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Recent Headlines
a la Mod:

Domino is
a "disarmingly
straight-forward"
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

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Exclusive Passion
Interviews:

Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
Leila Rozario

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AV Club Review
of Dumas book

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The Filmmaker Who
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A note about topics: Some blog posts have more than one topic, in which case only one main topic can be chosen to represent that post. This means that some topics may have been discussed in posts labeled otherwise. For instance, a post that discusses both The Boston Stranglers and The Demolished Man may only be labeled one or the other. Please keep this in mind as you navigate this list.
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Saturday, August 11, 2018
WEEKEND TWEET - CHARLES DURNING IN 'SISTERS'
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/tweetsistersdurning.jpg

Posted by Geoff at 11:48 PM CDT
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Friday, August 10, 2018
RICHARD H. KLINE DIES AT 91
CINEMATOGRAPHER ON 'THE FURY' & 'THE BOSTON STRANGLER' ENJOYED VARIETY IN HIS WORK
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/richardhkline.jpgRichard H. Kline, cinematographer on Brian De Palma's The Fury, died of natural causes Tuesday, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 91.

Kline was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on Josh Logan's Camelot (1967), a musical starring Vanessa Redgrave and Richard Harris. For the wedding scene, Kline decided to use only candlelight. It was a challenge for Kline, even after having to prove to nervous producers that the candlelight would read on film.

Kline worked on several films with Richard Fleischer, beginning with The Boston Strangler (1968), which became influential for its use of split-screen. Kline worked with Fleischer on four more films: Soylent Green (1973), The Don Is Dead (1973), Mr. Majestyk (1974) and Mandingo (1975).

Kline was nominated for a second Oscar for his work on the 1976 remake of King Kong. Other credits (among many) include Karel Reisz' Who'll Stop the Rain (1978), Jim McBride's remake of Breathless (1983), Robert Wise's Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and Lawrence Kasdan's Body Heat.

Kline chose Bernardo Bertolucci's The Conformist to show to the crew of Body Heat. (Kasdan had asked everyone to choose one film to screen, in order to establish common ground among the crew.)

"I believe in variety," Kline once explained to students at the American Film Institute. "I think there are some brilliantly photographed films, but there’s a sameness. Each scene may be a work of art, but you start seeing it repeated over and over and over again. I find that Bertolucci is a master at variation, a variety of looks within a single film. I try to do that in my work as well."

In 2013, Kline rewatched The Fury in preparation for a Film Factory interview, which was used as a supplement on several European DVD/Blu-ray editions of the film. Here's a brief excerpt from that interview:

This is the only time that I've worked with Brian De Palma, and it was a great pleasure, I must say. And we started filming in Chicago, which is a great visual city. It's a unique city. And we have a variety of looks.

The Fury, to me, looking back now 35 years, whatever it was, in re-running it to prepare for this interview, I’m going to put it at probably one of the best pictures I’ve ever made, technically—you’re never aware of the technique. With the reality, the freshness of it. Seeing it again, it reminded me of how good it is. It really… De Palma did a terrific job of directing it, without a doubt.

When I was first asked to do the film, I was in Mexico doing a film with a very fine director, also-- Karel Reisz-- and my agent called me to tell me that Brian De Palma would like me to do a film with him when I complete the film I was doing in Mexico. And I asked Karel Reisz, I said, I don't know De Palma, I know of him, what do you think? 'He's a very talented director,' he said, 'take it, take it, take it.' And that came from, I think, one of the most gifted directors ever. And a wonderful person.

So I arrived maybe a month later, when I finished the picture in Mexico, and met De Palma in his office. And every wall was loaded with the sketches-- his... like a comic book, in a way, he would do it. He had pre-designed the whole picture. And I said, well, this is going to be a breeze, you've got everything lined up. And he said, 'Oh, yeah." Anyway, I was impressed with him. And then when we started the picture, he would say, 'Here's the shot." Well, it was easy to do with the camera, you know, we would put the camera in the position that would capture the sketch, and I would light it.

And I said, 'Something is bothering me here.' And I brought Brian to the side, and I said, 'Brian, you're not rehearsing anything before we film.' And it's a way of working-- I haven't worked this way before. I've always found something interesting comes from a rehearsal. And, it either comes from the actor, it comes from seeing the actors doing it, that you see-- things happen that you just can't put on paper all the time. Because first of all, the script-- I was working from a script that was all white pages. As we're filming, there's adjustments made in the script. Dialogue, whatever it is, a lot of things. And the pages come in different colors-- they start with blue, and then yellow, then gold and whatnot. I said, 'I've never worked on a picture that had all white pages.'

And he listened and everything, he was attentive. And I talked him into rehearsing. And he bought it. And he found value in rehearsing that deviated from the sketches. And I think after a week, we didn't see the sketches anymore. He was at rehearsal, we would... I do it with almost every director who doesn't want to work that way, talk them into it-- I've been very lucky that way. We would have the crew doing the scene, during the development of the scene, we'd get everybody off the set, and we'd have coffee, read the paper, whatever it was, so no interruptions or disturbances, so the actors can be themselves and not worry about somebody watching them. And he found that to be very valuable. And we did get very good things, and that's the way we operated.

But he would sit there-- he was... Brian would be, while I'm lighting and whatever, my part, he would sit there, thinking things, always deep in thought. And I respected that of him, I only consulted him when I had to, and, you know, give an opinion, whatever, or we'd joke about something, whatever.


Posted by Geoff at 8:25 AM CDT
Updated: Sunday, August 12, 2018 8:42 AM CDT
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Tuesday, August 7, 2018
'SNAKE EYES' TURNS 20
DE PALMA & KOEPP'S 3RD STRAIGHT COLLAB OPENED ON THIS DAY IN 1998
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/snakeeyespanel1.jpg

https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/snakeeyespanel2.jpg

https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/snakeeyespanel3.jpg

https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/snakeeyespanel4.jpg


Joe Reid, Decider
‘Snake Eyes’ Is the Forgotten “Nicolas Cage Is a Lunatic” Film

Posted by Geoff at 10:32 PM CDT
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Sunday, August 5, 2018
GERRIT GRAHAM DEBATES VIETNAM ON '69 TV PILOT
WFLD CHICAGO'S 'JERRY G & COMPANY' PILOT INCLUDES CLIP FROM DE PALMA'S 'GREETINGS'
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/gerritgreetingsjerryg.jpg

Last week, Rick Thomas posted to YouTube a pilot episode of WFLD-TV's Jerry G & Company. The episode, taped in Chicago on July 26, 1969, featured Gerrit Graham as a guest, with a clip (not featuring Graham) from Brian De Palma's Greetings. The segment begins at about the 33-minute mark, with host Jerry G saying, " I may be wrong, but this may be the first war in the history of this country, or any other, that is opposed by a significant vocal segment of the population, perhaps a war opposed by a majority-- and I say, perhaps..." Jerry G. introduces Graham by first presenting a clip of Robert De Niro from the end of Greetings, as a shorthand way to say that Graham is involved in this new film that shows America's youth opposing the war in Vietnam. Briefly discussing the film, Graham says, "Well, the director and the producer had a screenplay, scenario, and they knew more or less what they wanted out of the film. But we, the actors, wrote the script, if you like-- we improvised it. We made up the dialogue."

Jerry G. then introduces Loren Smith, a Northwestern University Law School Graduate (who would go on in later years to become a federal judge). Jerry G. reads a quote from Smith that states his position on the Vietnam war: "A hawk: a not-totally extinct bird." Graham tells Jerry G. that he is not by nature a political person. Even so, later on in the segment, Graham cannot help but passionately speak up when Smith states that "part of the solution has to be to tell the communist world that we will use force to gain political objectives"...

Gerrit Graham: Now you see, that's just where I disagree, and I just don't buy it. I don't suppose there's any political rhyme or reason to it-- as a matter of fact, I'm sure there isn't. But it just seems to me that the United States has taken upon itself an obligation which most of the world's peoples would just as soon they hadn't taken upon themselves. And I just... there doesn't seem, to me, to be any need for the United States to impose its political ethos on a country which up to that point was not a capitalist bastion.

Loren: What?

Gerrit: Which is what they're trying to make it into.

Loren: I don't think we're trying to do that...


Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, August 6, 2018 12:40 AM CDT
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Friday, August 3, 2018
JOE LYNCH PREPS w/CREW SCREENING OF 'BLOW OUT'
REMAKE OF 'POINT BLANK' FOR NETFLIX, BUT NOT THE BOORMAN FILM-- THE CAVAYE FROM 2010
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/tweetjoelynch.jpg

Posted by Geoff at 8:06 AM CDT
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Thursday, August 2, 2018
'MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE' - LINKS (PART 2)
AND THIS UNUSED SHOT FROM DE PALMA'S FILM
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/miunusedshot.jpgThe trailer for Mission: Impossible - Fallout included a shot at the end in which Ethan Hunt is about to get rammed by a speeding truck. The sequence/shot, however, was nowhere to be found in the completed film released to theaters last week. That reminds of this shot here, from a scene on a train, brief snippets of which made it into the original trailer for Brian De Palma's Mission: Impossible, but were ultimately not used in the final film.

Meanwhile, here are some more recent links:

Sean Fennessey, The Ringer
Mission: Impossible Is the Best Movie Franchise—Here’s Why

[Ranking out of the six films]
1. Mission: Impossible (1996)

Directed by Brian De Palma

The Lesson: Franchise Isn’t a Dirty Word

While Brian De Palma watched his pals George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Francis Ford Coppola build franchise empires and scale the movie business to the height of their imagination, the Movie Brats’ fourth compadre worked in a cocoon. His films in the ’70s and ’80s were brash, often violent, sexualized thrillers indebted to Alfred Hitchcock. They were elegantly composed and bracing works that sometimes struggled to exceed their own commitment to the ecstatic. But decades after Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and The Godfather, De Palma finally took a studio gig with Mission: Impossible and became a part of a template that is being copied to this day. It’s his movie, through and through. And it vanishes from his hands the minute it ends. In the Mission: Impossible parlance, he accepted the mission, and then it self-destructed.


Jason Bailey, Vulture
The 10 Best Mission: Impossible Action Sequences, Ranked

2. Langley heist, Mission: Impossible
“Relax, Luther,” Ethan says with a smile. “It’s much worse than you think.” And indeed it is — getting to the file they need from CIA headquarters requires voice ID, changing numerical codes, double electronic key card, and a retinal scan, all to get into a secure room with heightened sound and temperature sensitivity. And so Hunt is lowered in, by rope from an air duct (an homage to the classic ‘60s heist picture Topkapi), in what’s really the opposite of what we think of an “action sequence”: there’s no gunplay, no explosions, no fisticuffs, and no pounding score to juice up the excitement. (The closing action sequence, which falls into those a parameters, is a dud — and, criminal considering the eventual direction of the franchise, it looks laughably fake.) In fact, director Brian De Palma’s decision to play the sequence in total silence makes it more involving for the viewer; it’s so quiet, and the stakes are so high, the audience is afraid to make a sound either. De Palma, playing his audience like a piano (as his hero Alfred Hitchcock used to say), stretches the suspense as far as he can, snaking in to tight close-ups of Hunt’s rope, Jean Reno’s hands, that single bead of sweat — and then the rat shows up.

Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com
Keep the Mission Going with Excellent 4K Releases of First Five Films

I hadn’t revisited the first three in over a decade, and they’re a fascinating trio of movies in no small part because of who made them. One of the elements that has really separated the “M:I” films from other action franchises (or even most of the MCU) is the willingness of Tom Cruise and company to turn the storytelling over to known auteurs. We live in an era in which most franchises work to flatten the authorship of their director (again, looking at you MCU), but each “M:I” is unmistakably the product of its creator. There are touches in each of the first three films that echo themes of the other works of Brian De Palma, John Woo, and J.J. Abrams. The next three get away from this aspect a bit and feel more consistent with one another, but it’s fascinating to watch a major Hollywood franchise that allowed viewers to see the director’s fingerprints instead of just waxing them out.

Having said that, the two newest films are the kind of technical marvels that really amplify the art of 4K most of all. To be fair, the first movie has never looked or sounded this good, and I had forgotten how beautifully-constructed it is from first scene to last. If you haven’t seen it in a long time, you should catch up on 4K. “Mission: Impossible 2” has not held up quite as well—it’s startling to see how much Hunt changed as a character/hero from De Palma to Woo—but it’s still an interesting film, anchored by solid supporting turns from Thandie Newton and Sir Anthony Hopkins. “Mission: Impossible 3” is often held up as a high point because it has the best villain and the highest emotional stakes. Both are true (at least until “Fallout”), but it already feels a little dated.


Peter Sobczynski, RogerEbert.com
The History of the Mission: Impossible Franchise

In the Eighties going into the Nineties, spurned on by the success of the “Star Trek” movies, making big screen versions out of familiar small screen titles suddenly became the rage for a while. With its well-known title and memorable theme music, Paramount Pictures was keen to make a “Mission: Impossible” film but the project remained in limbo until Tom Cruise, at the very apex of his stardom, decided not only to do it but to make it the first effort from his newly-formed production company. Sydney Pollack was attached to the project for a while but eventually it went to Brian De Palma—the notion of the generally iconoclastic filmmaker doing a potential tentpole project of this sort must have seemed strange at the time but his last major box-office success had been an adaptation of another television show, “The Untouchables” (1987). A number of top writers, including Robert Towne, Steve Zaillian and David Koepp, worked on the script but it reportedly went into production without a completed screenplay. There were also rumors of friction during the shoot between Cruise and De Palma that appeared to be tacitly confirmed when De Palma dropped out of the film’s press junket on the eve of its opening.

When audiences first sat down to watch “Mission: Impossible” in May 1996, those with an actual working knowledge of the series must have felt right at home. From the start, the film trotted out the most familiar ingredients—the theme, the opening credits featuring a rapid-fire assortment of clips from the story we were about to see and, most of all, an IMF team once again led by veteran Jim Phelps (now played by Jon Voight) and including his wife, Claire (Emmanuelle Beart), and various experts in their respective fields (played by such familiar faces as Kristin Scott Thomas and Emilio Estevez). Most importantly, there was point man Ethan Hunt (Cruise) choosing to accept a mission in Prague to recover a top secret list of CIA agents from the American Embassy that requires clever moves, hi-tech gadgetry and, of course, an elaborate disguise or two. Then, in classic De Palma fashion, things quickly go sideways and the once-cocky Ethan is left standing helpless as the rest of his team is killed off one by one and the list vanishes. To make matters worse, when Hunt reports to his superior (Henry Czerny) for debriefing, he learns that the entire mission was a ruse designed to ferret out a mole who was intending on stealing and selling the list to a secretive arms dealer known only as Max—since he was the only survivor, the assumption is that Ethan was the guilty party. He escapes easily enough and, after putting together an ad-hoc team consisting of a couple of disgraced former IMF operatives, computer genius Luther Stickey (Ving Rhames) and pilot Franz Krieger (Jean Reno), and Claire, who survived the attack after all, creates an elaborate plan to steal the real list himself in order to lure the person who framed him while at the same time escaping the pursuit of his former employers.

The film got reviews that were decent but hardly spectacular with many of them complaining that the storyline was too convoluted for its own good. Therefore, it may come as a shock to people revisiting it for the first time in a while (or those who have never seen it before) to discover just how strong it really is. Yes, the systematic destruction of the IMF team in the opening scenes, coupled with the later revelation that—Spoiler Alert!—it was Phelps himself who was the mole, shocked and outraged fans of the original show (not to mention some of the original stars, who gave interviews to show their displeasure with the film). And yet, this move proved to be as dramatically clever as it was audacious. The times had changed considerably in the years since the original series went off the air and the notion of a clandestine spy agency going on officially unsanctioned missions to mess around in other countries was simply not going to play in the same fashion. By blowing things up in this way, the film managed to clear the decks for a “Mission: Impossible” designed for the current world while managing to throw most moviegoers for a loop early on in the proceedings.

It is funny to note that this film was once derided for its alleged incoherence because the narrative seems remarkably clean and efficiently told, especially in comparison to what passes for blockbuster filmmaking these days. When it is seen a second time—and this is the rare modern screen spectacular that actually plays better on repeat viewings—one can more clearly see just how smartly written it really is. (I especially love the scene in which Ethan and Phelps reunite and catch each other up on what is happening and Ethan quietly realizing that he is being lied to by his former mentor.) The performances are also quite good as well, which also comes as a surprise since quality acting is not usually the highest priority in films like this. Cruise does an excellent job of playing against his generally cocksure screen persona, Voight adds weight and even a slight degree of poignance to his turn as Phelps and as the mysterious Max, Vanessa Redgrave turns up in a couple of scenes and pretty much steals the show—when she and Cruise have their big scene together, the screen crackles with so much electricity that one wishes that someone could have found a project that would have given them more chances to play off of each other. (The only sort-of disappointment in the cast is Beart, who is nowhere near as electrifying here as she was in films like “Manon of the Spring” or “La Belle Noisseuse” [1991], though that might have something to do with the last-minute deletion of scenes suggest a love triangle between Claire, her husband and Ethan.)

The best thing about “Mission: Impossible”—not to mention one of the key elements that would go on to drive the subsequent films—is the way that a film that was presumably launched primarily as a star project managed to morph, with the approval of the star/producer, into perhaps the most auteur-friendly franchise in operation today. Since it is a film where he was hired to interpret someone else’s material, this is clearly not a “pure” Brian De Palma movie in the manner of such self-generated projects as “Dressed to Kill” (1980), “Blow Out” (1981) or “Femme Fatale” (2002). However, this is one of his most successful attempts at channeling his own particular obsessions into a more overtly commercial framework than is usually found in his more personal efforts. Although not necessarily the kind of story that he might have designed wholly on his own, this story allowed De Palma to tackle subject matter that has long fascinated him, such as voyeurism, technology, mistrust of the very organizations that are supposedly there to protect us and stories that feature unreliable narrators. The film also allows him to demonstrate once again that he is one of the great visual storytellers of our time and includes some of the most memorable extended set pieces of his career. Under normal circumstances, either the opening sabotage in Prague or the climactic fight aboard and on top of a train speeding through the Chunnel would be duly enshrined as the absolute peak moments in the career of an ordinary filmmaker. With De Palma, they aren’t even the high point of the film thanks to the masterful sequence depicting Ethan and his team infiltrating CIA headquarters to steal the list of spies from a room rigged to sound off alarms at even the slightest hint of an intruder in the room—even a simple drop of sweat could do the trick. The entire sequence is a breathtaking wonder that is pretty much a master class in filmmaking all by itself.


Posted by Geoff at 8:32 AM CDT
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Tuesday, July 31, 2018
GUCCI AD w/FAYE DUNAWAY USES 'BODY DOUBLE' THEME
PINO DONAGGIO MUSIC SCORES BEVERLY HILLS-SET AD, DIRECTED BY PETRA COLLINS
Previously:
Selena Gomez & Petra Collins share 'fetish' for Brian De Palma films


Via Dazed:
Petra Collins: What is your current obsession or ‘fetish’?

Selena Gomez: Right now, I have a fetish for Brian De Palma films. The way he shoots women is so sexy. I’m printing out pictures to hang up in my new house right now. Melanie Griffith in Body Double. So sexy.

Petra Collins: Oh my God. Brian De Palma. I love him. I’m with you on that one, that’s my fetish right now too.


Posted by Geoff at 10:49 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, July 31, 2018 10:57 PM CDT
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ESMAIL CONTINUES HITCHCOCK & DE PALMA FLOURISHES
WITH NEW AMAZON PRIME SERIES, 'HOMECOMING'
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/homecomingteaser.jpgLast week, during a Television Critics Association panel for Amazon Prime's upcoming series, Homecoming, Sam Esmail, who directed each episode, mentioned Alfred Hitchcock and Brian De Palma while discussing the cinematic style of the show, which stars Julia Roberts. Here's an excerpt from a report of the panel posted by Deadline's Dade Hayes:
The audience saw a clip from the show, which details a social worker’s efforts to help soldiers returning from war (though perhaps, it seems, to nefarious corporate ends). In one continuous take, the scene shows Roberts taking a phone call at her desk, standing up and walking down stairs and through a densely populated office. In a fluid tracking shot, the camera follows her both from afar and overhead, passing over the walls dividing each room. Such explicitly cinematic flourishes, Esmail said, were inspired by films by Hitchcock and Brian De Palma.

Esmail said the cinematography and atmosphere of paranoia borrows from Mr. Robot. Like that show, he said, Homecoming taps into a seemingly bottomless well of feeling about the current era of “corporate greed,” as he put it. “We’re still reeling” from the 2008 financial crisis, he said, notably from the fact that no financial executives wound up criminally prosecuted for the meltdown. “I don’t want to say all corporations are the villains but there is that un-trustworthiness,” he said.


Previously:
Blow Out & Carrie haunt Mr. Robot flashback prologue

Posted by Geoff at 8:31 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, July 31, 2018 6:08 PM CDT
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Friday, July 27, 2018
'MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE' - LINKS (PART 1)
DE PALMA'S 1996 FILM KICKED OFF THE FRANCHISE IN STYLE
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/miupsidedown.jpg

When Tom Cruise saw Carlito's Way, his mind got to thinking about what a Mission: Impossible movie might look like with Brian De Palma at the helm. "I want to see that movie," Cruise said to himself. The rest is history. This week, the sixth film in the series is opening to overwhelmingly positive reviews, and De Palma's first film has been getting mentioned in reviews, as well as reviewed itself in the past several weeks. Here are some links, with more surely to come:

Jacob Knight, /Film
How Brian De Palma Subverted the Blockbuster With ‘Mission: Impossible’

A Different Kind of Blockbuster

If you hire Brian De Palma to helm your nearly $100 million blockbuster (whose budget seems unusually small come 2018), chances are it isn’t going resemble anything else hitting multiplexes that (or any other) year. This is precisely what happened when Tom Cruise and his producing partner Paula Wagner brought the notorious Hitchcock conversationalist aboard for Mission: Impossible. It obviously wasn’t the first time De Palma had manned a massive studio picture – as he’d already churned out the ultraviolent gangster remake Scarface in ’83, its massive, David Mamet-penned period successor The Untouchables in ’87, and the infamous bomb Bonfire of the Vanities in ’90. However, his signing signaled the direction Cruise was headed with his own 007 companion piece: it was going to be an eccentric series, led by bona fide auteurs as opposed to anonymous journeying workmen.

With that in mind, it’s no wonder Mission: Impossible is possibly one of the most subversive, stylistically defined franchise entries – let alone inceptors – in cinema history. Cruise’s first outing as Impossible Mission Force Agent Ethan Hunt is just as much a showcase for De Palma’s peculiar fascinations as it is the front man’s considerable star power. Looking back on the third-highest grossing picture of ’96 twenty-two years on is a beguiling investigation of how both the series and studio filmmaking on the whole have radically evolved; notions of “shared universes” a mere glimmer in some future executive’s eye. In fact, it’s tough to watch M:I and imagine that anyone involved (beyond Cruise, of course) expected it to stretch into a decades-spanning action/adventure serial.

That De Palma Touch

De Palma has always been a pop dissident. From his earliest days helming Godardian farces such as Greetings (’68) and Hi, Mom! (’70), there’s been an air of angry rebellion contained in even his funniest work (just look at the harrowing Be Black Baby sequence from the latter for the best example). Phantom of the Paradise (’74) doubles as the director’s commentary on how commercialization can bastardize great art (having been inspired by hearing a Muzak cover of the Beatles in an elevator), and Carrie (’76) is just as much a scathing indictment of every popular high school kid – who this self-described “science dork” was the antithesis of at the same age – as it is a rip-roaring psychedelic horror show. Even his dizzying erotic thriller – the perverted, porno chic nightmare Body Double (’84) – is a knowing middle finger to the criticisms he received for his previous Hitch riffs, its title derived from the jabs taken at the stylist for using a stand-in during Angie Dickinson’s Dressed to Kill (’80) nude scenes. In short, De Palma is an artist often fueled by “fuck you”, willing to antagonize his detractors by doing whatever the hell he wants.

However, if there’s any entry in BDP’s filmography that his Mission: Impossible shares the most in common with, it’s the paranoid conspiracy thriller Blow Out (’81). In that near inscrutable masterpiece, B-Movie sound man Jack Terry (John Travolta) accidentally captures a Senatorial assassination while recording new foley effects for his latest body count picture. Using the tools of the cinematic trade, Terry reconstructs the murder into a moving image, all while an unhinged government operative (a lecherous John Lithgow) pursues him and the only other surviving witness to the crime: a lovable floozy name Sally (De Palma’s then wife Nancy Allen). Blow Out is a motion picture awash in both distrust of authority and its author’s punch-drunk love of cinema, as he utilizes all the tricks in his deep magician’s bag to craft one of our finest motion pictures.

With Mission: Impossible, De Palma essentially becomes Jack Terry, disassembling the elements that made Bruce Geller’s prime time pulp a cultural touchstone and then rebuilding them in his own image*. Hunt’s initial mission – which we bear witness to through a series of the director’s trademark Steadicam POV shots – is quickly dismantled by an unseen killer (via a rather grisly upending of expectations), placing the baby-faced operative on the run while higher ups like IMF Director Eugene Kittridge (Henry Czerny) treat him like Public Enemy No. 1 (their initial tense, post-op meeting a barrage of split-diopter shots scored by Danny Elfman’s rising strings).


Mike Ryan, Uproxx
The First ‘Mission: Impossible’ Is Crazy And Confusing — And That’s Why It’s Awesome

At no time does Mission: Impossible care if you’re confused. Why would Ethan risk the identities of hundreds of agents just to save himself? When does Kittridge start to trust Ethan again? What if Jean Reno’s Franz Krieger doesn’t buy Ethan’s little magic show and doesn’t throw his (real NOC list) disc in the trash? Yep, it doesn’t care. It just keeps going. And for all the stunts Tom Cruise does in the later films (which, to be clear, are insanely fun to watch), nothing can beat the tension of Cruise hanging an inch above a weight sensitive floor at CIA headquarters. (Again this scene is awesome. Does it make any real sense why they are there or why that room would exist? No, but holy crap it’s a great scene. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the scene where Ethan tells Kittridge, “You’ve never seen me very upset,” then throws the explosive gum at the aquarium. This scene is gorgeous.)

Also, the craziest thing is just the fact that Brian De Palma directed this movie. Yes, De Palma has directed some movies before that could qualify as “action,” like The Untouchables and maybe even Scarface, but Mission: Impossible is his only true “big blockbuster type movie” (as we define it today) and, not surprisingly, by far his highest grossing movie.


James Murphy, MovieViral
Throwback Thursday Viral Vault : James Murphy looks back and chooses to accept the FIRST and arguably BEST Mission : Impossible (1996)

 

De Palma’s direction on Mission:Impossible maintains great atmospherics and sense of paranoia. There are close-ups of blood being washed off hands or staying on a floppy disk: touching on the horror genre, without ever going TOO far into the gratuitous or adult. Indeed, there is an almost child-like innocence and curiosity about the film; perhaps in line with Cruise’s own (then) younger worldview? Upbeat tone and pace, despite the nominally shocking premise for the hero.

 

DePalma does channel Hitchcock here whilst making it his own. Notice that for all the consequence free escapism, this IS a film with real stakes. If Ethan Hunt is captured? He is dead and disgraced. Career. Reputation. Family. Mortality. ALL on the table. So his gamble with stealing secret information from his own side / Faustian pacts, a necessary step that sets up the film without too much contrivance, despite criticisms to the contrary. Plot is clearer and simpler than many believe. Indeed, I’d cite it as essential script study for all film writers in waiting. Every scene has something to say in a meta way about cinema, whilst existing as a self contained thriller and never breaking the 4th wall.

Some fantastic and distinctive set pieces: the Prague chase; Restaurant explosion; the CIA Heist (Kubrick meets Star Wars); the Train. Great use of sound design and editing, throughout.

And Waterloo Station (also seen in future years in franchises: Bourne Ultimatum and Mission Impossibles’ own Rogue Nation) a character in itself:.

Tom Cruise, as always, in love with London. They should give him an honorary knighthood for his services. He is second only to Richard Curtis and the rom-com brigade for the visual odes to our Brits’ beloved capital.

There are thematic layers hidden away like data in a secret vault but DePalma manages to sneak in some hints (foreshadowing fates in a brutal opening; a love triangle between the Voight /Cruise/Beart characters in the past?). And for all its high class and money glossy escapism (TGV first class, naturally!), there ARE references, albeit briefly, to dying parents, bankruptcy and a military intelligence establishment that has lost its way post Cold War yet pre 9/11. The film is set in that mid 90s, Clinton/Blair third way era calm before the storm.

Speaking of transitions and styles of leader? One could argue that the rumoured creative clashes between Cruise and DePalma actually brought out the A + Game in BOTH parties. The conflicting agendas fused in such a way that the film’s own clash of genres and tones and purposes, as well as its own, inner motif of two military intel teams competing against each other..just..works. Against the odds, backs to wall = mission, accomplished?

It is apt that the mentors here are also villains; yet thereby bring out the best in the heroes. Much needed, because Cruise’s ‘Ethan Hunt’ is simply a device, an avatar, for this series to progress. Even the name sounds like they just picked it at random. Why not just call Cruise’s character ‘Jim Phelps’ from the tv series counterpart and call the thing a reboot? Or better still: Tom Cruise is…Tom Cruise?! Yes he can act and should have Oscars to that effect (American Made: HELLO? You. woz. ROBBED!). But here? It’s HIM. Still is, in the franchise years later. Just call it out. 😉 But they had their reasons and it stands on its own terms, despite intersection / overlap with some other (then) in vogue franchise properties /aesthetics.


Stephanie Zacharek, TIME
Mission: Impossible—Fallout May Be the Best Since the Original

 

Before internet cat videos, before flip phones, before Beyoncé could talk–let alone sing–there was Tom Cruise. A nuclear blast might kill him, but don’t be so sure. He’s as enduring as the pyramids, if not nearly as impressive. Yet even people who don’t care for Cruise often have a weakness for the Mission: Impossible movies, and that’s as it should be. Their outlandish plots and over-the-cliff stunts are the most suitable delivery systems for his energy and undimmable wattage: he just makes sense in them.

Mission: Impossible—Fallout may be the best Mission: Impossible movie since the first, made in the dawn of the cat-Internet age, 1996, by Brian De Palma. Or perhaps it’s just the one with the mostest: even by the franchise’s extravagant standards, Fallout throws off Hope-diamond levels of grandeur.


Posted by Geoff at 8:27 AM CDT
Updated: Friday, July 27, 2018 8:33 AM CDT
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Wednesday, July 25, 2018
DE PALMA VS DE PALMA - BOOK & FEST IN SPAIN, NOV '18
MOLINS DE REI HORROR FILM FEST, NOV 9-18; BOOK INCLUDES FORWARD BY KEITH GORDON
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/depalmavsdepalma.jpg"De Palma vs De Palma" will be the leitmotif for the 2018 Molins de Rei Horror Film Festival, which runs November 9-18, 2018, in Catalonia, Spain. "At 77 years of age, De Palma is still one of the North-American directors whose work is expected around the world," states Albert Galera, Arts Director of the festival, in a statement on the fest website. "It is beyond doubt that his latest film, Domino, is bound to be one of the favourites of 2018. De Palma is a synonym of respect, cinephilia, passion, skills, talent… Besides the premiere of his latest film, this year is the 40th anniversary of The Fury (1978), one of the greatest horror films that he has offered throughout a filmography which has developed for almost six decades."

Galera closes by saying, "Our fascination for Brian De Palma’s films, his personal and essential way of approaching horror, and his ability to seduce us again and again are the reasons why the 37th edition of the Molins de Rei Horror Film Festival is going to focus on mainly three words: Brian De Palma. This is going to be a year concerned with long sequence shots, split up screens, direct and metaphoric open-ups, provocation, desire and meddling. Now, get dressed to kill, free all your fury and get ready for a prom night bound to have amazing effects."

In addition, a book will be published ahead of the festival, also titled De Palma vs De Palma. El Terror Tiene Forma's Jesus Marti provides a nice rundown of the book:

El Festival de Cine de Terror de Molins de Rei (TerrorMolins) and Editorial Hermenaute collaborate for the third consecutive year in what will be its 37th edition with a book about the career of the North American director Brian De Palma. The veteran festival, which will be held from November 9 to 18, this year has as its central theme the director of Sisters and Phantom of the Paradise.

The book reviews the extensive film career of the director of Carrie and Carlito's Way among other essential films. It is a collective essay around the work of the great filmmaker, the great protagonist of the 2018 edition of the Terror Film Festival of Molins de Rei.

Under the title of De Palma vs. De Palma, the book explores many of the essential concepts of the work of De Palma from the personal vision of six authors, each of which focuses its individual analysis on one of these constants. Keith Gordon, actor in two films by Brian De Palma and American filmmaker, contributes with an emotional forward.

De Palma vs. De Palma is a book that deals with formal duality, split identity, aspects such as the split screen and the methodical amplification of Alfred Hitchcock's legacy. A book that avoids the hackneyed chronological analysis and offers an interesting discourse about the work of the New York based director in six complementary articles. De Palma vs De Palma gets, from the analysis of the filmography of the director of Dressed To Kill, make us rethink the discourse of his work and discover new theories. A book that vindicates the figure of one of the best and most controversial filmmakers in history; an essential essay for every movie buff and any curious reader interested in psychology, art, sociology and other fields intimately related to the seventh art, the thriller and the fantastic.

Coordinated by Albert Galera, the book has the signatures of Antonio José Navarro, Gerard Fossas, Jordi Batet, Jaume Claver, Ignasi Juliachs and the same Albert Galera, artistic director of TerrorMolins, writer and film historian.

Cover design: Marta Torres.


Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, July 26, 2018 12:31 AM CDT
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