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a la Mod:
5. Spielberg Was the Only Other Filmmaker to Believe in Star Wars
A tight-knit unit of filmmakers formed between Spielberg, Lucas, Coppola, Scorsese and De Palma. They hung out together, challenged each other, consulted each other and together would revolutionize the film industry throughout the 1970s and beyond. When Lucas finished a rough mock-up of Star Wars, he showed it to the group.
“It was basically a children’s film,” he said. “It wasn’t what the other friends of mine would think of as something worthwhile. Steven was the one person who was really enthusiastic about it. He said it was going to be a huge smash.”
It was De Palma, however, who came up with the idea for the film’s iconic scrolling prologue. After De Palma “went off” on Lucas for the film’s lack of context, he said it needed, as Spielberg remembers, “an old-fashioned movie that starts with a forward, where words come on the screen and travel up it and tell you what the hell you’re looking at and why you’re in the theater and what the mythology is.”
Some have stuck to the page, letter by letter, and others have only a casual relationship to the text — neither approach is a guaranteed winner.
But there are some connections to be made among the strongest King adaptations. The first is counterintuitive: King characters are best understood from the inside out. That goes against conventional wisdom, because the most adaptable books tend to be short on interior monologue and long on external action, which is why a sledgehammer narrative such as James M. Cain’s “The Postman Always Rings Twice” has been adapted multiple times in English, in Italian (“Obsessione”), in German (“Jerichow”) and in Chinese (“Ju Dou”), and the novel’s murderous love triangle has been resonant every single time. Finding some visual analog for a character’s thoughts is a trickier proposition.
Yet the true horror of films such as “Carrie,” “The Shining,” “The Dead Zone” and “Christine” has to do with transformation, of ordinary stresses escalating into supernatural possession. In Brian De Palma’s hands, “Carrie” turns a teenage girl’s coming of age into a tale of profound isolation and sexual repression, with her desire for womanhood thwarted by her cackling peers on one side and the shame of her fanatically religious mother on the other. Even when her extrasensory powers torch the high school and beyond on prom night, it’s as heartbreaking as it is horrific, a manifestation of pain she can no longer manage.
In Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” and John Carpenter’s “Christine,” there’s a chicken-and-the-egg quality to the relationship between the lead character and the sinister object of their obsession. Perhaps the Overlook Hotel or that snarling 1958 Plymouth Fury would wreak havoc without them, but human weakness and temptation are animating forces in both films, to the point where a symbiosis develops between those forces. We might fear the goings-on in Room 237 or the animal roar of a sentient muscle car, but the source of each fear is so deeply connected to one man’s ravaged psyche, we can’t get a distance from it. David Cronenberg’s “The Dead Zone” makes a curse out of a gift, martyring a man who can see the future at the price of his life.
The other common thread is filmmakers who refuse to act as stenographers and invent or embellish beyond the page. Despite all the misbegotten adaptations of his works, King is most famous for detesting what Kubrick did with “The Shining,” a film many would rank among the scariest of all time. But at the center of that animus is King’s perception of creative disrespect: He wrote a deeply personal horror novel about alcoholism and authorship, only to have Kubrick strip it for parts with the ruthlessness of a chop-shop mechanic. Yet it was Kubrick’s prerogative as an artist to reimagine the novel and make the film a separate entity.
Although other filmmakers haven’t been as dismissive of the source material, they’ve benefited from their own invention. Frank Darabont had to expand on novellas to turn “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Mist” into full-bodied features, but the former now trades places with “The Godfather” as the top user-rated movie on IMDb, and the latter concocts an ending of astonishing darkness. A little creativity was also necessary to turn King’s novella “The Body” into “Stand By Me,” but director Rob Reiner honors the nostalgia and ache at the heart of King’s coming-of-age story, even as it was impossible to write to the letter. When Reiner later took on King’s “Misery,” about an author held captive by his biggest fan, he favored psychological violence over the physical brutality of the novel, but he makes one thwack to the ankles count.
Last month, Deadline's Lisa de Moraes posted some things Lacy said about the doc at a Television Critics Association session:
“He in no way tried to steer this film; he did not see it until it was finished,” Susan Lacy told TV critics of her Steven Spielberg docu for HBO, when asked what the director told her he did and did not want to see in the 2 1/2-hour project.
“We did not talk about what I was going to do and wasn’t going to do,” she bristled at Wednesday afternoon’s TCA Q&A on Spielberg, which debuts October 7.
Lacy conducted nearly 30 hours of interviews with Spielberg for the doc.
“I’m a very in-depth interviewer,” she boasted. “We were still deeply in childhood after two hours. He is very shy about interviews; he does very few. [It’s] quite an extraordinary experience to hear him really open up.”
“Every actor I interview – and I interviewed everybody – they were most impressed with how much he understands the process of filmmaking and how he sees ahead when he’s shooting,” she said. “Very few filmmakers have that skill. I did so much research.”
Lacy did not, however, interview Spielberg’s wife Kate Capshaw or any of their children for the bio. “She did not want to do an interview for the film; they are very private in terms of their family life,” Lacy explained. “I made the decision not to interview the children,” though she did interview Spielberg’s sister and parents because “they were there at the birth of him becoming a filmmaker.”
Spielberg does not delve into his personal life much, she said, though he does discuss the impact his parents’ divorce had on him and how it informed E.T., for instance.
Lacy also did not dwell on how long it took the the Motion Picture Academy to recognize Spielberg with a Best Picture Oscar. She said she felt the statement about his winning it for the first time with Schindler’s List, after having made six of the top-grossing movies of all time, made the point.
She also did not delve into Spielberg’s involvement with DreamWorks or his work in TV, focusing purely on his directing of movies.
“He is a populist and an artist,” she described. “He’s an incredibly personal filmmaker.”
Lacy added: “For the most commercial filmmaker in history, I do not think box office has ever been what has driven him. What’s driven him is what interests him and what he thinks is important to say.”
The decision to make a 3 1/2-hour black-and-white movie about the Holocaust, she said as a for instance, “did not come out of focus groups. It could have been a huge flop.”
Spielberg explores the directors’ thoughts on Jaws, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Color Purple, Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park and Saving Private Ryan. One TV critic at the session noted that the doc does not discuss at any length those of his movies that were not as successful.
“If it isn’t in the film doesn’t mean we did not talk about it,” she countered. “It means I had a 2 1/2 hours.”
Lacy previously helmed PBS’ American Masters for three decades; TV critics wondered what it was like for her to work with HBO’s documentary chief Sheila Nevins. Lacy called it “nothing but pleasure for me.”
“We kiss every morning and hug every night,” joked Nevins.
Cult of Chucky is by and large a gory hoot, with Jennifer Tilly stealing every scene she's in. Sprinkled with James Whale-style camp, Brian De Palma's baroque aesthetic and expressionist production design recalling William Cameron Menzies' use of exaggerated sets in Invaders from Mars, Don Mancini's new Chucky film delivers everything a Chucky fan could possibly want: corny one-liners, the carrot-haired monster being horrible to everybody, Jennifer Tilly playing a demented femme fatale and plenty of violence.
Since their rejuvenation under the auspice of creator Mancini, the once-controversial Child's Play movies have taken a rewarding tongue-in-cheek approach, with doses of postmodernist winking at the audience. Most slasher movie franchises are on the bones of their arse by the seventh episode, dog-tired and ready for the chop, but with Mancini back on board calling the the shots, Chucky has found a new lease of life, moving away from the dark origins of Child's Play and its two sequels into exclusively horror-comedy territory.
Like the best trashy psycho-thriller Brian De Palma never made, Cult of Chucky revels in giddy nonsense. Mancini deploys split-screen, split-focus, suspenseful editing and stages surprisingly icky deaths with aplomb (Nica stomping on a guy's head until its total mush being the chief highlight). And how does a wheelchair user find herself walking? That would be telling. While the plot is supremely silly, hardcore devotees will be delighted to find twists and turns along the way.
FLASHBACK - 2004
Posted June 11 2004
CHUCKY PAYS HOMAGE TO EARLY DE PALMA
ACCENTUATED BY DONAGGIO SCORE
Don Mancini, who has written all four of the previous films in the Child's Play series, is making his feature directorial debut with the upcoming fifth installment, Seed Of Chucky, which he also wrote. According to Fangoria magazine's January issue (the news of which you can read at Gorezone), Mancini has hired Pino Donaggio to compose the score for the film. "A lot of Seed is a takeoff on Brian De Palma's early movies," Mancini told Fangoria, "and I thought it would be a perfect touch to have his composer do the music for our film as well." Donaggio scored many of De Palma's classic thrillers, beginning with Carrie, and continuing with Dressed To Kill, Blow Out, Body Double, and Raising Cain. He also scored De Palma's comedy, Home Movies, and told an Italian newspaper in 2002 that he would be scoring De Palma's upcoming Toyer. Seed Of Chucky is released in October, and will also feature director John Waters as an "ill-fated papparazzo," according to Mancini.
(Thanks to Space Ace!)
"I wanted to be a movie director. I thought the director was the one who looked at the camera and, when I learned that no, who does it is the director of photography, I already knew what I wanted to be." This is how Josep Maria Civit (Barcelona, 1954) tells us, to whom we find in a single week of summer rest, that Brian De Palma has given to the filming of Domino, between his work in Copenhagen and what he will do in the coming weeks in Almería. It is not the only film in which one of the Catalan directors of photography is now working with a more solid and expanded career. In early summer, we see in the photo, Civit was in London, under the orders of Agustí Villaronga, in a part of the filming of the next filmmaker of the Mallorcan filmmaker, Born a King, a Spanish, English and Spanish co-production Saudi Arabia, where they will shoot in October to avoid high current temperatures. "I do not stop this summer," Civit says: "The truth is that my summers always have me busy." In any case, he is satisfied. "I spent the summer between two privileged minds: that of Agustí Villaronga and that of Brian De Palma. I'm delighted. We move from one place to another, but to me, regarding work, what interests me is that I make a trip to the director's head in every movie. It is he who has the skin on his head."
Popular, wildly flamboyant Pino Donaggio horror soundtrack gets facelift! Columbia Pictures presents, Brian De Palma directs, Craig Wasson, Melanie Griffith, Gregg Henry - and a really big drill star. De Palma pays homage to Hitchcock with this fascinating tale of murder and obsession. Donaggio, frequent collaborator with De Palma, provides vivid, full-blooded score with balance of French horn-led power, string-led romance, quasi-soft rock beat to cover all the bases of this over-the-top thriller. Donaggio offers haunting, achingly beautiful theme for piano, strings over the titles to anchor, but interestingly precedes it with intentionally cheesy faux-horror vampire music for on-screen low budget film in production. With two ideas established, Donaggio then takes listener on multi-path listening experience: source music with rhythm at core, dramatic suspense material, powerful fortissimo horror sequences, rousing chase music, gentle melancholy, you name it. Donaggio excels with the horror genre, especially for De Palma. Dressed To Kill, Blow Out, Carrie are other favorites of the genre and Donaggio brings each a blend of haunting beauty and terrifying thrills. Body Double is arguably the most involved in terms of scoring, offering the widest range of material and the most florid in execution. The highlights are numerous: sensual major-key melody of “The Telescope” with its sexy female voice mingling amongst the orchestral colors, varied action and orchestral drama of “Rendezvous; Purse Grab; Tunnel Claustrophobia”, lengthy and incredible unison French horn power of “The Big Drill” underscoring hair-raising murder scene, hypnotic repeating phrases of “Detective McClane, Please!”, pulsating action of “A Night On Mulholland Drive; A Grave For Holly”, “Terror In The Grave”, many others. Orchestrational tidbit: Donaggio scores for full symphony but tacets trumpets. Resulting brass sound imbues score with darker, intenser quality. Originally premiered by Intrada in 2008, new 2017 edition of Body Double is presented from all new master incorporating several important sonic advantages including much-improved levels, stereo balancing of many tracks, courtesy pristine source elements from Columbia Pictures. New edition also premieres original trailer music by Jonathan Elias, with its lush, romantic John Barry-ish vibe, also presented in stereo. Otherwise, selections and packaging remain similar. Crisply recorded at The Burbank Studios across two weeks in September 1984. Pino Donaggio composes, Natale Massara conducts. Intrada Special Collection CD available while quantities and interest remain!