week here and two weeks there. There's a lot of time in between. It's very great. It's funny to meet two completely different characters, where we've never met on the show. It's funny for people to see us, extras and the like. We're shooting in Spain, where the fan base is so huge. It's been very sweet and funny. People will look at me sometimes like I can scare them a little bit. These big, grown-up men who look at me: "You're not really going to do anything, right? You don't really have fire powers?" They're sort of joking, but I can sense that feeling I had when I first met [Jack Gleeson, who plays] Joffrey. I was very scared of him! He was really scary! (Laughs.) It's funny, the effect this show has on people.
An obituary by The Guardian's Ryan Gilbey includes this bit about Heard's theater days:
At the Long Wharf theatre in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1976 he originated the role of Billy, the gay soldier, in the first staging of David Rabe’s controversial play Streamers, and was disappointed not to have been retained for Mike Nichols’s subsequent New York production. He won an Obie award in 1977 for his performance in G.R. Point, in which he played a man processing dead soldiers from Vietnam before burial, and won another three years later for his combined work in Othello and Split.
In her Facebook post, Douglas said she was devastated to hear about Heard’s death. She described him as a “great, great actor” who inspired her in her career. She said she had been trying to line him up for an interview for a long time; he was hesitant, thinking no one was that interested in him. “I convinced him that there was real interest in him. That people loved him, and wanted to hear from him,” she wrote.
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.
Setting aside narrow production schedules and one director’s priorities, the biggest problem with “Scarface” is that the material never gelled with studio priorities in the first place. Howard Hawks’ 1932 original was a Hollywood gangster saga that generated controversy for its violence but was otherwise pretty straightforward; Brian De Palma’s 1983 reimagining, however, was a jolt to the system, a high style indictment of the drug lord fantasy that culminated in one of the most outrageous shootouts ever captured on film. “Say hello to my little friend” was an astonishing, subversive battle cry, both cartoonish and mortifying at once, and it crystalized the mania of power-hungry drug dealing better than any journalistic expose.
It was a breed unto itself, a movie that derived its power less from what it was about than how it was about it. So it was especially intriguing when Chile’s Pablo Larrain was attached to direct the remake three years ago. This endlessly innovative filmmaker, whose projects range from the allegorical horror movie “Tony Manero” to last year’s elegant period drama “Jackie,” clearly doesn’t compromise. His version, according to reports at the time, aimed to cast a Latino actor in a “mythic origin story” set in modern times, one that would expose the cycle of violence that brings the war on drugs from Mexico to America. Call it whatever you want — “Scarface” is just a placeholder — this is a powerful concept with the prospects of resonating on many levels at once. Of course, America’s relationship to Cuba continues to evolve in trepidatious ways that could make the original backdrop resonate with renewed topicality.
But it’s not the kind of material that a studio, eager for a blockbuster success, might want to take a risk on. (Thankfully, Larrain moved on to more original concepts.) De Palma and Al Pacino made their surreal, iconic look at a drug-fueled capitalist psychopath at a moment where it seemed as though they could get away with anything; short of Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino, few American directors could pull off the same feat today within the confines of the Hollywood system. Needless to say, De Palma’s movie didn’t exactly go over perfectly when it first came out, only gaining acclaim with time; it has since been co-opted by gangsta rap, novelizations, and video games. When a movie resonates this strongly in popular culture, it doesn’t beg for a remake so much as a second visit. Here’s an idea: Pop it back in theaters and audiences might flip, as “Scarface” no less immersive and unsettling than it was over 30 years ago.
Ultimately, the best home for a gangster saga might be the medium best suited for long-form, immersive storytelling — television. “Breaking Bad” did a fine job of mapping out the process through which, in Vince Gilligan’s famous terms, “Mr. Chips becomes Scarface.” So before we argue any further about whether the studio should remake “Scarface,” it might be worth considering the possibility that somebody already beat them to it.
It was said that the filming would take place in three stages of the capital - the Plaza de Toros, the Port and the Airport - and in an area of greenhouses of Adra. However, in the end they have only recorded in the first two. Spanish co-producer Antonio Pérez (Maestranza Films) told the local newspaper on Saturday that it was only a change of plans and a second unit of the team will return to the city in August to finish, but Joan Franco, coordinator of extras for the film, confirmed that from day one the rumors about the cancellation of the film were continuous in the set. "The last day was a very tense environment, because everything was known to be hanging in the balance. In the end, we were informed that the project was suspended because the Belgian company that was going to contribute part of the funds had withdrawn," he told La Vox.
Franco then commented on Puertas' post, "What a reason you have, my friend, unfortunately there are regulations by the national and local politicians, especially in the economic area that make it impossible for high-level film companies to come to work in Spain and Almería. That's how it goes with us."
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau surprised unsuspecting Game Of Thrones fans at a Copenhagen theater yesterday-- the fans had gathered to watch the HBO series' season 7 premiere.
To finish off, here is a Google-assisted translation of an excerpt from Marta Rodríguez' article from this morning at La Voz de Almería:
Initially, the shooting in Almería of this action thriller was to take place between July 10 and 24 and to be developed in four different locations: three in the capital - the Bullring, the Port and the Airport - and one in a set of greenhouses in Adra. However, in the end they only filmed in the first two and although Antonio Pérez, producer of Maestranza Films, indicated this Saturday to LA VOZ that it is only a change of plans and a second unit of the team will return to the city in August to finish, other sources say that the project has fallen when one of the producers, the Belgians of Zilvermeer, puled out.
As explained to LA VOZ, Joan Franco, coordinator of extra for the film, hired by the Seville company CNG, from the first day rumors about the cancellation of the film were continuous on the set. "On Friday the atmosphere was especially tense, a meeting was held in high places and it was known that everything hung in a thread. In the end we were informed that the project was being suspended because the Belgian company that was going to contribute part of the funds had withdrawn, "he says.
According to Franco's story, with the passing of the days the demands of the shooting of 'Domino' were coming down because it was already foreseen that something like this could happen. Thus, of the 2,000 extras that the company CNG Casting included in its database (the tests ended up dilating for eight days) because they "were necessary", they have not called more than 350. And the cuts came to the point of removing from the script scenes of some complexity as a chase," says the extras coordinator.
[William] Oldroyd and his scenarist, Alice Birch, must think they are doing something far more complex, luring the audience into cheering for Katherine but making her acts of violence more and more awful until we’re revolted by her. But to what end? By making Katherine so evil, the movie falls into the old sexist shibboleths about scheming women, particularly sex-starved ones. Pugh, who bears an amusing resemblance to Miley Cyrus, gives a spirited performance that doesn’t shy away from her character’s villainy. But the distant, intellectualized approach keeps us from feeling any complicity with Katherine. She’s funny laughing at Anna’s shock at her open adultery, but Pugh is stuck with more of a conceit than a character. The source of Birch’s screenplay, a short story by 19th-century Russian writer Nikolai Leskov, has the robust wisdom of a peasant myth. How could anyone read that story, with its lush descriptions of nature and the horrified sympathy it accords its protagonist, and come up with this joyless, colorless movie?
If there were any justice in the world of film criticism, Oldroyd would be getting the accusations of racism that—wrongly, and in ignorance of the clear meaning of their films—Sofia Coppola is getting for The Beguiled and Ana Lily Amirpour for The Bad Batch. He has made all the characters who are the least deserving targets of Katherine’s violence black. (Sebastian is biracial, and Katherine’s maid and two other prominent characters are black.) I don’t know how many black people were in Northumberland in 1865, but in this movie, race is used for the sole purpose of heightening their victimization, and it’s ugly.
At Cannes and other film festivals, Lady Macbeth was acclaimed for its daring. But for an unapologetic celebration of devious women, Out of the Past and Brian De Palma’s Femme Fatale are much tougher. As a portrait of a psychopath in the guise of dutiful wife, 1945’s Leave Her to Heaven has more punch. If an art-house film gets credit for what commercial movies have already done much better, then Katherine’s victims aren’t the only suckers here.
Oldroyd made his name as a theater director, and in his debut film he goes with his strengths. Lady Macbeth is largely confined to the plain, masculine house and its stables, and Oldroyd and cinematographer Ari Wegner show the grinding unsensuality of the place without resorting to the kind of overlong shots designed to make us literally experience her boredom.
They subtly establish a second protagonist, the maid Anna, who is even more cruelly abused by the old master (Christopher Fairbank) and later spies on Katherine and her stable-boy lover, Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis), through a keyhole. From our modern, liberal perspective, it’s tempting to see Katherine’s revenge on the decrepit industrialist as payback for Anna’s humiliation as well as her own. When a photograph is taken of her beside the upright open coffin of the dead geezer — who has also brutally whipped the lowly Sebastian — we want to cheer.
Movies are games of moral relativism, though, and Lady Macbeth quickly turns its feminist heroine into something far more disturbing. It’s one thing for a woman to murder overpowerful white misogynists, another to shoot her husband’s horse, which whinnies in agony. And the movie’s racial overtones are thunderous. The perpetually traumatized Anna is black. A little boy who shows up midway through — Katherine’s husband’s adorable illegitimate child and ward — is of mixed race and excruciatingly vulnerable. Sebastian’s complexion is on the dark side, too, Jarvis being of Armenian extraction. When you introduce race, white feminism tends to fly out the window — as Sofia Coppola learned after a deluge of criticism for culling a black character from her remake of The Beguiled. Applause for having trained the female gaze on a demonic-female myth has quickly yielded to abuse for being a privileged white woman allegedly minimizing the horror of slavery.
Oldroyd and Birch make no such gaffes. The movie’s larger point — which I find irrefutable — is that some people who have been victimized for life are not just inclined to speak truth to power but to abuse what power they have over people with less of it. August Wilson knew that, which is why his plays resonate far beyond melodrama. So does Lady Macbeth. It eats into the mind with its vision of evil as a contagion that transforms victims into oppressors.