Full interview segment at YouTube.
Hello and welcome to the unofficial Brian De Palma website.
Here is the latest news:
a la Mod:
He is thrilled that “Pacino’s Way” was proposed by the folks at the Quad Cinema in the Village. On the phone from L.A. in three rambling, absolutely delightful hours, Pacino, now 77, effuses over the years (beginning at 16, when he dropped out of the High School of the Performing Arts) in which he roamed the neighborhood, sometimes homeless and sleeping on the stages of small theaters, moving from production to production, and meeting, in a bar at age 17, his mentor, the late Charlie Laughton (not the famous one), who brought him to the Herbert Berghof Studio.
“I was just stunned by the fact that the Quad offered this to me,” he says. “I immediately crashed on when I was a kid down there. Sometimes you feel closer to what you were than you expected.”
The retrospective (it begins March 14) features most of the biggies: the first two Godfather films (he thinks the third was a mistake), Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Scarface, Scent of a Woman, Heat, as well as — surprisingly, at Pacino’s request — his most formidable bombs, Bobby Deerfield and Revolution.
Equally vital for him are the movies he directed, like the rarely seen Chinese Coffee (based on a play) and two relatively recent films in New York premieres: a spare, stylized version of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé he stars in with Jessica Chastain — he’d hoped the film would help launch her career but she did pretty well without it — and Wilde Salomé, a documentary about his relationship with the play. In it, he reveals the often-wayward process of putting together the earlier film and a concurrent L.A. stage production. The documentary isn’t as exhilarating as his 1996 free-form seminar, Looking for Richard, a kind of goofy master’s thesis on the Bard, the hunchbacked king, and the nature of his theatrical obsessions. But it’s full of enjoyably bizarre episodes, like the one in which Pacino throws a lavish cocktail party so that an unprepared, rather confused Chastain can improvise. Wilde Salomé illuminates the space where Pacino is happiest: the experimental theatrical milieu in which, 50 years ago, he found his voice.
Here’s what Pacino wants you to take away from the retrospective, especially if you think he’s often the same in every role onscreen — if you always say, “Oh, that’s Al”: “It’s an overview of an acting artist from the Village, really,” he says, and suggests looking at his four gangsters, Michael Corleone, Tony Montana in Scarface, Carlito from Carlito’s Way, and Lefty Ruggiero in Donnie Brasco. They couldn’t be more different. Pacino’s Montana is huge and burns like a filament, a purposely two-dimensional character in a film that the director, Brian De Palma, called a “Brechtian opera” — and Pacino loves how Tony became a cultural icon, however cataclysmic the trajectory. Carlito, on the other hand, is a man who gets out of prison and wants to put his life in order — the opposite of Montana, who manufactures chaos. Lefty is a Mafia middleman, a second-rater striving to rise in the ranks but brought down by a surrogate son who turns out to be an undercover FBI agent.
Sometimes, Pacino says, he goes overboard, sometimes underboard. “But as Lee Strasberg used to say, ‘Don’t do what you can do. Do what you can’t do. That’s how you learn.’ ”
I quote Michael Mann, who once compared Pacino to Pacino’s old Village pal Robert De Niro: De Niro “sees the part as a construction, working incredibly hard, detail by detail, bit by bit, building character … [Pacino is] more like Picasso, staring at an empty canvas for many hours in intense concentration. And then there’s a series of brushstrokes. And a piece of the character is alive.”
Pacino says, “Isn’t that great, to hear that? I’m so glad, because I remember hearing about Picasso, who stares for 12 hours at an empty canvas. So, I play around with stuff. When I find something, it’s a combination of doing it so much in my life … and also saying, ‘I don’t know anything about acting at all.’ ”
He’s still learning. In the space of a year, he has played a shocked, stricken Joe Paterno for Barry Levinson in HBO’s Paterno (premiering in April), which he says is more internal than most of his recent performances. From there, he jumped into the part of Jimmy Hoffa in The Irishman, working with De Niro (playing Hoffa’s close friend and likely killer) and, for the first time, Martin Scorsese. The film was shooting when Pacino signed up — Scorsese warned him it would be “a moving train” — which is not how he likes to work. But he trusted Scorsese and De Niro enough to hop aboard. Also, the budget of the film, produced by Netflix, is big and getting bigger, and the money will doubtless help to underwrite Pacino’s next theatrical experiments.
And then there is Rutanya Alda (below), who had been in both Greetings and Hi, Mom! (and who was about to work with Robert De Niro again in Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter)...
Before he had made Carrie, De Palma had pleaded in vain to direct the film version of Robert Stone's Vietnam/counterculture novel Dog Soldiers. That film ended up being directed by Karel Reisz, with the title changed to Who'll Stop The Rain. Even though that film arrived in theaters a few months after De Palma's The Fury, cinematographer Richard Kline had already finished shooting it before De Palma asked around about him and hired him for The Fury. De Palma explained to Paul Mandell at Filmmakers Newsletter that he had liked the way Kline had lit some of the films he'd worked on. "So we sat down, looked at the book, decided what kind of filming style we wanted to use, and then did it. And we worked together quite well."
Bradley Battersby: I was telling John that it was Brian De Palma who really influenced me in creating this program the way it developed. In that, you know, you put the young people with veterans-- the pros-- from the industry, and it just, it can take off, and be such a win-win for both parties. Because I think Brian got a lot out of it, stayed in touch with everybody for a long long time. So, pretty interesting. He gave you a number of roles, didn't he?
John Lithgow: Yeah, in three Brian films. Obsession, Blow Out, and Raising Cain. For some reason, he loved the idea of me, this sort of bland, benign WASP, ending up the villain of the piece... [laughter] ... the sadistic killer.
Although the characters in David Mamet’s new novel, “Chicago,” never sound like real people, they always sound like David Mamet people, which is a strange indication of his success. We would recognize these guys in a dark alley, not from any actual experience in dark alleys but from “Speed-the-Plow,” “American Buffalo” and “Glengarry Glen Ross,” plays that have explored 86-proof masculinity for decades.
In “Chicago,” Mamet returns once again to the city where he was raised and where he started to work in theater. The novel also marks a return to the Prohibition era of “The Untouchables” (1987), Brian De Palma’s gangster film for which Mamet wrote the screenplay. But what’s striking is how little difference the time makes. Past or present, Mamet’s men must always contend with the rapidly changing currents of the day. The moment you hear Mamet working in 1920s Chicago, it’s obvious that this bullet-ridden era fits him as comfortably as a newsboy cap. Yet he’s often felt like an on-the-money writer, catching the zeitgeist even before the cigarette smoke clears the room. Remember that “Oleanna,” his deeply unsettling play about sexual harassment, opened just months after Clarence Thomas joined the Supreme Court. And now, while releasing this novel set 90 years ago, he’s working on a script about recently disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
“Chicago” is not overly inconvenienced by the actual history of the 1920s. “Received chronology,” Mamet notes at the opening, “has been jostled into a better understanding of its dramatic responsibilities.” (Leave it to Mamet to be more responsible than God.) But if this isn’t the exact history of Chicago, it’s still the city you think you know. Italian and Irish gangsters rule competing halves of the town. Al Capone makes a cameo. With alcohol illegal and ubiquitous, the city government is an institution of organized influence peddling. Every crime scene is picked over by sticky-fingered policemen shopping for their wives and girlfriends.
Previously:Jordan Peele: “I want to do what Hitchcock did, what Spielberg did, what Brian De Palma did — dark tales.”
Looking at his films from Training Day to Equalizer and The Magnificent Seven, Fuqua seems a strong match for the visceral immigrant gangster storyline that was central to both the 1932 and 1983 film versions. The latter was directed by Brian De Palma, written by Oliver Stone and starred Al Pacino. Paul Muni starred in the earlier version.
Fuqua will be ready after completing post on the Equalizer sequel with Denzel Washington. He has remained intrigued with reviving the original. In an interview with Deadline when he helmed The Magnificent Seven, Fuqua explained the appeal of the violence and excess of the criminal underworld that has informed both previous films.
“There are stories about that world that you couldn’t make up,” he said. “Pablo Escobar had animals from Africa and they still don’t know how he got them. Right now they’ve been trying to figure out how to deal with the growing population of what they call cocaine hippos. It’s crazy. Their lives are so over the top, El Chapo and the rest of those guys.
“But how do you make him the icon of icons? Because we have a high bar for movie icons with Al Pacino’s Tony Montana and Michael Corleone. I took Denzel into that world as a cop in Training Day, and that was a world that I know probably way too much about. I know where to go with this. I have met a lot of these cartel dudes and understand their mentality, and this f*cked up version of Robin Hood. I saw it with guys I grew up with. It starts with, I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do to feed my family. Then it turned into, I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do to survive. Then it turned into, I want it all. Your moral compass gets lost in the darkness and excess.”
David Ayer in talks for Scarface remake
Coen Brothers will rewrite Scarface script
Fuqua drops out of Scarface remake; Diego Luna will play lead
Terence Winter to tackle Scarface script
The Scarface remake just got a lot less interesting
Scarface remake is Larraín's dream project
The Scarface remake just got a lot more interesting