Hello and welcome to the unofficial Brian De Palma website.
Here is the latest news:

De Palma a la Mod


De Palma Discussion


Recent Headlines
a la Mod:

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
of De Palma's films
edited by Carl Rodrigue

Washington Post
review of Keesey book


Exclusive Passion

Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
Leila Rozario


AV Club Review
of Dumas book


« September 2017 »
1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30


De Palma interviewed
in Paris 2002

De Palma discusses
The Black Dahlia 2006


De Palma Community

The Virtuoso
of the 7th Art

The De Palma Touch

The Swan Archives

Carrie...A Fan's Site


No Harm In Charm

Paul Schrader

Alfred Hitchcock
The Master Of Suspense

Alfred Hitchcock Films

Snake Eyes
a la Mod

Mission To Mars
a la Mod

Sergio Leone
and the Infield
Fly Rule

Movie Mags


The Filmmaker Who
Came In From The Cold

Jim Emerson on
Greetings & Hi, Mom!

Scarface: Make Way
For The Bad Guy

The Big Dive
(Blow Out)

Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
Official Web Site

The Phantom Project

Welcome to the
Offices of Death Records

The Carlito's Way
Fan Page

The House Next Door

Kubrick on the

FilmLand Empire

Astigmia Cinema


Cultural Weekly

A Lonely Place

The Film Doctor


Icebox Movies

Medfly Quarantine

Not Just Movies

Hope Lies at
24 Frames Per Second

Motion Pictures Comics

Diary of a
Country Cinephile

So Why This Movie?

Obsessive Movie Nerd

Nothing Is Written

Ferdy on Films

Cashiers De Cinema

This Recording

Mike's Movie Guide

Every '70s Movie

Dangerous Minds


No Time For
Love, Dr. Jones!

The former
De Palma a la Mod

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.
All topics
Ambrose Chapel
Are Snakes Necessary?
Bart De Palma
Beaune Thriller Fest
Becoming Visionary
Betty Buckley
Bill Pankow
Black Dahlia
Blow Out
Blue Afternoon
Body Double
Bonfire Of The Vanities
Boston Stranglers
Bruce Springsteen
Capone Rising
Carlito's Way
Casualties Of War
Catch And Kill
Cinema Studies
Clarksville 1861
Columbia University
Columbo - Shooting Script
Conversation, The
Daft Punk
Dancing In The Dark
David Koepp
De Niro
De Palma & Donaggio
De Palma (doc)
De Palma Blog-A-Thon
De Palma Discussion
Demolished Man
Dick Vorisek
Dionysus In '69
Dressed To Kill
Edward R. Pressman
Eric Schwab
Fatal Attraction
Femme Fatale
Film Series
Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Fury, The
Genius of Love
George Litto
Get To Know Your Rabbit
Ghost & The Darkness
Happy Valley
Havana Film Fest
Hi, Mom!
Home Movies
Inspired by De Palma
Iraq, etc.
Jared Martin
Jerry Greenberg
Keith Gordon
Key Man, The
Laurent Bouzereau
Lights Out
Magic Hour
Magnificent Seven
Mission To Mars
Mission: Impossible
Montreal World Film Fest
Mr. Hughes
Murder a la Mod
Nancy Allen
Nazi Gold
Newton 1861
Noah Baumbach
Oliver Stone
Paranormal Activity 2
Parties & Premieres
Paul Hirsch
Paul Schrader
Pauline Kael
Peet Gelderblom
Phantom Of The Paradise
Pino Donaggio
Prince Of The City
Print The Legend
Raggedy Ann
Raising Cain
Red Shoes, The
Responsive Eye
Rie Rasmussen
Robert De Niro
Rotwang muß weg!
Sean Penn
Sensuous Woman, The
Snake Eyes
Sound Mixer
Star Wars
Stepford Wives
Stephen H Burum
Sweet Vengeance
Taxi Driver
The Tale
To Bridge This Gap
Toronto Film Fest
Treasure Sierra Madre
Tru Blu
Truth And Other Lies
TV Appearances
Untitled Ashton Kutcher
Untitled Hollywood Horror
Untitled Industry-Abuse M
Venice Beach
Vilmos Zsigmond
Wedding Party
William Finley
Wise Guys
Woton's Wake
Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile
You are not logged in. Log in
Monday, September 25, 2017

This year's Torino Film Festival will feature a complete Brian De Palma retrospective, the festival announced Friday. And by complete, they mean complete: "For the first time ever in Italy," states the press release, "the festival will organize a screening of all the works by the great American director; not just his feature films but his short films, documentaries and video clips in their original version, with subtitles."

The Torino Fest site adds, "From his early works in the sixties to the masterpieces that made him one of the key directors of contemporary cinema, Emanuela Martini (curator of the retrospective and the director of the Turin Film Festival) will lead us to a rediscovery of the author that has had a fundamental influence on Cinema history." The 35th Torino Film Festival, which is held in Turin, Italy, will run November 24th through December 2nd.

Posted by Geoff at 12:29 AM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Sunday, September 24, 2017

Posted by Geoff at 11:21 PM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post

The above images are included in the trailer for Susan Lacy's HBO documentary, Spielberg, which hit the web a couple of days ago. On Thursday, PRI's Sam Kim posted a radio interview with Lacy in which they discussed the documentary. Recall that Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow's De Palma doc opened with a clip from Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, a film that had a major effect on Brian De Palma early on. Lacy similarly opens Spielberg with a clip from David Lean's Lawrence Of Arabia, which kicks of the following bit of conversation between Kim and Lacy:
Spielberg (from film clip): A movie came into town called Lawrence Of Arabia, and everybody was talking about it. And when the film was over, I wanted to not be a director anymore, because the bar was too high.

Sam Kim: That was great!

Susan Lacy: Yeah. The minute he told me that story, I knew that I was going to open with that.

SK: Of course.

SL: But I didn’t tell him that. And so when he saw the film for the first time, I think he said something like, “Pretty bold of you, to open a film about a filmmaker with somebody else’s movie!” I said, yeah, and he said, “I love it!” It’s about inspiration, it’s about what he aspired to.

SK: And about what you see when you’re an adolescent, you know, which affects us all. One of the great parts of this film of yours are these—a lot of these 8mm films that he made as a kid…

SL: They’re amazing, aren’t they?

SK: They’re totally amazing! Did he have them all?

SL: Yeah. He keeps a pretty good archive.

SK: I’ll bet!

SL: But, he’s very protective of them.

SK: Right.

SL: All that footage you see in the film of him hanging out with Paul Schrader and De Palma and…

SK: Never seen any of that, either.

SL: Even his own staff hasn’t seen most of it.

SK: That was his…?

SL: All of it was shot by him.

[Film Clip, possibly Spielberg’s voice] This is Martin Scorsese, director of Mean Streets.

[Spielberg’s voice again, but this time closer to the microphone]: This is Brian De Palma, wild as ever!

Posted by Geoff at 11:31 AM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Saturday, September 23, 2017

Posted by Geoff at 10:12 AM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Friday, September 22, 2017

The photo below was posted to Instagram today by The Faery Academy, with the following caption: "Today Luca Deiana, president of the #faeryacademy and special effects teacher of the regional makeup artist courses, has curated the special effects of the #domino movie directed by #briandepalma award-winning American director, featuring @nikolajwilliamcw and @carice_vanhouten, the protagonists of the series #gameofthrones"

Posted by Geoff at 12:32 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, September 22, 2017 8:47 PM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post

Brian De Palma and his cast and crew will spend the next week in Sardinia, Italy, for the final leg of filming on Domino. According to ADN Kronos, Domino will film in Sardinia, "touching several locations including the cities of Cagliari, Capoterra, Domus De Maria and Pula." The production plans to be in the region through September 28th. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau posted a video today to his Instagram, mentioning that he is in "the beautiful city of Cagliari." Carice van Houten posted a pic on her Instagram today that shows herself swarmed within a group of people-- she included the caption, "Italian fans are the best."

A profile piece by Bor Beekman from Wednesday, about Els Vandevorst (pictured above in Almería), the Dutch co-producer on Domino who was brought on as a skilled "crisis manager" following her drive to get Brimstone made a couple of years ago, mentioned that Guy Pearce has a supporting role in Domino. The IMDB had Pearce on the cast list a couple of months ago, and then Pearce's name was removed. Now it is back up. Yesterday, a Dutch news item at NU added that Pearce plays a CIA agent in the film. Pearce met van Houten, who plays one of Domino's main protagonists, on the set of Brimstone, and the pair have a son together.

Beekman's article on Vandevorst at De Volkskrant is fascinating and full of many details about filming Domino. Here is a Google-assisted translation:

This woman is the Dutch silent force behind (international) top films
The Unbreakable Vandevorst

After the completion of Brimstone and a few agile years, film producer Els Vandevorst needed to take sabattical. But yes, they were looking for a crisis manager on the set of Brian De Palma.

By: Bor Beekman September 20, 2017, 19:30

In the crest of the bullfighting arena of Almería, Spain, the film hairdresser's scissor moves over the skull of director Brian De Palma. White-gray picks of hair flutter between the wooden benches of the 19th century plaza de toros. It's just a break, a little after one o'clock at night. So why not? The 77-year-old American - loose-fitting shirt, shorts even wider - blank stares ahead. In 15 minutes, the shooting of his new feature film will continue.

Co-producer Els Vandevorst is in the stand, 2 meters behind the maker of Scarface (1983) and The Untouchables (1987). Leaning forward, the cross on a chain around her neck dangles freely. "That's not bad," she says, eyes focused on De Palma's cut. "I do not know the man, anymore. But I see this as a good sign. He feels comfortable.”

It is day 28 of the shoot on Domino, a thriller about two police detectives (played by Game of Thrones colleagues Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Carice van Houten) and their hunt for a terrorist cell across Europe: Denmark, The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain.

One of the sections of the arena is packed with about two hundred dedicated extras from the southern Spanish city. There cameramen running around, stuntmen, actors, security guards. Whether De Palma's Dutch coproducer noticed any of all that this evening is the question; The Danish-Dutch-Belgian-Spanish-Italian Domino has six producers. Nevertheless, the 55-year-old Dutch was of vital importance to De Palma's film.

Ploep, goes her phone: text message from the French equity partner. The main financier, who has not been in contact with the Danish executive producer for two weeks and called for a halt on the cash flow needed for filming. Since that day, the disgruntled French party who had been appointed "mediator" no longer calls Vandevorst. "It's not convenient, no," she says. In English she sounds of Brabant descent. She arrived late on the Domino producer team, as a kind of crisis manager.

'Balls of Steel'

So there is hassle. That's not so surprising. Hit the books about the creation of several memorable films: it's always a fuss. But sometimes there is more hassle. Perhaps this is because main protagonist Christina Hendricks (Joan from Mad Men) dropped out very late. And because the profile of the initially Norwegian-directed thriller changed when De Palma was snared: such a renowned American director comes with some demands and has his own view of the European locations, with all the consequences already agreed upon for local funding.

In addition, the emotional video message from Belgian actor Mourade Zeguendi, who said with pain in his heart, that he had to refuse an offer from De Palma because he did not want to play a Molenbeek terrorist: "I have my belly full of this type of typecasting.”

Finally. They are filming, production is over halfway through. And the French version of Vandevorst has just brought good news: some money has been transferred again. Nothing to the Spanish producer, who has already made all kinds of charges and is struggling with an art director to pay, who threatens to quit his job at any moment. But to Vandevorst, who also has her expenses, including the salaries of her actors: Van Houten and her friend Guy Pearce, in a supporting role. At the bottom of the arena, on the sand of the plaza, she immediately promises to transfer to the bank account of the Spanish producer. They have known each other for twenty years, [from the subject]. The Spaniard's face cloaks something. For the time being, Domino can continue.

"There's nobody like Els," assures the experienced Spanish producer during a producer lunch at sea, prior to night shots. "She has balls. That sounds like a macho comment, but it's true." He treats - his location, his honor - and holds a hymn on the prawns, picked out of the sea. Vandevorst is currently trying to call the French financiers. "Put that phone away," summons the Spaniard. "Look, there is the Méditerranée."

Martin Koolhoven made her world-famous in Venice in 2016, when he praised his producer during the international press conference of Brimstone. Why Brimstone producer needed 'balls of steel', then read the headline of an article in the British film magazine Screen Daily. That message needs a nuance: on and around the set, Vandevorst operates strikingly softly, amicably. She just doesn’t buckle under pressure.

Five days before the first recordings of the western, Mia Wasikowska and co-star Robert Pattinson suddenly dropped out of production. Contracts were not yet final, which was related to the complex financing structure: Brimstone's budget was culled through a chain of diverse cash flows. There were already studios booked, sets built, crews on the way. By postponing, the film would have been a bust, leading to a bankruptcy of N279 Entertainment, Vandevorst and Koolhoven's company.

It turned out differently: after 48 hours of bargaining with half of Los Angeles, agreements were reached with stars Dakota Fanning and Kit Harington, or "Jon Snow" from Game of Thrones. In between, Vandevorst gathered the grievance of troubled financiers.

Vandevorst: "When Brimstone went through a crisis, the people said: Els does not know how hot it is. I did, but if I'm going to be nervous, everyone will be nervous. But yes, they were of course."

"We also lost money because those actors walked away," says Vandevorst. "Then you end up in discussions with financiers: whether Dakota was no less than Mia Wasikowska? I thought that was unacceptable, I could also refute. Then count your relationships, what have you built up? There I always spend a lot of time: the personal. But your negotiating position is difficult at such a moment: you have to run, and that's what the financiers know. What I do not understand well about myself is that I actually became even more powerful. We'll do it, or you're just watching it. "

The battle for Brimstone continued, even after shooting. Three weeks before the world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, where the 148-minute film was selected for the main competition, the British Finance Party demanded 30 minutes be cut. "Contractually they could oblige us to deliver a 130-minute movie. So we do not get sold to America, they said. Martin was excited: they wanted to cut into his movie! But I had final cut: in the worst case, 18 minutes had to be done, but we were allowed to decide. I could play that hard and they demanded their claim. In the end, Brimstone sold very well in America without cutting a centimeter."

Vandevorst went to Asia, when Brimstone finally did not have a chance after the early attention of the Dutch release. All alone, on sabbatical. "Then I only felt how it was with me. Well, that was not so good. I do not have to do this again, I thought. "

The plan: once she returned home, she would just keep quiet aaround the office for half a year, not immediately throwing a new movie. And when she was in Indonesia, the people from Domino called. She had survived Brimstone, right? Then she could do this, too. "I knew I was not all right, but yes, De Palma. Money does not interest me. Prestige, it will be. This is a step to a higher plan."

Film closed

How do you end up in the film world? Sometimes it's a friend of a sister's sister, who is looking for an assistant for his student movie, preferably someone with a car. It had Vandevorst: 'Peugeot 204. Went three and a half years in.' At her 16th she had run away from Helmond, without middle school diploma. Father was entrepreneur and car buyer, a good one: "As a child, I saw how he did, how quickly he knew when somebody entered the business: this guy can I sell a car and not that one." Film, after a fast-paced career as a microbiologist. During her introduction to the Film Academy she met Mike van Diem, who was one year higher. "He did not speak to me, but on the return trip I said to him, "I want you to produce my final film." He still said nothing. Mike turned around, finished. That's the way he was.”

Their film, Alaska, won the student Oscar in 1990. After the academy she met at a festival Peter Aalbæk Jensen, the big man of the Danish film company Zentropa. He said, "The next time you have to be in Denmark, call me and we'll have coffee." I never had to be there, so I just went and called him up." Vandevorst worked for years as a co-producer of international films by Danish directors, such as Thomas Vinterberg's It's All About Love (2003) and Lars von Trier's Dancer in the Dark (2000) and Dogville (2003).

She also went almost bankrupt. 'A Belgian producer had hired me. In good faith, I provided him with money as he made that money and the return flow." She raised her office, sensing what was going to be remedied, did not produce movies for three unfortunate years, then scratched slowly. "I had no income. From the then Film Fund, the message came: We're done with you, you're never gonna make a movie again. I thought, well, if I stop producing myself, I decide."

Now, more than twelve years later, she is almost out of debt. Meanwhile, she produced again: titles like War Winter (2008) by Koolhoven and Above, It Is Quiet (2013) by Nanouk Leopold. Internationally acclaimed, well-visited Dutch films. Her current film company is named after a strip of asphalt: the provincial road N279, across North Brabant and Limburg. "That's what Martin thought about," says Vandevorst. "Many accidents occurred on that road, I heard later."

What she likes "very well" at Koolhoven, is his clear view of their division of work. "He's even angry when someone calls him a producer. He is authoritative director. We make all decisions about our company together. It's a kind of marriage. We can fight very well. We rarely do it. "

So Vandevorst Koolhoven talked about it, as he continued to watch all kinds of other film plans besides his dreamwestern. "I said, now you're doing everything, concentrating on what you really want in the next few years." Now the N279 companions flirt with a project in London, something with a well-known actress who wants to go to sea with them. Koolhoven also writes a period film produced by Vandevorst and N279, which takes place in Dutch-India in the late forties.

"I'd like to be there from the outset, as an initiating producer. But you'll never see me on the set next to the camera and say, I think it's different. Zero chance. '

'Scream!', calls De Palma, 'Scream it out!'. The director, pacing stiffly through the arena, waves firmly to the actors high in the gallery. 'Allahu-akbar!', a moment later. Followed by a shot. While the stuntman is rehearsing in his newest shirt full of fake blood, Vandevorst speaks quickly with Carice van Houten. "I have to take care of something," she apologizes, as an assistant accompanies her. She appears at the top of the arena, where a Flemish stuntman shows the actor the best way to kick an attacker in the crotch.

Shortly afterwards, in a restaurant, the producers draw the final contract presented by Vandevorst with the revenue distribution key. There you have to drink a bottle of Cristal, the Spanish producer knowing that his frustration about the despicable payments camouflages with happy anecdotes about his nights with Bernardo Bertolucci, who acknowledged in this restaurant that the Jamon Ibérico de Bellota they serve is really better than any ham from Italy. The Dutch production branch, which is the turn to pay, finds the 1,200 euro for a bottle of Cristal which is pricey: then rather Bollinger champagne, the James Bond brand. Spain agrees.

Once everything is signed, Italian producers fall into arms until one of them finds a wrong clause. Adjusted, Vandevorst sustains.

The next morning, in the hotel lobby: again a small crisis. With Spain, also a little with Italy. And the French, of course. It's about money again. "But with the movie, it's all right," says Vandevorst, with an encouraging look at the pale Danish head producer. "With the movie going well," repeats.

A month later, Vandevorst is sitting on a terrace in Venice. She has linked composer Pino Donaggio to Domino, the composer who provided not only many of De Palma's (Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out) music, but also the Koolhovens War Winter. De Palma is happy, of course. There are also people less happy because the filming is still not completed: the final days of shooting are being moved from Spain to Italy.

Koolhoven calls with news from the Netherlands. "We have nine nominations?", calls Vandevorst. 'Which one then?' Also the Golden Calf for Best Film, the prize being awarded to the producers. It is her fourth nomination in this category; she’s never won. "I'm still standing there," she says, gesturing to the red carpet, where the Brimstone baptism occurred a year earlier. "You have to enjoy, everyone said. But I was still in the shit with that finish, the sales agent, the money, the 30 minutes that should or may not be. I thought, how then?"

Now she is going to do everything else. "I'm going to be in full regalia in Utrecht at the Kalverengala. I really want to see that."

Two counts later: "Well, if you can work."

The Golden Kalveren ceremony is 29/9, right after the last shooting days of Domino.

Posted by Geoff at 5:42 AM CDT
Updated: Friday, September 22, 2017 6:17 PM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Thursday, September 21, 2017

Carlotta Films posted the image above on its Facebook page today, with this caption:
One of the new Hollywood cult filmmakers in an exceptional interview book! Published in 2001 and very quickly exhausted, the mythical book of Samuel Blumenfeld and Laurent Vachaud will be released on November 11 in a new revised version and updated with unprecedented interviews with the director, on his films made since then! Also included in the box: 6 film star films in DVD (Phantom of the Paradise, The Fury, Dressed To Kill, Blow Out, Body Double and Scarface).

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, September 22, 2017 12:03 AM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink | Share This Post
Monday, September 18, 2017

Nate Lam, Before The Cyborgs
Brian De Palma’s Carrie Remains a Horror Classic

Where more traditional horrors films will frame the villain as monsters out to cause destruction or fulfill some psychopathic urge, Carrie sees the villain as human with redeemable qualities. As the film progresses and Carrie's telekinetic powers become increasingly violent she adopts more of an anti-hero persona than one of an actual monster. In essence you almost want her to exact her revenge on her bullies. Selling this capacity to cheer for Carrie is essential to how well the film plays out; a trait that is not as well conveyed in the 2013 remake resulting in an inferior film.

Watching this film in 2017 (40+ years after its initial 1976 release), many of the Carrie’s more graphic scenes will seem tame by today’s standards (just compare the prom scenes) but it is not the graphic horror that makes Carrie a cultural touchstone rather it is a product of its progressiveness and De Palma’s sheer brilliance behind the camera. For one, Carrie puts female characters at the forefront - something today’s films still struggle with in their representation of women - and two - Carrie addresses adolescent issues in regards to bullying and identity long before John Hughes would popularize the teen genre in the 80s.

Stephen King would go on to write many more stories after Carrie, many of which would also be adapted for the screen to varying results. He would even return to explore themes of growing up and the challenges associated with that process in works like It and The Body (the basis for Stand By Me) but Carrie stands alone as the work that showcased the beginnings of a world renowned author and what a Stephen King movie could be.

Scott Beggs, Nerdist
Every Stephen King Film Ranked

3. Carrie (1976)
The world’s introduction to King as a writer became the world’s introduction to his stories as films. Before he was a brand, he was an author with a hit, and the success of Brian De Palma’s almost surely set the blood-covered stage for King’s long career in cinema. As the castigated girl with telepathic powers, Sissy Spacek plays Carrie to squirrelly perfection, and Piper Laurie embodies irrational fury as a mother who instills a terror of natural things into the heart of her supernatural daughter. Every scene is mined for discomfort and thematic exploration, finding the nooks and crannies of a girl offered no safe haven from her life. The prom gives us the memes, but the confrontation with her mother afterward is the scene of the film, exorcising all the tiny and gargantuan demons whispered into this young woman’s soul since she had her first period in the locker room showers. That’s two riveting, appalling finales for the price of one.

Parker Bowman, Visalia Times-Delta
Ranking the best and worst Stephen King movies

“Carrie” (1976) — Sissy Spacek was nominated for an Oscar for her titular role in this film about an awkward teen tormented by schoolmates by day and by her religious zealot mother by night. She realizes she can use her psychic powers for revenge, resulting in the split-screen prom climax scene that is synonymous with the film and is one of director Brian De Palma’s finest moments.

Anthony Breznican, Entertainment Weekly
How Stephen King scared a generation of storytellers into existence

There were legitimately great films made from King’s novels in the early days. Brian De Palma’s sleek and stylish 1976 adaptation of King’s first novel, Carrie, helped boost the author’s profile; David Cronenberg blended his brand of psychological dread with King’s in 1983’s The Dead Zone; and Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is arguably one of the finest horror films in history. (Arguing against that claim is King himself, who strongly dislikes the movie.)

Kubrick was dismissive of King in return, telling an interviewer shortly after the movie debuted that he found the novel’s ending “a bit hackneyed,” although earlier in the same conversation he had called the book “one of the most ingenious and exciting stories of the genre.”

This seemed to be the attitude of most sophisticated filmmakers toward King’s early works. There was a stiff-armed approach, an acknowledgment that something meaningful was there, but a crippling condescension toward the horror or supernatural elements, as if the directors were slumming it with material undeserving of serious thought, unless, perhaps, they could elevate it.

King’s work literally scared many good directors away. Those who fully embraced his horror tales, like the makers of TV movies and some of the schlockier pictures, often responded to King’s visceral properties but missed the cerebral.

Manuela Lazic, little white lies
Every Stephen King film adaptation, ranked

1. Carrie (1976)
It seems inevitable that De Palma and King would work together. While King the writer tends to express overblown anxieties about more or less mundane problems through grotesquely exaggerated stories, DePalma the director employs cinematic language to evoke the visceral intensity of such fears, however absurd they may seem.

When adapting Carrie, De Palma understood that King’s far fetched story of periods paranoia needed to be translated into simple yet striking images of pure horror in order to bypass ridicule. Using visual style, performance, editing, and a gorgeous soundtrack by regular collaborator Pino Donaggio, De Palma managed to introduce Carrie’s untamed magical powers into the tacky, often amusing but cruel world of high school rivalries, with shocking vigour. Carrie’s outburst is made not only terrifying, but also heartbreaking by the fact that the director let his audience get attached to her suffering at the hands of her classmates, her mother, and her puberty, before unleashing her revenge in a wordless sequence of unforgettable bloodshed.

Posted by Geoff at 11:55 PM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Thursday, September 14, 2017
Frank Vincent, the actor who developed an insult comedy nightclub act while playing in a band with Joe Pesci before the pair was cast by Martin Scorsese in Raging Bull, died Wednesday from complications during open heart surgery. He was 80.

Vincent played a gangster in Brian De Palma's Wise Guys in 1986. He also had memorable roles in Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull, Goodfellas, and Casino (all of which saw him acting opposite Pesci), as well as in two Spike Lee movies, Do The Right Thing and Jungle Fever. He reteamed with several of the actors in the above films for James Mangold's Cop Land in 1997.

"You usually had a good idea of a Frank Vincent character just from his name," Stephen Whitty states in an obit at nj.com. "Billy Batts. Joey Big Ears. Dino the Rat. Tommy the Bull. Or, when he was really starting out, simply, 'Mafia Thug.' But you didn't know the real Frank Vincent -- a Jersey City boy who idolized Dean Martin, once had a night-club act with buddy Joe Pesci, enjoyed a good hand-rolled cigar, and even wrote a book 'A Guy's Guide to Being a Man's Man.'"

Here's more from a profile piece Whitty re-posts in the article, from 2003:

"THERE was an article about me once, and the first line was "It's good to be a gangster'," Vincent says, finishing his frittata. "Well, I'm not a gangster. I'm an actor."

It's not that Vincent is squeamish about the subject, or in some state of denial about the Mafia. He saw plenty of mobsters in the bars he used to play. Plenty more became fans after he started playing them on screen. A few even became critics.

"They didn't like it when Joe beat me up in "Raging Bull,'" he says. ""Why'd you let that little guy beat you up?' And this one guy, Blackie something, I don't remember his name, but I remember him saying "What is it with the f------ language in that picture?' And, I thought, this guy's killed nine guys and he's concerned about the language?'"

It's not that Vincent minds playing gangsters, either. He had great parts in "Raging Bull" and "GoodFellas" (and got viciously attacked by Pesci in both of them); he had another good part in "Casino" (and finally got his old partner back, with a baseball bat). He realizes the mob roles are the ones he's remembered for and, as a character actor, believes "it's better to be typed than not typed."

Still, the shallowness of the assumptions annoys him. Vincent's a good uptempo drummer, with a genuine love of jazz; he's a natural comic, when he's gotten the chance to show it in films like "She's the One." He's worked with Scorsese, Spike Lee, Brian De Palma and John Sayles. But because he's a big, dark Italian-American, some people assume the gangster parts he's played are the only ones he can, or even the person he really is.

It's a hurdle a lot of actors have faced, and a situation that Vincent's friends protest.

"People typecast you because they're not very imaginative," says Pesci. "They need a certain kind of actor and they know you did that part before and so they come to you. And Frank can do a lot of things. He's very natural, and he's got a good sense of humor and a quick wit."

Posted by Geoff at 2:53 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, September 14, 2017 2:56 AM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Matthew Chernov, Variety
The Best and Worst Stephen King Adaptations Ranked

1. Carrie (1976)
Like a fairytale passed down for countless generations, King’s deceptively simple story about a lonely, mistreated teenage girl who unleashes her inner rage during the senior prom is so elemental and universal, it feels as though it’s been part of our collective consciousness forever. Miraculously, Brian De Palma’s dazzling film version only heightened the novel’s inherent strength. In the very first Stephen King adaptation, Oscar nominees Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie capture every tragic nuance of Carrie and Margaret White, while up-and-comers like John Travolta, Amy Irving and Nancy Allen shine in colorful supporting roles. But it’s De Palma’s unsurpassed mastery of the medium that pushes “Carrie” to the top of the list. From the languidly erotic locker room title sequence to the electrifying final jolt, “Carrie” is in a class by itself.

Matt Zoller Seitz, RogerEbert.com
30 Minutes on: "It" (2017)

The sense of the creature's being intimately connected to the history of Derry doesn't come through as strongly as it might, though. That tends to sever the main characters from their town, minimizing the sense that an entire community has a stake in the outcome of the tale and turning it into more of a small-scaled, personal story about individuals conquering their demons by conquering an actual demon. The film treads lightly over his role in a racially motivated incident of arson in Derry's past—the burning of The Black Spot, a club frequented by black soldiers, by The Maine Legion of White Decency—and the gang of white bullies that regularly terrorizes our heroes never uses any slurs when harassing the lone black member of the Loser's Club (Mike Hanlon, played by Chosen Jacobs), leaving racial animosity more implied than stated. The movie also fails to connect particular horrific visions to the characters that inspired them in ways that would might them truly pop, as great setpieces in the Stephen King filmography do (the only girl in the group, Sophia Lillis' Bev Marsh, gets drowned in blood a la "The Shining" elevator not long after buying tampons in a drugstore, a vision worthy of Brian De Palma's original "Carrie," but there's little sense of the incidents being symbolically connected, a conspicuous failure for a horror movie of this type). At two hours and fifteen minutes, the movie also starts to develop a monotonous rhythm, serving up regular jolts at the ends of scenes where characters have a freaky/mysterious experience, almost always ending with Pennywise getting up in their faces or chasing them out of the room, his body shimmering and spazzing like a ghost in a Japanese horror movie.

Jordan Raup, The Film Stage
Review of It

With a more ceremonious unveiling than the other Hollywood adaptation of a Stephen King property this year, It is slickly calibrated to please its spook-hungry audience. Functioning more as a roller coaster ride of frights and humor than a dread-inducing exercise in terror, Andy Muschietti’s Mama follow-up doesn’t have the inspired vision or thematic complexity to join Brian De Palma and Stanley Kubrick in the pantheon of the (very few) masterful cinematic retellings of the celebrated author. However, for a Halloween precursor, there is a respectable amount of carnivalesque mischief to be found in this cinematic equivalent of a deranged jack-in-the-box.

Henry Bevan, The Flickering Myth
Remembering Carrie, the best Stephen King adaptation

The camera glides through the girls’ locker room. The girls are in various states of undress; steam from the shower creates a dreamlike quality, shrouding the scene, fogging up the lens. The camera pushes in on Carrie (Sissy Spacek) as she rubs herself with soap. It focuses on various parts of her naked body, before settling on a close up of her thighs. It lingers for longer than is comfortable as water trickles between her legs. Then, the water turns to blood.

Pino Donaggio’s sensual score starts screeching as Brian De Palma perverts the male gaze, slashing the male fantasy of female representation by showing them something they will never fully understand: menstruation. The scene becomes horrific and is indicative of Carrie, Brian De Palma’s adaptation of Stephen King’s debut novel, a film whose horror lies in the director’s repeated attempts of rupturing film fantasy.

With It seemingly scaring up a massive opening weekend, it is an ideal time for articles on Stephen King adaptations (timeliness equals hits, normally) and Carrie remains one of the best adaptations because of how it grounds fantasy in reality. We are not scared of Carrie because of what she can do. We are scared of Carrie because we could be her. Everyone fears being picked on, being ridiculed, and everyone dreams they’d hit back at their bullies. Carrie, with her telekinetic powers, has the power to fight back, but she chooses not to. She massacres the student body only when the bullying gets too much.

At the Prom De Palma interrupts Carrie’s, and our, dreams. The soft lighting when she becomes Prom Queen turns sharp as she kills everyone in her path, even the “nice” gym teacher gets chopped in two. The murderous rampage shies away from gratuity, and, whether or not this is because of the limitations of the time, it helps makes the film feel real. The car crash looks like something you’d see on the news, it looks mundane.

While comparing films is a cheap form of criticism, Kimberly Peirce’s adequate 2013 re-imagining leans heavily into fantasy. Her car crash is a drawn out experience, captured in slow motion with more blood, and that’s saying something. It’s overt popcorn horror actually makes the film less scary, and even though 2013 Carrie’s powers are more empowering as she actively hones them and enjoys her revenge, it lacks the emotional resonance of someone exploding when they’ve been pushed too far. Peirce’s third-act horrors are how we think we would act in her situation. De Palma’s restrained third-act horrors are how we would act.

Carrie is as grounded in reality as a film featuring telekinesis can be. Carrie’s telekinetic bursts are surprising because they are not the story, they are the fantastical punctuation marks in her toxic reality. The story is concerned with bullying, sex education (lack of), and patriarchal domination; timeless themes and problems we still haven’t solved in the 41 years since the film entered cinemas. De Palma shows a filmmaking intelligence missing from most horror movies. He creates a terrifying film from skipping blood and jump scares, instead focusing on twisting fantasy moments and film language. The male gaze, a staple of most movies, is amped up to softcore porn levels before reality interrupts the fantasy with a trickle of blood.

Posted by Geoff at 8:05 AM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post