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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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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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Wednesday, November 16, 2022
TARANTINO ON SPLIT-SCREEN IN 'SISTERS', 'KILL BILL'
FROM HIS BOOK, 'CINEMA SPECULATION' - "IT'S ALMOST AS IF BRIAN DE PALMA HAS SEIZED CONTROL OF THE MOVIE FOR A MOMENT"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/killbillspliteyes55.jpg

Previously:

Posted April 13 2004
TARANTINO TALKS KILL BILL
EXPLAINS HIS "LITTLE BRIAN DE PALMA SCENE"
It seemed logical that the split-screen sequence in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 1, where Daryl Hannah dons a nurse's uniform and whistles a Bernard Herrmann melody while carrying a deadly syringe down a hospital corridor, was inspired in great part by a combination of Brian De Palma's Sisters and Dressed To Kill. On the new DVD release of the film, Tarantino even calls it his "little Brian De Palma scene." But the filmmaker tells Premiere that this particular split-screen sequence was inspired by the trailer for a John Frankenheimer film-- a scene in the trailer that was cut and scored differently than it was in Frankenheimer's film. Tarantino explains that he does not duplicate other directors' shots when he references their films in his work, but rather "a feeling in the shot or an aspect about the shot I liked." He then explains how he has a collection of 35mm trailers from movies, particularly from the '70s, and how these trailers are works of art in and of themselves in that they used techniques that Tarantino likens to the work of Godard. Having seen the films that these trailers promote, Tarantino claims that many of the scenes or sequences shown in the trailers are not in the actual films. "It's just in the trailer," he tells Premiere:

There's this one trailer for Black Sunday by John Frankenheimer that has a scene in it that's done differently than it is in the movie. It's amazing. There's a scene in the movie-- it's like, you know, killer terrorist shit-- where Marthe Keller is going to kill Robert Shaw, who works for the Israeli Army. He's in the hospital, so she dresses up like a nurse with a syringe full of lethal injection, and she's going to go into his hospital room and inject him. Well, in the movie it's an okay sequence, but not really that special. They don't really milk it that much. It's routine.

But in the trailer for the movie, when it gets to showing us that sequence, they do the whole thing in split screen. And where they just had natural sounds playing in the movie, they have John Williams's Black Sunday theme [humming the tune] pulsing through the whole trailer, so it's just ticking beats to the images. This is not in the movie anywhere. This is one of the best split-screen sequences I've ever seen.

So for Kill Bill, I say, "We're doing this when Elle Driver shows up at the hospital."

And then I have another, like, weird movie reference in there because I have Daryl Hannah whistling-- she learned how to whistle Bernard Herrmann's theme to this movie called Twisted Nerve. And the thing is, when she leaves the frame, the Bernard Herrmann score kicks in, you hear the same theme done in this lush Bernard Herrmann melody, and then it goes into split screen and it looks like I'm doing an homage to Dressed To Kill-era De Palma.

Bernard Herrmann scored two De Palma films: Sisters (1973) and Obsession (1976). Daryl Hannah made her film debut in De Palma's The Fury (1978), which was scored by John Williams. One character, Bobbi, steals a nurse's uniform to wear in De Palma's Dressed To Kill (1980). Sisters and Dressed To Kill each feature memorable split-screen sequences.


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
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Tuesday, November 15, 2022
'BLOW OUT' IN FOCUS ON 'THE REWATCHABLES' PODCAST
"THE SUSPENSE HAPPENS IN A REALLY WEIRD WAY HERE..."
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/theblowout.jpg

On the new episode of The Rewatchables podcast, "The Ringer’s Bill Simmons, Chris Ryan, Sean Fennessey, and Wesley Morris head to Philadelphia in search of the perfect scream as they revisit Brian De Palma’s 1981 thriller Blow Out, starring John Travolta, Nancy Allen, and John Lithgow."

Posted by Geoff at 6:53 PM CST
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Monday, November 14, 2022
JoBlo VIDEO LOOKS AT HOW 'CARRIE' FILM GOT MADE
WRITTEN, EDITED, NARRATED BY TYLER NICHOLS - "WHAT IF I TOLD YOU THAT EVERY MAJOR STUDIO TURNED THIS DOWN?"

Posted by Geoff at 8:11 PM CST
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Friday, November 11, 2022
'GREETINGS' & 'HI, MOM!' AT THE NEW BEV NOV 28TH
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/tweethimomnewbev.jpg

Posted by Geoff at 8:46 AM CST
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Thursday, November 10, 2022
THURSDAY TWEET - TARANTINO ON 'BLOW OUT'
"AS WE ALL KNOW BRIAN DE PALMA IS ONE OF THE FINEST DIRECTORS OF HIS GENERATION"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/tweetindieqt.jpg

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
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Wednesday, November 9, 2022
TWO REVIEWS OF SPIELBERG'S 'THE FABELMANS'
"FOR CINEPHILES, THE MOMENT WILL RECALL BRIAN DE PALMA'S BLOW OUT"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/fabelmans1.jpg

Excerpts from two reviews of Steven Spielberg's The Fabelmans:

Rafer Guzmán, Newsday:

There’s something Spielbergian in the suburban normalcy of Sammy’s boyhood — cookie-cutter homes, pesky younger sisters, bickering relatives. Sammy’s father, Burt (a heart-tugging Paul Dano), is an engineer who moves the family around the country to chase better jobs; his mother, Mitzi (lovingly played by Michelle Williams), was once a promising pianist. Following a screening of Cecil B. DeMille's “The Greatest Show on Earth,” a six-year-old Sammy sets about recreating its spectacular train crash with his brand-new Lionels, displeasing his pragmatic dad and delighting his artistic mom — a pattern that will recur throughout his life.

While editing a home movie, Sammy sees something life-shattering. For cinephiles, the moment will recall Brian De Palma’s “Blow Out,” but for Sammy it’s the end of innocence. His Uncle Boris, a crusty old carny (Judd Hirsch, in the kind of supporting tour-de-force that Oscars are made of), warns him that when family and art collide, “it’ll tear you apart.” That theme is echoed by his parents' friend Bennie (a terrific Seth Rogen), who at a crucial moment tells Sammy to keep making movies no matter what.

As Sammy enters high school, he meets his first love (a winning Chloe East), encounters an anti-Semitic bully (Oakes Fegley) and runs afoul of the school's alpha jock (Sam Rechner). Once again, Sammy's camera will play a pivotal role in an unexpected way. These scenes are lively and entertaining, though not as primal and powerful as the ones we’ve already experienced.

A nerve-wracking encounter with the legendary director John Ford (played by a wonderfully cantankerous David Lynch) tells us Sammy is on his way to becoming Spielberg. So what have we learned? Just that Spielberg was a talented kid who worked hard, took his punches and never stopped dreaming. It’s exactly the kind of story that would make a great movie.


Mark Kennedy, AP News
We learn not all is honky-dory at home and there’s maybe something going on between mom, dad (a superbly stiff Paul Dano) and dad’s best friend (really good Seth Rogen). Audiences will not be surprised when this is revealed. And the way our hero figures it out is pure cinematic — he sees clues in his own home movies. And he confronts the offending party as only an auteur would — instead of talking, he shows an edited film.

The Fabelmans” gets a needed jolt of energy when Judd Hirsch arrives as an estranged uncle who once was in the circus. He immediately sees in his nephew a fellow artistic spirit who will have to pick between family and his art, just as his mother has done. “It will tear out your heart and leave you lonely. Art is no game. Art is as dangerous as a lion’s mouth,” his uncle tells him. “We’re junkies and art is our drug.”

A big wet valentine to filmmaking, “The Fabelmans” fits into the latest wave of directors looking backward, including Alejandro Iñárritu’s “Bardo,” Charlotte Wells’ “Aftersun,” Kenneth Branagh’s “Belfast” and James Gray’s “Armageddon Time.” And Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical, coming-of-age “Almost Famous” just landed on Broadway in musical form.

Many of these projects seem to passionately argue for the healing and communal power of art by preaching to the converted. And they often do it with such fondness and reverence that it gets way too heady. They’re getting high on their own supply.

In the third act of “The Fabelmans,” the Spielberg family — sorry Fabelman family — moves again, this time to California and the movie angles in another direction, with an unlikely romance amid the reality of antisemitism, culminating in a lesson about the power of film to create an image. But it shares the rest of the film’s heightened mannerisms, the artificiality of its supposed madcap humor and its tendency to create little arias of theatrical speech.

The movie ends with a warning to the young filmmaker from no less than the great director John Ford (a hysterical cameo from David Lynch). “This business will rip you apart,” he snarls. And yet Fabelman is overjoyed to connect with his hero and doesn’t listen. He’s a junkie, after all. But those of us not successful Hollywood directors might like it when he turns his camera at things other than himself.


Posted by Geoff at 11:11 PM CST
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Tuesday, November 8, 2022
TARANTINO'S 'CINEMA SPECULATION'
INCLUDES MUCH ABOUT DE PALMA, SCHRADER, WITH CHAPTERS ABOUT SISTERS, TAXI DRIVER, AND MORE
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/qtbook5.jpg

It was such a pleasure to listen to Quentin Tarantino and friends talk about Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill on a recent episode of Video Archives. Now, only a few weeks later, we have Tarantino's first book of film criticism, Cinema Speculation, which delves into much of De Palma's early work. Covering Tarantino's formative years of watching films and thinking about what makes them tick, the author includes De Palma and Francis Ford Coppola as filmmakers who were "strong but less prolific" members of the "Post-Sixties Anti-Establishment Auteurs," before moving on to a chapter about the "Movie Brats." The chapter on Sisters moves from De Palma's early features and into what it was about Hitchcock that specifically drew De Palma's interest. There's an entire chapter speculating on "What If Brian De Palma Directed Taxi Driver instead of Martin Scorsese?"

Here's some of what is being written about the book the past week:

Glenn Kenny, Some Came Running

I found myself agreeing with him a lot — about John Flynn’s The Outfit, which he’s completely right about (“except for the freeze-frame at the end,” I thought to myself, and then I watched the ending again and thought, “Nah, he’s right about that too”), about Dirty Harry, you know, that sorta thing. He’s really weird about Boorman’s Point Blank, and I don’t think he makes his case against it, as I don’t think he makes his case for Deliverance going “slack.” But I decline to speculate about just why he feels like dumping on Boorman so much. I mentioned his bluster before — I was startled at times about how blunt and brash he can be. He’s not at all afraid of potentially ticking off filmmakers one infers that he’s been friendly with in the past. “De Palma would fall on his face and never really get back up again after fucking up Tom Wolfe” is a weird thing to say, given De Palma then went on to make Raising Cain, Carlito’s Way, Snake Eyes, Femme Fatale (maybe the ultimate De Palma film in my opinion) and Mission Impossible.

Richard Brody, The New Yorker
The book’s title is more than rhetoric. The best sections involve Tarantino’s counterfactual speculations, based on his copious reading of books and articles about Hollywood, his familiarity with early versions of scripts, his acquaintance with Hollywood notables, and his critical insights regarding the careers and passions and inclinations of these notables. In the long chapter on “The Getaway,” there’s a great riff on Peter Bogdanovich being attached to the project before Sam Peckinpah was signed to direct it, an extended discussion of how Ali MacGraw came to co-star in it with McQueen and the effect that her performance and her persona had on its reception; a careful look at how the casting of supporting roles determines the movie’s tone as well as its effect on viewers; and a detailed study of the differences between the film and the novel, by Jim Thompson, on which it’s based. The book’s intellectual engine is its auteurist perspective. As a director as well as a virtual critic, Tarantino delves deep into the kinds of decisions that directors make, both at the macro level of major career moves and the micro level of behavioral details and camera angles, with an absorbing acuity.

The extended portraiture of Brian De Palma stands out for the idiosyncrasy of its insights, which spill over into a detailed study of “Taxi Driver,” which De Palma was originally supposed to direct. Tarantino muses on what kind of movie would have resulted, and how De Palma’s entire career may have shifted as a result. (It wouldn’t be Tarantino if the discussion of “Taxi Driver” didn’t pivot on race—he’s obsessed with the fact that the movie’s pimp, played by Harvey Keitel, is white, and he assumes, for reasons that he details at length, that, had De Palma directed it, the pimp would have been Black.


Los Angeles Times interview with Quentin Tarantino, by Glenn Whipp
Tarantino has been thinking about writing “Cinema Speculation” for years, The book evolved, he says, from being a mere appreciation of his favorites to a survey of films that inspired a “point of view worth talking about.”

“Doing this made me respect the professionals of film criticism even more for the simple fact that I realized I couldn’t do what they do,” Tarantino says. “If my job was to go and watch the new movies every week and then write what I thought, I can’t imagine I would have anything to say about everything, other than offer a plot summary and a ‘good,’ ‘bad,’ ‘indifferent’ verdict. With the book, I wanted to find something quirky that’s interesting and worth talking about.”

And so the chapter on “Taxi Driver” emphasizes the groundwork laid for it by Charles Bronson’s “Death Wish.” (Tarantino also recalls seeing the movie with a raucous audience at the Carson Twin, hardly the kinds of cineastes who revere it today.) Filmmakers De Palma, Don Siegel and Schrader become characters of a sort, moving through the book and Tarantino’s young life. In fact, there was so much Schrader at one point that Tarantino decided to remove a chapter devoted to his 1974 Japanese gangster homage “The Yakuza.”

“If I kept that, I would have needed Paul to write a foreword to the book,” Tarantino says, laughing.

Asked why he landed on Schrader, known for films centered on tormented men and their righteous fury, Tarantino paused for a moment.

“I don’t want to be the one to break down his theme in a sentence, but inarticulately, lonely men with nothing but a profession existing in four walls,” Tarantino says. “And sometimes those four walls are their apartment, sometimes they’re a city, sometimes they’re the f— planet Earth. Sometimes it’s just other human beings and how they bump up against the four walls until, usually, there’s blood all over them.”



Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
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Sunday, November 6, 2022
ON REBECCA's 50th BIRTHDAY - FEMME FATALE TURNS 20
DE PALMA'S CINEMATIC FANTASIA WAS RELASED IN U.S. THEATERS ON NOVEMBER 6, 2002
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/ffpromonov6.jpg

 

 


Posted by Geoff at 5:30 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, November 6, 2022 5:33 PM CDT
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Saturday, November 5, 2022
SPOILER, PERHAPS - WEIRD AL'S 'CARRIE' PARODY
IN 'WEIRD: THE AL YANKOVIC STORY' - WITH EVAN RACHEL WOOD AS MADONNA
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/weirdcarrie1.jpg

I would not use the word "campy" to describe any aspect of Brian De Palma's Carrie, but /Film's Shae Sennett does describe it that way. Sennett details the parody homage to De Palma's film within the new movie Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, which was written by "Weird Al" Yankovic with director Eric Appel:
Just in case this is necessary, spoilers for the biopic parody "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story" lie ahead. You've been warned?

If there's one thing "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story" does well, it's a parody. Weird Al rose to fame performing hilarious takes on hit pop songs, like his version of Michael Jackson's "Beat It," titled "Eat It," and Yankovic's biopic remains true to the comedic sensibility of his work. The film pokes fun at the musical biopic genre as a whole and pays homage to lots of iconic music, artists, and cinema that broke the status quo.

One final pop culture reference is snuck in at the very end of the film. The end of "Weird" mirrors the final scene in Brian De Palma's adaptation of Stephen King's "Carrie," with the role of Sue played by the infamous musician-turned-drug lord, Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood).

Based on a total (un)true story

"Weird" tells the totally true life story of the comedy musician Al Yankovic — just kidding! What fun would that be? "Weird" is actually closer to "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" than it is to musical biopics like Baz Luhrmann's "Elvis." The film's narrative is almost completely fabricated, from Yankovic's tragic backstory as a closet accordion player to his showdown with Pablo Escobar. Some true aspects did make the final cut, like how Yankovic got his first accordion. Other elements were used for comedic effect, like Weird Al's songs, which were played in their originally recorded versions. "One of the many musical biopic tropes we wanted to take the piss out of was the clearly different voice coming out of the actor's head," Daniel Radcliffe explained to The Tonight Show.

Yankovic himself confirmed that a few parts of the biopic are accurate. "There are little nuggets of truth sprinkled throughout the biopic," Yankovic admitted. However, his whirlwind romance with Madonna was not one of them.

Madonna and Yankovic never came close to dating in real life. "Our relationship was platonic," the musician admitted. "The only time I actually met her was in 1985. I talked to her for maybe 45 seconds backstage." Their relationship in the "Weird" universe lasts a lot longer than 45 seconds, however. In fact, Madonna becomes a crucial part of Al's life — and his death.

An homage to Carrie gives Weird a campy send-off

In the "Weird" universe, Al dies in 1985, the same year he met Madonna in real life. A mid-credits scene shows a grief-stricken Madonna placing a rose on his grave. Just like the end of "Carrie," Al's hand pops out of the ground, and tries to drag Madonna down with him. This scene in "Weird" is similar to Brian De Palma's classic on more than just a surface level. Al's assassination at the award show mirrors the scene in "Carrie" where the titular protagonist wins prom queen and is showered in pig's blood. Of course, Madonna played a much bigger hand in Al's death than Sue played in Carrie's.


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Sunday, November 6, 2022 9:51 AM CDT
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Friday, November 4, 2022
TELEGRAPH CRITIC ON RUSSO BROS' DEPRESSING STATE OF THE ART
WONDERS WHAT HAPPENED TO THEIR SENSE OF EUROPEAN CINEMA, THEIR ADMIRATION FOR DE PALMA & FRIEDKIN, ETC., ETC.
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/eastwest55a.jpg

At The Telegraph, film critic Robbie Collin responds to a Variety article about the Russo brothers ("We're futurists") from earlier this week:
Seven years ago in a caravan in west Berlin, Joe and Anthony Russo were waxing lyrical to me about Francois Truffaut. I was visiting the set of Captain America: Civil War, and the brothers – two sitcom-circuit veterans who’d been hand-picked to direct the previous Captain America film by Marvel boss Kevin Feige – were keen to stress their cinephile credentials.

Their current venture, Joe stressed, was “very influenced by a lot of European cinema. Truffaut is our favourite director. Shoot the Piano Player is probably our favourite movie.”

“We love absurdism, but especially when it’s married to a sense of realism and drama,” added Anthony, adding that they’d also been guided by their admiration for William Friedkin and Brian De Palma, while The Godfather was a Christmas staple at their house. A few years later while doing press for Avengers: Endgame, they were hymning Michelangelo Antonioni, telling Indiewire that the psychological charge of that film’s backdrops had been influenced by the Italian’s 1964 existential masterpiece Red Desert.

How much Truffaut and Antonioni are actually detectable in All-Star Smashy Bang Boom 4 is up for discussion, but even so, it’s hard not to love this sort of interview gambit. At the very least, it’s humanising – it proves the subjects aren’t automatons or cynics, and that their ideas started life in a special place.

There’s quite some distance between these sunny exchanges and the blood-freezing horror of the brothers’ conversation with Variety published earlier this week. Here we learned that cinema in its current form is in terminal decline, the future of screen performance is AI-powered deepfakes, and the Hollywood musical de nos jours is Guy Ritchie riffing on TikTok.

“We’re futurists,” Anthony told the magazine, while Joe detailed a filmmaking philosophy that involved “stretch[ing] the limits of IP” – that is, intellectual property, which means pre-existing characters and franchises. In terms of one of their forthcoming projects – Guy Ritchie’s live-action remake of Disney’s Hercules, which the Russos are producing – that means taking a creative cue from TikTok dances, as opposed to the 1930s screwball romances which influenced the original 1997 animation, by John Musker and Ron Clements.

Will this have the crowds jigging in the aisles? Who cares? Generation Z “don’t have the same emotional connection to watching things in a theatre,” they went on, suggesting the theatrical business peaked with their Avengers films: “It will never happen again,” Joe predicted, before describing an apparently desirable scenario in which audiences at home can interrupt actors mid-flow – or rather their digitally conscious CG doppelgängers – to ask them for behind-the-scenes tidbits.

I’m not suggesting the Avengers: Endgame directors’ prophecies won’t come to pass, but they’re infinitely more depressing than anything Thanos ever did. Bizarrely heedless, too. You might imagine that two of the men behind the second and fifth most commercially successful films of all time might recognise the enduring value of the communal film-watching experience. But no. Apparently that’s on the way out, with the art-house scene bound for extinction first (presumably the same art-house scene on which Everything Everywhere All At Once, produced by Messrs J and A Russo, just made $100 million worldwide).

Clearly in Hollywood such talk sounds desperately innovative, since every studio with money to burn is currently setting light to wheelbarrows of the stuff at the Russos’ feet. In addition to Hercules for Disney, they’re working on a sequel to The Gray Man and a sci-fi blockbuster called The Electric State for Netflix; and for Amazon, a multi-strand spy serial called Citadel with spin-off seasons made in Italy and India, as well as a series-length reboot of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

But to these ears, it just sounds like jadedness – perhaps tinged with guilt over the way their Avengers films made the theatrical side of the business so much more homogenised and risk-averse. It’s also hard to square with the reality of the Russos’ own post-Marvel work to date. Were Cherry and The Gray Man bold steps into the cinematic unknown? Because they looked respectively more like an unpersuasive Oscar grab and an off-brand Mission: Impossible, both built primarily to plug gaps in streaming services’ slates.

It’s worth contrasting the Russos’ take on the cinema of tomorrow with that of James Cameron, whose visionary status is beyond dispute. In the latest round of interviews for his forthcoming Avatar sequel, the 68-year-old director was asked to explain the rationale behind shooting its many subaquatic sequences in an old-fashioned water tank, when the scenes could have easily been mocked up on dry land.

“Oh, I don’t know, maybe that it looks good?” he snorted. “Come on! You want it to look like the people are underwater, so they need to be underwater. It’s not some gigantic leap — if you were making a western, you’d be out learning how to ride a horse.”

For Cameron, the future of film still strongly resembles its past, albeit in pin-sharp, VFX-draped 3D. What the Russos are describing, on the other hand, sounds like the movie equivalent of Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse: a sideshow that’s mistaken itself for a replacement. I mean, who knows? Perhaps there really is a sizeable market for a Tom Cruise hologram you can badger from your sofa. But it won’t be anyone’s new version of seeing Top Gun: Maverick in IMAX.



Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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