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Tuesday, April 16, 2019
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/zoomarriere.jpgThe French-language blog Zoom Arrière has published its first book, Les Films de Brian De Palma. The plan is to create, over time, a collection of similar books on films and filmmakers. "You will find (for a small fee), spread over 138 pages, 55 articles revisiting all of the director's 29 feature films, and more," states a post on the blog. "These articles are written by 13 contributors who have all participated, at one time or another, to the animation of this blog." The price of the book is 5 euros (plus 4 euros for postage), and can be ordered via the blog's online shop.

Posted by Geoff at 10:01 PM CDT
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Friday, April 12, 2019

An assistant editor on Domino who tweets as "Ammo" said on Twitter this morning that "there was never a 148 minute cut of the film or anything even approaching that." Domino was edited by Bill Pankow, and after a bit of scrolling through the IMDB credits for the film, the name Anthony Morone, an assistant editor on the film, seems a good bet as to the identity of Ammo (Olivier Lambrechts is also listed as an assistant editor).

As I first posted on April 4, 2018, sites such as the IMDB and Wikipedia were, at that time, both listing the running time for Brian De Palma's Domino at 148 minutes. We all found out two months later that, according to De Palma himself, Domino had not even been completed until late May of 2018. Both the IMDB and Wikipedia are subject to random user edits, but 148-minutes (which has, in more recent rumors, morphed into 150-minutes) curiously matches that of Brimstone, which also has the precise running time of 148 minutes. Brimstone also stars Guy Pearce and Carice van Houten, and shares some of the same producers as Domino.

Posted by Geoff at 3:20 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, April 14, 2019 3:25 PM CDT
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Thursday, April 11, 2019

Jordan Raup, a critic for The Film Stage who also writes for Film Comment and other outlets, tweeted a first impression of Domino this morning before posting a slightly longer version on Letterboxd, where he gives the film three and a half stars:
Only Brian De Palma would make a terrorism thriller in which he's most interested in their filmmaking methods. Hugely entertaining in spurts (mostly setpieces and high melodrama), if noticeably compromised elsewhere (transitional scenes and standard crime drama machinations). Another bombastic Pino Donaggio score layering nearly every moment and José Luis Alcaine's cinematography is a peculiar mix of buoyantly colorful and DTV-esque flatness. An I-can't-believe-he-did-this banger of an ending.

Back on Twitter, Aza124 asks Raup, "How long was the cut you saw?" Raup responds, "89 minutes. I know there's a rumored 150-minute cut, but I couldn't quite imagine that version revealing a hidden masterpiece based on what's here. Though I'd certainly watch it."

Raup's response echoes that of Austin critic Jacob Knight, who posted a two-and-a-half-star review on Letterboxd April 1st. Responding to a comment about "the 148 minute cut," Knight said, "I'm not sure where that runtime is being taken from (maybe the early test screenings that occurred before Berlinale?), but I'm definitely sure I wouldn't want to sit through almost 2.5 hours of this movie (oh, who am I kidding, if they released it, I'd watch it ASAP)." Despite feeling disappointed with Domino overall, Knight says a lot of good things about the movie in his review:

"We're Americans. We read your emails."

Ugh. This is a tough one.

De Palma has already stated in interviews that DOMINO was "underfunded", and that he spent most of his 100 days in Denmark/Holland/Spain/Italy waiting around in hotel rooms while the money men kept "lying", and even refused to pay certain crew members at the end of production. Out of those 100, he only shot for 30, and the finished product went back to the producers, who basically bungled it playing any fests and sold it to DTV distributor Saban Films, who are quietly releasing his take on Scandi Noir this May.

To be fair, the finished cut of DOMINO feels like an unfinished film, right down to the chintzy, placeholder-esque title card and lack of any cast or crew listings before we're thrown into a convoluted tale of two Copenhagen cops literally stumbling into a terrorist plot that claims one of their lives, and sends the other (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) on a quest for revenge. Along this crooked path, we also find a smarmy CIA man (Guy Pearce) who essentially uses the Euro dick's vengeance vector (FEMME FATALE's Eriq Ebouaney!) as a pawn in his own game to take down this terror cell. On paper, this actually sounds like meaty pulp that BDP could really sink his teeth into, concocting set pieces not too far removed from his pop cinema masterpiece, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE.

In classic De Palma fashion there are two straight up great set pieces. The first is the initial pursuit of Ebouaney's terror suspect across a rooftop, which evokes some serious VERTIGO vibes. The second is the finale at a bullfight being held at Spain's Plaza de Toros, which involves a drone, a suicide bomber dressed as a beer vendor, some binoculars, and Carice van Houten frantically searching for any way to stop an atrocity from happening. These are both wonderful fun, and when coupled with a masterful early set up scene (where we ominously descend upon a gun as two lovers embrace - BDP's own spin on Chekhov, I suppose), remind you that DOMINO could've only been made by one artist with a particular, peculiar set of fascinations. There's also a brilliant thread about how terrorist videos (both manifestos and beheading clips) play on human beings' morbid inclination toward voyeurism, that isn't fully fleshed out, but feels of a piece with the rest of his leering filmography.

Unfortunately, the rest is pretty poorly stitched together, barely running over 80 minutes (which could be a positive, depending on the viewer's own vantage point), with regular Almodovar cinematographer José Luis Alcaine's photography appearing oddly flat. Even Pino Donaggio's score - which is just as a brilliantly bombastic and beautiful as we've come to expect - can't lift the limp drama that occurs between these moments. It's a bummer, but a watchable bummer, making me hope that De Palma's book (ARE SNAKES NECESSARY?) eventually is translated into English (try as I may, I can't read French) and that someone gives him money to make PREDATOR (or anything else), ensuring that DOMINO is not the period at the end of my favorite filmmaker's sentence.

Posted by Geoff at 10:21 AM CDT
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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Posted by Geoff at 12:14 AM CDT
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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

During the Quais du polar on-stage discussion in Lyon March 29, someone in the audience asked Brian De Palma and Susan Lehman about their appreciation for the popular French television series A French Village:
De Palma: Ah, the French Village.

Lehman: We almost made it through an interview without mentioning it.

De Palma: A friend of Susan's turned us on to A French Village. And we were totally engrossed in it. And when we were on our last book tour-- and if we had sold a few more books we wouldn't be back here [laughter]-- we talked about how much we loved A French Village. And the producer and show runner contacted me with an idea of how to do A French Village in America. And we are meeting at a restaurant, dreaming it up.

Lehman: Forgive me-- he left out a key thing. It's about the Civil War, but the same sort of template as A French Village.

De Palma: So much to do, so little time.

Today, Télérama's Pierre Langlais reports on De Palma's meeting with the producer and show runner mentioned above, which took place in Paris yesterday. The French series was created by Frédéric Krivine (pictured above, on the far right), Philippe Triboit (who directed many of the show's episodes), and producer Emmanuel Daucé (pictured above, second from left). Running for seven seasons. the popular drama, set during the period of the second world war, "follows the lives of ordinary people in a small French village under German occupation," according to Variety's Elsa Keslassy. According to Langlais' report in Télérama, De Palma will work with Krivine "on this American version tentatively entitled Newton 1861, whose plot will take place in a fictional city of Kentucky, between 1861 and 1865."

In the picture above at far left is Jean-François Boyer, president of Tetra Media Fiction, which produced A French Village and is also associated with the new project. Langlais mentions that Newton 1861 "will only see the light of day on condition of finding a broadcaster."

Langlais continues, "A touching historical chronicle full of twists, reflecting on the period of occupation [within the lives] of women and men, A French Village has developed its original story through seven seasons, stripped of all manichéisme. The challenge of this American version will be to adapt its dramatic tensions as well as its ethical and political questions to the local context, to slavery and to a civil war constituting the American nation."

And it looks like De Palma and Krivine plan to get working on development right away: the book Krivine is holding in the picture above is Slavery Times in Kentucky by J. Winston Coleman.

Posted by Geoff at 7:08 PM CDT
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Monday, April 8, 2019

Two or three days ago, Paprika Steen, who appears in Domino and can be seen in the film's trailer, shared the picture above (taken by still photographer Rolf Konow) on her Instagram page, with the message, "By the way , I’m in the next Brian De Palma movie . A small part but ....Brian De Palma . Domino."

A day later, Jay Pothof, who has a small role as the son of Eriq Ebouaney's character in Domino, posted to his Instagram page a cropped frame from the movie's trailer (the full shot is below), with the message, "So so Proud...This is a still from the movie Domino, to be released very soon in the US. Director is Brian De Palma (legendary). I had the huge honor to have a role in this film. We went to Copenhagen for the taping. You can see me in the still in the upper right corner. Was a very intense scene."

Posted by Geoff at 11:19 PM CDT
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Sunday, April 7, 2019

Following up yesterday's post about Ella-June Henrard, I've come across an interview from last year with Belgian/Iranian actress Sachli Gholamalizad, seen in the pic above, with Brian De Palma and José Luis Alcaine, during a June 2017 overnight shoot on Domino in Amsterdam. In an interview with Filip Tielens in De Standaard, posted July 20, 2018, Gholamalizad brings up her role as a suicide bomber in Domino:
"I think people often don't get me," Gholamalizad says about acting. "I am very gentle, but I am always asked for extreme roles. In the new Swedish series Stockholm Requiem I play an Israeli-Palestinian double agent whose child is murdered. I had to play a very emotional scene in Hebrew, in the middle of the night at minus ten degrees. In Brian De Palma's movie Domino, I play a suicide bomber. That is actually the film in which Mourade Zeguendi did not, on principle, want to play. I also struggled with it myself. I have no problem playing a terrorist, such roles are sometimes more interesting than good women roles. But then the story must be good. If it is only told to confirm cliches and to contribute to the heroic acts of a white protagonist, then I ask myself enormous questions. I am not afraid to play people with a color or other origin, but I want those roles to be three-dimensional and flesh and blood."

In April of 2017, Mourade Zeguendi, an actor from Brussels, posted a video on Facebook and Instagram saying he had turned down a role as a "terrorist from Molenbeek" in De Palma's film because he was fed up with "this kind of typecasting." Zeguendi elaborated a few days later, telling De Standaard's Jeroen Struys, "I am fed up. Apparently, someone with a darker skin always has to play someone with only one characteristic: his skin color. That hurts me. There is a difference between playing a Mafioso and a terrorist. And when I heard that phrase: 'terrorist from Molenbeek', I said stop. This is not Afghanistan here, huh. As a father, a Belgian and an inhabitant of Brussels, I say: stop. Stop with that simplistic view of the world."

Posted by Geoff at 3:16 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, April 7, 2019 3:24 PM CDT
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Saturday, April 6, 2019

I hadn't discovered this until just yesterday, but in February of 2018, Flemish actress Ella-June Henrard, a star in Belgium from the age of 16, talked to P Magazine's Koen De Nef about being called to work on Brian De Palma's Domino. Henrard had a key role during two overnight shoots in Amsterdam in June 2017. Here's the excerpt (with the help of Google Translate) in which she talks about the experience:
Do I hear that right, Brian De Palma? The man behind Mission: Impossible, Scarface and The Untouchables? How did you manage that?
“He needed an actress for a certain scene in his latest movie Domino, but he couldn't find the ideal girl. Suddenly I received a phone call a few weeks ago: 'Ella-June, we're looking for an actress and you're the perfect person. It's for a Brian De Palma movie.' At first I had to reject the offer because I was too busy, but because they insisted, I accepted it anyway. I swallowed. I was going to start filming with the Brian De Palma. I was already stressed when I thought about it. (laughs) But it was just a small roll, though. We did two nights of filming."

Has he really directed you? Or did his assistant do that?
“I did not expect it either, but it was De Palma himself who gave me directions on the set. After a few bloody shots I had to be brushed up. Suddenly someone from the production came to me. 'Would you like to come to Brian's tent?' she asked. I thought, 'Oh no, he thinks I'm bad.' I was also quite nervous. And nice and uncomfortable, dressed in a giant dress with a trail. So I went to his tent with a little heart. 'Hi Brian!' I squeaked. 'Come in, darling. I just want to tell you that you're doing a very good job. Thank you,' he said. When I came back out of his tent again, I thought to myself, 'Okay, little ego-boost, yes!' (laughs) It was really just very nice."

Makes it a lot more difficult, looking up at someone like that and consequently being a lot more nervous...
“Absolutely. And I know that nerves can hinder me very much. I am a fairly easy going type by nature, but at such moments the stress takes over. You hear, 'Ella wanted on the set.' And then he explains this and that. 'Oh, fuck, what did he say again?' I begin to stress. Anyway, it was an action scene, so there was probably a lot of adrenaline flowing through my body. As a result, the stress was not so obvious. But it was really an exciting experience."



Posted by Geoff at 8:28 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, April 6, 2019 1:46 PM CDT
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Wednesday, April 3, 2019
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/domino1stposter.jpgEntertainment Tonight has an exclusive today with the first trailer for Brian De Palma's Domino. Later, a better version was posted on YouTube (embedded below). Thanks to bakiniz for tweeting the poster, and to BrianDePalmaArchives for noting that the credits at the end of the trailer reveal that longtime De Palma collaborator Bill Pankow is the editor on Domino.


Posted by Geoff at 4:58 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, April 4, 2019 6:39 AM CDT
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The picture above, taken and tweeted by Livrivore1, shows Susan Lehman and Brian De Palma during last Friday's on-stage discussion at Quais du Polar. The entire on-stage discussion can be listened to at Sondekla, although if you do not speak French, it is a challenge to figure out what the questions are-- it appears they might have had De Palma and Lehman reading English translations of the French-speaking moderator Hélène Fischbach from a screen.

Some intriguing comments and mentions: Lehman at one point mentions that their American publisher had wanted them to change the opening sentences of the novel... can we look forward to an English-language version of Are Snakes Necessary? They also mention two more possible novels in the works. Here's a partial transcript of the discussion, limited by my speculations about the questions that were asked. Please note that De Palma often leaps into sarcasm in a single bound, so imagine a sarcasm font in several places (usually followed by laughter on stage or from the audience)...

[Where did you get the idea for Are Snakes Necessary?]

De Palma: Where did I get the idea? Well, let me see...from the Edwards campaign, where he had a young lady taking videos of him that were supposed to show the truth of a campaign... of a campaigner on the campaign trail. And when I saw the video-- they were called webisodes-- and she was posting them on the web, and you could see by the way he was addressing the camera, i.e. her, he was, uhh, talking about the campaign, talking about himself, and looking at her in a very...snake-like way. And of course, a relationship developed, and the campaign manager's going, "We gotta get rid of this girl!" Which essentially, that's where, in the Edwards campaign, he not only had an affair with her, he knocked her up. And then, can you believe, he said his married assistant did it! You cannot make this stuff up.

[The Chandra Levy murder is brought up...]

De Palma: Oh yeah, that's another case that fascinated me. Again, another politician having an affair with one of his attractive young assistants, and one day, she disappears. And they go to the, I think it was a Congressman: "Do you know where she might be?" And he says, "No, she's only an assistant, I know nothing..." But of course, it all came out, he was having an affair with her, and then everybody thought he had something to do with getting rid of her. We have so many great political stories in America.

[Shift to talking about current administration...]

De Palma: There's so much material out there. How about paying off a porn star?

Lehman: The best-running serial TV in America right now, and arguably, the best comedy show, is the news. We sit down in front of the news every night. You can tell me whether you think it's comedy or not, but it's very engaging. I think the answer to your question is, Trump has no humor whatsoever, and yet, he has all the power. So, we need humor to survive, clearly, but... And this administration, of course, has been a great gift to late night comedy and humorists.

De Palma: Don't say too much against him. He is going to tweet against you. And what's he going to call you?

Lehman: A snake! [De Palma laughs]

De Palma: Well, he hasn't gotten us into any bad wars yet. And I grew up in an era where we were in crazy places for reasons one could never figure out. You know, it's sort of like Brexit. What is it? And why must we get out of it? [De Palma laughs] So, yeah, I went and made many movies about how terrible I thought our invasions of these other countries were. Because all the reasons they gave made no sense whatsoever. And of course, after Vietnam, we invade Iraq. There's a good idea, don't you think? What a great job we did there. But Trump is basically an isolationist. And he just wants to stay there and make all the money, and just, don't get into too much trouble. Except for all those Mexicans coming across the border!

[A question about how the pair worked together in writing the book...]

Lehman: We did not share the roles. We really did it together. Part of the fun was writing to each other. And in a way, that speaks to the parentheses that you mentioned, because I would be writing almost as if a letter, and he would write back...

[Then, a followup comment having something to do, perhaps, with the humor in the book resembling the authors' own back-and-forth banter?]

Lehman: Yeah, I think that's fair. We were trying to crack each other up.

[The moderator, noting something about a punchline and the way De Palma tells stories, reads the first part of the novel: "Barton Brock is having a bad day. A very bad day. Contrary to what his doctor had promised him, vasectomy is not a painless operation."] [laughter in the audience]

De Palma: That was based on a friend. [more laughter]

Lehman: Please tell the audience thank you for laughing, because our American publisher wanted to change the first sentence.

De Palma talks about how a career in film has valleys, and that in one of those periods in which the phone is not ringing because your last picture played "for fifteen seconds," they decided to write a book.

But then Lehman says, "Trust the tale not the teller? That's completely false. The book started because the phone was ringing constantly. And it was a producer who had notes on something Brian was working on. And I saw his jaw getting more and more clenched every day. And it seemed like a very good thing to do would be to stop taking those phone calls and begin something new."

[Male/female point-of-view question?...]

Lehman: Well, that was one thing that really interested me about this book. Brian has a very muscular sensibility, I think. And as you say, there are a lot of references that a man probably wouldn't make. So I think one way you could read the book, if you felt like it, is, what happens to a very masculine imagination when it comes into contact with the more feminine element.

De Palma: I have no idea what she's talking about. [laughter]

Lehman: There's a lot in this book that you would not have written yourself if left to your own devices. I think our readers would agree.

De Palma: I just saw two people walk out. [laughter]

Lehman: It's because of what you said.

[A question about differences between writing for film and writing for a novel...?]

De Palma: Well, in a book you can have even more kind of complicated twists of the plot, and this book has many surprises in the way the story is told. In a movie, like a couple I can remember from my distant past... Raising Cain comes to mind... in which their twists are so... twisted, you can lose the audience, because you're looking at it, and it's going by, badap badap badap badap. In a book, you can say, well, wait a minute, did she put that over there, or did she come and... oh, I'll go back a few pages and... And what's interesting about Raising Cain, when I initially made the movie, I felt it was so complicated that I reversed the telling of the stories. Because I thought it would be an easier way to follow the story. And some filmmaker saw the movie and said, wait a minute. He looked at the original script and said, wait a minute, this is completely reversed in the script. So he put it back the way it was initially written. And it really worked! And I said, that's a very good idea that I had originally. I thought it was too confusing, but, it works better the way you put it back originally. And when you leave the auditorium today, we're selling the revised version of Raising Cain.

Lehman: Okay, that's very interesting, but it didn't speak to the question at all. [laughter]

De Palma: Maybe you would like to answer it.

Lehman: All right. Obsessions have their own life, and they haunt the imagination. So Brian as a filmmaker, and Brian as a writer, is haunted by the same thing. So it's not the case that he or we are saying, Vertigo, where do we put that into the plot. As you know if you're the parent of more than one children, people are who they are from the very beginning, and you will see in our second and our third book, additional obsessions, perhaps stemming from me, avenging women, who knows?

De Palma: What? Second and third book?!? [laughter]

[Host says to Brian that he has a brother named Barton.]

De Palma: That's correct.

[She asks if there is a connection to the character in the novel.]

De Palma: It has nothing to do with my brother, he's a lovely person. And don't you try to say anything negative about him.

[After some discussion about the autobiographical aspects of De Palma's films...]

Lehman: I would like to add, on the autobiographical front: I put a lot of the things my ex-boyfriend said in the mouths of the creepiest characters in the novel. And I really recommend that.

Posted by Geoff at 7:48 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, April 3, 2019 7:29 PM CDT
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