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


« December 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
30 31


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
Eric Schwab
Fatal Attraction
Femme Fatale
Film Series
Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Fury, The
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
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
Tuesday, December 4, 2018
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/miabriandepalmafilm.jpgMoviefone's Phil Pirrello asks Christopher McQuarrie how he selects which clips to use in the opening titles of his two Mission: Impossible movies. "That's a really good question," McQuarrie responds. "If you look at the first Mission: Impossible -- Brian De Palma's -- he shows you every one of the characters that dies in the movie, in the order in which they die."

This is not exactly true -- De Palma's opening credits appear to mimic the opening credit sequences of the TV show it is based on, with the purpose of settling the audience into the idea that these characters are ours, the IMF, the team we are going to follow throughout the film. Little does the first-time viewer (especially in 1996) suspect that the film is going to pull that rug out, devastatingly, fairly early on. All that said, there are key shots included in De Palma's opening titles that do show the death-blows in close-up (the knife stabbed through the gate, or the computer keyboard stroke that controls parts in the elevator shaft), shortly after showing the respective characters that fall victim to those blows. It's not exactly in the same order in which they die in the movie, yet I think what McQuarrie is getting at is that the opening credit sequence cleverly shows these details without giving anything away.

"Yeah," McQuarrie continues to tell Pirrello, "if you watch it you'll see there's actually a storytelling motif going through it. I only noticed it around the time I was making Rogue and we were rewatching it and looking through those credits.

"I remember when, on Ghost Protocol, Brad Bird... he had a whole idea of shooting misdirections within his titles. Getting shots specifically for the opening titles that were slightly different -- from a different angle of a piece of action. And you learn very quickly you don't have time to get those. You're racing very quickly, always trying to beat the clock, and you run out of time. And what I did when I came to it was -- we found these guys called Filmograph -- an amazing video effects house in Los Angeles -- and they came and sent us two concepts for the titles [for Rogue]. And I liked both concepts so much, I said: "You know what? We're gonna use both concepts. One at the beginning, and one at the end." And they absolutely nailed it. They did it so well, they got two jobs out of it. And out of that, that's where we developed the 'curtain call.' The idea of seeing the characters come back at the end of the movie. And that was something unique to Rogue and then Fallout. In fact, it's the only connection -- stylistically -- that Fallout has in common with Rogue.

"So what we do -- [Editor] Eddie Hamilton and I -- we say to Filmograph: 'You tell the story back to us [in the opening titles].' And we give them the whole movie. And they take little clips and they throw things at us and we throw things back at them. And we more or less feel our way through it by the energy the images are giving off. And how they are juxtaposed. And we like to do at least one giveaway in the credits. We like to do one thing where we are tipping our hand a bit. If you're paying attention, there's a little bit of a spoiler in there."

Posted by Geoff at 10:36 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, December 4, 2018 10:41 PM CST
Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink | Share This Post
Monday, December 3, 2018
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/rotwang1.jpgSomething about Hans-Christoph Blumenberg's Rotwang muß weg! (1994) must have impressed Brian De Palma, because he agreed to appear in the German satire, billed in the credits as the "famous American movie director." The film itself has always been hard-to-find, but I located the images included in this post at Zweitausendeins. The film, also known as To Hell With Rotwang! and just plain Rotwang, was described by Blumenberg as a "the first German recession comedy," as it was shot in only 13 days on a minimal budget, using private homes of cast and crew as locations. Described as an impetuous and irreverent farce about the German film industry, the film casts a big star, Armin Mueller-Stahl, as its title character, but saves money by never showing his face (he apparently narrates from the grave, from what I can gather, having not seen the film itself). Six years later, De Palma would cast Mueller-Stahl in an uncredited role as a NASA commander in Mission To Mars.

Rotwang also includes a scene that quotes Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin and De Palma's The Untouchables with a pram on a stairwell in a park in which Rotwang's possible murderers (forgot to mention, as the movie opens, Rotwang has been shot dead, and he had many enemies) are lurking on their victim. The funny low-budget catch is that the screaming baby is actually a Sony tape recorder that is easily switched off. Rotwang also alludes to Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park, but the dinosaurs are plastic. Elsewhere, actor Udo Kier complains to the director of his "harsh tone," Blumenberg consistently urges his actresses to bare their breasts for the camera, and the German voice-actor who usually dubs the voice of Woody Allen is sometimes heard giving off-screen stage directions. Receiving mostly positive reviews as a biting satire full of political tension and darkly absurd humor, the film was originally advertised with the tagline, "Monty Python meets the Red Army Faction."

Posted by Geoff at 12:00 AM CST
Updated: Monday, December 3, 2018 5:12 PM CST
Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink | Share This Post
Saturday, December 1, 2018

Robert De Niro was handed an honorary tribute award by none other than Martin Scorsese Saturday at the Marrakech International Film Festival. "We made our first film together, I think it was over 45 years ago... One of the great blessings of my life," said De Niro, according to an AFP report at France 24. The report adds that while handing De Niro the award, Scorsese joked, "What would this be? The mid-point of his career? It is probably more accurate to say the peak of his career but then this guy has more peaks than the Atlas mountains."

According to Variety's Elsa Keslassy, De Niro was fighting back tears while stating the above. Keslassy's report continues:

De Niro went on to draw parallels between his own Tribeca Film Festival and Marrakech Film Festival, both of which were born in 2001, “in the shadow of the tragic events of September 11” and have always strived to bring people together and – in the case of Marrakech fest – “serve as an inter-cultural bridge between nations.”

The Oscar-winning actor concluded his speech with a stringent criticism towards the current U.S. government.

“Sadly, in my country, we’re going through a period of grotesque version of nationalism. Not the kind of nationalism where we celebrate the quality and character of our diverse population; but rather a diabolic form of nationalism marked by greed, xenophobia and selfishness under the banner of ‘America First,'” said De Niro, who didn’t name the U.S. President in his speech.

“This stands in contrast with what brings us tonight. The arts don’t respect borders (…), the arts celebrate diversity, origins and ideas. Look at us here tonight we’re enjoying films from 29 countries; we’re united in our love for films and our common humanity,” added De Niro, drawing repeated ovations and cheers from the audience.

Scorsese introduced De Niro’s tribute with a moving, funny and vibrant speech in which he paid homage to actor’s “amazing body of work” before showing a sprawling and meticulous selection of clips – some of which were entire scenes — from De Niro’s films divided by themes cleverly titled “razor’s edge,” “touchable,” “lovestruck,” “once upon a time in America” and “king of comedy.”

Reflecting on De Niro’s unique talent, Scorsese said he had the “uncanny ability to get the viewer to empathize with some really horrific characters” and draw the viewer “to the humanity inside the monster.”

“Bob was in eight of my first 15 non-documentary features and we took on some pretty rough subjects in those pictures and Bob played some tough characters — psychopaths, sociopaths, every kind of paths you can think of (…) and he always conveys the audience not to judge.”

Scorsese also took the opportunity to pay homage to Bernardo Bertolucci. “He was and is and always will be a constant inspiration to me and I believe to so many others (…). I’m shocked and saddened about his passing.”

Both Scorsese and De Niro were greeted like rock stars by the Marrakech festival crowd and took time to sign autographs for locals outside of the gala venue.

On Sunday, there will be free open-air screenings of Brian De Palma's The Untouchables and Scorsese's Kundun on Marrakech’s Jemaa el-Fnaa square. Also on Sunday, Scorsese will present a masterclass at the festival.

The festival opened Friday night with a gala screening of At Eternity's Gate, presented by director/painter Julian Schnabel, along with co-writer and editor Louise Kugelberg and two actors from the film. Guillermo de Toro, who had conducted a Q&A with last month with Schnabel and star Willem Dafoe at the Body Double house in Hollywood Hills, was in attendance Friday, and will also present a masterclass at the festival.

Posted by Geoff at 11:51 PM CST
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Sunday, November 25, 2018
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/phantomjoachimroncinsmall.jpgJoachim Roncin, who creates alternative movie posters at VideoClub, created this poster for Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise. The poster is included in a new expo of Roncin's work that opened November 22nd, and runs through December 2nd at Paris' Galerie 121. "Even though I discovered very lately this movie," Roncin states on the VideoClub website, "I was in total shock with the art direction of the movie, the costume, the music, etc…"

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CST
Updated: Monday, November 26, 2018 12:17 AM CST
Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink | Share This Post
Wednesday, November 21, 2018

"Once upon a time," Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh has said, "TONTO represented the cutting edge of artificial intelligence in the world of music." Created 50 years ago in 1968 by Malcom Cecil and Robert Margouleff, TONTO was and remains the largest synthesizer in the world, according to the National Music Center (NMC), which has just completed a restoration of the instrument. Winslow is seen prominently playing TONTO in Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise, although, as mentioned on The Swan Archives' Production page, we do not "hear sounds actually generated by TONTO in the film, where it's used only for its striking appearance."

TONTO is further described at The Swan Archives:

"It's a Series III Moog modular synthesizer, which Cecil expanded with modules from Moog, Arp, Oberheim, and others. It was used by Stevie Wonder on several albums, and is also heard on records by Quincy Jones, Bobby Womack, The Isley Brothers, Gil Scott-Heron and Weather Report, Steven Stills, The Doobie Brothers, Dave Mason, Little Feat, and Joan Baez. All those dials and jacks on the walls are actually part of the thing, and not some set-designer's fantasy."


"In 2013, the National Music Centre (NMC) acquired TONTO for their working musical instrument collection and the famous synthesizer was moved to Calgary to be restored for use," Beatroute's David Daley wrote ahead of TONTO Week. He continued:

In conjunction with the Alberta Electronic Music Festival, NMC is celebrating the completion of TONTO’s restoration with TONTO week, a series of events running November 14-18 that includes which include a rare screening of the cult film that helped make TONTO famous.

The Phantom of the Paradise is many things at once: a mind-bending horror film, rock opera, tragedy, love story, comedy and a cautionary tale for us mere mortals. There’s a reason why the movie ran almost constantly for a year in Winnipeg after it first opened and has earned permanent die-hard cult status around the world: it’s a damn good film.

Legendary director Brian DePalma both wrote and directed the story, drawing from the classic tales of Faust, The Phantom of the Opera and The Picture of Dorian Grey. Rod Serling of the surreal TV show The Twilight Zone narrates an eerie introduction explaining how the music mogul Swan seeks the music to open his new rock palace “the Paradise” with: “..this film is the story of that search, of that sound, of the man who made it, the girl who sang it and the monster who stole it.”

Winslow Leach is a brilliant composer. Swan steals his masterpiece cantata and sends him to jail on false charges. Leach escapes from prison and is horribly injured and believed dead after he tries to destroy the pop-music pressings of the music swan stole from him. Things heat up when a lurking phantom kills the Paradise’s opening act “Beef” in a horrible onstage spectacle. The story get even stranger after that.

The diminutive Paul Williams (who also plays Swan in the film) wrote the music and lyrics for the soundtrack at the height of his song-writing career and each tune is quite successful on its own. Blistering rock performances by Swan’s musical incantation “The Undead” leave more than a few people chopped up afterwards. The chanteuse Phoenix sings a hauntingly beautiful love ballad after Beef is cooked alive onstage. Immediately an instant star, Phoenix is seduced by Swan which creates a love-triangle that doesn’t end well at all.

Don’t be thrown off by the movie’s campy 1970s aesthetic or apparent simplicity, this is a film lover’s film of the highest order with strong visual symbolism and a rich sub-text. It’s a dark parody and venomous critique of the star-making schemes of greedy producers and well worth seeing on the big screen. Love and death, hope and despair, doom and redemption all await the viewer in this unique rock and roll horror phantasy.


TONTO: The 50-Year Saga of the Synth Heard on Stevie Wonder Classics
by Martin Porter & David Goggin, Rolling Stone

It was during that same period that TONTO had its Hollywood close-up. TONTO and Record Plant Studio B are featured in several key scenes in Brian De Palma’s 1974 cult movie Phantom of the Paradise, in which a Phil Spector–like producer (Paul Williams), imprisons and drugs a tormented Phantom (of the Rock Opera) composer until he completes his rock cantata. For fans like Rod Warkentin, organizer of Winnipeg, Canada’s annual Phantompalooza festival and Facebook page, “TONTO is like another character in the movie.” Following the film’s storyline in which the Phantom’s composition is purloined by its producer, Cecil was never paid for the use of TONTO, based on an unfulfilled promise that he could contribute to the movie’s score.

Posted by Geoff at 5:44 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, November 21, 2018 5:46 PM CST
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Sunday, November 18, 2018
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/stepfordfirstedition.jpgBrian De Palma has cited the dream sequence in Roman Polanski's adaptation of Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby as the key inspiration for the exposition sequence in Sisters. One can imagine De Palma's enthusiasm when, soon after, a producer (Edgar J. Sherick) let him read the screenplay for another Levin adaptation, The Stepford Wives, with hopes of De Palma directing. The screenplay was written by William Goldman, who, sadly, passed away last week at 87. For whatever reason, Goldman, according to Sherick, did not want De Palma to direct the picture, and threatened to leave the project if De Palma was hired. Somehow the film, released in 1975, ended up starring Katharine Ross, who had played the "Terrific-Looking Girl" in De Palma's first Hollywood foray, Get To Know Your Rabbit. British director Bryan Forbes directed the movie as we know it today, but it turns out that Forbes changed Goldman's "much more horrific" ending. Read the whole story below in this transcript from the film's 2001 DVD special feature "The Stepford Life"...
Peter Masterson (who played Walter) -- A friend of mine at the time, and still is, William Goldman, was writing the screenplay. And I had been aware of the work he'd been doing on it, because he was interviewing Betty Friedan and all the feminists of the time. That was a hotbed of feminism was the '70s, and the early '70s. So Bill set out to make this a feminist diatribe, basically. That was his goal.

Bryan Forbes: There was a draft, yes, by William Goldman, which I thought needed work on it, and so did Ed Sherick. He was, um, charming. He became, perhaps, progressively less charming. I don't think he likes directors, and he particularly doesn't like English directors, I don't think.

Edgar J. Sherick: Before Bryan Forbes came on... what the hell was the guy's name... Brian De Palma. I gave-- I liked Brian De Palma, because he'd done a picture called Sisters-- and I gave him the script to read it. He said to me, "This is my ticket to the big time." He loved it. So I said to Goldman, "I'd like to hire Brian De Palma." He said to me, "If you hire Brian De Palma, I don't want anything ever to do with the picture again!"

Bryan Forbes: I mean, it was a very good script, a very good draft that he'd done. But I felt it was capable of improvement...

Edgar J. Sherick: Bryan Forbes did some work on the script, much to Goldman's chagrin.

Peter Masterson: Bill and I were playing tennis one day, and he came and he said, "I just delivered the rewrite to Forbes." That afternoon, I had a meeting with Bryan, about something else, and he didn't know anything about it. He said, "Well, Goldman never turned in the script." I thought, wait a minute, Bill just told me he'd just turned in the script. What's going on here? And he says, "I'm gonna have to rewrite it myself."

Bryan Forbes: And finally I did a final shooting script myself. So there are lots of sacred and profane bits of me in that film, which are not Goldman.

Peter Masterson: And he was angry. he was a celebrated screenwriter, Academy Award winner as a screenwriter, and he didn't want somebody rewriting his material.

Bryan Forbes: He wrote a much more horrific ending, which I thought ran counter to the rest of the movie. So the ending was very greatly altered by me.

Edgar J. Sherick: He wanted to do something with the opening, which he did, and we actually shot Bryan Forbes' opening.

Bryan Forbes: I said when they leave the New York apartment, just before the credits start, the little girl, the daughter, says, "Daddy, I've just seen a man carrying a naked lady." And the father says, "Yes, that's why we're moving to Stepford." In retrospect, with hindsight, that has double meaning.

Peter Masterson: I remember one time, a little confrontation Bryan and I had on the set. It was a line I was supposed to say, "I was talking to some of the chaps on the train this morning." I said, "You know, I wouldn't say 'chaps'. Americans don't say that. That's an English thing." He said, "Well, what's wrong with saying it?" And I said, "Well, you wanna change it to the Twickenham Wives, it'd be all right.

Bryan Forbes: Well, we had a great deal of trouble casting the movie for various reasons. I suppose I must have interviewed 25 leading ladies, and for one reason or another, a lot of them fell by the wayside.

Peter Masterson: Bill Goldman's ideal model for it was Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper.

Bryan Forbes: I cast Diane Keaton. Had a great day with her, went over the script with her, how we'd do it, how we'd play it, etc. And she went off at 5 o'clock from my office, happy as a lark, as far as I was concerned. And the following morning about half past nine, she rang me and said, "I'm sorry, I'm not doing the movie." And I said, "Gosh, what happened between 5:30 and 9 o'clock this morning?" She said, "Well, I gave the script to my analyst, and he got very bad vibes from it, so I can't do it." I then tried to get Jean Seberg, but sadly she was close to doing what she did, because she committed suicide. And then another one was not allowed to do it for political reasons, because the money was coming from a big corporate company. And finally, and happily, I ended up with Katharine Ross.

[LATER in the doc...]

Bryan Forbes: William Goldman-- he wrote nasty things, and said that the lack of success of the film in America was entirely due to my casting Nanette [Newman, Forbes' wife], which I thought not only was a total exaggeration, because Nanette wasn't playing the lead anyway, and grossly rude, I thought... offensive.

Peter Masterson: And it also led to costuming the picture in a different way. The intent was that all the women in Stepford were Playboy bunnies. And because Nanette wouldn't have looked good in a Playboy bunny outfit or something like that, they wanted long dresses, which kind of toned down the whole thing.

Paula Prentiss: And I thought when he dressed us in the long dresses at the end, in the shopping market, that was great. Because it was kind of like Victorian dressing, which was the point-- you know, the point is women are still living in the Victorian Age, in a way.

Bryan Forbes: I don't mind what people say about me, but I'm like a tiger if anybody attacks my wife.

Peter Masterson: Yes, he was angry, and I don't think they spoke again. I could be wrong about that, but that's my guess.

[LATER in the doc...]

Peter Masterson: Bryan Forbes didn't know that I knew Bill Goldman. When we would shoot a scene, I would call Bill and say, "This is the scene. I can't remember what your original intent was." And he would tell me, "Well, you missed... if you could talk him into getting this back into the scene, try to do that. Bryan didn't know we were talking, and I couldn't tell him to put back stuff that was exactly like Bill had it, because he would suspect something, I think.


De Palma had a more recent brush with a William Goldman screenplay in 2012, when Jason Statham wanted De Palma to direct him in a new version of Goldman's Heat. A 1986 film adaptation of Goldman's novel, for which he also wrote the screenplay, starred Burt Reynolds. The troubled production went through six directors and many rewrites. It was said that the 2012 version, which again had Goldman attached as screenwriter, went back to Goldman's original version of the screenplay. A press release in 2012 described the film this way:

This tightly-wound, fun action-thriller, tells the story of a tough recovering gambling addict (Statham) who makes his living providing protection in the rough edges of the gambling world. Statham’s character refuses to resort to gunplay, strictly using hand and edged weapon combat. When a dear friend is brutally beaten by a high-rolling mobster, he helps her get her revenge and he ends up in more trouble than he ever imagined.

That year, De Palma made Passion with the help of screenwriter Natalie Carter, who had co-written the screenplay of the film Passion was based on, Alain Corneau's Love Crime. At some point, De Palma, feeling that the Las Vegas of today is nothing like it was when Goldman first came up with his story, had decided he wanted to set Heat in Nice, France, and was working on a revision of Goldman's screenplay with Carter. But it was not to be-- by the end of 2012, producers had insisted on setting the film in Las Vegas, and hired Simon West to direct.

Posted by Geoff at 11:47 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, November 18, 2018 11:53 PM CST
Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink | Share This Post
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/girlspidersweb.jpgAt last month's Rome Film Festival premiere of his new movie, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, Uruguayan director Fede Álvarez brought up Alfred Hitchcock and Brian De Palma as key inspirations for him as a filmmaker (his previous features are the Evil Dead remake and Don't Breathe). According to Cinecittà News' Nicole Bianchi and Artribune's Margherita Bordino, Álvarez said of adapting the fourth book in the Millennium series (which was written post-Stieg Larsson), "The main thing to do is not a comparison between book and film, but a personalized transposition, different from that of others. The fourth book was a 'Scandinavian Agatha Christie', a kind of crazy James Bond. I was very interested in the development of Lisbeth Salander."

Responding to the idea of Lisbeth Salander as superhero, Álvarez said, "I do not like superheroes, I find them oppressive: Lisbeth is presented as a superheroine, but then I try to expose her to perennial destruction. There is always an element of self-revelation in the character, so this inspires me, the fact that she is human in the end. This film has a tone that I think has a relationship with my previous ones, in particular the suspense of my last film. Hitchcock said to shoot a scene of love as if it were one of death, and vice versa, and here this suggestion was greatly followed. For me he is a master along with Brian De Palma."

Over at Polygon, Álvarez is asked by Matt Patches, "How do you know if you’re going too far into the perverse?" In answering this question, the director again brings up Hitchcock and De Palma: "Well, the MPAA will make sure you’re going too far [laughs], but when it comes to morals, I like to push the boundaries of taste. South Korean cinema is one of my favorites. And directors like Hitchcock or De Palma are the kind of the directors that I think I learned more from by watching their movies. Particularly De Palma, who is one of those guys that was never afraid to amp it up. Even the wardrobes are over the top.

I always like knowing that I really went for it, rather than thinking that, oh, I played that one too safe. There would never be a worse feeling to me in a movie than to think that I played it safe, that I was scared to go in too far. Actually, I look back at Evil Dead, Don’t Breathe and now this — I feel like an old conservative man! But I really try not to be afraid of going overboard."

Back at the Rome Film Festival, Álvarez told Lega Nerd's Gabriella Giliberti, "Undoubtedly I was inspired by the previous directors of this saga. I was in high school when I saw and loved David Fincher's film. He is a director I admire. I would not have imagined that in my life it would have happened that my name and his were put side by side in the same sentence. So surely there is a little bit of Fincher, but I went to the cinema of De Palma or Hitchcock more with this film. I was inspired by them because they are directors who have never been afraid to exaggerate, especially De Palma with his style a bit theatrical and 'operatic.' I did so, and every time I realized I had crossed the limit, I went even further in the scene. I didn't know if what I was doing would work but I still had to try it!"

Also at the festival, Álvarez talked to BadTaste's Gabriele Niola:

This saga seems unable to end. Now after Fincher we start again ....

FA: "Consider that I would never have made a second and third film after that of Fincher, to continue on that style and tone set by a master like him would be impossible. This is instead a story of another author, so it's all a bit less sacred, just be faithful to Lisbeth and you can do whatever you want. And besides, the studio gave me freedom, otherwise I would not even have started. I've never made a film in which I did not have total control."

So if I had to explain the style and tone of your Millennium how would you describe it?

FA: "Not Nordic Noir mystery but more pulp-- I like Brian De Palma and the Korean cinema. I like that territory between the melodramatic and the expressionist that perhaps also implies a sick revenge. Last night I saw the film and all these bright red clothes in the snow were very South Korean cinema but immersed in a fairy tale: we start with a town and we end up in the woods with snow and a cliff."

Posted by Geoff at 10:07 PM CST
Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink | Share This Post
Monday, November 12, 2018

Some notes on re-watching Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way today, 25 years after its initial release:

We start with Steffie, the catalyst in the scene above, having just seduced Kleinfeld on the dance floor and pulling him into the bathroom for a quickie. Carlito, of course, already has his attitude issues with Benny Blanco from the Bronx, and Steffie knows this-- the first time the viewer sees Steffie, from afar, she's talking to Saso but watching with keen interest as Carlito tells Benny Blanco about the "new ownership/new rules," and she witnesses, from afar, Benny's obvious respect for Carlito's legendary status. Soon, Steffie is dating Benny Blanco, before she moves on to Kleinfeld in the crucially pivotal sequence of the film pictured above.

At one point, De Palma directs Stephen H. Burum's camera eye from outside the blinds of Carlito's office window downward, to spy Steffie grilling Pachanga about Carlito's meeting with Lalin above. As De Palma shows throughout the film's first 90 minutes, Steffie is obsessed with new owner Carlito from that first time we see her. And while that first time we see her, the shot is lingered on a bit, at this point in the film, the first-time viewer has no way of knowing that this woman will be a pivotal player in the narrative (when we look over from Carlito's point-of-view, the focus is ostensibly on Saso, as Benny Blanco is pointing toward Saso as he mentions him). In this way, the shot of Steffie, at this early point in the film, is somewhat akin to De Palma having Bobbi show up in the frame during a pan on the stairs outside of the museum in Dressed To Kill, prior to our knowledge that Kate Miller is being stalked. Of course, Bobbi is merely glimpsed in the pan in question, but in both cases, a sort of subtext is visually suggested.

Shortly after first watching Carlito's encounter with Benny Blanco, Steffie approaches Carlito, who is sitting and watching a tall blonde woman across the room attempt to get her boyfriend to get up and dance with her. This scenario will be played out by Gail and Carlito much later in the film, at a different nightclub, where Carlito tells Gail, "I love to watch you." The line, of course, harkens back to De Palma's Body Double (Jake's line of dialogue in the porn film-within-the-film, "I like to watch," itself nodding to Peter Sellers's famous line from Hal Ashby's Being There). Carlito's fantasy of Paradise in the billboard at the film's end shows a dancing figure who is surely Gail, yet could also be tinged by this other blonde woman who only reminds him of Gail-- a sort of delirious vertigo at twilight as the bars are closing down. And, as Carlito stares, there's our Steffie, trying to get Carlito's attention, asking him why a good-lookin' dude like him doesn't have a woman. "Nobody but you, Stef."

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, November 13, 2018 1:36 AM CST
Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink | Share This Post
Sunday, November 11, 2018

Brian De Palma and Susan Lehman attended a special screening and reception last night of Julian Schnabel's At Eternity's Gate in New York. The picture above, from Marion Curtis / StarPix for CBS Films / Shutterstock, shows De Palma seated in between Ellen Burstyn and Lehman at Schnabel's art studio as they and others listen to a Q&A discussion with Schnabel, star Willem Dafoe (who plays Vincent van Gogh in the film), co-star Rupert Friend (who plays Theo van Gogh), and moderator Kent Jones. Roger Friedman's Showbiz 411 has a report of the evening:
It’s not easy to get Brian DePalma out to a screening of anything, or to a reception in honor of a new film. But there was the reclusive director of “Carrie,” “Dressed to Kill,” “Body Double,” “The Untouchables,” “Mission Impossible” and so on at painter-director Julian Schnabel’s incredible home and studio Saturday night for “At Eternity’s Gate.”

Many of us went first to the screening at the Crosby Street Hotel of Schnabel’s new movie which features a tour de force performance by Willem Dafoe as Vincent Van Gogh. CBS Films is pushing “Eternity” and they’re right– if Dafoe isn’t nominated, something is wrong.

Also from the movie came actor Rupert Friend, who plays Theo van Gogh, very moving as the put upon brother, and Schnabel’s actress daughter Stella who’s terrific as a maid in the Arles estate where van Gogh painted his most famous works.

But that wasn’t the end of the A-list in attendance: director Barry Levinson, actresses Ellen Burstyn and Carol Kane, playwright Israel Horovitz, actors Steve Buscemi and Tony LoBianco, producer Jean Doumanian, and 95 year old indie film legend director (and famed poet) Jonas Mekas not only came to see the movie but stayed at Schnabel’s for a scintillating Q&A moderated by Kent Jones. People stood, sat on the floor, took up every seat in one of Schnabel’s huge painting studios to hear all about the making of “At Eternity’s Gate.”

All these people came to see the movie on a Saturday night– a frigid one, too. Why a Saturday? It was Dafoe’s day off from shooting a Disney movie in Calgary, Alberta, Canada called “Togo.” He literally flew in for the gathering and a little press, then flies back tonight. “Lucky for me, there’s a Canadian holiday,” he told me, “so it bought me a day.”

We learned a lot about this amazing movie: Schnabel, obviously a famed artist, painted all the “van Goghs” in the movie. Now they are in his tri-level West Village studio complex. He painted Van Gogh, and Dafoe as Van Gogh. A huge central Schnabel made of chopped up plates and pottery — portrait of Van Gogh– was so stunning everyone wanted to pose with it!

In another Marion Curtis shot from the event (see below), De Palma is pictured with Levinson and publicist Peggy Siegal, who got her start with De Palma in the late 1980s.

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CST
Updated: Monday, November 12, 2018 12:02 AM CST
Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink | Share This Post
Saturday, November 10, 2018

Amazon Prime's Homecoming, which premiered last week, opens with the same music that opens Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill, which was scored by Pino Donaggio. Instead of moving through a hallway toward a bathroom, as in the opening moments of Dressed To Kill, the camera at the start of Homecoming (each episode of which is directed by Sam Esmail) moves from a close-up inside an aquarium of fish, and pulling back to reveal its placement in a large office where Heidi Bergman (Julia Roberts) is setting up her desk and looking at the file of a recently-returned young soldier she is about to meet for the first time. When he enters her office (continuing the same shot, with Donaggio's DTK theme still playing underneath), he looks at the aquarium, saying it's nice, and asks her if she likes fish. "Not especially, it was here when I got here," she responds with the distracted nervousness of meeting someone for the first time. "I decided it's...soothing." As he has a seat and the two settle in for the start of their first session (at this early point in the story, we are not really sure what the session is about), the camera moves toward the window behind her desk, looking outside of it before a cut takes us to the other side of the window and Donaggio's music gets louder, the camera pulling back to reveal a courtyard scene outside, where a bird walks into frame and lifts itself up onto a ledge, perching and making a sort of deep squawking noise as the episode's title is revealed in large white letters. From here the music abruptly ends as the episode cuts to a different window but in a different, much narrower aspect ratio and quieter music, in what is revealed to be a flash-forward.

Donaggio's "Telescope" from De Palma's Body Double is used in the opening moments of episode 5 ("Helping"), in a sort of playful twist on the kind of romantic preparations taken by Gloria in Body Double, Jenny in De Palma's Raising Cain, or Kate in Dressed To Kill. The music is cut-off abruptly to enhance a bit of humor, yet the end of the episode calls back to this opening in an absurdly dark fashion. The beginning and end of the episode also manage to call back to the opening moments of episode 1, pairing the two Donaggio themes into a unifying thematic strategy.

I have only watched the first seven episodes so far, and I understand there is more Donaggio to come in one of the three remaining episodes. I can tell you that Episode 4 ("Redwood") brilliantly uses Donaggio's suspenseful "Bucket of Blood" cue from De Palma's Carrie to show the investigator visiting the location of the Homecoming facility during one of the flash-forward sequences.

"When we started talking about music, I started talking to my editors about those classic scores by Pino Donaggio, Bernard Herrmann, John Williams and John Carpenter even,” Esmail tells IndieWire's Chris O'Falt. "I just started thinking, this is going to be really unfair to ask a music composer to ape David Shire’s Conversation theme. That’s just ridiculous, or to ask someone to ape Michael Smalls’ theme from Klute."

O'Falt's article goes into the challenges of getting the rights to use so many varied pieces of existing scores, and includes a handy episode-by-episode list of all the scores used:

Esmail broached the subject with music supervisor Maggie Phillips when she first interviewed for the job. She found the idea discomfiting. “People have licensed a score piece here or there, but there’s no real paper trail for older scores like there is for the other music we license,” said Phillips. “There was no way of estimating costs, at all, and the people we were licensing from wouldn’t even know. The NBC-Universal clearance team and my team, no one had ever done this before.”

Still, Phillips took the job and it became an extensive research project to determine who owned the scores’ publishing rights, and then the actual recordings. Once that was determined, another journey began: locating the recording and digitizing it for the show. (While there might be obvious appeal in a “Homecoming” soundtrack comprised of the best thriller scores from the 20th century, that was a licensing bridge too far.)

Pre-existing scores meant tremendous time and expense. Sometimes Phillips discovered dead ends, or scores that couldn’t be licensed. Phillips and NBC-Universal also had to work with unions to make sure dozens of session players would be paid for scores they played decades ago. However, Phillips’ bigger concern became the creative side.

“Most editors are used to sending a scene to a composer, and having a composer hit those beats and write to those beats and emotional storylines to make it work,” said Phillips. “On ‘Homecoming,’ the editors, and our one music editor, had to to carve it out of preexisting score written for a different movie. We’d have to combine a few scores, and there were times I had to tell them to replace some scores, because they were too expensive after they had carefully crafted it to work with their scenes.”

As the first few episodes hit the editing room, Phillips and the editors started to see an even bigger creative problem. In the 10-episode series, there are longer, key scenes between Heidi (Julia Roberts), a counselor helping veterans adjust to everyday life, and Walter (Stephan James), a young soldier back from a tour in the Middle East. The show ultimately arcs around their many-layered relationship.

“It’s a weird tone between the two of them,” Phillips said. It’s slightly romantic, it’s a little emotional, but you don’t want to push it too hard. It should be pretty subtle, and the scores that we were using were really big scores… a lot of these things we found to put under those scenes felt very heavy handed.”

Often, published scores don’t include quiet moments of “underscore,” but rather the showy moments of action, drama, and emotion. Phillips started to doubt the feasibility of using entirely pre-existing scores.

“I called one of the producers and I was like, ‘I really don’t know if we’re going to be able to do this,’ and it was mostly because I was trying to help the editors find stuff for that first scene between Heidi and Walter,” said Phillips. “So they sat down and talked to Sam, I wasn’t there, and Sam was like, ‘Absolutely no. I want all pre-existing score.'”

Esmail recalled the moment he realized there was no turning back on his concept. “Music is everything to me,” said Esmail. “It’s the heart and soul of a movie or TV show to me because it can be such an injection of tone, and I think tone is everything to a story. So I just took a moment and said, ‘We should embrace this.’ This is too critical for me to ask someone to be derivative, which is also not very fair to them, but also, I wouldn’t want that. I would always constantly compare it to the real thing, and just thought it was so critical to the kind of tightrope walk that we’re doing with tone in the show that I just thought, ‘Let’s just go for it.'”

Phillips agrees that using older scores as temp music would have been a mistake. Music supervisors and composers refer to this as “temp love,” in which creators fall in love with the temp music and ask composers to mimic it. Like many, Phillips believes it’s not only a horrible way for a director to collaborate with a composer, but it’s also why so many scores in the last 15 years sound the same.

Phillips did get Esmail to use a few more modern scores for the show’s quieter moments. She also established a “No YouTube” rule for the editors: Not only were many scores pulled off the internet knock-offs that wouldn’t match, Phillips also wanted to secure the original recording before the editorial team started cutting to it.

Now that she has the final product, Phillips is impressed by how organic the music feels to the show, and the future possibilities for television scores.

“You don’t hear scores this big in TV, and it added so much of the tension,” said Phillips. “It’s a thriller, but it’s a slow burn. It’s not like you are wondering what’s behind the corner. The scores make it feel very thematic and heighten the tension and add to that edge-of-the-seat feeling you’re getting while you watch it. I don’t think it’d be like that without that big dramatic score on top of these scenes.”

So would she recommend using pre-existing score to other creators? “No,” laughed Phillips. “This ended up working because it was so organic to how Sam saw the show and shot the show. He’s a crazy genius, who was backed by a producing team willing to spend the money to see the process through.”

Below is list of the scores used in “Homecoming,” by episode.

Episode 1

“Dressed to Kill,” composer Pino Donaggio
“All The President’s Men,” composer David Shire
“Marathon Man,” composer Michael Small
“Vertigo,” composer Bernard Herrmann

Episode 2

“Klute,” composer Michael Small
“Duel,” composer Billy Goldenberg
“The Gift,” composers Daniel Bensi & Saunder Jurriaans

Episode 3

“Capricorn One,” composer Jerry Goldsmith
“The Andromeda Strain,” composer Gil Mellé
“The Car,” composer Leonard Rosenman
“Chariots of Fire,” composer Vangelis
“Gray Lady Down,” composer Jerry Fielding
“Star Chamber,” composer Michael Small

Episode 4

“The Amityville Horror,” composer Lalo Schifrin
“The Day The Earth Stood Still,” composer Bernard Herrmann
“The Hand,” composer James Horner
“Carrie,” composer Pino Donaggio
“The Andromeda Strain,” composer Gil Mellé
“L’Apocalypse des animaux,” composer Vangelis
“All The President’s Men,” composer David Shire

Episode 5

“Body Double,” composer Pino Donaggio
“The Taking of Pelham 123,” composer David Shire
“The Conversation,” composer David Shire
“Escape from New York,” composer John Carpenter & Alan Howarth
“The Thing,” composer Ennio Morricone
“Narrow Margin,” composer Bruce Broughton
“The French Connection,” composer Don Ellis


Episode 6

“High-Rise,” composer Clint Mansell
“Scanners,” composer Howard Shore
“The List of Adrian Messenger,” composer Jerry Goldsmith
“Copycat,” composer Christopher Young
“Creation,” composer Christopher Young
“Three Days of the Condor,” composer Dave Grusin

Episode 7

“Gray Lady Down,” composer Jerry Fielding
“The Thing,” composer Ennio Morricone
“The Andromeda Strain” (TV Series), composer Joel J. Richard
“Christine,” composer John Carpenter & Alan Howarth
“The Parallax View,” composer Michael Small
“The Thing,” composer Ennio Morricone
“The Fog,” composer John Carpenter
“Halloween 3,” composer John Carpenter & Alan Howarth

Episode 8

“The Conversation,” composer David Shire
“Christine,” composer John Carpenter & Alan Howarth
“Halloween 3,” composer John Carpenter & Alan Howarth
“Altered States,” composer John Corigliano
“The Andromeda Strain,” composer Gil Mellé
“The Fog,” composer John Carpenter

Episode 9

“Body Heat,” composer John Barry
“Dove Siete? Io Sono Qui,” composer Pino Donaggio
“Raising Cain,” composer Pino Donaggio
“Legend,” composer Tangerine Dream
“Oblivion,” composer Anthony Gonzalez & Joseph Trapanese
“All The President’s Men,” composer Michael Small
“The Eiger Sanction,” composer John Williams

Episode 10

“The Dead Zone,” composer Michael Kamen
“The Andromeda Strain,” composer Gil Mellé
“Opéra sauvage,” composer Vangelis


Meanwhile, at The Ringer, Adam Nayman delves into the visual style of Homecoming:

The all-around excellence of Amazon’s new 10-part thriller Homecoming has been covered already on The Ringer; not since that show about mean rich guys (I think it’s called Succession? Can anyone help me with this?) has an original series gotten so many Twitter-verified writers so excited. Fortunately, the hype is justified, at least on a level of pure craft. The Ringer’s Alison Herman correctly describes Esmail’s aesthetic as “heavily stylized, filled with split screens, overhead shots, and a constant accompaniment in an intricately composed composite of nail-biting scores,” to which I would only add—in case there’s any ambiguity—that this kind of audiovisual ingenuity is very much a Good Thing. Even in a year when directors like Atlanta’s Hiro Murai have already demonstrated serious chops in the TV format—and even without the knowledge that Esmail is trying to find a way to visualize material that began in podcast form—the Mr. Robot helmer’s bravura showmanship is worth celebrating. So how about doing it with some of the same detail-oriented focus that the show has itself? I thought you’d never ask.

The first shot of Homecoming’s pilot is also the first opportunity for Esmail and his team to play a game of spot the reference. As the camera tracks back from the aquarium in therapist Heidi Bergman’s office, Pino Donaggio’s satirically overwrought score from Dressed to Kill plays in the background. The obvious in-joke is that Brian De Palma’s 1980 thriller hinges on a plot twist involving a psychiatrist with a secret, and the shot’s slow, elegant movement copies De Palma’s style.

As the camera locks into place and Heidi prepares to deliver the first line of the show, the blinds on either side of her create a frame within a frame whose dimensions mirror the 1:1 aspect ratio used in the flash-forward scenes. Even within the reality of the show’s 2018 timeline, Heidi occupies a narrowed position, suggesting a lack of knowledge despite her authoritative position behind her desk. More importantly, the show’s visual signature has been established almost subliminally.

Posted by Geoff at 2:11 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, November 10, 2018 2:21 PM CST
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post