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Domino is
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straight-forward"
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"It was not recut.
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Listen to
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Washington Post
review of Keesey book

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Exclusive Passion
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AV Club Review
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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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Saturday, April 30, 2022
VIDEO- 1978 10-MINUTE PRODUCTION SHORT FOR THE FURY
COMBINING ON-SET ACTIVITY, INTERVIEWS, AND A 'SISTERS'-LIKE DOCUMENTARY ABOUT PSYCHIC POWERS
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/furyprod0.jpg

Thanks to Ryan for sending us a link to this video (below), which was posted to YouTube this past February by Jeff Sabu. Ryan notes that the narrator on the documentary portions of this ten-minute production short for Brian De Palma's The Fury sounds like the same voice as that of the narrator in the documentary that Jay Cocks made for De Palma's Sisters about five years earlier. In any case, this is quite a discovery, as it includes some behind the scenes elements that most of us have never seen before.

 


Posted by Geoff at 6:39 PM CDT
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Friday, April 29, 2022
DE PALMA TURNED SPLIT-SCREEN INTO OPERATIC ART FORM
SAYS ANNE BILLSON AT THE GUARDIAN, DISCUSSING SPLIT-SCREENS & VARYING ASPECT RATIOS
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/sistersplitrunning75.jpg

In an article today with the headline, "You’ve been reframed: how playing with split-screen and aspect ratio went mainstream," The Guardian's Anne Billson offers a concise sort of chronology of the use of split-screen in cinema:
Michael Bay once described his bombastic film-making style as “fucking the frame”, but if any director fornicates with the frame it must surely be Gaspar Noé, who blitzes us with flashing neon, 360-degree camera movements and intercourse closeups. So it’s a surprise when his new film, Vortex, begins with an elderly married couple (played by Françoise Lebrun and Italian horror maestro Dario Argento) sitting serenely on their Paris balcony.

When the soundtrack plays a lovely Françoise Hardy song, you wonder if Noé has mellowed. But wait! If he doesn’t actually shag the frame here, he fiddles with it in two ways. First, the square-ish Academy ratio (1.37:1) of the serene prologue expands into a letterbox shape. Second, that widescreen divides into two side-by-side images, shot simultaneously with two cameras, enabling us to watch as Lebrun’s character, stricken by dementia, meanders around their cluttered flat, while Argento’s, wrestling with health issues of his own, nixes their adult son’s suggestion they move into a care home. Vortex could be Noé’s toughest watch yet – but this is due to its brutal honesty, and not because of the split-screen, which pays devastating emotional dividends.

Most of today’s cutting-edge directors have at some point used split-screen sequences in their films. The effect still seems mildly adventurous, though it has been around since the birth of cinema. Lois Weber’s Suspense (1913) uses an innovative triangular split that still looks startling. In the last reel of Abel Gance’s 1927 epic Napoléon, the Academy screen opens out into three sets of film projected side by side to form a widescreen triptych. Split-screen was often used, with unobtrusive matting, to show one actor playing identical twins in the same frame, or as a witty ploy to sidestep censorship, making it look as though unmarried couples, such as Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant in Indiscreet, or Doris Day and Rock Hudson in Pillow Talk, are sharing a bed rather than just talking to each other on the phone.

Split-screen is perfect for phone calls: see Mean Girls. But as Guy Ritchie’s retro-styled The Man from Uncle reminded us, it’s an aesthetic we associate with the 1960s. Genius credits designer Saul Bass used split-screen montage for the opening of Grand Prix (1966); when Film Dope asked him about the technique a few years later he said: “I think it is terrific at expressing muchness, but I suspect it’s not capable of expressing deep feeling.” Bass’s split-screen is based on multiplication of a single image, but one year after Grand Prix, Christopher Chapman demonstrated his innovative “multidynamic image technique” in A Place to Stand, a landmark short made for the Ontario pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal. (Earworm warning: I saw this film 50 years ago, and the maddening theme song has been lodged in my head ever since.) Chapman presents multiple panes in various sizes and shapes on a single screen; sometimes the images in the panes move independently, sometimes as components of one big picture.

Steve McQueen saw A Place to Stand at an advance screening in Hollywood and was impressed. One year later, Norman Jewison inserted split-screen sequences into The Thomas Crown Affair, including the opening credits, and McQueen playing polo. That same year, in The Boston Strangler, Richard Fleischer divided his screen to show a creepy phone caller, the recipient of the call, and the call being traced, all at once. Spilt-screen enabled Michael Wadleigh, director-cinematographer of Woodstock, to show crowd reactions in the same frame as the performers, while in 1973, Soylent Green employed it in the opening credits to encapsulate the “muchness” of proliferating industrialism and pollution.

The director most associated with split-screen is Brian De Palma, who turned it into an operatic art form. In Sisters, he shows the point of view of a dying murder victim at the same time as a witness looking back at him, and in Phantom of the Paradise he ramps up tension between the planting of a bomb and its explosion. Many mainstream audiences encountered split-screen for the first time in Carrie, when the traumatised antihero wreaks telekinetic carnage at her prom. De Palma told Cinefantastique magazine: “I felt the destruction had to be shown in split-screen, because how many times could you cut from Carrie to things moving around? You can overdo that.”


Posted by Geoff at 11:09 PM CDT
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Thursday, April 28, 2022
'PURE, UNVARNISHED CAGE'
PETER TONGUETTE ON NICOLAS CAGE'S "UNINHIBITED ACTING CHOICES" IN 'SNAKE EYES' & BEYOND
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/thereheis55.jpg

Reviewing The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent side-by-side with Keith Phipps' book Age of Cage: Four Decades of Hollywood Through One Singular Career, Washington Examiner's Peter Tonguette highlights Cage's work in Snake Eyes:
What qualifies as a great performance? Decades of conditioning by movie critics, not to mention Oscar voters who insist on recognizing Meryl Streep each time she adopts a new accent, have led many moviegoers to think they must applaud when an actor is said to “disappear” into a part. Such performers are thought to be paragons of selflessness and subtlety, willing to set aside their own personalities for the sake of high art.

In truth, moviegoers have always taken pleasure in performers who remain blatantly and unapologetically themselves on the big screen — those who seem less interested in incarnating a character than simply summoning their own reserves of charisma, intelligence, and even eccentricity. During his long reign as America’s most widely admired actor, Marlon Brando became so flagrant in his tics, mannerisms, and improvised riffs that it was impossible for an audience to suspend disbelief and accept him as an actual character. In his brilliant late-career turn in the Mafia comedy The Freshman (1990), Brando managed to render the plot, and sometimes even the jokes themselves, irrelevant thanks to his torrent of self-referential mumbling and random bits of business — say, the long, drawn-out way he deposits sugar into Matthew Broderick’s cup of espresso. This is less performing than performance art.

For audiences to enjoy this sort of thing, however, an actor has to be willing to hover above the material: to kid it or act around it or simply ignore it. Such is the secret to the success of Samuel L. Jackson, whose signature rhetorical device, over-the-top screaming, arguably contributed immeasurably to the success of Quentin Tarantino’s early films. (Try to imagine anyone but Jackson saying, in Pulp Fiction, “Do they speak English in What?”) And it formed the basis for at least one entire movie, the regrettable (but not unentertaining!) 2006 fright film Snakes on a Plane.

Yet the undisputed master of molding movies to his persona is surely Nicolas Cage, who, long before becoming something of a punchline for his gleefully unrestrained performances in a series of increasingly odd, random, and ill-funded productions, seemed to delight in disrupting otherwise ordinary movies with his jittery, hyped up, always-on-edge performance style.

I remember the first time I became conscious that Cage was no longer putting his gifts at the service of mere characterization — if he ever was. In 1998, just three years after he gave an Oscar-winning performance in Mike Figgis’s Leaving Las Vegas, Cage headlined Brian De Palma’s Atlantic City-set morality tale Snake Eyes. Playing proudly corruptible detective Rick Santoro, Cage looks to have remembered and recycled every actor who ever played a small-time wheeler-dealer in a movie, placed them all in a blender, and come out with a rich, thick puree of smooth talk, hustle, and con. His performance is loud, wild-eyed, and delightfully vulgar: as garish as the Hawaiian shirt he wears and as hyperactive as director De Palma’s roving Steadicam. At the time, Cage’s uninhibited acting choices did not seem so strange. Those of us who had grown up with the actor — he had already made the Coen brothersRaising Arizona (1987), David Lynch’s Wild at Heart (1990), Michael Bay’s The Rock (1996) — were more or less getting what we wanted: pure, unvarnished Cage.

But as H.L. Mencken said of what democracy delivers to the people, we who cheered on Cage’s scenery-chewing got what we deserved, and we got it good and hard. As his projects became more obviously questionable and less auteur-driven — for example, his appearance in the gooey holiday comedy The Family Man (2000) or the preposterous World War II romance Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001) — Cage’s accumulated weirdness stood out more and more. I concede that there’s something deeply unfair in this analysis: Cage was the same unruly, unpredictable, unrealistic actor when he was appearing in respectable art house releases as when he was showing up in schlock on the order of Ghost Rider (2007) and the National Treasure series. Cage didn’t change as much as our tolerance for him did — a tolerance lowered, undoubtedly, due to the almost unfathomable increase in his output starting in the early 2010s, which coincided with, or resulted from, a period of financial difficulty.


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Friday, April 29, 2022 12:10 AM CDT
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Wednesday, April 27, 2022
MICHELLE PFEIFFER RECALLS WORKING ON 'SCARFACE'
CREDITS HER FIRST HUSBAND, PETER HORTON, FOR PROVIDING MORAL SUPPORT AS SHE WORKED WITH "INCREDIBLY SEASONED ACTORS"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/michellebrianonset1.jpg

In a profile article by Lacey Rose posted today at The Hollywood Reporter, Michelle Pfeiffer recalls working on Scarface early in her career:
Pfeiffer’s introduction to the darker side of Hollywood came a few years later, when she fell under the spell of a controlling L.A. couple. She was young and desperately seeking answers, and the pair seemed to have all of them. “There was a lot of mind-fucking and brainwashing,” she says, and a lot of money handed over to them, too. It was her future husband, Peter Horton, who finally extricated her. He was prepping for a movie about cults, and asked Pfeiffer to join him for a meeting with a real-life deprogrammer. There she was, listening to them talk about the psychological manipulation that goes on, when it clicked: “I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I’m in a cult.’ It was like a light bulb went off, and I never went back.”

She married Horton in 1981, and landed her first big break, as Stephanie Zinone in Grease 2, while they were on their honeymoon. The marriage lasted less than a decade, but Pfeiffer still credits the Thirtysomething star for believing in her long before she knew how. “And nobody ever writes about that, so feel free,” she tells me, and then provides examples, like the time she was considering some “sexy role” for TV, and he made her see that she was worthy of more. “I was doing my normal torture dance, whether or not I should do it, and he just read it and went, ‘I never really saw you this way, I always pictured you more like Katharine Hepburn.’ And it stuck,” says Pfeiffer. “I realized that I did, too, I just wasn’t confident enough to see that through.”

It was also Horton whom Pfeiffer continually turned to as she was struggling her way through her second major role, as coke-addled ice queen Elvira in Scarface. “I was with this group of incredibly seasoned actors and only one other woman, who I didn’t even work with, and I was just waiting to be fired the whole time,” she says. “I would go to bed every night crying.” Thirty-five years later, she appeared on a panel with director Brian De Palma and her co-star Al Pacino, where she was asked by a male moderator not about her performance but rather about her weight during the production — a question that was met with audible groans from the audience. “I mean, I was playing a cocaine addict!” she jokes now, though at the time she spoke candidly about “living off tomato soup and Marlboros.” When I tell her how impressed the internet seemed to be by her ability to gracefully shrug off the sexist query, she cocks her head and smiles: “I’ve had a lot of practice.”


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Tuesday, April 26, 2022
LABYRINTH STRUCTURE, PROPULSIVE SCRIPT
SNAKE EYES AT #20 ON THRILLIST'S RANKING OF 20 BEST NICOLAS CAGE ROLES
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/snakeeyessmoke.jpg

"What precedent does Hollywood have for someone like Nicolas Cage?" asks the staff at Thrillist. "He makes Jack Nicholson look buttoned-up. (Imagine Cage's Jack Torrance.) America's wildest actor, now 58, is enjoying a renaissance that adheres to no playbook anyone could have contrived a decade ago. It works because it makes sense: 'Gonzo' has long been the go-to word to describe Cage's performances, and if he is testing the limits of just how unhinged a movie star can be, that trajectory has roots in early roles like Raising Arizona and Wild at Heart. When he doesn't let loose, his films tend to sink (see: It Could Happen to You and The Family Man). He calls his technique 'nouveau shamanism,' a way to heighten one's imagination in order to feel like a particular character. Now, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent—a hyper-meta curio that wouldn't be possible without the electricity of recent projects like Mandy and Color Out of Space—lets Nicolas Cage play Nicolas Cage, literally. Almost no one else could pull off a self-reflexive gambit to such a degree."

What follows in the article is a ranking of Cage's "20 best performances," kicking off with Snake Eyes at number 20:

Working with director Brian De Palma, fresh off the blockbuster success of Mission: Impossible, Cage brings an admirable sliminess to this rain-soaked, twist-filled crime thriller, which finds him playing a corrupt cop thrust into the middle of an assassination plot at a boxing match in Atlantic City. Unlike many of his A-list peers, Cage has no problem playing unlikable heels. David Koepp's propulsive script sends Cage yammering through the back doors and narrow halls of a casino, the perfect labyrinth structure for De Palma to let his camera crawl over the walls and ceilings. Does everything in this movie make sense? No, not exactly. But when the filmmaking is as flashy as Cage's tropical-print shirt, you won't mind feeling like you're playing a rigged game. —Dan Jackson

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Monday, April 25, 2022
TIMELESS PERFORMANCE
ON PACINO'S BIRTHDAY, 'SCARFACE' RANKS ON A COUPLE OF LISTS
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/tonyimpresses55.jpg

"Brian De Palma’s iconic remake is most likely Al Pacino’s most memorable starring role, playing the cocaine-fuelled gangster Scarface whose greed to become a drugs kingpin leads him to his own demise," writes Far Out Magazine's Calum Russell. Russell places Scarface at number 7 on his list of Pacino's ten greatest performances. "Featuring alongside Michelle Pfeiffer, Steven Bauer and F. Murray Abraham," Russell continues, "Pacino gives one of his most fervent and intense performances, starring as a gangster you can’t help but love. Inspiring countless other reimaginings, Scarface is due for a Hollywood remake by Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino, no doubt thanks to Pacino’s timeless performance."

Meanwhile, over at People magazine, Andrea Wurzburger brings up Scarface on the #3 slide in her article, "Al Pacino's Most Memorable Film Roles: From The Godfather to The Irishman." Wurzburger's list ends at #15 with Carlito's Way, a movie which does not get mentioned in Russell's article.


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Monday, April 18, 2022
VISUALIZE SITTING IN AN EMPTY THEATER...
"IN FRONT OF A BLANK SCREEN, AND LET THAT SCREEN FILL YOUR MIND"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/alpha1.jpg


Posted by Geoff at 11:15 PM CDT
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Sunday, April 17, 2022
FLASHBACK PICS - 'BLOW OUT' WORLD PREMIERE
JULY 23, 1981 IN PHILADELPHIA
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/blowoutworldpremiere.jpg

(Photo at the top via thebriandepalma.archives on Instagram)


Posted by Geoff at 11:22 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, April 17, 2022 11:24 PM CDT
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Thursday, April 14, 2022
'I BOUGHT THESE SUNGLASSES AT A DRUGSTORE'
MICHELLE PFEIFFER POSTED BACK IN JANUARY
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/elvirasunglasses.jpg

Back in January, Michelle Pfeiffer posted the image above to Instagram, with the following caption:
Let’s do this, Monday.

(I bought these sunglasses at a drugstore. True story. 😎)


Posted by Geoff at 11:32 PM CDT
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Wednesday, April 13, 2022
WET LEG ASKS EDGAR WRIGHT TO NAME A FAVORITE FILM
PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE - "I'M GOING TO GET IT TO YOU BECAUSE I CANNOT IMAGINE THAT YOU WOULDN'T LOVE IT"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/tweetedgarwetleg.jpg

In a FaceTime video call conversation for Interview Magazine, Edgar Wright talks movies and music with Wet Leg's Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers. When asked by Chambers to name one of his favorite movies, Wright tells them about Phantom Of The Paradise:
WRIGHT: So, you’ve been sitting on this amazing debut for nearly a year.

TEASDALE: Yeah, we finished recording, but then we had to do all the artwork and get it mixed and mastered. It doesn’t feel like it’s been a year, it feels like we only really finished it six months ago. When you finish a film, how long until it’s released?

WRIGHT: It depends on when it’s supposed to come out. Hot Fuzz came out like a month after it was finished. It was really down to the wire. But Last Night in Soho was disrupted by the pandemic, so we shot nearly all of it in 2019 and 2020, and it came out in 2021. It’s really emotional for me to watch that film, because it feels like so much happened in the space and time of the production. So it depends on what it is, really, and whether there’s a global pandemic or not.

TEASDALE: When you watch your own stuff, are you transported to that version of you? Do you put yourself into your art and your characters?

WRIGHT: Oh, yeah. That’s what’s strange—Shaun of the Dead is a film about a zombie apocalypse, Hot Fuzz is a film about cops in Somerset, Last Night in Soho is about a Cornish fashion student coming to London with supernatural powers—and I say, “Oh, they’re all really personal.” [Laughs] People are like, “How?” But you do put yourself into them, and you’re dramatizing your own mundane experiences into something more exciting. You guys are from the Isle of Wight, and I grew up in Dorset and Somerset, so a lot of what I’ve done is the product of being bored as a teenager. Somerset a very picturesque and beautiful place, but when you’re a teenager, picturesque is not what you want—you want to get to the city. Now I’m older and I think more fondly about my bucolic childhood in the country. So, all of the things you make become like love/hate letters to the place that you’re from.

TEASDALE: Yeah, I can relate to that.

WRIGHT: I can feel those country vibes in your work as well. The album seems to have themes. One theme is that it seems like you guys get annoyed at house parties a lot.

TEASDALE: Yeah. FOMO is such a thing, isn’t it? And you’re always trying to “live your best life,” but sometimes you just need to listen to yourself, and maybe just don’t don’t go to the party. I’m not able to do that quite often.

WRIGHT: I didn’t have Instagram when I was growing up, so I was always thinking that there must be something cooler going on without me. I grew up feeling like I was never going to the cool parties, but it seems like, from your album, that you’ve been to the cool parties, and you’re not impressed.

TEASDALE: Yeah, that’s it.

WRIGHT: I think it’s a good message to tell the young people out there: don’t worry guys, you’re not missing that much.

CHAMBERS: We’ve dipped our toes in the little pool of music videos, but you are a filmmaker. We are not filmmakers, but if you had a tip for us, what would it be? Also, what’s one of your favorite movies?

WRIGHT: Well, what makes you think that you’re not filmmakers? That doesn’t make any sense, because you already have a point of view and an aesthetic. You can tell what a Wet Leg video is just from the four that you’ve released already, which is great. Why don’t you make a Wet Leg movie? Here’s the pitch: every attraction at Blackgang Chine comes to life, and only Wet Leg can stop the chaos from spreading across the rest of the world.

TEASDALE: [Gasps] The Mouth of Hell.

CHAMBERS: The Weather Wizard!

TEASDALE: The Rumpus Mansion!

CHAMBERS: There’s also a really scary Humpty-Dumpty there.

WRIGHT: Okay, I’m going to suggest a favorite film of mine. If you haven’t seen it, I can’t imagine you guys not loving it. Have you ever seen the 1974 musical Phantom of the Paradise?

TEASDALE: Phantom of the Paradise? No, I haven’t seen that.

WRIGHT: I’m going to get it to you because I cannot imagine that you wouldn’t love it. It’s like a rock musical. It’s Phantom of the Opera meets Faust, it’s got a ‘70s score written by Paul Williams, and it’s fantastic. That’s one of my favorite films that I think you guys would dig.

TEASDALE: I’ve written it down. One last question, do you have a DVD collection?

WRIGHT: I do, I can show you. Hang on, we’ll take a little walk. Buffalo ’66 is not there because I looked for it earlier. Look, here you go, this is what I was doing during the lockdown.

[Wright shows Wet Leg his substantial DVD collection]

TEASDALE & CHAMBERS: Wooowwwww!

WRIGHT: Physical media—it hasn’t gone away! Who knows when the internet will go? I’ve still got a lot of Blu Rays to organize. I can’t stop buying them— I went on a bit of a crazy Amazon kick during the lockdown. The Oxfam around the corner from my house has had a steady stream of the ones I’ve been giving away. I donate a lot of horror films to the Oxfam. I wonder about the kind of the person that goes in there and finds all these really hardcore horror films. Somebody’s going to have a wild afternoon.

TEASDALE: We love horror films.

WRIGHT: What are some of your favorite horror films?

TEASDALE: Evil Dead.

CHAMBERS: I like Death Becomes Her, I think that’s such a funny film.

WRIGHT: I saw that at Bournemouth when I was at art college. I haven’t seen it since— I don’t want to guess a lady’s age—but probably before you guys were alive.


Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, April 14, 2022 12:02 AM CDT
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