THE FILM WAS CHOSEN FOR DISCUSSION BY GUEST ARJUN HUNDAL - PODCAST HOSTED BY ERIC PEACOCK
Post Comment | Permalink | Share This Post
Hello and welcome to the unofficial Brian De Palma website.
Here is the latest news:
a la Mod:
work that "pushes
us to reexamine our
relationship to images
and their consumption,
not only ethically
De Palma on Domino
"It was not recut.
I was not involved
in the ADR, the
sessions, the final
mix or the color
timing of the
Donaggio's full score
for Domino online
rapport at work
next novel is Terry
De Palma developing
Catch And Kill,
"a horror movie
based on real things
that have happened
in the news"
of De Palma's films
edited by Carl Rodrigue
review of Keesey book
Brian De Palma
De Palma interviewed
in Paris 2002
De Palma discusses
The Black Dahlia 2006
The Master Of Suspense
and the Infield
The Filmmaker Who
Came In From The Cold
Jim Emerson on
Greetings & Hi, Mom!
Scarface: Make Way
For The Bad Guy
Official Web Site
Welcome to the
Offices of Death Records
Hope Lies at
24 Frames Per Second
And it was actually at his dinner table that I met Brian De Palma, and I went home, and I stayed up that night, all night into the next day, and I was reviewing all of De Palma's films. And I called Paula [Wagner] and I called Sherry—remember that? The next day—and later we offered him Mission: Impossible. And he was the first director of the first film that we ever produced.
Here's MUBI's take on Body Double:
One of the most divisive auteurs out there takes the floor! The sublime and the sleazy hold hands in his work, intertwining to a point in which they become masterfully indiscernible. Body Double is pure De Palma joy: both irreverent and reverential, a sexy, stylish, twisted ode to Hitchcock.
Mom was the most important person in my life. When I was 10, in 1976, she took my brother and me to see ‘Obsession,’ a movie that wasn’t especially age-appropriate. It’s about a guy whose wife and daughter are kidnapped. The rescue fails and his wife dies. The guy believes his daughter died, too, but she disappeared. Years later, he meets and falls in love with a young woman who looks just like his wife. It turns out to be his daughter. Yeah, I know. A fast track to therapy. But I was more captivated by the film’s acting and storytelling, so much so that I knew then what I wanted to do with my life.
In the interview portion of the article, Irvin tells Bonilla that the book, the first in a series of memoirs, covers his life/career up until the time he met Brian De Palma. "And then, for 2024," Irvin says, "I will do the next volume of my ongoing series of memoir books, this one covering my De Palma years."
In the interview, Irvin talks about why the journal he had writen for the magazine Cinefantastique was never published:
Why did you stop publishing Bizarre?
The reason I stopped doing it, is that I ended up meeting Brian De Palma and had to start getting serious about figuring out a career in film. Between my junior and senior years of college, I ended up going to work for De Palma on The Fury. After I graduated, I became a full-time employee of De Palma as his assistant.
Then, I associated produced and was a production manager for his film Home Movies with Kirk Douglas and Nancy Allen. That's what launched my career.
When did you decide to step away from magazine writing to focus on your film career?
I became friends with Fred Clark, who was the editor of Cinefantastique. When I was working on The Fury, I got an assignment from Fred to write a journal on the making of The Fury. I still wanted to be writing for about horror movies and stay in that world.
Fred promised that The Fury would be on the cover. So, I interviewed everybody on the film from Kirk Douglas down, including composer John Williams and the editor Paul Hirsch, who edited Star Wars. Then, Fred saw Star Wars. He decided to bump our issue, so he could do a double issue on Star Wars. Okay, fine. Star Wars deserved it.
In the meantime, I insisted to Fred that, “You've got to run my interview with Amy Irving. You can't wait, because she talks about for the very first time ever, her relationship with Steven Spielberg. They were living together and it had not been revealed anywhere. I have this huge scoop.
What was the result?
So, Fred assured me that he’d run the Amy interview in the Star Wars issue, as kind of a teaser for the big coming issue on The Fury. Then, The Fury opens. Fred sees it, hates it, and decides that he is not going to put it on the cover. He cuts my journal on the making of it in half and on the cover, he instead puts the composer Hans Salter, who composed some of the scores of the 1940s Universal horror movies. I love Salter and his scores, but could there be anything less commercial? It felt like such a slap.
De Palma was not happy, and I was embarrassed. It made me look bad. I felt really bad about the whole thing.
It put such a bad taste in my mouth, that when I got asked to do articles on other films that I was working on, like Dressed to Kill, I just ended up turning it down. It kind of extinguished my wanting to continue to be a journalist in that realm. Instead, I focused on being a director.
These characters make Marlowe personal for Jordan. He’s a protégé of visionary director John Boorman, and movies are central to his imagination. Hawks’s cherished melodrama of mid-20th-century sexual intrigue is reinterpreted in terms of the history and nomenclature of film noir; revealing not only the characters’ erotic drives but their sin-sick environment. This ’30s Hollywood is morally dubious, centered on the clash of power, sex, and other vices, seen through Jordan’s literary-cinematic sensibility. Clare, evoking the Old World county and a tarnished version of Saint Clare of Assisi, confers the genre’s ultimate, poetic judgment on the story’s villain: “Because he was far too young for me. Because he was evil incarnate. Because he was already dead.”
Jordan’s Catholic-manqué Marlowe is incomprehensible without prior knowledge of Hawks’s convoluted film (symbolized by Marlowe pursuing a victim-suspect through a labyrinthine mausoleum) and, especially, Altman’s Chandler update (starring Elliot Gould) and Polanski’s mix of both Chandler and Dashiell Hammett archetypes. So this is an art film. Jordan does literary puns on Christopher Marlowe and profane riffs on James Joyce. (Dorothy knew Joyce and recalls him as a literary thief and “syphilitic little man.”) This isn’t disrespect so much as a leveling. Marlowe is Jordan’s look at cultural cynicism, linking Joyce to Chandler and to the many Dr. Faustuses of Hollywood itself.
All Jordan can do is reexamine that heritage — sordid intimations of incest, Evelyn Mulwray’s blasted eye socket in Chinatown, Gould-Marlowe’s betrayed friendships — to signify our cultural decay more effectively than Damien Chazelle did in Babylon. Jordan arrives at the same moral juncture that Brian De Palma faced in The Black Dahlia, finding the essence of modern miasma in the delusions of Hollywood’s past. For an ethnic-focused film artist like Jordan, this would include new Hollywood’s race and gender hypocrisy.
Trendy, vapid Chazelle sentimentalized a token Mexican immigrant in Babylon, but Jordan and waggish co-screenwriter William Monahan, who scripted Scorsese’s The Departed, plays with ethnicity (those Irish mugs, Lange’s perfect brogue, and Cumming’s perfect Southern twang). Daring the same black/Irish tease of The Crying Game and Mona Lisa, Jordan effects a coup, inserting the experience of black chauffeur Cedric (British-Nigerian actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Oz’s Adebisi), evoking both Native Son and A Raisin in the Sun. A burly outsider like Marlowe, Cedric knows the inside track, summing up Hollywood as “a city of motorized secrets.”
At first, the rapprochement of Marlowe and Cedric resembles the gimmicky violent bonding of Butch and Marsellus in Pulp Fiction. But because Jordan is a serious cinema aesthete, their brotherhood pinpoints Hollywood’s moral hypocrisy as it moved into World War II propaganda. Cedric looks at the backlot fakery of Nazi book-burning and daringly opines: “Still, that Leni Riefenstahl; she made some good movies, though.” It may be the ultimate clapback at modern Hollywood’s corrupt double standard. Detective Jordan rescues movie mythology.
In a The Hollywood Reporter obituary, Chris Koseluk writes that Belzer found "further fame as the cynical but stalwart detective John Munch on Homicide: Life on the Street and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." Koseluk continues:
Belzer died early Sunday at his home in Bozouls in southwest France, writer Bill Scheft, a longtime friend of the actor, told The Hollywood Reporter. “He had lots of health issues, and his last words were, ‘Fuck you, motherfucker,'” Scheft said.
Belzer made his film debut in the hilarious The Groove Tube (1974), warmed up audiences in the early days of Saturday Night Live and famously was put to sleep by Hulk Hogan.
Munch made his first appearance in 1993 on the first episode of Homicide and his last in 2016 on Law & Order: SVU. In between those two NBC dramas, Belzer played the detective on eight other series, and his hold on the character lasted longer than James Arness’ on Gunsmoke and Kelsey Grammer’s on Cheers and Frasier.
Certainly one of the most memorable cops in TV history, Munch — based on a real-life Baltimore detective — was a highly intelligent, doggedly diligent investigator who believed in conspiracy theories, distrusted the system and pursued justice through a jaded eye. He’d often resort to dry, acerbic wisecracks to make his point: “I’m a homicide detective. The only time I wonder why is when they tell me the truth,” went a typical Munch retort.
In a 2016 interview for the website The Interviews: An Oral History of Television, Homicide executive producer Barry Levinson recalled listening to Belzer on The Howard Stern Show and liking him for Munch. “We were looking at some other actors, and when I heard him, I said, ‘Why don’t we find out about Richard Belzer?” Levinson said. “I like the rhythm of the way he talks. And that’s how that happened.”
When Richard Belzer did stand-up on “Late Night With David Letterman,” he always entered to the opening riffs of “Start Me Up” by the Rolling Stones, dancing his way onstage, looking like the life of the party in dark shades. Once he arrived at the microphone, he made a point of engaging with the studio audience in a way you rarely saw on television. More than once, he asked, “You in a good mood?” and waited for a cheer. Then his tone shifted: “Prove it.”
With that opening pivot, he turned the relationship between comedian and crowd upside-down. The expectation was now on the people in the seats: Impress me.
Belzer, who died Sunday, is best known for his performances as a detective on TV, but his acting career was built on a signature persona in comedy, as a master of seductive crowd work who set the template for the MC in the early days of the comedy club. Often in jackets and shirts buttoned low, he cut a stylish image, spiky and louche. He could charm with the best of them, but unlike many performers, he didn’t come off as desperate for your approval. He understood that one of the peculiar things about comedy is that the line between irritation and ingratiation could easily blur.
Throughout the 1970s, he ran the show at the buzziest of the New York clubs: Catch a Rising Star, stand-up’s answer to Studio 54. He roasted the crowds while warming them up, quizzing them about where they were from and what they did, establishing rapport and dominance. Long before Dave Chappelle dropped the mic at the end of shows, Belzer regularly did so.
If the crowd wasn’t laughing, he could lay on a guilt trip: “Could you be a little more quiet? Because I’m going to have a nervous breakdown.” And if someone heckled, look out. According to a story from the comic Jonathan Katz, one night someone in the crowd yelled, “Nice jacket!” and Belzer responded that he got it on sale in his mother’s vagina.
Although Carrie's story has been told and retold via various lenses and assumes many tints, the heart of the story remains the same: It is about a girl who experiences the horrors of isolation, where her very existence becomes a quiet act of rebellion. When pushed too far, she brings about literal carnage and bloodbath, too broken to care whether those trapped inside are cruel or kind-hearted.
Stephen King, who endorses Brian De Palma's adaptation of his novel, has stated on many occasions that he considers the film's ending more fitting than that of the novel. Those familiar with the novel would agree that while King's ending is suited solely for the purposes of novelistic storytelling, De Palma's highly-stylized, aesthetically-brilliant rendition of the ending works better from a purely cinematic point of view. Carrie's breakdown in the novel is much more deliberate and brutal, as she consciously seeks out her classmates to torment them and makes sure that they are beyond outside help. In fact, the school alone is not the target of her incandescent rage: Carrie makes sure that the whole town suffers her wrath, as she detonates the main gas lines and hunts down her tormentors. As she is on the verge of dying, Sue approaches her, and the two connect on a visceral, psychic level before Carrie breathes her last.
In contrast, De Palma utilizes his telltale split screens to unravel a saga of blood-soaked revenge that seems more guttural and trance-induced than consistently deliberate. Yes, Carrie shuts her classmates inside the burning building, but she does not seek out her bullies after her telekinetic floodgates open. Instead, she is forced to explode the car her tormentors are in to safeguard herself, and has no choice but to crucify Margaret after she stabs her daughter in the back. Heartbroken and betrayed by her own kin, Carrie screams in agony, allowing her power to consume and destroy, and she dies after her house topples under the weight of her trauma-fueled angst.
However, the crowning glory of De Palma's ending is the dream sequence that is the stuff of nightmares: the bloodied hand of a dead girl rising from the grave.
Unlike Stephen King's ending, which settles for an imperfect, yet compassionate mirroring between two complex female characters, Brian De Palma's ending lingers on rage, which comes back to haunt from beyond the grave. Sue, who alternates between bully and sympathizer, ultimately finds herself identifying with Carrie's pain. However, there is no closure for either Carrie or Sue — while Carrie is crushed under the weight of her own pain, Sue is compelled to carry the guilt of Carrie's death, which is now a source of horror to her. Even the way in which Carrie reaches out to Sue in the dream is aggressive, as her hand shoots up from her grave and grabs Sue, pulling her inside the crypt.
Although Sue is not nearly as cruel as the other bullies at school, she ends up shouldering the guilt of Carrie's tragic demise, which fuels bottomless grief and the fear of suffering a similar fate. Despite De Palma's sympathetic portrayal of Carrie, this shock ending paints her as a creature of terror in Sue's mind, who will now be forever haunted by the specter of a girl wronged. Within the ambit of genre tropes and the film's gothic overtones, this sequence works remarkably well, jolting audiences out of a latent state of complacency or the misconception that the worst is truly over.
If anything, this ending is more tragic. Despite attempts by those like Sue to understand and comfort Carrie, she breathes her last feeling cornered and betrayed by the world. Her rage, linked to her personhood and autonomy, momentarily paves the way to liberation in the form of vengeance, but is too much to sustain her. In the end, she remains condemned, even in death, only understood in surreal fragments through channeled feminine grief, and rage.
Filmmaker: It’s interesting that Freddie seems to be getting away from the camera, yet is being tracked by it. I was wondering how you want to establish her relationship to the camera in the film.
Chou: It’s totally something that we built into the film, the dance between the camera and the actress. That reflects the dynamic of the character, her constant refusal to be labeled. I decided not to use [over the] shoulder camera. I thought it would be a bit too tautological for filming an agitated character. On the contrary, [we filmed] still shots on her face, but also larger shots with a lot of people. The best example is when she is first meeting her biological family at dinner; there are seven people around the table and it’s like she’s surrounded by people, but it’s only still shots. Then suddenly you can feel [the agitation] because, 20 minutes before, you got to know the fire inside of her and now you can read in her eyes. Even though she doesn’t move, she looks clearly petrified, but something is boiling in her. And I found the tension between [the] stillness of the shots and [the] politeness of the setting reflects a relationship in a traditional Korean family and the boiling fire inside her.
When she feels pressured by people, she starts to become her own filmmaker: transforming other people in the room into extra actors and secondary roles, deciding places and remapping, like at the bar in the beginning. It’s interesting, because it’s someone in the new territory. She’s remapping the restaurant, deciding which people are going to sit and everything like that. She’s not in control in a place that she doesn’t know anything about, so here’s an attempt at taking control. Interestingly, the way of taking control is to create chaos. I was very inspired by Nadav Lapid’s Synonyms and Brian De Palma’s Carlito’s Way for that chaos.
Another scene that’s interesting is the scene where Freddie dances and I’m on the track. I can do this camera movement, the camera can pan a bit and I myself can do the zoom. But then at the same time, I don’t control what she’s actually doing, she’s doing whatever she wants. It becomes this struggle between the two of us.
Filmmaker: Your film has a really interesting relationship to music, in addition to choreography. You have the beginning club scene where it’s on that track and you’re watching Freddie dance. Then you have the other underground clubs and singing at her birthday, which is even more pumped up and fantastical in a way, and even more chaotic. Then you have the last moment where she’s at the piano and she’s completely alone.
Chou: There is an evolution where I play with the cultural identity of the music, as well. At the beginning, you will hear a lot of old vintage Korean songs that symbolize a past Freddie can feel from the texture of the song. You can feel it comes from the ’70s, but because she doesn’t speak the language, it already embodies a contradiction of knowing it’s from the past, but also having no idea what it is. It’s your past that you don’t know. I felt that the first time I went to Cambodia and listened to old Cambodian music.
In the second part, much more of the music is as if she had emancipated herself from her past and decided in some kind of extreme, positive gesture to say, “Hey, you reject me from Korea. I assure you I can be Korean, but I’m not having any link with my family whatsoever. I killed your heritage and now I’m a Korean girl with a Korean boyfriend, a drug fiend and everything.” So the music is very contemporary German techno music, also contemporary Korean electronic music that was composed for the film and shows her state of mind.
The third part is more silence, as if she needed less music. Because music for many is some kind of refuge, for her it is some kind of place that she can jump into and find comfort in when she feels too much pressure. And that’s basically the dancing scene in the first act, when the music is suddenly put on and she dances and there are no other characters in that shot. She dances as if she was inventing her own space, time and temporality. In the last part, there is less music, as if maybe she was ready to listen.
Filmmaker: As opposed to escaping.
Chou: The music becomes not only a refuge, but also a place to express feelings and sentiments when language doesn’t allow you to do it. At the very end, as you say, I think that it is something different. She is ready to be active. This journey may be full of loneliness—being totally alone with herself—so that she can start to feel it’s time to play her own melody.