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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
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AV Club Review
of Dumas book


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Scarface: Make Way
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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The Hamptons International Film Festival revealed its full schedule this week. The previously announced on-stage conversation between Brian De Palma and Alec Baldwin will take place after a screening of De Palma's Blow Out, which is scheduled for 11:15am (festival passes are on sale now, and tickets for individual screenings and events go on sale October 1st). De Palma will also be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the festival, which runs October 10-14.

A couple of weeks ago, Baldwin tweeted, "He’s directed some of the biggest movie stars in their most memorable roles. Save the date: celebrate iconic director Brian De Palma at the Hamptons International Film Festival on October 12. We’ll explore BLOW OUT, UNTOUCHABLES, SCARFACE, CARRIE + more."

Posted by Geoff at 6:07 PM CDT
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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

This week, La La Land Records is releasing a limited edition (3000 units) two-CD set of Danny Elfman's score for Brian De Palma's Mission: Impossible. The set includes a few alternate unused versions of Elfman's score, and liner notes by Jeff Bond. Here's the La La Land description:
La-La Land Records, Paramount Pictures and Universal Music Special Markets present the remastered and expanded original motion picture score to the 1996 blockbuster feature film that re-imagined an iconic TV property and launched an astounding series of hit feature films that continues to this day, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, starring Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames and Jon Voight, and directed by Brian DePalma. Acclaimed composer Danny Elfman (BATMAN, DARKMAN, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, SPIDER-MAN) unleashes an enthralling and action-packed orchestral score - one of the composer’s finest works. Elfman’s score is by turn dark and mysterious, light and romantic, sleek, yet operatic – all of it building up to one of the most exciting action finale music cues of the 90’s! Disc One features the original 1996 album assembly, mastered by Patricia Sullivan while Disc Two showcases the remastered film score, expanding the original album release by more than twenty minutes. Produced by Dan Goldwasser and Neil S. Bulk and remastered by Mike Matessino, this powerhouse 2-CD set is limited to 3000 units and features exclusive liner notes by writer Jeff Bond. The sleek art direction is by Dan Goldwasser.

Posted by Geoff at 7:09 AM CDT
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Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Quad cinema in New York begins a series this Wednesday, "Labyrinth of Passion: The Films of Antonio Banderas." Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale is included in the series, screening at 7pm Thursday, September 19th, and at 9:30pm on Monday, September 30th. Here's the Quad description from the Banderas series:
No stranger to erotic thrills onscreen, Banderas put himself in the hands of one of the genre’s master manipulators—De Palma. Fleeing seduced-and-abandoned Rie Rasmussen and double-crossed associates after a Cannes Film Festival theft, smooth criminal Rebecca Romijn takes another woman’s identity and escapes the country. But years later, a snapshot by paparazzo Banderas compromises her cover and she lures him into a web of deadly deceit.

Posted by Geoff at 3:57 PM CDT
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Thursday, September 12, 2019

This morning, Lit Reactor tweeted a picture showing advanced review copies of two upcoming Hard Case Crime novels, sitting on top of a desk, including Brian De Palma and Susan Lehman's Are Snakes Necessary?

"New @HardCaseCrime in the house," LitReactor tweeted, "including Brian De Palma's fabulously titled, 'Are Snakes Necessary?'"

The novel, which Hard Case says "has been extensively revised" since the its original publication in France, has a street date of March 17, 2020.

Posted by Geoff at 8:15 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, September 12, 2019 8:20 PM CDT
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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

David Koepp, promoting his debut novel Cold Storage, was asked some questions by Thrillist's Jennifer Vineyard that led Koepp to talk about his work with Brian De Palma on Mission: Impossible and Snake Eyes:
What's it like when you've been hired as a writer for a project based on someone else's vision, when they might let you go and have someone completely rewrite what you've done? Or when someone has done that to you? Is it weird working out all the credits?
It's very messy. There were a couple movies where I was hired and fired multiple times, on the same movie. And that's the way it goes with some movies, big expensive movies where there are powerful people involved. They have a script, they don't like, they want to start over. Steve Zaillian wrote a treatment for Mission: Impossible with Brian De Palma, and then Steve had another commitment that he had to go to, so he couldn't write the script. My suspicion is that he got a whiff of what it was going to be like, and ran! [Laughs]

Tom Cruise was producing it, and it was his first time producing his own stuff. Brian's an auteur, and Tom's an auteur, so there was bound to be a lot of conflict. I came on, and I wrote several drafts, and things were going great. Then Paramount said, "We don't have any notes. We want to shoot it," which is the worst thing to say to Tom, because he is a perfectionist, and he never wants to stop tinkering. And if somebody says they want to stop, that sounds like they don't care, to him. So at that point, Tom wanted [Robert] Towne to come in and work on some stuff, so Towne came in. And apparently, it wasn't going so well. The scripts had fallen into disarray, and they were supposed to start shooting. So they hired me to come back. In the most comedic period of this, they had me in one hotel in London, writing primarily for Brian, and they had Towne at another hotel, writing primarily for Tom. And then Brian and Tom would fax pages at each other and argue about what to shoot. From that chaotic process, nothing good should have emerged. But Brian's brilliant, and Tom will work until he's face-down in the dirt. He'll never quit.

I think they should make a Mission: Impossible where he's clinging to the outside of a rocket, he's shot up in the air, and it falls. He's got no parachute, he's on the way down, and he's holding up little pieces of origami, trying to slow his fall. He's falling and falling, and the ground is coming closer and closer. And then he hits the ground and he dies. This time, he doesn't get up. And the movie's only like 45 minutes long. That's how you end it! Because it's got to end! [Laughs]

Apparently you had more of a love triangle in the story at one point? Between Jim, Ethan, and Claire?
Oh, in one draft. I don't think it survived, did it? It should have. That's a great idea.

It's your idea!
[Laughs] See? Think how much better the franchise would have done had they just gone my way. God. Unreal. [Laughs]

Another idea discarded, this time for 1998's Snake Eyes... You were going to have the casino underwater?
Yes. That was strictly financial, but that would have been a nice opening to see. It started with this great image of the blackjack tables and the chips and cards floating in super-slow motion, and then you go, How do they come to this point? You catch up to that in the climax of the movie. But it was just too hard to do. It was at the dawn of CG, and it would have had to been CG to make it work, and it was just too massive.

Your overriding principle in writing/directing 2012's Premium Rush was for it to be CGI-free.
Absolutely. I wanted all of it to be practical -- real stunts, real people. There are maybe a couple of CG shots in the whole movie, background shots. Everything else, of everybody riding bikes, they really did ride that bike, jump off a bike, or slide under a truck. There are some amazing physical accomplishments in that movie. People got hurt a lot, because bike riding is dangerous, and we were putting people on bikes at high speeds and sending them into traffic, which is crazy and dangerous. We had a stretch for nine days where somebody had to go the emergency room every day.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt's injury, which you show in the end credits, was caused by a diplomat?
Yeah! This asshole... We had a couple lanes on Sixth Avenue. New York will let you have the weekends in August, because the city empties out. So we had two lanes closed and coned-off, and two lanes open. And everybody around Joe's bike was a stunt driver. We had very clear rules. Stunt drivers weren't allowed to change lanes, they couldn't increase or decrease speed without reason, so the rider knows nobody is going to cut him off. Somebody going uptown felt that our lanes of traffic were moving better than his, some diplomat in a SUV, and he drove over the cones and into our lanes. Like smashing them under his car! And Joe was going to hit him. He had a moment to decide, "Should I hit him, or should I go left and hope for the best?" So he veered away, and unfortunately, the stunt driver in the taxi cab, when he saw the other car, he braked. He had no choice, really. So Joe fell into the taxi cab window. I was in the van driving ahead, watching on the monitors, and Joe disappeared from the monitor. You could hear some bouncing, some horrible screeching and smashing sounds, and then the mic went dead. So in the 30 seconds between, "Stop the van!" and going back and finding him, I thought, "Oh no! I killed him! I killed him!"

Technically, the diplomat would be to blame, not you...
Yeah, but if I didn't have this stupid bike messenger movie…

And with diplomatic immunity, he wouldn't even be charged...
Yeah. He didn't even get a ticket. Isn't that terrible? That's outrageous.

Was it freeing to not have to worry about the cost of CG or the possibility of injuries in coming up with ideas for the novel? The only limit is your imagination?
That was one of the first things Steven Spielberg told me on Jurassic Park -- the only limit is your imagination. So I just wrote freely. In the book, I could write the point of view of a fungus. I could go on a three-page digression about a cockroach. That was the most fun of all. You're going to come away with some useless tidbits of information, like what the recoil on a machine pistol could do, if you have a bad back. Better file that away! [Laughs]

Are you planning to direct your own adaptation of Cold Storage?
No. I think writing the book and screenplay is plenty of creative involvement! [Laughs] Somebody else can figure it out from here.

Earlier in the interview (which is interesting all the way through, so check it out), Koepp talks about he and De Palma meeting with former CIA agents about CIA security systems and being so bored by what they were hearing, they decided to make up their own cinematic security system:

In the past, you've consulted with government agencies when writing, like the C.I.A. for Mission: Impossible. What kind of scientific research did you do for this book?
That's a good example. We had former agents who were advising us on that movie, and when we were researching the action sequence at Langley, we asked them, "What are your security systems like?" And they described them, to the extent that they could, and it was so boring. It was exactly what you'd imagine -- a room full of cameras, and a guy watching the cameras. It was literally putting us to sleep, because Brian [De Palma] was on a couch and I was on a recliner. And then we thought, "What if we dump all the research and just make stuff up?" Brian said, "He'll lower down from the top," and I was like, "Yeah! And there will be temperature sensors, and the pressure-sensitive floor that will light up if stuff drops on it, like in that Michael Jackson video." And then it got really fun. So you do need to find out the real story, but you can also invent.

With this book, I just made things up. I wanted to serve the story first. And when I finished the first draft, I contacted a microbiologist and said, "Okay, read this. Have a good laugh. And then will you sit down and go through it with me?" And he read it, and he said, "Well, the science isn't terrible. But there's a lot that is way off. If I'm going to help you, there's one thing you have to promise me you'll never do." "Okay," I said. "What is it?" "You must stop confusing fungus and benzene. They are not the same thing at all. And you can't turn one into the other, any more than you could turn a city into a pair of socks." And I was like, "First of all, that's a great sentence. But yes, I promise I will stop doing that. Tell me the difference." And then he very methodically gave me notes, and we got it to the point where I think a biologist could read it and not throw the book against the wall.

What was it like taking notes from him, versus taking notes from producers or studio execs?
I rarely discarded what he said. I mean, I would bend it, you know? I would adapt it. The big difference was, he wasn't working toward an outcome. He just wanted it to be truthful and accurate. A studio often has motives that aren't true to the story, they're true to what they think a successful movie should be, and those two things can be very much at odds. I also noticed a big difference between notes from studio execs and notes from book editors. [My editor] Zack Wagman is really smart, and his notes were really good, and he also had a way of presenting them that didn't make me rebel against them.

I've always felt like the best work comes from the least number of people in the room. One reason I've enjoyed working for Spielberg so many times is because it's just his opinion, it's just him and you, and you do the best you can. But when you get a lot of different competing agendas, it's deafening. You become more of a personality manager and you're working towards compromise. So I liked writing this book a lot. It was just so much more personal. The ease with which I could toss in little things that were important to me, but might not be to anybody else -- that's just not something I've found very easy to do in a script.

Posted by Geoff at 6:55 PM CDT
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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Just seeing this now, but nine months ago, MaxDfry posted a "Brian De Palma - Supercut" to Vimeo. It's a well-edited piece-- not sure what the music is, but it works well for the video. It's not embedded here but click the image or link above to watch.

Posted by Geoff at 7:30 AM CDT
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Saturday, September 7, 2019

I've seen Ari Aster's Midsommar several times now, and during that scene in the film where Dani is tripping and freaking out, trying to run away, she runs into this very small cabin and closes the door. We see a brief black screen before she lights a match and candle, and finds herself in front of a mirror (as above). This quick moment and the sort of subtle but deliberately punctuated impact it has on the viewer reminds me of Carrie (in Brian De Palma's Carrie) screaming in the closet she's just been locked in, but then calming down enough to light a match and begin saying her prayers. A bit later she goes up to her room and looks into a mirror that is about the same size as the one Dani is looking into in the cabin. The scene in Midsommar is very rapid and brief, yet seems at its essence to be informed by the way these actions are presented in De Palma's film, both visually and sonically-- kinetically.

And of course, we have read Aster talk about De Palma's Carrie on several occasions. Most recently, according to Esquire's Tom Nicholson, Aster talked about De Palma's film on an A24 podcast with fellow director Robert Eggers, saying he was "destroyed" by Carrie at a young age. "I wasn't able to watch it again until my 20s, and then I realized it's a really sad comedy. I could not get the image of Piper Laurie chasing Sissy Spacek around this candlelit house out of my head. She's got this horrible smile, holding a knife. That has come back to me in so many ways. Still, I'll have a nightmare about that."


IndieWire's Eric Kohn posted today about a chat he had with Nicolas Cage at the Toronto International Film Festival, where Cage's new film Color Out of Space, directed by Richard Stanley, is having its world premiere during tonight's Midnight Madness:

“Ari Aster, to me, is an event,” Cage said. “If you look at ‘Hereditary’ and ‘Midsommar,’ so much thought goes into them. They’re uniquely different, but you can tell that they come from the same mind. He’s a real student of film.” The actor recalled watching “Midsommar” in a theater following its release this summer, and recognized the influence of Ingmar Bergman’s eerie character studies on Aster’s sprawling tale of a Swedish cult and the young Americans drawn into its web.

“It was exciting,” Cage said. “I saw those Bergmanesque shots. I remember thinking, ‘This is like Bergman. Then I heard a podcast where he was talking about the closeups in ‘Persona,’ and I’d just gone through my Bergman kick, so I was like, well, this is really someone willing to explore and try new things in cinema.” Cage described Aster as “someone who has that auteur panache, like De Palma did back when he was doing films like ‘Sisters’ and ‘Phantom of the Paradise.’”

Aster’s first two features take an artful approach to horror movie traditions, but Cage said there was one variation on that genre he had no interest in. “Horror is fine, you can be very creative with that. The thing I really don’t like is what they call ‘torture porn,’” he said. “If you’re just watching some woman get cut up, that’s really not for me. It needs to have a reason there, a story, that propels the characters, an emotion connected to it. I would probably have to pass on just gratuitous violence.”

Cage has been a movie buff his whole life. As a child growing up in the ’70s, his father often took him to repertory screenings at the New Beverly Cinema, where he still has fond memories of watching James Dean in “East of Eden,” Marlon Brando in “On the Waterfront,” James Cagney in “White Heat,” and Todd Browning’s “Freaks.” He continues to consume new releases and classics as part of his regular viewing habits. “I am a film enthusiast and genuinely transport myself with watching films,” he said. “In a way, it makes me feel like I’m still with my father.”


With Andy Muschietti's highly anticipated It Chapter Two hitting theaters this weekend, The Ringer's Ben Lindbergh posted an article Thursday with the headline, "Welcome to the New Golden Age of the Stephen King Adaptation" (the headline has since been changed to "Why Hollywood Keeps Coming at the King").

Lindbergh's article includes interview quotes from Ian Nathan, who has a book coming out this week called Stephen King at the Movies, with a subtitle that promises "a complete history of the film and television adaptations from the master of horror." Nathan tells Lindbergh, "King arrived in the mid-70s with Carrie, just as a host of hot young, revolutionary horror directors, and I include De Palma in their number, were ready to transform the horror genre. The likes of Cronenberg, Carpenter, Romero, and Tobe Hooper … made their name with King and equally helped send him to the top of the bestseller lists. It was an era of excellent adaptations, mixing the freshness of King’s approach to horror archetypes with a modern, highly stylized approach to scares."

Meanwhile, several sites have been posting new rankings of Stephane King adaptations. Parade's Samuel R. Murrian ranks Kimberly Pierce's 2013 version of Carrie as the tenth worst ("Because Brian De Palma‘s version holds up so sturdily, the big question when this remake was announced was, of course: why?"), and De Palma's version at number 2, right behind Frank Darabont's The Shawshank Redemption. Regarding De Palma's Carrie, Murrian writes:

The one that started it all remains a landmark of American horror, a simple story with a heartbeat that’s impossible not to get invested in, even moved by. Brian De Palma‘s film is practically a 98-minute film school. Changes are made to the source material, bold stylistic choices are made right and left—and it all serves a purpose; everything works.

For its first hour, Carrie is a deliriously entertaining, rising-star-studded tragicomedy. Then the prom scene hits—it will still make your blood run cold. Star Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie, who plays Carrie’s violently fanatical mother, were both nominated for Oscars, an unprecedented feat for a horror movie.

Over at Thrillist, where several staff writers chose "The Scariest Stephen King Movie Moments of All Time," Esther Zuckerman writes about an unexpected choice from De Palma's Carrie:
The moment: Carrie takes a shower in the locker room
There are plenty of supernatural horrors to come in Brian De Palma's adaptation of Carrie, but there's something uniquely terrifying about the opening. After all, nothing is scarier than a bunch of teenage girls being genuine assholes. The porny gaze (let's just say it) that first permeates the girls' locker room where Carrie White showers after being humiliated in gym class shatters when Carrie finds blood between her legs. It's her period, but given her upbringing, she doesn't know that. Frantic, she runs to her classmates who immediately turn on her, their smirks morphing to jeers as they lob tampons and maxi pads her way. We're embedding the safe-for-TV cut, which frankly doesn't have the same power. It's not just the luridness that makes the moment so striking, it's the vulnerability of Carrie's nudity that's exploited when the other women start their taunts.

Back over at The Ringer, Adam Nayman ranks the ten best Stephen King movie adaptations, placing Stanley Kubrick's The Shining at the top spot, with De Palma's Carrie at number two:
It opens with an insidiously brilliant update of Psycho’s shower scene and ends with a jump scare that Hitchcock would have envied; in between, it’s merely the tenderest and most affecting movie ever made out of one of King’s novels. “Tender” is not a word usually associated with Brian De Palma, and there are aspects of Carrie more in line with (if not hugely formative of) the director’s sardonic sensibility: In between his virtuoso camera curlicues (spinning, tracking, soaring, plunging), he exploits the mean-girl high school milieu for bitchy humor and shameless T&A, and turns Carrie’s mom (Piper Laurie) into a ripe gothic-spinster caricature (“These are godless times,” she snarls at a classmate’s mother). He also goes a lot further than King in humanizing his heroine, aided immeasurably by the sublime work of Sissy Spacek—an impossibly brilliant actress who becomes translucent in front of the camera. We’re complicit in everything Carrie is thinking and feeling, and that includes her murderous rage in the home stretch, as baroque and deep red as any giallo while still rooted in a kind of bruised humanity. It’s that sense of betrayal, of somebody who hasn’t just broken bad but been broken, period, that conjures up such unholy fury, and which gives the last shot a power beyond its exacting Pavlovian reflexology (it may be the best-timed shock in movie history). Carrie is reaching out from beyond the grave, yes, but more importantly, she’s reaching out. In hell, as in life, she’s a lonely soul in need of a friend.

At Consequence of Sound, where every single Stephen King adaptation is ranked from worst to best, Leah Pickett writes of De Palma's Carrie, which comes in at number five:
De Palma’s Carrie, in the wake of William Friedkin’s landmark horror event The Exorcist three years prior, marked another watershed for the genre. Critics raved, careers rocketed (perhaps a young John Travolta’s most of all), and — in what is still a rarity for horror films — the Academy took notice. Sissy Spacek, in the gruesome title role that made her a star, and Piper Laurie, who hadn’t appeared onscreen since 1961’s The Hustler and shocked audiences as Carrie’s mentally unstable mother, received Academy Award nominations for their performances. Sure, Laurie may seem hammy by today’s standards, but she leaves her mark; after all, Moms from Hell don’t get much more terrifying than Margaret White.

Although dated and, yes, more than a little bit campy, Carrie is a classic for a reason. For proof, re-watch the opening scene — how King and De Palma were able to capture the symbolic horror of “becoming a woman” with comments on the religious, social, and societal is beyond me, but they pull it off – and also, that prom scene, which is frenetic, lyrical, blood-soaked Sodom and Gomorrah theatre at its best.

And that 2014 remake? Eh, don’t bother.

Posted by Geoff at 8:38 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, September 8, 2019 11:11 AM CDT
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Friday, September 6, 2019

David Koepp posted this image above last week on his Instagram page, with the caption, "You can’t outrun a shadow, Kevin Bacon." Bacon stars with Amanda Seyfried in Koepp's new thriller, an adaptation of Daniel Kehlmann's 2017 novella, You Should Have Left. As one might expect, Koepp has written the screenplay adaptation. The film is being produced by Bacon along with Jason Blum, for Blumhouse Productions.

Bacon, who starred in Koepp's Stir Of Echoes twenty years ago, brought Kehlmann's book to Koepp's attention. According to Deadline's Anthony D'Alessandro , "The film version varies from that of the book, which is akin to Stephen King’s The Shining. You Should Have Left is the unsettling story of a wealthy man with a younger wife and six-year-old child. Mistrust and suspicion characterize their marriage while they are in a remote location that may or may not be obeying all the physical laws of the universe."

Bacon was on hand last night at a Barnes & Noble in New York City to moderate a discussion with Koepp about Koepp's first novel, Cold Storage, which hit stores this week. That same day, Koepp participated in an hour-long "Ask Me Anything" discussion on reddit. "My first novel, Cold Storage, came out this week," Koepp stated in the reddit introduction. "It's about a deadly organism that absolutely MUST be contained and destroyed, but is neither contained nor destroyed. Mayhem ensues."

In the ensuing discussion, Koepp was asked, "What's been the biggest challenge going from screenwriting to novel writing?" Koepp replied, "Just the scope of a novel. It was something I'd wanted to do for a long time -- not write a novel per se, but write in a longer format -- but still, the sheer amount of typing involved was impressive. Even for a brisk novel like Cold Storage. But I was DELIGHTED by the ability to go inside a character's head, to delve into someone's thoughts, after 30 years of only being able to write what they do or say."

Koepp was not asked anything specific about his work with Brian De Palma, but he did answer a question about collaborating as a screenwriter with directors:

Collaborating can be a joy, and it can be torture. Sometimes both with the same person. For the most part, I've really enjoyed my collaborations with directors. I'd say ninety percent of the time they've been true partnerships, and there's been respect and encouragement on both sides. The other ten percent of the time -- well, it sucked. I'm sure you've been in bad relationships, where you feel like no matter what you say it's the wrong thing, and you KNOW that no matter what THEY say it's the wrong thing. Same thing with a bad collaboration.

Or, sometimes, you get along great, but the combination of your particular talents just isn't producing good work. That happens too, and it's sorta the worst.

All work with directors is close. You are the two people who have the greatest creative stake in the movie, and you're the two that are with it the longest. All the others come and go, but you and director remain. So it is a close and long-lasting relationship. Unless the director fires you, of course. And make no mistake, that power is theirs, and not yours.

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, September 7, 2019 12:20 AM CDT
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Thursday, September 5, 2019

At MUBI, Lawrence Garcia looks at the early films of Pedro Almodóvar, and brings up the cinema of Brian De Palma in the process:
Unlike some of his contemporaries, Almodóvar was never much of a niche director, having achieved a fair measure of success from the start. Pepe, Luci, Bom and Labyrinth of Passion both played at the San Sebastian Film Festival, Dark Habits bowed at the Venice Film Festival, while What Have I Done to Deserve This? and Law of Desire had the (backhanded) distinction of being selected for the annual New Directors/New Films showcase in New York. But Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios, 1988), which again saw Maura take the lead, would vault him into another level of success entirely. The recipient of an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, it’s quite handily the most well-known of his 1980s output.

Although it at one point lifts Psycho’s score directly—prefiguring Alberto Iglesias’ supremely Herrmann-esque score for Julieta (2016)—the film’s rhythms are that of a bedroom farce. Opening with separate dubbing sessions of the famed “Lie to me” scene from Nicholas Ray’s Johnny Guitar (1954), the film is, at bottom, about a woman’s emancipation from a feckless, fraudulent man—though along the way, it manages to work in subplots involving a Shiite terrorist cell and a blender of gazpacho laced with sleeping pills. That general arc, though, had something of an unfortunate real-life mirror, since Women on the Verge would be the last time Maura would work with Almodóvar until Volver, a full two decades later. But the film did inaugurate Almodóvar’s collaboration with cinematographer José Luis Alcaine, who could go onto shoot six of Almodóvar’s films. With reference to this long-standing partnership, Brian De Palma, for whom Luis Alcaine shot 2012's Passion, would off-handedly remark: He “lights women beautifully.”

De Palma turns out to be a rather useful point of comparison for Almodóvar. The first scene of Matador, after all, anticipates the American director’s deployment of Double Indemnity in the opening of Femme Fatale (2002)—a film in which, lest one forget, Banderas does an absurdly campy impression of a gay man going on about floppy disks. Likewise, one might recognize shades of Blow Out (1981) in Almodóvar’s own work, such as in the recording sessions of Law of Desire and Women on the Verge. As is the case for most cinephiles of a certain age, Hitchcock looms large for both directors, but in addition, the two share voluptuous visual styles, a taste for scuzzy, voyeuristic pleasures, not to mention a weakness for the bravura set-piece—though Almodóvar’s camerawork never quite reaches the same vertiginous, whirligig intensity as De Palma’s, weighted as it is towards the materials of performance.

Of the films included in the retrospective, the closest point of contact between Almodóvar and De Palma is Kika, an antic slapstick comedy that over its runtime presents a veritable catalogue of scopophilic antecedents: a phallocentric photoshoot in the vein of Blow-Up (1966); an intrusive survey of domestic activity à la Rear Window (1954); a crucial narrative turn from The Prowler (1951); and a prominently placed poster of Peeping Tom (1960) for good measure. Add to this the throughline of an exploitative reality show—sordid true crime, with none of the desired moral/ethical balance—and the film would seem to have the makings of a De Palma-esque thriller. But in keeping with Almodóvar’s filmography, the film’s primary draw is how melodrama and farce serve as containers for these varying interests—seen most clearly in the lengthy, slapstick sequence of Forqué’s eponymous lead character being raped by a recently escaped convict. For this scene, Almodóvar courted a fair amount of controversy—which he had done before, and would continue to do in the decades following. His early reputation as the enfant terrible of Spanish cinema, though diminished, has yet to disappear entirely. But there’s nothing quite like the shock of a first encounter, and if nothing else, Kika makes for a potent one.

See also:
Almodóvar Video Essay by Adrian Martin and Cristina Álvarez López
Vulture's William Penix on Almodóvar's Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, September 6, 2019 7:26 AM CDT
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Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Nancy Allen and Bryan Fuller will host a special event screening of Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill on Saturday, October 19, at The Theatre at The ACE Hotel in Los Angeles. All the information so far is in the image above, but note the two packages that offer exclusive action figures (Bobbi vs. Liz 2-pack in the "Autotron" package, and Bobbi action figure in the "I Borrowed Your Razor" package). Also note that all packages offer "Photo Opp with Cast," while the post-screening Q&A, to be moderated by Fuller, reads, "with actress Nancy Allen & more...", suggesting the potential for more cast members to added to the line-up as we get closer to the event date.

Posted by Geoff at 7:42 AM CDT
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