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a la Mod:

Domino is
a "disarmingly
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


Exclusive Passion

Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
Leila Rozario


AV Club Review
of Dumas book


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De Palma interviewed
in Paris 2002

De Palma discusses
The Black Dahlia 2006


De Palma Community

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of the 7th Art

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Carrie...A Fan's Site


No Harm In Charm

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The Master Of Suspense

Alfred Hitchcock Films

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a la Mod

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a la Mod

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and the Infield
Fly Rule

Movie Mags


The Filmmaker Who
Came In From The Cold

Jim Emerson on
Greetings & Hi, Mom!

Scarface: Make Way
For The Bad Guy

The Big Dive
(Blow Out)

Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
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De Palma a la Mod

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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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Sunday, April 2, 2023

Ryuichi Sakamoto, who composed the scores for Snake Eyes and Femme Fatale, died March 28 at 71, according to The Washington Post's Tim Greiving. "The death, from cancer, was announced on his website," Greiving continues, "but no further details were immediately available. He had been treated for throat cancer in 2014 and rectal cancer in 2021, and he announced in 2022 he had been diagnosed with Stage 4 of an unspecified form of cancer."

Greiving's article describes Sakamoto as "an eclectic Japanese composer who was an early leader in electronic pop music and became an acclaimed composer of film scores — notably Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence and the Oscar-winning The Last Emperor — that blended Eastern and Western cultural influences."

In the Snake Eyes section of the book Brian De Palma - Interviews with Samuel Blumenfeld and Laurent Vachaud (an English translation of which is set to be published this year by Sticking Place Books), De Palma discusses working with Sakamoto:

You worked with Ryuichi Sakamoto on the music for Snake Eyes. Did you discover him during Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence by Nagisa Ōshima?

No. It was his score for Bertolucci's Little Buddha that seduced me, I listened to it non-stop at the time. I have all his film scores at home, he did some wonderful things. He's a very imaginative guy, who works very hard. In addition, his base in New York is really close to my home. Like most composers today, Sakamoto composes everything on the computer. You go see him, and he plays the music for you, right on the computer. In the old days, you could never listen to the score before recording in the studio, especially with Bernard Herrmann, who did not let you hear anything beforehand. Today, when you enter the studio, you already know the music by heart.

Why did you use a pop song during the end credits?

I wanted this ending to bring us back to today's world, as the shot is very long, it lent itself well to a song. And then, like at the end of Casualties Of War, I wanted to suggest that after having lived through hell, the hero has redeemed himself, he has paid the price... and life goes on.

But the lyrics of the song really speak to the story of the film.

That's right, but the tone of the song is much less dark than Sakamoto's music. Through her instrumentation, she brings something very rock, very contemporary into the film, it's like a breath of fresh air. It was ideal for the ending, since it is the only daytime exterior shot of the entire film. We had to loosen it up a bit.

De Palma talks a bit more about working with Sakamoto in the Femme Fatale section of the Blumenfeld/Vachaud book (the images after the excerpt below are taken from Laurent Bouzereau's documentary footage on the Femme Fatale DVD) -

The scene of the theft of the jewels at the Cannes Film Festival is one of the most jubilant that you have filmed.

Yes, it took us three nights to block it. I had a very good steadycam operator on the film, but to get this sequence to shoot so quickly, I had to call in my favorite technician, Larry McConkey, who I brought over from the United States just for that. . I wanted this sequence to feel like a movie like Mission: Impossible, so that the break in your tone would only be greater when she meets her double and another movie begins. This eclecticism is reflected in the soundtrack.

The credits use music by Miklos Rosza for Double Indemnity by Billy Wilder, which Laure watches on television; then there is this piece by Ryuichi Sakamoto which accompanies the theft of the jewels, interrupted from time to time by the music of Patrick Doyle for Est-Ouest by Régis Wargnier, which is projected in the Palace, then there is the song by Elli Medeiros that the two girls listen to when they fuck in the toilets, and there is even the intro by Saint-Saens, taken from The Carnival of the Animals, which is the anthem of the Cannes Film Festival. Sakamoto's music for the scene that takes place in Cannes is very subtly different from Ravel's Bolero. Originally, Laure listened to the Boléro on her walkman. And Sakamoto had composed a long piece like Mission: Impossible to accompany the theft of the jewels and all the parallel actions. It was a huge job that took him months, and I was very annoyed when I told him it wasn't working. The scene speaks of a seduction, it's an erotic climate, the theft of diamonds is secondary, so that's not what the music should reflect. It's me who offered to try the Bolero that we placed as is on the images. And it worked right away. So I asked Sakamoto to compose a variation. For two reasons: that it sticks perfectly to the images and also to show that I'm going to take you somewhere else. And Sakamoto did a superb job. It's a very long piece, more than ten minutes, that you have to listen to in its entirety to grasp all its subtlety. I reused it for the end credits because I thought it was a shame to interrupt it suddenly during the scene where the jewels were stolen.

The music cuts off abruptly when the current jumps in the Palace.

Exactly. A director's worst nightmare. A power failure during the projection of your film. I had witnessed a similar incident during the presentation of Jean-Jacques Beineix's film Mortal Transfer at the Vienna festival. In the second reel! The blackout.

Sakamoto had already worked with you on Snake Eyes. He was immediately the composer you wanted for Femme Fatale?

No, initially I wanted Éric Serra, but he was already hired to compose the music for John McTiernan's Rollerball. Yet he really wanted to do it and I would have loved to have him, but I knew he couldn't do both. Then I went to see Patrick Doyle, who liked the film but couldn't compose the music in the time allowed, because he was recovering from a serious illness. The amount of work to be done was really enormous. So I was lucky that Sakamoto was available. He worked hard for four months. The fact that we know each other and have worked together has certainly helped because, for a composer who meets me for the first time, I can be a little off-putting. I demand a lot from them.

Posted by Geoff at 10:16 PM CDT
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Saturday, April 1, 2023

Posted by Geoff at 6:04 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, April 1, 2023 6:13 PM CDT
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Friday, March 31, 2023

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Thursday, March 30, 2023

"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

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

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

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

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


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

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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