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Recent Headlines
a la Mod:

Domino is
a "disarmingly
straight-forward"
work that "pushes
us to reexamine our
relationship to images
and their consumption,
not only ethically
but metaphysically"
-Collin Brinkman

De Palma on Domino
"It was not recut.
I was not involved
in the ADR, the
musical recording
sessions, the final
mix or the color
timing of the
final print."

Listen to
Donaggio's full score
for Domino online

De Palma/Lehman
rapport at work
in Snakes

De Palma/Lehman
next novel is Terry

De Palma developing
Catch And Kill,
"a horror movie
based on real things
that have happened
in the news"

Supercut video
of De Palma's films
edited by Carl Rodrigue

Washington Post
review of Keesey book

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Exclusive Passion
Interviews:

Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
Leila Rozario

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AV Club Review
of Dumas book

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De Palma interviewed
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De Palma discusses
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Entries by Topic
A note about topics: Some blog posts have more than one topic, in which case only one main topic can be chosen to represent that post. This means that some topics may have been discussed in posts labeled otherwise. For instance, a post that discusses both The Boston Stranglers and The Demolished Man may only be labeled one or the other. Please keep this in mind as you navigate this list.
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Thursday, March 30, 2023
MOVIE FINATICS RANKS TOP TEN DE PALMA FILMS
WITH SUMMARY OF THE DIRECTOR AS AUTEUR
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/depalmadirectingtravolta.jpg

"Though it’s a contentious subject," begins MovieFinatics in a "Director Series" post ranking the blogger's top ten Brian De Palma films, "I believe mainly in the auteur theory – which is a way of looking at cinema with the director as the 'author' of this work. It’s controversial because the film is one of the most notorious collaborative exercises one can get involved in. I don’t think the auteur theory disses the idea that cinema isn’t cooperative. Instead, it’s a theory that argues that a film reflects the director’s artistic vision. A movie directed by a particular filmmaker will have recognizable, recurring themes and visual cues that inform the audience who the director is. The French New Wave movement in the 60s popularized this. When you think of auteur theory, the number one director that comes to mind is Alfred Hitchcock, who the French New Wave and the Cahiers critics heavily championed. The career of Alfred Hitchcock had a significant impact on filmmaker Brian De Palma, who emerged out of the anti-war 60s with other New Hollywood figures like Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, and Paul Schrader. These filmmakers were the first generation to go to film school and study film. They would go on to redefine Hollywood cinema. Of all those filmmakers, perhaps the most underrated impact has to do with De Palma."

With that, the post delves into some background of the critical response to De Palma's work, and some of the director's themes and techniques, before a ranking of the blogger's top ten choices.


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Wednesday, March 29, 2023
A WORLD OF VISUAL CONSTRUCTIONS
A 2017 ESSAY ABOUT 'PASSION' FROM FILM FEST GENT
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/passionwideelevators55.jpg

I happened upon this intriguing essay from December of 2017, about Brian De Palma's Passion, at Film Fest Gent. Here's an English translation from Dutch, with help from Google Translate:
The fact that Brian De Palma in 'Passion' not only beckons Hitchcock but also Fritz Lang, is of course primarily due to the basic intrigue he borrowed from 'Crime d'amour' (2010), the ultimate film by the French director Alain Corneau. Corneau's admiration for Lang was already apparent in one of his first films, 'Police Python 357' (1976): a gloomy police officer driven by a Langian destiny mechanism. In it, the cop on duty (Yves Montand) conducts an investigation that must inevitably lead to his own indictment of a murder that he did not commit.

In both 'Crime d'amour' and 'Passion' there is a plot twist that also formed the premise for Lang's last American thriller, 'Beyond a Reasonable Doubt' (1956). In it, the protagonist himself fabricates the burden of proof against himself in the hope of exonerating himself with a coup de théâtre. De Palma is of course more Hitchcockian than Langian and his free remake of a French film is therefore based on Hitchcock's favorite motif of deduplication, which in 'Vertigo' (1958) was pushed to the extreme - abstract and quasi-geometrical.

'Passion' largely takes place in a Berlin advertising agency where three young she-wolves are at each other's throats, initially in a quasi-civilized way, but becoming increasingly predatory and aggressive. Women who differ greatly in ranking in the company but are completely interchangeable when it comes to gluttony, desire and greed. Initially everything revolves around the power games between blonde bitch Christine (Rachel McAdams) and her seemingly innocent, dark-haired protégée Isabelle (Noomi Rapace) to whom she gives an expensive scarf as a gift but also steals her ideas at the same time, which Isabelle hits back at. Isabelle, in turn, also has an assistant (Karoline Herfuth) who does not go unnoticed and eventually gets a bigger role in the plot twists than her initial screen time suggests.

Power, eros, humiliation and sadomasochistic strategies in the executive suite have been widely covered in Hollywood, from forties melodramas with Joan Crawford and Barbara Stanwyck to the controversial Demi Moore vehicle 'Disclosure' (1994). The environment in which the clever ladies from 'Passion' maneuver was certainly not chosen by chance: the most critical American director of his generation sees the advertising agency as the quintessence of neo-capitalist lust for power where the desire to dominate the other and thus also the taking over the identity and body of the other, takes extreme forms until one woman Persona-like transitions into the other.

Here, De Palma also makes maximum use of the shiny, reflective and transparent architecture and dynamism of the new Berlin, where an artificial high-tech visual delusion has been created on the ruins of a guilty and criminal past of double dictatorships (the filming locations are mainly situated in the former East -Berlin and the former no man's land between east and west: Frank Gehry's DZ bank, Helmut Jahn's Sony Center and the eerie-looking new building in the residential embassy district).

Above all, De Palma amuses himself with his mise en abîme of a world of visual constructions. For decades, De Palma has portrayed our world as an arena of screens in his films. In this new Berlin, the multiplication of screens as Lang prophetically announced them in the 'Dr. Mabuse' films that appear in the three periods of his German career (the silent film 'Dr. Mabuse der Spieler uit' 1921-1922; the sound film 'Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse' from 1932; the post-Hollywood film 'Die tausend Augen des Dr. Mabuse' from 1960), became reality. Everywhere there are cameras set up, there are indiscreet glances, people are spied on, recorded, eavesdropped and monitored.

The erotic thriller plot is based on a number of confrontations and exchanges on Skype, conference calls, smartphones, videos thrown on YouTube, evidence captured by surveillance cameras. The result is a destabilizing game of voyeurism and exhibitionism, often intertwined and taken over in some key scenes by the good old split screen technique, in which the screen itself is cut in half so that the choreography of the murder runs parallel (or asynchronously) with a real choreography, L'Après-Midi d'un faune.

In his previous film 'Redacted' (2007), De Palma used an even more disorienting mix of various image types to reveal different layers of subjectivity and objectivity, truth and falsehood, fact and fabrication. Here he uses this strategy for a pure style exercise. For the DePalma admirer, 'Passion' can also be enjoyed as one long walk through the fetishes, obsessions and hobbies of the director who here updates his playful erotic thrillers from the eighties and nineties ('Dressed to Kill', 'Body Double', 'Raising Cain'), complete with the comeback of his regular composer Pino Donaggio who once again delivers a teasing lyrical score.

A film also in which De Palma gives free rein to his passion to bring female beauty to the lens in the most fetishistic way. Only this happens here compared to De Palma's related thrillers in such a purified form that the film also has something skeletal, despite the sensually seductive visuals and camera movements. Exactly: like the late films of Fritz Lang.


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Tuesday, March 28, 2023
2023 - PACKED HOUSE FOR 'HI MOM!' IN PORTLAND
2013 - PACKED HOUSE FOR DE PALMA Q&A IN MANHATTAN
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/jonsell11.jpg

Flashback ten years ago to 2013 - in an introduction to a 2014 De Palma retrospective at Chicago's Doc Films, Dan Wang recalls a packed house for a Passion-related De Palma Q&A which had taken place the previous summer:

When Brian De Palma was to give a Q&A at Lincoln Center in Manhattan this summer (on the occasion of the wider release of his latest film, Passion), I asked the guy at the ticket office if he expected a long line. He doubted it. "De Palma isn't really relevant anymore," he said. I ended up sitting on the floor at the back of the hall behind a concrete pillar, despite showing up an hour and a half early; half the line was turned away.

One can see what he means. De Palma's favorite themes--dangerously erotic women, voyeurism, psychological horror--seem like the titillations of faded era. Compounding these obsessions is his insistence on an extremely smooth, controlled and virtuosic style that's hopelessly far from current anti-formalist vogues. Recent hits like Aronofsky's Black Swan (2010) and Soderbergh's Side Effects (2014) tell De Palmian stories but dress them up in camera and video production styles currently in fashion (i.e. on YouTube); hence the rejection of De Palma's importance is also the rejection of a particular, classical way of making films.

De Palma is still relevant because his films remind us of the exhuberant joy of intelligent filmmaking--of an attitude to film worlds that Godard called, in reference to Hitchcock, the "control of the universe." Even his worst films have moments that leave one gasping at their beauty; his best ones feel like a confirmation of everything movies ought to be. In this partial retrospective (De Palma has an output that sprawls in genre and ambition of some thirty films), we feature a mix of De Palmas: movies of psychological horror (Sisters, Raising Cain), gangster films (Scarface, The Untouchables, Carlito's Way), a musical (Phantom of the Paradise) and, of course, classic, pervy, Hitchcockian, joyous De Palma (Hi, Mom!, Body Double, Femme Fatale).

Let me give the final word to Pauline Kael, famed New Yorker film critic, who appraised De Palma's place in the American filmmaking pantheon this way, in the early eighties: "De Palma has sprung to the place that Altman achieved with films such as McCabe & Mrs. Miller and Nashville and that Coppola reached with the two Godfather movies--that is, to the place where genre is transcended and what we're moved by is an artist's vision."


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, March 29, 2023 10:18 PM CDT
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Monday, March 27, 2023
'REDACTED' TOPS SCREENRANT RADICAL WAR MOVIES LIST
FULL METAL JACKET & PLATOON ROUND OUT THE TOP 3
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/screenrantwar.jpg

ScreenRant's Cathal Gunning considers Brian De Palma's Redacted as one of "7 War Movies That Radically Changed The Genre" -
Directed by Casualties of War’s Brian De Palma, 2007’s under-seen Redacted was an intense, unforgettable Iraq war movie. One of the earliest found-footage war movies, Redacted tells a fictionalized version of the Mahmudiyah rape and killings, a war crime that involved a group of US soldiers sexually assaulting a 14-year-old child before murdering her and her family. Redacted’s unsparing adaptation of this incident led to boycotts and bad reviews, although Redacted’s revolutionary use of the found footage format did earn praise from critical luminaries such as Roger Ebert and John Pilger. Redacted brought war movies into the twenty-first century with a style that made war’s horrors all the more palpably real.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, March 28, 2023 8:02 AM CDT
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Sunday, March 26, 2023
'DRAWING FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF DE PALMA'
RAY PRIDE ON "JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 4"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/snakeeyesfrenzy.jpg

At New City Film, Ray Pride reviews Chad Stahelski's John Wick: Chapter 4:
Dark times for John Wick: a dark palette that begins in teal and vertigris explores the expressive limits of widescreen frames and settings where decor is peeled away, a neutral backdrop where sumptuous settings are replaced by foreground frenzy. With unapologetic formalism, here’s a plenitude of bumptious bodily dispatch, geometric spatter and roseate headshots.

It’s heavy stuff: Keanu’s killer smile was left many killer confrontations ago. Wick’s weary and Reeves excels at the syllabification of single syllables, or sepulchral intonations sufficing as line readings. One of the longest lines almost requires fresh forms of annotation to capture the nuance Reeves can wreak from near-nonsense, “I’m, going, to, kill, them all.” (And the richly inhabited single-word sentences: “Pistols,” he says.)

Grace lies in the assembled teams’ assurance: the team onscreen and the team behind the camera. Hot lead, honor and haberdashery: style burns.

There is a passage a couple of hours in where the movie slows ever so slightly—dare it become boring?—but it is only in preparation for a set of deliriously extended long takes, drawing from the University of De Palma. Inside a dark, dirty chateau in some dark, dirty stretch of Paris, the camera observes from on high the first floor of the building, and goes berserk, at first suggestive of De Palma’s stately, deliberate speed of a God’s-eye shot in so many of his movies, such as “Snake Eyes” and “Femme Fatale,” but with the glib glide of a robot, as if from the flick of a wrist from a mechanical controller.

Yet almost immediately, its amok rapidity betrays a wry human hand with the explosive doings beneath the camera’s eye: concussive, incendiary detonations from a brute shotgun light up Wick’s ranks of featureless adversaries, furniture and wallpaper and devils burst into flame. The crane glides, sprawls, measures the space for what seems minutes on end, another stuntman detonates, the camera’s angel gaze charts another room, another, another functionary dispatched. The cumulative man-hours to realize this result must measure in the thousands.


Cinematographer Dan Laustsen is interviewed by The Wrap's Scott Mendelson:
There’s a sequence that is basically conceived as one take where it’s an overhead shot of John Wick going from room to room shooting people.
We shot it in a studio we built in Germany. It’s shot as one take with all the light coming from outside the set. It was one of those sequences where Chad said what he wanted to do and everyone said it was impossible. We did a spider cam shot and the visual effects department helped. It’s one crane shot and one spider cam shot where we are starting on the stairs and flying around.

How many tries did it take you?
We did eight or ten takes. The light must be outside the set. We see the whole set. That’s the challenge when your shots are wide and the entire set is in view.


Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, March 26, 2023 11:59 PM CDT
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Saturday, March 25, 2023
LANA DEL REY GOES CARLITO'S WAY ON NEW ALBUM
"WHEN I'M VIOLENT, IT'S CARLITO'S WAY" SHE SINGS ON CLOSING TRACK, 'TACO TRUCK'

Lyrics:

Met my boyfriend down at the taco truck
Pass me my vape, I'm feelin' sick, I need to take a puff
Imagine if we actually gave a fuck
Wouldn't that be somethin' to talk about for us?
Caribbean Blue in sweater weather, I'm falling into you
Although it seems I've gotten better, I can be violent too

Oh, that's why they call me Lanita
When I get down I'm Bonita

Don't come find me in Reseda
I'll go crazy
Read my gold chain, says "Lanita"
When I'm violent, it's Carlito's Way
Blood on my feet, on the street
I'm dancin' crazy

Spin it 'til you whip it into white cream, baby
Print it into black and white pages, don't faze me
Before you talk, let me stop what you're saying
I know, I know, I know that you hate me


Posted by Geoff at 1:38 AM CDT
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Friday, March 24, 2023
TWEET - 'WHITEWASH' BOOK IN 'GREETINGS'
THE REPORT ON THE WARREN REPORT BY HAROLD WEISBERG
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/whitewash1.jpg

Earlier this week, Real Books in Films tweeted the image above, from Brian De Palma's 1968 film Greetings, along with images of the front and back of the book being held to the camera by Garret Graham, Whitewash: The Report on the Warren Report by Harold Weisberg:


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Thursday, March 23, 2023
ROLF SAXON RETURNING FOR 8th 'MISSION' FILM, 2024
WILLIAM DONLOE RETURNS? CHRISTOPHER McQUARRIE SHARES THE NEWS ON INSTAGRAM
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/rolfreturns.jpg

Christopher McQuarrie shared some casting news for Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part Two, which is currently in production for a planned 2024 release. At the tail end, he shared a photo of Rolf Saxon, who played William Donloe in Brian De Palma's 1996 film. Drew Taylor at The Wrap is ready for it:
A legacy character is returning to the “Mission: Impossible” franchise and it’s probably not who you’d expect.

On social media, writer/director Christopher McQuarrie just announced that Rolf Saxon, the actor who played unlucky CIA agent William Donloe in Brian De Palma’s 1996 masterpiece “Mission: Impossible” will be returning for the eighth film, “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part Two” (due out in the summer of 2024).

If, for some reason, you don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of the franchise, in the first movie Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team, then comprised of Luther (Ving Rhames), Krieger (Jean Reno) and Claire (Emmanuele Béart), stage an audacious break-in at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. This involves sneaking into the “black vault,” an ultra-secure CIA database overseen by William Donloe, an analyst at the agency. It’s Donloe’s vault that Hunt infiltrates by suspending himself from the ceiling, in what is arguably the most memorable sequence from the original movie – and maybe the entire franchise.

When IMF director Kittridge (Henry Czerny, who will also be returning for the sequels) finds out about the heist, he contemplates Donloe’s fate before deciding: “I want him manning a radar tower in Alaska by the end of the day; just mail him his clothes.” Considering McQuarrie and other members of the cast and crew have been sharing photos of an icy tundra, it begs the question – has he been in Alaska all this time? And what does Ethan and his current band of spies want with Donloe today?


Posted by Geoff at 5:42 PM CDT
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Wednesday, March 22, 2023
ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE CINEMAS SCHEDULE 2023 'APRILCINO'
KICKING OFF WITH SCARFACE & CARLITO'S WAY
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/aprilcino2.jpg

"This month is all about two things – 4/20 and Al Pacino," begins Jake Salter on today's news item at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. In the second paragraph, Salter continues:
Ahh, spring. There’s just something about the flowers blooming and the sun shining that makes us want to watch Tony Montana introduce an army of assassins to his little friend. If you feel the same, then join us for a nice mug of Aprilcino, our month-long celebration of one Alfredo James Pacino. Aside from SCARFACE, we’ll be screening Pacino classics like CARLITO’S WAY, DOG DAY AFTERNOON, SEA OF LOVE, CRUISING, and yes, even JACK & JILL for all you Dunkaccino (RIP) lovers.

Under the heading, "Beginning April 1st," Salter writes of Scarface, the first film in the Aprilcino series:
A bit of cocaine-dusted brilliance from director Brian De Palma that spawned a million posters on dorm room walls, we’re kicking off Aprilcino with one of Al Pacino’s most iconic, swaggering performances.

And then "Beginning April 7th," for Carlito's Way, Salter writes:
The second team-up between director Brian De Palma and star Al Pacino, following 1983's SCARFACE, invariably acts as a perfect companion. Pacino’s Carlito Brigante strives to live a better life away from drugs and violence after getting out of prison, but a crooked lawyer (Sean Penn) and an up-and-coming gangster (John Leguizamo) have other ideas. As the man said (in a different movie), “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”


Posted by Geoff at 6:59 PM CDT
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Tuesday, March 21, 2023
'NEAR-GLEEFUL DISDAIN FOR REALITY'
WILLAMETTE WEEK'S CHANCE SOLEM-PFEIFER ON DE PALMA'S 'HI, MOM!'
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/jonoutthewindow55.jpg

A 35mm print of Brian De Palma's Hi, Mom! will screen next week at the Hollywood Theatre in Portland, Oregon. According to the screening description for March 28,, "The Grindhouse Film Festival presents the only known 35mm print of this overlooked 1970 Brian De Palma masterpiece!" Willamette Week's Chance Solem-Pfeifer highlights the film in a column about what to see this upcoming week at Portland’s repertory theaters:
In the earliest work of any storied filmmaker, you’ll likely glimpse the raw elements of masterpieces to come. But rarely are those nascent films so brazenly unrefined that the audience is treated to arguably greater extremes than what the later movies offer.

So it is with Brian De Palma’s iconoclastic Greenwich Village beginnings, especially Hi, Mom!, a satire of media obsession and radicalism-as-fashion. An eerily fresh-faced Robert De Niro (still pre-Mean Streets) stars as an erotic filmmaker who peeps endlessly on his neighbors before planning his move in front of the camera.

Many of De Palma’s trademarks are present: the unabashed Hitchcock iterating (Rear Window in this case), the self-consciously voyeuristic camera, holding up the filmed image as the ultimate instrument of perverse arousal. But Hi, Mom! also toys with sitcom hyperbole, on-the-street journalism and bracingly committed satire wherein performance artists (many of them white) try to simulate “the Black experience” for unsuspecting New Yorkers.

It’s both a critique and a comedic experiment—to the point of near-gleeful disdain for reality. De Palma certainly gained skill, balance and the familiar comforts of genre in all his classics to come, but rarely got his Robert Downey Sr. freak on quite this way again.


Posted by Geoff at 11:32 PM CDT
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