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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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Carrie...A Fan's Site


No Harm In Charm

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Scarface: Make Way
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(Blow Out)

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Sunday, June 3, 2018
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/masterclasschristian4.jpgChristian Grevstad snapped this picture of Brian De Palma after getting his book signed last night at La Cinémathèque in Paris. De Palma and co-author Susan Lehman signed copies of Are Snakes Necessary? after De Palma presented a Masterclass tied in with a screening of his great 1989 film, Casualties Of War. Here is Christian's report from last night's event:
De Palma entered the podium after a screening of the harrowing Casualties of War. After only a few minutes Brian became very emotional. "It was a very difficult movie to make. I have a hard time watching it, it's very sad, Brian said tearing up. "I can't listen to that score."

It was one of several poignant moments. A few minutes later he told the audience that often times after a difficult time in your life, something positive will happen: "So don't give up."

Later he mentioned that he quit Fatal Attraction after deciding the short film made by the original writer of the project was perfect as it was. "Why remake it?" And it led to a very difficult lunch with his producer where De Palma told her: "I can't do this."

Two weeks later Art Linson called about The Untouchables.

In line with what Christian wrote above, La Cinémathèque itself posted an image juxtaposition on Twitter last night (see below), showing De Palma's mood shift when speaking of Casualties Of War. The text of the Cinémathèque post translates as: "A good hour with Brian De Palma, generous, scholarly, spiritual - then upset at the mention of Casualties Of War and the score of Ennio Morricone. To see the film, and all De Palma, it's at the Cinémathèque until 7/04 http://www.cinematheque.fr/cycle/brian-de-palma-455.html ... Photos (thank you) @cliffhangertwit"

Translation: "Just out of the Brian De Palma Masterclass at the @cinemathequefr! A very interesting character to listen to, with an immense experience in his career and his eclectic filmography, but also someone very authentic and spontaneous. It was almost too short!"

Posted by Geoff at 11:47 AM CDT
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Saturday, June 2, 2018

In the AFP article posted yesterday in several places, Brian De Palma states that his next film will be Sweet Vengeance, which he plans to shoot in Uruguay. De Palma tells AFP the film is "inspired by two true stories of murders," and he wants to tell the story "as it is done on television." De Palma explains, "For 30 or 40 years I have seen a number of true stories of crimes presented on television, as in the program 48 Hours. I'm interested in how they tell the story of the crime, so I'll do it the way they do it on television, based on two real cases."

Posted by Geoff at 4:02 AM CDT
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The picture above, capturing Brian De Palma receiving a standing ovation, was sent in by Christian Grevstad, who attended the opening night screening of Blow Out Thursday, May 31st, at La Cinémathèque in Paris. Christian also sent in this report:
There were massive lines outside the Cinematheque in Paris tonight for the screening of Blow Out. 15 minutes before the film the line was almost 100 yards (and growing). Massive security with armed police were on hand.

De Palma seemed in great spirits for screening of Blow Out the at the Cinematheque retrospective tonight. The event has long been sold out.

After a standing ovation De Palma gave a five minute introduction to the movie. He joked about how he was allowed to do anything after making a big hit with Dressed to Kill. "And they would regret in dearly once they saw it."

De Palma talked about how the executives told him "A movie about a soundman.. That doesn't sound like a big hit like Dressed to Kill.."

But once Travolta decided he was interested in the part they told him to make the film "bigger and bigger". "So I made it real big", De Palma added. "And spent a lot of money. And after we screened it for them they were in shock."

The film played beautifully and the crowd laughed in the right places. The print looked pristine with detail and vivid reds and blues. The ending still holds up as one of cinemas most haunting and powerful comments on America.

Posted by Geoff at 3:22 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, June 2, 2018 10:45 AM CDT
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Brian De Palma has been asked about Domino several times over the past few days in Paris, and usually ends with some variation of "I have no idea when this movie will be released," such as, "I'll find out when I read it in the papers like everybody else," which is kind of a way of saying it's out of his hands now. In more than one interview, including the one with AFP, he mentioned that filming on Domino was completed just last week:


The director did not abandon the cinema. He is currently working on a new feature film, Domino. "I do not know yet when the film will come out, we had a lot of problems with the financing", laments Brian De Palma. But finally, after many starts and stops, "the last stroke of the crank took place last week".

In the interview with Le Parisien's Catherine Balle, De Palma said that while the making of Domino was an awful experience, the film itself is good. "It was a horrible experience," De Palma said. "The film was underfunded, it was far behind, the producer did not stop lying to us and did not pay some of my crew. I don't know at all if this feature will be released." Yet when asked if he likes the movie, De Palma replies, "Yes, it is good." Susan Lehman then adds, "It's very good."

Speaking of which, De Palma and Lehman were at the Fnac des Ternes bookstore yesterday, and Nowayfarer Guitarist posted five videos from the event and discussion on YouTube. In part 5, De Palma is asked about Domino, and responds, "Oh boy... a very difficult situation. A film that was underfinanced. I was in many hotel rooms waiting for the money so that we could continue shooting. I was in many fabulous cities, waiting in hotel rooms. I was here a hundred days in Europe, and shot thirty. However, somehow we managed to make a movie out of this completely chaotic production situation, and hopefully you'll be seeing it in your local cinemas sometime in the future."

Posted by Geoff at 2:41 AM CDT
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Friday, June 1, 2018
Le Parisien's Catherine Balle posted an interview today with Brian De Palma and Susan Lehman. At the end of the interview, Balle states, "Since October, the world of cinema only talks about the Weinstein affair..." To which De Palma responds, "I'm writing a film about this scandal, a project I'm talking about with a French producer. My character won't be named Harvey Weinstein, but it will be a horror film, with a sexual aggressor, and it will take place in the film industry."

De Palma also talked to AFP about the idea yesterday, saying that it could become a book or a film. Regarding the #MeToo movement, De Palma tells AFP, "I followed it very closely, because I know a lot of people involved. I've seen this type of abuse unfold, I've heard stories all these years. I always reacted very strongly when someone did such things. As a director, you take actors, and you have to get their trust and love (...) To violate that in any way, for me it's just the worst thing you can do."

BBC News adds a bit more from De Palma, in regards to the #MeToo movement: "It will be interesting to see when women start controlling the aesthetic, what is going to happen. It would be interesting to see if their gaze is so much different than ours. Because a lot of movies are about the male gaze, what the male sees."

The quotes from Le Parisien caught on like wildfire today all over the place, with some other aspects of that interview being sprinkled into the articles here and there. Here's the whole thing, with assistance from Google translation:

The plot of your novel "Are Snakes Necessary" was supposed to be a movie?

Brian De Palma. I had tons of ideas I'd written over the years, thinking about scenarios. And then one day, I told Susan: What if we made a novel? I gave her the intrigues and the dialogues, and Susan developed the characters. When you write for the cinema, you do not work the characters too much, because they depend a lot on the actors who will embody them ...

Susan, was it hard working with Brian?

Susan Lehman. No, it was very pleasant! Brian has millions of ideas all the time. We tried to have fun with each other and we often arrived there.

Brian, it makes you happy, this retrospective at the Cinémathèque?

B. de P. I am very honored that the French recognize my work, as they did in 2000 at the Center Pompidou. That's why we published our book in France and not in the United States: because you seem to understand me better than "those" Americans.

Of all your movies, which ones are your favorites?

B. de P. I hate this question ...

So which one is the most undervalued?

B. de P. "Casualties Of War", which had bad reviews at its release, while I think it is the best movie about the Vietnam War.

And you like "Scarface"?

B. de P. "Scarface" is a wonderful film, very special. This is an example of a perfectly successful collaboration between different talents.

You have just finished "Domino", a film about terrorism, shot in Denmark, Belgium and Spain ...

B. de P. It was a horrible experience. The film was underfunded, it was far behind, the producer did not stop lying to us and did not pay some of my staff. I don't know at all if this feature will be released.

But you like it?

B. de P. Yes, it is good.

S.L. It's very good.

"Passion", your last movie, dates from 2012. Why did you wait five years before making a movie?

B. de P. If you do not just make a blockbuster, it's very hard to redo a movie ... I could never have done "Casualties Of War" (in 1989) if I had not done "The Untouchables"(in 1987).

You're mad at Hollywood ...

B. from P. Hollywood has changed. Dinosaur and superhero movies are made for kids! You can not make serious movies over there ... unless you are Spielberg and you are the studio. After "Mission: Impossible", when Tom (Cruise) said he wanted to make another one, I said, "Are you kidding?" Why do I want to make another movie like this? ... After that, I did "Snake Eyes", "Mission to Mars" and there I said: Stop. I was tired of these big movies, where you fight with the studios to know how much the special effects cost.

What movies did you recently like?

S.L. We love "A French village". We watched all the seasons and we will see them again.

Brian, have you been offered to make movies for Netflix?

B. de P. Yes, but I need a big screen because I am a visual stylist.

Since October, the world of cinema only talks about the Weinstein affair ...

B. de P. I'm writing a film about this scandal, a project I'm talking about with a French producer. My character won't be named Harvey Weinstein, but it will be a horror film, with a sexual aggressor, and it will take place in the film industry.

Posted by Geoff at 10:44 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, June 4, 2018 10:13 PM CDT
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Thursday, May 31, 2018
Brian De Palma and Susan Lehman were at Librairie Millepages in Vincennes, an eastern suburb of Paris, yesterday to discuss and sign copies of their novel, Are Snakes Necessary? Christian Grevstad, a regular reader of De Palma a la Mod, caught the tail end of the event and took the picture at the top of this post. Another regular reader, Romain Lehnhoff, was there, and has posted some video captures from the discussion on YouTube. Here are some links-- I will try to transcribe some of these as I get a chance:



De Palma on THE LADY EYE (Preston Sturges) / ALTERNATED TITLE


De Palma / Hitchcock part. MMMMMDCCCLXXXVIII

The picture immediately below accompanied an article posted at Le Parisien

Posted by Geoff at 8:43 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, June 2, 2018 10:46 AM CDT
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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Posted by Geoff at 8:20 PM CDT
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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Paul Schrader's new film, First Reformed, is getting outstanding reviews left and right. I have yet to see it, but more than one critic has mentioned that the film leads to a climactic shot that resembles the finale of Schrader and Brian De Palma's Obsession. The intriguing thing to note here is that Bernard Herrmann, who composed the score for Obsession, urged De Palma to cut Schrader's fourth act from the film, to end on the swirling shot of Michael and Amy embracing at the airport. Schrader was not very happy about the cut. And yet... here we are... Also note, each of the articles linked to below refer to the ending of First Reformed as dreamlike...

Greg Cwik, Slant Magazine

First Reformed's intellectualized, detached, and emotionally reticent notion of suicide recalls Bresson's The Devil, Probably. Bresson, along with Ozu and Dreyer, formed a trinity at the heart of Schrader's book Transcendental Style in Film, and the filmmaker has faithfully returned to them again and again, channeling them in most of his directorial efforts, working within the so-called “Tarkovsky Ring” (films made within this ring will find commercial distribution, films like those of Bresson and Roberto Rossellini, while films outside of this ring are destined for museum and festival existences). Schrader was raised in an austerely Calvinist home, but at the age of 17 he converted to cinema. First Reformed is about Schrader's film theories, about the transcendent possibilities of the medium, as much as it is about religion.

The film is, even by Schrader's standards, a bleak endeavor, concerned with the durability of spirituality, its susceptibility to corruption and radicalism, and its place in modern American life: with the slow decay of the planet, as well as with pain, penance, and the validity of suicide and murder. Invidious, at times startlingly beautiful, and at others startlingly ugly, it encapsulates Schrader's cinematic philosophies, the testament of a man who worships film. It's a churlish and controlled film, suffused with dolor yet agleam with the prospect of hope, each assiduous and apoplectic composition as neat and orderly as the garments Toller adjusts during his morning routine.

Shot by Alexander Dynan, First Reformed has a mostly familiar, competent aesthetic, with subjects and their surroundings structured in a geometric style reminiscent, again, of Ozu. The repetition of shots—what film theorist David Bordwell refers to as “planimetric shots,” faces isolated in the frame, buildings filmed head-on, the camera unmoving and observant—insinuate a life of tedium, devoid of variety. There's little ambiguity in the deep focus. The camera isn't liberated. But as Toller's faith grows increasingly strained, his revelations more and more exceptional, the shots go aslant, the camera moving more. The final shot, twirling oneirically, the camera jubilant as it circles around Toller and Mary in bloody embracement, feels torn from a Brian De Palma film, out of place with the phlegmatic style of Schrader's. It suggests a dream, an Empyrean awakening. It brings to mind a bible quote, from Revelation 17:6: “And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her, I marveled greatly.”

First Reformed feels like a culmination of and response to Schrader's career. It harks back to Martin Scorsese's New York nightmare Taxi Driver by using a journal as a narrative device. Both films use a laconic, unexpurgated voiceover to elucidate on the inner turmoil of a man whose well-being is eroding and whose disdain for the people around him grows with each passing day and toward a violent epiphany. Schrader has said that he knows his obituaries will read, “Writer of Taxi Driver,” despite his own idiosyncratic career as a filmmaker. With First Reformed, he seems to be rewriting his own legacy, revisiting the infatuations and compulsions that inspired the Scorsese film.

Travis Bickle wants to wash from the streets the decay he perceives in modern life. He's a man who anoints himself an angel of death, come to smite New York City's miscreants. The backseat of his cab is, at the end of each night, doused in blood and cum, the way the faithful are awash in the blood of the lamb. In Travis one finds the seeds of Schrader's obsessions: penitence, sin, tortured veterans, working-class malaise, men with complicated relationships with sex. Like Travis, Toller sees grotesqueries and unforgivable misdeeds, and his notion of atonement becomes more extreme. He turns away the longing of his ex-wife, Esther (Victoria Hill), who leads the megachurch's choir and secretly pines, in pain, for Mary. His faith, while tested, never corrodes; it becomes more steadfast, more Old Testament-like. Misery begets penance, suffering ameliorating the sins of humanity. Toller rejoices in his suffering, and through him Schrader has found his faith in cinema renewed.

Q&A: After ‘Taxi Driver,’ ‘Raging Bull,’ Paul Schrader talks ‘First Reformed’
by Jason Fraley

For the role of the conflicted clergyman, Schrader said Ethan Hawke was an easy choice.

“There’s a certain physiognomy in playing a man of the cloth, be it Montgomery Clift in ‘I Confess,’ Belmondo in ‘Leon Morin’ or Claude Laydu in ‘Diary of a Country Priest.’ So, you’re thinking about actors who have that physiognomy, maybe Jake Gyllenhaal, Oscar Isaac, but Ethan was 10 years older than them and his face was getting some very interesting wrinkles. I started thinking he’s just right for this. I sent him the script and he responded right away.”

Hawke’s performance goes from contemplative to harrowing as he considers ecoterrorism.

“He’s going to blow up a church, but this pregnant woman arrives and he can’t do it, so he reverts to turning himself into the sacrifice. This is a pathological fallacy deeply embedded in Christianity, the notion of suicidal glory, that my own suffering can redeem me. It’s not what the Bible teaches, (nor) what Jesus taught. It is a fallacy that is virtually the same as Jihadism.”

Hawke’s self-purgation finds him drinking Drano and wrapping himself in barbed wire.

“It’s a reference to Flannery O’Connor’s ‘Wise Blood’ (by) John Huston, where Hazel Motes at the end of that book puts his eyes out, wraps him up with wire and goes out preaching.”

This sacrifice is ultimately alleviated when Seyfried enters the room and the two embrace amid a swirling camera. It’s the first time the camera moves. Schrader uses a static camera with a 4:3 aspect ratio for the entire movie, before unleashing a circling camera like Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” (1958) or Brian De Palma’s “Obsession” (1976), which Schrader wrote.

“When you start working on the spiritual side of the street, the still side of the street, you have to stretch time,” Schrader said. “This is a very static film. The camera does not move, pan or tilt. It just sits there. It is very passive aggressive and takes too long to do everything. All of a sudden at the end, it jumps like a bird from a cage into a kinetic, whirly-gate soul in flight.”

As the camera circles, the soundtrack delivers the spiritual hymn “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” Film buffs will recall Charles Laughton’s “The Night of the Hunter” (1955), though Schrader insists it’s a reference to singer George Beverly Shea of the Billy Graham Crusade.

“That song, my father would play over and over again,” Schrader said. “(The final scene) is meant to be read in different ways. If you want to say he’s dead and imagining this, I wouldn’t object. If you want to say it’s a miracle, I wouldn’t object. If you want to say it is a redemption, I wouldn’t object. In fact, I don’t know the answer. It’s all of those things put together.”

This isn’t Schrader’s first ambiguous, dreamlike ending. A similar fate befell Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro) in Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver” (1976), who similarly attempted an act of terror before embracing his better angels. In that case, it was a political assassination before shifting to vigilante justice by killing the pimp (Harvey Keitel) of a teen prostitute (Jodie Foster).

Posted by Geoff at 11:01 AM CDT
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Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Eight early Brian De Palma films make up a weeklong series at this year's International Film Festival of València-Cinema Jove, which runs June 22-29. In addition to the eight films, Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow's documentary De Palma will also be screened. The selected eight early De Palma features in the series are: Murder a la Mod, Greetings, Sisters, Phantom Of The Paradise, Obsession, Carrie, The Fury, and Dressed To Kill.

Posted by Geoff at 8:42 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 9:08 PM CDT
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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Tale, a deeply personal story of abuse from filmmaker Jennifer Fox, premieres on HBO this Saturday (May 26th). Fox is a friend of Brian De Palma's, who, by several accounts below, was instrumental in bringing this project to the attention of Laura Dern. Broadly's Kerensa Cadenas posted a profile/interview piece on Fox today-- this is from the introduction:
Jennifer Fox isn’t new to Hollywood—the accomplished documentarian has directed and produced many of her own docs and supported others work as well. She can count Hollywood legends like director Brian De Palma and Oren Moverman as friends and mentors. (Both of whom were more than willing to call up Laura Dern on her behalf.) Though many would be apprehensive to divulge their personal histories on film, Fox was excited to do so with The Tale.

Premiering on HBO this Friday, May 26, The Tale tells the true story of Fox’s own childhood. When Fox (played by Dern) was 13, she wrote a short story documenting her relationship with an older man. When her mother Nettie (Ellen Burstyn) discovers the story decades later, Fox is forced to take a hard look at her childhood sexual abuse and the memories she twisted and repressed.

The Tale is gut-wrenching and tough to watch, but with Fox’s deft hand as a documentarian and a towering performance from Dern (who De Palma told Fox was the only actress to have the guts to take this role), it is a complex and unflinching look at the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive.

Also today, Deadline's Joe Utichi posted a summary from Sunday night's director and cast panel at the AwardsLine screening of the film at LA’s Landmark Theatre, which Utichi moderated:
Based on Fox’s own life—Dern and Nélisse play Jennifer Fox at different ages—The Tale deals with the moment, years after the fact, that Fox was forced to grapple with the memories of her first sexual encounter aged 13. “It wasn’t until I was in my 40s that what I called a relationship, all of a sudden I realized was abuse,” she noted.

Fox, whose storied work in documentary film includes the highly personal series Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman, turned to narrative film for the first time to construct a wholly unique portrait of the way memories can shift and rewrite themselves in our minds. It is with the rediscovery of an essay written when she was 13 that the older Jennifer Fox, played by Dern, is forced to confront the 13-year-old version of herself (Nélisse), who framed her relationship with a much older running coach in the language of first love and unforced desire.

“It took me years to write [the film] because it was such a complicated telling, and it’s really more about the stories we tell ourselves to survive, and why we need to tell ourselves stories,” the filmmaker explained. “There are so many things that are too heavy to deal with when you’re younger, that it takes until maturity to be able to face.”

Dern’s journey with The Tale stemmed from a conversation with filmmaker Brian De Palma, an important mentor to Fox. Dern recalled De Palma’s powerful and compelling brief: “[He] said, ‘You’re going to receive a script that is difficult and painful and brave…But take it seriously. It’s so radical, it’s so brave, and you should go on this journey.'”

For Dern, “What’s extraordinary about this time is that we all are considering together how we’ve normalized behavior, to ourselves, as a community, as a culture. It has been a reckoning for many of us individually, to see how we said things like, ‘Well, it was the ‘70s,’ or ‘I looked very mature for my age.’ We took the blame, and we were silenced by our own cultural shaming.”

It was a welcome, if unexpected, climate in which to launch the film, she said, noting the conversations about taking on this story began many years ago. “This zeitgeist has said that there is restorative justice here,” Dern said. “There is reward in being a witness to something and sharing your voice, and that has really changed the conversation. There is therefore less fear, through a piece of art that you make, to all have conversations together, and hopefully, allow it be the groundbreaking time we all so desperately need.“

Fox noted the particular courage shown by Jason Ritter in taking on the role of her abuser Bill. “I think, Jason, you’re the most courageous, actually, of all of us,” she said. “We know from statistics that 93% of perpetrators are known by the children who they abuse. That means that they don’t look evil; they’re part of communities; they’re successful, they’re loved. Jason really embodied the kindness and the complexity of what I wanted to bring to this telling.”

But by the time he’d read it, he insisted, “there had already been so many incredible acts of courage that led up to this moment—Jennifer writing it, people coming on board. If I was going to be the coward to back out at the end, I wouldn’t have been able to look at myself. The truth was that I read the script and I thought it was so profound and incredibly honest, and I felt like I was opening doors in my mind that I hadn’t even cared to open, looking at this experience and getting a deeper understanding of what this can be like.”

And one more article, from USA Today's Patrick Ryan
When filmmaker Jennifer Fox was 13, she wrote a story for English class about a young girl who is coerced into a sexual relationship with her 40-year-old running coach.

Little did her teacher know, the story was true.

"I got an A," says Fox, now 58. "My teacher wrote on the back, 'If this is true, it's a travesty. But since you're so well-adjusted, it can't be.' "

Four decades later, Fox has adapted her account into a harrowing feature film, The Tale, which premieres on HBO Saturday (10 ET/PT). Two-time Oscar nominee Laura Dern plays an adult Jennifer — a successful documentarian and professor — as she confronts the truth that her childhood "romance" with Bill (Jason Ritter) was sexual abuse. With the support of her mother (Ellen Burstyn) and boyfriend (Common), she reconnects with people from her past in an effort to remember what happened after years of suppression.

"The film is about memory and the stories we tell ourselves to survive," says Dern, 51, who was brought the script by director Brian De Palma, Fox's friend and mentor. "I think we all find that relatable, not just people who have experienced sexual abuse or assault."

Dern identifies with Fox's story, having grown up as a teen actress on movie sets, where she experienced sexual harassment. She says she never recognized it for what it was until the Me Too movement started last fall, as women and men came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct and abuses of power.

"I didn't realize until recently that my experiences of harassment were harassment," Dern says. "For so many young girls and boys, behavior is justified because it's like, 'Well, they did that. Maybe that's normal.' We presume that's just the way it works in Hollywood."

Like her fictionalized character in The Tale, Fox didn't fully process her trauma until middle age, as she interviewed women around the world for her 2006 documentary Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman and began to hear similar stories. She's careful to make the distinction between sexual assault and abuse, when someone is manipulated into thinking "he or she is agreeing to something which is sexual, but it isn't often violent," Fox says. "It's different from rape."

Posted by Geoff at 8:39 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 9:31 PM CDT
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