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Sunday, April 22, 2018
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/koppelman2018.jpgAfter the Daily Mail misidentified him as the moderator who made things a bit awkward at this past Thursday's Scarface reunion at Tribeca, Brian Koppelman posted a brief series of tweets to explain why he did not ultimately end up moderating that on-stage discussion. In a final tweet about the matter, Koppelman added that he "never should have publicly said anything against DePalma's work 10 years back. I was tired at the end of a junket. It's wrong for any filmmaker to do that about another. I was looking forward to really making this night special for him, the cast and the audience."

Taken together, the tweets stated:
Hey @DailyMail-- I wasn't the moderator at the Scarface panel. I didn't ask that question. I wasn't even in the room. I was, originally, going to be the moderator, but it was changed the morning of.

I have interviewed hundreds of people on my podcast. There is zero chance I would have asked Michelle Pfeiffer that question. If you've ever listened to my pod, you know that.

1) And further, now that this is being falsely attributed to me, let me say this: I prepared really hard to do the panel and was really looking forward to it. But someone on here sent DePalma an old quote of mine, and he had me kicked off the panel the morning of the event.

2) I had said, 10 years ago, that he didn't deserve to be thought of in the same way Scorsese, Coppola, Lucas and Spielberg are. And when I was first asked to do the gig, I warned the people to get DePalma's approval. They did. And then, at the last minute, he booted me.

3) Well, I hope he's happy with the result. For the record, I think Scarface is a masterpiece. And that Pfeiffer's performance captured the mood of that place and moment in time better than almost anything or anyone ever. END.

btw, I never should have publicly said anything against DePalma's work 10 years back. I was tired at the end of a junket. It's wrong for any filmmaker to do that about another. I was looking forward to really making this night special for him, the cast and the audience.

Capone Rising screenwriter to moderate tonight's Scarface discussion at Tribeca

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2018 7:11 PM CDT
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Friday, April 20, 2018

Sometime during the day yesterday leading up to last night's Scarface 35th anniversary event at the Tribeca Film Festival, Brian Koppelman was quietly replaced as scheduled moderator of the post-screening discussion, and Koppelman had removed the retweet of the Tribeca post mentioning his name. The discussion ended up being moderated by Jesse Kornbluth, who, nevertheless, managed to ask Michelle Pfeiffer a question that, by all accounts, made everyone feel awkward and garnered boos from the audience, coming to Pfeiffer's defense.

Elsewhere in the on-stage discussion, according to AP's Jake Coyle, Brian De Palma slyly linked Tony Montana to an unnamed Donald Trump: "I've always been interested about making movies about people who start rather humbly and then acquire a great deal of power and then ultimately isolate themselves and live in their own world. Could that be anything we're experiencing now?" De Palma said, laughing.

Coyle's article continues:

The reunion wasn't without its hitches. When the post-screening panel moderator Jesse Kornbluth — as seemingly an opening to discuss Pfeiffer's character's gaunt, cocaine-snorting habits — asked the actress how much she weighed when making the film, boos echoed around the theater. But the affection the crowd had for "Scarface" was palpable throughout the evening, with applause bursting out frequently during the nearly three-hour film for favorite scenes and cherished lines.

De Palma's 1983 film, penned by Oliver Stone, was a remake of the Howard Hawks-directed 1932 gangster film of the same name. (De Palma even dedicated the film to Hawks and screenwriter Ben Hecht.) The project began with Pacino being enthralled by the original.

"I was completely taken with Paul Muni's performance," said Pacino. "After I saw that, I thought: I want to be Paul Muni. I want to act like that."

The idea to update the immigrant story to Cuban refugees in Miami came from filmmaker Sidney Lumet, who was briefly attached to direct. The Mariel boatlift in 1980 brought some 125,000 refugees to Florida from Fidel Castro's Cuba. (An updated, Los Angeles-set remake to "Scarface" has been rumored, with "Training Day" filmmaker Antoine Fuqua recently attached to direct a script by David Ayer, Jonathan Herman and Joel and Ethan Coen.)

De Palma's film was a box office hit, the 16th highest grossing film of the year. But it received mixed reviews. Though some, including Roger Ebert, raved about it, critics like David Ansen of Newsweek called it "grand, shallow, decadent entertainment." Yet for many, its reputation has grown over the years, especially on dorm-room walls and in hip-hop, where "Scarface" became a revered influence.

"It's caught on in such a way, and we have experienced it," said Pacino. "This wasn't the way it started. When 'Scarface' first came out, it was extremely controversial."

The hyper-violent film initially received an "X'' rating from the Motion Picture Association of America's ratings board. De Palma said he went through three edits on the film without receiving an "R'' rating before he and producer Martin Bregman decided to withdraw any changes.

"Marty said, 'We'll go to war with these people,'" said De Palma, still relishing the battle. "And that's what we did."

Some also took issue with how the film depicted Cuban immigrants as vicious drug-dealers at a time when many were trying to get a foothold in the United States.

"A lot of the old-school Cubans were concerned with me almost to the point that they weren't really sure that my participation in a Hollywood movie was worth me downgrading or degrading or tainting the image of their accomplishments in the new society," said the Cuban-born Bauer. "What I tried to convey to them was: Relax, man. It's a movie."

Pfieffer, too, said she's been asked over the years about playing a female character with so little agency in "Scarface."

"I felt that by allowing people to observe who this character is and the sacrifices that she's made said more (than) getting up on any soap box and preaching to people," said Pfeiffer.

The actress added that her experience acting alongside Pacino was life-changing.

"One of the things that hit me the strongest was watching him fiercely protect character, really at all costs and without any sort of apology," said Pfeiffer. "I have always tried to emulate that. I try to be polite about it. I think that's what really makes great acting."

Pacino also shared one of his most vivid memories. While filming the final shootout, he burned his hand badly enough to shut shooting down for two weeks. "I grabbed the barrel of the gun I just fired. My hand stuck to it. It just stuck to it," said Pacino. Pacino promptly left the set to be bandaged at a hospital.

"This nurse comes up to me later and she says, 'You're Al Pacino.' I said 'Yeah.' And she said, 'I thought you were some scumbag,'" Pacino recalled chuckling. "There's something there."

Posted by Geoff at 10:40 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, April 21, 2018 2:55 AM CDT
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Thursday, April 19, 2018
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/deniroweddingprodpic.jpgThe New York Times posted "Robert De Niro’s Top Picks for the Tribeca Film Festival" the other day, and right at the top of the list was tonight's 35th anniversary restoration screening of Brian De Palma's Scarface. "I worked with De Palma in our younger days on The Wedding Party," De Niro told the NY Times. "Then Greetings and Hi, Mom! Brian always got a kick out of whatever we tried as actors, whether it was improv or other things, he got great joy out of watching us. I remember when Al was thinking about directors for Scarface, telling him, 'I hope you do it with De Palma.'"

Meanwhile, here's what Time Out New York's Joshua Rothkopf posted about tonight's screening in an article titled, "The 10 best movies at Tribeca Film Festival 2018" -- "A slutty piece of Giorgio Moroder–drenched ’80s decadence that has since become a culture-changing classic (funny how we critics sometimes get it wrong), Brian De Palma’s lurid 1983 crime saga is endlessly quotable. And say hello to our little friends: De Palma, Al Pacino, Steven Bauer and the fearless Michelle Pfeiffer will reunite for an onstage conversation afterward."

Posted by Geoff at 9:29 AM CDT
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The on-stage discussion following tonight's Tribeca Film Festival screening of Scarface will be moderated by Brian Koppelman. Koppelman and his longtime writing partner David Levien, who are both currently involved as creators of Showtime's Billions, were the original screenwriters for the Untouchables prequel, Capone Rising, back in 2004 when Antoine Fuqua was attached to direct. (Full circle to today, Fuqua is back on board to direct a new version of Scarface.) Brian De Palma stepped in as director of Capone Rising in 2006, and at some point asked David Rabe to do a rewrite.

In 2010, after the prequel became mired in red tape over who owned the untouchable rights to what/where/when, Koppelman and Levien were interviewed by Coming Soon's Edward Douglas about a movie they had just co-directed, Solitary Man. Douglas also asked them about Capone Rising:

Levien: "The Untouchables" is a situation where Art Linson is the producer and like right in the beginning, before we finished a second draft, he attached Brian De Palma to direct it, and as De Palma's fortunes have gone in Hollywood over his last couple of movies, that's the future of where "The Untouchables" has gone.

Koppelman: On the list of legendary directors, I don't think Brian De Palma has a legitimate place... so most guys who are considered masters I love and admire, and I think De Palma has had a long free ride that's deservedly coming to an end.

[Douglas]: Really? So you're saying that as long he's attached to it, it will never get made?

Koppelman: I don't think it will. Hopefully he'll drop off the movie though, and then they can find a great director for it.

Levien: Mamet says that Hollywood is the most obvious place in the world, so [De Palma's] movies have done so badly lately that the studios [don't] want to hire him right now. If he finds a way to make a movie that is well-received and a big hit, then it's an obvious place, they'll probably think it's a great idea. It's just not something we can affect right now.

Koppelman: Linson is a true impresario and an awesome movie producer and if anyone can figure out how to revive that, he'll do it.

Levien: Or maybe at some point, De Palma will let it go or Linson will decide that he wants to take it to somebody else. Art's a really loyal guy to the guys he's worked with, so it's likely they're fine the way it is and they'll just make it one day. They play like a long game.

[Douglas]: At this point, it's doubtful you could get anyone from the original movie back.

Levien: That was never the intention, because it's the prequel, so it would have been weird.

Tonight's Koppelman-moderated on stage discussion with De Palma, Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Steven Bauer should be very interesting.

Posted by Geoff at 12:59 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, April 19, 2018 1:12 AM CDT
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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

"There's some shocking things in [the episode], that's for sure," Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the showrunner in charge of tonight's "Carrie, The Musical" episode of Riverdale, tells Entertainment Weekly. As The Nerdist posted earlier today, you can now watch two of tonight's musical numbers on YouTube. The episode will air tonight on the CW at 8pm eastern, and a soundtrack will be available immediately afterward.

There are a lot of articles popping up today about the episode-- here are some links:

Variety - ‘Riverdale’ Boss Breaks Down the Making of Their Musical EpisodeVulture - Why Riverdale Chose to Stage Carrie for Its Musical Episode
Entertainment Weekly review of the "note-perfect" episode
SyFyWire - Riverdale's Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa says the show's musical episode was a "rite of passage"
Elite Daily - What's 'Carrie' About? 'Riverdale' Is Getting Seriously Musical With The Show
Den Of Geek! - Riverdale and The Mind-Blowing History of Carrie: The Musical
Bustle - Is 'Carrie' A Musical? 'Riverdale' Took Inspiration From An Infamous Theater Flop

Posted by Geoff at 4:15 PM CDT
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Tuesday, April 17, 2018
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/paternobarry.jpgA couple of weeks ago, Business Insider's Jason Guerrasio spoke with Barry Levinson about Paterno, which he took on after Brian De Palma left the project (at that time, it was still called Happy Valley)...
Jason Guerrasio: Brian De Palma originally was doing this with Pacino. Did you take anything from their collaboration or did you start fresh?

Barry Levinson: Al told me he had been dying to do Paterno but that all didn't work out. And I said let me look at the stuff and basically we came back with a different take on it.

Guerrasio: I talked to De Palma back in 2013 and he said he was imagining Paterno as a King Lear character, it feels that wasn't the way you went.

Levinson: I mean you take a character like that I guess you could make that. But [De Palma] had a different take on it, completely. What we did takes place over a two-week period. You go from the highest high to the lowest low in two weeks. Because otherwise you would be back in the 1980s and '90s, you would be all over the place to hold the story together. Which you could do in some form, probably in a mini series. But in a two hour format, I thought we could get a lot out of it this way.

Guerrasio: It's a great jumping off point to tell the story. He becomes the winningest coach in college football history and then, what a week later —

Levinson: He won on a Saturday, winningest coach in the history of college football, the following Friday the Sandusky scandal begins. And literally, five days after that he's fired.

Guerrasio: Was the thinking also that with so much that has been written about Paterno over the years, on top of the documentary on the scandal itself, "Happy Valley," that there's a lot out there already. You can get away with just doing this pinnacle moment and not lose people.

Levinson: Yeah. The documentary covers a whole lot. We don't need to compete with all of that, but we can tell a separate story that almost nobody will know about. When you think about, one day there's an army of press outside his home and Paterno and his wife and the boys and daughter, everyone is like, "What happened?"

Posted by Geoff at 8:18 AM CDT
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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Posted by Geoff at 7:49 AM CDT
Updated: Sunday, April 15, 2018 8:14 AM CDT
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Thursday, April 12, 2018
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/comey.jpgMichiko Kakutani reviews James Comey's new book, A Higher Loyalty, for the New York Times:
Comey is what Saul Bellow called a “first-class noticer.” He notices, for instance, “the soft white pouches under” Trump’s “expressionless blue eyes”; coyly observes that the president’s hands are smaller than his own “but did not seem unusually so”; and points out that he never saw Trump laugh — a sign, Comey suspects, of his “deep insecurity, his inability to be vulnerable or to risk himself by appreciating the humor of others, which, on reflection, is really very sad in a leader, and a little scary in a president.”

During his Senate testimony last June, Comey was boy-scout polite (“Lordy, I hope there are tapes”) and somewhat elliptical in explaining why he decided to write detailed memos after each of his encounters with Trump (something he did not do with Presidents Obama or Bush), talking gingerly about “the nature of the person I was interacting with.” Here, however, Comey is blunt about what he thinks of the president, comparing Trump’s demand for loyalty over dinner to “Sammy the Bull’s Cosa Nostra induction ceremony — with Trump, in the role of the family boss, asking me if I have what it takes to be a ‘made man.’”

Throughout his tenure in the Bush and Obama administrations (he served as deputy attorney general under Bush, and was selected to lead the F.B.I. by Obama in 2013), Comey was known for his fierce, go-it-alone independence, and Trump’s behavior catalyzed his worst fears — that the president symbolically wanted the leaders of the law enforcement and national security agencies to come “forward and kiss the great man’s ring.” Comey was feeling unnerved from the moment he met Trump. In his recent book “Fire and Fury,” Michael Wolff wrote that Trump “invariably thought people found him irresistible,” and felt sure, early on, that “he could woo and flatter the F.B.I. director into positive feeling for him, if not outright submission” (in what the reader takes as yet another instance of the president’s inability to process reality or step beyond his own narcissistic delusions).

After he failed to get that submission and the Russia cloud continued to hover, Trump fired Comey; the following day he told Russian officials during a meeting in the Oval Office that firing the F.B.I. director — whom he called “a real nut job” — relieved “great pressure” on him. A week later, the Justice Department appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel overseeing the investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

During Comey’s testimony, one senator observed that the often contradictory accounts that the president and former F.B.I. director gave of their one-on-one interactions came down to “Who should we believe?” As a prosecutor, Comey replied, he used to tell juries trying to evaluate a witness that “you can’t cherry-pick” — “You can’t say, ‘I like these things he said, but on this, he’s a dirty, rotten liar.’ You got to take it all together.”

Put the two men’s records, their reputations, even their respective books, side by side, and it’s hard to imagine two more polar opposites than Trump and Comey: They are as antipodean as the untethered, sybaritic Al Capone and the square, diligent G-man Eliot Ness in Brian De Palma’s 1987 movie “The Untouchables”; or the vengeful outlaw Frank Miller and Gary Cooper’s stoic, duty-driven marshal Will Kane in Fred Zinnemann’s 1952 classic “High Noon.”

One is an avatar of chaos with autocratic instincts and a resentment of the so-called “deep state” who has waged an assault on the institutions that uphold the Constitution.

The other is a straight-arrow bureaucrat, an apostle of order and the rule of law, whose reputation as a defender of the Constitution was indelibly shaped by his decision, one night in 2004, to rush to the hospital room of his boss, Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, to prevent Bush White House officials from persuading the ailing Ashcroft to reauthorize an N.S.A. surveillance program that members of the Justice Department believed violated the law.

One uses language incoherently on Twitter and in person, emitting a relentless stream of lies, insults, boasts, dog-whistles, divisive appeals to anger and fear, and attacks on institutions, individuals, companies, religions, countries, continents.

The other chooses his words carefully to make sure there is “no fuzz” to what he is saying, someone so self-conscious about his reputation as a person of integrity that when he gave his colleague James R. Clapper, then director of national intelligence, a tie decorated with little martini glasses, he made sure to tell him it was a regift from his brother-in-law.

One is an impulsive, utterly transactional narcissist who, so far in office, The Washington Post calculated, has made an average of six false or misleading claims a day; a winner-take-all bully with a nihilistic view of the world. “Be paranoid,” he advises in one of his own books. In another: “When somebody screws you, screw them back in spades.”

The other wrote his college thesis on religion and politics, embracing Reinhold Niebuhr’s argument that “the Christian must enter the political realm in some way” in order to pursue justice, which keeps “the strong from consuming the weak.”

Posted by Geoff at 6:43 PM CDT
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Thierry Frémaux announced the official selection for the 2018 Cannes Film Festival during a press conference this morning. Several highly-anticipated titles, including Brian De Palma's Domino, were not mentioned. However, as Deadline's Nancy Tartaglione points out, "Frémaux often reserves the weeks following the press conference and ahead of the fest to sprinkle in other titles. One highly expected film missing this morning was Lars von Trier’s The House That Jack Built, and Frémaux hinted that could change in a few days." This afternoon, Tartaglione posted an analysis mentioning that the festival is still deciding on a closing night film. She also writes that Frémaux said this morning that none of the films they had seen were completed:
Cannes Film Festival chief Thierry Frémaux said this morning that the finishing touches on the lineup announced today were honed until about 3 AM local time. It’s not unusual for him to go down to the wire, and there will be more titles announced in the coming weeks as the 71st edition of the venerable seaside shindig approaches. But what we got today was a mixed bag of new and familiar faces with a number of tipped movies not in the preliminary cut.

The selection looks “light on paper” was a refrain I heard coming out of the press conference and throughout the day. But critics and longtime attendees cautioned there might be gems therein. For now, only the selection committee knows — though Frémaux said that none of the films they saw was completed.

Frémaux called the selection a “generational renewal.” There is a sense that some titles to be added could raise the pulse. We also hear a number of directors opted out of competition companion Un Certain Regard to look toward Directors’ Fortnight, which has been reinvigorated in recent years under exiting chief Edouard Waintrop. The Fortnight (which is not an official Cannes section) and Critics’ Week announce next week.

Posted by Geoff at 5:06 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, April 12, 2018 5:53 PM CDT
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https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/naymanringer.jpgAdam Nayman at The Ringer yesterday posted "What’s Streaming: The Wild World of Brian De Palma," highlighting four De Palma features that are currently streaming at various websites: the "weirdly profound" Sisters (on Filmstruck), Carrie (on Amazon Prime), Scarface (on Netflix), and Passion (Amazon Prime).

Writing about Carrie, Nayman writes that "while it’s reasonably faithful to the source novel, it’s also 100 percent a De Palma film, piling enough perverse eroticism, winking Alfred Hitchcock allusions, tricky compositions, and athletic camera moves to be remembered first and foremost as an auteur work."

Regarding Scarface, Nayman contrasts it with and favors it over The Untouchables, which is the movie ranked by the EMPIRE podcast the other day as De Palma's best:

In the 1980s, De Palma switched genres from stylized, Westernized giallos to muscular riffs on gangster pictures. The unofficial trilogy of Scarface, Wise Guys, and The Untouchables reached back to the classic crime films of the 1930s. Scarface was literally a remake of Howard Hawks’s veiled 1932 Al Capone biopic of the same name; working with screenwriter Oliver Stone, De Palma updated Hawks’s template for the vicious, me-first mentality of the Reagan era, reimagining the main character as a Cuban immigrant who begins the film by denouncing his country’s embrace of communism before turning into a ruthless, bloated, coked-out avatar of capitalistic excess. As usual with De Palma, it’s hard to tell how seriously we’re supposed to take this extravagantly violent film, its moralistic crime-pays-until-it-doesn’t messaging, or Al Pacino’s borderline-minstrel-show acting and accent. I’ve always felt that while the Stone(d) script meant every profane, Quaalude-driven word about the hypocritical futility of Captain Ron’s War on Drugs (as well as the revelation that the true holy trinity underneath the American Dream was not life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness but money, power, and women), De Palma was flat-out spoofing his antihero’s materialistic mentality—not to mention the idea of studio blockbusters, to the point that he actually got his old friend/industry overlord Steven Spielberg to direct part of the film’s cranked-up action climax. Reviled upon its release, Scarface has become one of the true cult-movie monoliths of its era, casting a long shadow over hip-hop culture and also its director’s subsequent work; a few years later, The Untouchables made more money and won Sean Connery an Oscar, but it can’t compare to its predecessor’s ugly, incandescent spectacle.

Nayman closes with a nice bit about Passion:
To the untrained eye, De Palma’s most recent effort—a remake of the disposable French trifle Love Crime starring Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace as coworkers turned rivals—is a strained, ridiculous mess. And that’s what it looks like to the trained eye, too: At times, it’s as if Passion is a parody of a modestly sleazy direct-to-video thriller rather than a late work by a great stylist. But no less than Sisters (which is referenced in a mid-film revelation about identical twins), the film’s ripe cheesiness has a whiff of satire to it. From the appearance of the credit “written and directed by Brian De Palma” overlaid on the sleek outer casing of an Apple MacBook Pro to a shot of a car driving into and destroying a parking-lot Coca-Cola machine, there’s a through line of anticorporate humor that juxtaposes the ideas of “art” and “product”—never more so than in an amazing, extended split-screen scene in which footage of a ballet performance competes for our attention with a knowingly clichéd, Halloween-style slasher-on-the-loose set piece. In the end, Passion might not be much more than a glib, embittered bit of gamesmanship by somebody who’s pretty much been on the sidelines since the mid-’90s, but there’s something sort of sweet about seeing its maker continuing to play by his own rules.

Posted by Geoff at 4:42 AM CDT
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