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Recent Headlines
a la Mod:

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

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

Listen to
Donaggio's full score
for Domino online

De Palma/Lehman
rapport at work
in Snakes

De Palma/Lehman
next novel is Terry

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

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

Washington Post
review of Keesey book

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Exclusive Passion
Interviews:

Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
Leila Rozario

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AV Club Review
of Dumas book

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De Palma interviewed
in Paris 2002

De Palma discusses
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Enthusiasms...

De Palma Community

The Virtuoso
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The De Palma Touch

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Carrie...A Fan's Site

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No Harm In Charm

Paul Schrader

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and the Infield
Fly Rule

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The Filmmaker Who
Came In From The Cold

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Scarface: Make Way
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The Big Dive
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Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
Official Web Site

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italkyoubored

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De Palma a la Mod
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Entries by Topic
A note about topics: Some blog posts have more than one topic, in which case only one main topic can be chosen to represent that post. This means that some topics may have been discussed in posts labeled otherwise. For instance, a post that discusses both The Boston Stranglers and The Demolished Man may only be labeled one or the other. Please keep this in mind as you navigate this list.
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Saturday, April 24, 2021
FROM FADE-IN CRAWLSHEET TO MORRICONE STAMP
IN DE PALMA'S HANDS, MAMET'S INTRO TO 'THE UNTOUCHABLES' BECOMES AN UNFORGETTABLE OPENING SHOT
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/timeofcapone65.jpg

From a TIME magazine article by Richard Corliss, June 22, 1987:

Dawn Steel, president of production at Paramount, recalls that Mamet's first draft was an "outline, very sparse." How sparse? Capone was hardly in it. To flesh out Mamet's bare-bones script, Steel and her boss Ned Tanen wanted De Palma. "In the past," she says, "Brian hasn't chosen the material that was worthy of him and that he was worthy of. He was making homages to Alfred Hitchcock. This one is a homage to Brian De Palma -- he felt it instead of directing it. With this picture he became a mensch." It surely marked a ! change from the snazzy, derivative thrillers (Carrie, Body Double) and dope operas (Scarface) that made him notorious. The new picture would be neither parody nor eulogy; it would be the story of a straight arrow, told with a straight face.

There are the familiar De Palma touches: lots of photogenic blood, a gorgeous tracking shot that leads our heroes from euphoria to horror, an endlessly elaborate set piece reminiscent of the Odessa Steps sequence in Potemkin. But the director's chief contribution is to the film's handsome physical design. "I wanted corruption to look very sleek," he says. "Some people in positions of power with ill-gotten money insulate themselves with over-the-top magnificence. They buy paintings and expensive clothes. And deep inside they know they're cheats and killers."

Visual Consultant Patrizia Von Brandenstein (Amadeus) accompanied De Palma to Chicago to devise the film's production design. "I thought about these four unlikely little guys going up against the mythic monolith of Capone," she says. "So I used architecture that showed mass and power: the Chicago Theater for the opera house, Louis Sullivan's Auditorium Building for Capone's hotel, a spiffed-up Union Station for the Odessa Steps sequence. Fortunately, Paramount let me really run wild."


The Oscar for Chicago Authenticity goes to ... well, not ‘Trial of Chicago 7’ or ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’
Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune, April 21, 2021
:
I get hung up on this stuff, too, though it’s easy to easy to overlook the lies, narrative or visual, for other compensations. “The Untouchables,” for example. Director Brian De Palma and Chicago-born screenwriter David Mamet filmed a lot of their 1987 Eliot Ness/Al Capone saga here, at Union Station, or on the Michigan Avenue bridge over the Chicago River.

Factually the film is full of it, and I don’t mean facts. It makes stuff up. (It’s a fictional narrative based a little bit on fact; in other words, not a documentary.) At one point, Mamet bailed on rewrites ordered up by producer and fellow Chicago native Art Linson involving Ness tossing gangster Frank Nitti off a rooftop.

It’s a pretty dumb scene, but “The Untouchables” has many I love. Some take glorious advantage of filming here, in the city where the story is set, as in the simple establishing shot of Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Andy Garcia and Charles Martin Smith crossing LaSalle Street, backed by the 44-story wonder that is the Chicago Board of Trade Building. That famous corridor has never been given grander screen treatment, with the possible exception of “The Dark Knight.”

Chicago as an authentic 20th-century screen entity has a sadly incomplete history, largely thanks to Richard J. Daley. In 1957, NBC-TV premiered the Chicago-set police drama “M Squad,” starring Lee Marvin as the tough guy who, decades later, inspired Frank Drebin in “Police Squad!” and the subsequent “Naked Gun” movies.

Daley and then-Police Commissioner Timothy O’Connor had no love for it. In their eyes, “M Squad” made Chicago look bad. A 1959 epsoide depicted a cop on the take, which made Daley vow never to make special accommodations for outside film crews. That same year, Marvin told TV Guide: “We shoot locations, twice a year. No permit, no cooperation, no nothing. They don’t want any part of us .… Any public building, but nothing else, no stopping traffic. We shoot it and blow.”

A decade later “Medium Cool,” with its culminating scenes filmed during the downtown Chicago melee during the August 1968 Democratic National Convention, gave the city and the mayor another image problem. Daley let John Wayne and “Brannigan” film here, in the mid-’70s, but only when the Jane Byrne mayoral years commenced did Hollywood feel welcome and free to take over Chicago’s streets and beat things up a little, the way the 1980 smash-‘em-up “The Blues Brothers” did.

Judas and the Black Messiah” may not give you any of the real or period-approximated Chicago of the Fred Hampton years, but Cleveland turned out to be a reasonably effective substitute. Oddly, it’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7″ that looks and feels more fraudulent in terms of atmosphere, even though Sorkin filmed some scenes here.

Moral of the story? You never know. Filming “Holidate” here wouldn’t have saved “Holidate.” And, though I love it, the Chicago-set and Chicago-filmed “Widows” apparently had just enough script issues and knotty storylines to prevent it from connecting with the mainstream audience it deserved.

We’ll close with a little-known story behind the Union Station sequence in “The Untouchables.”

At the time, cultural historian [Tim] Samuelson was working for the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, helping with location scouting for De Palma’s crew. They needed, as he recalled, “a building that looked like a 1920s hosptial with a lot of stairs in front of it, plus a landing.”

Samuelson told them about a couple of churches he knew, here and there. Those might work, he said. How about a church instead of a hospital? No, doesn’t fit the script, the crew said. Well, the only other place, really, is Union Station, Samuelson replied.

A day or two later: “Thanks a lot,” one of the production liaisons told Samuelson, laughing. “Thanks to you, we had to rewrite the whole (expletive) script!” And that’s the scene we have today, filmed on the steps of our beautiful downtown train station, the only possible location for such a preposterously effective homage to the Odessa Steps sequence in Sergei Eisenstein’s “The Battleship Potemkin.”

It never really happened. It’s fiction. But you know? Who cares?


From James Southall's 2013 review of Ennio Morricone's Untouchables soundtrack, via Movie Wave:

De Palma has always believed that music has a very important role to play in a film and as such, the scores for his films tend to be striking and very much at the forefront; and he’s worked with some wonderful composers including Bernard Herrmann, Pino Donaggio, John Williams, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Danny Elfman and others. On three occasions, he worked with the great Ennio Morricone.

The first of those was The Untouchables (with Casualties of War and Mission to Mars to follow in later years) and Morricone’s up-front, arresting music is quite brilliant. The score opens with “The Strength of the Righteous”, which introduces the main action theme (one of five major themes in the score), as electronic beats accompany a repeating five-note phrase heard on low-end piano and then strings, all with a wailing harmonica accompaniment. It’s a portentous opening to film and score – particularly dark yet somehow wonderfully colourful as well. Interestingly, of all the great melodic themes in the score he could choose from, when he performs the music in concert it is this dark action piece that Morricone chooses. The harmonica theme without the five-note accompanying figure is heard in the brilliant-but-brief “In the Elevator”. “The Man with the Matches” is another reprise of the material, this time filled with even more tension (and on the extended version of the album, appended with the brief “Nitti Shoots Malone”, adding a brilliant piece of anguished string writing to the end of the piece). The previously-unreleased “Courthouse Chase” is a brilliant variant on the material, on this album providing a good introduction to the familiar “On the Rooftops”, the score’s primary action cue.



Posted by Geoff at 11:52 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, April 24, 2021 6:30 PM CDT
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Thursday, April 22, 2021
DE PALMA'S 'MISSION IMPOSSIBLE' IN THEATERS IN MAY
FOR 25TH ANNIVERSARY, 3 DATES ONLY, MAY 16TH, 17TH, 19TH VIA FATHOM EVENTS
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/mifathom.jpg

Posted by Geoff at 7:01 PM CDT
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Tuesday, April 20, 2021
DAN PERRI ON DESIGNING 'WISE GUYS' TITLES
INCLUDED IN HIS NEW BOOK, 'HOLLYWOOD TITLES DESIGNER / A LIFE IN FILM'
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/wiseguystitle.jpg

Dan Perri designed the titles for Brian De Palma's Wise Guys, which is included in his new book, Hollywood Titles Designer / A Life in Film. On Instagram today, Perri shared a brief excerpt about his design for Wise Guys:
“Brian De Palma is known for his serious, violent films. But Wise Guys was broad and funny for Brian. And, he wanted a broad title treatment that signaled that it was a comedy. So, graphic animation of letter shapes and silly shoot-em-up seemed suitable for the film.

I started with messing with the MGM logo by spinning it into a dot that became the connection with the “I” in the titles. And, to bring a sense of humour to it with bright colour and “tough guy” red typography that was nicely punctuated by Ira Newborn’s funny, silly music” - an excerpt from Dan’s book “Hollywood Titles Designer / A Life in Film”.


Posted by Geoff at 11:37 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, April 20, 2021 11:42 PM CDT
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Sunday, April 18, 2021
'A REAL TREASURE' - SISKEL & EBERT LOVED 'WISE GUYS'
WHICH WAS RELEASED 35 YEARS AGO TODAY - APRIL 18, 1986
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/wiseguysbar.jpg

On his journey toward The Untouchables and Casualties Of War, after Scarface and Body Double, Brian De Palma made a very funny comedy called Wise Guys, which was released 35 years ago today, on April 18, 1986. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert really loved it, giving the film "two great big thumbs up" on their TV program, At The Movies. Thanks to andyfilm, we can watch the entire episode. Here's a transcript, followed by the video:
Ebert: Our next movie is named Wise Guys, and this one's a real treasure. A great comedy about the Mafia that stars Joe Piscopo and Danny DeVito as a couple of very low-level New Jersey foot soldiers for the Mob. One day, they're given ten-thousand dollars of the Godfather's money to bet on a horse, and they bet on the wrong horse, because they think, "He doesn't know what horse is gonna win!" But you know what? He did know what horse was gonna win, and so they owe him two-hundred and fifty-thousand dollars, and they don't have a dime. So the Don decides their punishment, which is, he secretly assigns each one of them to kill the other one. Here's the scene earlier in the movie, one morning in the Mob-controlled restaurant where the Mafia boss is handing out the day's assignments:

[Scene plays]

Ebert: [laughs at the clip just shown] That giant guy that you saw there with the horrible red or maroon sport coat is the enforcer for the Mob, and later on, the boss puts him on the case of these two guys after they've stolen his two-hundred and fifty-thousand dollars. So they are desperate. They know there's no place to turn. And so DeVito gets on the phone and pretends to be talking to his uncle in Atlantic City. An uncle who is a powerful mobster, who, if he were alive, might be able to save their lives.

[Scene plays, with DeVito pretending to talk to Uncle Mike on the phone]

Ebert: Wise Guys is a movie with one big laugh after another, and yet the thing that really holds this movie together (and you could see it there) is the genial relationship between those two guys: between Moe and Harry; between Piscopo and DeVito. They like each other and they stick together. They try to fumble their way out of this mess. And they... they're neighbors in probably the worst street in New Jersey, and they are surrounded... well, I'm sure the people that very nice people live there, but the side that they live on looks pretty bad.

Siskel: You're in trouble now, Roger.

Ebert: And they are surrounded... the people across the street are great! And they are surrounded by a movie full of some of the best character actors in the business. The big surprise for me in Wise Guys, incidentally, was Danny DeVito. I've liked him before, but he has never been better than this time, and this shows what he can do in a way that I think will be used in other movies now. Wise Guys was directed by Brian De Palma, who specializes in thrillers and crime movies, and he made Scarface, and Dressed To Kill, among his serious films. This is his first comedy in a long time, and it is a good, laugh-out-loud comedy.

Siskel: I don't even think that's strong enough-- it's a GREAT laugh-out-loud comedy, and I'm gonna have a tough time at the end of the year deciding which film I laughed out loud the longest: Down And Out In Beverly Hills, this one, or Hannah And Her Sisters. I mean, this is really a riotous film, fabulous. DeVito in a starring role-- he's not supporting people now, like in Romancing The Stone. He's absolutely terrific. There's a performance that you referred to, but I want to give credit to: the guy in the big red coat-- I think he makes this movie work just as much as the two stars-- that's played by a wrestler, a former wrestler, Captain Lou Albano. He plays The Fixer. He plays this movie at a volume pitch, that if I actually started to use it, I'd blow out every TV set that's watching us. I mean, it's a screaming performance that is hilarious. This movie, I don't know how this director Brian De Palma did it, he starts out at this level and keeps it funny and intense... it's just spectacular.

Ebert: Well, one of the things he did, I'll just repeat myself, is he fills the movie with great performances. We could go down the list and start...

Siskel: [agreeing] Oh, God.

Ebert: And the thing is, each actor is able to make his little character, or his corner of the movie, into a three-dimensional person, a presence here, so that these are people who are interacting with each other, instead of, as is so often the case in crime movies, simply stereotypes, or simply one-dimensional.

Siskel: Or vehicles for setting up a physical stunt. There aren't physical stunts here, there are people running into each other, not cars!

Ebert: That's right. there are a couple of lines in this movie, now one that... I don't want to give it, I will give it... they talk about... you mentioned that the guy's name is The Fixer?

Siskel: Right.

Ebert: That he's known as The Fixer. [laughs] They said, "What will Mrs. Fixer think?" [both are laughing] I laughed for about four minutes at that point.



Posted by Geoff at 7:13 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, April 18, 2021 11:30 PM CDT
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Saturday, April 17, 2021
STEPHEN H. BURUM INTV FROM 1996 'M-I' COVER STORY
AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAPHER POSTS ENTIRE ARTICLE ONLINE, WITH PICS
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/misetdepalmaburum.jpg

As we near the 25th anniversary of Brian De Palma's Mission: Impossible, The American Society of Cinematographers has posted the entire cover story article about the film from the June 1996 issue of American Cinematographer. Featuring a lengthy interview with Stephen H. Burum about making the film, here are some key excerpts:

On the process of color timing, etc., with the answer print

In a small darkened projection room, two men sit and watch fragments of an action movie with no soundtrack. Beaming forth from the wide-format anamorphic screen beam are powerful images of Tom Cruise, Emmanuelle Béart, Jon Voight, Kristen Scott Thomas, Emilio Esteves, Vanessa Redgrave and Jean Reno. As the actors converse, struggle, or embrace in silence, their exclusive audience exchanges a few sparse comments: “Tom’s face is a little red.” “Emmanuelle needs more blue.”

The setting for this scene is Deluxe Laboratories in Los Angeles, where Stephen H. Burum, ASC is finalizing of the answer print for Mission: Impossible with timer Denny McNeill.

After months of preparation and the frenetic production itself, the answer-print stage is a time of closure for many directors of photography, a period when they can sit back and appreciate their work. Burum likens the cinematographic process to “conducting a symphony orchestra: you’re so busy bringing in the violins, doing this and doing that, that you don’t have the real joy of listening to the music, of really feeling the music. And when you're timing and you get down to the third answer print, it hits you all of a sudden: you have the time to enjoy what you did. Until then, you just don’t.”

When timing a film, the cinematographer scrutinizes the color, brightness and quality of each individual shot, gauging its coherence against the surrounding shots in the sequence. The answer print is stricken directly from the negative; its set of yellow, cyan and magenta corrections are the foundation of an interpositive from which release prints will be produced, via the internegative. By the second or third release print, the major timing adjustments have been made, so the rest is merely a matter of fine-tuning. According to Burum, skin color is the clearest indicator for refining image quality and tone at that final stage.

“When you’re timing, you want to get a reference that will serve as a standard, so that the lab can clip it out and put it next to their timing machines,” he explains. “When there are major adjustments needed, you tend to say, ‘Let’s make it a whole lot more yellow or a lot more blue.’ Later you talk about skin tone a lot because it’s harder to define; it’s a very finicky and subtle hue.”


"De Palma left and right" -- On the collaborative working relationship between Burum and De Palma:

The feature film version is directed by Brian De Palma, whose relationship with Burum is well established.

Over the past 12 years, the two filmmakers have collaborated on five previous features: Body Double, The Untouchables, Casualties of War, Raising Cain and Carlito’s Way. Both men share an encyclopedic knowledge of cinema and a passionate enthusiasm for filmmaking. The lengthy collaboration between the duo seems a natural one, as a keen appreciation of film history informs the work of both.

De Palma is best described as a postmodern director; his films are full of references to past directors such as Eisenstein, Hitchcock and Antonioni. He knows every storytelling trick in the book, and doesn't hesitate to use them. It is telling that Quentin Tarantino cites Blow Out (shot by Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC) as his favorite film, for in many ways, the young auteur is DePalma’s heir. Critics sometimes lambast the director as a mere maker of showy homages, yet, like Tarantino, he infuses his references to past films with a very contemporary irony that creates a personal vision.

In a very different way, Burum has used his own love of the classic Hollywood tradition to enrich recent American cinematography. A master stylist, Burum has on several occasions assimilated the aesthetics of bygone genres and transformed them into original and modern imagery. Witness the highly stylized rendering of detective serials in The Shadow, or the brilliant melange of film noir and comedy in The War of the Roses. Burum's distinguished career spans from the stunning second-unit cinematography on Apocalypse Now to his masterful, Academy Award-nominated work on Hoffa. In addition, he has received ASC Award nominations for both The War of the Roses and The Untouchables, winning for Hoffa.

After working with De Palma on so many pictures, Burum says that he and the director speak in shorthand on the set. “I love working with Brian. He’s the greatest; he knows exactly what he’s doing. There’s not much dialogue between us on the set. [The collaboration] is not artsy at all, but very matter-of-fact. I have an expression that I use: ‘De Palma left and right.’ If Brian says the frame ends at a certain point, it’s going to end there. There is no reason to shoot anything past that point.” Burum also understands De Palma on a personal level. To an outsider, he says, “Brian may seem gruff, but he keeps all of his feelings inside.” The cameraman realized this during the shooting of Al Pacino’s death scene in Carlito’s Way, when he saw the director “with tears in his eyes.”


On working with production designer Norman Reynolds, and evoking three moods, "old Europe, America, and new Europe" --

Like an IMF mission, the production of the film was a race against time, shooting on location in Prague and London, and on sets built within the vast Pinewood Studios soundstages. However, the film's British production designer, Norman Reynolds, notes that the film's European locales merely enhance its essential spirit. "Mission: Impossible is an American action film, in the best sense of the term," he says.

Reynolds, who earned two Oscars for his memorable design work on Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, is well-positioned to comment on the relationship between the production designer and the cinematographer. “The designer [helps to set] the picture's tone in visual terms. Now that's apart from the cameraman, who obviously has the ultimate control in that area, because he can make it dark, light, colored or whatever. So what we designers do is very much in the hands of cameramen. I certainly stay in touch with the cameraman as much as I possibly can.

“While we were in Prague, Steve was obviously very involved in location scouting and preparing things, so there were times when he and I were separated. But when we moved to the studio, I involved Steve as much as possible in the set design. It was quite selfish really, because the easier I made Steve's job, the better the film was going to look. We liked working together, and that's really the name of the game."

In planning their visual design, Burum and Reynolds referred solely to the script and not at all to the television series. In fact, Burum confesses to having never really watched the TV show. "I remember a little from college, but I never got a chance to see an entire episode," he admits.

Following the natural divisions of the script, Burum created a different lighting approach for the missions in Prague, Virginia, and on the TGV train, producing a visual diversity and rhythm that enriches the film. The cinematographer summarizes the three moods he sought to evoke as "old Europe, America and new Europe."

In Prague, Burum sought to create an atmosphere that evoked "the old European spymaster stuff. You know, the spymaster slinking around, dining in chic restaurants, smoking cigars and drinking brandy, while some Eurasian woman is wearing a tight silk dress with a mink dropping off her shoulder, with a Twenties bob hairdo — the Mata Hari thing. Here you are in Prague, which has just been freed from the Communists and is still mysterious, almost Oriental. Anything can happen, and of course, all kinds of nefarious devious stuff is going on because everyone is grappling for power, and everything is up for grabs."

In lieu of Mata Hari, Mission: Impossible features French actress Emmanuelle Béart as Claire, an IMF member and romantic interest of Hunt’s. To give Béart a "more ethereal" appearance, Burum chose his customary black silk stocking diffusion when shooting her close-ups. Onscreen, the diffusion is subtle and Béart's face still looks sharp. The cinematographer explains that "women, even when heavily diffused, don't appear diffused on film because their makeup accents their eyebrows, eyelashes and lips, which gives you a false sense of sharpness. For example, normal lip color blends in with the face but, with lipstick and liner, the lips look a lot sharper than they really are."

Most of the "old Europe" sequences in Prague take place at night. From the look of the film, the crew had the run of the Czech capital. The venerable but run-down Natural History Museum posed as the embassy's reception hall. Key exteriors were shot in Prague's two prime tourist spots: the beautiful square at the center of the old town and the famous Charles Bridge. These picturesque nightscapes required an excessive amount of light, since Mission was shot in the anamorphic format. For Burum, the lens T-stop setting is an essential factor in the quality of widescreen images.

"Many people ask me why my anamorphic shows look so sharp. It's because I know which stop to put the lenses at. You can't get an anamorphic lens below T4 and keep it sharp. In desperate situations, I have shot scenes at T2.8. I've been able to get away with it because I light very hard and very contrasty, which gives the images a phony sharpness. But if you try to light an anamorphic image at T2.8 with a soft light, the image will have no snap." Rawdon Hayne, Burum's 1st camera assistant, was instrumental in this endeavor.

Burum used Panavision's C-series anamorphic lenses, which he prefers to the E series because of their small size. "There's something about the older lens design that gives the appearance of a bit more depth of field. In point of fact, the term depth of field is baloney; there is only one point of absolute focus. Everything in front and everything behind is not really in focus, but rather seems to be in focus to your eye. If you have a lens that is ultra-sharp or heavily contrasted, then you see that difference in focus immediately. Older lenses are not quite as sharp, so they only appear to have more depth of field."


Read Burum detail much more in the article regarding lenses, lighting, old-fashioned process shots, etc., at American Cinematographer. One curious image included there is this one:

Apparently taken from the original magazine article, the image above includes the following caption:

Luther (Ving Rhames) on the train, sharing a frame with an unfocused Max (Vanessa Redgrave). Here, Burum accentuates the space between the characters, as Luther is undercover, secretly trailing Max.


Posted by Geoff at 1:48 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, April 17, 2021 2:05 PM CDT
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Thursday, April 15, 2021
'OBSESSION' DISCUSSION ON 'CINEMA RISING' PODCAST
ALONG WITH 'SUZHOU RIVER' - TWO FILMS "WORKING THROUGH ASPECTS OF HITCHCOCK'S 'VERTIGO'"
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On the latest episode of the podcast Cinema Rising, Jake Sanders is joined by his brother Tom Sanders to discuss Brian De Palma's Obsession and Lou Ye's Suzhou River, "two films working through aspects of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo." After the two brothers discuss Obsession, they are joined by Cara Li, "to provide some cultural and historical context for Suzhou River."

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Tuesday, April 13, 2021
'THEM' SERIES CREATOR CITES DE PALMA'S 'CARRIE'
"HIS USE OF SPLIT-DIOPTER SHOTS IS THE REASON WHY WE USE THEM EVERYWHERE!"
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Little Marvin, creator of the new Amazon Prime series THEM, was asked by IndieWire's Kristen Lopez to name some of his influences. "Too many filmmakers to name," replied Little Marvin, "but I will say that I'm super in love with all of the thrillers and the horror films of the '50s, the '60s, and '70s. Allison [Pill] mentions Hitchcock-- absolutely. William Friedkin, Brian De Palma...! Like, Carrie is a massively influential movie to me. His use of split-diopter shots is the reason why we use them EVERYWHERE! [laughing] Because if I could just make every shot a split-diopter shot, I would. And Stanley Kubrick. All of those filmmakers are hugely influential on my childhood. Those movies live large over my imagination. So we definitely wanted to pay homage to that look."

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, April 14, 2021 8:08 AM CDT
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Monday, April 12, 2021
JOSEPH SIRAVO HAS DIED AT 66
ACTOR MADE HIS FEATURE FILM DEBUT AS VINNIE TAGLIALUCCI IN 'CARLITO'S WAY'
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Joseph Siravo, the actor who made his feature film debut as Vinnie Taglialucci in Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way, passed away Sunday after a long batle with cancer, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 66.

As Vinnie, the son of a mob boss seeking revenge for his father's murder, Siravo is a major part of one of De Palma's most extraordinary and memorable sequences: the subway chase which leads to an escalator shootoout at Grand Central Station.

"Better known to television audiences around the world for his turn as Tony Soprano's ruthless father on The Sopranos," Abid Rahman states in the Hollywood Reporter obituary, "Siravo built up an impressive list of Broadway, Off-Broadway and regional theatres credits and became an integral part of the first national tour of the Tony- and Grammy-award-winning Jersey Boys, playing the part of Angelo "Gyp" DeCarlo in over 2,000 performances."

Rahman continues:

Born in Washington D.C. on March 11, 1955, Sivaro attended Stanford University, where he performed for the Stanford Mendicants, an all-male a cappella group. He graduated from Stanford in 1977 with a BA and received his MFA from the NYU Tisch School of the Arts Theatre Program in 1980, where he trained under the guidance of Ron Van Lieu, Olympia Dukakis and Nora Dunfee.

Siravo first made his mark acting in theater. His notable Broadway credits include J. T. Rogers' Tony-award-winning play Oslo, Herb Gardner’s Conversations With My Father with Tony Shaloub and Judd Hirsch, the musical The Boys From Syracuse and Craig Lucas' musical The Light In the Piazza.

Off-Broadway he starred in Caryl Churchill's Mad Forest and Michael Develle Winn's Up Against The Wind and in the regional theater he starred in a number of Shakespeare productions including Hamlet, Anthony & Cleopatra and Othello.

In 2006, Siravo was part of the first national tour of the phenomenally successful musical Jersey Boys, based on the career and music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. He played Genovese family boss Gyp DeCarlo and stayed with the production until 2012, performing in 38 cities.

To a wider audience, Siravo will always be remembered as Johnny "Johnny Boy" Soprano from HBO's critically acclaimed mob drama The Sopranos. Siravo took on the role of DiMeo crime family capo and father of Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini). In the show, he appeared in flashback and dream sequences in five episodes, making his first appearance in "Down Neck," the seventh episode in season one with his final one in episode 15 of season six titled "Remember When."

Siravo's also starred in FX's Emmy award-winning drama The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, in which he gave a powerful performance as Fred Goldman, the father of the murdered Ron Goldman.

His other television credits include For Life, New Amsterdam, Blue Bloods, The Blacklist, Elementary, In Treatment, Made In Jersey, Dirty Sexy Money, Hack, Third Watch, Law & Order, Witness To The Mob and Cosby.

Siravo made his big-screen debut in Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way in 1993, in which he played Vinnie Taglialucci, the grieving son of a mob boss who seeks revenge on David Kleinfeld (Sean Penn) and Carlito Brigante (Al Pacino). Although his focus was mainly on theater and television, Siravo's film credits include Maid in Manhattan, Shark Tale, playing John Gotti in The Wannabe and most recently The Report, Equity and Motherless Brooklyn.



Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Saturday, April 10, 2021
NATHAN RERA ON HIS LONG OBSESSION WITH 'OUTRAGES'
AUTHOR INTERVIEWED BRIAN DE PALMA, DAVID RABE, MICHAEL VERHOEVEN, AND MORE FOR NEW BOOK
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Nathan Réra, whose book about Casualties Of War (Outrages) will be published on April 22, has posted an article at Gone Hollywood that details his years-long obsession with Brian De Palma's film, and the real-life events that it is based on. In the article, Réra reveals that he interviewed De Palma, David Rabe, Michael Verhoeven, and more for the book. In the introduction to the article, the Gone Hollywood editors state that Réra is a "lecturer in the history of contemporary art at the University of Poitiers, who offers a fascinating backward inquiry into the film and the 'news item' from which it is inspired." Here is a Google-assisted translation of Réra's post:
STORY OF AN OBSESSION

I have vivid memories of my discovery of Outrages at the end of my adolescence: I can still see myself buying the very first edition of the film on DVD, to expand my collection of works by De Palma… We were then at the very beginning from the 2000s. I was intrigued by this film, of which I only knew a few images; I assumed that it must be in line with the “great” films on the Vietnam War, alongside Apocalypse Now, The Deer Hunter, Platoon or Full Metal Jacket, films that I had seen during my adolescence and which had marked me, each in their own way. However, watching De Palma's film awakened feelings in me that I had never experienced in any other war film. I came away deeply shaken. I quickly realized that Outrages was not just another war film - nor was it completely a film about Vietnam ... - but a film about rape as a weapon of war. The impact the feature film had on me owes a lot to the heartbreaking renditions of Thuy Thu Le and Michael J. Fox, the terrifying performances of Sean Penn and Don Harvey, the chiseled writing of David Rabe as well as the overwhelming music of Ennio Morricone (in my eyes, perhaps his most beautiful score…). Since that first viewing, Outrages has not let go of me; I have seen it many times. Between the young film buff that I was when I discovered it and the confirmed researcher that I have become, a specialist in visual representations of mass violence and genocide, I have obviously come a long way. For example, a film like Schindler's List, which sparked my interest in depictions of the destruction of European Jews, confronted me with aesthetic, ethical and moral issues of the highest order; so much so that today my take on this film, from a filmmaker whom I admire by the way, is much more nuanced than it was twenty years ago. Quite the opposite of Outrages: with each viewing, the impression of strength and accuracy exuded by Brian De Palma's film remains intact.

I wanted to study the film to try to understand why it obsessed me so much, a bit like Eriksson who cannot forget the face of Oanh. This research was initially a personal, intimate quest. Originally, my plan was to write a book focusing exclusively on De Palma's film, which would have retraced its history, from its genesis to its theatrical release. To that end, I first contacted the filmmaker and screenwriter, David Rabe, to find out if they would be willing to speak with me. They both answered yes. It took several months for a meeting with De Palma to take place; on the other hand, I very quickly started a long correspondence with David Rabe. Our discussions convinced me of the interest of giving the floor to all those who had participated in the film, not just the most illustrious… Of course, I knew that De Palma's film was based on a text by the American journalist Daniel Lang originally published in the New Yorker. I had acquired the excellent French translation published by Editions Allia in 2018, but I was eager to know more about the fabric of the report and the journalist's intentions. The investigation into De Palma's film was then coupled with an investigation into Lang's work, which I was able to carry out with the agreement of his daughters, who allowed me to have access to his archives. . At the same time, I got my hands on the archives of the court martial trials; I was able to locate several funds relating to the early adaptation projects of Casualties of War, well before that of De Palma; and I also spoke with Michael Verhoeven, the author of o. k., the first film inspired by Lang's investigation, known to have prematurely interrupted the Berlin International Film Festival in 1970. My research thus took on a scale that I was far from suspecting at first! I am summarizing here in a few lines nearly three years of intensive work, punctuated by periods of doubts, false leads, trial and error ... I sometimes had the impression of throwing bottles into the sea! But my persistence paid off. It was essential to stir broad in order to reconstruct the history of Casualties of War over the long term, from 1966 (date of the real events) to 1989 (date of release of De Palma's feature film).

CASUALTIES OF WAR BEFORE OUTRAGES

Several parameters made possible the realization of Outrages, which Warner had started in 1970 without succeeding in completing the project. De Palma reactivated the project in the wake of the release of The Untouchables (in 1987), which was at the time his greatest commercial success; the collaboration with its producer, Art Linson, was in good shape. When the latter asks him which project he now wishes to work on, De Palma sends him Lang's text, which he had dreamed of bringing to the screen since 1969. He had also tried to carry it out in 1979-1980, in a time when he was already working with David Rabe on a project called Prince of the City (which Sidney Lumet would eventually direct). Coincidence: Rabe, too, had been dreaming of writing an adaptation of Casualties of War for the big screen for several years! The screenwriter approached Lang at the time, shortly before the journalist's death, but negotiations did not go very far, and De Palma eventually embarked on the directing of Dressed To Kill. Seven or eight years later, the situation has changed: after the success of The Untouchables, De Palma has the big studios at his feet and can afford the luxury of choosing his projects. However, it should be remembered that the choice to adapt Casualties of War was perilous: the war in Vietnam remained at the time a sensitive subject, on both political and moral levels, despite the great cinematic successes that followed one another throughout the decade ... It is for this reason that Paramount, which was initially supposed to produce the film, finally threw in the towel, before Columbia decided to grant it its "green light".

Outrages is a film adaptation of a journalistic investigation, which is itself based on the hundreds of pages of court martial transcripts Lang had viewed. David Rabe and Brian De Palma therefore necessarily made cuts, simplifications or adjustments. Some of their narrative choices conflict with the vision of Daniel Lang, who was heavily involved in the various adaptation projects prior to Outrages. However, Rabe's script is broadly faithful to Lang's text, as it is to the real story. The portrait he paints of soldier Eriksson is very close to the sensitive one painted by the journalist, and the unfolding of the facts resumes that of the book, even if the first part of the film, which relates the daily life of the soldiers in Vietnam, extrapolates the testimony of the real Eriksson. Everything is plausible, however, and we must insist on the realism of the feature film, which is due to the vision of Rabe (himself a Vietnam veteran) as much as to the work of historical or military advisers. There are of course some differences between reality and its cinematographic transposition. The main one relates to the nature of the crime: in reality, it was a planned feminicide. From the start of the mission, it was agreed that the soldiers would abduct the young woman, Phan Thi Mao, to satisfy their sexual urges, and then kill her. In the film, the kidnapping and the rape are well planned, but the murder is decided in haste, when Meserve (Sean Penn) becomes concerned that the captive will be spotted by the American helicopters which fly over the area where he and his men lie. In my book, I analyze these different gaps between reality and film; it was necessary not to obscure them, as they reveal the tensions inherent in the work of adaptation.

RAPE OF WAR VS. FEMINICIDE

Outrages is evidently at the heart of the great DePalmian oeuvre, because it contains figures and themes dear to the filmmaker; but at the same time it constitutes a kind of outgrowth of it, forming part of a small nucleus of films (with Greetings and Redacted) which tackle war, male domination and violence against women. On the directing side, the film has a few brave moments that bring to mind De Palma's taste for complex camera movements (especially the tunnel sequence, at the start of the film). However, one feels the director less concerned with visual performance than in his other films; he seeks throughout the story to adapt the form to his subject. From this point of view, his use of Steadicam is particularly interesting, because the movements performed with the device are not aimed at gratuitous virtuosity: they take care of the moral questions raised by the narrative. Among the passages that arouse in me a renewed emotion each time is the metro scene, which frames the film. This almost silent sequence, carried by the music of Morricone, gives an account of Eriksson's break-up, of his inability to stay in the present, in the world of the living, to simply relive without thinking of the one he couldn't save. It seems like the ending leaves us on a "positive" note, but studying the multiple layers of scriptwriting reveals how reductive that feeling is, and does not do justice to Rabe's intentions. Eriksson’s last look is unforgettable… I could also cite the sequence of the kidnapping of Oanh, of unbearable violence, and the rape itself, which De Palma films with remarkable ethics. More broadly, I find Thuy Thu Le's bodywork gripping. Rarely has an actress portrayed a rape victim so realistically; the passage where Eriksson tries to establish a dialogue with Oanh, while her body is ravaged by multiple wounds and bruises, does not leave the spectator unscathed.

De Palma has often said that the reception of his film in the United States has been abysmal. It seems to me that this impression needs to be qualified a little: by going through the archives of the American press of the time, we also find good (even very good) reviews, not only that of Pauline Kael in the New Yorker! But it is true that many others have distinguished themselves by their great violence. The most striking is undoubtedly that of Frances FitzGerald, who won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1973 for a book on Vietnam. In the magazine Village Voice, she attacked De Palma, reproaching him for having made a "sado-porn" film and denouncing the supposed improbabilities of the story ... She had obviously not read Lang's book! Veterans associations have also stepped up to denounce the portrayal of the US military, claiming that the facts recounted in the film were "exceptions." I believe the reception of the film in the United States is indicative of the depth of the moral wound that the Vietnam War has caused in American society. Of course, Platoon had achieved resounding success two years earlier; but Stone's film was by no means as critical as De Palma's film. The reception of Outrages also reflects, in retrospect, how war rape and femicide were viewed at the time. That part of the criticism, supported by the veterans' associations, could deplore the image that the feature gave of the American army seems, in today's society, quite improbable ... While the real subject of the film was at the same time very largely brushed aside! In France, the film also had its detractors, but overall the critics were much more receptive, with excellent analytical articles published by Laurent Vachaud and Antoine de Baecque, among others, in Positif and Les Cahiers du cinéma.

WHY REVISITING OUTRAGES IS NECESSARY

De Palma never really recovered from the critical failure of Outrages. Of course he returned to success afterwards, but he never took in the reception that was given to this film, which he rightly considers to be his most personal work. Some of his collaborators, whom he reunited with for his next film (The Bonfire of Vanities), told me that De Palma is not a filmmaker who dwells on failures; he never poured himself out with them. His reaction, after the film's screening at the Cinémathèque française in 2018, however, proves that Outrages is particularly close to his heart. It is not trivial to let such emotion shine through when you talk about a film made thirty years earlier! In 2006, De Palma directed Redacted, which is the tracing of the story of Outrages in the context of the Iraq War; a film once again based on a true story. Among his recent projects, there is also a film inspired by the Weinstein affair ... But I believe that on closer examination, the problem of violence against women and male domination haunts all of De Palma's work.

Revisiting Outrages is more necessary than ever, for at least three reasons. First of all, because it is a great film, still too little known, with complex issues, one of Brian De Palma's most successful works, and undoubtedly the film that best crystallized the moral bankruptcy of America in Vietnam. Secondly, because rape as a weapon of war is a subject that is still too little talked about, despite the existence of remarkable work by historians and journalists. Finally, because we must fight this culture of rape which plagues our societies. We feel that things are evolving, with the liberation of speech movements, but there is still a long way to go to educate the conscience, and especially those of men. Outrages speaks of rape committed in wartime, in a context where all moral barriers are collapsing; but it also speaks of the constitution of a culture of rape, which flourishes well upstream, through homosocial rituals. Outrages is also the antithesis of films which trivialize rape, or which make it a spectacle. Rape is represented here as an experience of great violence, from which one cannot recover; neither the one who is the victim, nor the one who is the witness. I believe that this film - like the book by Daniel Lang - can help educate the conscience and the gaze, because it raises the decisive question of individual responsibility. Positioning yourself on the good (or the bad) side is not inevitable: it is a choice.


Posted by Geoff at 11:53 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, April 10, 2021 11:56 PM CDT
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Friday, April 9, 2021
MORGAN RICHTER EXAMINES 'BODY DOUBLE'
MANY DETAILS IN EPISODE #49 OF "WHEN GEN-X RULED THE MULTIPLEX"

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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