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Recent Headlines
a la Mod:

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

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

Listen to
Donaggio's full score
for Domino online

De Palma/Lehman
rapport at work
in Snakes

De Palma/Lehman
next novel is Terry

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

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

Washington Post
review of Keesey book

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Exclusive Passion
Interviews:

Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
Leila Rozario

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AV Club Review
of Dumas book

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De Palma interviewed
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De Palma discusses
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No Harm In Charm

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Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
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italkyoubored

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De Palma a la Mod
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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.
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Wednesday, June 19, 2019
PAULINE KAEL WAS BORN 100 YEARS AGO TODAY
CELEBRATING CENTENARY WITH PASSAGES FROM HER REVIEWS OF DE PALMA FILMS
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/kaelcarrie.jpg

Earlier today, James Wolcott tweeted, "Since it's her birthday and all: Wish someone would do for De Palma's Domino what Pauline Kael did for Peckinpah's The Killer Elite". While Adam Nayman arguably provides a glimpse of what Kael might have thought about Domino, quoting from her review of De Palma's The Fury, we can take a look at a sample of her words about De Palma's cinema over the years she was writing film criticism:

Carrie, from The New Yorker, Nov 14, 1976

Their plan is to have her elected prom queen and then humiliate her publicly. What we see that they don’t see is the depth of Carrie’s desire to be accepted by them. Her joy at having Tommy, the most popular boy in the class, ask her to the prom and at becoming prom queen transforms her; her home life is so horrible that this is her first taste of feeling beautiful, and she’s a radiant Cinderella. De Palma, a master sadist, prolongs her moments of happiness; he slows the action down to a trance while we wait for the trap to be sprung, knowing that it will unloose her bottled-up telekinetic anger. It’s a beautiful plot—a teen-age Cinderella’s revenge. “Carrie” becomes a new trash archetype, and De Palma, who has the wickedest baroque sensibility at large in American movies, points up its archetypal aspects by parodying the movies that have formed it—and outclassing them...

...The director James Whale worked sophisticated parody into some of his horror films, such as “The Old Dark House,” in 1932, and “The Bride of Frankenstein,” in 1935, but I don’t think that before “Carrie” anyone had ever done a satiric homage to exploitation films. Who but De Palma would think of using old-movie trash, and even soft-core pornos, to provide “heart” for a thriller? The banal teenage-movie meanness that the kids show toward Carrie gets the audience rooting for her, and it becomes the basis for her supernatural vengeance. This is the first time a De Palma picture has had heart—which may explain why De Palma, despite his originality, has never made it into the big winners’ circle before. I liked the surreal sophomoric humor of his 1968 X-rated “Greetings,” with its draft-dodger hero; the style was deliberately offhand. In those days, De Palma didn’t move the camera much; he used a lot of single-camera setups that went on for several minutes—he let the actors play out their scenes. When he did move the camera, sometimes the movement was itself a gag—a parody of film “magic.” His early films were cheaply made and badly distributed, but even so they didn’t score with young audiences as they should have scored. Maybe this was the audiences’ fault as much as his. Like some others of us, he probably assumed that counterculture movie-lovers had much hipper tastes than they turned out to have; they didn’t go for the old patriotic, pro-war sentimentality, but they wanted more emotion and romance than De Palma, with his sense of the ridiculous, provided. However, he was always primarily a creator of comedy, an entertainer, so if the audience wouldn’t change, he had to.

By the time of “Obsession,” De Palma had dropped his theatrical play-out-the-scene style; rock had unified the wild “Phantom of the Paradise,” but the camera itself did it for “Obsession.” He made a romantic movie without, as far as I can judge, a single romantic impulse; he was proving that he could tell a fluid, rhythmed story—that he could master camera magic. It was all calculation—camera movements designed to make an audience swoon. If the De Palma spirit was barely in evidence in “Obsession,” that was because the romantic conception operated on only one level; it lacked humor—this is where Paul Schrader, its scenarist, is weak (a weakness compensated for by the director and actors in Schrader’s “Taxi Driver”). And “Obsession” lacked good, cheap dirt. In “Greetings,” Allen Garfield had hawked stag films; De Niro was a voyeur making Peep Art films in both “Greetings” and De Palma’s “Hi, Mom!” After the rarefied phoniness of “Obsession,” De Palma has come back to his own exploitation themes in “Carrie;” the voyeur has got into the girls’ locker room this time, bringing that romanticizing, hypnotic camera with him. De Palma was always a sexual wit; now he’s a voluptuary wit, with the camera coming very close to Sissy Spacek’ s body, and with closeups of her wraithlike, hair-veiled face. We know her skin better than we know our own.

The technique is so absorbing that I don’t think I blinked during “Carrie.” I assume that a virtuoso combination of the spiky editing of Paul Hirsch and the special effects by Gregory M. Auer is what gives us images such as Carrie’s eye exploding a car. Mario Tosi’s slithering cinematography seemed especially effective in Carrie’s California-gothic home, and I assume that the art directors, William Kenny and Jack Fisk, made that possible. The music for “Obsession” was so emotive that the picture drowned in its score; the Pino Donaggio music for “Carrie” is modest and inoffensive, though more derivative than one might like. There are only a few places where the film seems to err in technique. The speeded-up sound when the high-school boys are trying on tuxedos is a dumb, toy effect. And at the prom, when Carrie sees red, the split-screen footage is really bad: the red tint darkens the image, and there’s so much messy action going on in the split sections that the confusion cools us out. But the film is built like a little engine, and it gets to us.

For a sophisticated, absurdist intelligence like De Palma’s, there’s no way to use camera magic except as foolery. He’s uncommitted to anything except successful manipulation; when his camera conveys the motion of dreams, it’s a lovely trick. He can’t treat a subject straight, but that’s all right; neither could Hitchcock. If De Palma were an artist in another medium—say, fiction or poetry—he might be a satirist with a high reputation and a small following. Everything in his films is distanced by his persistent adolescent kinkiness; he’s gleefully impersonal. Yet, working in movies, he’s found his own route to a mass audience: his new trash heart is the ultimate De Palma joke.


Phantom Of The Paradise, The New Yorker, 1974
This mixture of The Phantom of the Opera and Faust isn't enough for De Palma. He heaps on layers of acid-rock satire and parodies of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Psycho, and The Picture of Dorian Gray—and the impacted plots actually function for him. The film is a one-of-a-kind entertainment, with a kinetic, breakneck wit. The cinematographer, Larry Pizer, keeps the images full to overflowing, and the set designer, Jack Fisk, supplies striking takeoffs of the frenzied decor of German silent films.

Blow Out, The New Yorker, 1981 (via Criterion)
De Palma has been learning how to make every move of the camera signify just what he wants it to, and now he has that knowledge at his fingertips. The pyrotechnics and the whirlybird camera are no longer saying “Look at me”; they give the film authority. When that hooting owl fills the side of the screen and his head spins around, you’re already in such a keyed-up, exalted state that he might be in the seat next to you. The cinematographer, Vilmos Zsigmond, working with his own team of assistants, does night scenes that look like paintings on black velvet so lush you could walk into them, and surreally clear daylight vistas of the city—you see buildings a mile away as if they were in a crystal ball in your hand. The colors are deep, and not tropical, exactly, but fired up, torrid. Blow Out looks a lot like The Fury; it has that heat, but with greater depth and definition. It’s sleek and it glows orange, like the coils of a heater or molten glass—as if the light were coming from behind the screen or as if the screen itself were plugged in. And because the story centers on sounds, there is a great care for silence. It’s a movie made by perfectionists (the editor is De Palma’s longtime associate Paul Hirsch, and the production design is by Paul Sylbert), yet it isn’t at all fussy. De Palma’s good, loose writing gives him just what he needs (it doesn’t hobble him, like some of the writing in The Fury), and having Zsigmond at his side must have helped free him to get right in there with the characters.

De Palma has been accused of being a puppeteer and doing the actors’ work for them. (Sometimes he may have had to.) But that certainly isn’t the case here. Travolta and Nancy Allen are radiant performers, and he lets their radiance have its full effect; he lets them do the work of acting too. Travolta played opposite Nancy Allen in De Palma’s Carrie (1976), and they seemed right as a team; when they act together, they give out the same amount of energy—they’re equally vivid. In Blow Out, as soon as Jack and Sally speak to each other, you feel a bond between them, even though he’s bright and soft-spoken and she looks like a dumb-bunny piece of fluff. In the early scenes, in the hospital and the motel, when the blonde, curly-headed Sally entreats Jack to help her, she’s a stoned doll with a hoarse, sleepy-little-girl voice, like Bette Midler in The Rose—part helpless, part enjoying playing helpless. When Sally is fully conscious, we can see that she uses the cuddly-blonde act for the people she deals with, and we can sense the thinking behind it. But then her eyes cloud over with misery when she knows she has done wrong. Nancy Allen takes what used to be a good-bad-girl stereotype and gives it a flirty iridescence that makes Jack smile the same way we in the audience are smiling. She balances depth and shallowness, caution and heedlessness, so that Sally is always teetering—conning or being conned, and sometimes both. Nancy Allen gives the film its soul; Travolta gives it gravity and weight and passion.


Pauline Kael interview from 2001 with Francis Davis, The Guardian
I keep seeing movies I think are interesting that nobody is praising. Three Kings, in particular, got some good reviews, but nothing like it deserved. I thought Mission to Mars had some extraordinary sequences in it. I'm always attacked for liking Brian De Palma so much, and it's a very uneven, erratic movie. But about half of it is superb, and I can't understand why more people didn't recognise that.

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, June 20, 2019 12:05 AM CDT
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Monday, June 17, 2019
'PHANTOM OF WINNIPEG' TRAILER
AND ALSO, A MINUTE-LONG WFAA 'FILMING PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE' REPORT FROM 1973



Posted by Geoff at 12:07 AM CDT
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Saturday, June 15, 2019
BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND - DOMINO @ METROGRAPH 6/17
"ONE NIGHT ONLY" ENCORE SCREENING 7PM MONDAY IN NEW YORK CITY
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/populardemand.jpg

Posted by Geoff at 10:11 AM CDT
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Thursday, June 13, 2019
VARESE SARABANDE TO RELEASE DOMINO SOUNDTRACK
DIGITAL ALBUM OUT TOMORROW (JUNE 14) - WILL CD FOLLOW?
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/dominosoundtrack.jpgAccording to a news post today at Film Music Reporter:
Varese Sarabande will release a soundtrack album for Brian De Palma’s action thriller Domino. The album features the film’s original music composed by Pino Donaggio (Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Body Double, Blow Out, The Howling). The soundtrack will be released digitally tomorrow, June 14.

Whether there will be a CD version of the album sometime in the future, the article doesn't say, although with Varese Sarabande having a Donaggio score under its umbrella, a CD release seems likely at some point. The Film Music Reporter article includes the track list for the soundtrack album:

The Domino Effect (6:01)
2. The Roof / Dizziness (4:27)
3. Dangerous Distractions (1:35)
4. Racing To The Unknown (3:24)
5. Unexpected Beginnings (1:02)
6. The Apartment (3:26)
7. Haunting Guilt (1:35)
8. Working The Plan (1:48)
9. Gathering Clues (1:59)
10. Useless Suicide (2:28)
11. Deadly Interrogation (2:56)
12. Fatal Traces (1:25)
13. The Indoctrination (2:19)
14. Death Of A Dream (2:11)
15. Carnage Festival (2:00)
16. The Decoy (4:36)
17. The Final Clash (4:57)

Meanwhile, you can still listen to Donaggio's entire Domino soundtrack at Music.Film.


Posted by Geoff at 9:41 PM CDT
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Wednesday, June 12, 2019
'PHANTOM' CELEBRATES 45TH AT FANTASIA FEST JULY 13
PRESSMAN TO RECEIEVE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT, w/PAUL WILLIAMS JOINING ONSTAGE
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/phantomfantasia.jpgA couple of weeks ago, Fantasia International Film Festival announced that Edward R. Pressman "will be given a Lifetime Achievement Award on Saturday, July 13, at a 45th Anniversary screening of the recently restored De Palma classic Phantom Of The Paradise. To make our anniversary screening even more spectacular, Swan himself, the legendary Grammy and Academy Award-winning singer-songwriter-actor Paul Williams – who was Oscar-nominated for Phantom - will be joining Mr. Pressman onstage at the event."

*Note that the restored version of Phantom screening at Fantasia will be the same DCP version that has been in circulation for the past several years-- as always, thank you to the Swan Archives for keeping us informed.

Also at this year's edition of Fantasia Fest, which takes place in Montreal, will be the world premiere of Phantom Of Winnipeg. While specific screening dates for this doc have not yet been revealed, the Swan Archives expects it to screen July 12, "and perhaps again on July 14." Here's the Fantasia description:

Just about everyone adores Brian De Palma’s 1974 glam rock comedy horror musical classic PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE. That wasn’t always so. Upon release, the film landed with a thud and quickly disappeared from screens everywhere – except for in the small and frigid Canadian city of Winnipeg, where local kids (shockingly between the ages of 9-13) turned the film into an enduring phenomenon with local box office grosses larger than JAWS! PHANTOM OF WINNIPEG (World Premiere) tells the story of the unique outsider fan community that sprung up around the film. It’s an exploration of the very DNA of fan culture itself told via the true-life stories of those fateful Winnipeg kids who just got it and the cast and creative team behind the original film who saw it all go down first-hand. Filmmakers Malcolm Ingram and Sean Stanley have spent years making this affectionate and wonderful doc, and Fantasia’s proud-as-Phoenix to be showcasing its long-coming World Premiere.

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, June 13, 2019 12:24 AM CDT
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Monday, June 10, 2019
SKAVLAN ON 'DOMINO' & WORKING WITH DE PALMA
"I WANTED TO WRITE A THRILLER ABOUT HOW APPARENTLY UNRELATED INCIDENTS WERE INTERCONNECTED"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/konowdoorblue.jpg

The Italian website Inside The Show posted an article today about Domino, which includes an interview with screenwriter Petter Skavlan, as well as the image included here above: a still photograph taken on set by Rolf Konow. A crop of this photo was used on the poster for Domino. Here's a Google-assisted translation of the interview with Skavlan:
How did the idea of ​​"Domino" come about?

I wanted to write a thriller about how apparently unrelated incidents were interconnected, through a sort of domino effect. For example, a murder in Copenhagen may be linked to a terrorist attack in a small Spanish town. I also wanted to examine the primordial concepts of revenge and guilt. Before Brian got on board, the script was a darker and more intricate story. Some of my dominoes have been removed, creating a simpler and more linear plot that best suited his vision of the film.

What research did you do for this story?

In today's society, just follow the news on the news to find a story like this. Terrorist attacks are not only documented by news agencies, but also by terrorists themselves, so news and propaganda often intersect. Dozens of books on European terrorism have been written - and I've read several. I also spoke to specialists in international terrorism, such as Thomas Hegghammer, who gave me invaluable advice.

Are there details in the script that reflect your Scandinavian background?

As a Norwegian, it was natural for me to use Scandinavia as setting for some parts of the film. Copenhagen is the most international and photogenic city among Scandinavian cities - and since Nikolaj lives in the city, it was a breeze to set the story there. Working with Danish producer Michael Schønnemann was another reason for Copenhagen to play an important role in the story.

What are the dangers of writing about terrorism?

Writing about terrorism, partly from the point of view of terrorists, is a potential minefield. Terrorists, as instigators of violence, are the antagonists by nature. But in Domino the protagonists are imperfect and therefore the boundaries between good and evil, right and wrong, are not outlined.

What was it like working with Brian De Palma?

Working with a legendary director like Brian De Palma was an incredibly interesting privilege. Although I felt the need to adapt my existing script to his vision of the film, he always made sure that the heart and soul of the story remained intact. He is very sharp and analytical, and a true gentleman in the creative process.


Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 12, 2019 12:58 AM CDT
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Sunday, June 9, 2019
PAULINE KAEL TRIBUTE AT BFI INCLUDES 'BLOW OUT'
CELEBRATING CENTENARY OF KAEL'S BIRTH THROUGHOUT MONTH OF JUNE
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
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Thursday, June 6, 2019
'DOMINO' MONDAY NIGHT AT METROGRAPH IN NY
JUNE 10 AT 9:30 PM
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/dominosplitdiopter.jpg

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
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Wednesday, June 5, 2019
CHARLES TAYLOR TO INTRODUCE 'THE FURY' IN NY 6/18
PART OF PAULINE KAEL 100TH BIRTHDAY SERIES AT THE QUAD CINEMA IN JUNE
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/furykaelquad.jpg

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
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Tuesday, June 4, 2019
DE PALMA SAYS DOMINO 'WAS NOT RECUT'
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
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