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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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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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Friday, December 28, 2018
3-DAY ARGENTO-DE PALMA SERIES JANUARY IN L.A.
A "VARIATION" ON THEIR ANNUAL GIALLO SERIES
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/argentodepalmajan2019.jpg

"We kick off 2019 with a variation on our yearly January Giallo series with three nights of Dario Argento/Brian De Palma Jan. 24-26 at the Egyptian Theatre," Cinematic Void posted on its Instagram page yesterday. The double feature series will pair up Suspiria / Carrie, Blow Out / Inferno, and Dressed To Kill / Tenebrae at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles.

Posted by Geoff at 8:36 AM CST
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Sunday, December 23, 2018
MONDO RELEASED MI SOUNDTRACK ON VINYL THIS YEAR
DANNY ELFMAN SCORE WITH RETRO COVER ON LIMITED EDITION RED LIGHT-GREEN LIGHT VINYL
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/mimondocover2.jpgI somehow totally missed this last August, but earlier this year, Mondo released a double LP edition of Danny Elfman's score from Brian De Palma's Mission: Impossible, with a very retro-looking cover sleeve. Two vinyl versions were made available: a limited edition Red Light,Green Light Vinyl (limited to 1,000 copies), and a Translucent Red Vinyl version. The album includes liner notes by Brian Satterwhite, himself a soundtrack composer. Either edition costs $35 at the Mondo website.


Posted by Geoff at 8:40 PM CST
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Saturday, December 22, 2018
THE MIRROR AS VARIANT REALITY IN 'BLOW OUT'
DUTCH ESSAY - DE PALMA CREATES A MIRROR THAT REFLECTS ON THE ESSENCE OF CINEMA
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/jacknoirreadsmag.jpg

At Sabzian, Gerard-Jan Claes and Nina de Vroome have written an interesting article that looks at Brian De Palma's Blow Out, citing Lewis Carroll and Roland Barthes, and illustrated with generous amount of images from the film. Here's an excerpt, with the assistance of Google translation:
De Palma reports as a painter who can only report on painting by making a painting himself. It is as if he realizes that in the end you can only say something about the body of a film by creating a new body. His cinema is essentially always a making-of, not as an instructional video that explains technically how a film is created, but as a mirror that reflects on the essence of cinema. A mirror is always more than a two-dimensional plane that reflects an opposite image. It also opens up a space in which another variant of reality lives. The mirror image shows the things you never saw before, peculiarities and details that never before stood out but at the same time remain uncomfortably recognizable. The familiar image is given a new form as reflection, like the characters in a book that is held in front of the mirror.

In the editing studio, Jack is instructed by the director to find a scream that fits the image. As a professional sound man he goes out that night to collect sounds. At a bridge over a river Jack takes sound close-ups. Through his headphones we are made part of the sensory closeness of the sound of the things that Jack captures. He holds his microphone with his bare hand, as if it were a gun, and shoots his listening ear into the distance. There is a couple on the bridge. The woman whispers in our ear: "What is he, a Peeping Tom or something?" In light of the first scene even the benign curiosity of our Jack gets a suspicious side. Listening is listening, because in the chair of cinema it becomes clear that looking and listening are never innocent. An owl, the loving couple and a frog unleash themselves from the night scene to show themselves to Jack as isolated figures. Suddenly he hears the hard bang of a car tire, slipping wheels, the railing of the bridge breaking into pieces and a great splash. Together with the car, an attractive passenger sinks into the depth. Jack intervenes and saves her from death. But what appears? Beside her was a man who leaves behind a bubbling trail of air bubbles.

A bit later, Jack, together with the drowning woman, seeks refuge in a motel where he again hears the sound, this time not to verify whether it can be used for a gratuitous film scene, but to bring a hidden truth to light. What actually happened during the recording? He starts a reconstruction. With his pencil he does the movements he made with his microphone. The line that pulls the directed microphone through the space seeks to connect the area with a possible perpetrator. With the pencil in his hand Jack manages to bring that conscious evening back to life. In this scene it becomes tangible that sound initiates a much stronger reminder mechanism than image. By playing the sound again and letting the pencil move with it, Jack tries to find out the origin of the sound. The sounds he hears become the soundtrack of his memory. They are able to bring back the image that had slipped into this memory. We see him in a motel room, but his physical presence is subordinate to his mental absence. Just as Jack relives a moment from the past, the spectator in the cinema is similarly always split in the meantime. The voices and faces in a film always refer to a different moment, to the moment of recording. The viewer always looks at events that have already taken place. He looks back at things that have been lost, that have been erased by time and that brings the film back to life as a reminiscence. Discovery and re-experience take place simultaneously in a present that consists of the past.

The technique that Jack uses to "rewrite" his memory with the pencil does not take him any further. He continues his research into the possible murder. He not only tries to fathom the conspiracy, but at the same time works as an accomplice of De Palma, who seizes Jack's quest to further dismantle the cinematic device. He comes into contact with a journalist who has been able to record the accident in a series of photographs. The photographs themselves do not suffice as evidence. Unlike the photographer in Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up Jack does not lose himself in the analysis of dust and dots in the texture of the photo. He immediately looks for a way to "uplift" the medium from photography to cinema, as if the value of a photo can only be named as a film still for him. Only when successive film stills are placed synchronously on a sound band, does the miracle of reality arise. When he looks at his montage, his mouth falls open, because of what becomes visible in this film, but also for the appearance of cinema itself.

All of this leaves the graceful drowning woman Jack has fallen in love with cold. Sally has no interest in his search. But was she not right next to the man who is no longer alive? From her point of view, Jack's discoveries should have aroused her interest, but not according to the logic of the film: the excitement in Blow Out stems in part from the fact that everyone works against Jack, that no one believes him, that nobody cares about the truth. De Palma also argues that he is free of that obligation. It does not matter what the truth is. It only matters that the viewer feels that a truth is buried in the fabric of the film. As in a B-movie, the viewer has to be served and as long as set-up and payoff are connected, according to De Palma every narrative obligation is met. A real conspiracy has an ideological agenda and he does not burn his fingers. Meanwhile, the viewer is continually being misled and delusions and reality start to mix. There are a number of strong plot twists that defy every logic. Like the spectator, Jack gets entangled in conspiracy theories. Is he crazy? Or is there something wrong?

This brings us to a next lesson from De Palma. In the cinema you are constantly looking for hints and directions. Something always happens. Is it not visible in the picture, or hidden behind the scenes. The work of the mastermind that makes everyone believe that a serial killer is ravaging the country is reflected in the work of the director who is in charge. Watching a movie has always had to deal with the feeling that it works simultaneously behind the scenes and in full view. It is dealing with the chimera of a conspiracy, with the idea that you are being defrauded. Because whether you are being manipulated or not, there is always a concrete result: as a spectator you get misled in a specific way, you become connected to the world on the screen with a "technical umbilical cord" (Lauwaert). Always that ambiguous experience: suspension of disbelief and the feeling that someone is listening to you.


Posted by Geoff at 4:47 PM CST
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Tuesday, December 18, 2018
SAM IRVIN & NANCY ALLEN TELL LIV ULLMANN DTK STORY
ACTRESS WAS DE PALMA'S FIRST CHOICE FOR ROLE ULTIMATELY PLAYED BY ANGIE DICKINSON
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/samirvinlivullmanstory.jpg

Sam Irvin posted the two pictures above to his Facebook page a couple of days ago, to celebrate Liv Ullmann's 80th birthday. In the post, he tells the story about Brian De Palma handing Irving a script to deliver to Ullmann, and then Nancy Allen adds a comment. Here's the scoop:
Imagine this: Liv Ullmann getting stabbed to death in the elevator in Brian De Palma’s DRESSED TO KILL. Huh?!

Little known factoid: Liv Ullmann, the brilliant muse of Ingmar Bergman in CRIES AND WHISPERS, PERSONA and FACE TO FACE, was Brian De Palma’s first choice to play the role of “Kate Miller” in DRESSED TO KILL — the role that ended up being played so iconically by Angie Dickinson.

The character gets shockingly stabbed to death in an elevator — an homage to Janet Leigh’s character “Marion Crane” getting stabbed to death in the shower in Hitchcock’s PSYCHO.

In both movies, it was essential to cast big-name stars in these parts to make it all the more shocking when they are unexpectedly bumped off early in their respective scenarios.

In the summer of 1979, when DRESSED TO KILL was in preproduction, I was working as Brian De Palma’s assistant. I was 23 — and a very big fan of Liv Ullmann — who had won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in THE EMIGRANTS (1971) and nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Actress in THE EMIGRANTS and FACE TO FACE (1976). So, you can imagine my excitement when Brian handed me a copy of the DRESSED TO KILL script and said, “I want you to hand-deliver this to Liv Ullmann at the Majestic Theater. She is expecting you in her dressing room.”

Liv was currently starring on Broadway in Richard Rodgers newly-musicalized version of I REMEMBER MAMA. I would be going to drop off the script between a matinee and evening performance.

I arrived at the stage door with a large envelope in my hand. I knocked and after a few seconds, the door cautiously cracked open as though it were a speakeasy. A crusty old doorman peered out from the shadows and said, “Yeah?”

“I’m here to see Ms. Ullmann,” I explained in my best business-like voice.

The doorman gave me the once-over, spotted Ullmann’s name written on the envelope, concluded I was just a messenger boy, and sneered, “A delivery? I can take it to her.”

He creaked the door open a little further and held out his gnarly hand, expecting me to give him the package.

As if. I wasn’t going to give up the chance of meeting Liv Ullmann when I’d already come within breathing distance. I gulped and stood my ground. “I have been instructed to deliver this to Ms. Ullmann personally. She is expecting me. My name is Sam Irvin. From Brian De Palma’s office.”

Poker-faced, the doorman said nothing for what seemed like an eternity.

Finally, he withdrew his empty claw and shut the door in my face.

Had I been summarily rejected? Should I knock again and demand to speak to someone higher up the food chain? My job was on the line! With all sorts of desperate thoughts running around in my brain, the door suddenly popped back open.

“Ms. Ullmann will see you now,” the doorman grunted, annoyed that he’d been out-maneuvered.

I stepped inside and followed him to her dressing room. He knocked and walked away. The door swung open with a breeze of perfume to reveal the resplendent, welcoming smile of Liv Ullmann attached to her entire being. In person. Yep. I was starstruck.

She graciously greeted me. We exchanged small talk. I gave her the script and she said, “Tell Brian I am looking forward to reading it. Thank you for bringing it to me.”

I departed on Cloud 9 and floated back to Brian’s office. Mission: accomplished.

Sadly, for reasons I don’t recall, Liv eventually passed on the project.

Then Brian had me deliver a script to the wonderful Jill Clayburgh, hot off her Oscar nomination for AN UNMARRIED WOMAN (1978). A long-time friend of De Palma’s, Jill had made her movie debut in his early feature film THE WEDDING PARTY (1969) opposite the young Robert De Niro. My encounter was brief and similar — but equally cherished and memorable. Unfortunately, she also ended up passing due to scheduling conflicts.

Ultimately, Angie Dickinson ended up with the role and knocked it out of the park.

Nevertheless, it is intriguing to imagine what the movie would have been like with Liv Ullmann in the role.

Happy 80th Birthday to Liv Ullmann.

ADDENDUM from DRESSED TO KILL star Nancy Allen: “Liv was Brian’s first choice. He wanted it to be out of character for the actress who played the part to be having the sexual encounter with the stranger in the museum. Someone you might think of as sexually repressed. I suggested he send her flowers and take her to lunch. Ultimately she declined the role because she didn’t want her children to see her in that way.”

Thanks Nancy!


Posted by Geoff at 8:06 AM CST
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Saturday, December 15, 2018
'GREETINGS' TURNS 50
OPENED ON THIS DAY IN 1968, AT 34TH STREET EAST THEATER IN NEW YORK
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/greetingspremiere.jpgBrian De Palma and Charles Hirsch's Greetings opened at New York's 34th Street East Theater on December 15, 1968. It was the first movie to be rated X by the MPAA. As Glenn Kenny discusses during an audio commentary track included on Arrow Video's new Blu-ray of Greetings, Hirsch pitched the idea for the movie to De Palma as an American version of Jean-Luc Godard's Masculin Féminin. They began shooting on 16mm film, but quickly realized that the format would limit the potential release to very few art houses, according to Laurent Bouzereau, in his book The De Palma Cut. Bouzereau adds that the film initially made three times what it cost (the cost was about $43,100). The film was panned in the New York Times by Howard Thompson, who stated that while De Palma and Hirsch "are determined and camera-minded," they should try next time "for something that matters instead of the tired, tawdry and tattered." A few weeks later, the paper ran three letters from readers in defense of the film, under the headline, "Was That Any Way To Greet 'Greetings'?" William Bayer's letter began, "When a good film is misunderstood and then characterized by Howard Thompson of The New York Times as 'tired, tawdry, and tattered,' it is time to come to the rescue." Kenny quotes more from these letters in his audio commentary.

Greetings follows three young men as they attempt to dodge the Vietnam draft (the film's title directly refers to the first word seen on the page when someone would open up a letter from the U.S. government telling them they've been drafted). Along the way, each of the men, played by Robert De Niro, Gerrit Graham, and Jonathan Warden, grapples with his own personal obsessions (respectively, voyeurism, the JFK assassination, and computer dating). In his commentary, Kenny links the buddies-hanging-out aspect of Greetings to Federico Fellini's I Vitelloni. Aside from a general Godardian influence throughout, there is also direct reference to another Godard film, Vivre sa vie, and, of course, overt references to Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up, the latter of which Chris Dumas has explained (in his book, Un-American Psycho) "was recently in theaters when Greetings was in production; its specific presence here - like Une Femme Est Une Femme in Bertolucci's Before The Revolution* - signifies that the film's logic was, as they say, a topic of conversation."

At one point in the film, Lloyd (played by Graham) asks pop artist Richard Hamilton (playing himself) if he's seen Blow-Up. Shortly after that, Lloyd brings a photo of Dealey Plaza to Tina, a photo assistant played by Tina Hirsch (at the time of filming, her name was Bettina Kugel-- by the time Greetings was released later in the year, she had married Charles Hirsch and changed her name). While this scene makes overt visual reference to Blow-Up, it was Tina Hirsch who insisted on adding a verbal reference in this scene. As she told William Chamberlain a few years back, "Brian and Chuck [Charles Hirsch], the producer and co-writer, wrote the scene. As originally written, Gerrit Graham was, you know, he played a Kennedy assassination buff, and he wants me to blow up a picture taken on the grassy knoll to prove that officer Tippet is Oswald’s accomplice. And that he’s hiding behind a tree. I was supposed to answer that if he blew it up, all you’d see is the grain. I mean a funny side story is that that literally was a studio in which I was working as a photographer’s assistant, and I actually blew up those shots that are shown at the end. I told Brian that I couldn’t say that line, that the movie Blow-Up was all about that. I didn’t feel comfortable saying it without crediting the other movie. So my answer became something like, 'You’re not going to be able to see anything. I’ve seen Blow-Up, I know how this turns out. You’re not going to see anything but grain the size of golf balls.' Years later, Pauline Kael, the movie critic for the New Yorker, quoted the line as one of Brian’s great citations. [Laughing] But, in fact, I was the one who cited Blow-Up. That’s the way it goes."

*Incidentally, Dumas' essay about Greetings in the booklet of Arrow's new disc set is titled, "Before The Revolution."


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Sunday, December 16, 2018 3:29 PM CST
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Friday, December 14, 2018
ARROW BOX DELIVERS EARLY DE PALMA & DE NIRO
BRIEF FROM ONE OF THE BOOKLETS - CHRISTINA NEWLAND ON 'HI, MOM!'
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/arrowboxtilt2.jpg

Arrow's new limited edition box set, "De Niro & De Palma - The Early Films," is here, and, having only delved partway through so far, it is nonetheless very very cool. The final product does not have two of the originally expected extras: new interviews with Gerrit Graham and Peter Maloney are nowhere to be found. What is here, however, is terrific-- even with two of the films, The Wedding Party and Greetings, sharing the same disc (original marketing imagery for the collection suggested three independent discs and covers).

Appearing in the booklet for Hi, Mom!, Christina Newland's essay, "American Godard," is named for Brian De Palma's off-the-cuff remark to an interviewer in 1969 that "If I could be the American Godard, that would be great." Linking these early films to De Palma's later work, Newland states that De Palma's style "has always cheerfully drawn attention to itself." Focusing on Hi, Mom!, Newland writes that the film's narrative "speeds along with nervy ingenuity and a chaotic structure; you might say this is a film with a multiple personality disorder. Loosely divided into three jarring acts, each more wild than the last, De Palma follows a chameleonic young man, Jon Rubin, on the streets of New York City, attempting several different utterly insane ambitions."

Toward the end of her essay, Newland zeros in more precisely on De Niro's Jon Rubin as chameleon:

In the final portion of the film, Jon seemingly becomes entrenched in domestic terrorism and decides to disguise himself as a 'square' by marrying. The artificiality of Jon's faux-domestic set-up recalls a '50s sitcom, underpinned by a Weathermen Underground-style bombing that's thoroughly of the '70s. Though few might characterise the director of Carrie (1976) and Scarface as explicitly political, De Palma applies scalpel-like cynicism toward Jon's flirtation with underground social movements. Perhaps it's a young leftist's frustration with insincerity within the movement.

Still, little in Hi, Mom! is straightforward. In Greetings, De Niro's Jon was a draft-dodger; in Hi, Mom!, he's a veteran, seemingly displaced by his role in that war. Many comparisons have been made between this and De Niro's later role as a 'Nam vet in Taxi Driver (1976), but he's the real spiritual antecedent of another darkly comic role for Scorsese: Rupert Pupkin. Like the delusional wannabe of The King Of Comedy (1983), Jon is so phony he's almost earnest in his phoniness. This is evident in the final set-up, when Jon wrangles his way to the front of a television news broadcast about the explosion he himself devised. As with so much of De Palma's work, we are watching people who are watching other people; some of whom know they are being watched and act accordingly. The intended result is a sort of endless, empty hall of mirros; a media spectacle with no meaning.

Regarding Hi, Mom! now - either as a direct sequel to Greetings or simply as a madcap counterculture relic - it doesn't necessarily equate to coherent greatness. But it does hint at the ways in which De Palma, along with the best of his generation of filmmakers, could marry the arthouse and the commercial in their later work. When they applied teh radical stylings of their art film interests to make challenging mainstream cinema of the era, the New Hollywood flowered into being.


Posted by Geoff at 12:44 AM CST
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Tuesday, December 11, 2018
SOME 'SCARFACE' LINKS & PICS, FOR IT'S 35TH
RELEASED DECEMBER 9, 1983
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/scarfacetablemirrors.jpg

I don't usually think in terms of 35th anniversaries, so I hadn't been planning to post anything about the 35th anniversary of Scarface-- after all, at the 35th anniversary Scarface screening and reunion this past April at Tribeca, with Robert De Niro hanging around (it's his festival), De Palma at one point said, "35 is such an odd number to celebrate an anniversary- why not 50? Greetings was created in 1968, we’re all still here." In any case, I felt like posting the two images above, so here it is-- and here are a couple of links from the past few days, followed by a repost of the People Magazine coverage of the Scarface screenings and parties in New York and Hollywood:

Variety: Inside Scarface's Sometimes Rocky Road to Becoming a Classic

Mental Floss: 15 Surprising Facts About Scarface

 

Scarface 1983 Premiere

In its December 19, 1983 issue, People Weekly covered the parties of the Scarface previews that took place within 24 hours of each other in New York and Hollywood. It is interesting to look back at the celebrities' reactions to the film upon its initial release. The article, written by Kristin McMurran, David Hutchings, and Pamela Lansden opened like this:
Kurt Vonnegut walked out after 30 minutes, muttering, "It's too gory for me." Author John Irving followed. Cheryl Tiegs called it "the most violent film I've ever seen. It makes you never want to hear the word 'cocaine' again." The celebs were unnerved by Scarface, the scarifying update of the 1932 Paul Muni classic, starring Al Pacino as a Cuban immigrant drug lord who shoots his way to the top and snorts his way back down (see review, page 12). At the movie's tag-team previews in New York and Hollywood, the verdict was generally the same: pro-Pacino and anti-firepower. Actor James (The Onion Field) Woods, though, had a different view. "Personally," deadpanned Woods, "I'm all for any movie whose lead character keeps a grenade launcher in his living room."

Pacino himself missed the New York preview because he was performing in a Broadway revival of David Mamet's American Buffalo, although he appears to have made it to the afterparty. In the photo to the left, Pacino is leaving the New York party by limo with his then-current girlfriend Kathleen Quinlan. In the photo at the top of this page, he is shaking hands with co-stars Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Steven Bauer. The caption underneath the photo quotes Bauer: "I feared rejection until I met Al. It's hard to imagine yourself in the same league."

The article says that Lucille Ball was the favorite of fans watching from the sidewalk, until Eddie Murphy arrived to upstage her. Murphy is pictured at left with Diane Lane, who arrived late herself. Murphy said, "Al Pacino is my favorite actor. I know the dialogue to all his movies. When I met him, I groveled." The article says that the preview audience was more subdued after the screening, quoting Lucille Ball (whom the article consistently refers to as simply "Lucy") as saying, "We thought the performances were excellent, but we got awful sick of that word."

Martin Bregman hosted an after-preview party for 130 guests at Sardi's in New York, where Cher, who brought her 14-year-old daughter Chastity along, told People, "I really liked it. It was a great example of how the American dream can go to shit." Raquel Welch, who also brought along her daughter Tahnee, said, "A lot of people will enjoy the comic-strip violence that goes on ad nauseam." Welch is also quoted in a photo caption as saying that "the violence is just for effect."

Another mother-daughter pair of interest showed up at the Los Angeles premiere: Tippi Hedren and daughter Melanie Griffith. Griffith at the time was married to Steven Bauer, and would go on to star in Brian De Palma's very next film in 1984, Body Double. According to the September 16 2003 New York Post, Bauer was planning to check out Griffith's performance in Broadway's Chicago while he is in town for the September 17 re-release premiere. Hedren was quoted in the 1983 article as saying, "Scarface was too brutal." The article concludes in L.A. with one of the big stars of the day, Joan Collins:
Joan Collins, who would gussy herself up for a smog alert, was one of the few who dressed elegantly, sparkling in black sequined leather. Typically, Joan had the final word about Scarface's nasty language. "I hear there are 183 'f---s' in the movie," sighed Collins, "which is more than most people get in a lifetime."


Posted by Geoff at 5:55 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, December 11, 2018 6:00 PM CST
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Saturday, December 8, 2018
VIDEO - ARROW TRAILER FOR DE PALMA-DE NIRO BOX
RELEASED LAST WEEK IN U.K., UPCOMING WEEK IN NORTH AMERICA

Posted by Geoff at 10:07 AM CST
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Friday, December 7, 2018
NEW KEESEY, HIRSCH, LITTO EXTRAS ON 'OBSESSION' BLU
PRE-ORDER FROM SHOUTFACTORY GETS YOU A FREE POSTER OF NEW ART BY SONNY DAY
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/obsessionspinescream.jpgShout! Factory today revealed details about its collector's edition Blu-ray of Brian De Palma's Obsession, which will be released January 15, 2019:
Bonus Features

NEW Audio Commentary With Author Douglas Keesey (Brian De Palma’s Split-Screen: A Life In Film)

NEW Producing Obsession – An Interview With Producer George Litto

NEW Editing Obsession – An Interview With Editor Paul Hirsh

Obsession Revised – Vintage Featurette Featuring Interviews With Director Brian De Palma, Cliff Robertson, And Geneviève Bujold

Theatrical Trailer

Radio Spots

Still Gallery

 


If you pre-order from Shout! Factory, they are still offering "a FREE 18" X 24" ROLLED POSTER" featuring the new cover artwork by Sonny Day, although "due to a manufacturing delay," Shout! "can no longer guarantee early shipping on this title." The original poster art for Obsession will be included on the other side of the reversible sleeve.

The chapter on Obsession in Keesey's book, Brian De Palma’s Split-Screen: A Life In Film, delves into the highly intriguing biographical links between the film and De Palma's personal life:

Like Sandra, the young De Palma tended to idealize his mother and to demonize his father. If Michael, according to Elizabeth's diary, was "busy at work all day," so was De Palma's father. Elizabeth's feelings of abandonment ("sometimes I wonder if Mike loves me as much as his business") were then dealt a killing blow by the ultimate desertion-- his failure to pay the ransom money, which led to her death. Young Sandra felt equally deserted, sharing her mother's pain. We recall that it was Sandra's voice on the tape recording, pleading for her father to save them. As a result of his neglect, she vowed to get revenge and undertook a secret plot against Michael. As we know, De Palma's father compounded his workaholic "desertion" by sleeping with a nurse at the office, which led to a suicide attempt on the part of De Palma's mother. (She was saved by De Palma himself, who took her to the hospital.) De Palma then used the tape recorder his mother had given him for Christmas to try to avenge her, secretly capturing his father's phone conversations-- and later surreptitiously filming him-- to gather evidence of adultery so that his mother could divorce him. "I identify with the avenging child," De Palma once said in a direct comparison of himself to Sandra.

But the comparison doesn't stop there. Just as Sandra eventually realized how much her demonization of her father was due to Bob's manipulation of her to believe what he wanted her to believe-- the very worst about Michael's motives ("[He] just can't come up with the money, not for Elizabeth and not for you"), so De Palma came to see that "my mother had manipulated me": "My brothers and I had only had my mother's point of view, and she spoke of daddy as an outsider, leagued against us. She told us, 'He's the bad one; you, you're with me; blame him.'" In the children's eyes (Sandra's, De Palma's, and his brothers'), the father was as guilty and despised as the mother was innocent and idealized. (It is interesting to note that De Palma's brother Bart painted the portrait of Elizabeth that Sandra idolized.) However, both Sandra and De Palma later gained a more mature understanding to challenge their one-sided, childish perceptions of their fathers: "I gradually came to appreciate my father's point of view"; "in truth-- but I understood this only much later-- he was just a man who threw himself into his work so that he could forget his marriage troubles." Similarly, in Rebecca, Fontaine grows to understand that her husband/father figure Maxim isn't as demonic as she feared and her predecessor/mother figure Rebecca isn't as worthy of idolatry.



Posted by Geoff at 9:27 PM CST
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Tuesday, December 4, 2018
MCQUARRIE TALKS ABOUT OPENING TITLES IN MI FILMS
AND HOW REWATCHING THE TITLES IN DE PALMA'S FILM GAVE HIM SOME IDEAS
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
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