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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

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De Palma a la Mod

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Saturday, May 13, 2023

Le Forum des images in Paris is currently in the midst of "Portrait de Los Angeles," a program of films (and classes/events about the films) set in Los Angeles. Brian De Palma's Body Double and The Black Dahlia are both included, as are works such as Chinatown, The Big Lebowski, Boogie Nights, Mulholland Drive, Once Upon A Time...in Hollywood, Heat, American Gigolo, The Canyons, Licorice Pizza, Sunset Boulevard, Pleasure, Shampoo, The Long Goodbye, and many more.

All three of David Robert Mitchell's features to date - The Myth Of The American Sleepover, It Follows, and Under The Silver Lake - are also part of the series, as he was there last week for the retrospective of his films, and also presnted a Masterclass and "carte blanche," for which he chose two of the series' other films to speak about about. With help from Google Translate, here's what Télérama's Augustin Pietron-Locatelli writes:

On the occasion of its “Portrait of Los Angeles” cycle, the Forum des images received filmmaker David Robert Mitchell. Inhabited by the works of those who had filmed it before him, he superbly staged the city of angels in “Under the Silver Lake”.

He has seen films about it, and his own are full of references: in three feature films, David Robert Mitchell proves his mastery of a wide range of American genres. A reinterpretation of the teen movie, The Myth of the American Sleepover (2010, unreleased in France), his idea of Hitchcockian horror with It Follows in 2014, and then Under the Silver Lake, a hallucinated film noir, a little shunned during its passage in Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival 2018.

Originally from the suburbs of Detroit, "DRM" only landed in Los Angeles for its third feature film. But he knows by heart the classics that depict the city: he is well suited to draw a portrait of them. When we meet the American filmmaker before his first session presentation at the Forum des images in Paris, we discover a man who certainly does not look 48 years old. And who doesn't seem to have come down from an eleven-hour plane flight either... For his carte blanche, clever, he presents two films "which are dear to him", but which, above all, he evokes the air of nothing in his own feature films.

First, The Long Goodbye (1973), which was already haunting the balconies of posh villas… “Is the atmosphere of Robert Altman’s film reflected in mine? A little, but it's the fault of this sacred city, and of all these films about Los Angeles which overwhelm my subconscious," warns the filmmaker. Then, Body Double (1984), by Brian De Palma: “The most “Los Angeles” film of all time. I loved rediscovering it once I settled in California. It’s a brilliant work on voyeurism, strange and full of changes of tone…”

He is reminded that there is a lot of Body Double in Under the Silver Lake. He nods laughing. And continues: “Of course, just like there is a lot of Rear Window in Body Double. I love Hitchcock's films but De Palma takes his language, his techniques, pieces of history and transforms them, takes them further." Mitchell's third film also has this “patchwork” side crossed by references and reinterpretations; the filiation is essential, but we will not make him say that he prefers De Palma. “Do you realize what that would entail? I like both of them. I'm not very good at these rankings that sanctify."

David Robert Mitchell has his own relationship to idols. He cites them willingly, but denies doing so for free. “I am for the 'light' reference, which does not exist for the wink but to share a feeling, which the film arouses in me." Its main character, Sam (Andrew Garfield), for example, pursues a young blonde woman, Sarah (Riley Keough), who cannot fail to recall Naomi Watts in a certain David Lynch film on a certain Californian road. "Mulholland Drive? I built myself by idolizing Lynch. I wouldn't want to imitate him, especially not. I love him so much it must be accidental. Because I had already been told that after The Myth, for which I was thinking of everything but that. I'm probably inhabited… " In fact, Sarah evokes a completely different reference: the young woman speaks to Sam from a swimming pool, "the" scene of Something's Got to Give, the unfinished film - and cult - by George Cukor with Marilyn Monroe.

The director is aiming for the same thing with Los Angeles, and continues to reflect images that we already know, while opening new windows. It's the look of a Michigan native who grew up "super far from movies, while loving them very much". He also shot his first two feature films in Detroit. Then moved to Los Angeles, a city he struggled to “apprehend” at first, to tell himself that he was at home there. But Under the Silver Lake passes for a “Backpacker's Guide” created by a native who knows the city like the back of his hand, with places that we have not seen elsewhere. He tempers: “I arrived in LA with images in mind, seen in all the films all my life. Suddenly, I can reevaluate them by comparing them with the real thing. But the reality presented in the film no longer really exists. It is a set of micro-events, images and clues from my experience arriving in town."

All the same, we come across immutable landmarks. How many times have we filmed the Griffith Park observatory since Rebel Without A Cause? The references even start to intertwine, like in La La Land, where the characters watch the Nicholas Ray movie and then race down the hill. David Robert Mitchell also stages it in his feature film on Los Angeles. Sam performs a sketch with the statue of James Dean in front of the observatory. When asked what the intensity of the place is, "DRM" sketches a smile. "I wish I had a more interesting answer, a director's answer, let's say... But I love this place, and the films that have exploited it. Just going there is magic. In Under the Silver Lake, I think I scrutinized the statue with my director's gaze. But in real life, it's not even a movie anymore. It's just the whole soul of LA in one place!"

Posted by Geoff at 11:50 PM CDT
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Friday, May 12, 2023

Brian De Palma's Body Double is one of the films included in the series Pillow Stalk: Erotic Thrillers After Midnite at The Coolidge Theatre in Brookline, Massachusetts. WBUR's Sean Burns writes about the program:
[Karina] Longworth’s pick from the Coolidge program — and my favorite of the films as well — is Brian De Palma’s blissfully irreverent 1984 “Body Double.” Screening this Friday, May 12, the movie stars Bill Maher-lookalike Craig Wasson as a pervy peeping tom duped into witnessing a murder. Directing with his middle fingers held aloft, De Palma answers critics who dismissed him as an Alfred Hitchcock copycat by mashing up “Vertigo” with “Rear Window” and casting the daughter (Melanie Griffith) of one of Hitch’s most iconic iceberg blondes (Tippi Hedren) as a porn star named Holly Body. Griffith’s hugely charismatic performance revived the former teen starlet’s flagging movie career, while De Palma’s flights of puckish virtuosity taunted his detractors with hilariously Freudian sights like the killer wielding a massive power drill at crotch level. We talk a lot about movies that couldn’t get made today, but when it comes to “Body Double,” Longworth admits, “it’s pretty incredible it ever got made.”

She’s higher than I am on "Cat People." Screening on May 20, Paul Schrader’s 1982 remake of Jacques Tourneur’s 1942 classic stars Nastassja Kinski and Malcolm McDowell as siblings descended from an ancient race that transforms into hungry sex panthers whenever they get too horny. Despite some sumptuous visuals by production designer Ferdinando Scarfiotti and a hypnotic Giorgio Moroder score, the central metaphor has always struck me as a little too heavy-handed, even by Schrader standards. For a superior supernatural New Orleans-set neo-noir, I suggest Alan Parker's "Angel Heart," which plays on May 19. The film famously got Lisa Bonet fired from “The Cosby Show” for playing a Voodoo priestess who sacrifices chickens while seducing Mickey Rourke’s doomed private dick. (Any movie that so enraged a moral authority like Bill Cosby must be doing something right.)

For further Hitchcock sacrilege — and sacrilege in general — Ken Russell’s 1984 “Crimes of Passion” (screening May 26) stars Kathleen Turner as a buttoned-down businesswoman who puts on a platinum wig and moonlights as a sex worker named China Blue in a skanky, downtown no-tell motel. In this garish, neon underworld, she fends off the affections of a perverted priest played by the “Psycho” himself, Anthony Perkins, in his most repellent performance, which is saying something. Amid such company, Barbet Schroeder’s 1992 “Single White Female” (showing May 27) seems positively demure. It’s a sturdily-crafted, formula potboiler elevated by fine work from a much-missed Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh as her increasingly unhinged new BFF. My guess is it’s included in the program just for an unforgettable scene in which Fonda’s fiancée Steven Weber fails to recognize which roommate he’s with until a little too late.

The erotic thriller basically took its final bow in 1998 with John McNaughton’s “Wild Things,” screening on 35mm this Saturday, May 13. Matt Dillion stars as a hunky high school guidance counselor accused by two students of sexual misconduct in this swampy Florida romp full of sordid revelations and delicious double-crosses. The bad girl turns by Denise Richards and Neve Campbell imprinted upon an entire generation of teenage boys, while Kevin Bacon lets it all hang out as a pushy, ethically queasy cop. But the film is stolen by supporting players Theresa Russell and Bill Murray, who find the sweet spots between half-kidding and camp in a screenplay twisty enough that the plot is still explaining itself throughout the closing credits. “Wild Things” is so hopped up on horny tastelessness it’s almost as if the genre had nowhere left to go.

The very premise of the film is also unthinkable in today’s political climate, which is another reason you won’t see movies like these being made anymore. “I think there is a lot of fear in the culture right now about dealing with all of the issues surrounding sex between men and women,” Longworth says. “We’ve never come close to resolving most of the imbalances and inequalities that charge a lot of these movies of the ‘80s and ‘90s and I think we’re uncomfortable with the lack of progress. I also think that the best of these movies are somewhat ambiguous as to what constitutes ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and ‘normal’ or ‘not normal,’ which is true to human nature but doesn’t jibe with a strain in our culture that wants to pretend that anything they don’t approve of or don’t feel comfortable with doesn’t exist.” Indeed, such stories are probably more palatable to modern audiences with the safe distance of being appreciated as artifacts from Hollywood's problematic past.

But hey, we’ll always have “Body Double.”

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Thursday, May 11, 2023

An awesome opening credits montage in Matt Johnson's BlackBerry, released in theaters today, includes a quick clip from Apple's 1996 Mission: Impossible tie-in commercial for its PowerBook. "Vintage-style footage reigns over the opening credits of BlackBerry," Josh at the Movies writes in his review, "taking us back to the earliest days of the internet as the rise of cellular devices was just beginning to spread into the mainstream in a major way."

At Wired, John Semley writes:

In this movie, Johnson gives the pop culture geek a fairer, more forgiving, shake. He wanted to create what he calls “the anti-Big Bang Theory,” referring to the wildly popular syndicated sitcom that he regards “detestable.” “It’s no coincidence,” he points out, “that the guys who invented the first tele-communicator were all Star Trek fanatics.”

BlackBerry’s opening credits montage situates the device as part of a longer pop culture lineage, running from Star Trek to Blade Runner, Inspector Gadget, and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The sequence draws a direct line from the pop culture obsessives of the past and the technologists of the present. As Johnson puts it, “I don’t think the nerds of the '90s get enough credit for inventing the future.”

BlackBerry foregrounds this industriousness. In an early, legitimately thrilling sequence, a group of pale, bespectacled engineers frantically jury-rig a smartphone prototype out of a calculator, a TV remote, a Nintendo Game Boy, and a vintage Speak & Spell. Waking up at his desk the next morning in a puddle of his own drool, Doug declares, “I had a dream we were rich.” And then, citing Dune, “And sometimes my dreams occur exactly as I dreamt them.”


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Wednesday, May 10, 2023

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Tuesday, May 9, 2023

UPROXX's Mike Ryan asks Emilio Estevez about his role in Brian De Palma's Mission: Impossible:
Before we run out of time, there’s something I’ve always wanted to ask you. When I saw Mission: Impossible in theaters, I was so excited you were in it, and obviously you don’t last very long in that movie. I’ve always wondered if that was a friendly payback for killing Tom Cruise in his brief Young Guns cameo.

No, it wasn’t that at all. The way Tom had explained it, he said, “Look, I’d love for you to come and join the cast. The whole opening number where everybody gets wiped out, it’s going to be a lot of well-known people and all of them are going to go uncredited and it’s really going to set up the level of peril for Ethan.” And I said, “I’m in. You don’t have to ask me twice, I’m in.” And then afterwards, obviously, the movie’s a giant hit.

Right. They’re still making them. There’s one coming out this year.

Still making them! Tom was like, we were doing a run the year after that and he says, “Man, we made such a mistake killing you off.”

I agree with Tom.

He and John Woo were trying to figure out a way to bring me back for part two, but it just didn’t make sense. I thought you could have because with all the masks, right?

Right… That would’ve been tough though. I mean, you got smashed by an elevator. That’s a tough one to recover from in the hospital.

[Laughs] Right.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Monday, May 8, 2023

At Film Cred, Rob Jones looks at "Filmmaking as a Matter of Life and Death" in Brian De Palma's Blow Out:
There arguably isn’t another director who has built as prolific a filmography off the back of simply his love for cinema as Brian De Palma has. His reverence for Alfred Hitchcock is well documented and observed through Blow Out, but the plethora of pastiches in the film include nods to Stanley Kubrick, Howard Hawks, and Sergei Eisenstein amongst many others. It’s been argued extensively that De Palma’s style of chopping up what he loves and reforming it to present something new, almost as if it’s a theatrical equivalent to a hot dog, is something that works at the expense of his true personality coming through in his films. I contend that’s not really true. The approach itself is as much a reflection of his personality as any other director’s could be said to be and through Blow Out we can see just how much the arts of cinema and filmmaking mean to De Palma. It’s quite literally a matter of life and death.

Blow Out is a film that wears its influences proudly. Jack, played by John Travolta, is a sound guy who works for a studio producing schlocky horror movies on what looks like a perpetually repopulated assembly line. It starts with a POV shot that, despite its satirical nature, could have easily been stolen from John Carpenter’s editing suite. In fact, it’s so close to the opening of Halloween that it retroactively makes it funny. The point of view camera shot, the detached suburban house stalked through its windows, and the eventual reveal of the killer are all essentially satirical interpretations of it. Beyond that, though, its narrative structure has often been compared to Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up and Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation, while its pacing and the ways it builds tension are clearly drawn from Hitchcock’s work. Where it differs from them all and becomes its own, independent, piece of art is in what importance it gives to one particular element of it all.

The central theme between the three is that the man in the middle of them all is a loner with a specialty. He’s so enamoured with his work that he regularly finds himself isolated and pushing others away as a result of it. In Blow-Up, he’s a photographer, whereas in The Conversation he’s a surveillance expert. In Blow Out, he’s deeply embedded in the film industry.

Read the rest at Film Cred.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Saturday, May 6, 2023

From a Ludwig blog post by Paola Tusa:
The first couch potato was named and affectionately shamed in Pasadena, California, in 1976, when Tom Iacino, an illustrator and designer, made a phone call to his TV loving friend Robert Armstrong, a cartoonist. According to an interview Iacino gave to Bon Appétit in 2014, Armstrong’s girlfriend picked up, and Iacino asked, “Hey, is the couch potato there?”. When she looked over and actually found him on the couch, she cracked up. Armstrong soon asked his friend to trademark that unplanned, brilliant coinage, and in 1979 they took part in an alternative parade, the Doo Dah Parade, with a floating showing a floor with a couple of couches on it. In 1983, Armstrong and the writer Jack Mingo published “The Official Couch Potato Handbook,” a sort of ironic hymn to slouching proudly in front of the TV, taking a stand against Californian healthy lifestyle in the 70s. Armstrong even created a newsletter called The Tuber's Voice that went into many editions.

Posted by Geoff at 4:14 PM CDT
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Friday, May 5, 2023

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Thursday, May 4, 2023
"Perversions and Diversions"

Posted by Geoff at 11:47 PM CDT
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Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Anticipating the May 12 Apple TV+ premiere of the documentary Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, The Globe And Mail's Barry Hertz interviewed Fox himself. "The new film is constructed in a uniquely engaging fashion," Hertz writes in the article's introduction, "with director Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) and editor Michael Harte mixing footage of Fox’s on-screen work with scripted re-enactments to tell the story of one Canadian kid’s rise to the top of the Hollywood ecosystem, and how being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease changed his life – for the better. Narrated by Fox – who is the only “talking head” featured here, another rejection of the typical celebrity biopic format – Still is as honest as it is adventurous."

Here's an excerpt from the interview portion:

In the new film, there’s one point where you’re talking about seeing your face on magazine covers and you say, ‘it was never a true reflection of myself.’ Is this doc, then, a true reflection of yourself?

True as it could be under the circumstances. As a young man, I was pretty naïve but I always knew when I was selling a movie or enjoying the attention. This was different. When I met Davis and he told me how much my books affected him, I agreed to go on a journey with him and see where it goes. I had no agenda. I didn’t hope it would respark my film career or anything like that. I just wanted to see how a guy who thought in a similar way, and had a great track record of filmmaking, would treat this material.

How closely involved were you in Davis’s decision to construct this film in such a unique fashion?

We talked about it early on, but it’s his genre. I remember my lawyers calling me up and saying, “Here’s how it works: you’ll get three strikes to take major plot points out,” and all these other measures to defend myself against the filmmaker. But I didn’t want to do that. I just wanted to make a movie. So I waived all those provisions and I’m glad I did because god forbid I would have gone in and said don’t use my source material as part of the narrative. I thought that was so clever.

I love watching that scene where it’s talking about my relationship with [wife Tracy Pollan] and it’s footage from Bright Lights, Big City. It reminded me how lucky I’ve been in my career to work with everyone I have. Brian De Palma, Paul Schrader. It was so nice to look back and not only reflect on what was going on in my life at that point, but remember all the people I’ve met along the way.

I suppose that anybody who takes time to do this kind of exercise will find some regrets, faults in their decisions. But on the opposite end, I’m curious whether there is anything you initially felt was a mistake, a bad time in your life, that was actually much better than you initially felt, in retrospect?

I’m a goofy, optimistic guy, so all the things that have happened to me were great. I seriously wouldn’t change a thing. The difficulties I had with my early diagnosis, turning to alcohol, getting rid of that to save my marriage – as difficult and painful as all that was, I wouldn’t be the same person I am today without it, and my family wouldn’t be the same family without it. So I don’t question things, but I do celebrate them.

Some of the things in the film, people might wince at. But I was going, yeah, cool. Like that moment of me laying on the floor looking up at Tracy and finding her bored with my alcoholism and realizing that was the moment I needed to change. Yeah, I made the right decision coming out of that. The great thing about this film is the moments with my family. The way we were laughing. You can’t fake that laughter. I laugh so much it’s all you can do to get my face to not stretch beyond its skull and blow off.

Well there’s an image for a movie. Actually, it sounds pulled from The Frighteners.

Peter Jackson, I got him between masterpieces.

Hey, The Frighteners is a favourite film of mine.

I wouldn’t joke about it if I didn’t believe that, too. He’s a great filmmaker. I first met him in Toronto, when Heavenly Creatures premiered at the festival. I flew up to see it, and then agreed to make that film.

There is at one point in this doc where Davis says that you get close to the tough stuff and then dart away. How hard did he push you – and how hard did you push yourself – to get to the more difficult material?

Davis did a brilliant thing, in that he put the camera 15 feet away from where I’m sitting, back up against the wall, and he left it on. I forgot it was there. The painful stuff, when I’m looking vacant and drooling in that blank, concrete Parkinson’s stare, I couldn’t have manufactured that for him. He had the filmmaker’s instinct to know how and where to get that. I didn’t see footage until the end, so I didn’t even know what he was up to. He wasn’t going to do talking heads – the one talking head was just mine, even though my head can barely talk some time. If I had any prenegotiated control over the material, it would have been a disaster.

I would, though, like to see a sequel where it’s just talking heads of collaborators you’ve worked with.

They gave me an Academy Award this year for my humanitarian work, which was great because Woody Harrelson presented it. He gets up and starts telling these stories and I thought, oh Jesus. Someone once said to me that we were “eighties famous,” and that’s true. We had a different perspective. There were none of these things [points to his smartphone]. It was just hardcore.

Woody starts to tell this story about when we were in Thailand, and I took them through the jungle. It was me, Woody and [hockey player] Cam Neely, and we found this little hut. It was Deliverance in Southeast Asia. This kid comes out who I had met before, and I gave him this big bag of baht, and he took me to this concrete wall and we jumped over. That’s when Woody and Cam realized there were like 35 cobras in there. I just sat there until they picked up a cobra. Its blood was drained and mixed with Thai whiskey and we drank it. “Brotherhood of the snake,” or something goofy like that. Madness. If we got a whole group of my friends and told these stories, we’d never get out of there.

I think you just found the title of your next doc, though. Michael J. Fox: Brotherhood of the Snake.

Or Fox Eats Snake.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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