Hello and welcome to the unofficial Brian De Palma website.
Here is the latest news:

De Palma a la Mod


De Palma Discussion


Recent Headlines
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


« September 2018 »
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29


De Palma interviewed
in Paris 2002

De Palma discusses
The Black Dahlia 2006


De Palma Community

The Virtuoso
of the 7th Art

The De Palma Touch

The Swan Archives

Carrie...A Fan's Site


No Harm In Charm

Paul Schrader

Alfred Hitchcock
The Master Of Suspense

Alfred Hitchcock Films

Snake Eyes
a la Mod

Mission To Mars
a la Mod

Sergio Leone
and the Infield
Fly Rule

Movie Mags


The Filmmaker Who
Came In From The Cold

Jim Emerson on
Greetings & Hi, Mom!

Scarface: Make Way
For The Bad Guy

The Big Dive
(Blow Out)

Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
Official Web Site

The Phantom Project

Welcome to the
Offices of Death Records

The Carlito's Way
Fan Page

The House Next Door

Kubrick on the

FilmLand Empire

Astigmia Cinema


Cultural Weekly

A Lonely Place

The Film Doctor


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


No Time For
Love, Dr. Jones!

The former
De Palma a la Mod

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.
All topics
Ambrose Chapel
Are Snakes Necessary?
Bart De Palma
Beaune Thriller Fest
Becoming Visionary
Betty Buckley
Bill Pankow
Black Dahlia
Blow Out
Blue Afternoon
Body Double
Bonfire Of The Vanities
Boston Stranglers
Bruce Springsteen
Capone Rising
Carlito's Way
Casualties Of War
Catch And Kill
Cinema Studies
Clarksville 1861
Columbia University
Columbo - Shooting Script
Conversation, The
Daft Punk
Dancing In The Dark
David Koepp
De Niro
De Palma & Donaggio
De Palma (doc)
De Palma Blog-A-Thon
De Palma Discussion
Demolished Man
Dick Vorisek
Dionysus In '69
Dressed To Kill
Edward R. Pressman
Eric Schwab
Fatal Attraction
Femme Fatale
Film Series
Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Fury, The
Genius of Love
George Litto
Get To Know Your Rabbit
Ghost & The Darkness
Happy Valley
Havana Film Fest
Hi, Mom!
Home Movies
Inspired by De Palma
Iraq, etc.
Jared Martin
Jerry Greenberg
Keith Gordon
Key Man, The
Laurent Bouzereau
Lights Out
Magic Hour
Magnificent Seven
Mission To Mars
Mission: Impossible
Montreal World Film Fest
Mr. Hughes
Murder a la Mod
Nancy Allen
Nazi Gold
Newton 1861
Noah Baumbach
Oliver Stone
Paranormal Activity 2
Parties & Premieres
Paul Hirsch
Paul Schrader
Pauline Kael
Peet Gelderblom
Phantom Of The Paradise
Pino Donaggio
Prince Of The City
Print The Legend
Raggedy Ann
Raising Cain
Red Shoes, The
Responsive Eye
Rie Rasmussen
Robert De Niro
Rotwang muß weg!
Sean Penn
Sensuous Woman, The
Snake Eyes
Sound Mixer
Star Wars
Stepford Wives
Stephen H Burum
Sweet Vengeance
Taxi Driver
The Tale
To Bridge This Gap
Toronto Film Fest
Treasure Sierra Madre
Tru Blu
Truth And Other Lies
TV Appearances
Untitled Ashton Kutcher
Untitled Hollywood Horror
Untitled Industry-Abuse M
Venice Beach
Vilmos Zsigmond
Wedding Party
William Finley
Wise Guys
Woton's Wake
Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile
You are not logged in. Log in
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/herbpacheco.jpgPaul Williams posted the following on Twitter earlier tonight:
Herb Pacheco has passed at 88. If you saw Phantom of the Paradise you may remember him as Swan's bodyguard. For decades he had my back. Road manager, Security, babysitter. A former stuntman and gifted co-conspirator, he'd introduce himself as my fencing instructor. Loved him.🙏🏻

Posted by Geoff at 11:07 PM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink | Share This Post
Sunday, September 23, 2018
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/snakessmall.jpgYonca Talu has a brief review of Brian De Palma and Susan Lehman's novel Are Snakes Necessary? in the September/October 2018 issues of Film Comment:
The book surveys the contemporary American sociopolitical landscape through a mordant, erotically charged tale of corruption and revenge inspired by the sex scandal involving ex-senator and presidential candidate John Edwards. Are Snakes Necessary? is rooted not in serious literary aspirations but in the sheer pleasure of its twisted conspiratorial world that ensnares the reader in an anxious web of doubt by constantly toying with the boundaries between artifice and authenticity.

Permeated with allusions to his filmography, De Palma's first novel is as much a thematic as a formal extension of his cinematic preoccupations. The fragmented, labyrinthine structure presents itself as a novelistic equivalent of split-screen: each chapter espouses a different point of view and drives the ensemble narrative toward a theatrically orchestrated, morbid conclusion whose swift perspective shifts echo the filmmaker's experiments with intercutting and the failed heroism of Blow Out (1981).

The storytelling efficacy of De Palma's project lies in its ability to intimately chart the characters' deteriorating inner lives as the lines between hunter and prey dissolve. This toxic duplicity is counterbalanced by Fanny Cours, a student videographer who emerges as the epitome of idealistic innocence in her efforts to unearth vestiges of purity within Lee Rogers, the rotten, adulterous middle-aged politician she falls in love with while working for his campaign. But when the masks come off, what remains beneath the comforting illusion of romantic symbiosis is the insatiable narcissistic yearning for adulation.

Posted by Geoff at 4:59 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, September 23, 2018 5:08 PM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Friday, September 21, 2018

Sam Levinson's Assassination Nation opened in theaters today, and most reviews, positive or negative, seem to mention a single-take sequence of one kind or another, often mentioning Brian De Palma, and sometimes mentioning Gaspar Noé. So, here we go:

Armond White, National Review

Levinson surveys social and political controversies such as narcissism, waterboarding, and 4Chan extortion as sick jokes, but he fails to provide comic relief. A feminist gag about remaking Straw Dogs bombs: “Instead of Susan George being raped, it’s Dustin Hoffman.” “Hasn’t Nancy Meyers already done that?” It’s self-congratulatory and presumes Millennials’ unlikely cultural savvy. Through Levinson’s own cultural arrogance, the middle-class double standards look just like the banal American Beauty, and his vision of political turmoil turns into The Purge. Anarchists and lynch mobs wear masks atop masks, leading to the siege of a black family’s home staged in laughably blood-spattered imitation of De Palma’s Scarface. The capper is Lily’s declaration against hypocrisy: “Don’t take your hate out on me; I just got here!”

Rob Thomas, The Capital Times
Eventually, and unconvincingly, they focus on Lily, and the second half of “Assassination Nation” becomes straight-on horror as Lily and her friends try to escape the vigilante mob and, eventually, turn the tables on them. Levinson shoots the violence with a lot of style and energy — there’s a brilliantly staged single-take shot of a house under siege, the camera panning from one window to another, that seems a clear homage to Brian De Palma’s “Blow Out.”

But under the style there’s not much to “Assassination Nation,” and the film’s attempts at making some larger point about mob mentality or the destructive power of social media — usually a speech by one character with an American flag strategically placed in the background — feel forced. Like in the “Purge” movies, “Nation” is a commentary on how horrible other people are, while reassuring the audience that we’re not anything like that.

The film’s attempts to tie its mayhem to the #MeToo movement at the end feel about as heartfelt as Kendall Jenner joining the protesters in that Pepsi commercial. Oh, and if you don’t know who Kendall Jenner is, “Assassination Nation” is definitely not for you.

Nick Schager, Film Journal International
Masked men are soon forming posses and hunting for fresh meat—female, in particular, which shifts Assassination Nation’s focus away from pricking modern online paradigms and toward cultural misogyny. Lily, Sarah, Em and Bex (who’s transgender) are cast as prey and, afterwards, as noble avenging feminist angels. Alas, their persecution at the hands of Charlottesville-esque white psychos (highlighted by a sub-Brian De Palma-style sequence shot from outside a home’s windows) might have had more bite had Levinson not first spent so much time depicting his heroines as thoroughly awful. As with an upside-down image of a bat-wielding girl standing on the American flag while stalking cheerleaders practicing an eroticized routine in a darkened gym, everything here is laughably underlined in a vain attempt to Say Something Meaningful about contemporary teenagerdom and America. The only thing conveyed by this wildly moralizing, exhaustingly edgy film, however, is its own shock-tactic self-love.

Adam Nayman, Cinema Scope
The red, white and blue split-screen that showcases the horny, house-partying girls of Assassination Nation is the first—and maybe best—bit of neo-Godardian gamesmanship in Sam (son of Barry) Levinson’s state-of-the-union horror comedy. Suffice it to say that there are more plausible candidates to make satire great again than the guy who directed The Wizard of Lies, to say nothing of the fact that this ostensibly anti-misogynist plunge into distaff objectification and abjection, with incessant sexual violence (and jokes about rape jokes!) is written and directed by a white dude—a well-meaning one, to be sure, one who has read his Arthur Miller and duly reduced its essence to emoji-style bullet points.

So, sad face: after half the population of the city of Salem has its data hacked by an Anonymous-style e-terrorist, the men turn on the hot, horny high-school girls who’ve so shamelessly inflamed their desires via their Instagrammed existences. It’s a clever set-up, permitting the ticking of various politically correct boxes while exalting in all kinds of wretched excess, hence the entirely smug “trigger warnings” that frame the proceedings (an conceit worthy of Gaspar Noé, and all that that implies). But the more that Assassination Nation tries to be about everything—hysteria, hypocrisy, media hypnosis and, of course, Donald Trump—it sacrifices precious specificities of character and context. Plus, casting Joel McHale as the Purge-masked face of toxic masculinity isn’t as effective as, say, unleashing James Franco in Spring Breakers (yet another film that Levinson is chasing without quite catching up to). Everything you need to know about this film is contained in its most self-consciously bravura sequence, an extended, single-take home invasion that’s at once accomplished, self-impressed, sadistic, and redundant.

Jordan Raup (from Sundance last January), The Film Stage
Throughout the scattered build-up and visceral release, Levinson has plenty of ostentatious touches, some of which work better than others. During a party, he breaks down the frame into a triptych in a perceptive comment on how what should be an intimate experience is distilled into vertically-oriented, social media-ready clips apt for public digital consumption. Less effective is a single take which floats around the house as the town zeroes in on their victims. By the fifth or sixth minute, it’s clear more tension would have been felt if this was simply a well-executed series of shots inside the home.

And finally, the hosts of Build Weekend Watch end up their discussion of Levinson's film with an off-the-cuff discussion of De Palma, in which each one picks their favorite De Palma film-- and between the three of them, they manage to pick my three favorite ones... although Camilleri needs to go back and look at the pointed police station exposition scene in Raising Cain again, for sure...
Ethan Alter: There is one scene that sort of summarizes the movie, to me, and what it does well and what it mostly doesn't, is there's a long set-piece, with a bunch of Purge-like points (where everything's broken down), the townspeople are attacking the teenage girls who are running. And they're attacked at their house-- the scene is done sort of halfway between Brian De Palma and Gaspar Noé, with a lot of upside down camerawork, trying to do all-in-one-shot Steadicam where you can sort of see where they cut, but they're trying to create the impression of it all being a single-take. It should be, again, a three-minute sequence. They drag it out for eight minutes. And at that point, at about the five-minute mark, you're like, oh, okay, they're just showing off.

Ricky Camilleri: Sounds like Brian De Palma.

Ethan Alter: Yeah, there is truth in that.

Karen Han: I love him, though!

Ricky Camilleri: I love Brian De Palma, but there is definitely a sense, of, you know... Raising Cain is a movie where there are some one-shot wonders in there. Like, this is about nine minutes of just floating through a police station for literally no reason, but... God love ya, keep it up, man.

Ethan Alter: Yeah.

Ricky Camilleri: And the thing with Gaspar Noé, I love Gaspar Noé, and I love the upside down camerawork, and I love when he shocks. Because I feel like all of the things that he is doing, is, he's not putting anything on, he's just naturally who he is, and he can't help it. Love him or hate him, that's what he's going to do. It's not like he walked into a room and said, "Oh, I'm gonna be like this director." Whereas this director seems like he may have done that, and said, "Gaspar Noé." Want to move onto the next movie, guys? What do you think? Got more about Assassination Nation? We good? You wanna just talk about Brian De Palma for a little while?

Ethan Alter: Yeah, we could do that.

Ricky Camilleri: What's your favorite Brian De Palma movie?

Karen Han: Phantom Of The Paradise. Absolutely.

Ethan Alter: Oooh, good choice. Good choice.

Ricky Camilleri: Okay, we'll throw some rocks right now. What's your favorite De Palma?

Ethan Alter: It's cliché, but Carrie. Carrie is just, proto-Stephen King, proto-seventies horror, it's great. It still plays well.

Ricky Camilleri: I'd go Blow Out. The fireworks sequence in Blow Out, with the camera going around, is incredibly beautiful. I saw it for the first time on the big screen and it blew my mind.

Posted by Geoff at 10:35 PM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Thursday, September 20, 2018

For "Throwback Thursday," Rita Wilson tweeted a YouTube video of the post-title opening Steadicam shot of Brian De Palma's The Bonfire Of The Vanities. The shot was so complicated, De Palma had to cameo as a security guard in order to direct it (see the capture above). Here's what Wilson posted today on Twitter:
#tbt This used to be the longest steadicam shot ever. It’s since been eclipsed.Bonfire of the Vanities dir. By Brian de Palma.We shot All night in Twin Towers.So many rehearsals.I was 6 months pregnant.Amazing shot.

Posted by Geoff at 6:30 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2018 6:31 PM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Saturday, September 15, 2018

John C. Reilly sat down for several interviews last week at the Toronto International Film Festival to promote Jacques Audiard's The Sisters Brothers, which Reilly stars in (with Joaquin Phoenix) and also co-produced with his wife, Alison Dickey. At least two of those TIFF interviews have led to some discussion about Reilly's film debut in Brian De Palma's Casualties Of War (which Sony has just released on Blu-ray for the first time, but not with the extended director's cut). Here are a couple of links and excerpts:

David Edelstein, Vulture

When you hear stuff like this, you can understand why directors liked working with Reilly right from the beginning and why Sean Penn, of all people, suggested De Palma give Reilly a lead role in Casualties of War. “I think Sean saw something that I always aspire to be,” says Reilly: “Guileless.”

The Casualties story is amazing. After graduating from the Theatre School at DePaul University, Reilly worked at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre, then flew to Thailand to be a “day player” in De Palma’s war film. When a supporting actor was fired, Reilly got a bigger part. After flying home to the U.S., he learned another actor had been fired and De Palma and Penn wanted him back to play one of the leads. He’d missed the last flight of the day going west across the Pacific, so he flew, he says, “across America, across the Atlantic, over to Asia, and then down back down to Bangkok,” where he was promptly whisked to the set, given a haircut and a costume, and escorted to a rice paddy, where he had to pretend to snooze and be jarred awake.

I ask what he thinks they saw in him, and he tells me about the days in “a weird conference room” in a Thai hotel: “It’s full of guys trying to out-impress each other, because Sean sets a high bar. The two guys that got fired were doing that shit: ‘I’ll out-Method you. I’ll outdrink you after work. I’ll fucking say something insulting to you because you think you’re such a fucking hotshot actor.’ I’m like, ‘Guys, What are you doing? Are you insane? You can’t say that to that person. Aren’t we trying to put on a play?’ ”

“A play,” as in what he was doing in Chicago, where actors who pull out-Method-you shit don’t last. “You’re not going to get discovered in Chicago,” he says, “the way you might in New York or L.A., so that takes some of the pressure off. You’re part of an ensemble. You’re there to play.” In that Bangkok hotel, he says, he was ready to do anything. “I’d go nuts. I’d read not just my part but an old Vietnamese man or whoever wasn’t there. ‘Have John do it,’ they’d say.” Penn was so taken with Reilly’s gung ho spirit that he recommended Reilly for parts in We’re No Angels (1989) and State of Grace (1990). As a bonus, on Casualties Reilly met Dickey. She was Penn’s assistant.

Mike Ryan, UPROXX
Speaking of more relevance, you’re never going to admit to this, but it felt like you were making a statement in this movie. I looked and 26 of your first 27 movies were dramas.

That never occurred to me. When my wife read me that part of that review, I was like, “Wow, that’s amazing. I should start using that line: Well, I made 26 before I did any comedies!”

I feel like you’re on screen going, look, I can carry a drama Western, how about that?

You know, the truth is, I don’t really have to remind people. My work has a lot of variety to it and the last few things I’ve done haven’t been comedy. And even though, like you say, the first 26 movies I did were not necessarily thought of as comedies, but I was often a funnier character. Even my first movie, Casualties of War, he’s a funny character within a very serious movie.

That was on TV the other day and I was shocked when you showed up in it.

Yeah, it was the first time I was on an airplane! The first time I left the country. It was a surreal time.

Your first director was Brian De Palma.

I know, Sean Penn and all these people. The thing is, I would never lecture an audience (over not being remembered for dramatic work).

It would be funny if you did. “Look, people…”

“You forgot!” No, because the truth is, I actually feel really grateful to audiences. Because actors often get stereotyped into things and it’s not their fault. It’s often because an audience wants people to be a certain way. They find you really appealing when you play this kind of role and they want that over and over again. And I feel really lucky and grateful that, over the years, the audiences allowed me to be all these different things. So even though certain kinds of moviegoers might know me for comedy, it just depends what you’re into. At this point, I’ve made almost 80 movies or something. So the chance is that I’ve made some kind of movie that you like at some point in my life.

Posted by Geoff at 7:46 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, September 15, 2018 7:48 PM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (5) | Permalink | Share This Post
Friday, September 14, 2018
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/sistersarrowcriterionblu.jpg"I am getting used to the new colors and appreciate the vibrancy and texture," states Gary Tooze at DVD Beaver. Tooze has captures from the upcoming Criterion Blu-ray edition of Brian De Palma's Sisters, and the comment above, regarding the tendency of recent Criterion releases to have a sort of teal tint, comes from Tooze's review of the upcoming release (October 23rd). You can visit the link above to see comparisons between the previous Criterion DVD release, Arrow's Blu-ray edition from 2014, and the new Criterion Blu-ray. Meanwhile, here's what Tooze writes about the new edition at DVD Beaver:
Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - September 2018 - The Criterion is advertised as a "New 4K digital restoration, approved by director Brian De Palma". The differences with the 2014 Arrow 1080P are, surprisingly, extensive. The Criterion is in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio (as opposed to opened-up 1.78:1 of the UK rendering), showing more information on the sides and less on the top and bottom. It also shows much more grain and has some unpleasant teal/green infiltration that some may not appreciate. Colors do shift - jackets/suits that were blue on the Arrow shift to a more grey palette. Colors, like reds, are generally deeper and richer - flesh tones are warmer with a tinge of orange. It, likewise, has a max'ed out bitrate and I was expecting both to offer a similar presentation. I like the appearance because of the advanced texture and on the 65" OLED it diffuses the teal/green cast... but every system may be different. I am getting used to the new colors and appreciate the vibrancy and texture.

Also a linear PCM mono (24-bit) track. The lossless easily handles the effects and the typical powerfulc score by the great Bernard Herrmann (Beneath the 12-Mile Reef, Cape Fear, The Magnificent Ambersons, Taxi Driver, The Wrong Man, etc. etc.). It sounds the same as the Arrow according to my crusty ears. There are, also, optional English (SDH) subtitles on the Region 'A' Blu-ray disc.

Criterion add new supplements from their own 2000 DVD. There is a new, 24-minute, interview with actor Jennifer Salt (intrepid Grace Collier in Sisters) and she talks about being at school, meeting De Palma and how she got the role in the film etc. There are 27-minutes worth of interviews from 2004 with De Palma, actors Bill Finley and Charles Durning, editor Paul Hirsch, and producer Edward R. Pressman and the director is always thoughtful and attentive. You can watch the film with 1.5 hours worth of an audio discussion from a 1973 with De Palma at the American Film Institute. It can be a shade hushed but the director's fans will appreciate its inclusion and his observations. We get a 9-minute appearance from 1970 by actor Margot Kidder on The Dick Cavett Show, a length slideshow photo gallery and 3.5 minutes of radio spots. The package has an essay by critic Carrie Rickey, excerpts from a 1973 interview with De Palma on the making of the film, and a 1973 article by the director on working with composer Bernard Herrmann.

We always are in favor of different packages - it's great to have choices. The Criterion Blu-ray promotes reflection on their director-approved image and offers rewarding new extras. This film gets better each time I see it. Recommended!

Posted by Geoff at 8:19 AM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink | Share This Post
Friday, September 7, 2018

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

#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
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

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
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Monday, September 3, 2018

"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
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Saturday, September 1, 2018

Posted by Geoff at 10:13 PM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink | Share This Post