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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


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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

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a la Mod

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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

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De Palma a la Mod

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/empirerankingdepalma.jpgOne of them makes a case for Mission: Impossible that the others make fun of him for, one of them tries to tell the others that Scarface is not thought of as anything great except by rappers and footballers, and there is disagreement about Phantom Of The Paradise, but there is also a lot that the four guys on this podcast agree on regarding Brian De Palma. Here's the introduction from EmpireOnline:
The latest episode of The Ranking — our show that ties in with the magazine (hashtag brand synergy) and sees four Empire writers argue the toss on a filmmaker's CV — is here. And this time we're delving deep into the work of a man who's orchestrated more tracking shots than you've had hot dinners: Brian 'Bri Bri' De Palma.

Discussing his progression from early promise to his virtuoso Hitchcockian phase and then the more commercial fare of the Eighties and Nineties (but without focusing on the not-so-great output of recent years), Chris Hewitt, Ian Freer, Nick de Semlyen and Jonathan Pile discuss the ins and outs, ups and downs of a great, if somewhat erratic career. And, for the first time, you'll be able to hear the top ten being counted down in this podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud, Planet Radio, or your podcast app of choice.

This isn't the only Empire Podcast dropping this week — in fact, we have a new episode arriving every day. Yesterday was an interview special with Rian Johnson and Mark Hamill, and still to come are Spoiler Special episodes on A Quiet Place and Ready Player One, ahead of Friday's regular pod. Enjoy.

Enough squabbling, let's vote! (Stop trying to make 'enough squabbling, let's vote!' happen, Chris.)

Posted by Geoff at 7:22 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, April 10, 2018 7:27 PM CDT
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Monday, April 9, 2018

I haven't seen it yet, but reviews of HBO's Paterno mention that the biopic uses a framing device in which Al Pacino (as Joe Paterno) is, as AV/TV Club's Ignatiy Vishnevetsky puts it, "lying helplessly in the narrow tube of the machine... watching as scenes are projected on its cylindrical wall." Of course, the first thing I think about when I read this is Pacino's Carlito, lying helplessly on a gurney at the beginning and end of Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way, gazing at the ad for "Paradise" as he flashes back to how he got there. De Palma, of course, was the original director for the Paterno project at HBO, when it was still called Happy Valley. David McKenna was the writer at the time, and one wonders if they had utilized this framing device in the script from the start, from a possible suggestion by De Palma and Pacino, looking back at Carlito's Way.

In any case, at least a couple of the reviews wish that De Palma had remained the director of the project, which was eventually made under the direction of Barry Levinson. Here's an excerpt from Vishnevetsky's review:

In other words, this isn’t what one would call an elegantly coordinated narrative. Making a secondary protagonist out of Sara Ganim (Riley Keough), who won a Pulitzer for her work on the charges against Sandusky and Penn State for The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, might seem like a no-brainer straight out of Screenwriting 101. But Debora Cahn and John C. Richards’ amateurish script opts to just have random characters shout exposition at the journalist (“Joe Pa made an ethos in this whole place!”), as though she were having the scandal reported to her instead of reporting on it. Bewilderingly, the question of whether Paterno knew about accusations that Sandusky was molesting young boys (he did, since at least the late 1990s) and helped sweep said accusations under the rug (of course he did) are placed at the center of the film, when it’s clear that the more interesting question is “Why?” A drama about sexual abuse and institutional corruption might seem topical, but all Paterno offers its audience is a chance to re-experience the cable news cycle of yesteryear.

Writing aside, Pacino’s Paterno is an intriguingly slumpy, sluggish, distracted figure. Having also played the title role in HBO’s David Mamet-directed Phil Spector, the actor is as much of an old hand at these things as Levinson, and he avoids bluster, instead stretching the raspy and burpy notes in his voice, playing the disgraced coach as a man confused by his own downfall. In fact, there are enough quality performances in Paterno—most notably from Greg Grunberg as Paterno’s son, Scott, and from Kathy Baker, who has a smaller role as the coach’s wife, Sue—to make one wish there were a better film to support them. One can’t help but play shoulda-woulda-coulda with the fact that Paterno began life as a reunion project for Pacino and his Scarface and Carlito’s Way director, Brian De Palma—by most accounts a very different film that would have focused on the relationship between Paterno and Sandusky. At the time, John Carroll Lynch was cast as the latter; in Paterno, the character is basically a non-speaking role, played by a jobbing actor named Jim Johnson, whose IMDB page offers a Tobias Fünke-esque collection of headshots.

To say that Levinson lacks formal chops of someone like De Palma would be an understatement. Enlisting the Hungarian cinematographer Marcell Rév (White God), he directs in the style that has increasingly come to pass for “creativity” in our age of prestige TV—that is, randomly placed wide-angle lenses and gelatinously shallow depth-of-field that presumably symbolizes the myopia of the characters, but mostly looks like the work of a film student who just got their hands on a T1.3 aperture for the first time. These entry-level distancing effects (see also: the MRI machine) never succeed in hiding or overcoming Paterno’s flimsiness as drama, its tendency to pass off the obvious as revelation. Is there a dark side to every success story? Probably. But the only cogent insight about society at large to emerge from HBO’s ongoing project to turn every fall from grace that makes the news for more than a week into a TV movie is the fact that there remains no shortage of material.

And here's an excerpt from the review by Variety's Mekeisha Madden Toby:
Watching HBO Films’ latest snatched-from-the-headlines project, “Paterno,” one can’t help but wonder how different it might have been had Brian De Palma directed it.

He’s had an advantageous working relationship with star Al Pacino on both “Scarface” and “Carlito’s Way.” In his hands, the film could have been a “King Lear”-level tragedy about a sports legend whose singular focus led to his downfall.

Instead what viewers get is director Barry Levinson’s well-intended but paroxysmal journey into legendary college football coach Joe Paterno’s fall from grace, fired by Penn State for his role in the Jerry Sandusky abuse scandal.

Unsure if he wants to focus more on Paterno or newspaper journalist Sara Ganim — the reporter who broke the Sandusky story — Levinson constantly switches his gaze from one to the other. Ganim’s role as a consultant on the film may have mucked up the process even more. The end result is a film that clumsily tries to sympathize with Paterno instead of the young boys he chose to ignore until it was too late.

Posted by Geoff at 3:14 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, April 9, 2018 3:18 AM CDT
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Saturday, April 7, 2018

Armond White reviews John Curran's Chappaquiddick for National Review:
Brian De Palma’s 1981 political thriller Blow Out was the first movie that dared address the events conjured by the single term "Chappaquiddick.” It was a generational provocation. De Palma, whose comedies Greetings, Phantom of the Paradise, and Hi, Mom! were obsessed with the JFK assassination, advanced to make a deeply emotional film reenacting a well-known loss of life (a supposedly disposable female victim played by Nancy Allen) and national disillusionment. De Palma raised that tragedy, involving both a callous political cover-up and society’s general naïveté, into larger concerns: Blow Out’s daring aesthetic examination of a film technician’s (John Travolta) cinematic-moral process that also expressed modern American despair. Blow Out is an overwhelming movie experience, a would-be classic if it weren’t all but ignored by today’s largely unprincipled film culture.

That’s why John Curran’s less flamboyant, more realistic approach in Chappaquiddick is such a moving surprise. Curran modestly takes on the historical events of the evening in 1969 when political campaigner Mary Jo Kopechne died in a submerged car, after Ted Kennedy accidentally drove the vehicle into the ocean. De Palma reimagined those incidents (including the cultural aftershock) with a combination of dreamlike intensity and paranoia. But Curran goes directly for the morally complex legend of the Massachusetts scion, to show how this political figure compromised himself.

In terms of both film and political history, Chappaquiddick is also a classic. Curran (and screenwriters Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan) break away from the Kennedy legacy so beloved by mainstream media. But these filmmakers also oppose the Millennial tendency toward demonization. Maybe every media consumer should see this film to appreciate the humanity that Curran and company display. They commemorate Kopechne (Kate Mara’s performance blends simple sweetness and cagey ambition) and sympathize with Kennedy — balancing the motives of both follower and icon. This is the rare occasion when partisan animus is ignored to facilitate an understanding of human culpability. The movie doesn’t exonerate Kennedy, but it challenges viewers to ease off their judgmental reflex.

The cynical smartness that has afflicted contemporary journalism and made much recent cinema insufferable is confronted by Curran’s conscientious dramatic rigor. Condemning someone you disagree with has become the rage since the 2016 election, as too many people seek to justify their own prejudices and power, the nation be damned. Upon reflection, De Palma’s shot of Nancy Allen screaming before the backdrop of a defamed Old Glory may be the single movie image that is sufficiently magnificent and full of dread to sum up our political and emotional crisis. Chappaquiddick extends the irony of that image in its tale of a politician twisted by his damaged ego and the burden of responsibility.

At the end of the review, White concludes, "Kennedy history films are all about revised thinking (JFK, Thirteen Days, Jackie, even last year’s LBJ), and Chappaquiddick, surprisingly, avoids self-righteousness even as its closing scene of Kennedy’s participation in media manipulation makes us face up to the hypocrisy and opportunism that defined the legacy of 'The Lion of the Senate' — faults we indulge along with our politicians. By resisting Millennial cynicism, Chappaquiddick is, at last, a worthy companion to De Palma’s masterly national vision. Or — as David Mamet noted in his 1999 film adaptation of the Terence Rattigan play The Winslow Boy, updated as commentary on the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal — 'It is easy to do justice, very hard to do right.'"

Posted by Geoff at 9:55 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, April 7, 2018 9:58 AM CDT
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Wednesday, April 4, 2018
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/elaziz.jpgAs we approach next week's anticipated announcement of the full Cannes lineup, places such as the IMDB and Wikipedia are both listing the running time for Brian De Palma's Domino at 148 minutes. I remain skeptical of that precise figure, because both the IMDB and Wikipedia are subject to random user edits, but also because of an odd match with Brimstone, which also has the precise running time of 148 minutes. Brimstone also stars Guy Pearce and Carice van Houten, and shares some of the same producers as Domino.

In the meantime, a couple of actors have recently mentioned that they have roles in Domino. Ali El Aziz tells El cinèfil's JR Armadàs of his dark role in the film:
An actor who resides in Sant Antoni de Vilamajor, Ali El Aziz, was shooting under the direction of De Palma last summer to get under the skin as a captive of jihadists who play a key role in the plot of the film. In statements exclusively to El cinèfil, El Aziz explains that "it was a very frantic shooting." Regarding the interaction with De Palma, he says that "despite being a great director he knows very well what he wants and is very aware of the set. He also interacted heavily with the actors and even asked us questions about what we thought of the character. It matters a lot to the inner performance ... even if the camera doesn't capture it, but there it is." The actor points out that his character is a man with two faces, one public and one dark ... so dark that he recruits terrorists to blow up a football stadium!

Fabienne Payet wrote a bit on her Twitter page about working three days as an actor on the Copenhagen set of Domino last year, but without telling much about her role in the film: "Last year I was in Copenhagen for 3 days for a role in Brian de Palma’s Domino," Payet tweeted yesterday. "It has been quiet since..." Responding to someone's response about falling in love with Copenhagen last summer, Payet responded, "I was only there for3 days but it is lovely, even Carice van Houten whom I chatted with said she wanted to buy a house there because it was so peaceful. I will go back too." In a tweet to @DePalmaArchives, Payet said, "it was an utmost joy to work with Brian de Palma last summer, he is a kind and very thoughtful man. Even I am eager to see the trailer for Domino!"

Posted by Geoff at 8:27 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, April 7, 2018 10:00 AM CDT
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Saturday, March 31, 2018
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/nightflightdepalma.jpgHere's a great archived interview from the 1980s late night TV show Night Flight. In 1988, the show did a lengthy profile on Brian De Palma, with a very interesting interview with the director, loaded with clips from his films. I'll try to add some quotes or a transcription from the interview later on, but it also includes discussion of the music videos De Palma directed, and includes the TV-version of his video for Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Relax, complete with its parodic homage to Flashdance, a movie De Palma almost got corralled into directing. Thanks to BrianDePalmaArchives for the link to the video.

Posted by Geoff at 2:39 PM CDT
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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

For intriguing reading about Sisters:
Stefan Sereda - The Sister as Revenant in Brian De Palma’s Sisters
Alberto Libera - The two sisters

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, March 28, 2018 12:45 AM CDT
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Monday, March 26, 2018

Ready Player One actors say Spielberg was constantly surprising them on the set

Posted by Geoff at 9:46 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, March 27, 2018 8:44 PM CDT
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Sunday, March 25, 2018

David Sims posted "The Many Eras of Al Pacino's Stardom" today at The Atlantic, inspired by the "Pacino's Way" retrospective currently playing at The Quad in New York. Sims says that "Carlito’s Way might be the best Pacino performance of the ’90s, in that it’s a natural evolution of his bombastic gangland heroes of prior decades into someone worn out by the excesses of the era." Despite this, Sims does not delve into that film, preferring instead Pacino's supporting role in James Foley's Glengarry Glen Ross. But Sims does delve into Scarface:
The ’80s were quiet for Pacino (he only made five films, including the major flops Cruising and Revolution), but they also gave him Scarface, the Brian De Palma gangster epic that endures as a cult classic for generation after generation of college students and stoned teenagers. Perhaps I’m selling Scarface short, but the comedian John Mulaney once perfectly mocked the notion that someone would say their favorite movies were The Godfather and Scarface, as if the two were of remotely similar caliber: “Oh yeah? Well my favorite foods are lobster ... and Skittles. Those are equal in my eyes!”

The story of a Cuban mobster’s rise to power and fall from grace, Scarface is a blast to watch, but it’s the definite beginning of Pacino’s “Skittles” phase, one where no choice was too outrageous, where yelling right to the camera was practically a matter of course. It’s the Pacino that so many younger viewers are more familiar with. “I think sometimes I went there because I see myself kind of like a tenor,” Pacino said. “And a tenor needs to hit those high notes once in a while. Even if they’re wrong. So sometimes they’re way off ... I saw that character as bigger than life; I didn’t see him as three-dimensional.”

Posted by Geoff at 12:30 PM CDT
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https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/abuhamdan.jpgBerlin-based Lebanese artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan has won the Abraaj Group Art Prize this year in Art Dubai, according to Arab News' Rawan Radwan. The artist, whose works utilize sound and surveillance technologies, talks to Radwan about the protagonists of Blow-Up and Blow Out to help illustrate the way he sees his art:
Abu Hamdan’s vast works are politically focused, incorporating sounds in an interplay of noise and silence in conflict.

He unveiled his award winning work on the 21st of March, on the official opening of Art Dubai. “Walled Unwalled”, a single channel film projected on a glass wall covered in a special holographic foil that allows it to be reactive to light - dark elements of the image retain the glass walls natural transparency while the bright patches allow it to appear solid. The performance comprises of an interlinking series of narratives derived from legal cases that revolved around evidence that was heard or experienced through walls.

The Berlin-based artist has had marvelous successes over the years in using his knowledge and research in sound and surveillance technologies to produce works of art that translate well to a wide audience. His work is like nothing I have encountered before; it is moving, disturbing and raw.

A trained musician, fluent in the anatomy of audio production, Abu Hamdan is able to understand the causes of different types of distortion and noise, qualifying him to work on forensic audio investigations. His work and research mainly revolve around the manners of use and abuse of various kinds of audio.

He has compiled audio analyzes for legal investigations at the UK asylum tribunal, and advocacy for organizations such as Amnesty International and Defense for Children International. Forensic audio investigations are conducted as part of his research at Goldsmiths College at the University of London, where Abu Hamdan is a PhD candidate.

“It’s my formal training as an artist that has augmented this non-expert but proficient training in musical production,” said Abu Hamdan. “Think of Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 film ‘Blow-Up,’ or more aptly in this context, Brian De Palma’s 1981 thriller ‘Blow Out.’ In both, we see an artist (a photographer in ‘Blow-Up’ and a B-movie effects artist in ‘Blow Out’) become a murder investigator.

“The intensity with which these artist-protagonists see and hear the world in order to reproduce it — each paying very close attention to every grain of an image or every aspect of an audio track — is so great that both artists unintentionally find themselves in the position of being a forensic investigator.”

Abu Hamdan’s use of audiovisual installations expresses different themes, all of which revolve around the importance of bringing forth the truth. There is no room for lies or deceit, and we all know that science does not lie.

His work, “Saydnaya (The Missing 19db),” speaks of the struggles of surviving Syrian prisoners. The first of a series of articles of evidence produced by Abu Hamdan, it features people talking about their time in a prison where more than 13,000 people have been executed. Blindfolded most of the time, they developed an acute sensitivity to sound. Through their audio testimonies, Abu Hamdan is able to reconstruct the structure of the building and compile evidence of the torture and violence that took place there.

One of the most notable and moving aspects of this project is how the voice was heard before Saydnaya, and a gradual decrease as the voices are lowered at a 19 decibel drop — the disappearance of the voices and the voices of the disappeared.

Another project, “Earshot,” is an audio-ballistic analysis of gunshots recorded in May 2014, when Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank shot and killed two teenagers, Nadeem Nawara and Mohammed Abu Daher. The audio evidence aimed to determine whether the soldiers had used rubber bullets, as they claim, or broken the law by firing live ammunition at the two unarmed teenagers. The acoustic analysis, for which Abu Hamdan used special techniques designed to visualize the sound frequencies, established that live shots were indeed fired.

His 15-minute audio essay, “Language Gulf in the Shouting Valley,” captures the plight of the Druze split by the border between the occupied Golan Heights and Syria, where members gather and shout across the divide to family and friends on the other side.

“I see the role of the artist as documenting the world in an avant-garde way — a world that doesn’t yet accept these things as documents but will, at some point,” said Abu Hamdan. “What makes most sense for me as an artist now is to build on that, to believe that the forms of historical documentation and truth-determining we use today are inadequate, and to use experimental material and aesthetic practice as a means to produce new kinds of documents.”

Abu Hamdan goes on to explain that this method often involves focusing on what is in the background, the structural conditions, to propose a truth and to use the intensity of looking at and listening to the world, and to posit a different kind of truth-production through art — a truth-production that is not the law, that is not science, that has very different kinds of models of defining what the truth is. He believes that art offers a third way of doing that.

His focus and attitude toward his work is not like many artists. Instead of beautifying and simplifying his work, his experimentation with the physical and social effects of sounds in particular explores the plight of people and important issues in the region. His works are complex installations, difficult for some to fully grasp, but his emphasis on allowing sound to become more than just art allows them to become testimony is what is truly remarkable.

Posted by Geoff at 1:45 AM CDT
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Saturday, March 24, 2018

A couple of days ago, in an article titled, "25 films we’d like to see at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival," Little White Lies' David Jenkins wrote about Domino as the #6 choice: "The spurious rumour mill has gone into overdrive with regard to the new film by Brian De Palma. His previous, 2012’s Passion, flew somewhat under the radar despite being taken to the bosom of the hardcore De Palma stans. A wicked whisper suggests that Domino was destined for the Berlinale, but the reaction at an early test screening was reportedly so positive that its course was diverted. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Carice van Houten and Guy Pearce star in a Copenhagen-set crime thriller which looks like it could be the director’s unique take on the 'Scandi noir' genre."

A Twitter post from the week before suggests that the test screening aspect of the rumor was actually a "sales screening in Paris." A Cannes speculation article by Deadline's Nancy Tartaglione and Andreas Wiseman was posted the same day as the Little White Lies article (March 22nd), but did not include mention of Domino until an update the next day. The full Cannes lineup will be announced April 12th.

Posted by Geoff at 11:28 PM CDT
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