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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


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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

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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

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De Palma a la Mod

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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Patrick Doyle's score for Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way is being released on vinyl for the first time ever, as a Barnes & Noble exclusive from Varèse Sarabande Records. Hitting stores this Friday (July 12th), as part of B&N's "Vinyl Weekend," the package features new cover art by illustrator “Ghoulish” Gary Pullin. According to The Vinyl Factory's Jedd Wise, Pullin is "largely recognised for his work within the horror genre."

The Barnes & Noble page for the vinyl soundtrack features a quote from Doyle:

“I am extremely fortunate and proud to have composed the score for Carlito’s Way for the extraordinary auteur, Brian de Palma. I recognised the moment I first saw the film that it was a masterpiece and time has indeed confirmed this. Every new generation discovers Carlito’s Way and the enthusiasm and appreciation over the years for the film, for the score and for the work of all the other departments has been extremely flattering. This film has become a classic and to have my score be part of it is a tremendous honour. Thank you Brian once again.” Patrick Doyle, composer.

Posted by Geoff at 11:57 PM CDT
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Monday, July 8, 2019

AV Club today exclusively revealed the poster for Phantom Of Winnipeg, the documentary by Malcolm Ingram and Sean Stanley that examines the particular popularity of Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise in Winnipeg. The doc will have its world premiere at Fantasia Fest in Montreal this Friday, July 12th. The premiere will be hosted by Ingram and Stanley, "plus Edward R. Pressman and Paul Williams," according to the Fantasia Fest event description. The doc will screen again at the fest on July 14th.

On Saturday, July 13th, Pressman will be given a Lifetime Achievement Award at a 45th Anniversary screening of Phantom Of The Paradise, and Williams will join him onstage for this, as well. Then, on Sunday July 14th, Pressman will present a masterclass at Fantasia, where he will be interviewed onstage by critic and professor Donato Totaro.

Phantom Of Winnipeg will have its U.S. premiere this October at Sleepy Hollow International Film Festival in Tarrytown, NY, and Pressman will again be in attendance. De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise will also screen at Sleepy Hollow this year, and more guests are expected to be announced in the coming months.

Posted by Geoff at 11:57 PM CDT
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Sunday, July 7, 2019

Watershed in Bristol screened Brian De Palma's Carrie today at noon, to kick off its Brunches-in-July series, "Blood + Homage: The Cinematic Obsessions of Yann Gonzalez." Gonzalez' Knife + Heart opened at Watershed this past Friday.

Gonzalez is quoted discussing Carrie on the Watershed event page: "It’s a teenage tragedy, very beautiful, and also a love story. It’s this mixture of sensitivities that I really like in De Palma’s films. He is one of the most genius filmmakers alive."

Next Sunday's brunch (July 14) will be a double-feature, Abel Ferrara's Driller Killer and Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. The series concludes on Sunday, July 21, with Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt.

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, July 8, 2019 12:18 AM CDT
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Thursday, July 4, 2019






Posted by Geoff at 11:17 AM CDT
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Posted by Geoff at 9:13 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, July 4, 2019 9:36 AM CDT
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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Nathaniel: battle angel is a video store clerk located in Bloomington, Indiana who brings insightful perspective to movies on his Twitter and tumblr pages. Yesterday, he posted four image frames (all four copied here in this post) from Brian De Palma's Domino, with the message, "human surveillance, peering, looking, surveying in depalma's domino." In a followup tweet, he added, "also some good color work here 👀". Here are the other three frames:

Posted by Geoff at 7:41 AM CDT
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Monday, July 1, 2019
Pictured at left, from 2007, is Alejandro González Iñárritu, handing Brian De Palma the Silver Lion for Best Director for Redacted at that year's Venice Film Festival. Iñárritu was a member of that year's jury, which awarded the prize to De Palma. Also on the jury that year: Zhang Yimou (jury President), Ferzan Ozpetek, Paul Verhoeven, Emanuele Crialese, Catherine Breillat, and Jane Campion. Speaking at the podium after receiving the award from Iñárritu, De Palma told the audience, "Prizes are always great because it helps your film to be seen. But critics and prizes just tell you what the fashion of the day is. We don't make movies to get prizes."

I had added the pic and information above as a comment to a Facebook post and comment by Paul Schrader last Friday. That Facebook post, which was entirely deleted by Schrader a few hours later, began as a critique of Jordan Peele's Us. Mustafa, who comments regularly here at "De Palma a la Mod," had commented on Schrader's post, mentioning that Peele's film includes "obvious homage to De Palma, the split diopter." Schrader then responded to Mustafa, "Don’t get me started on Brian DP. I rewatched Redacted last night because I thought that given total artistic freedom he could reach for the stars. And he did. But the stars were beyond his reach. The script is trite, it is weak. That’s because is Brian is trite, Brian is artistically weak. Skate fast on thin ice. That’s his story. That’s his con."

Schrader's comments spread through Twitter Friday, leading him to delete the entire post, but the comments continued to spread over the weekend. Sometime soon, I will post a brief timeline, with quotes, between De Palma and Schrader. For now, here's an image of Schrader's FB post from March of 2015:

Posted by Geoff at 9:00 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, July 2, 2019 5:04 PM CDT
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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Billy Drago, who was so memorable as Frank Nitti in Brian De Palma's The Untouchables, died Monday in Los Angeles from complications following a stroke, according to Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. He was 73.

In 2011, Drago talked to Owen Williams at The Void about his role in The Untouchables:

[The Untouchables] was one of those films where even the things that went wrong went right. It was a difficult shoot in that it was period and we were actually shooting in the city so you have to periodise all those blocks. It was huge. And the studio didn’t know it was going to be a hit, and they actually called De Palma and shut it down. They said “okay we’ve seen the footage, you’ve got enough, we don’t want to spend any more money, that’s it, after the weekend you’re home”, and there were a whole load more scenes we were supposed to shoot.

That’s when they went and shot the Odessa Steps sequence in the train station, with a load of raw film stock that De Palma had stored up. That wasn’t even in the script. We were supposed to shoot at the race track and a lot of other stuff, and he said ‘We can’t shoot any of that stuff, so everybody pack up, but in the meantime I’m going to shoot my version of the Battleship Potemkin scene with all this film I’ve stolen’…

The first scene we shot was where the little kid gets blown up. So I’m outside waiting on the street where they’re lighting, and some older woman comes up with a little boy and asks for a picture, so I put my arm around the little boy and all that. And the next day in the newspaper I found that the picture was there! And the little boy was like Nitti’s great great grandson.

The guy who was my stand-in was the great grandson of a guy who’d had a Nitti contract out on him! And his grandfather had hidden out in the middle of Illinois until Nitti had died, and survived the hit. But even after that, he got ill and he was in the hospital, and the nurses complained about him because he was sleeping with a pistol under his pillow, because he was convinced he was still gonna get whacked!

I got to know the Nitti family. They still live in the Chicago area and they have grocery stores and businesses: regular businesses; they’re not mob connected anymore! They called the hotel where I was staying, which was the actual hotel that had been owned by Capone and Nitti during that period (in fact the very phone booth where Machine Gun Jack McGill was killed was right outside my door). I was down in the lobby and the concierge came over to say that the Nitti family would be by to pick me up at 8 o’clock. Nobody asked if I actually wanted to go… It was an offer I couldn’t refuse! But it would have been too interesting an adventure to turn down anyway. So at eight o’clock I’m down in the lobby and a limousine pulls up and a guy gets out and introduces himself as someone who works for the Nitti family, and we drove around every blues club in Chicago, and at every one it was like royalty had arrived. ‘The Nitti family is here!’ It was great fun but they were making me a little nervous because they gradually started treating me like I really was Frank Nitti. They made sure my back was to the wall so I could see everybody, and all the young Italian turks would come by to pay their respects, and they’d all say “Sooooo, playin’ Uncle Frank huh? Lookin’ good, lookin’ good…” It gave me a bit of an insight into what it would have been like and what had gone on…

They didn’t mind Frank being portrayed as such a villain; the legend is so big. They had to move Nitty’s grave several times because people kept digging it up to make sure he really was dead; they were so scared of him. Only the family knew where his grave was for a while. I wore a white suit in the movie because we thought of him as the angel of death. I talked to a very elderly gentleman once who’d been a policeman undercover, and he said that Nitti had found him out, and tied him up in a basement and put a gun in his mouth and waited to see if he would sweat. Nitti had a very famous saying: ‘I never killed a man who wasn’t afraid to die’. So if he’d sweated he would’ve been killed, but he didn’t so Nitti said ‘oh okay, he’s not afraid’ so he let him go.

My mother never quite forgave me for killing Sean Connery. Mom, I had to! They paid me!

Posted by Geoff at 1:33 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, June 27, 2019 1:34 AM CDT
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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The heartrending fear on each of the faces in the still image above, from Brian De Palma's Domino, is palpable. Roderick Heath delves deep into the how, the why, and the meanings:

Roderick Heath, This Island Rod

Despite De Palma’s best efforts with lighting and art direction, the photography can’t shake off the bland clarity of much low-budget, digitally shot cinema. But as happens all too often with contemporary cinema, that’s mistaking the wrapping for the actual gift. Domino proves a galvanising experience in regards to the current movie scene, as pure an auteurist artefact as any I’ve seen and one that, in its way, recalls many a late B movie excursion from the major talents of a much earlier filmmaking generation: Fritz Lang or Edgar G. Ulmer would have entirely understood Domino.

De Palma uses Peter Skavlan’s script as a springboard for suspense sequences composed with a lucid sense of staging and context that’s close to miraculous compared to the vast numbers of barely competent directors around today. Even seemingly serviceable early scenes prove charged with careful investment of meaning. One of De Palma’s most accustomed and compulsive motifs – a man who misses an important detail because he’s too wrapped up in a woman – is quickly deployed as Christian’s fatal failure to bring his gun is put down to his being drawn back into bed by the barista he’s boffing. De Palma cuts to Lars smoking silent and alone in his kitchen, seemingly a portrait of a different kind of angst: we’ve seen Lars with his limping wife Hanne (Paprika Steen) in homey security, one into which Christian is regularly invited without having or wanting, but as the story unfolds it’s revealed that Lars, like his partner, has his mind on a woman and not on the world immediately about him. When Christian dines with Lars and Hanne in their kitchen, Hanne shows Christian a magazine ad for a dream vacation: De Palma frames the seated man, the standing woman, and the large crucifix on the wall to composite a vision of competing modes of existence, domesticated life as a perpetual scene suspended between rigid internal faiths and far-flung fantasies. You can feel Christian all but cringing at the faint touch of its weight.

Christian learns later that Lars was having an affair with Alex, a turn that genuinely shocks Christian nonetheless as he had no idea about it, the presence of such enigma right next to him outweighing the machinations of spies and fanatics around him. Domino revolves around two sequences of expansive and carefully layered suspense-mongering: the first is Christian and Lars’ pursuit of Tarzi and the second a climax as Christian and Alex try to foil one of Al Din’s intended terrorist attacks in Spain. The first sees De Palma reverting to his classic blueprint of taking some Hitchcock quotes – the spiralling staircase and drainpipe-dangling of Vertigo (1958), the stepping-stone zoom on a gory sight of The Birds (1963) – and improvising around them jazz-like. De Palma’s more individual sense of crisis then comes into play, as something terrible and impending is made obvious to the audience but only unveiling itself to his protagonists as events outpace their receptivity. Christian beholds the mangled result of Tarzi’s vengeful handiwork inflicted on some pathetic Al Din operative whilst Tarzi calmly tries to work his escape from his handcuffs under Lars’ nose.

Colossal close-ups link the corporeal savagery of Tarzi's handiwork with the silently knowing glaze to his eyes, plunging us deep into a zone of near-atavistic vengefulness and determination the cops can barely comprehend at this point. It takes raw loss of both a friend and innate self-respect to galvanise Christian, who spends much of the film looking like a waning golden boy faced with proof of his own ridiculousness, into the potent warrior such a quest requires. His chase of Tarzi over roofing shingles has an almost languorous quality as the two men are obliged to be more careful than speedy, Lars watching his partner wane and bleed from a helpless vantage. The storyline revolving around a clash between terrorists and state power with a vigilante and civic guardians caught in between feels, perhaps inevitably given the film’s delay, ever so fractionally past its prime. Pearce’s portrayal of a strutting, arrogant yuppie in patriot garb hits a note that’s been sounded quite a few times in the post-9/11 critique.

And yet the direction De Palma takes it in proves almost maliciously keen to our moment when events like the Christchurch Mosque shootings evince just the sort of psychopathic showmanship staged as a social media event De Palma depicts here. Much as he signalled with less finesse and wit in Redacted (2007), De Palma approaches the fallout of the War on Terror with an eager comprehension of a fight on multiple plains of action, enabled by technological advancements that allow simultaneity of being and seeing. Al Din’s auteurist approach to terrorism is to carefully stage them with body cams and drone photography to make them orchestrated events of propagandistic violence. De Palma correlates his own directorial vision with such excursions, as Al Din coaches a hijab-wrapped starlet, Fatima (Sachli Gholamalizad), for a red carpet debut, albeit one where she’s required to machine gun arriving stars at a Dutch film festival, before detonating an explosive vest for a big bang finish, bringing death to the celebrities and being one at the same time. Al Din watches from on high, footage beamed back to him allowing him to see Fatima's pained yet determined war face in the same frame as the fear and horror of her victims -- an image De Palma might as well have been working towards his whole life.

The captured footage is then edited into a tight unit of cinematic impact for free dissemination online, an agitprop creation that long outlives its makers, allowing the deed to escape the ephemeral and the specific moment to become an ongoing act of radical violence. All barriers between political act and art have vanished. By contrast Martin, who in De Palma’s paradigm can be seen more as an eager studio executive, uses networked screens to torment Tarzi into cooperating by letting him watch as Martin browbeats his son. Christian and Alex untangle the means of Al Din’s seeming ability to stage such events at will as based in deception and irony – the tomatoes that save Christian’s life are also a means of smuggling weapons. But Tarzi has a deep instinctual and procedural advantage over them, an advantage that Martin trusts in through his believe that revenge is the great motivator. Ebouaney’s presence as Tarzi imbues Domino with some interesting implied political perspective, as it subverts the familiar paradigm of white westerner reprisal for Islamic extremist carnage by noting that people in North Africa have suffered much more at the hands of such movements.

At the same time De Palma regards Tarzi as a monstrous by-product himself, as a man pushed to realise the possibility within himself for intimate and sadistic violence to expiate grief and rage, slicing off fingers and drowning a restaurateur in his own saucepan full of soup: he’s reminiscent of such storied De Palma protagonists as Winslow Leach, Carrie White, and Tony Montana. In contrast to them however he doesn’t hold the centre of the narrative. There’s also the attendant irony of oblique forms of retaliation: Tarzi’s programme of payback stirring an equal and attendant desire for Christian and especially Alex to get even with him. Christian soon finds that a superior who seems to have it in for him is actually one of Martin’s enablers. He and Alex follow the thread to Belgium and then Spain, proving their mettle as partners as they cut loose on some punkish miscreants, establishing Alex’s highly effectual way with a kick to the balls. Domino has many of the qualities old B-movies often wielded with careless gusto. The to-the-point narrative feels almost radical and certainly refreshing in its unfussy cohesion, the directness of its themes and characterisations. The revelation of Alex and Lars’ affair is offered not to implicate some mind-bending twist but to lend new volatility to the way character and plot interact.

The finale, where Al Din tries again to orchestrate a suicide bombing as media event in a bullring, sees multiple plains of action and interlocking events staged with ingenious verve, Christian battling Al Din and operatives on high whilst Alex tries to intervene with the bomber below, action bathed in saturating blue neon from a huge logo sign that renders life-and-death struggle a form of branded content. It’s truly striking how sleek and integral this is compared to the superficial but disjointed imitation of De Palma’s kind of high style in something like Atomic Blonde (2017). De Palma again explores variations on some of his earlier set-pieces, particularly the opening of Femme Fatale (2001) and the finales of Blow Out (1981) and Snake Eyes (1998), with evil defeated by a combination of real grit and a dash of absurdist good fortune. The cycle of revenge moves on another notch, if perhaps with the hope of catharsis, but the art of murder continues to resound across cyberspace to an unknowable end. It could be said that Domino crashes to a halt just as it’s really gathering momentum, but again the pithiness of the film, the absence of narrative gimmicks and overworked dramatics, feels more like a plus in the end. Also it’s a potent reminder of what genuine film style looks like. De Palma might be one of the last remaining filmmakers who still readily and casually shows up the difference between merely showing events in a televisual manner or assembling prettily photographed bits, but actually turning them into a truly cinematic, aesthetic event.

Titus Techera, Splice Today
There are many things in our world that are illegal—for example, the murders committed by terrorists. They nevertheless happen. There are others that, though they’re legal, are unthinkable—for example, movies that depict the cruel determination and the shocking desire to murder in a theatrical way of Islamic terrorists. De Palma is the only one of the famously transgressive directors of the once famously transgressive liberal movements in the arts who actually has transgressed...

...The extraordinary moments come when De Palma is in his element—when he can think about the relationship between technology, entertainment, and morality. He uses his split screens to show that behind suicide bombers are people who play movie director with people’s lives and whose purpose is not only to terrify, to use the media against the democratic countries they’re supposed to serve, but also as advertising. To glamorize evil.

De Palma’s humanism shows in his constructing a plot intended to destroy this attempt at glamorization. He acknowledges our public paralysis and lack of serious, believable public speeches by politicians and intellectuals. Instead, he moves to family and friendship, to love and loyalty as motives of action. In this way, the dignity of human action is affirmed, even when faced with the anonymous, impersonal terrorist threat.

At the same time, he shows the potential for tragedy in our societies and wars, with his trademark sophistication. Far from the liberal bromide that violence is never the answer, De Palma makes a movie that insists if you want to grieve for your losses, if you want therapy, you should do justice. The political character of the action of the plot serves to make up for the impersonal character of terrorism—the victims can experience it as random, as though it were a cosmic accident, not an act of war.

De Palma’s everymen achieve a dignity only possible in genre movies—they take personally what happens to them in a plot that allows a resolution. They don’t need to escape into fantasy to avoid the ugliness of the world and have an incoherent happy end simply tacked on. Blockbusters no longer dare to tell such stories. So it makes sense Domino was beset with production and distribution difficulties, almost silenced before it even reached an audience. His political incorrectness is serious, and so his art is marginalized.

Posted by Geoff at 7:32 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 26, 2019 7:34 AM CDT
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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Decider's Will Harris asks Jim Belushi about an early film in his filmography: Brian De Palma's The Fury--
I like to ask actors about the earliest projects in their careers, but with your filmography, I can’t quite tell which came first: The Fury or Who’s Watching the Kids?

The Fury?! [Explodes into laughter.] I can’t believe you pulled that out of your ass!

I do enjoy my research.

Well, The Fury… Basically, I was a pushy extra, and I got fired.

Oh, really? That I did not know.

Yeah, I was so young and naive. [Laughs.] We thought we were gonna be movie stars! The whole time we were there, we were, like, “Look, there’s a camera there!” And we’d walk in front of it. We were so bad! The assistant director told me, “I was at the dailies, and we looking at them, and there you were over and over and over again. Brian said, ‘Who’s that guy?! Get rid of him!” But ironically, he then came with Amy Irving to Second City and saw an improv show, and John Cassavetes came, too, and it was all okay…or at least it wasn’t too bad! But anyway, my first real film was Thief.

Which is not a bad way to officially start your film career.

No, Michael Mann was the coolest! By the way, as far as getting fired from The Fury, when I did the Letterman show, they got the film, and we counted how many times you could see me on camera. It was, like, four times within a minute clip! [Laughs.]

And the gag that we didn’t end up doing was that we were going to call Brian DePalma on the show, and I was going to apologize to him! Oh, boy, the pure nerve and bravado of the young actor…

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, June 21, 2019 12:10 AM CDT
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