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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
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De Palma discusses
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Carrie: The Movie

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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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Thursday, November 18, 2021
A SPELLBINDING HORROR MOVIE, AND A CHARACTER STUDY
REVISTIING ROGER EBERT'S REVIEW OF 'CARRIE' FROM 1976
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/carriethree.jpgOriginally published in the Chicago Sun-Times in November of 1976, Roger Ebert's review of Carrie:
Brian De Palma's "Carrie" is an absolutely spellbinding horror movie, with a shock at the end that's the best thing along those lines since the shark leaped aboard in "Jaws." It's also (and this is what makes it so good) an observant human portrait. This girl Carrie isn't another stereotyped product of the horror production line; she's a shy, pretty, and complicated high school senior who's a lot like kids we once knew.

There is a difference, though. She has telekenesis, the ability to manipulate things without touching them. It's a power that came upon her gradually, and was released in response to the shrill religious fanaticism of her mother. It manifests itself in small ways. She looks in a mirror, and it breaks. Then it mends itself. Her mother tries to touch her and is hurled back against a couch. But then, on prom night...

Well, what makes the movie's last twenty minutes so riveting is that they grow so relentlessly, so inevitably, out of what's gone before. This isn't a science-fiction movie with a tacked-on crisis, but the study of a character we know and understand. When she fully uses (or is used by) her strange power, we know why. This sort of narrative development hasn't exactly been De Palma's strong point, but here he exhibits a gift for painting personalities; we didn't know De Palma, ordinarily so flashy on the surface, could go so deep. Part of his success is a result of the very good performances by Sissy Spacek, as Carrie, and by Piper Laurie, as Carrie's mother. They form a closed-off, claustrophobic household, the mother has translated her own psychotic fear of sexuality into a twisted personal religion. She punishes the girl constantly, locks her in closets with statues of a horribly bleeding Christ, and refuses to let her develop normal friendships.

At school, then, it's no wonder Carrie is so quiet. She has long blond hair but wears it straight and uses it mostly to hide her face. She sits in the back of the room, doesn't speak up much, and is the easy butt of jokes by her classmates. Meanwhile, the most popular girl in the class devises a truly cruel trick to play on Carrie. It depends on Carrie being asked to the senior prom by the popular girl's equally popular boyfriend -- he's one of your average Adonises with letters in every sport. He's not in on the joke, though, and asks Carrie in all seriousness.

And then De Palma gives us a marvelously realized scene at the prom -- where Carrie does, indeed, turn out to be beautiful. There's a little something wrong, though, and De Palma has an effective way to convey it: As Carrie and her date dance, the camera moves around them, romantically at first, but then too fast, as if they're spinning out of control.

I wouldn't want to spoil the movie's climax for you by even hinting at what happens next. Just let me say that "Carrie" is a true horror story. Not a manufactured one, made up of spare parts from old Vincent Price classics, but a real one, in which the horror grows out of the characters themselves.The scariest horror stories -- the ones by M.R. James, Edgar Allan Poe, and Oliver Onions -- are like this. They develop their horrors out of the people they observe. That happens here, too. Does it ever.


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
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Wednesday, November 17, 2021
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 1976
THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS REVIEWS 'CARRIE' - THE DAY AFTER THE FILM OPENS THERE
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/nydailynews1976.jpg

Posted by Geoff at 6:28 PM CST
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Tuesday, November 16, 2021
JACK FISK TALKS TO L.A. MAG ABOUT THE HOUSE IN 'CARRIE'
"I THOUGHT IT WAS JUST REMARKABLE - YOU LOOK AT IT AND IT WAS WEIRD; SOMETHING WAS WRONG WITH IT"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/paxtonrealty55.jpg

Did you know that Paxton Realty is named after the late actor Bill Paxton? According to a fantastic article today in Los Angeles Magazine, by Jared Cowan, Paxton worked on Carrie as one of Jack Fisk's assistants in the art department. 45 years after the release of the film, the article looks at the town where Carrie's house was located, and where some of the film's scenes were shot:
King’s novel takes place in the fictional town of Chamberlain, Maine. (A coastal village of the same name exists in the town of Bristol, Maine, but it’s not the location depicted in the novel.) The film, however, takes place in a small, unnamed bedroom community where everybody knows everybody.

“I had sort of conceived it as a town anywhere in America, one of those sort of all-American towns,” says production designer Jack Fisk, who had previously worked on De Palma’s 1974 cult horror musical Phantom of the Paradise. “What I like to do on films is make them universal when we can, so that everybody can appreciate them, and not be too specific about where it is. … [Carrie] seemed like such a universal story, you know, teenage revenge. That’s what Brian used to tell Sissy all the time: ‘It’s a story of teenage revenge.’” Fisk and Spacek met while working on Terrence Malick’s Badlands (1973) and married in 1974.

While Carrie features only a dozen locations, Fisk says he put about 6,000 miles on his car driving around the L.A. region looking for spots to shoot the film. The hardest to find was Carrie’s house. Fisk says the problem in some of the usual places, like South Pasadena, is that over time the houses had gotten bigger as people added on to them.

“I wanted a house that looked like it was in a small town, and it looked isolated and it looked quirky, unusual,” says Fisk.

Taking into account Margaret White’s extreme Christian fanaticism, Fisk had the idea to model the Whites’ home after a type of uniquely Philadelphia row house. Known fondly as a Trinity, or a Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, it gets its name from three single-room floors that are connected by a steep, winding staircase. In the late ‘60s, Fisk lived in one such house with David Lynch during their time at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

One day, Fisk and his Volkswagen ended up in the Ventura County town of Santa Paula.

“I drive by this house and the dormer [window] upstairs is off-center and it looked so bizarre,” says Fisk. “It being off center, it’s like something an architect would never do,” he adds. “I thought it was just remarkable. You look at it and it was weird; something was wrong with it.” The house on North 7th Street between Santa Barbara Street and Main Street was one-and-a-half stories, not the triptych that Fisk had in mind, but it felt isolated and atypical. Fisk estimates that the house was only about twenty-five feet by twenty-five feet. “It was bizarrely small and singular.”

“It was a really old, beautifully done, wood frame house, and we couldn’t find anything like that [in L.A.].” says Dow Griffith, whose first location manager job was Carrie.

A 1981 Ventura County Cultural Heritage Survey of Santa Paula noted that the house was built around 1900 in the Vernacular Victorian style with Eastlake details. The survey rated the house in fair condition.

Santa Paula exteriors appear onscreen for about five minutes of Carrie’s 98-minute running time, but they set the tone of the entire movie. White picket fences, kids riding their bikes on sidewalks and Santa Paula’s Main Street all added to the small town aesthetic and mood the filmmakers were after.

“We basically modeled things on the Santa Paula location that we found for Carrie’s house and that sense of Anywhere, USA,” says Griffith.

Located along California State Route 126 just fourteen miles east of Ventura, Santa Paula wasn’t convenient in proximity to any of the film’s L.A. locations. Palisades Charter High School, the Hermosa Beach Community Center, the Cahuenga Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, Morningside Elementary School in San Fernando, and the gymnasium set built at the Culver Studios all made up Bates High School – named after Norman Bates. There are seventy miles between Santa Paula and the Farmer John slaughterhouse in Vernon – where Billy Nolan (John Travolta) and pals acquire the film’s infamous pig’s blood. But, in terms of film production, what Santa Paula lacks in convenience it makes up for with an abundance of character.


In another section of the article, Cowan talks to "Santa Paula native and retired Santa Paula Police Sergeant Jimmy Fogata:
Fogata, who is also on the board of the Santa Paula Historical Society, was fourteen or fifteen when the filmmakers of Carrie shot a scene in the front yard of the Craftsman home built in 1911 that’s been in his family for about seventy years.

In the film’s opening, Carrie – scared and traumatized after getting her period for the first time – is tormented by her bullying classmates in the girls’ locker room. Carrie is dismissed from school for the day and walks home along a lush, tree-lined street, her school binder clutched to her chest. A boy on a bicycle weaves in and out of the tree line, taunting the demure teenage girl with the insulting nickname, Creepy Carrie. A quick, piercing glance in the boy’s direction sends him tumbling from his bike and onto the Fogata family front yard located at 601 East Santa Paula Street.

“I remember watching them shoot it. They must have shot it twenty times to get the fall right,” says Fogata.

This being before the days of star trailers and massive base camps, Fogata says that craft service was set up on his front porch and his mom opened up the house for the cast and crew.

“I remember John Travolta was sitting in my living room; Sissy Spacek was sitting in my living room. It was kind of their relaxing area,” says Fogata.

Over the years, Fogata’s house has been seen in numerous movies, commercials and music videos, he says, but he remembers Carrie being the first. The same trees from the aforementioned scene are prominent in the music video for Stevie Wonder’s Grammy-nominated, 1987 single, “Skeletons.”


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
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Monday, November 15, 2021
GALLERY OF CARROT STICKS FROM DE PALMA FILMS
WITH A CAMEO FROM MARY & MOE'S MEAT MARKET, C/O SCORSESE'S 'WHO'S THAT KNOCKING AT MY DOOR'
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/carrots1.jpg


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
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Sunday, November 14, 2021
CARRIE'S LONG WALK HOME
BEFORE, AND AFTER...
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/carriebeforeafter.jpg


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
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Saturday, November 13, 2021
'HARDER THEY FALL' EDITOR LOOKED AT DE PALMA FILMS
DIRECTOR JEYMES SAMUEL, A DE PALMA FAN, SUGGESTED IT FOR WORK ON SPLIT SCREENS
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/carriesplitscreenterror.jpg

Editor Tom Eagles was interviewed by /Film's Shania Russell about working on Jeymes Samuel's The Harder They Fall:
There are some really great split screen moments, like in that final battle or when we see the death of RJ Cyler's character and we get to see everyone's reaction. Are those things that were in the script or when did you decide to use those?

Yeah, Jeymes always wanted to do those two split screen moments. The other one is on the train. That last one that you're talking about when RJ dies, he was very particular about what it was. So we worked really hard even in pre, we got to Santa Fe a couple of weeks early, we were cutting in Santa Fe, and I actually worked with the assistants just with stock pictures to try and get that right, to get the rhythm right.

So that was very specific and then the other one, which is Cherokee, LaKeith, talking through the wall to the General on the train, that was a little bit more like, "I want split screens here, you figure it out." I think he was specifically, he did want it to wipe on, and then I just had to figure out how to cut a scene where can see both sides. Which is a tricky thing for an editor because normally you're always directing the audience's gaze a little bit. With split screens you can suggest but you can't tell them exactly where to look.

Because LaKeith was so magnetic, I would use cuts to sometimes try and draw your attention over to the other side, we needed to see what was going on there. And the other thing that was tricky about that is LaKeith is a very fluid performer, so he doesn't say the same thing twice ever. So those things were not shot at the same time, when he was doing the general side, he didn't do all that stuff about "Dred Scott free," he didn't do the countdown at the end. So I had to find bits and pieces that I could play on the general side that made it look like they were part of the same conversation.

And then there were just fun discoveries, I found that we could also wipe off with the movement of the door. So that was really fun and Jeymes told me to look at Brian De Palma for split screens. He's a big De Palma fan so I went back and looked at "Dressed To Kill" and a couple other De Palma's, and "Carrie," to see how those worked.


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
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Friday, November 12, 2021
LOSERS' CLUB PODCAST DISCUSSES 'CARRIE'
AS DE PALMA'S FILM TURNS 45, WITH SPECIAL GUEST COLLEEN GREEN
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/losersclubcarrie45.jpg

Truth be told, I've been spinning Colleen Green's latest disc, Cool, several times a day since it was released a few weeks ago. So my ears perked up when I heard that she would be the special guest for this new episode of The Losers' Club podcast, discussing Brian De Palma's Carrie to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the film's release. Near the start of the episode, it's mentioned that Sissy Spacek reads the audio version of the book - something I did not know. The episode then kicks off with a discussion of Carrie as a high school film, as well as a horror film. Things spin off from there - check it out.


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
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Thursday, November 11, 2021
'WHIRLPOOL OF ZAPRUDIC ANXIETY'
TRAVIS WOODS ON 'BLOW OUT' - ILLUSTRATION BY BRIANNA ASHBY
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/briannaashby65.jpg

At Bright Wall/Dark Room, Travis Woods delves through Brian De Palma's cinema and deep into Blow Out:
To watch Blow Out is to watch an artist confronting his deepest fears using the techniques and technology of the medium that had previously offered him salvation and the ability to wrest control from chaos. That artist is John Travolta’s Jack Terry. That artist is also Brian De Palma.

Recording his father taught him the power of the voyeur’s cinema; designing a decade’s worth of arch and unhinged thrillers interlaced with dizzyingly/dazzlingly visual set pieces of murderous mayhem soaked in deliciously endorphic filmmaking taught him how the voyeur’s cinema has the power to make audiences look at what he wanted them to see and how he wanted them to see it. To direct them as much as his films. And what De Palma saw, and defiantly wanted his audience to see as both a warning and an indictment, was the drain-circling, atavistic degradation of art and culture—while using the immediately decaying tools of art and culture to ring the alarm bells and focus the audience’s attention.

A decade before, De Palma witnessed the encroaching nihilism and commercialization of his generation’s desperate movement to save itself—“When I made Greetings, I found myself on talk shows, talking about the revolution, and I realized I had become just another piece of software that they could sell, like aspirin or deodorant. It didn’t make any difference what I said. I was talking about the downfall of America. Who cares? In my experience, what happened to the revolution is that it got turned into a product, and that is the process of everything in America. Everything is meshed into a product”—and that horror multiplied with his termination from Get to Know Your Rabbit, before unleashing itself in a moment of terrible clarity: standing in an elevator, and hearing that the ear-piercing tune playing was a Muzakification of The Beatles’ cinematic epic about the mutability of reality, “A Day in the Life.” That single moment generated his Phantom of the Paradise, in which an artist literally makes a deal with the Devil to preserve his music, only to hear it survive in increasingly terrible bubblegum incarnations chewed by a mindless crowd. It’s a rock ‘n roll fable in which De Palma directed his audience to witness a fate worse than selling your soul: a world buying back your commodified cultural revolution as elevator (to hell) music. But no one cared; the film died a quick death in theaters.

In 1981, De Palma was driven by the same, singular fury, now compounded by his terrible failure to make Prince of the City, the film he intended to be the defining artistic statement that would prove his seriousness as an auteur. He felt the generation that had turned its own revolution into something to be sold, growing fat on couches while watching peeping tom game shows like Candid Camera, refused to look at the world around them, at the political machinations and murders hinting at power structures operating at levels beyond their imaginations, and thus needed to be directed to see those powers-that-be rendering them impotent, whether those powers were a corrupt government or simply an impatient bottom-line-based movie studio. De Palma wanted to craft a cinematic magic bullet that would zigzag through it all, savaging power at every level and making such a percussive bang when firing from the barrel of his camera that everyone would hear. And in a moment altogether fitting for the hyper-referential De Palma filmography, the design for this bullet came from a merging of his cinema with that of a previous master:

While editing sound on his previous film, Dressed to Kill, De Palma was sorting through the “fill” in his effects tracks (“fill” being the industry colloquialism for random strips of film laced between individual sound effects on a reel) and found, wedged between sounds like “knife slices” and “woman screams” was a strip of film from David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia. One of the greatest films ever made (and a De Palma favorite) was being recycled like trash and used to separate the sounds of salacious fucking and shower-killing in his sleaze-epic erotic thriller. Not only did this reinforce his obsession with the idea of all things trending towards commercialized dissolution, it jacketed another layer of lethality to the bullet he was honing—the notion that something of life-shattering importance could be buried beneath the surface of a film, between the sounds.


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
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Wednesday, November 10, 2021
'IT'S THE BEST-CRAFTED MOMENT IN THE ENTIRE MOVIE'
THE ARKIN BROTHERS TALK ABOUT 'SNAKE EYES'

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Thursday, November 11, 2021 7:53 AM CST
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Tuesday, November 9, 2021
EXERCISING THE FULL EXTENT OF HIS VISUAL WHIMSY
FLCKERING MYTH'S TOM JOLLIFFE ON BRIAN DE PALMA'S 'SNAKE EYES'
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/snakeeyesproducedbydepalma.jpg

At Flickering Myth, Tom Jolliffe includes Snake Eyes on his list of "10 Essential Forgotten 90s Thrillers" --
Take a legendary director like Brian De Palma, renowned for his grandiose visual style. Then take a star (Nic Cage), known for just as grandiose an approach to the craft of acting. At the time Nic Cage was peaking as a box office star and a newly established star of action blockbusters. De Palma was somewhat on the way down, coming off the back of helming a popular adaptation of an old 60’s TV show, Mission Impossible. If that seemed to suggest that De Palma was in danger of becoming gun for hire, over auteur, Snake Eyes felt like (for better and worse) a once heavy hitting powerhouse was exercising the full extent of his visual whimsy.

Snake Eyes certainly isn’t near the top of De Palma’s CV, but it’s the last big pulpy shlocker of his CV. Critically derided upon release, the film has picked up a little more appreciation in years since. For one, it’s a technical marvel with the film opening on a lengthy unbroken take up to the inciting incident of the piece (where a government official is shot whilst attending a boxing match in Vegas). That opening also happens to follow around Nic Cage’s rogue Vegas cop and as only he can, Cage revels in hogging the unbroken take and leading the steadi-op on a merry journey throughout the large arena (guts and all). Once we get back to De Palma’s bread and butter of Hitchcock ode thrills and plot unravelling, things are less spectacular but still gripping. Cage maintains our attention and the aesthetics always dazzle, even if the payoff doesn’t quite land.


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
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