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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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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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Friday, January 6, 2023
NICOLAS CAGE WOULD LOVE A 'SNAKE EYES' SEQUEL
"BRIAN'S ONE OF OUR GREAT GENIUSES IN CINEMA - I'D LOVE TO MAKE A MOVIE WITH HIM"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/snakeeyesproducedbydepalma.jpg

In an interview posted today, Forbes' Simon Thompson asks Nicolas Cage about revisiting Snake Eyes:
Thompson: 2023 marks the 25th anniversary of Snake Eyes. You get asked about sequels to a handful of your movies but have you ever thought about returning to Rick Santoro post-jail?

Cage: Heck, man. I didn't know that. Thank you for reminding me. I don't usually watch my old movies, but I might watch that one because there was a lot there that has not been uncovered yet that could be rediscovered. To answer your question, Yeah. I would work with Brian De Palma again on a sequel to that in a heartbeat. I think it was a good character. Brian's one of our great geniuses in cinema; I'd love to make a movie with him.

Thompson: It could also work as a limited series.

Cage: You could do that too. My 17-year-old has got me watching immersive television, and he got me into Breaking Bad. Oh my God, they are so good in that show. Immersive television is a unique genre because you have so much more time to play out scenes. You're not boxed into a timeline. You can have these scenes be half the episode if you want. It's quite something.

"NO-NET PRODUCTIONS"

Meanwhile, over at /Film, Jeremy Smith also couldn't resist asking Cage about Snake Eyes:
We're running out of time, but I wanted to say one of my very favorite performances of yours is in "Snake Eyes" with Brian De Palma. You guys had such great chemistry together as filmmaker and star. How do you remember that going, and was there ever a possibility ... is there a possibility you might hook back up?

You know something? I've been trying to work with Brian ever since I made that movie. We had a great script about Howard Hughes that David Koepp wrote. I'd like to revisit that. But I just found out that it's the 23rd anniversary of "Snake Eyes." I don't watch my old movies, but I'm compelled to watch that one again because I had a great time working with Brian, because of his guts and his ability to do these huge takes. We had, like, five-minute cans of film that would swish pan, and we had to act it all out and rehearse it all day. And if you missed one line or flubbed up with a prop or anything, you had to go back to the beginning and do it all over again. He called it "no-net productions," and it was stimulating. There was an adrenaline to that. I would love to do a sequel to "Snake Eyes," and with Brian De Palma. He's one of my favorite directors.

Yeah, the tracking shot is unreal.

Unreal.

You enjoyed that as an actor?

Well, yeah. I mean, it's scary. It's daunting. But yeah, I mean, you want to prep and get ready for the challenge. We're all trying to get that opening that Orson Welles had in "Touch of Evil," and I think Brian was trying to throw his hat in the ring with that. We all want to homage what we love, and he's genuinely passionate about Hitchcock and Welles.


Posted by Geoff at 5:04 PM CST
Updated: Friday, January 6, 2023 11:35 PM CST
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Thursday, January 5, 2023
VIDEO COMPILATION - TARANTINO ON DE PALMA
"I'D GO SEE THE FIRST SHOW, FIRST DAY - NO ONE COULD GO WITH ME - IT WAS LIKE A RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE"

Thanks to No Film School's Jason Hellerman for posting about the video above. In his post, Hellerman writes:
These engaging 27 minutes really pull apart an appreciation for a director. I actually think you can see a lot of De Palma in Tarantino's work, especially with the violence. He's always willing to take it one step further into the macabre. 

Another thing I think Tarantino highlights that few people talk about is De Palma's social satire. We mention Bonfire of the Vanities, but really every De Palma movie has something to say about society. 

What sets this interview apart, I think, is that Tarantino is gushing about De Palma, but in his book, Cinema Speculation, which comes out close to 30 years after a lot of these interviews, is that Tarantino is a little more hardline on De Palma.

It's easy to see Tarantino still loves De Palma. The book has a chapter dedicated to Sisters and another dedicated to a "what if" scenario talking about if he hadn't passed Taxi Driver to Scorsese and stayed on to direct it himself. 

He also lists his favorite De Palma movies, which include Dressed to Kill, Carrie, Hi Mom, Blow Out, and Scarface

These clips are all about De Palma's art and point of view. He's commercial but also willing to push back on expectations. He's exploring art in very complicated ways, but also trying to continue to work. I think De Palma may have always understood he needed to be commercial to get Hollywood budgets, but always brought a piece of himself to the screen. It's what makes him one of the most interesting directors to talk about. 

And I think what draws Tarantino to him.

Nevertheless, this is a really intelligent discussion of a director, and I think unlocks a lot of directing lessons for the audience.


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
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Sunday, January 1, 2023
L.A. TIMES ON THE IMPACT OF DE PALMA ON BAUMBACH
BONNIE JOHNSON: "WATCHING WHITE NOISE... THE PAIRING BEGINS TO MAKE SENSE"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/whitenoise8.jpg

In the "Books" section of the Los Angeles Times Friday, Bonnie Johnson examines White Noise from page to screen:
Late in Don DeLillo’s classic novel “White Noise,” a scholarly friend discussing cinematic car crashes tells the story’s protagonist, “Look past the violence, Jack. There is a wonderful brimming spirit of innocence and fun.” In the book, it’s one of many absurd platitudes the characters use to make sense of a nonsensical world. In Noah Baumbach’s adaptation, it’s part of the opening scene: The scholar (Murray Siskind, played by Don Cheadle) screens a reel of stunt crashes for his students, and his comments set the tone for the film.

The violence of the novel is there — man-made disaster, attempted murder, Nazism — but for perhaps the first time in a Baumbach film, so is a pervasive spirit of innocence and fun, along with an eye-popping visual flair he’s kept concealed for far too long. Whereas the book built up a kind of fatalistic resignation, Baumbach’s version of “White Noise” is genuinely exuberant. Case in point: In a closing supermarket scene, DeLillo described shoppers as “aimless and haunted.” In the film, the same moment ends in an eight-minute dance number incorporating the expansive cast.

Yet framing this as a dichotomy glosses over the complexity of the source material. At the heart of the novel was always a bubbling domestic comedy, and not of the bitter, dysfunctional kind we’ve seen in previous Baumbach films. Jack Gladney (Adam Driver) and his wife, Babette (Greta Gerwig), truly care for each other; the marriage glows with tenderness. Baumbach runs with their children’s antic energy and lets it suffuse other parts of his film, animating even the story’s more difficult third part with humor and affection that reflect the book’s tone. Rather than betraying the novel’s savage critique of modern life, Baumbach’s approach illuminates DeLillo’s humanism in the director’s least cynical film since “Kicking and Screaming” — and easily the most daring he’s made.

Like the novel, “White Noise” the film contains three distinct parts. “Waves and Radiation” introduces us to the Gladney family and Jack’s academic work in his first-of-its-kind Hitler studies department. “The Airborne Toxic Event” tracks an industrial chemical leakage that throws the family’s life into crisis. “Dylarama,” taking up the second half of both book and film, documents Babette’s clandestine participation in an unsanctioned medical trial.

Remarkably, the intellectual satire, environmental disaster tale and noir coalesce more smoothly in Baumbach’s movie than they did in the novel. A shadowy rogue pharmaceutical figure who dominates the story’s third part now drifts like an apparition through its first and second, rather than disorienting with a late entrance. More significantly, Baumbach makes a bold and divergent choice to bring Babette into the climactic confrontation and its fallout. Her presence adds a valuable grace note, contributing to the film’s surprising optimism.

It was Brian De Palma, not a purveyor of innocent fun, who suggested Baumbach consider an adaptation to try things Baumbach’s own scripts wouldn’t allow. The latter filmmaker co-directed a documentary about De Palma in 2016, and at the time, they seemed an unlikely duo: the elder an auteur of the lurid and gruesome (originals such as “Blow Out,” adaptations including “Carrie”), the younger firmly planted in the confines of grown-up mumblecore (“Greenberg,” “Frances Ha”).

Watching “White Noise,” though, the pairing begins to make sense. Who knew Baumbach had it in him to choreograph intricate crowd scenes, crane-shoot crashing and combusting trains or stage a payback shooting at a sleazy motel bathed in neon-lit De Palma shades? Certainly no one familiar with Baumbach’s filmography, in which the most striking image to date was of two silent people in an empty subway car.

Despite its long-assumed unadaptability, DeLillo’s story contains a number of memorable visual moments, and Baumbach takes advantage. A first-act set piece takes place in a classroom so impossibly twee it seems like a tribute to past collaborator Wes Anderson. But what starts off as a composition of colorblock and Fair Isle takes on sudden urgency in Baumbach’s hands. He splices in not only relevant found footage but also the toxic event’s precipitating accident, about which the book barely speculates. In the process he draws a line from mass hysteria to human carelessness, the results of which can be similarly catastrophic. And isn’t that the theme of these last few years?

The emergency response to the Airborne Toxic Event is the centerpiece of both book and film, and Baumbach brings it to life with flourishes of his own: Seussian air-purifier trucks; hazmat suits a little more fabulous than they need to be (credit to Ann Roth, who costumed De Palma’s “Dressed to Kill”). DeLillo wrote that “The toxic event had released a spirit of imagination,” and we tour the evacuee camp to behold mythmaking and conspiracy-theorizing in progress. Rather than despair over obvious present-day parallels, however, Baumbach limits fake news to folk songs and puppet shows. During the madcap flight from the camp, he sends Jack on an off-tackle run for a lost toy.

While the third act still plunges us into more chilling waters, Baumbach guides us with familiar signifiers. A chemistry lab looks like it belongs to Bunsen and Beaker. A visit to the A&P packs in maximal advertising language. And in an impressive coup, German legend Barbara Sukowa presides at the German hospital where Jack lands near the story’s end (now with Babette in tow). As Sister Hermann Marie, Sukowa brings to bear the weight of past roles when lecturing on grief and magical thinking: philosopher Hannah Arendt, mystic Hildegard von Bingen, prostitutes and militants. Attending nuns push not gurneys but shopping carts, leavening the tragic with the mundane. By the closing dance sequence, Jack and Babette have faced their worst fears and emerged unified. For its trouble, the town earns its evident joy.


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
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Thursday, December 29, 2022
2 MORE REVIEWS OF BAUMBACH'S 'WHITE NOISE'
"IT'S FORGIVING NATURE IS ODDLY COMFORTING"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/whitenoiseposter.jpg

Despite all their self-mythologisation, filmmakers are still ultimately mortal," states The Independent's Clarisse Loughrey at the beginning of her review of White Noise. "So it’d be entirely forgivable if they’d spent the past few years preoccupied with death. Why else would Noah Baumbach have been so drawn to make White Noise? This is, after all, an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s supposedly “unfilmable” novel that positions fear of the grave as the driving force behind every American ideal, from station wagons to Elvis Presley.

"DeLillo’s language is severe and enchantingly precise; every individual in his world is a philosopher lecturing to no one but themselves. His book is set in the Eighties and concerns a miniaturised apocalypse triggered by a cloud of chemicals – not an obvious fit, then, for Baumbach, whose films (Marriage Story; The Meyerowitz Stories) largely concern the most intricate neuroses of modern-day, self-branded intellectuals. But there is nothing more self-centred, perhaps, than a fear of death. And even the director’s most likeable characters, such as Greta Gerwig’s freewheeling protagonist of Frances Ha, suffer from acute narcissism. The effect here is that his White Noise comes across far more sentimentally than DeLillo likely ever intended. Yet its forgiving nature is oddly comforting."

After a couple of paragraphs about the film's story, Loughrey continues:

Baumbach has omitted one of the most famous passages of DeLillo’s book, in which his characters visit the “Most Photographed Barn in America”. The author uses it to theorise that our reality is now so documented and commodified that it ceases to exist as an independent state. We’re never looking at the barn as it is, but only at the barn as it’s been photographed. Rather than try and clumsily translate the passage onto film, Baumbach instead finds his own way to integrate that idea into the very language of his adaptation. White Noise, therefore, swings wildly between cinematic allusions – there are car chases, hints of Spielbergian wonderment, touches of David Lynch’s dream logic, and Brian De Palma’s lurid thrillers. It ends with a musical dance sequence set to LCD Soundsystem.

Much like the “Most Photographed Barn in America”, these references create distance. They help us face the mortal terrors of White Noise with a little more ease. The same could be said of the Gladney’s familiar rituals, from their supermarket trips to their daily verbal pile-ups. But Baumbach also suggests these might be nothing but harmful delusions, ultimately making us blind to fate. The spectacle of society may be our only comfort, but could it also herald our ultimate doom?


At Premiere, Frédéric Foubert writes that "Noah Baumbach explodes the framework of his cinema" -
Baumbach kneads the themes of DeLillo: the disintegration of the family by media saturation, the anguish of death, the appetite of the society of the spectacle for chaos and destruction (a thought for Nope). Serious, therefore, but treated in the tone of a savage farce.

The comic power and poetic fury of the source material allow Baumbach to burst the seams of his cinema. We think at times of the azimuted comedies of David O. Russell: the same taste for the ruptures of tone, the toupee actors, the "zinzinerie" cartoon. Where we remember that Noah Baumbach is also the co-screenwriter of Madagascar 3: Kisses from Europe… The film, which begins as an intellectual comedy, turns halfway through to an indie variation on Spielberg's War of the Worlds ( yes, yes), before playing it 80s thriller, with visual quotes from Brian De Palma in support. It's a lot, probably too much, for a single film, but Baumbach here portrays a man who counts the days he has left to live, and it's as if he himself counted the films what remains for him to do. And that he took advantage of it to shoot several at the same time, put in thrillers and SF adventures that he has never done, and will probably never do. Some will probably find it a bit indigestible. The rest will nod and smile during the fun end credits, punctuated by an unreleased LCD Soundsystem song, "New Rumba Body". Noah Baumbach asked musician James Murphy to write "a joyous song about death". That's also a good way to describe the movie.


Posted by Geoff at 10:43 PM CST
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Wednesday, December 28, 2022
ARMOND WHITE ON 'DECISION TO LEAVE'' & 'FEMME FATALE'
SAYS DE PALMA'S FILM IS "WONDERFULLY COMPLEX"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/ffmontagedetail2.jpg

At National Review, critic Armond White brings up Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale in his review of Park Chan-wook's Decision To Leave:
American reviewers who praise Decision to Leave apparently welcome its cynicism and exoticism as something missing from U.S. movies (the same reason Spike Lee did an inferior remake of Park’s masochistic underworld thriller Oldboy). Those reviewers who prefer Decision to Leave over Brian De Palma’s wonderfully complex Femme Fatale (2002) — a film that moved from social transgression to sexual maneuvering to spiritual redemption — show a taste for Millennial decadence. Decision to Leave’s glossy aesthetics are corrupt and sinister.

Posted by Geoff at 9:16 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, December 28, 2022 9:18 PM CST
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Tuesday, December 27, 2022
TIM BURTON PAYS TRIBUTE TO 'CARRIE' WITH 'WEDNESDAY'
"IN 1976, I WENT TO A HIGH-SCHOOL PROM - IT WAS THE YEAR 'CARRIE' CAME OUT..."
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/wednesdayprom245.jpg

After reading a pilot script written by showrunners Miles Millar and Alfred Gough, Tim Burton quickly decided to join the production of the Netflix series Wednesday, which stars Jenna Ortega in the title role. Burton is a hands-on executive producer of the series, and directed the first four episodes. The fourth episode, "Woe What a Night," pays clear tribute to Brian De Palma's 1976 adaptation of Stephen King's Carrie. An article by Olly Richards in the November 2022 issue of Empire magazine begins with Burton himself bringing up De Palma's film:
"In 1976, I went to a high-school prom," says Tim Burton, with a tone far from nostalgic. "It was the year Carrie came out. I felt like a male Carrie at that prom. I felt that feeling of having to be there but not being part of it." He gives a big, rueful smile. "They don't leave you, those feelings, as much as you want them to go."

We tell this little story not to make your day a bit sadder, but to illustrate just why Burton decided to direct Wednesday, his first TV project. Despite years of fans clamouring for Burton - cinema's patron saint of the macabre - to make an Addams Family project of some sort, he has never really been interested. It was only when presented with the chance to tell the story of a lonely teenager who hates school and doesn't understand her parents that he felt he'd found something that click-clicked. "You know," he grins, "Wednesday and I have the same worldview."



Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Thursday, December 29, 2022 10:46 PM CST
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Monday, December 26, 2022
'SCARFACE' POSTER IN RIAN JOHNSON'S 'GLASS ONION'
VIA A TWEET POSTED YESTERDAY BY Sinemalogi
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/glassonion1.jpg

Previously:
Rian Johnson: On the set of The Last Jedi, "I would say, 'We're gonna De Palma this moment.'"

Posted by Geoff at 5:44 PM CST
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Friday, December 23, 2022
BRANDON MAGGART RECALLS CUT SCENE FROM DTK
"BY ITSELF, THE CUT SCENE WAS A GOOD SCENE, BUT IT DID NOT BELONG IN THE FILM"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/cleveland1.jpg

Fiona Apple would have been about two years old at the time that her father, Brandon Maggart, filmed a couple of scenes as "Cleveland Sam" in Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill. Maggart had been in the midst of filming his leading role in Lewis Jackson's You Better Watch Out, an Edward R. Pressman production. According to Wikipedia, the toy factory featured in that film "was a real toy factory in New Brunswick owned by Lynn Pressman, mother of the film's executive producer, Edward R. Pressman." Much to Jackson's chagrin, that film was retitled, and now is usually known as "Christmas Evil."

In his 2015 memoir Behind These Eyes Such Sweet Madness Lies (My Life On and Off the Stage), Maggart recalls taking a break from that film to work on Dressed To Kill:

I worked six weeks straight on Christmas Evil, six days a week. During that time, I had a two-day window that I used to work on the film, Dressed To Kill starring Michael Caine, Nancy Allen, and Angie Dickinson, directed by Brian De Palma. I was not in great shape for those two days, but we filmed one short scene and a second long scene with me and Nancy Allen in a hotel room. In the scene, Nancy was playing the hooker, and I was her John… a John who only wanted to talk. I wasn’t aware that the scene had not made the cut until I saw it in a theater. I had nice billing, but my on-screen time was about ten seconds. By itself, the cut scene was a good scene, but it did not belong in the film. Most of the scenes in the film were short and well-paced. Nancy lobbied to have it put back in for the European market but lost to her husband, her director, Brian De Palma.












Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
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Thursday, December 22, 2022
'OBSESSION' IS, IN A SENSE, DE PALMA'S 'MOST HITCHCOCKIAN'
BUT "IT IS ALSO THE MOST DE PALMA OF DE PALMA MOVIES," WRITES VINCE KEENAN
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/obsessionfamilydance.jpg

"Filmmakers were working in the Hitchcock style when he was operating at his peak, and they’re still doing so today," states Vince Keenan in the intro to an article posted today at CrimeReads. "Time for an appraisal of Alfred Hitchcock movies that were not directed by Alfred Hitchcock, although his spirit hangs over each and every one of them." In his "A Survey of Hitchcock Films Not Directed by Alfred Hitchcock," Keenan includes Brian De Palma's Obsession:
C’mon, you knew Brian De Palma would appear on this list. The only question is which Hitch-influenced De Palma movie to select? His filmography is studded with them, from Sisters (1973) to Femme Fatale (2002). I opted for the one that is, in a sense, the most Hitchcockian. De Palma and screenwriter Paul Schrader concocted the story for Obsession—about a widower who meets the doppelganger of his late wife—out of their admiration for Vertigo, and the film features one of the final scores by frequent Hitchcock composer Bernard Herrmann. It is also the most De Palma of De Palma movies; the plot, when all its twists are revealed, is both preposterous and deeply, deeply disturbing, yet De Palma’s technical skill—aided immeasurably by a bravura performance from Geneviève Bujold—vaults past the inconsistencies and unsavory elements to conjure an overpowering atmosphere of doomed romanticism.

Posted by Geoff at 10:15 PM CST
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Wednesday, December 21, 2022
CHLOE OKUNO TELLS VARIETY WHAT MAKES 'CARRIE' GREAT
"IT WAS SO BEAUTIFULLY & AUDACIOUSLY FILMED, A TESTAMENT TO THE BOLDNESS & VISION OF DE PALMA"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/carriehair.jpg

As one of several essays contributed by filmmakers and actors as part of Variety’s "100 Greatest Movies of All Time" package, Chloe Okuno, director of Watcher, shares a few words about Carrie, as posted at Variety earlier today:
It’s an image that is so powerful it’s now seared into our collective memory — a skinny teenage girl in a baby pink prom dress, bathed from head to toe in blood, her eyes wide with cold fury as the school burns around her. In my estimation, few films have reached the heights of Brian De Palma’s classic tale of psychic vengeance.

I can’t exactly remember the first time I saw “Carrie,” only that I was young enough for it to be one of those films that gets under your skin and stays there. It was so beautifully and audaciously filmed, a testament to the boldness and vision of De Palma, where every moment is staged with operatic style. But just as crucially, Stephen King’s story tapped into something primal in the way that all the best horror does. Carrie’s telekinesis is a cathartic expression of the intensity of her feelings — the subconscious made manifest. For a lot of young people, and most especially for a lot of young women, we might have seen something of ourselves in this story of repressed, feverish emotion. An outsider misunderstood. The rawness and cruelty of youth.

All of this is so perfectly and brilliantly captured by Sissy Spacek. Her Carrie White is deeply strange but still incredibly sympathetic, terrifying one moment and broken the next. It’s a commanding performance that meets the heightened tone of De Palma’s film, but it is still so recognizably human. There is similarly excellent work from the entire cast, from Piper Laurie’s righteously unhinged portrayal of Carrie’s religious fanatic mother to Nancy Allen’s gleefully vicious Chris Hargenson.

Carrie’s” status as a horror icon is undisputed. The vengeance she unleashes on her classmates in the prom sequence is masterful — as thrilling and horrifying today as it was in 1976. And yet, I think a large part of the resonance of De Palma’s film comes from the fact that it gave an enormous amount of power to a historically powerless archetype: a teenage girl. There are many ways to interpret “Carrie,” but ultimately, that for me is the source of its greatness.


Posted by Geoff at 10:40 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, December 21, 2022 10:46 PM CST
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