Hello and welcome to the unofficial Brian De Palma website.
Here is the latest news:

De Palma a la Mod


De Palma Discussion


Recent Headlines
a la Mod:

Domino is
a "disarmingly
work that "pushes
us to reexamine our
relationship to images
and their consumption,
not only ethically
but metaphysically"
-Collin Brinkman

De Palma on Domino
"It was not recut.
I was not involved
in the ADR, the
musical recording
sessions, the final
mix or the color
timing of the
final print."

Listen to
Donaggio's full score
for Domino online

De Palma/Lehman
rapport at work
in Snakes

De Palma/Lehman
next novel is Terry

De Palma developing
Catch And Kill,
"a horror movie
based on real things
that have happened
in the news"

Supercut video
of De Palma's films
edited by Carl Rodrigue

Washington Post
review of Keesey book


Exclusive Passion

Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
Leila Rozario


AV Club Review
of Dumas book


« June 2019 »
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29


De Palma interviewed
in Paris 2002

De Palma discusses
The Black Dahlia 2006


De Palma Community

The Virtuoso
of the 7th Art

The De Palma Touch

The Swan Archives

Carrie...A Fan's Site


No Harm In Charm

Paul Schrader

Alfred Hitchcock
The Master Of Suspense

Alfred Hitchcock Films

Snake Eyes
a la Mod

Mission To Mars
a la Mod

Sergio Leone
and the Infield
Fly Rule

Movie Mags


The Filmmaker Who
Came In From The Cold

Jim Emerson on
Greetings & Hi, Mom!

Scarface: Make Way
For The Bad Guy

The Big Dive
(Blow Out)

Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
Official Web Site

The Phantom Project

Welcome to the
Offices of Death Records

The Carlito's Way
Fan Page

The House Next Door

Kubrick on the

FilmLand Empire

Astigmia Cinema


Cultural Weekly

A Lonely Place

The Film Doctor


Icebox Movies

Medfly Quarantine

Not Just Movies

Hope Lies at
24 Frames Per Second

Motion Pictures Comics

Diary of a
Country Cinephile

So Why This Movie?

Obsessive Movie Nerd

Nothing Is Written

Ferdy on Films

Cashiers De Cinema

This Recording

Mike's Movie Guide

Every '70s Movie

Dangerous Minds


No Time For
Love, Dr. Jones!

The former
De Palma a la Mod

Entries by Topic
A note about topics: Some blog posts have more than one topic, in which case only one main topic can be chosen to represent that post. This means that some topics may have been discussed in posts labeled otherwise. For instance, a post that discusses both The Boston Stranglers and The Demolished Man may only be labeled one or the other. Please keep this in mind as you navigate this list.
All topics
Ambrose Chapel
Are Snakes Necessary?
Bart De Palma
Beaune Thriller Fest
Becoming Visionary
Betty Buckley
Bill Pankow
Black Dahlia
Blow Out
Blue Afternoon
Body Double
Bonfire Of The Vanities
Boston Stranglers
Bruce Springsteen
Capone Rising
Carlito's Way
Casualties Of War
Catch And Kill
Cinema Studies
Clarksville 1861
Columbia University
Columbo - Shooting Script
Conversation, The
Daft Punk
Dancing In The Dark
David Koepp
De Niro
De Palma & Donaggio
De Palma (doc)
De Palma Blog-A-Thon
De Palma Discussion
Demolished Man
Dick Vorisek
Dionysus In '69
Dressed To Kill
Eric Schwab
Fatal Attraction
Femme Fatale
Film Series
Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Fury, The
Genius of Love
George Litto
Get To Know Your Rabbit
Ghost & The Darkness
Happy Valley
Havana Film Fest
Hi, Mom!
Home Movies
Inspired by De Palma
Iraq, etc.
Jared Martin
Jerry Greenberg
Keith Gordon
Key Man, The
Laurent Bouzereau
Lights Out
Magic Hour
Magnificent Seven
Mission To Mars
Mission: Impossible
Montreal World Film Fest
Mr. Hughes
Murder a la Mod
Nancy Allen
Nazi Gold
Newton 1861
Noah Baumbach
Oliver Stone
Paranormal Activity 2
Parties & Premieres
Paul Hirsch
Paul Schrader
Pauline Kael
Peet Gelderblom
Phantom Of The Paradise
Pino Donaggio
Prince Of The City
Print The Legend
Raggedy Ann
Raising Cain
Red Shoes, The
Responsive Eye
Rie Rasmussen
Robert De Niro
Rotwang muß weg!
Sean Penn
Snake Eyes
Sound Mixer
Star Wars
Stepford Wives
Stephen H Burum
Sweet Vengeance
Taxi Driver
The Tale
To Bridge This Gap
Toronto Film Fest
Treasure Sierra Madre
Tru Blu
Truth And Other Lies
TV Appearances
Untitled Ashton Kutcher
Untitled Hollywood Horror
Untitled Industry-Abuse M
Venice Beach
Vilmos Zsigmond
Wedding Party
William Finley
Wise Guys
Woton's Wake
Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile
You are not logged in. Log in
Sunday, June 9, 2019
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/blowoutbeforeudie.jpgWe noted last week that the Quad Cinema in New York is running a Pauline Kael series through the month of June that includes Brian De Palma's The Fury (critic Charles Taylor will introduce that film's June 18 screening). Over in the U.K., the BFI is doing its own Pauline Kael series throughout June, featuring "works she championed by directors she admired." The series includes De Palma's Blow Out, which will screen June 13, 17, and 22. Also on the 17th, there will be a talk, "Film Criticism According to Pauline Kael," which will look at "the impact her reviews and opinions have on American film culture and the next generation of film writers."

Meanwhile, for whatever reason, The Independent newspaper out of the U.K. posted an article yesterday headlined, "42 films to see before you die, from The Apartment to Paris, Texas." Not sure why they chose 42, exactly, but the article was written by Helen O'Hara and Patrick Smith, who chose the films on the list. Including Blow Out on the list, Smith writes, "John Travolta’s Z-movie sound man, out recording one night, accidentally tapes what turns out to be a political assassination. Brian De Palma hit peak ingenuity and gut-punch profundity with this stunning conspiracy thriller, mounted with a showman’s élan but also harrowing emotional voltage from its star. It’s one of the most delirious thrillers of the 1980s, with a bitterly ironic pay-off that’s played for keeps."

Back in 1981, Kael herself wrote in of the freshly-released Blow Out in The New Yorker:

If you know De Palma’s movies, you have seen earlier sketches of many of the characters and scenes here, but they served more limited—often satirical—purposes. Blow Out isn’t a comedy or a film of the macabre; it involves the assassination of the most popular candidate for the presidency, so it might be called a political thriller, but it isn’t really a genre film. For the first time, De Palma goes inside his central character—Travolta as Jack, a sound effects specialist. And he stays inside. He has become so proficient in the techniques of suspense that he can use what he knows more expressively. You don’t see set pieces in Blow Out—it flows, and everything that happens seems to go right to your head. It’s hallucinatory, and it has a dreamlike clarity and inevitability, but you’ll never make the mistake of thinking that it’s only a dream. Compared with Blow Out, even the good pictures that have opened this year look dowdy. I think De Palma has sprung to the place that Altman achieved with films such as McCabe & Mrs. Miller and Nashville and that Coppola reached with the two Godfather movies—that is, to the place where genre is transcended and what we’re moved by is an artist’s vision. And Travolta, who appeared to have lost his way after Saturday Night Fever, makes his own leap—right back to the top, where he belongs. Playing an adult (his first), and an intelligent one, he has a vibrating physical sensitivity like that of the very young Brando.

Posted by Geoff at 11:31 PM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (4) | Permalink | Share This Post
Thursday, June 6, 2019
JUNE 10 AT 9:30 PM

The Metrograph in New York will screen Domino for "one night only" this Monday, June 10, at 9:30pm. The description at the theater's website reads:
Beginning with a rooftop chase that evokes Hitchcock’s Vertigo, the latest from Brian De Palma plunges Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s hapless Copenhagan cop into a complex plot involving CIA skullduggery courtesy agent Guy Pearce and high-tech jihadists with machine-gun-mounted livestreaming cameras. A go-for-broke genre exercise featuring stunning set pieces at the Netherlands Film Festival and a Spanish bullfight, which finds the ever-provocative De Palma exploring the correlation between terrorism and filmmaking. “The death-dealing, all-voyeurism-all-the-time world that De Palma has been imagining in some form or another since the late ’60s, has, he recognizes, finally come into actual being, and it’s worse than he, or anyone, ever imagined.”—Glenn Kenny, The New York Times

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, June 7, 2019 12:01 AM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (11) | Permalink | Share This Post
Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Speaking of Pauline Kael and The Fury, the Quad Cinema in New York is running a series titled, "Losing It At the Movies: Pauline Kael at 100," through the month of June. Included is a film that Kael loved to bits, Brian De Palma's The Fury, which will screen at 4:30pm on Wednesday, June 12, and at 9pm on Tuesday, June 18. The latter screening will be introduced by film critic Charles Taylor.

In 2002, ranking De Palma's Femme Fatale at number 3 on his top 10 film list for Salon that year, Taylor wrote, "As a visual storyteller Brian De Palma is without equal in contemporary moviemaking. Inevitably, his films are dismissed by critics and audiences who have become too lazy to process visual information. (Here's a decoder: When a critic describes a De Palma film as 'incoherent' it usually means he was too lazy to follow it.)"

Posted by Geoff at 11:57 PM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (4) | Permalink | Share This Post
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
Brian De Palma tells "De Palma a la Mod" that while he would not like to discuss Domino, "It was not recut. I was not involved in the ADR [Automated Dialog Replacement], the musical recording sessions, the final mix or the color timing of the final print."

Posted by Geoff at 8:26 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, June 4, 2019 8:27 AM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (30) | Permalink | Share This Post
Monday, June 3, 2019

Posted by Geoff at 6:44 PM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (8) | Permalink | Share This Post
Sunday, June 2, 2019

Posted by Geoff at 4:14 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, June 2, 2019 4:16 PM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (22) | Permalink | Share This Post
Saturday, June 1, 2019

One month ago today, after my initial viewing of Brian De Palma's Domino, I noted that the film "is full of tomatoes. They're all over the place in this movie, and you have to think that De Palma would have had Rotten Tomatoes in the back of his mind as he thought of and shot Domino." Today, John Demetry shared a few words on Twitter about Domino and its recurring tomato motif, as well as some thoughts about Carice van Houten:
DOMINO is Brian De Palma’s “Fuck You” to #RottenTomatoes, one of many social media trends in De Palma’s cross-hairs. Through a recurring motif, he restores the Fresh Tomato to its now-perverted essence. To paraphrase Godard: Tomato is “red.” Did anyone else clock the first tomato in De Palma’s DOMINO? It imbues the fruit, the ripe red, with connotations of desire and guilt that motivates—and connects—the film’s expressionist panoply of law enforcers, vigilante revengers, and global terrorism actors. The rogues gallery of #FakeNews hacks and cyber-climbers aggregated by Rotten Tomatoes commits a form of cultural terrorism by dismissing De Palma’s vitality and reducing criticism and cinema to produce. The middle finger is mightier than the thumb.

Much to say. But nobody is paying me to say it.

Example: Ever since Verhoeven’s BLACK BOOK (and then her daring portrayal in RACE), I have wanted De Palma to cast Carice van Houten. She imbues the role here with complex feeling, disturbing the spectator’s response to her capacity for action. She aims her righteous right-leg kicks for the testes (“Therapy,” she jokes) and her gun for single-minded vengeance, always registering the moral implications with Adjani-like imminence, even when crossing paths with the woman she betrayed.

It’s a beautiful film—now available on iTunes.

Posted by Geoff at 9:15 PM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (4) | Permalink | Share This Post
Friday, May 31, 2019
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/armonddomino.jpgThe headline above comes via a tweet from Walter Przybylowski: "De Palma’s Domino is a moviedream about our global nightmare. Colorful set-pieces punctuated by De Palma’s wry sense of fate—justice and vengeance are smartly conflated to better illustrate our current confused political/moral moment."

Armond White similarly refers to De Palma's "subconscious cineaste references" intruding "on the global nightmare," and to Domino as "commendably short and astute, like a dream of [De Palma's] great films." White's review of Domino, posted early this morning at National Review, carries the headline, "De Palma Regains His Power with Domino." Here's an excerpt:
This is a second-tier, non-event film (a commendable rejuvenation for De Palma), and its brisk narrative moves as if on impulse. De Palma’s mastery of pace and composition makes the briefest image and sharpest edit count. When Christian confronts Ezra, their initial alarm is conveyed through European/African facial contrasts — film noir close-ups burning with sociological dread — that, thanks to cinematographer José Luis Alcaine, raise the movie’s temperature. Each character’s desperation and personal motivation are vivid; the global nightmare is conveyed with such quick efficiency that Domino plays like a B-movie dream of a great De Palma film. (The media’s hostility toward it suggests that Domino — which dares pinpoint Islamic terrorism — isn’t PC enough.)

For various reasons owing to our political and moral disorientation, it seems impossible for contemporary American filmmakers to deal with national or global crises. (Note that Domino’s non-American cast mostly speaks in American idioms.) But De Palma’s formidable technique helps him puzzle out this artistic dilemma ahead of his peers. His signature use of split screens throughout Domino shows such assurance and depth that it relays our split moral consciousness. Domino proves that De Palma’s relation to new media includes coming to terms with the horror of ISIS beheading videos — the new media depersonalization that is inseparable from the private commemoration in cellphone photo swipes and facial-recognition technology that destroys all privacy. That concern animates every scene. It’s total illumination of our digital-age crisis.

De Palma’s 2007 film Redacted was a predictably sour retort to George Bush’s continuation of the Iraq War. De Palma couldn’t get over the cynicism he developed in the countercultural Sixties, and his knee-jerk liberalism forced him to shortchange his sympathy with the film’s soldier characters, unforgivably showing them as moral criminals. With screenwriter Petter Skavlan, DePalma’s Domino premise updates Eisenhower’s 1950s domino theory so that the warning against Communism’s spread becomes an allegory for this century’s spread of rampant, even murderous, incivility.

In this way, Domino responds to the post-9/11 political malaise (as well as professional difficulties) that caused De Palma’s artistic slump. That he eventually equates Islamic terrorism to common human vengeance reveals his unfortunate, facile cynicism. Australian actor Guy Pearce plays a bad Yankee CIA agent whose exit line is as trite as his villainous Southern accent: “We’re Americans; we read your emails.” This juvenile political streak is at odds with Domino’s most movingly humane and cinematic moments: A road-movie motif from Godard’s Made in U.S.A., a cliff-hanger motif from Hitchcock’s Vertigo, and a harrowing, self-mocking film-festival red-carpet motif from De Palma’s last great film, Femme Fatale.

These subconscious cineaste references intrude on the global nightmare as evidence that De Palma himself — unlike most recently weaponized pop-culture figures — might be rethinking the cultural decline that has become unmistakable in our politics, but especially in our media habits. That’s Domino’s real theme.

Glenn Kenny, New York Time
‘Domino’ Review: All Voyeurism, All the Time

"In Brian De Palma’s new film, a personal revenge story line is subsumed by horrific visions of television-friendly acts of terror."

The Copenhagen cop Christian (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is a pleasant fellow but not a terribly good police officer. Leaving his apartment to go on an early morning shift with his partner and pal Lars (Soren Malling), and distracted by the nude woman trying to get him to stay, Christian forgets to take his gun with him. Later, at a crime scene — a grisly torture-murder — he borrows his partner’s gun. This allows the fearsomely bearded suspect, Ezra (Eriq Ebouaney), to fatally assault that partner. During a rooftop chase that looks like the opening of Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” reimagined as a vintage Doublemint gum ad, Christian manages to lose the borrowed weapon, too.

Under other circumstances, the director, Brian De Palma, might have squeezed some mordant humor out of his protagonist’s ineptitude. De Palma’s career took off with the paranoid comedies “Greetings” and “Hi, Mom!” five decades back, and his filmography has encompassed horror, crime and other genres, all delivered with a sardonic edge. Even blockbuster exercises such as “Mission: Impossible” (1996) managed an acerbic undercurrent.

But “Domino,” arriving here after the director complained in at least one interview about the way the film’s producers treated him, isn’t all that unified with respect to the values it contains and excludes.

The movie shows almost no interest in a personal payback plot (the script is by Petter Skavlan), even after Christian is joined by Alex (Carice van Houten), who was closer to Lars than poor Christian is able to guess. As for Ezra, he’s nabbed by the glib C.I.A. chess master Joe Martin (Guy Pearce, having some fun) and compelled to continue killing. Shaving both his beard and his head, Ezra tracks the same jihadists that Christian and Alex find themselves pursuing.

And what jihadists they are. One of them has a machine-gun-mounted video camera with sensors recording both the shooter in close-up and the victims, and feeding the images to a split-screen display. The scene in which she takes the weapon/camera ensemble to the Netherlands Film Festival is quite a set piece.

De Palma can’t realize all the elaborate effects he clearly wanted (the film’s climax occurs at a bullfight that’s conspicuously not crowded). But his direction often compensates with B-movie energy, particularly when he’s able to concentrate on his perverse vision. The death-dealing, all-voyeurism-all-the-time world that De Palma has been imagining in some form or another since the late ’60s, has, he recognizes, finally come into actual being, and it’s worse than he, or anyone, ever imagined. At times during “Domino,” the director seems practically giddy about it.

Rated R for language, themes, violence, a paranoid vision of the world come true.

Scott Tobias, NPR
Terrorism Is Filmmaking In Brian De Palma's 'Domino'

Now, De Palma has been issuing warnings about his new film Domino, a Danish production that he claims didn't originate with him and was the most horrible movie set he has ever experienced. And plenty of evidence of a patch job is on display here, especially as the film actively yawns its way through a muddled plot about the conflict between Danish police and the CIA over an ISIS mastermind. It is both thrillingly and painfully obvious which sequences pique De Palma's interest and which ones don't, but fans of the director's work might be surprised by how much of his sensibility survives intact.

Always an underrated satirist, De Palma locks into the concept of terrorist-as-filmmaker and the careful staging and orchestration that goes into turning beheadings and suicide bombings into propagandistic art. With cameras attached to machine guns and remote-controlled drones, and earpieces distributed among his crew, ISIS leader Salah Al Din (Mohammed Azaay) is not much different from Francis Ford Coppola sitting in front of a bank of monitors in his trailer on One From the Heart, issuing directives to his cast and crew. For De Palma, the movies can be a deadly art.

Greg Cwik, MUBI
Only Brian De Palma would care so much about the filmmaking techniques of a terrorist group. As with the “Be Black, Baby” scene in Hi, Mom!, the use of cameras and camera angles in Snake Eyes, and the vérité style of Redacted, De Palma is most fascinated here by the use of media as a tool for communication, the visual arts as a weapon. Passion, one of his most concupiscent films,was the first film De Palma made in the age of social media, and technology/social media played an integral role in the narrative, and again, in Domino, social media has the potential to be poisonous, to be propaganda. The phone-as-camera also features prominently in both films. (One thinks of the teenage De Palma avatar in Dressed to Kill uses technology to figure out who killed his mother, or Travolta’s sound man creating a film to solve a murder.) At his best, De Palma is the consummate trash man, crafting out of puerile material some of the most delirious images in American movies. His characters have met untimely ends in high school gymnasiums, in elevators, at boxing matches; his victims and maladaptives are chopped up, maimed, shot, stabbed, immolated, electrocuted, exploded by telekinesis. In Domino, De Palma has fun with a lethal camera drone, which is one of the most on-brand things the filmmaker has ever done. Movies have the power to propagandize, and they have the power to kill.

Posted by Geoff at 11:46 AM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (22) | Permalink | Share This Post
Thursday, May 30, 2019

Saban has been getting a bit of a bum rap since it debuted the trailer and poster for Domino a couple of months ago. Truth be told, though, Saban did step up and buy De Palma's latest completed film for distribution, and the company is getting it into theaters, as well as making it available to stream on demand starting tomorrow. It also fearlessly sent screeners out to critics, proudly knowing that it has a Brian De Palma film on its hands. One of those aforementioned theaters, Cinema Village in New York, originally had scheduled Domino to play twice a day, at 11am and 11pm. Today I've discovered that Cinema Village has since changed the times each day to 5pm and 9pm, making it much easier for interested parties to check out De Palma's latest on the big screen.

I have also discovered today that several (not sure how many) AMC Theatres across the U.S. will be showing Domino as an "AMC Extra" twice daily (in the afternoons, usually) beginning Friday. This includes the previously noted run at the AMC Rolling Hills 20 in Torrance, CA (the only theater near Los Angeles that will be showing Domino, for this next week at least). It appears that Saban must have entered Domino into AMC's "AMC Independent" program. I have not been able to find a way to search for every AMC theatre that will be showing Domino, but it will open tomorrow at AMC Classic Irvin 10 (in Irving, Texas), as well as at AMC Woodridge 18 (about an hour outside of Chicago, in Woodridge, IL).

So... check your local area theaters, and let us know if you find Domino listed for the coming week.

Posted by Geoff at 5:07 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, May 30, 2019 6:42 PM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (7) | Permalink | Share This Post
Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Two of the critics at RogerEbert.com, including De Palma enthusiast Peter Sobczynski, weighed in on Domino today, as did Rolling Stone's David Fear. Here are some links:

Peter Sobczynski, RogerEbert.com

These are flaws, to be sure, and they might have indeed sunk many an ordinary movie. However, “Domino” is still a Brian De Palma film, and those who still thrill at the very sound of that phrase will find a lot to enjoy here. Many of the obsessions he has explored throughout his career are on display in "Domino," both dramatic (voyeurism, mistrust of authority, a fascination with technology and the various ways in which it can be manipulated) and cinematic (including split-diopter shots and gorgeous deployment of slow motion at key moments). Although the script is largely straight-faced throughout, there are a couple of moments of De Palma’s trademark dark humor, including a bit in which a character analyzes a brutal torture video to note all the cinematic techniques being deployed with the fervor of someone taking note of every frame of a new trailer for some upcoming blockbuster. And, of course, there are the big set pieces—including an early rooftop chase that provides thrills and a tip of the hat to “Vertigo,” a terrorist attack that Al Din directs from afar as if he was a filmmaker himself and a climactic confrontation at a bullfight in Spain that takes up much of the final third. In that last scene especially, cinematographer Jose Luis Alcaine (who has shot most of Pedro Almodovar’s films as well as De Palma’s “Passion”), editor Bill Pankow, and composer Pino Donaggio combine their considerable talents to create a thrilling display of sound and vision that distinguishes them from the largely forgettable CGI melanges that currently dominate the multiplex scene.

Domino” is not a De Palma classic on the level of “Dressed to Kill” or “Blow Out,” and it doesn’t reach the heights of such recent masterworks as “Femme Fatale” or the absurdly overlooked “Passion.” However, though it may ultimately go down as second-tier De Palma, his second tier beats the hell out of the top-level efforts of most filmmakers. The great Howard Hawks once famously stated that “A good movie is three good scenes and no bad ones.” “Domino” certainly contains the requisite three good scenes and they are so good that I found it easy to forget, or at least forgive, the ones that do not quite work. This is not a great Brian De Palma film in the end, but its best moments will remind you of just how great he can be.

Jesse Hassenger, RogerEbert.com
At first, it’s a little disappointing to realize “Domino” isn’t going to reach the heights of “Passion,” nevermind “Femme Fatale” or “Raising Cain.” But as with his 2000s triptych of studio disappointments, there’s also something glorious about being freed from the confines of a pretty rote thriller and simply waiting for De Palma to uncork some rococo bit of violent suspense (“Passion” has a similar waiting period, but with more sustained tension than his weakest studio films).

On paper, “Domino” is about a police officer (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) pursuing a terrorist (Eriq Ebouaney) who murdered his partner—and who becomes entangled with a shady CIA agent (Guy Pearce), hoping to use the criminal for his own ends. But it’s really about one bravura set piece at the beginning, and one bravura set piece at the end. Most of the rest of the movie is a tangled, slack, fraying hammock tied between those two beautiful trees.

Variations on this metaphor can describe a lot of De Palma’s most inconsistent movies: “Mission to Mars,” for example, is a perfectly woven hammock tied tight between two rotting trees on the verge of collapse. The perfectly woven hammock in that movie is a superb outer-space sequence where a crew of Mars-bound astronauts must abandon their ship and attempt to land a much smaller orbiting capsule on the red planet. When I first saw this movie upon its 2000 release, I was gripped by this chunk of the movie, even seeing it twice, but came out of the experience feeling irritated with De Palma, who I’d last seen squandering the terrific simulated single-take opening sequence of “Snake Eyes”—a shot of adrenaline that carries the movie through the majority of its running time...

...“Domino” doesn’t have a star performance to carry it along, but it does have its obligatory highlight-reel moments to open and close things up. The first one, beginning with a long push-in to establish that the cop has forgotten his firearm at home, and continuing through his partner’s murder and the murderer’s escape, is well-squeezed pulp, and the movie’s finale, involving an attempted terrorist attack at a stadium, applies that slow-burn Hitchcockian verve to a disconcertingly contemporary setting. There’s some attempt to point De Palma’s voyeurism toward the exhibition of modern terrorism, but it only occasionally tracks with what actually happens in the movie.

Maybe future repeat viewings of those good parts will be kind to “Domino” overall, just as its big-studio cousins that don’t hang together are less frustrating in retrospect. But in some ways, those two scenes are all “Domino” really needs. In the right frame of mind, coming across a couple of holy-mackerel sequences in an otherwise clumsy movie creates its own kind of ecstasy—not exclusive to this filmmaker, of course, but particularly compatible with his interests and obsessions.

De Palma has been both hailed and criticized for making self-justifying movie-movies, full of homages, films within films, and B-picture artifice, and even his most evenhanded films have especially memorable set pieces that jut out of them prominently. In his more wildly uneven work, those masterful stretches feel weirdly authentic to the experience of watching a lot of movies—in fact, they resemble the critic-like practice of sifting through hundreds of releases and finding the occasional moment of transcendence. He’s one of the best filmmakers alive at gussying up simple thriller actions—a murder, a chase, the discovery of a body—into beguiling, elaborate movies unto themselves, sometimes to the point of liberating them from their original homes in perfunctory, confusing, or uninvolving narratives. It’s a talent both expansive and, in a pleasurable way, reductive. There’s a purity to a mixed-bag De Palma movie that some genuinely successful movies will never achieve. Would his filmography be as much fun without them?

David Fear, Rolling Stone
You do not have to squint very hard to see Brian De Palma in Domino. Not literally, mind you … he doesn’t usually take his Hitchcock fetish to constant-cameo lengths. But he’s there in the ominous zoom-in to a gun that a Copenhagen cop named Christian (Game of Thrones‘ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) has left on a chair in his apartment. He’s there in the sequence of Christian hanging perilously off a tall building’s breaking rain-gutter, chasing after the man who attacked his partner — a Vertigo reference writ large. He’s there every time Pino Donaggio’s score channels Bernard Hermann’s ghost while the cameras creep slowly around corners, or when, in a climactic set piece played out like a Carrie-level slo-mo car wreck, the composer cleverly riffs on Ravel’s “Bolero.” And he’s most definitely there whenever someone is framed through a far away window or via binoculars, as if they’re being spied upon, or via split-composed surveillance footage and smart-phone screens. No other American filmmaker has turned the two-way art of observation into such a cinematic obsession.

In other words: Yes, this thriller about Danish police officers chasing ISIS terrorists through two European countries is indeed a De Palma joint. A messy, uneven, heavy-handed, occasionally inspired, often insipid, steroidally stylistic De Palma joint, but one that fits the description in enough fits and starts to warrant the claim. The safari-jacketed gent himself has gone to great lengths to distance himself from a project that’s clearly been cobbled together at very little expense, despite the shady behind-the-scenes money moves; slapping “from the director of Mission: Impossible and Scarface” on the trailer, while technically correct, feels like false advertising. Whatever interest the 78-year-old “Master of the Macabre” has in this for-hire work does not revolve around Petter Skavlan’s script or the espionage-tinged narrative. As a potboiler, Domino is D.O.A. As a game of spot-the-auteurist motifs, however, this exercise in De Palma-reading is practically a gas.

Posted by Geoff at 9:03 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, May 30, 2019 6:44 PM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post