FRANCE 3 TV, AND A 2ND DAY OF SIGNING BOOKS AT QUAIS DU POLAR
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a la Mod:
Thierry Frémaux, who has been with the Lumière Institute for decades, and is also Artistic Director and General Delegate for the Cannes Film Festival, opened with a tribute to Agnès Varda, who died earlier today. Frémaux was then joined by Tavernier to welcome De Palma to the stage. (Recall that last June, De Palma expressed his anger to Les Inrockuptibles' Jacky Goldberg about an unfinished version of Domino having been screened for consideration for Cannes 2018. "I'm furious," De Palma exclaimed at the time, "and you can print that! The film was screened without post-synchronization, non-mixed, non-graded, and without my consent, to Thierry Frémaux, who must have asked himself 'What the heck is this?' The producers eventually found the money and we finished it last week. I presume it'll soon be shown in some festival. But seriously, what a pain!")
One final note before the rest of the pictures below: at some point of the day in between these two events, De Palma and Lehman were interviewed by TV channel France 3 Rhône-Alpes. A large picture from the latter is at the end of this post. But first, pics of Brian De Palma on stage with Bertrand Tavernier and Thierry Frémaux...
"I also like how Brian DePalma reverses certain codes: normally, a rebound would have revealed that a certain character was actually fictional, a hallucination of the main protagonist; here, the twist is to prove the existence of this character...#Raising Cain is a very personal film for DePalma, which directly evokes elements of his own journey (the adultery of a parent experienced as traumatic life event, his father doctor ...)."
The restored film had its North American premiere at the San Diego Asian Film Festival this past November-- Brian Hu wrote about the film:
In 1985, Japan’s National Space Development Agency selected the first group of Japanese astronauts to assist NASA missions in space. By zero coincidence of course, that same year, THE LEGEND OF THE STARDUST BROTHERS descended to earth from the brains of director Macoto Tezuka, then a 22-year-old film student, and musician and TV star Haruo Chicada, who had just made a legit awesome concept album about a fake band called the Stardust Brothers. Together, they would join brainwaves to produce a Phantom of the Paradise-inspired feature-length comedy set to the album. The result didn’t register Rocky Horror-level cultural tides. But that was 1985. Now it’s 2018 and it’s time to rediscover this demented gem.
In it, two rival bandleaders – the punk Kan and the new wave Shingo – are fused into a synth-pop duo by a shady record promoter with the stare of a Bond villain and the grease of a casino manager. The odd couple climb the charts alongside their fan club manager, a former groupie with star aspirations of her own. Together they soar into the stratosphere, dodging laser-beams and robots like they’re in a futuristic Hard Day’s Night, cozying up with white girls and snorting coke from kiddie pools like a Rolling Stone. But the higher the climb, the steeper the fall, especially as the film starts ripping the record industry for its soul-sucking exploitation, its conversion of joy into briefcases of cash, and its susceptibility to government interference.
Oh but the glory! Tezuka (son of Osamu Tezuka of Astro Boy fame) throws in the kitchen sink and the piping to go along with it, never refusing a chance for upside-down cinematography, quacky sound inserts, animation asides, or hallucinations that involve mutants and zombies. The practical effects and reflective costumes transport MTV hijinks onto a Japanese game show set, while the cast of then-superstar rockers exude traditional manzai comedy with prime intergalactic jokester warfare. Prefiguring the bozo funk of Katsuhito Ishii and Takashi Miike that would revolutionize Japanese pop cinema in the early 2000s, THE LEGEND OF THE STARDUST BROTHERS was decades ahead of its time but now finally ready for its close-up.
Starring real-life musicians Shingo Kubota and Kan Takagi, the movie tells the story of a pair of rivals from the Tokyo band scene who are turned into pop sensations by a shadowy Svengali (played by singer Kiyohiko Ozaki). But after a fleeting taste of success, they soon discover that, in the words of one song: “Once you reach No. 1, you just go down.” This isn’t really the kind of film that you watch for the plot, mind you. It has some killer songs, for starters, courtesy of idiosyncratic musician Haruo Chikada, which range from punk and new-wave to retro kayōkyoku (Showa Era Japanese pop) and rock ‘n’ roll.
Many of the tracks originated on the eponymous album that Chikada released in 1980, an “imaginary soundtrack” inspired by The Who’s “Tommy.”
“Nowadays, idols often keep going for a decade or so after making their debut,” Chikada says, discussing the overarching theme. “Back then, people would be popular one minute and then they’d vanish.”
The title came from a wisecrack by actor Shingo Yamashiro, who liked to joke that he wasn’t a “star,” he was just “stardust.” Besides, “Stardust Brothers” had a nice ring to it.
The task of translating Chikada’s album to the big screen fell to a film school prodigy with a familiar surname. Tezka (born Makoto Tezuka) is the son of Japan’s most famous manga artist, “Astro Boy” creator Osamu Tezuka, but rather than follow his father into the animation industry, he’d plunged into the world of 8mm filmmaking.
He made his first short film when he was 17 years old and picked up a prize in a contest judged by renowned director Nagisa Oshima, who became an early champion. His next two shorts were both accepted into the precursor of today’s Pia Film Festival, gaining him wider recognition within the industry and extensive media coverage.
Chikada first encountered Tezka’s work when it was featured on the TV show he presented. When he later talked with a producer friend about making a “Stardust Brothers” movie, the young filmmaker was the first — and only — name that came to mind.
“We didn’t know anyone in the movie industry,” he says. “So we were totally reckless — we asked the one person we knew who had a foot in that world, which was Macoto Tezka.”
Despite only being 23 at the time, the 8mm whizz was impressively well-connected. “I’d come in contact with a lot of people, but more from the worlds of music, fashion and design than movies,” Tezka says. “When we got together, I’d talk about this film I was making, and everyone would offer to help out.”
This explains the movie’s eclectic cast, which includes comedians, novelists, musicians and manga artists, though only a smattering of professional actors. Kyoko Togawa, one of the few seasoned performers, is a standout, and there’s a scene-stealing turn by future visual- kei star Issay. Watch closely and you may also spot cameos by director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, manga artist Kazuhiko “Monkey Punch” Kato and professional wrestler Akira Maeda, among many others.
Tezka and Chikada shared an appreciation for “Phantom of the Paradise,” Brian De Palma’s camp 1974 rock musical, and “The Legend of the Stardust Brothers” ends with a dedication to it’s protagonist, Winslow Leach. As Tezka notes, De Palma cast his former college roommate, William Finley, in the role — reaffirming his belief that personality counted for just as much as professional bona fides.
On a more practical level, his exploits in 8mm film had taught him how to splice his way around his performers’ shortcomings.
“My style at the time made a lot of use of editing and montages, so I didn’t really need people to give sustained performances,” he says. “Even if they couldn’t act, as long as they could express themselves in a unique way, and there was a sense of rhythm or tempo, I knew I could put something together in the cutting room afterward.”
Tezka also managed to create some impressive set-pieces using limited resources, most memorably in a chase sequence full of Looney Tunes-style sight gags. Yet while modern audiences are likely to warm to the film’s spirited DIY aesthetic, critics at the time were less generous.
Even now, Tezka sounds hurt by the backlash — saying it “made me want to stop making films like this” — and it would be over a decade before he released another theatrical feature. As multiple projects failed to get off the ground, he started calling himself a “visualist” and looking beyond the movie industry: to music videos, TV commercials, even video games.
The belated acclaim for “Stardust Brothers” is cause for celebration, but also a bit of ruefulness.
“People are watching it with fresh eyes now, and I’ve had lots of positive comments,” he says. “But I wonder about how I could have taken those ideas further, and all the films I might have made, if people had responded like that at the time.”
Chikada, on the other hand, seems to have been unfazed by the film’s frosty reception. “I’d seen the same thing happen again and again with my music,” he says. “Even though I had a lot of confidence in what I was doing, other people didn’t seem to get it. I figured it was the same case here, so I just waited: I knew they’d come round eventually.”
It is interesting to note that the release date follows just six days after the closing ceremonies of this year's Cannes Film Festival-- the full line-up of which has not yet been revealed. May 31 is also 12 days after the series finale of Game Of Thrones will air on HBO-- providing a smooth transition and ample time for Coster-Waldau and Carice van Houten to shift promotional gears.UPDATE 3/22/19 -
We’re not exactly sure what version of "Domino" will be released. Is this the film that De Palma worked on and finished, thus his de facto director’s cut? Or is this the version that the filmmaker washed his hands of, handed to producers, and doesn’t recognize as something he is proud of?
While it is true that De Palma has previously said, "Domino is not my project, I did not write the script," all De Palma means by that is that Domino falls into the same category in his filmography as Scarface, The Untouchables, and The Black Dahlia, among several others-- movies in which he is interpreting someone else's voice on the page with his visual acumen. The quotes Barfield uses are from interviews De Palma did with press in France last June. Last June, I posted about several interviews from France, which clear up the whole non-question about the cut of the film:
June 2, 2018 - Brian De Palma has been asked about Domino several times over the past few days in Paris, and usually ends with some variation of "I have no idea when this movie will be released," such as, "I'll find out when I read it in the papers like everybody else," which is kind of a way of saying it's out of his hands now. In more than one interview, including the one with AFP, he mentioned that filming on Domino was completed just last week:The director did not abandon the cinema. He is currently working on a new feature film, Domino. "I do not know yet when the film will come out, we had a lot of problems with the financing", laments Brian De Palma. But finally, after many starts and stops, "the last stroke of the crank took place last week".
In the interview with Le Parisien's Catherine Balle, De Palma said that while the making of Domino was an awful experience, the film itself is good. "It was a horrible experience," De Palma said. "The film was underfunded, it was far behind, the producer did not stop lying to us and did not pay some of my crew. I don't know at all if this feature will be released." Yet when asked if he likes the movie, De Palma replies, "Yes, it is good." Susan Lehman then adds, "It's very good."
Speaking of which, De Palma and Lehman were at the Fnac des Ternes bookstore yesterday, and you can watch the interview from that on YouTube. At one point, De Palma is asked about Domino, and responds, "Oh boy... a very difficult situation. A film that was underfinanced. I was in many hotel rooms waiting for the money so that we could continue shooting. I was in many fabulous cities, waiting in hotel rooms. I was here a hundred days in Europe, and shot thirty. However, somehow we managed to make a movie out of this completely chaotic production situation, and hopefully you'll be seeing it in your local cinemas sometime in the future."
"For the first time in Italy," states the article, "the entire world of the film industry is united in a compact way to team up and relaunch cinema as a form of cultural entertainment throughout the year. Distribution companies will guarantee the programming of spectacular and quality cinema from January to December, without interruption, with theaters open twelve months a year. The institutions will make a contribution to supporting the initiative."
While Moviement began this past Christmas season (2018) and will run all through the year, the summer season offers a great marketing opportunity for the project. "The distributors, from the majors to the independents, all the exhibitors, from the art rooms to the multiplexes, the producers, the institutions and the talents, move together for the first time and are coordinated," the article states. "The first objective is to create the summer market starting in 2019 with a three-year plan that aligns Italy with the rest of the world with a cinema active 12 months a year."
While the article adds that the list of summer films included will be enhanced once the entire upcoming Cannes line-up is announced, it seems there may still be an opportunity for Domino to have its world premiere at Cannes, either in or out of competition... sounds crazy, perhaps, after all the speculation a year ago, but it remains, for the moment, a film unseen.
Filmmaker: Did you do any kind of preparation with Vanessa Paradis before shooting?
Gonalez: Not really. Vanessa needs to be on set to really feel her character. We met several times before though, often with Kate Moran and Nicolas Maury, but it was more like a way to get to know each other. The only thing I did is to offer her some DVDs in order to help her understanding the kind of acting I had in mind for Anne. Possession by Zulawski, Neige by Juliet Berto, Blow Out by Brian De Palma: very intense, sometimes over-the-top performances, more cinematic than realistic. The blonde hair, green raincoat and red boots did the rest!
In the galaxy of favorite influences that guide you and that you often quote (Werner Schroeter, Paul Vecchiali, R.W. Fassbinder…), this film brings to light a new figure: Brian De Palma.
My co-writer and I share a great passion for De Palma; this is a common thread that has clearly led us both. In terms of emotional thrillers, De Palma is the king, with films such as Carrie, Blow Out, and Dressed to Kill.
These are also the first films I showed my producer, Charles Gillibert, to demonstrate to him in what direction I wanted to take Knife+Heart, proportionally speaking, of course. De Palma has this unabashed, playful side, weaving constantly between fiction, reality, the cinema, fantasy, and voyeurism.
He also has an absolute love of the cinema. Knife+Heart starts with a 16mm editing table and finishes up on a sort of stellar “projection”… The love of the matter that makes up cinema itself is very much present. A cry of love and rage is etched into the actual film with a knife and is only visible once it’s been through the viewer… I really liked the idea that a woman’s desperate love situation could slip its way onto the film itself.
How did you profile the 70s treatment? The film never falls into the “period film” cliché, it’s much more subtle than that.
I was really worried about it looking like an academic reconstruction, and with my Director of Photography, Simon Beaufils, we very quickly got the idea of working using light to work on the period. Today, all Paris streets are lit using sodium lighting, which gives a horrible yellowy-orange light. So we strived to find the blue-green neon glow of French films from the late 70s / early 80s. Obviously there was a lot of very important and precise work on costumes and settings but, above all, I didn’t want a film that would look outdated. It also had to be able to talk about today’s world using faces and bodies from today. That’s why I called on iconic figures of present-day nightlife, such as Simon Thiébaut who plays Dominique, the head of the transgender gang; or the choreographer for the club scene, Ari de B, who came on set with all his dancers. There’s something very contemporary that shines out through our fantasy 1979 Paris.
Color is extremely present and particularly flashy. It has strong visual presence…
The film shows messed up, euphoric characters, and I wanted a visual portrayal of the inner quandaries they are struggling with. I didn’t want to shy away from going deep inside their minds and extracting images. I love this idea of embracing experimental practices and bringing them into slightly more mainstream cinema, even if I’m aware of the fact that I don’t make the most mainstream films in the world (laughs)! There’s a whole “fringe” that has nurtured my love of the cinema and I want to bring that into my universe, make it more visible. I’m thinking for example of Paul Sharits’ films that used strobing to give a flicker effect to images and I picked up on that to portray the killer’s negative image “memories”.
How did you go about working on the music with your brother, Anthony Gonzalez? What desires guided you in this particular project?
We wanted to recapture the Gialli ambiance of the 70s, to feel that sinister yet sentimental tone. But we also needed to distance ourselves from that in order to create something contemporary, and not find ourselves in a pastiche of the genre and its music. Faithful yet unfaithful at the same time… We are both poetical and even sentimental, in a certain way. We wanted to dive in headlong, particularly as melancholy and poetry are found in numerous 70s horror film sound tracks, from films by Lucio Fulci to those by Mario Bava – I’m thinking in particular of the harrowing sound tracks of Don’t Torture a Duckling or Twitch of the Death Nerve.
And here again, this principle of pleasure came rushing back: I got Anthony to listen some old sound tracks from straight and gay porn films. He quickly gathered the musical codes and finally, the most beautiful tracks in Knife + Heart the most pleasurable ones, are probably the ones he recreated for the film’s fake porn movies.
For this sound track, Anthony worked once again with Nicolas Fromageau, who he’d already worked with on the first two M83 albums and who’s a childhood friend. For the three of us, there’s something about Knife+Heart that’s strongly linked to our teenage years and the films that fostered our love of cinema.
The films I liked as a teenager were a little more “strange”. My brother is four years younger than me and he told me a few years after the fact that he and Nicolas used to sneak into my bedroom in Antibes to watch my videos by Jodorowsky, Richard Kern and Jean Rollin… And they were quite marked by that! The sound track to Knife+Heart was a way for Nicolas, Anthony and I to come back to our first loves, our first powerful images and sensations from the cinema.
How did you deal with shooting the porn scenes? They’re extremely suggestive, but you don’t actually see anything head-on.
I didn’t want the sexuality to veil Anne’s tragedy, her adventure, which for me is the film’s backbone. It’s first and foremost the portrait of a woman and it just so happens she produces porn films. We kept all the imagery and the substance and had great fun with that but without showing the coarsest of images because to top it off, that’s not what I retain from porn films of the period. I wanted to come back to a sort of innocence and naïveté that you saw in the first porn films. It was before AIDS came on the scene and there was an obvious enjoyment in playing together, and taking pleasure together and some films even mixed heterosexual and homosexual sex scenes. Nicolas Maury dealt really well with this playful aspect in the fantastic way he has of playing with genders, identities, and even his own femininity when he portrays a transgender version of Vanessa in several scenes.
It was important to make these scenes moments of comedy and to bring a certain joy into the sex. The aim was to make the viewer want to be a part of things. I think that a young heterosexual male could quite easily want to live within the film. For me it’s a much more important gesture, and much more political than showing sex scenes in order to shock the middle class… who aren’t actually shocked by much and haven’t been in a very long time!
In any case, your cinema contains more of an erotic element rather than veritable pornography.
For me, cinema is ontologically erotic. We mentioned De Palma a little earlier. We could also have mentioned Verhoeven, Argento, Fulci and dozen other great or lesser masters who aren’t so well known. I miss that subversion in today’s cinema. Sexuality cuts through feelings; it’s part of what forms a person, part of his or her story. Anne is tormented by her sexuality, through her work but also because of the way she loves. The use of voyeurism inherited from De Palma recurs throughout the story: Anne spies on her editor through a spyhole; two boys are spied on by one’s father as they have sex… It’s something that is repeated throughout the film. There’s a very erotic desire that isn’t mine, it belongs to the film itself, to its very essence. We’re in a time of regression and puritanism that I wanted to go against whilst recapturing the lifeblood of cinema.
De Palma’s self-aware voyeuristic relationship to not only his female characters, but the medium itself, like Hitchcock’s, was what gave his films a jolt, and made his films so endlessly fascinating, and complicated, as well as how technically facile and inventive De Palma dealt with the medium itself. De Palma’s perversity in staging violence was witty and very cinematic. I can’t think of a moment of realistic violence in a De Palma film… the stabbing in Sisters, the pig’s blood and the massacre at the prom in Carrie, Fiona Lewis spinning to her death, midair, and John Cassavetes exploding in The Fury, the elevator slashing in Dressed To Kill, the chainsaw sequence in Scarface. And all of this done on a grand scale that will never be replicated in movies again. Yes, this was the 1970s when De Palma started making a string of great films, with Carrie probably being his go-to masterpiece, and one of the key films of the New Hollywood. Though with each successive viewing of De Palma’s 1981 John Travolta conspiracy thriller, Blow Out, I’m not totally positive about that anymore. Though Blow Out is Quentin Tarantino’s favorite movie. My own personal faves from him remain Phantom Of The Paradise and Dressed To Kill, where the killer is a tormented, pre-op transexual. Oh my God, oh my God, I just heard the Teen Vogue staff self-immolating...
...There’s only one medium shot of Brian De Palma talking that we return to throughout the documentary, in the same room, in the same blue shirt, but the majority of the movie is a brilliant and seamless array of clips from De Palma’s movies, and it is a visually overwhelming experience. I had not seen some of these images on a big screen in decades, and I was in awe. Oh, my God, movies used to look like that. De Palma says at one point about him and Spielberg and George Lucas, and Coppola and Scorsese, the directors who led the New Hollywood revolution in the 1970s, that this kind of moment, this auteurist freedom played out within the studio system, with directors making films for adults, will never return. And it reminds us that it was over almost before it began. De Palma reminds us that it wasn’t Jaws or Star Wars that ended the New Hollywood (aesthetically, they are examples of it), it was actually (as John Carpenter pointed out a couple of weeks ago) the failure of one of the grandest auteur movies ever made by a studio, Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate, that closed the door on an era. I don’t want to be a nostalgist, and neither does De Palma, but I feel a deep sense of loss comparing the movies then with the movies now.
The first annual Sleepy Hollow International Film Festival will include a "special celebration" (or "special presentation") of Phantom Of The Paradise. The fest runs October 10-13, 2019, in Sleepy Hollow, New York. With the event still months away, we'll keep an eye out for any updates on potential guests for this one.
In the meantime, here is a list of upcoming Phantom Of The Paradise events this year::
October 10-13, in Sleepy Hollow: The first annual Sleepy Hollow International Film Festival will include a special celebration of Phantom Of The Paradise.
"Young Clayburgh too, don't forget," O'Malley responded back. "She's one of my favorite actresses. I think it's funny and ridiculous!" In three followup tweets, O'Malley added, "Ponderous pompous minister, taking bride and groom aside to give them advice on marriage, and ends up babbling about miniature golf, trying to extend the metaphor, and failing. I saw this a million years ago - then saw it was streaming on Amazon. Bizarre! What's most interesting is seeing De Niro before he knew who he was as an actor. Trying to be jovial/one of the guys - which is the character. It's just not right for him - already. He knows it now but he didn't then - but still, he tries, b/c that's the gig. It's very touching."
In another response, O'Malley's fellow RogerEbert.com critic Peter Sobczynski mentioned that The Wedding Party is included on Arrow's recent De Niro/De Palma box set.