"WE ALL WANT TO BE ON OMAR'S GOOD SIDE, OBVIOUSLY"
The Wrap shared an exclusive clip this morning from Brian De Palma's Domino, which you can watch below:
Hello and welcome to the unofficial Brian De Palma website.
Here is the latest news:
a la Mod:
Yesterday, Nick Newman tweeted, "Not hyperbolic to say Brian De Palma’s Domino features the single greatest transition from final image to directorial credit in cinema history."
And last Friday, syndicated film critic Roger Moore had the first "official" review of Domino to come out of the gate:
No, what we”re here for are the homages to Hitchcock, a rooftop nod to “Vertigo” and a finale that conjures up memories of “Stagefright” and Doris Day’s turn as a Hitchcock blonde in “The Man Who Knew Too Much.”
DePalma interjects random bits of up-to-the-minute surveillance tech into a movie whose clumsy, cut-and-paste script sees Danish cops having basic European geography and geopolitics explained to them. And to us.
But that payoff “bravura sequence” has multiple points of view, a crowd, lots of slo-mo and the threat of violence on a vast scale, all of it set to a bolero — not Ravel’s “Bolero,” just a pastiche of it.
And friends, if the entire movie had been as good as this Spanish last act, they’d have had something here.
Similarly, in the Samuel Blumenfeld and Laurent Vachaud book Conversations with Brian De Palma, De Palma says: "With one of my friends, Kenny Burrows, I started a small company to shoot documentaries and industrial films. The goal was to make enough money to finance a feature film. We essentially filmed two commissions. The first, on social housing for African Americans in New Orleans, was placed by the NAACP. The film was entitled Bridge That Gap."
The company formed by De Palma and Burrows was called Aries Documentaries, and the end of To Bridge This Gap includes a copyright date of 1969. In the film, which is about 25 minutes long, one of the lawyers (Michael Davidson) makes reference to the riots of Newark, New Jersey, which took place in 1967. It seems possible that De Palma and Burrows were working on the NAACP doc while also working on other film projects. De Palma's regular collaborator Robert Fiore is credited as the cinematographer, while another regular collaborator, Bruce Rubin, is credited as the editor.
The feature film goal that De Palma speaks about above turned out to be Murder A La Mod, made in 1967 and released by Aries Documentaries. In 1968, De Palma, Fiore, and Rubin shot two stage performances of Dionysus in '69. The split-screen documentary was completed and released in 1970.
To Bridge This Gap is available to watch in its entirety (below) via YouTube and the NAACP LDF.
"A second edition under the sign of doubling and sustainability," declared festival director Tiziana Rocca (in pictures here, to the right of Longoria). "Double the theaters, with the Cristallo Cinema and the large Arena of Forte Village open to all for free. The films in the program are multiplied with a schedule of about 30 titles in a selection that also includes 5 works chosen by ‘Variety’, in the artistic committee of the Festival. Because we want to provide the Festival to the public-- especially to the young people-- premiere films, but also documentaries, short films and TV series, with the aim of bringing the new generations ever closer to the big screen. We will open with a grand auteur like Brian De Palma and his Domino, shot in part in Sardinia, with actors of the caliber of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Carice van Houten. And for the previews dedicated to the TV series we will also have an episode of the upcoming TV series Caccia al ladro (To Catch A Thief). In this edition we also wanted sustainable development as a common thread to counter the unconditional exploitation of environmental resources. Also the awards realized by Maestro Gerardo Sacco will be in a special edition made with eco-sustainable materials."
At today's event, Longoria also presented the Filming Italy Cannes Award to Werner Herzog, who is at Cannes with his new film, Family Romance, LLC.
HERZOG SAYS MAKING FILM IN JAPAN, IN JAPANESE WITH NON-PROFESSIONAL ACTORS, "WAS DONE WITH A COMPLETE SENSE OF FREEDOM"
Speaking of Herzog, he is at Cannes for the first time in 25 years, with a film he funded himself called Family Romance, LLC, which was shot in Japan, in Japanese, with non-professional actors, using translators as go-betweens. Herzog does not speak Japanese, and tells Variety's Stewart Clarke that the experience was freeing and joyful:
Did “Family Romance” come together quickly?
It came very quickly; it was instantly there. I knew it was so big I had to immediately tackle it. And there was competition, I believe, from Amblin that wanted to something like that. I do believe one of the great actors of Hollywood wanted to do something about it. But before they even sent the deal memo to an attorney, I was already filming.
It’s Japanese-language. How challenging was that?
It was done with a complete sense of freedom. I didn’t have the demands of having one or two world stars in it. I started filming with this great sense of freedom – essentially I’m stepping back into filmmaking like [1972’s] “Aguirre, the Wrath of God,” or even [1970’s] “Even Dwarfs Started Small,” this complete sense of freedom and joy of filmmaking.
Do you speak any Japanese?
I do not speak Japanese. The go-betweens while shooting were intelligent translators. It made me even faster because I did not have to have the spoken dialogue verbatim. It was clear the actors would have a situation that they had to act in and very clear demands: ‘This part of the dialogue has to be hit at this mark, but how you are getting to that point you can articulate in Japanese. You don’t have to learn a text; you have to learn a situation.’
Listening to the dialogue I could sense if the mood was right or off target. It came with ease.
Was funding the picture a challenge?
I funded it myself completely, and my company Skellig Rock is the production company. I have done two more films in the last 12 months, and I earned some of the money through that. I’m still earning through other things I am doing – for example, through “The Mandalorian” part. Through the “The Mandalorian” earnings I partially finance “Family Romance.” It’s my own money, and I earn it in all sorts of ways. The only thing I haven’t done is bank robbery.
Is the resulting picture going to surprise people?
In my film there is not a single moment that you have ever seen in a movie, although it looks completely normal and regular. When you take a good look, there is not a single thing you have ever seen in any movie. That was completely organic. The awe comes because you have not seen what you are seeing there.
You shoot what you really want to see on the screen. It’s only the essence. That’s the only thing I would film. Because of that, I have barely 300 to 350 minutes of footage in total. It’s very natural for me, and nothing is missing.
Does that rogue filmmaking style mean that a wider selection of people can make movies?
Of course – just look at “Family Romance.” If you are barefoot native from the Andes in Peru, you can make a feature film.
Here's an excerpt from Lussier's interview with Schrader at io9:
io9: As writer and filmmaker yourself, how do you see the podcast as a new form of storytelling going ahead? Is Blockbuster the first of its kind?
Schrader: I started my career as an investigative journalist with CBS and NBC, and I left to pursue my first documentary. After doing the whole theatrical release campaign for that, I really fell in love with this idea of immersive true stories...that I think transcends whatever platform it is, because there are so many ways to create stories nowadays: movies, TV, web videos, podcasts, Snapchat, etc. It all starts with a powerful story.
Steven Spielberg once said in an interview, “a great story is a great story,” which actually made it into one of his conversations with George in Blockbuster. So in some ways, I don’t know that the platform matters if it’s done well. It just so happens that podcasts are this massive new expanding world people are discovering right now, and sound and music are so vitally important to the story we wanted to tell.
io9: Did you have to get permission from anyone or any company involved to do this, or is it all fair rights? Meaning Fox, Universal, the individuals dramatized, etc.
Schrader: It was a very extensive process because these huge movies are part of the story arc, and how can you tell a story about Star Wars without mentioning Star Wars? I always kind of chuckle when I’m watching something on TV and there’s a generic version of “Coca-Cola” and it’s called something like “Cool-Cola.” We all know what they’re referencing, but it really takes the viewer away from the story. We wanted to make sure we weren’t overstepping anything creatively but could be realistic and use archival audio and music and film clips to tell the story. It did require the help of a legal and clearance team so we knew how we could include the opening of the 1976 Academy Awards telecast, for instance. I’m glad we went that route because it’s much more authentic and feels real.
io9: What were some of your primary sources in piecing together this story? Did any of the actual principals help at all? Did you reach out to them?
Schrader: Oh, so many sources. It ranged from letters and documents from their offices during that era, to newspaper clippings, and lots of video interviews. There have also been a number of books that touch on this era of filmmaking, so we were really trying to pinpoint the friendship of George and Steven in all of these sources, and create a biography of their friendship.
In my experience as a journalist, biographical stories can come off as “staged” if they directly involve their subjects, and we wanted to maintain journalistic standing, and avoid any criticism of being part of someone’s “public relations” team (which would do this story a disservice too). This is such a powerful story of inspiration, and struggle, and triumph—and it’s done in such respect and admiration for what George and Steven ultimately accomplished. We felt Blockbuster was best created 100 percent independently and journalistically. It’s always important to get as close as possible to the setting, however, so we prioritized interviews from the 1970s to try to get the most accurate descriptions of how it all really happened. We actually included one scene in which George meets one of the journalists who wrote about him on the set of Star Wars, which actually happened. So there are parts that can be very meta.
io9: The actual dialogue and interactions, closed-door private stuff—is that mostly educated guesswork or how did you go about approaching the writing of those scenes?
Schrader: It was one of the most interesting research projects I’ve ever done, and arguably the most unique part of this series because we started to piece together these moments, sort of like a detective would if investigating something. We would find these old archival interviews where George talks about meeting Steven, and someone else’s interview that says where they were, and someone else who described the environment that day. We started to take those millions of little jigsaw puzzle pieces and start to form a picture. Where we could, we tried to use their exact words, like when Brian De Palma saw Star Wars for the first time and asked George, “What is this shit?”
io9: Did you have any trouble putting together a crew, both above the line and below the line, for this mostly unfamiliar approach to storytelling? Were people skeptical?
Schrader: Well, it’s new and new things always require a little explanation. I was fortunate to meet some of the crew on my 2017 film Score: A Film Music Documentary, but this was an entirely different format. We kind of settled on this as being a “biopic podcast series” or “biopod,” which is a term for this genre we’ve sort of coined now.
Fortunately, sound designer Peter Bawiec was into this idea from the very start, and his passion shines through this series, especially in the scenes where we see Steven and George grappling with chaos around them.
I realize I just said “see,” which isn’t technically accurate, but it’s kind of like a good book in that your brain puts you right there with them on the set of Jaws and Star Wars.
When you developed SCORE, you spoke to several industry professional in addition to the impressive line-up of composers. Who were your go-to subjects for Blockbuster, and what went into your research?
I come from a journalism background, so I’m comfortable in the deep dive research side of things and pulling information that can contribute to a broader understanding of what’s going on. We discussed the idea of doing a documentary, but I wasn’t sure this was the right approach, mainly because that, in some form, has been done before. What’s brand new here is this friendship and relationship between Spielberg and Lucas and how they support each other and are competitive with each other in this era. It really inspires them to keep going.
That’s a story that’d never been told. In the hundreds of archival interviews, books and other research documents that we sifted through for this, that’s a storyline that not been shared, but it’s one that any struggling artist relates to. It’s really interesting to me to see how these people who became the most influential people in the last four decades were just kids tying to aim for an achieve their dreams. That’s really powerful on a personal level aside from the fact that their work revolutionized the entire film business.
As a producer, you’re assembling new and pre-existing material into your product. To the listener, a podcast might not seem that difficult to pull off. But break it down for us. Do you have to know every single move before you something, or can you wing it?
Putting this together is like doing a jigsaw puzzle with a million pieces. [Laughs] Every piece relates to each other, but you don’t really know where each piece is supposed to end up. Short answer is that it’s harder than it sounds. [Laughs] When we started this, we didn’t know how many layers there would be to the research, the coordination, and the accuracy – journalistically and creatively – of all the elements that we’ve compiled over the entire series. It’s difficult to say without heavy creative feedback from legal consul whether we can or can’t do things in the storytelling, and it required careful navigation that to be able to bring all those elements together in a way that told a powerful story all the while referencing archival materials, books, documentaries, featurettes and interviews they had done. It’s part of what took so long to pull this all together; it’s a story, not just a set of facts.
(Thanks to Hugh!)
Shortly thereafter, De Palma asked Litto to represent him, but Litto told him he wasn't going to be an agent much longer, that he was going to produce. He said he was going to quit being an agent in a year, and De Palma told him, "I'll be happy to have you for a year." Litto's daughter, Andria Litto, tells The Hollywood Reporter's Mike Barnes that Litto went on to mortgage his own house in order to finance De Palma's Obsession. Litto was also instrumental as a reference for Paul Monash, who wasn't quite sure about hiring De Palma as director of Carrie.
Litto went on to produce two highly regarded De Palma films: Dressed To Kill and Blow Out. On the latter film, Litto agreed with Hirsch and Nancy Allen that there should be a happy ending. De Palma did not agree. In a Fiction Factory interview from Carlotta's 2012 DVD edition of Blow Out (quoted in the Douglas Keesey book, Brian De Palma's Split-Screen), Litto says, "I always felt that the girl should be saved in Blow Out and they should go see Sugar Babies, but [De Palma's] view was different, and the film still has many admirers that way. But I was a firm believer in the Hitchcock concept: you meet two people you like; they get into jeopardy; and you root for them to extricate themselves safely."