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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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« September 2018 »
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Interviews...

De Palma interviewed
in Paris 2002

De Palma discusses
The Black Dahlia 2006


Enthusiasms...

De Palma Community

The Virtuoso
of the 7th Art

The De Palma Touch

The Swan Archives

Carrie...A Fan's Site

Phantompalooza

No Harm In Charm

Paul Schrader

Alfred Hitchcock
The Master Of Suspense

Alfred Hitchcock Films

Snake Eyes
a la Mod

Mission To Mars
a la Mod

Sergio Leone
and the Infield
Fly Rule

Movie Mags

Directorama

The Filmmaker Who
Came In From The Cold

Jim Emerson on
Greetings & Hi, Mom!

Scarface: Make Way
For The Bad Guy

The Big Dive
(Blow Out)

Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
Official Web Site

The Phantom Project

Welcome to the
Offices of Death Records

The Carlito's Way
Fan Page

The House Next Door

Kubrick on the
Guillotine

FilmLand Empire

Astigmia Cinema

LOLA

Cultural Weekly

A Lonely Place

The Film Doctor

italkyoubored

Icebox Movies

Medfly Quarantine

Not Just Movies

Hope Lies at
24 Frames Per Second

Motion Pictures Comics

Diary of a
Country Cinephile

So Why This Movie?

Obsessive Movie Nerd

Nothing Is Written

Ferdy on Films

Cashiers De Cinema

This Recording

Mike's Movie Guide

Every '70s Movie

Dangerous Minds

EatSleepLiveFilm

No Time For
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The former
De Palma a la Mod
site

Entries by Topic
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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Ambrose Chapel
Are Snakes Necessary?
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Books
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Friday, September 7, 2018
MUNCH'S 'JEALOUSY' & DE PALMA'S 'BLOW OUT'
FRIDAY TWEET JUXTAPOSES EDVARD MUNCH, VON STROHEIM, BERGMAN, DE PALMA
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/blowoutjealousymunch.jpg

The above set of images was tweeted today by Tiger Studio, with the following caption:
Jealousy

#painting & #Cinema

Jealousy (1907) Edvard Munch
Blind Husbands (1919) Erich von Stroheim
Persona (1966) Ingmar Bergman
Blow Out (1981) Brian de Palma


Posted by Geoff at 5:52 PM CDT
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Tuesday, September 4, 2018
DE PALMA'S 'CARRIE' DEEPLY AFFECTED ARI ASTER
'HEREDITARY' WRITER/DIRECTOR "HAD A VERY HARD TIME SHAKING THOSE IMAGES"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/carriebulgingeyes.jpg

Ari Aster, the writer/director of Hereditary, tells South China Morning Post's James Mottram that Brian De Palma's Carrie was the first scary movie that "deeply affected" him. "I found the images were not leaving me and that really stuck with me for years,” Aster tells Mottram. "Sissy Spacek covered in blood with her bulging eyes … I had a very hard time shaking those images. It was definitely a film I was thinking about as I was writing this."

On the Blu-ray of Hereditary released today, Aster says that two of his main inspirations are Carrie and Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, & Her Lover. He discusses both of those films in a conversation with Scott Macaulay, from the summer 2018 issue of Filmmaker:

Filmmaker: What are some of your favorite horror movies?

Aster: I love Rosemary’s Baby—there are some big nods to that at the end [of Hereditary]. I love Don’t Look Now, which I see this film as being a spiritual sibling to. Tonally, Nic Roeg is somebody whose films made a very serious impression on me from an early age. His sense of the elliptical is really, really fascinating to me. He has this amazing sense for the fragmentary—his films often play like memory. I love, on just the level of atmosphere, The Shining. I really love Jack Clayton’s film, The Innocents. There’s a long list of Japanese horror films that I love, like Kwaidan, Onibaba, Kuroneko, Empire of Passion and Ugetsu. And then, beyond Ugetsu, I just love Mizoguchi a lot. He’s somebody who I’m always thinking about. I was really taken with this brilliant South Korean film, The Wailing. I really liked The Witch. I can say that the goal with Hereditary was to make a horror film that I would want to see. I wanted to make a horror film that would scare me, and I wanted to root it in things that really trouble me and bother me.

Filmmaker: And what are those things?

Aster: What are my fears? [long silence] Just like everybody else, I would say I have fears of abandonment. I have fears of losing my quality of life, my body breaking down. I have fears of, if not abandonment, then losing somebody I care about because of something I have done. Fears of harming somebody in my life, be it intentionally or unintentionally. I have fears that I have no control over, like fears of disaster, which is more of a philosophical problem—like, my glass is half empty. I think a big part of the film is a fear of the intentions of others because, ultimately, it is a film about a conspiracy as seen from the perspective of the unknowing victims of that conspiracy.

Filmmaker: I was going to ask you whether you saw yourself in the teenage son character, but some of those fears you just listed are dispersed among the different characters. Fear of abandonment is referenced by the sister very early on.

Aster: Yeah. I see myself in all the characters, and none of the characters are surrogates for anybody in my family or myself. They’re all total inventions. It was just really important to me that I attend to the family drama first, and that I honor whoever those people were first, and then have all the horror elements emerge from that, and only if those elements were organic to the story and coming out of that dilemma at the heart of the film.

So often I’ll go to a horror film and there will be moments that get to me, and imagery I might find disturbing, but I feel let off the hook. Like, “OK, you get your spike of adrenaline. You go on the roller coaster, and you can leave. Don’t worry about it. You can brush off the experiences.” But the films that really stayed with me as a kid, that really haunted me, upset me—and they were the films I was always looking for and at the same time was always kind of hoping I wouldn’t [find because they] provoked feelings that I wasn’t able to immediately resolve as a kid—had maybe more of a malicious streak. I hated them as a kid because I hated what they did to me.

Filmmaker: Were those some of the ones you mentioned?

Aster: Well, no, actually. All of those I found to be really fun. The films that really upset me, I can’t even put on the list, somehow, because of my relationship to them.

Filmmaker: Can you say what some of them were?

Aster: Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, which isn’t technically a horror film, but it feels evil to me. Brian De Palma’s Carrie—I do love that film, but I saw it when I was 13. It didn’t really scare me while I was watching it, but later I was walking through the house in the dark to get water in the middle of the night, and I kept projecting images from that film onto the walls, which is what happened later with The Cook, The Thief. It was this masochistic thing, where once you’ve done it once, then your mind keeps reminding you to do it again. I’d race to get to my bed, and then I had a hard time going to the bathroom at night or getting water at night for a few years because I couldn’t trust myself to not project those images into the dark. Especially images from Carrie—Piper Laurie chasing her daughter around the house with this giddy, ecstatic smile on her face. That taps into something so primal.

Filmmaker: Is that the effect that you want this film to have on your audience?

Aster: I guess so. It’s funny, I screened The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover to the crew before I made The Strange Thing about the Johnsons but not before Hereditary. I was certainly thinking about that film, though, and especially the way that Peter Greenaway plays with artifice. I’ve always had a thing for Brechtian distancing effects. I feel that if they’re done well—if the story and performances are really compelling—then they make the film so much more vivid. Like, for instance, Dogville is a film that I’ll never shake, and I wonder what I would think of it if it were not set on a bare stage. The Cook, the Thief is this really, really monstrous vision of humanity. It’s so clinical, and all the characters are so remote, except for the one who’s the most vile. He’s the one character who is, to a certain degree, charismatic, who has any life, despite the fact that he is absolutely the grossest person ever depicted on screen. Everybody else feels like they are just a part of this tableau that Peter Greenaway is building. He was a painter before he became a filmmaker, and that’s very apparent. Even just down to Sacha Vierny’s very sickly, theatrical lighting, and those dollhouse sets where the colors are very rich but they’re also over rich—the colors themselves are getting sick. I know that film was rated NC-17 for tone. That makes total sense when you see the film because it is just feels evil.

Filmmaker: Your interest in Brechtian distancing effects is evidenced by the first shot of the movie, which sets up the camera as having this pitiless point-of-view on these tiny characters on a stage.

Aster: Yeah, the miniatures were sort of serving as a running metaphor for what’s happening in the film, which becomes very apparent by the end: These are people with no agency who are being manipulated by outside forces, like dolls in a dollhouse.


Posted by Geoff at 11:13 PM CDT
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Monday, September 3, 2018
ÁLVAREZ LÓPEZ ON COLLAGE ASPECT OF 'WOTON'S WAKE'
DE PALMA'S EARLY SHORT FILM "BOILS WITH A FERVENT, CREATIVE, YOUTHFUL VITALITY"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/wotonswakemirrors.jpg

"Collage takes many forms in De Palma’s cinema," states Cristina Álvarez López in her latest Foreplays column at MUBI. "It’s in his taste for mosaic-narratives that merge almost-autonomous plot lines. It’s in the way he fits together disparate tones, genres, and styles of acting. It’s in the play with surfaces and depth, fostered by some of his favorite ‘composite’ images—split screens, materialized memory flashes or mental hypotheses, split focus diopter shots. It’s in his very conception of reality as a complex puzzle that can only be grasped via a laborious reconstruction and rearrangement of the pieces. It’s in the incorporation, mimicking, and merging of different audiovisual formats, textures, dispositifs—TV reportage in Sisters (1972), video-clip and porn advertising in Body Double (1984), images from security cameras in Scarface (1983) or Snake Eyes (1998), screen tests in Murder à la Mod (1967) and The Black Dahlia (2006), YouTube videos in Redacted (2007) and Passion (2012), the reconstructed film in Blow Out (1981), and the photographic collage that closes Femme Fatale (2002).

"Woton’s Wake boils with a fervent, creative, youthful vitality. It’s a product of the multifaceted cultural scene of a particular time and place (the New York of the 1960s). It’s also a low-budget film, made—literally—with De Palma’s own hands. This is, at least in part, what gives Woton’s Wake its collage form, wild and raw, but also thoroughgoing: from the very conception of character and narrative as complex assemblages, to formal choices that privilege operations of fragmentation, cutting, pasting, stitching; from the depiction of mismatching architectures, to the treatment of space as the envelope for pockets of film history—or as the battleground for colliding energies."

Read the rest of Álvarez López' insightful analysis of Woton's Wake at MUBI. "Watched today," she writes, "Woton’s Wake signals a strong tendency in the filmmaker’s career: his investment in collage." You can also watch the short film for free at Vimeo.


Posted by Geoff at 6:35 PM CDT
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Saturday, September 1, 2018
VIDEO 'COLLAGE' EXAMINES 'FEMME FATALE' DREAM
EDITED BY CHARLS CHAP, JUXTAPOSING LAURE'S DREAM WITH HER REALITY

Posted by Geoff at 10:13 PM CDT
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Friday, August 31, 2018
ARROW'S DE NIRO/DE PALMA 'EARLY FILMS' BOX, NOV 12
NEWLY-RESTORED FILMS, NEW INTVS - GERRIT GRAHAM, CHARLES HIRSCH, PETER MALONEY, & MORE
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/denirodepalmaarrow.jpg

Today, Arrow Video announced that it will release a Limited Edition Blu-ray box set November 12 (November 13 in the U.S.) called "De Niro & De Palma: The Early Films." The set will include The Wedding Party (new 2K restoration from the original film negative), Greetings (new 2K restoration from original film materials), and Hi, Mom! (new 2K restoration from original film materials). Our old friend Chris Dumas (author of Un-American Psycho) will have a written piece in the set's booklet, and there will be brand new interviews with Charles Hirsch, Gerrit Graham, and Peter Maloney. Also included will be a new (audio?) commentary on Greetings by critic Glenn Kenny, author of Robert De Niro: Anatomy of an Actor. Here are the full details as posted at Screen Anarchy:
NEW UK/US/CA TITLE: De Palma & De Niro: The Early Films (Blu-ray)

Brought together for the first time – and each newly restored – these three films offer a fascinating insight into the early careers of two American cinema’s major talents.

... Release dates: 12/13 November

In 1963, Robert De Niro stepped in front of a movie camera for the first time. The resulting film, a low-budget black and white comedy called The Wedding Party, would take three years to complete, and another three years to be released, but it would also establish a hugely important working relationship for the aspiring actor. One of the filmmakers, long before he became synonymous with suspense thanks to Carrie, Dressed to Kill and other classics, was Brian De Palma. He and De Niro would team up again in the next few years for two more comedies, both with a countercultural bent.

Greetings, the first film to receive an X certificate in the United States, is a freewheeling satire focusing on a trio of twentysomething friends – a conspiracy theorist, a filmmaker, and a voyeur played by De Niro – as they try to avoid the Vietnam War draft. Hi, Mom!, originally named Son of Greetings, returns to De Niro’s voyeur, now an aspiring maker of adult films, for another humorous glimpse at late-sixties society, this time turning its attentions to experimental theatre, cinéma vérité, the African American experience, and the white middle classes.

Brought together for the first time – and each newly restored by Arrow Films especially for this release – these three films offer a fascinating insight into the early careers of two American cinema’s major talents.

LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
• Brand new 2K restoration of The Wedding Party from the original film negative, carried out exclusively for this release by Arrow Films
• Brand new 2K restorations of Greetings and Hi, Mom! from original film materials, carried out exclusively for this release by Arrow Films
• Original uncompressed mono soundtracks
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing on all three films
• Brand new commentary on Greetings by Glenn Kenny, author of Robert De Niro: Anatomy of an Actor
• Brand new appreciation of Brian De Palma and Robert De Niro’s collaborations by critic and filmmaker Howard S. Berger
• Brand new interviews with Charles Hirsch, writer-producer of Greetings and Hi, Mom!
• Brand new interview with actor Gerrit Graham on Greetings, Hi, Mom! and his other collaborations with Brian De Palma
• Brand new interview with actor Peter Maloney on Hi, Mom!
Hi, Mom! theatrical trailer
• Newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin
• Limited collector’s edition booklet featuring new writing on the films by Brad Stevens, Chris Dumas and Christina Newland, plus an archive interview with Brian De Palma and Charles Hirsch


Posted by Geoff at 10:03 PM CDT
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Thursday, August 30, 2018
PIERS HANDLING ON IDEA OF DE PALMA FILMING AT TIFF
"I WAS AMUSED BY IT. I READ THAT AND THOUGHT, 'THAT'S BRIAN BEING OUTRAGEOUS'"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/tiff2014b.jpg

2018 will be the final year that Piers Handling (pictured above from 2014 with Ivan Reitman, Norman Jewison, Al Pacino, Brian De Palma and Barry Levinson) will be in charge of the Toronto International Film Festival. As Barry Hertz writes today at The Globe And Mail, Handling has been TIFF's "director and chief executive for the past 24 years." In a sort of "exit interview" prior to next week's start of TIFF's 43rd edition, the name Harvey Weinstein ("the great unnameable") comes up several times. "The festival wasn’t obsessed with awards," Handling tells Hertz, "but it was increasingly important, and the landscape totally changed in the 90s, as studios got more comfortable using festivals, largely because of the great unnameable, Harvey Weinstein, who revolutionized the way award campaigns were run. Toronto now tees off the award season because it’s basically a free press junket for North American media."

Later in the interview, Hertz delves more into questions centered around Weinstein:
You say that Weinstein changed the game for festivals. When the allegations came out against him last year, did it cause you to re-examine TIFF’s dealings with Weinstein? How close were you with him and his company?

We were negotiating with him every year, as we did with every other single North American distributor and studio. We obviously in no way condone any of what happened, and we were the first festival to come out in support of the women who came forward. You have no sense of what’s going on in your festival behind closed doors and in hotel rooms. But we’ve tightened up and we’ve always had a sexual harassment policy in place, which we’re going to make more public. There will be a hotline to call, signage, a code of conduct. We take it very seriously.

Did the allegations shock you? There was always talk about him being a bully, certainly ...

That’s a tough question to ask because is there any behaviour that surprises me at the end of the day? You’re in the movie business. Go back to the old Hollywood studio bosses – read Marilyn Monroe’s memoirs for Christ’s sake. The casting couch syndrome goes back to theatre. Does it come as a surprise that there are people still continuing that bad behaviour? No. Does it come as a surprise that that’s the person? Yes. It’s something you wish would go away, and I have no idea if at the end of the day it will. I know the #MeToo movement is going to make great inroads, and all of us are clamping down. But it’s going to take more than one year, two years, to change the industry.

What do you think of Brian De Palma’s plans to make a Weinstein-inspired horror movie set during TIFF?

[Laughs] Well, Brian’s made a movie set in Cannes, and Harvey was here all the time … I’m not going to have to deal with the issue in my position as CEO, someone else will. Whether the film gets made or not, who knows? I was amused by it. I read that and thought, “That’s Brian being outrageous.”

Were you ever tempted to go elsewhere?

I was approached, but you’re running the most important, biggest festival in the world. Some approaches were to run institutions where I’d be an administrator, and I didn’t want to be an administrator raising money. I wanted to be the film guy who had the luxury and opportunity to run an institution with people around me who could do most of that work, exceptional fundraisers who know their business. This is one of the best film jobs in the world, and it’s allowed me to dream my own dreams.


It was announced this week that Joana Vicente will be the new executive director and co-head of TIFF, joining the previously announced co-head and artistic director Cameron Bailey. Vincente is married to Jason Kliot. As co-presidents of HDNet Films, Vincente and Kliot co-produced De Palma's Redacted in 2007. At the New York Film Festival that year, Kliot jumped on stage during an after-screening Q&A (moderated by J. Hoberman) to try to explain the legal issues involved that led to the real-life photos from Iraq in Redacted's final sequence being themselves redacted, against De Palma's wishes:
Hi, I'm one of the producers on the film, and I've been dealing with the legal issues with Brian for a very long time. I think... what has to be understood here, is that, first of all, Brian absolutely tried to indemnify Magnolia, and Mark [Cuban] and Todd [Wagner]. So did myself and the other producers of the film. We were willing to put ourselves on the line to actually get the unredacted pictures out there. But that is not legally acceptable. That doesn't mean that people can't go after Cuban and Wagner, and the people who financed the film. And ultimately, it's their decision whether or not they want to take that risk. What I think is really horrible here, and, you know, what is becoming in the press, a sort of "Cuban vs. De Palma" type of silly debate, is that, E&O insurance, since 9/11, errors and omissions insurance, has become incredibly difficult to get for American films. And the Fair Use laws in America are completely unfair. And they set it up so that we cannot use images of our own culture to tell the truth about our own culture. And that is a restriction that occurs to documentaries that are out there, as well as feature films, and this is a much larger issue.

Posted by Geoff at 11:46 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, August 30, 2018 11:55 PM CDT
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Tuesday, August 28, 2018
'AD NAUSEUM' AUTHOR TO PRESENT 'DTK' OCT 9 IN NY
MICHAEL GINGOLD BOOK LAUNCH AT ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE (YONKERS)
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/adnauseumdtk.jpg

Alamo Drafthouse in Yonkers, New York will screen Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill at 7:30pm on Tuesday, October 9th. Hosting the screening will be Michael Gingold, who will also be launching his new book, Ad Nauseum, that day. The image above comes from the book (courtesy the 1984prods Instagram page), which collects over 450 newsprint ads of fright films from the 1980s, "annotated and accompanied by vintage reviews," according to the Alamo description. Gingold will present Dressed To Kill, and also sign copies of Ad Nauseum.

Posted by Geoff at 11:32 PM CDT
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Sunday, August 26, 2018
SPANISH ACTOR CRISTIAN GAMERO TALKS 'DOMINO'
COMPLICATED ACTION SCENE, SUCCESSFUL NIGHT SHOOT WITH A LOT OF EXTRAS & VERY FEW TAKES
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/cristiangamero.jpgMari Paz Díaz at Huelva Buenas Noticias posted an interview today with Madrid-based actor Cristian Gamero, who worked for a few days last year filming Brian De Palma's Domino. Since then, Gamero has been working on a Netflix/Telemundo series in Mexico (Luis Miguel: la serie), where he has been gaining some recognition. He talks a bit about Domino in the early part of today's interview:
-Cristian, why did you choose acting?
-When I was a kid, I always locked myself in the room and, for hours, imitated the actors in the movies. I didn't know why, but I enjoyed it very much. Then, when I took my first acting class, I felt it was what I wanted to dedicate my whole life to.

-What have been your first jobs as an actor?
-The first job opportunity was in the series 'The Ministry of Time'. Then I shot two films, 'Domino', the latest film by Brian De Palma, and 'Sin ti', by the Alenda brothers, with Javier Rey and María León. And, last year, I started working in Mexico on the 'Luis Miguel' series of Netflix. And very happy.

- How did it feel working with Brian De Palma?
-It was the best experience of my life. I came across a casting that I did not expect at all. It was an incredible shoot and very special days for me. The action scene I had to do was complicated. We needed a specialist. When we finished, Brian De Palma told us that he was very happy with how the scene turned out, given that he was very worried about the little time he had. It was night and there were a lot of extras, not to mention the difficulty involved. So we had to solve it with few takes. And we got it. Therefore, the director congratulated us.


Posted by Geoff at 10:29 AM CDT
Updated: Sunday, August 26, 2018 10:42 AM CDT
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Saturday, August 25, 2018
GARRY PASTORE RECALLS SMALL ROLE IN 'CARLITO'S WAY'
COPACABANA NIGHTCLUB DANCEFLOOR DRAMA "VERY MEMORABLE" FOR ACTOR
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/dancefloordrama.jpg

Garry Pastore (second from the right in the screenshot above) reminisced yesterday on Instagram about his small role in Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way:
Spring 1993. My mother was in the hospital in grave health. I got a call to get up to the city to meet Brian DePalma, he wanted to see me and Cousin Vin for a scene to be shot at the Copacabana with Pacino and Penn. Well I went and so did Vin and the rest is history. Yeah it was a small scene, but all things considered a very memorable one! “Hey you! Yeah you spaghetti dick!” Amazing performances by Penn and Pacino.

trajectoryfilmsMy late cousin Greg played the guy that dances with Penelope Ann Miller in that scene.

trajectoryfilmsThat’s Greg on the left. He passed away about 15 yrs ago while doing a play at the Kennedy Center.

mafiachroniclesEpic! 🙌🏼

garry_pastore@trajectoryfilms oh damn I didn’t know he passed away. Great guy I remember him well. We were held captive in the Copa together for days. My sincerest condolences my friend


In the credits for the film, Pastore, billed as Garry Blackwood, is listed as a "Copa Wiseguy," as is his cousin, Vincent Pastore. Gregory Misciagno is listed as "Italian at Copa."

In a span of four years from 1989 to 1993, Pastore (then known as Garry Blackwood) appeared in movies by De Palma, Spike Lee (Do The Right Thing), Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas), and Robert De Niro (A Bronx Tale). Currently appearing on HBO's series The Deuce, Pastore will also be seen next year alongside Pacino and De Niro in Scorsese's The Irishman.


Posted by Geoff at 11:36 AM CDT
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Wednesday, August 22, 2018
GUTIERREZ' NEW FILM TAKES MORE VISUAL APPROACH
'ELIZABETH HARVEST' USES TOOLS OF HITCHCOCK, DE PALMA, KUBRICK, & LESS DIALOGUE
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/elizabethharvest2.jpgSebastian Gutierrez's Elizabeth Harvest was released a couple of weeks ago, and is described by MovieMaker's Grant Vance as a "trippy, colorful genre mashup." Gutierrez tells Vance that he set out to make a movie that would be more visually-oriented and less dialogue-driven than his previous films:
Grant Vance, MovieMaker Magazine: One of my Favorite aspects of Elizabeth Harvest was your handle of the atmosphere and tone. How do you develop and maintain that atmospheric tone as a writer and director when dealing with something so genre-oriented?

Sebastian Gutierrez: The last four movies that I directed were so small I hardly have a set. I had actors, and I had to rely on dialogue. I made very character-driven films. So it became really important for me that the next movie I made, even if I didn’t have a big budget, would have camera moves, and sound and music put together. The story of Elizabeth Harvest was written with that in mind. The script has a lot less dialogue than stuff that I usually write.

I wanted to use tools that people like Hitchcock and De Palma and Kubrick use; have the camera to creep down corridors. Really creating that claustrophobic feel of being trapped inside a house was something the director of photography and I shot listed for very specifically. A lot of it is about a house that is set up for Elizabeth to look around and lose herself in. It was very important that we used the colors that we were concentrating on to make it all feel like a dream inside her mind that she’s moving through.

MM: Could you elaborate on the specifics? For instance, were your canted angles, vibrant colors and off-kilter framing all conceived within the script writing process?

SG: The color coding came about early on. Elizabeth Harvest is written so that every 20 minutes something switches in the story. This is opposed to a traditional three act structure. It’s basically a Russian doll structure of story inside a story inside a story. There’s a lot of time stuck in the past and I wanted it to feel less like a logical leap that you had to take and more like a visceral thing that you felt.

We decided that these very saturated colors—red, blue, green, and yellow—would represent different things in each of those scenes from the past. Not really what everyone represents exactly, but they were then parallel with the present day scene that had to do with that emotion with cyan and amber. It was a really good way for the actors and the director of photography and the production designer and myself to find our way through the story. Not to mention that it’s fun to play with really bold saturated colors.

MM: Can you touch on the idea of interloping different genres within Elizabeth Harvest? Jumping naturally from arthouse sci-fi to classic horror.

SG: From the very beginning I wanted to not make a horror movie. I love horror movies, I just didn’t want to only make a horror movie. The horror in Elizabeth Harvest is something much closer to European horror from the 60s and 70s. I’ve been making movies in this country for awhile, but i’m Venezuelan. My sensibilities have always been as a foreign filmmaker; very highly stylized and visual. That sort of Euro-horror that goes from the very cheap and clunky to the very arthouse sort of poetic horror like Eyes Without a Face are things that I’ve always really loved. The Blue Beard story is the bones of the story. It’s a very classic gothic love story, but this movie happens to be science fiction. I needed that to deal with [Elizabeth] differently than [her parallel] in the original Blue Beard story.

The notion of mixing genres is simply that it’s very hard to do a movie that’s just one genre in the post-modern world. The hard part is grabbing things from different genres and understanding that there’s a portion of the audience that won’t like you subverting those rules. There’s a version of this movie that’s straight up horror—which isn’t a bad notion—but it’s much less interested in developing how these characters ended up here. Everyone knows exactly what happens in this story. When someone says “Go everywhere except the one room!” I wanted to get that out of the way immediatly.

MM: Does the Blue Beard influence mingle with an other direct story references? I was sensing a sadistic God complex in Henry viewing Elizabeth as his Eve, in a sense.

SG: There’s a sub genre of mad scientist movies that I love that are usually less concerned with the mad scientist setting out to be god. They’re more interested in the mad scientists doing the wrong thing for love. It’s like Hitchcock would say: “I’m not interested in who done it. I’m interested in what done it.”

MM: I really enjoyed the utilization of split screen; an editing technique with a post-modern sensibility. From a directorial standpoint what are the advantages of using this editing style?

SG: One was for practical purposes, since the audience has already seen this. The second suspenseful one came out of wanting to take a crack at that and have fun with it. Split screens are something that I’ve always wanted to do. Brian De Palma is an absolute master at them, especially in the great, great greta, film Sisters. People like John Frankenheimer. Filmmakers used them awhile back in the 60s and 70s and then people kind of stopped.

Both of those split screen scenes in the movie were in the script, but they’re different once you’re shooting them. Your mind doesn’t work that way. The funny thing with split screen is that you can’t see everything at the same time, so you’re making connections to be able to leap from one thing to another. It’s a bit of a trap to make it make perfect sense. And that’s what I like it about it. It works on a purely visceral level and it can really add suspense. It’s a stylized if you marry it to the right kind of music. You can feel that giddiness. That’s my favorite thing in Spielberg movies, when you’re smiling because it’s a very “movie” moment. But mostly it’s a trick that you’re playing to your brain as you’re watching the thing, and if it works you’re really dragging out the suspense.


Posted by Geoff at 11:41 PM CDT
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