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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


« November 2019 »
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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

Alfred Hitchcock
The Master Of Suspense

Alfred Hitchcock Films

Snake Eyes
a la Mod

Mission To Mars
a la Mod

Sergio Leone
and the Infield
Fly Rule

Movie Mags


The Filmmaker Who
Came In From The Cold

Jim Emerson on
Greetings & Hi, Mom!

Scarface: Make Way
For The Bad Guy

The Big Dive
(Blow Out)

Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
Official Web Site

The Phantom Project

Welcome to the
Offices of Death Records

The Carlito's Way
Fan Page

The House Next Door

Kubrick on the

FilmLand Empire

Astigmia Cinema


Cultural Weekly

A Lonely Place

The Film Doctor


Icebox Movies

Medfly Quarantine

Not Just Movies

Hope Lies at
24 Frames Per Second

Motion Pictures Comics

Diary of a
Country Cinephile

So Why This Movie?

Obsessive Movie Nerd

Nothing Is Written

Ferdy on Films

Cashiers De Cinema

This Recording

Mike's Movie Guide

Every '70s Movie

Dangerous Minds


No Time For
Love, Dr. Jones!

The former
De Palma a la Mod

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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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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Yesterday, The Film Stage posted an article with the headline, "Where to Stream the Best Films of 2019." The article is meant to highlight notable films that may have slipped by readers. "This is far from a be-all, end-all year-end feature," Jordan Raup explains in the article's introduction, "but rather something that will hopefully be a helpful tool for readers to have a chance to seek out notable, perhaps underseen, titles from the year."

Included in the article is Brian De Palma's Domino, which is enthused about by The Film Stage's Nick Newman:

The latest from Brian De Palma hits film culture not unlike a moody son trudging to their graduation party at a parent’s behest, a master of big-screen compositions relegated to VOD for those who bother plunking down. That tussle between pedigree of talent and nature of distribution foretells the chaos within: at one moment lit like a Home Depot model living room–a fault I’m more willing to chalk up to incomplete post-production, less likely to blame on Pedro Almodóvar’s longtime DP José Luis Alcaine–the next photographed and cut as if an old pros’ sumptuous fuck-you to pre-vis-heavy and coverage-obsessed action-filmmaking climate, the next maybe just an assembly of whatever master shots the team could scrounge together during those 30 production days. To these eyes it’s a chaotic joy; nearly malicious, deeply serious about the wounds of contemporary terrorism, and smart enough to pull off a mocking of the circumstances around those fighting it.

Posted by Geoff at 12:47 AM CST
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Thursday, November 21, 2019

In an article for its "Men Of The Year" cover story this month, GQ included a 16-minute video chat between Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in which the two actors recall discussing Scarface:
Robert De Niro: This is how I remember it, II could be wrong... We were talking about Scarface, and you were considering who to do it with, what director. And I was saying, you should really do it with Brian, of of the choices that you had. I don't... I thought I'd...[uttering a bit to indicate this is how he remembers it] and then I said if you don't do it, I'm going to do it, because I want, you know, I wanted to do it.

Al Pacino: Yeah, they were going to do Scarface, Marty and Bob. They hadn't... they didn't do it yet, they were playing with the idea.

De Niro: I was thinking the idea was, they would have done it.

Pacino: And then I know I was, when I saw Scarface in California, I said, call Marty Bregman. Who was the producer. And I said, I think this is a, this guy, Paul Muni, in this part, I said I think it was great. And I said, I would just like to do him, if I could [laughing]. And then he said, no, he didn't know Scarface. I said, "See the film, I think we can do it." I didn't know that Marty and Bob were interested in it, and...

De Niro: We were just talking, I think it was all loose. You know...

Pacino: When he got Lumet... Bregman and Lumet... it was Lumet's idea to do it Cuban.

De Niro: Ah.

Pacino: But then Marty and Lumet didn't quite agree on where the thing should go and how it should be done. And then Brian came in. They had a parting. And Brian came in. And then that was the... I think that was the thing that took it off. Because the way Brian saw it, and Oliver saw it, and Marty saw it, and I saw it, had this sort of, you know, this kind of... thing that was all... pretty much were opposite of each other, in certain areas. And that's when Scarface came about.

De Niro: I just thought, I think I remember, that I just felt Brian would be the best because he would be the least conventional of the choices of the other directors.

Pacino: [nodding] That's true.

De Niro: That was all. And I had worked with him, I knew him.

Pacino: Turned out that was very true.

De Niro: Yeah

Pacino: Because he did have his own way of doing it, which made it different, and it really did make that film. And so did Bregman, by the way. Marty had that feeling about it, too. Larger than life. Just that little step up.

Meanwhile, at 48hills, Joshua Rotter asks Martin Scorsese about his working relationship with De Niro. Scorsese replies:
Well, not counting when we knew each other on the Lower East Side when we were 16 years old and he wasn’t an actor and I wasn’t a filmmaker, I met him again when we were about 27 or 28.

Brian De Palma introduced us because he had worked with him on Hi, Mom! and De Niro actually knew many of the characters that I knew. All the people I grew up with, he knew them and he knew how they were reflected in Mean Streets, for example.

So pretty much he’s the only person left around who knows where I come from and who I knew, so that was the beginning of the bond of trust.

On a final note, check out the headline on this review:
The Irishman: Say Goodbye To The Bad Guys
Baylor Thornton, AC Observer

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CST
Updated: Friday, November 22, 2019 12:11 AM CST
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Wednesday, November 20, 2019
For the past few months, Adam Zanzie has been working on the above video, "An Oral History of CASUALTIES OF WAR (1989)," and now it is here. Here is Zanzie's full description from YouTube:
On this day, 53 years ago, in 1966, a woman named Phan Thi Mao was murdered in Vietnam.

50 years ago this year, in 1969, journalist Daniel Lang's article about the incident was published in The New Yorker Magazine.

And 30 years ago this year, in 1989, director Brian De Palma's Hollywood feature film adaptation was released.

For this oral history video essay about the legacy of "Casualties of War", director Brian De Palma, screenwriter David Rabe, co-producer Fred Caruso, Captain Dale Dye, Sergeant Mike Stokey, actor Erik King, actor Jack Gwaltney, actor Darren E. Burrows and actress Thuy Thu Le all kindly answered questions that I had about their memories of the production.

Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted. "Fair Use" guidelines: copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

Music by Ennio Morricone and the Chamber Brothers.

Posted by Geoff at 7:33 AM CST
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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Paul Hirsch will sign copies of his book (A Long Time Ago in a Cutting Room Far, Far Away) and take part in a Q&A this Wednesday (November 20th) following a 7pm screening of John Hughes's Planes, Trains & Automobiles at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago. Hughes' son, James, will also join the conversation.

A couple of weeks ago, Entertainment Weekly posted an amusing excerpt from Hirsch's book, detailing the transition from finishing work on Brian De Palma's Carrie and then setting out to work on Star Wars, with De Palma making the call himself on Hirsch's behalf:

By the time we had locked the cut of Carrie, George Lucas had finished shooting Star Wars. He and Marcia were on their way back to California from the UK and stopped off for a few days in New York. George was a bit demoralized. The shoot had been very difficult for him, and he had even checked into the hospital at one point with chest pains, thinking he was having a heart attack. They turned out to be only anxiety attacks, but they took their toll on him emotionally. In addition, he was unhappy with his UK editor, a solid and experienced pro. He never got the spirit of the piece and apparently made his scorn for the project known. George was very unhappy with the first cut and decided to replace him at the end of principal photography.

Brian screened Carrie for him and Marcia. They loved it, made no suggestions for changes, and flew off to the West Coast to begin postproduction on their picture. About two weeks later, I got a phone call from Marcia.

“Paul, I know you are just about finished with Carrie. How would you like to come out and help us edit Star Wars when you are done?” she asked.

Would I! But the timing! My wife Jane had just become pregnant with our first child. “I have to talk to my wife and get her OK.”

I was thrilled, but a little apprehensive too. How would Jane take this news? I told Brian about my conversation with Marcia. “What? You didn’t accept? Are you crazy?”

He grabbed the phone and called Marcia right back. “Marcia? It’s Brian. He’ll do it.” He told her how much I was making on Carrie. “Can you pay him that?” he asked. “OK, then, it’s all set.”

He hung up and turned to me. “You don’t tell her your problems. She doesn’t need that. Just work it out.”

I raced home to tell Jane. “Honey, I’ve gotten a great job offer, but it means having to go away. Do you remember that book of stills we saw at Jay and Verna’s? Well, George Lucas wants me to come on the film.”

Jane gazed at me and without hesitating said, “Do it!”

I called the next day, and it was agreed I would begin work as soon as Carrie was in the can, around the end of September 1976.

We set about finishing our film. We finished mixing the picture in New York and went out to L.A. to oversee the color corrections in the answer print, the first seamless print made from the cut negative. I moved into a room at the Chateau Marmont, a Hollywood landmark where John Belushi from the original cast of Saturday Night Live was to die of a drug overdose years later.

While I was staying at the Chateau, George Lucas had a copy of his script sent to me. It was titled “The Adventures of Luke Starkiller as taken from the ‘Journal of the Whills’” by George Lucas, and then “(Saga I) Star Wars.” It was the revised fourth draft. I read it and frankly didn’t quite know what to make of it. The pages were filled with words like Wookiee, Jawas, Jedi knights, TIE fighters, X- and Y-wings, and so forth. It was impossible to imagine these things, but I had seen those production stills and was excited at the prospect of working on the film.

George’s office called and asked me to meet him at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), a special effects company he had opened to produce the effects shots for the film. ILM was located in an industrial warehouse in Van Nuys. When I got there, George greeted me and gave me a tour. He showed me the motion control camera and the tracks on which it traveled. I had never seen such a thing before. He explained that a computer memorized the movement of the camera so that the precise movement could be repeated exactly, again and again. This was necessary to photograph different models and combine them into a single shot.

The computer data was stored on punched paper tape, which was then constructing the various spacecraft for the picture. There was an enormous pile of boxes of model airplanes and warships that they had cannibalized to make all the intergalactic cruisers and X- and Y-wing fighters, as well as the Millennium Falcon. He showed me the star field that was used as background in all the space shots. Then we went through a glass-paneled door into a small air lock. As we stood on a metal grille, a large vacuum cleaner started noisily under our feet, sucking all the dust off the soles of our shoes. After a few seconds, the motor died down, and we passed through a second door into the optical department.

In the film era, optical effects were achieved by rephotographing original negative, either with mattes or through filters and lenses, with an aerial head, which permitted the image to be enlarged or reduced, tilted or reversed, or other elements to be superimposed, and various other tricks. The result of this rephotographing, however, was a loss of quality, in which the sharpness of the original negative was greatly reduced. To counter this, George had decided to shoot all the effects in a larger film format called VistaVision. It had been developed in the 1950s, when movie studios were competing for audiences with television. The idea was for theaters to project an image that was bigger, wider, and sharper than ever, in contrast to the small screen. In VistaVision, each frame was eight perfs (perforations) wide, and the frames were side by side. In standard 35 mm film, the frames are stacked one above the other and are only four perfs high. The result is that each frame of a VistaVision negative is much sharper. When the optical process we were using degraded the image, the resulting quality, theoretically, would be very close to the look of standard four-perf original.

The studios had abandoned the format some years before due to the high cost of shooting pictures this way. VistaVision required twice as much footage, on top of which the dailies would have to be reduced to four-perf just so the editors could cut it using their regular Moviolas and splicers. The Moviola was the workhorse standard editing tool of the industry even before sound came in. Originally intended as a home movie projector, it was named after the Victrola, the early record player. Too expensive for home use, it caught on with film editors. George wanted to revive VistaVision, only to discover that there were no surviving compatible optical printers. His team, headed by John Dykstra, had to build new ones so that they could shoot the models in the eight-perf format, preserving the quality he hoped for.

I was awed by the high-techness and cutting edge–ness of it all. I had been cutting 16 mm just a couple of years earlier! This was a whole new ball game for me. George suggested we go get something to eat at the nearby Hamburger Hamlet on Van Nuys Boulevard. He ordered a cheeseburger and a glass of milk, and we started to get to know each other a bit. We agreed that I would come up to San Anselmo in Marin County, where the editing rooms were, as soon as I completed my work on Carrie.

After a while, I felt compelled to say something that was weighing on me a bit. “You know, George,” I began, “I have a confession to make to you.”

“What’s that?” he asked.

“Well, I feel it’s only fair to tell you that I’ve never worked on anything this big,” I said.

“Oh, don’t worry about that,” he said. “No one ever has.”

Posted by Geoff at 12:26 PM CST
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Yesterday's post about The Black Dahlia reminds me that earlier this year, Armond White mentioned Brian De Palma's film in his review of Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood, which White states "is easily Tarantino’s best film." From National Review:
Movie-actor sympathy is QT’s obtuse version of humanism; his hipster notion of relationships rarely goes beyond clichéd cleverness. The behind-the-scene moments in Once Upon a Time don’t seem as authentic as the early-Sixties sex-and-ambition revue in Warren Beatty’s Rules Don’t Apply, or as insightful as the Hollywood-blacklist parodies in the Coen brothersHail, Caesar! An interlude about the vanity of Bruce Lee (played by Mike Moh) gives the impression that QT forgot exactly what movie he was making; like Jackie Brown, it’s not convincing.

In Jackie Brown, QT was so absorbed in fetishizing Blaxploitation lore and his star Pam Grier (whom he called “the queen of women” the first time I met him) that instead of reexamining the era when his obsessions were born, he updated it poorly, and Grier wasn’t actress enough to reclaim her Foxy Brown crown. In Once Upon a Time, QT exults in a period re-created solely through cultural artifacts: pop songs, TV shows, movie posters, theater marquees, and incessant, maddening radio advertisements. The specter of gruesome real-life tragedy underneath all the Hollywood history and pop effluvia gives him something new: poignancy.

Brian De Palma already made this ambivalence poetic in The Black Dahlia — especially the memorable sequence where the audition of tragic Elizabeth Short (Mia Kirschner) as Scarlett O’Hara distilled her all-American drive and pathos. Despite crude technique, QT reveals his awareness of Hollywood desperation, found in society’s changing sexuality, especially when dealing with the Manson girls. Going back to the Sixties hippie era, QT evokes the cultural differences between middle-class California conservatism (embodied by inside-outsiders Rick and Cliff) and Manson’s dangerously radical counterculture.

These tense, lewd scenes (anchored to Margaret Qualley’s Pussycat, a brazen free-love druggie, Dakota Fanning’s fanatical Squeaky Fromme, and Rick’s meeting with a precocious child star, loaded with pedophiliac undertones) suggest more than Manson’s psychotic influence. QT seems to be getting at a modern crisis. Manson’s maenads — dirty, barefoot examples of Dionysian abandon — provide the most fascinating sequences of QT’s career. A plot digression features Bruce Dern as a blind, wizened, weakened victim of his own lusts as well as of female opportunists, a Harvey Weinstein figure.

At the screening I attended, most of the audience went into quiet shock during QT’s finale, an extended sequence of conventional action-movie moral reckoning. It hit them on another level than the earlier, poorly imitated scenes of mock-TV violence (for a cineaste, QT’s images are surprisingly imprecise). In this riposte to #MeToo diabolism, Tarantino finally finds a social context that challenges his audience. And while the Motion Picture Academy previously rewarded QT for disgracing both the Holocaust and slavery, this might be an even hotter topic, and it needs a better follow-through than his slasher-movie tropes. But, admittedly, this display of cheap revenge is his career highpoint.

Posted by Geoff at 8:45 AM CST
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Friday, November 15, 2019

The Telegraph's Chris Harvey interviewed Jemima Rooper for an article that posted earlier this week:
In 2013, she appeared in a Harvey Weinstein film – One Chance, the true story of Britain’s Got Talent winner Paul Potts. She met the producer but was never alone in a room with him, and has a surprising insight from the shop floor, “Controversially, there's this feeling, when someone who has the power to make careers doesn't really give you a second look, or isn't really bothered about you… it's incredibly annoying. Not that I wanted that kind of attention.

On the first day of filming, she adds, “his PA appeared with a whole load of new costumes and it was all massive high heels, short skirts, basically sexing up the character. I was supposed to be the weird, funny girlfriend… She was sent to do it, to make me feel comfortable about it. If Harvey himself had come along and said, I want you in a miniskirt and high heels, I’d have been, excuse me? Then you hear these awful stories of these girls and because it was probably a woman who said, ‘Harvey really wants to meet with you,’ those women were really sort of complicit in allowing that to happen.”

The moment she found most embarrassing, she says, was when she was cast in Brian De Palma’s 2006 adaptation of James Ellroy’s The Black Dahlia, with Scarlett Johansson. “I got three scenes in a big movie and one of them was a 1930s porn film with another girl. I was 22… I knew that I was probably going to have to be topless… and when we did the porn element, there was a point when Brian was asking if my pants could come off, and I was like, oh my god, what do I do? When you’re doing a small part, you don’t feel like you can just go, ‘hang on, I need to call my agent.’ You want to be amenable. Luckily, he saw I had two tattoos on my back and said, they’ll take too long to cover with make-up. I was so happy. I’ll probably get tattooed underwear now.”

Posted by Geoff at 7:15 AM CST
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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

A week ago, Vulture posted its "Best Movies of 2019 (So Far)" list, and Domino is included. Despite his appreciation for Domino, David Edelstein continues to mistakenly believe that De Palma had a longer cut of the film (last June, De Palma clarified to us here at De Palma A La Mod that Domino "was not recut"). Here's Edelstein's paragraph about Domino:
A thrilling return to form for Brian DePalma — but also under-funded, shorn of nearly half its director’s intended running time, and occasionally ludicrous. The convoluted, right-wing-ish story centers on two Danish cops: Christian (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, between seasons of Game of Thrones) and Alex (Carice van Houten, ditto) on the hunt for a Libyan immigrant (Eriq Ebouaney) who killed Christian’s partner, who was also Alex’s illicit lover. What they don’t know is that the Libyan is being protected by the CIA (led by Guy Pearce), which tacitly approves of his locating, torturing, and killing ISIS operatives to get to the sheikh who murdered his father. What keeps you entranced is De Palma’s pacing. In the key sequences, the action slows to a crawl — proof that the greatest suspense comes from helplessness in a world where you can see what’s coming but can’t think or move fast enough to forestall the horror.

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, November 13, 2019 12:09 AM CST
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Monday, November 11, 2019

Posted by Geoff at 11:53 PM CST
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https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/hirschbooksmall.jpg"Paul Hirsch, a master of his craft," Brian De Palma begins in his endorsement of Hirsch's new book, "has written an intelligent, perceptive, compelling memoir of his editing life, from the late '60s through today. From the heights of Star Wars to the depths of Pluto Nash, if you want to know how the sausage is cut, this is the book for you. I should know, I was with him in the beginning and through our misadventure to Mars. Congratulations, Paul, for remembering all the things we forgot."

Hirsch's book was published last week, and Variety's Drew Turney posted a a brief article about it, which included some interview bits with Hirsch:
Filmgoers don’t know the name Paul Hirsch nearly as well as those of Brian De Palma, George Lucas or John Hughes, but after a five-decade career as a film editor, he’s been an integral part of some of the biggest movies ever.

Hirsch says editing is a creative art despite the mechanical specialization of the pre-digital days, and his new book “A Long Time Ago in a Cutting Room Far, Far Away” (Chicago Review Press) makes a powerful case for the influence an editor can have over the creative direction of a film.

The book’s opening paragraph tells a story about how the decision to switch a wide shot to a close-up of the star in one of his early movies (De Palma’s “Obsession”) convinced Columbia Pictures to pick up and distribute the film. “Context is everything,” writes Hirsch, who along with Marsha Lucas and Richard Chew won the editing Oscar in 1978 for the original “Star Wars.” “You can take the most affecting moment of a four-hankie movie and cut it into the middle of a broad comedy, and it will seem absurd.”

But when asked about the theory some have that it’s the editor rather than the director who’s the ultimate author of a film — considering their command over the pace and therefore tone — he’s characteristically humble.

“No, it’s a collaborative thing,” Hirsch says. “I control the pace for a while. There’s a period where I’m acting autonomously. But when the director gets finished with production, we start working together to edit the film to produce the final result. At best, I’d say it’s a co-authorship, but I don’t want to give myself too much credit because I’m in the idea business. Maybe the director accepts my ideas, and I’ve been very fortunate in people endorsing my choices to a great extent, but I still wouldn’t consider myself an author.”

Hirsch likens the process to that of acting, where a performer may do 10 takes of a scene and make a different choice each time, all of it ultimately to give the director raw material.

Never one to do things conventionally, he has avoided the usual creative model where some editors and directors are inextricably linked (Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker, Quentin Tarantino and Sally Menke, Steven Spielberg and Michael Kahn, etc.). He calls such unions “happy marriages,” but says in his book that he prefers to “sleep around,” taking it as a point of pride when directors invite him back.

The book makes readers realize what an unsung art editing is. But Hirsch says his intention in writing it — he’s been scribbling notes for it over the last 18 years — isn’t to teach. “It’s really about explaining what it is to be an editor, what kind of life you have if you’re an editor,” he says. “I’m not really interested in how-to books. My aim was to entertain people, tell them a good story and explain what we do.”

Posted by Geoff at 7:46 AM CST
Updated: Monday, November 11, 2019 7:55 AM CST
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Thursday, November 7, 2019

The Swan Archives shared some intriguing news yesterday about upcoming screenings in San Francisco next month:
The 16th Annual Another Hole in the Head Film Fest, in San Francisco, will be presenting Phantom of Winnipeg (at 7pm) and what we can tell you will be a very special screening of Phantom of the Paradise (at 9pm) on December 7. Our Principal Archivist will be participating in some fashion in both screenings, introducing, or Q/A'ing, or somesuch thing. The venue is the New Peoples Cinema in San Francisco's Japantown, which accommodates about 140 people, so we expect it to sell out, or come very close. A separate ticket is required for each of Paradise and Winnipeg,, and tickets are available here.

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CST
Updated: Friday, November 8, 2019 12:04 AM CST
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