"OCEAN'S 11" STARS IN OUTER SPACE...
Hello and welcome to the unofficial Brian De Palma website.
Here is the latest news:
a la Mod:
According to William Henderson, who posted the 23-minute film to YouTube in 2016 (Susan Finley shared it on Facebook yesterday, which was William Finley's birthday), "Bob Rosen and I made this film in 1967 with the able assistance of RT Miller." (In the film itself, "RT Miller" is credited as "Arthur Miller".) Henderson adds that Zelenka "was broadcast nationally on NET in 1968. It was inspired by a student film I had made at Iowa, The Sculptor, starring my old friend Jon Lipsky."
Zelenka, then, appeared on NET in between De Palma's Murder a la Mod and Finley's participation in Dionysus In '69. In 1970, De Palma incorporated a semi-mokumentary series of his own into the narrative of Hi, Mom! In De Palma's film, Robert De Niro's Jon initially watches the black-and-white documentary series on "N.I.T." (for "National Intellectual Television," a clear parody of "NET," or "National Educational Television"), before he enters the picture himself and becomes part of the documentary. Surely De Palma had been aware that his friend, Bill Finley, had made Zelenka, and had seen it on NET two years before filming Hi, Mom!.
There are also echoes to come in De Palma's casting of Finley as Winslow Leach, the composer whose cantata is cannibalized for the production of pop songs in Phantom Of The Paradise. In Zelenka, Finley plays, in Susan Finley's words, a "notorious Czech avant-garde composer who comes to America to make his fame & fortune." His initial rock song, "Splashdown," is released on 45 on the Karma Records label. Much of the humor in Zelenka comes from watching this self-serious composer create avante-garde rock and pop songs of mind-boggling bizarre quality. At one point, he sets out to create a piece with notes and sounds that can only be heard by dogs, in an attempt to show that music is everywhere, even in the sounds that we as humans cannot hear. Nevertheless, upon listening, the dogs remain amusingly silent and non-plussed.
Watch the movie in-full below. I've included more frame captures below, as well.
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."
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.
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.
"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.
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?
Koepp: 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?
Koepp: Oh, in one draft. I don't think it survived, did it? It should have. That's a great idea.
It's your idea!
Koepp: [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?
Koepp: 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.
Koepp: 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?
Koepp: 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...
Koepp: Yeah, but if I didn't have this stupid bike messenger movie…
And with diplomatic immunity, he wouldn't even be charged...
Koepp: 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?
Koepp: 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?
Koepp: No. I think writing the book and screenplay is plenty of creative involvement! [Laughs] Somebody else can figure it out from here.
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?
Koepp: 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?
Koepp: 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.
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."
NICOLAS CAGE: ASTER "HAS THAT AUTEUR PANACHE, LIKE DE PALMA DID BACK WHEN HE WAS DOING FILMS LIKE 'SISTERS' & 'PHANTOM'"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.