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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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« September 2023 »
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Interviews...

De Palma interviewed
in Paris 2002

De Palma discusses
The Black Dahlia 2006


Enthusiasms...

De Palma Community

The Virtuoso
of the 7th Art

The De Palma Touch

The Swan Archives

Carrie...A Fan's Site

Phantompalooza

No Harm In Charm

Paul Schrader

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Fly Rule

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Directorama

The Filmmaker Who
Came In From The Cold

Jim Emerson on
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Scarface: Make Way
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The Big Dive
(Blow Out)

Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
Official Web Site

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Offices of Death Records

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Kubrick on the
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italkyoubored

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De Palma a la Mod
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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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Saturday, September 16, 2023
OVERLOOKED 'OBSESSION' LEAVES NEW VIEWER REELING
HAD DISMISSED AS "COPY-CAT, SECOND-HAND VERSION OF VERTIGO - OH, I WAS SO VERY, VERY WRONG"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/obsession3255.jpg

At The Film Bee Reviews, filmbee89 is currently watching select films from the 1970s. Earlier this week, one of those films was Brian De Palma's Obsession, "a film that most casual cinephiles have properly overlooked," filmbee89 writes in the introduction. "In fact," the Film Bee continues, "I wasn’t aware of the film myself, until I was introduced to it by the guys over at At the Flicks. I had always considered myself somewhat as a De Palma fan, but I had dismissed Obsession as simply a copy cat, second-hand version of Vertigo. Oh, I was so very, very wrong."

In the following passage, filmbee89 delves into a couple of key moments between technique, score, editing, and performance:

Fast forward to 1975, and Courtland is still very much obsessed with his late wife and often visits a monument he has had built in her memory, a replica of the church (the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte) in Florence, Italy, where the two of them first met. To show the transition of time, De Palma’s cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond and Paul Hirsch (who frequently collaborated with the director), pan the camera across from Courtland in 1950 then across to the monument and back to Courtland in 1975. Coupled with Bernard Herrmann‘s beautiful but haunting score and the sound of the howling wind, De Palma manages to capture Courtland’s feelings of sorrow, loss and regret.

Courtland’s business partner Robert LaSalle (John Lithgow) manages to convince the widower to accompany him on a work trip to Florence. While there, Courtland revisits the church and finds a young woman named Sandra (Bujold) who resembles his late wife. Courtland is very much taken aback by Sandra’s appearance and begins to court her. In a touching scene, Sandra asks Courtland what happened to his wife, and he ‘admits’ that he killed her. Much has been said about Robertson’s performance, but his deadpan delivery helps to reflect how ‘zombie-like’ and ‘out-of-it’ his character is.


Later in the post, filmbee89 gets into the film's ending, as well as box office and critical reception:
Reading up on the final third act proposed by Schrader, I can’t help but think that it would have been a complicated and convoluted third act that ultimately would have completely ruined the emotional impact of the film’s conclusion. (For those interested in reading Schrader’s full three-act script, it was released as part of the Arrow video Blu-ray in 2011).

The ending we do receive is gut wrenching and heart-breaking, so much so, that it reduced me to tears. Bujold’s performance in the film’s end scene is so impactful that you’re left reeling once the credits start rolling. She successfully manages to encapsulates the fragile mental condition of her character, and we feel her sense of pain and longing to be be loved unconditionally.

There are a lot of positive aspects to “Obsession” aside from the stunning performance by Bujold. Firstly, the film’s score is magnificent. After the film had been completed, Herrman declared it as the finest film in his musical career. He manages to capture the emotional state of both Courtland and Sandra without being too over-sentimental. Even though Cliff Robertson’s performance is very lacklustre in many scenes, there are moments where he manages to shine, especially in the film’s climax. And, when he does underperform, other aspects of the film such as the score; the editing, the cinematography and Bujold’s performance, manage to save the film from being an utter disaster.

In the 2015 documentary “De Palma” (by directors Jake Paltrow and Noah Baumbach), Brian De Palma stated that he felt the film’s major flaw was the casting of Robertson. He strongly felt that the actor couldn’t capture the anguish of the character and that Robertson was quite difficult to deal with on-set. Apparently, the actor insisted on a dark tanning makeup, inappropriate for his troubled character. It made lighting him so difficult that at one point cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond shoved him against a wood wall and shouted “You! You are the same colour as this wall!”

De Palma may be dismissive of Robertson’s acting ability but he has sung the praises of Bujold who he felt had the more difficult role, which she played admirably, giving the film the emotional resonance needed for the project. I can’t help but wonder if Robertson felt like he was being overshadowed by Bujold and as a result this impacted his performance. Sandra is by far a more interesting and complex character compared to Michael and I can’t help but wonder if the film would have been more impactful if we had seen more from her point-of-view.

The film was an unexpected financial success. Columbia held on to the movie for almost a year before deciding to release in late August of 1976. August is usually considered the “dog days” of movie attendance, so it was a bit of surprise for the studio, and it earned the distributor over $4 million in domestic (U.S. and Canada) rentals.

Upon its release, the critical reaction was very mixed. Some critics like Roger Ebert sung the film’s praises. He wrote in his review that “Obsession is an overwrought melodrama, and that’s what I like best about it…I don’t just like movies like these; I relish them. Sometimes overwrought excess can be its own reward. If Obsession had been even a little more subtle, had made even a little more sense on some boring logical plane, it wouldn’t have worked at all.” I’m inclined to agree with him, the film works because of its melodrama and its unbelievable plot. With certain films like “Obsession” there must be a suspension of disbelief.

Other critics were quick to compliment the stylish cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond, and Herrmann’s beautiful, highly romantic score. In fact his score for “Obsession” was one of the more acclaimed in his distinguished career, and earned him a posthumous Academy Award nomination (the composer died in December 1975, a few hours after completing the score of Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver”).

Surprisingly, one of the critics who should have loved “Obsession” turned out to be very dismissive of De Palma’s film. Pauline Kael had praised many of the director’s other films in the past, but she wrote in her review that the film was “no more than an exercise in style, with the camera whirling around nothingness…”. I’m not quite sure why she was so dismissive of “Obsession” but I can reassure you that it is not “an exercise in style” or a “Vertigo” copy-cat, it is very much a film that can stand on its own legs and has plenty of its own uniqueness and beauty. It is well-worth a watch. And, if you happen to get obsessed with it like I did, then I did try to warn you.



Posted by Geoff at 8:25 PM CDT
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Friday, September 15, 2023
AMAZING SENSE OF HUMOR/IRONY
GALE ANNE HURD'S HAPPY-BIRTHDAY TWEET TO BRIAN DE PALMA
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/tweetgalesept11th2023.jpg

Posted by Geoff at 11:33 PM CDT
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Wednesday, September 13, 2023
WINSLOW'S VOICE ECHOES IN 'PASSION'
REMOVED FROM THE PREMISES
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/winslowremoved155.jpg


Posted by Geoff at 11:55 PM CDT
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Tuesday, September 12, 2023
LA-LA LAND TAKING PRE-ORDERS FOR SCARFACE ON VINYL
ANTICIPATED SHIPPING – JANUARY 2024
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/scarfacevinyllll.jpg

Here's the description at La-La Land Records:
La-La Land Records and Universal Pictures proudly mark the 40th Anniversary of the legendary 1983 big-screen gangster drama SCARFACE, starring Al Pacino and directed by Brian De Palma, with a world premiere vinyl LP release of Academy Award-Winning composer Giorgio Moroder’s (MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, AMERICAN GIGOLO, CAT PEOPLE, FLASHDANCE) original motion picture score.

SCARFACE – 40th ANNIVERSARY ORIGINAL SCORE is a limited edition 2XLP 33 rpm pressing on 180 gram colored vinyl that will be available in two exciting variants – “Chainsaw” Red Splatter and “Yeyo” Pure White! This deluxe release is the first time Maestro Moroder’s expanded film score is available on LP – a pitch perfect way to commemorate four decades of this landmark film.

When legendary director Brian De Palma needed the perfect musicscape for his game-changing gangster opus, he called upon renowned composer and electronic and pop music pioneer Giorgio Moroder to deliver – and did Moroder ever deliver… with a groundbreaking and absolutely iconic and influential synth film score.

Produced by Neil S. Bulk and Dan Goldwasser, and mastered in high-resolution by Chris Malone, this expanded LP unleashes Moroder’s classic film score across two records. Each vinyl color variant is limited to 750 units, and the gatefold jacket also houses an eight page insert with liner notes by writer Tim Greiving. The sharp art direction is by Dan Goldwasser. Finally… the world – and Moroder’s music of SCARFACE – is yours!!!


Posted by Geoff at 11:41 PM CDT
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Monday, September 11, 2023
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BRIAN DE PALMA
PHOTOS FROM FILMING AND PRESENTING 'PASSION' IN 2012
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/passionvenicetiff.jpg


Posted by Geoff at 12:17 AM CDT
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Sunday, September 10, 2023
'AS GRAND A PIECE OF GUIGNOL AS I HAVE SEEN'
SUNDAY TWEET - ADS FOR 'THE FURY' IN LONDON FROM 1978
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/furyrialtoad45.jpg


Posted by Geoff at 10:49 PM CDT
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Friday, September 8, 2023
GOLD DERBY WRITERS RANK TOP 20 DE PALMA FILMS
"BLOW OUT IS A STERLING EXAMPLE OF WHAT DE PALMA DOES BEST"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/goldderby1.jpg

For the Academy Award-based blog Gold Derby, Zach Laws and Chris Beachum have posted, "Brian De Palma movies: 20 greatest films ranked worst to best. They start with The Black Dahlia at number 20, and then all the way up to Carrie at number 1. Here's part of the intro to the Article:
Although several of his films have either competed for or won Academy Awards (including “The Untouchables,” which brought Sean Connery a Best Supporting Actor trophy in 1987), De Palma has never personally been nominated for an Oscar. He has, however, competed at the Razzies a number of times, including for a few films (“Dressed to Kill,” “Scarface,” and “Body Double”) that have since been named as some of his best (the same, sadly, can’t be said for either “The Bonfire of the Vanities” or “Mission to Mars”).

De Palma’s reputation has grown among cineastes who appreciate his visual flair, his flashes of humor, and his fascination with gore. He was recently the subject of the career-spanning documentary “De Palma” (2016), directed by Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow.

Tour our photo gallery of De Palma’s 20 greatest films, including a few gems for which he was undoubtedly snubbed at the Oscars.


 


Posted by Geoff at 10:46 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, September 8, 2023 10:55 PM CDT
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Thursday, September 7, 2023
NEW - DE PALMA EPISODE OF 'WATCH WITH JEN' PODCAST
MEGAN ABBOTT & ALISON GAYLIN JOIN JEN JOHANS, WITH PETER AVELLINO AS DE PALMA
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/watchwithjen.jpg

From the Watch With Jen episode description:
This week, I am honored to welcome a dynamic duo of acclaimed bestselling crime writers to the podcast & two women who've both won the Edgar and numerous other awards. Additionally, good friends who've also collaborated on the graphic novel NORMANDY GOLD, it's the wonderful partnership of Megan Abbott & Alison Gaylin. Author of such must-reads as DARE ME, THE TURNOUT, & GIVE ME YOUR HAND, Megan Abbott's latest novel BEWARE THE WOMAN is a modern gothic nightmare that you won't be able to put down. Alison Gaylin is the author of such gripping works as IF I DIE TONIGHT, NEVER LOOK BACK, & THE COLLECTIVE, & her latest title is a brand new Sunny Randall novel, ROBERT B. PARKER'S BAD INFLUENCE.

Joining me to discuss the career of Brian De Palma, one of our most singular yet controversial filmmakers, in this breathlessly paced, contemplative & infectiously fun conversation, the two writers share their thoughts on the director's works, legacy, critics, popular sources of debate, & the films SISTERS, BLOW OUT, & BODY DOUBLE. As a fun bonus for listeners, similar to the way that I wove voice-over into an earlier fourth-season episode with Megan Abbott devoted to Paul Schrader, once again, I've recruited the vocal talents of a friend (today, in the form of past guest Peter Avellino) to read excerpts from past De Palma interviews I discovered & enjoyed during my research.


Posted by Geoff at 11:08 PM CDT
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Wednesday, September 6, 2023
'A MUSICALITY COMPARABLE TO HIS VISUAL STYLE'
10 YEARS AGO, DE PALMA'S PASSION ARRIVED AS A MIDNIGHT MOVIE AT CHICAGO'S MUSIC BOX THEATRE
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/passionnaughty45.jpg

Brian De Palma's Passion made the rounds in U.S. theaters ten years ago - The Chicago Reader's Ben Sachs wrote about it:
Brian De Palma’s Passion came to town last Saturday for a surprise weeklong run at the Music Box Theatre, and continues through the weekend as a midnight show. I caught up with the film the other night with an audience of 15 or 20 (the Music Box’s main auditorium hadn’t felt so cavernous since that midnight screening of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls a few months back), and I was surprised not to have seen more people in the room. The movie finds De Palma at his most playful (or grandiose, depending on your point of view) since Femme Fatale—it’s the sort of movie his fans usually eat right up. (I’m not even a De Palma fan, and I had loads of fun watching it.) As for what the movie’s “about,” allow me to recycle this passage from Jonathan Rosenbaum’s 2002 Reader essay on Femme Fatale, as it applies equally to Passion:

[It’s] as if [De Palma] set out to combine every previous thriller he’d made in one hyperbolically frothy cocktail. So we get split-screen framing; bad girls; sweetie-pie male suckers; verbal and physical abuse; lots of blood… lyrically rendered catastrophes; noirish lighting schemes favoring venetian blinds; it-was-all-a-dream plot twists; scrambled and recomposed plot mosaics; obsessional repetitions of sound and image; pastiches of familiar musical pieces; nearly constant camera movements; and ceiling-height camera angles. Best of all, we often get several of these things simultaneously.

I’m not sure if De Palma himself considers Passion to be “about” anything. In the movie’s most impressive set piece, Noomi Rapace’s character watches a ballet production of Afternoon of a Faun while, on the other side of the split-screen, her business rival (Rachel McAdams) gets murdered in a characteristically (for De Palma) elaborate way. Is the filmmaker equating his filmmaking with more abstract arts like symphonic music or dance? (The title would seem to suggest as much.) De Palma has repeated certain motifs so many times that they no longer refer to anything besides themselves. Passion often seems to be after the sort of formal purity that Keats saw in his Grecian urn, with the qualities listed by Rosenbaum serving as De Palma’s clay.

Many of the compositions exhibit classical virtues of symmetry and opposition. De Palma regularly dresses the dark-haired Rapace in all-black and the blonde McAdams in white or red. Even before De Palma starts introducing preposterous coincidences and double crosses, the characters register as doppelgangers—Rapace’s flat underplaying seems intended to compliment McAdams’s exuberant hamminess (which is a hoot, by the way). Likewise, the women’s professional rivalry—a totally arbitrary power struggle within a multinational advertising firm—is underscored by intimations of sexual attraction. Once De Palma establishes these basic oppositions, he goes wild finding different ways to recombine—and re-double—them. When McAdams’s character confesses to having a twin sister, it feels inevitable.

Passion is a superficial film, but not an empty one. Amidst in the visual motifs, De Palma manages to touch on the following themes: corporate power, advertising, sexual desire, sadomasochistic relationships, and longing for love. The movie doesn’t offer a coherent statement about any of these subjects, though De Palma interweaves them with a musicality comparable to his visual style. There’s an odd poignancy to those moments where the themes related to dominance intersect with those related to vulnerability, suggesting that the pursuit of classical synthesis carries the risk of annihilation.



Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
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Tuesday, September 5, 2023
'YOU CONNECT WITH THEM IN A DIFFERENT WAY'
WES ANDERSON SHARES WITH VOGUE SOME OF THE PEOPLE WHO SEE HIS FILMS FIRST
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/henrysugarvenizia.jpg

A day after Wes Anderson premiered his new short film, an adaptation of Roald Dahl's The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, at the Venice Film Festival, Douglas Greenwood interviewed Anderson for Vogue:
You’ve now exclusively adapted Roald Dahl for the screen. Is the way you visualize his writing unique, in that sense?

Well, I think it probably just sort of happened. I wanted to do Fantastic Mr Fox because I wanted to do a stop motion animated film, and it's one I loved as a child and I just kind of mixed those two ideas together. Then I got to know the family. I had some conversations with them and I think Liccy [Felicity Dahl, Roald’s wife] probably said, “Is there another one you like?” So Henry Sugar was set aside for me. It’s not necessarily that I think Dahl is the most adaptable writer, although he might be one of the most adapted writers ever, maybe the most. I genuinely would rather take the inspiration of someone and combine it with something else that might be informed by what I’ve read that I can create my own version from.

Does this company work across all four of these short films?

Yes, but different mixtures. Poison is Benedict, Ben Kingsley, and Dev Patel. The Ratcatcher is Ralph, Rupert, and Richard. But they’re all mixtures of the same group.

Who did you show a film to first after you’ve finished?

My wife and daughter are coming in and out of the cutting room with some regularity. They have their own comments, but it tends not to be the finished thing. Juman, my wife, might say, “Okay tell me when you want me to see the whole thing.” But I have a few friends I rely on. I used to do a thing where I’d try to show a new film to directors I know who can give me [their] take. There was a period of time when I had a whole group. Actually some of them died; when we made Fantastic Mr. Fox we showed it to Mike Nichols and to Jonathan Demme.

Do you have others you rely on now instead?

I have Roman Coppola, my old friend. He’s one person I have to turn to for help. Then I have a little trio of directors: Noah Baumbach, Brian de Palma, and Jake Paltrow. The four of us have a little club that we do in New York. The three of them will watch something [I’ve made], often together, or if one of them is doing something we all see it. It’s a little like knowing someone else who’s a policeman or who's been in a war zone. You can describe it, but someone who’s been there, you connect with them in a different way.


Posted by Geoff at 11:13 PM CDT
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