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

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

Listen to
Donaggio's full score
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De Palma/Lehman
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in Snakes

De Palma/Lehman
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in the news"

Supercut video
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edited by Carl Rodrigue

Washington Post
review of Keesey book


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Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
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AV Club Review
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Saturday, November 6, 2021

Premiering at the Berlin Film Festival two years ago, Marighella is Wagner Moura's debut feature as director. The film was released in the U.S. earlier this year, and as it is released this past week in Brazil, Moura talks about it with AdoroCinema's Aline Pereira:
Who was Marighella?

Artist, politician and guerrilla, Carlos Marighella was one of the main figures in the fight against the repression of the dictatorship in Brazil until his death in 1969, when he was assassinated by government agents in an ambush. Considered the “No. 1 enemy of Brazil”, the guerrilla was arrested for subversion for the first time in 1932, when he published a poem criticizing government leaders. Later, he was tortured during the Vargas era, until he was elected Federal Deputy in 1946. In the year of the military coup, 1964, he was shot inside a movie theater - a scene in the film - and went into armed revolt, a decision that became a controversial figure within the libertarian movement - an issue that is also illustrated in Wagner Moura's film:

"This important character in the history of Brazil had his trajectory erased by the official narrative and the film we made returns to the popular imagination the figure of an important man. You can like him or not"

In the film, the protagonist is played by Seu Jorge, but the role, at first, would be Mano Brown, who could not participate due to availability conflicts. “My first choice was Mano Brown because, symbolically, for me it represents a lot of what Marighella was. A poet, a man who made no concessions,” analyzes the actor from Tropa de Elite.

Wagner Moura's directorial debut

In addition to being a milestone for national cinema, Marighella also marks the debut of Wagner Moura as a director, a work that combines his experience as an actor in major international productions, such as Narcos and Sergio, available in the Netflix catalogue, and references from directors he has worked with. “José Padilha [director of Tropa de Elite] himself is a reference for me and taught me that political cinema can be popular. This is an actor-directed film, it has my acting energy. The camera is me wanting to understand who those people are, those characters,” he explained.

Applauded at the Berlin Film Festival and praised by the New York Times, the film was also very well regarded by famous Wagner Moura “colleagues,” such as Brian De Palma, director of Scarface and Mission: Impossible, among others. “I showed the film to some people and a lot of the comments come from the way we filmed, the actors' work. Brian De Palma was very impressed with the long take from the start,” he said.

Here's Devika Girish's brief New York Times "Critic's Pick" review of Marighella from this past April:
In 2018, the Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro declared that he wanted “a Brazil similar to the one we had 40, 50 years ago”— referring to the era of the country’s military dictatorship, which saw violent censorship and the torture of dissidents.

This contemporary context underlines the barreling urgency of “Marighella.” Directed by Wagner Moura (the star of Netflix’s “Narcos”), the film chronicles the final years of Carlos Marighella, a Marxist revolutionary who led an armed struggle against the dictatorship in the 1960s. With a rousing, kinetic style reminiscent of “The Battle of Algiers,” and confrontational close-ups of fiery eyes and faces, the film is not merely a historical biopic — it’s a provocation.

And a riveting one, too. Seu Jorge plays the charismatic Marighella, whom we meet as he leads a group of younger radicals in robbing a train carrying weapons. In flashback, we learn that Marighella was expelled from the Communist Party for his uncompromising commitment to guerrilla warfare. “An eye for an eye” is his cell’s motto, invoked throughout the film.

The group struggles to balance itself on the razor’s edge of that phrase. “Marighella” plows stylishly through heists, showdowns and increasingly bloody shootouts, with the sadistic cop Lúcio (Bruno Gagliasso) on the militants’ tail. Yet the script makes room for wit as well as meaty ideological debate, delivered in crisp bullets of dialogue by a uniformly solid cast.

“I’m your comrade,” Marighella’s wife, Clara (Adriana Esteves), says to him. “But don’t make me your accomplice. Don’t ask me for permission to leave here and die.” As the tragedies mount, Moura’s film becomes an elegy — not so much to Marighella as to an idealism consumed by the pyrrhic games of dirty regimes.

Wagner Moura cast as lead in De Palma's Sweet Vengeance

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Sunday, November 7, 2021 12:28 AM CDT
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Friday, November 5, 2021

The new Fall 2021 issue of Filmmaker is anchored by a great cover-story of Edgar Wright in conversation with none other than Bong Joon-ho, discussing Wright's great new film, Last Night In Soho:
Bong: Even though it’s really about Soho, I felt like Café de Paris was the prime location, where you see some of the key visual motifs. I thought you made some really bold choices in that location, where I saw a lot of your cinematic ambitions flow throughout. When Eloise first enters the Café, that was such an overwhelming sequence. While I was watching it, I kept trying to imagine your storyboard, because it was such an ambitious scene. I’d like to hear more about how you shot that sequence.

Wright: The interesting thing about Café de Paris is that it still actually exist[ed] as a club [editor’s note: still open during the shoot, the venue closed permanently in December 2020 as a result of the pandemic]. In fact, it’s quite a famous shooting location—tons of music videos have been done there and lots of British films, like Michael Caton-Jones’s Scandal or Julien Temple’s Absolute Beginners. But what we wanted to achieve in the sequence was quite challenging and required a bit more space than the location could offer. Also, it’s still a working club, and they needed it back at night. It was cheaper to build the set than shoot in the real one, so we built it and made it a little bigger than the original—I figured since it’s a dream sequence, we were allowed to do [that]. Because of that, it meant that we could design shots you just couldn’t do on location. For example, when Thomasin McKenzie first comes into the lobby and there’s the first mirror shot with Anya, that’s actually a double set. It’s a double lobby and there’s a mirror there, then when one of the maître d’s, who’s played by Oliver Phelps, takes [Thomasin’s] coat and walks in front of the camera, the mirror slides back revealing Anya and James Phelps, his identical twin brother, also in a maître d costume. It’s basically a Magic Circle shot. It’s also choreographed to the song [Cilla Black’s “You’re My World”] as well. Choreographing everything to a song might seem restrictive, but it isn’t really—we know [Thomasin] is going to walk out into the street to the first chorus, she’s going to see Anya on the second chorus, then she’s going to walk into the club on the third chorus, so you can choreograph movement to those specific moments. And when Anya and Thomasin come together opposite each other for real and touch their fingers on the glass, there’s no glass there at all. They are literally tapping their fingers.

Bong: How many times did you shoot this?

Wright: I can’t remember how many takes that was, but for some of those really complicated shots, we would have Saturday rehearsals. We’d be shooting a five-day week, then on a Saturday we’d ask the cast and a couple of key crew members, like choreographer Jen White, Chung Chung-hoon and especially the camera operator, Chris Bain, to rehearse in the afternoon. There’s no point doing those complicated shots if the camera operator isn’t there [at a rehearsal]. It’s always the mistake people make with choreography sequences—they do the choreography in the studio, and the director and dancers or actors know what they’re doing, but the key person to have there is the camera operator because he or she needs to be in exactly the right spot. The floor is taped up with [all these marks] and we rehearse over and over—“one, two, three.” Later in the sequence, when the actors are dancing on the floor, there’s a long Steadicam take that’s done without motion control. It’s all based on the actors and camera operator being in the right spots at the right time. With the exception of one section, which had a second pass on it, everything is done in-camera. Thomasin and Anya are hiding behind the Steadicam, then switching around. It took about 18 or 20 takes for that one. We rehearsed a lot.

There was also a funny thing that happened when we did that shot on the dance floor. Initially Chung had this little mirrored blade, and he liked to flash his torch into the lens so you get some real flares. During the first couple of takes of that dance floor sequence, Matt Smith [was] in the middle and then Anya and Thomasin were dancing around him, then the camera operator [was] moving around them in a bigger circumference, and Chung was trying to flash the lens, running around an even larger circumference to the Steadicam operator. [laughs] After a couple of takes, Chung goes, “Too difficult! Do the flare later. ” [laughs]

The real thrill for me with all those sequences was to try and figure out how to do as much of them in-camera as possible, so that the actors could really physically be there and act opposite each other, especially in scenes when Thomasin and Anya are playing each other’s reflections. There was lots of trickery where it’s half-practical, half-digital.

Bong: As filmmakers, more than anything else, we’re just huge cinephiles, and I think when we’re shooting an ambitious sequence like that, we’re always conscious of our predecessors. When I watched that Café de Paris sequence I felt that you might have thought of The Lady from Shanghai by Orson Welles or some of the Steadicam shots in Brian De Palma’s movies. Were there any sequences or directors you were paying homage to or maybe competing with? Were you conscious of any reference points?

Wright: I think all the things you mentioned are dead on. The entire film is inspired by a feeling that I get from some of those films, whether it’s De Palma or Lady from Shanghai, but also Hitchcock and Italian directors like Mario Bava and Dario Argento. Cocteau’s Orpheus inspired me in terms of finding a way to visualize dreams. Something I saw when I was a teenager that struck me in a very profound way was Buñuel’s last film, That Obscure Object of Desire, and the idea of two actresses alternating scenes. I would always have dreams where I knew I was somebody else—not looking in a mirror and seeing somebody else, but just the feeling that I’m experiencing a dream through somebody else’s body and face. So, it was bringing all of those things together. In the Buñuel film, they never have the actresses in the same shot, they just alternate scenes, but I thought, “Well, what if it’s almost as if the baton is being passed?” You see the other person in the mirror, then there’s a handoff. Now Thomasin is on the other side and Anya is the lead in these sequences.

Something I like in Hitchcock and De Palma films—this goes for some of the Italian filmmakers as well—is when things become operatic, in that they don’t really make sense in a physical way but make sense in some kind of dream logic. That was the feeling I wanted in the entire film: What if you had sequences that were clearly dreams, then at a certain point in the movie it all starts to feel like a waking dream? For the second half of the movie, Thomasin McKenzie is so sleep deprived that it’s similar to that manic state when you’re having a lucid waking nightmare.

One other filmmaker we didn’t mention who had a huge influence on me was Michael Powell, and two of his films specifically, Black Narcissus and Peeping Tom. In the former, I love how the use of color is so expressionistic and emotional. Then with the latter I was so inspired by Peeping Tom that I actually used two of its famous locations in Soho. The newsagent that Thomasin McKenzie goes into at the start of the movie is the same newsagent from Peeping Tom—still there, 60 years later. Then the pub they run past towards the end of the film is from the opening of that movie. Again, these locations are not far away from where I live. So, when I say I can’t escape it, I literally can’t escape it. It’s something I walk past every day.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Thursday, November 4, 2021

Aa part of a series called "The Problematics" at Decider, Glenn Kenny discusses Brian De Palma's Carrie:
In my recollection, the breakthrough 1973 Stephen King novel about high-schoolers was pretty popular with actual high-schoolers back in the day; I remember many upper classmen carrying around the paperback and comparing juicy bits, much as they did with Mario Puzo’s The Godfather a couple of years prior. The King book was one that gave pop culture a proper and explicit introduction to telekinesis, that being the move-things-with-my-mind power that poor Carrie White uses to fix both her religious-fanatic mother and her peer prom-ruiner’s at the story’s wild climax.

Then hotshot director De Palma, most of whose films up to this one reveled in a snarky, sometimes perverse subversive streak, brought not-inconsiderable irreverence to this project, which he definitely sensed could be a commercial hit that would sharpen his studio-filmmaking profile. Look at a dinner scene between Sissy Spacek’s Carrie and her unbalanced mom, played with pitch-perfect awareness by Piper Laurie. When Carrie reveals “I’ve been invited to the prom?”, Mom raises an eyebrow and says “Prom?” At that moment, lightning flashes like something out of a Universal Frankenstein movie.

The virtuosic director goes all-but-kitchen-sink in orchestrating effects to achieve maximum shock and horror: diopter shots, shock cuts, rack focusing, you name it. The way the movie hews to the time that it was made is in its matter-of-fact treatment of how high schoolers got it on, supposedly.

Here Carrie’s tormentors here are both super mean and super horny. John Travolta’s Billy, boyfriend to Nancy Allen’s gum-cracking, eye-rolling horror show Chris, is both dumb and physically abusive. There’s shot-reverse-shot bit in which Billy leers at Chris’s braless breasts under her sweater that shares the character’s joy of ogling. In the same scene, Chris uses fellatio to inveigle “dumb shit” Billy into taking part in her evil scheme to avenge herself on Carrie. And here too, De Palma can’t resist a joke, having Chris interrupt her efforts to exclaim “I hate Carrie White,” much to Billy’s confusion.

The 1976 movie’s opening scene, in which the horrified Carrie experiences menstruation for the first time in the girl’s locker room shower post-gym class, is shot in a gauzy, dreamy, slow-motion, and literally steamy male-gaze fashion that De Palma would use again in the opening of Dressed To Kill, with Angie Dickinson (and her body double) fantasizing rhapsodically about sex with a hunky stranger. Nancy Allen — director De Palma’s future wife, it’s worth mentioning — bounces by in the altogether, and De Palma lingers on Spacek’s Carrie soaping up her breasts, belly, and thighs. (The score by Pino Donaggio has a flute melody that suggests some kind of ad concerning the “special times” of one’s life.) But as much as De Palma luxuriates here, the strategy is to overturn whatever pleasure the male viewer might derive by depicting Carrie’s “plug it up” humiliation in excruciating detail.

The 2013 Carrie remake, directed by Kimberley Peirce, maintains the period of discovery — or, rather, the discovery of period — in the girls’ shower, but also keeps the taunting teens in towels or underwear. And it shows Carrie mostly from the shoulders up, certain shot choices paying homage to the shower scene in Hitchcock’s Psycho as she goes. (Why didn’t De Palma think of that?) As for sex, popular kids Tommy and Sue are sufficiently reflective characters that they interrupt their (very briefly depicted) coitus to discuss Sue’s guilty feelings about throwing tampons at Carrie. There’s more time devoted to the ins and outs of how Chris and Billy get all that pig’s blood than to the details of their fraught relationship. (Cell phone videos are added to the mix, too.) But as Manohla Dargis pointed out in her mostly favorable review of the remake in The New York Times, “the dread of the female body that deepens Mr. De Palma’s version somehow goes missing.”

That dread is not unrelated to a less specifically gendered trend that was brewing in genre movies in this period, eventually termed “body horror.” Carrie can nestle comfortably — or uncomfortably, as the case may be — between David Cronenberg’s 1975 and 1977 films Shivers and Rabid in this respect. And Julia Decorneau’s new, provocative French film Titane is a proud and prominent inheritor of what De Palma and Cronenberg were up to. Whereas Peirce’s remake re-centers the movie around Carrie’s relationship with her mother (in the newer film, Carrie is played by Chloe Moretz, and the mom by Julianne Moore), and the theme becomes twisted family relations, for better or worse.

A large part of what makes De Palma’s Carrie potentially problematic is also a source of its unsettling power. The girl’s shower scene notwithstanding, the treatment of teen sexuality isn’t intended solely to titillate; rather, it makes a mordant commentary on the use of sex as a weapon, leaning heavy on a female vamp stereotype. While we now consider that a retrograde cliché, it’s not a condition without real-life precedent. As good art sometimes ought to do, the whole mix renders the viewer uneasy.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Posted by Geoff at 8:11 AM CDT
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Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Two days ago, Kino Lorber Studio Classics posted this announcement on its Facebook page:
Coming Soon on 4KUHD!
BRAND NEW Dolby Vision HDR Restoration to be Supervised by Brian De Palma!
From a 16-Bit 4K Scan of the Original Camera Negative!

Dressed to Kill (1980) Starring Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen, Keith Gordon & Dennis Franz – Shot by Ralf D. Bode (Saturday Night Fever) – Music by Pino Donaggio (Body Double) – Written & Directed by Brian De Palma (Carrie, The Untouchables).

"The Blu-ray disc will include the bonus features, region free," Kino Lorber replied to a question in the comments about this upcoming edition. When someone asked about Blow Out, Kino Lorber responded, "We asked for Blow Out, it was not available."

Posted by Geoff at 11:16 PM CDT
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Monday, November 1, 2021

Keith Gordon revisits Brian De Palma's Carrie, the first De Palma film he'd ever seen, as he and Jamey Duvall join Mike White on the latest episode of The Projection Booth Podcast:
Special Guests: Joseph Aisenberg, Nancy Allen, William Katt, Piper Laurie, Joe Maddrey
Guest Co-Hosts: Jamey Duvall, Keith Gordon

We’re wrapping up #Shocktober 2021 with a look at Brian De Palma's Carrie (1976). Based on the novel by Stephen King, the film stars Sissy Spacek as the titular Carrie White. She’s a young woman who’s lived under her mother’s thumb and religious fervor. When she experiences her first period, she also experiences a new ability to move objects with her mind.

Keith Gordon and Jamey Duvall join Mike to discuss the film. Interviews include Piper Laurie, William Katt, Nancy Allen, Joseph Aisenberg (Studies in the Horror Film: Carrie), and Joe Maddrey (Adapting Stephen King: Volume 1, Carrie, 'Salem's Lot and The Shining from Novel to Screenplay).

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Saturday, October 30, 2021

Posted by Geoff at 5:03 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, October 30, 2021 5:05 PM CDT
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Friday, October 29, 2021

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Thursday, October 28, 2021

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Tuesday, October 26, 2021
Back in October of 2013, as Kimberly Peirce's remake of Carrie was being released, Vulture's Patti Greco reached out to P.J. Soles by phone for a magnificent interview about working on Brian De Palma's Carrie. Here's an excerpt:
Who were you closest with on set? Was it Nancy Allen [again, she played Chris], since most of your scenes were with her?
Yeah, Nancy and I are still really, really good friends. And we were very close [on set]. I was always trying to steer her away from having a crush on Brian. Didn’t work — she married him! And got divorced [Laughs.] But I tried to warn her, I said, “Why are you doing this? Look, he’s got that look on his face, like he’s enjoying all this. There’s a sadistic guy in there.” [Pretending to be Nancy], “Oh, he’s so cute.” No, Nancy, no! I was also close to Betty Buckley [who played Miss Collins], she actually had been a previous girlfriend of Brian’s. And she didn’t know how to drive and I had a blue pickup truck, and Brian asked if I would pick her up every day at the Chateau Marmont and bring her to the set. And so I’d go by every day and pick up Betty, who would pull down the visor and put on makeup. And I’d go, “It’s 6 a.m., Betty, we’ll be in makeup in like half an hour. What are you doing?” She’d go, “Brian’s gonna see me, I want to look my best!” I’d go, “Brian? He’s not even gonna look at us. We’re gonna go right to makeup.”

So Brian was the set stud?
Well, I wouldn’t say that. I think Nancy had a crush on him and Betty was an ex-girlfriend. She was nervous about how he was going to do away with her character, that’s all she would talk about. Because it wasn’t specified in the script. It said, like, “chaos in the gymnasium” and then it was up to Brian how each individual person was killed. Like, my character got killed by the fire hose, which obviously wasn’t in the Stephen King book because there was no Norma in the book. But Betty was nervous about how he was going to do away with her and then the basketball, the backboard comes crashing down on her. She was terrified of that.

Were Brian and Nancy actually dating on set or did that come after? No, no, I think it was once it ended. I mean, everybody was busy. We filmed all day long and then Brian was one of the rare directors that would say, “Come on, kids, let’s go look at the dailies.” And then we’d all march over to the screening room and watch dailies together. It always amazed me that he would want us in there, because he was making his notes, working, while we were in there laughing, going, “Hahaha, look at that.”

Was he inclusive, then? I thought he was known for being more like a dictator. He wasn’t really a dictator. It was definitely his set. You always know who the director is: They’re the one in charge and they’re sitting in the higher chair. But he wasn’t very verbal. For instance, at the end of a scene, a lot of directors will go, “Cut. That’s great, let’s do another one.” Or, “Oh, that’s great, we can move on.” He would say cut and then you’d look and if he had this sly smile on his face, you knew he liked it. And then he’d just kind of mumble. And if you saw the camera move, you’d go, I guess we’re moving on. That’s good. We’re not gonna do it again. So it wasn’t a loud set; it was a very quiet set. It was really about the shots, and the lighting, and the look. We came in at the last minute like a football team, like, Okay, run this play. We have the field mowed, the people in the stands, and then the players come in to run one play. We were sort of the afterthought to everything that was going on. Everything that led up to it was what took the time, and it looks like that. To me, when I watch it now, it looks like a work of art; it looks like somebody painted this movie.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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