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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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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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Tuesday, October 3, 2023
'ORIGIN OF EVIL' REVIEWS MENTION DE PALMA, CHABROL
DIRECTOR SEBASTIEN MARNIER: "I DON'T DESERVE THAT - HE'S ONE OF MY FAVORITE FILMMAKERS"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/origin2.jpg

"Succession meets Brian De Palma in this delicious family-fortune thriller from France, directed by Sébastien Marnier." So reads the subheading of Beatrice Loayza's positive review of The Origin Of Evil in The New York Times. The Independent's Lindsey Bahr interviewed Marnier for a profile piece:
Like many French filmmakers before him, Sébastien Marnier fell in love with cinema through Hollywood movies. Thrillers like “Basic Instinct,” “Fatal Attraction” and “Single White Female” made a big impact on him as a teenager. They were exciting, usually featured strong and dangerous women at the heart of them and, of course, they were sexy, which at 14 or 15 was a “really big deal,” he laughed in a recent interview.

“American cinema is really the foundation of my cinephilia,” Marnier said through a translator. “What I like to look for is finding that feeling that American film gave me when I was a teenager, but making a truly French film with those feelings. So how do I take the inspiration that I felt as a teenager from those emotions to make a truly French film that is taking place on the French territory?”

With “The Origin of Evil” he wanted to pay homage to those films and put them within a distinctly French context. Influences range from Claude Chabrol to “Parasite.” A playful mixture of genres, it’s scary at times, but also funny, offbeat and, yes, sexy, as Stéphane, who is in a romantic relationship with a volatile imprisoned woman, navigates the personalities in her father Serge’s (Jacques Weber) orbit: His spendy wife Louise (Dominique Blanc), his daughter George (Doria Tillier) who is angling to push him out of the business, a jaded granddaughter (Céleste Brunnquell) and their unfriendly maid (Véronique Ruggia).

Though the origin of this story comes from a very personal place — Marnier's mother, who made contact with her father later in life — he hopes it has broader commentary on issues affecting modern France.

“I think ‘The Origin of Evil’ talks about the end of a certain French society, the end of a powerful patriarchy, the end of a super-rich right wing dominant class, especially in the Riviera, a very rich class that was anti-Semitic and extremely powerful,” said Marnier. “And it’s in this confrontation of two worlds that we find a tension that France, is really experiencing at the moment. There’s something very French, I think, in the way the film captures the class struggle.”

It’s also a film where no one is quite what they seem, and it keeps you guessing and second guessing until the very end. Instrumental in this was the casting of Calamy.

“She has something that’s quite rare in French cinema, which is that she’s very beautiful and sexy, but on the other hand, she’s also banal in the good sense of the word. She’s really the woman next door,” Marnier said. “And because of things like ‘Call My Agent!,’ we like her. We have an empathy for her.

"If I had cast Isabelle Huppert, we would know right away that she was going to kill everybody,” he added.

Stéphane, it should be said, does not “kill everybody,” but she has her dark secrets too.

Of that De Palma comparison, Marnier deflects. It is, he said, much too much. “I don’t deserve that,” he said. “He’s one of my favorite filmmakers.”

He’s mostly just excited that after a few films, he’s finally got one that’s playing in American cinemas too.

“It’s really moving and beautiful,” he said. “My other films were released on platforms in the U.S., but to be released theatrically is a great gift.”


Here are some more review clips:

Craig D. Lindsey, Nashville Scene:

The Origin of Evil is practically two hours of Sébastien Marnier declaring that Brian De Palma is one of his favorite filmmakers.

The French director works many of the psychological-thriller legend’s tricks into his psychological thriller: overhead shots, slow dissolves, split-screen sequences. Hell, the movie even begins with the camera lecherously roving around a women’s locker room, much like the salacious opening sequence from De Palma’s Carrie, set in a girls’ locker room.

Like in most De Palma thrillers, we also have a mysterious female protagonist. Stéphane (Laure Calamy) is a fish-plant worker who gets reacquainted with her wealthy father (Jacques Weber), whom she didn’t grow up with. Of course, when she visits the old man at his swanky (and cluttered) Mediterranean mansion, she’s greeted by a family who’s just as off-putting as she is. The business-minded daughter (Doria Tillier, gloriously icy) wants Stéphane gone the minute she meets her, while the chain-smoking matriarch (a vainglorious Dominique Blanc) is too busy being a compulsive shopaholic to incite much animosity. The business-minded daughter’s daughter (Céleste Brunnquell) is mostly around taking pictures, hoping to escape this poisoned clan she’s unfortunately bound to by blood.

With the old man ailing after a stroke and the fam ready to carry on his business without him, Stéphane — who’s ready to do anything for her daddy — has come along at the right time. Of course, we learn in the second hour that Stéphane, who has a girlfriend (Xavier Dolan regular Suzanne Clément) in prison, has some hidden motives of her own.

Evil is basically a tribute to eat-the-rich thrillers made by French filmmakers. (De Palma, who has famously divided his time between New York and Paris, is considered an honorary Frenchman.) Along with De Palma, you also get whiffs of Claude Chabrol and René Clément, two Frenchmen who have done adaptations of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley — which should tell you exactly what you’ll get with this flick. Fans of Succession may also get a kick out of the so-deranged-it’s-funny family politics that pop off when Stéphane arrives. Weber’s devious, ambiguously depraved dad certainly gives Brian Cox’s Logan Roy a run for his money in the piece-of-shit-patriarch department.


Rob Thomas, The Cap Times:
Then that big twist happens, and “Origin of Evil” becomes a deliciously wild thriller in the vein of Brian De Palma or the late French suspense filmmaker Claude Chabrol, as we try to figure out who is really manipulating who.

Marnier tightens the screws of the plot as things unravel, using attention-calling filmmaking techniques to heighten the suspense, like sudden zooms and organ music on the score by Pierre Lapointe. He even deploys split-screen views in a clear De Palma homage, at one time breaking the screen into five points of view.

Calamy keeps us guessing as to Stéphane’s motives, concealing layers of complexity beneath her seemingly guileless exterior. And Blanc is a riot as the Norma Desmond-esque Louise, who wears expensive furs to the breakfast table and seems to be enjoying the skullduggery in her house almost as much as the audience is.

Watching “The Origin of Evil,” we keep changing our minds about who we should be rooting for, but in the end just root for a good time at the movies. And we certainly get one.


Clayton Dillard, Slant:
Sébastien Marnier’s The Origin of Evil is a thriller with scant thrills but plenty of echoes of better, more explosive works. It opens with a slow-motion tracking shot of young women inside a locker room in various states of undress, but rather than land on a showering teenager being horrified by her womanhood, as in Brian De Palma’s Carrie, the camera stops on the upturned face of Stéphane (Laure Calamy). It’s a naked allusion and nothing else. To wit, the film’s later, recurring use of split-screen—another staple of De Palma’s voyeuristic cinema—exudes a visual anonymity, as if Marnier were working from a checklist.

Previously:
Ballet of pretense & double-dealing: two reviews of The Origin of Evil

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 4, 2023 12:15 AM CDT
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Sunday, October 1, 2023
IMAGES FROM 'PHANTOM' IN U2'S VEGAS SPHERE MONTAGE
UPDATED OCT 3RD - KALEIDOSCOPIC IMAGES MOVED CEILING-TO-FLOOR AS U2 PERFORMED "EVEN BETTER THAN THE REAL THING"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/tildeath55.jpg

The frame above from Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise made a prominent appearance within a kaleidoscopic montage of moving images behind the band U2 (see video below), as they performed their song Even Better Than The Real Thing Friday night to launch their 25-show residency at the Sphere in Las Vegas. The frame from Phantom, a motion gif which has Philbin (George Memmoli) saying the words "'til death" in the film's wedding climax, is a sort of split-screen in the shades, as Swan can be seen reflected in one shade, while Phoenix can be seen in the other. It appears directly above a motion-gif of Lula and Sailor from David Lynch's Wild At Heart, as they dance and kiss each other in front of a jukebox. Underneath the Lynch characters are three rings of stages - the middle ring has The Undead from Phantom Of The Paradise rising from the center of the ring.

An article posted by Vulture's Jen Chaney on October 3rd notes that the kaleidoscopic collage is an art installation by Marco Brambilla, titled King Size:

Many of the people in the heavily Gen-X crowd responded to all the techy pageantry the way everyone responds to concerts in 2023: by whipping out their phones to film it. “I don’t record music at concerts,” Haygood told me. “I recorded two minutes and 33 seconds of that.” He’s referring to the Achtung Baby rollicker “Even Better Than the Real Thing,” a song accompanied by the art installation King Size, a kaleidoscopic collage of images of Vegas and clips of Elvis Presley created by artist Marco Brambilla that scrolls from the back of Sphere to its front. The movement of the video creates the optical illusion that the stage and the standing general-admission crowd around it are rising upward, a sensation unlike anything I have ever experienced. (In one video posted on YouTube, you can hear a guy in the crowd shouting incredulously, “Oh my God, we’re moving!”)

But this isn’t just eye-candy gimmickry. The King Size segment, a callback of sorts to the rolling camerawork in the music video for “Even Better Than the Real Thing,” also functions, like so much of what U2 was doing during their Achtung Baby period — where Bono routinely used a remote control onstage to channel-surf through the muck of 1990s broadcast television — as a commentary on oversaturation. “It’s exactly what some of my work is about, which is this idea of the seduction of the spectacle,” Brambilla told me prior to Sphere’s opening. “Is it going to destroy us? Is it going to make us better or worse?”


A second motion-gif frame from Phantom Of The Paradise included in the montage shows who I believe is Nancy Moses as one of Beef's back-up singers, reacting to Beef being struck by lightning on stage.

 


Posted by Geoff at 11:56 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, October 5, 2023 10:47 PM CDT
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Saturday, September 30, 2023
SCOTT TOBIAS ON THE POTENCY OF DE PALMA'S 'CARRIE'
AT TOP OF HIS NY TIMES "50 BEST MOVIES ON MAX RIGHT NOW" ARTICLE
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/carrieinrobesplit37.jpg

At the New York Times, Scott Tobias provides his selective list of "The 50 Best Movies on Max Right Now." "The list below," Tobias states in the introduction, "is an effort to recommend a diverse range of movies — old and new, foreign and domestic, all-ages and adults-only — that cross genres and cultures while appealing to casual and serious movie-watchers alike." That said, he begins with the 1976 film, Carrie:
Coming-of-age films are often about teenage girls making an awkward transition into womanhood, and the potency of Brian De Palma’s pulpy shocker, adapted from the novel by Stephen King, lies in its supernatural manifestation of familiar agonies. From the beginning, “Carrie” aligns itself with a misfit daughter (Sissy Spacek) of a Bible-thumping mother (Piper Laurie), who grows into violent telekinetic powers that she has trouble controlling, especially when prodded by classmates. When her anguish turns prom night into a gruesome affair, De Palma and Spacek pull off the neat trick of holding our sympathies as her psychic pain is unleashed.

Posted by Geoff at 5:34 PM CDT
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Thursday, September 28, 2023
'PHANTOM' TO PLAY CRITERION CHANNEL IN OCTOBER
SISTERS, ALREADY ON THE CHANNEL WITH BONUS EXTRAS, WILL BE PART OF "ART-HOUSE HORROR"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/criterionchanneloct2023.jpg

Posted by Geoff at 6:32 PM CDT
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Tuesday, September 26, 2023
'A DREAM ABOUT THE DEATH OF DREAMS'
SLANT'S CHUCK BOWEN REVIEWS ARROW'S NEW CARLITO'S WAY RELEASE
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/carlitodream455.jpg

Arrow's limited edition 4K UHD Blu-ray of Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way was released yesterday. Looking at the extras included in the set, Slant's Chuck Bowen states, "The most essential feature here, though, is the new audio commentary by film critic Matthew Zoller Seitz, who has an impeccable sense of De Palma’s craftsmanship and can get into the nuts and bolts of film grammar without losing a layman in the weeds. Seitz is adept at discussing everything going on in Carlito’s Way from top to bottom."

Here's some of what Bowen has to say about the film itself:

The opening credits sequence establishes a different De Palma register—a cohesion between the sentimental pull of pop cinema and the filmmaker’s sense of visual irony. In black and white, we see a man, whom we will soon know is Carlito Brigante (Al Pacino), collapse from a gunshot in a subway station. Carlito falls to the floor, his head tilting toward the ceiling, as his lover, Gail (Penelope Ann Miller), crouches beside him. Patrick Doyle’s operatic score swells, while the camera eases from Carlito’s point of view to float freely above and beyond him, suggesting a spirit on the verge of leaving its body. The prismatic compositions are ravishing and tragic.

We’re not told at this point whether or not Carlito dies, though we have a good idea. But the gambit of killing the protagonist within seconds of the opening doesn’t serve the same purpose here as it did in, say, Sunset Boulevard. Billy Wilder used such a beginning to cast an amusing pall of futility on what followed. There’s futility in the opening of Carlito’s Way, but De Palma takes it deadly seriously. Carlito gazes at a billboard on one of the walls inside the subway station showing a picture of a beach and promising “paradise.” It mocks him as he slips away, succumbing to the pull of personal flaws that he’s failed to transcend. One may remember the Nancy Allen character’s death in Blow Out, brought on by a hero who didn’t know as much as he thought, who couldn’t be the person he wanted to be. Carlito dies for similar reasons.

The governing obsession of De Palma’s art is the limitations and failures of people who try to position themselves as heroes. In 1989, he cauterized this obsession with Casualties of War, bringing to a head the impotency that haunts his work. Perhaps that film, followed by two other maligned box office disasters—The Bonfire of the Vanities and the studio-mangled Raising Cain—softened De Palma up for something mellower in its melancholia—decidedly battered and middle-aged in temperament. Or perhaps he’s just a profoundly skilled artist for hire following the cues of a great screenplay. With a film this good, the distinction barely matters.

Carlito’s Way is a confident blend of several types of movies. It’s a crime melodrama, with most of the attendant clichés accounted for and transcended, especially of the last job before retirement from the underworld. It’s a star vehicle, with Pacino riding high at the crest of a resurgence that began with Harold Becker’s superb 1989 thriller Sea of Love and would continue through the 1990s and into the early aughts. It’s also a character study, filled to the brim with actors doing astonishing work—among them Sean Penn, Viggo Mortensen, John Leguizamo, and Luis Guzmán—with an unusual anecdotal structure. Vignettes interlock in surprising fashion, filling in the contours of Puerto Rican gangster Carlito’s life as he emerges from prison and is hit up by everyone for favors. And Carlito’s Way is also, like many a De Palma film before it, a hall of mirrors, with echoes of the filmmaker’s splashier, meaner, less involving Latino Pacino gangster epic, Scarface, and set pieces that explicitly reference The Untouchables, among others, as well as other Pacino films like The Godfather.

Yet Carlito’s Way has an ease and warmth and fluidity that disincline one to play the game of “spot the reference.” Most of De Palma’s films are floridly emotional, even heartbroken, especially those that he made in the 1970s and ’80s. But they’re also sardonic, as you sense someone fucking with you. With these vintage films, De Palma fans in particular are encouraged to get their pipe out and talk semiotics and wrap their brains around symbolism and motifs and overlook the maestro’s empathy for his characters, especially women.

On the other hand, Carlito’s Way, despite its volatility, allows the viewer to let their guard down. It’s glamorous, with Pacino at the zenith of his romantic magnetism, and De Palma knows how to let the audience soak in the soap-operatic bath. That’s why the film is so painful. It’s a dream about the death of dreams. And the filmmakers aren’t shy about articulating this idea either. Late in the film, Carlito lies in bed with Gail, an aspiring dancer and actress who moonlights as a stripper. They’re talking of ambitions. Carlito is going to leave the Harlem hood life behind and rent cars in the Bahamas, and he seems to believe it too. Of her dancing, Gail says, “Yeah, I had a dream once, but now I’m awake, and I hate my dream.”

That line always blindsides me. It’s even more shocking in its directness now, with modern pop cinema constantly pretending to empower us, telling us that we’re girlbosses and superheroes and that shame doesn’t exist despite evidence to the contrary. Gail cuts to the raw root of what haunts most people as they go through their lives, disappointed in themselves, coming not to recognize the mediocrities they feel themselves to be growing into. Her admission complements what are perhaps the most wrenchingly ironic words to be spoken in a De Palma film, when a young woman, a stranger unfamiliar with what has recently befallen him, tells Michael J. Fox’s character at the end of Casualties of War that a bad dream he references is “over now.”

Those words, well-intended, are poignantly inadequate to addressing the savagery that Fox’s character has had to witness and survive. Dreams can die but nightmares can flourish, an understanding brought about by the disillusionment that every De Palma hero experiences. Earlier, brasher De Palma films showed young characters learning this lesson, while Carlito’s Way exists in a defeated purgatorial realm from the outset. It’s a glossier, more approachable vision of the retrospection that courses through Casualties of War. Which isn’t say that the traditions of a gangster movie can be equated with a true-life story of rape and murder during the Vietnam War. But Carlito’s Way suggests that De Palma had returned to sublimating themes into genre in the wake of the general, grossly unjust rejection of Casualties of War. It’s one of those “for hire” works in which an artist finds an unexpected opportunity to get personal.

The maestro still can deliver his traditional goods as well, as there’s enough formal sizzle in Carlito’s Way for five De Palma films. It’s rich in snaking tracking shots that place us in Carlito’s fevered psyche, and in set pieces of a sensual, escalating intensity, particularly the chase inside Grand Central Terminal, with its slashing through lines and winding camera pirouettes. But the quieter effects are more haunting in Carlito’s Way, such as the blasts of expressionist blue hues that engulf Carlito as he spies on Gail’s dance class in the rain from a roof across the street in a sequence that suggests Rear Window reconfigured as a love sonata. Carlito’s Way is firstly a character film as noir opera. De Palma turns the petty disappointments of our lives into a grand myth, rich in the poetry that makes such disappointments bearable.



Posted by Geoff at 11:01 PM CDT
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Thursday, September 21, 2023
'A VERITABLE CINEMATIC HALL OF MIRRORS'
REVERSE SHOT TO CELEBRATE ITS 20TH ANNIVERSARY WITH DE PALMA'S FEMME FATALE
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/reverseshot.jpg

"Originally printed as a stapled zine," begins the film series description at Museum of the Moving Image, "distributed for free throughout New York, the independent film journal Reverse Shot began in 2003 as a labor-of-love endeavor among a small group of twenty-something cinephiles. Since 2014, it has been the house publication of criticism for Museum of the Moving Image, still edited by two of its co-founders, Michael Koresky and Jeff Reichert. Reverse Shot has stayed committed to publishing serious, lively, and thoughtfully edited writing that wrestles with the past, present, and possible future of the cinematic medium. On the occasion of its 20th anniversary, MoMI and Reverse Shot team up to give audiences an opportunity to see some of its contributors’ favorite films from the 21st century on the Museum’s big screen."

While the film series opens Friday night (Sept. 22) with a screening of Olivier Assayas' Demonlover, this Saturday night's screening of Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale is paired with the Reverse Shot Anniversary Reception, which will take place in the lobby after the movie.

Here's the Museum's description of Femme Fatale:

De Palma’s silky, seductive, ridiculously entertaining meta-noir stars a delightful, committed Romijn-Stamos as a statuesque jewel thief on the run from her fellow criminals after absconding with a stash of diamonds. Yet that simple description could not prepare a first-time viewer (or, frankly, even a tenth-time viewer) for the ecstasy of De Palma’s endlessly looping, self-referential, too-pure-for-camp masterwork, a film that’s a dose of giddy pleasure from its intricate opening heist scene set during the Cannes Film Festival (!) to its mind-bending split-screen shenanigans to its wild alt-reality conclusion.

Here's an excerpt from Chris Wisniewski's 2006 Reverse Shot essay about Femme Fatale:
The entirety of the film hinges on the ability to make sense of visual information and to see things as they are, which is why it’s so brilliant that De Palma constantly puts us in the position of misrecognizing what we’re seeing, despite giving us the clues. Those are the diamonds; that is her conspirator; this is a dream. You just didn’t see it. Fittingly, Laure finally gets the better of the men who are hunting her thanks to literal blindness—a flash of sunlight, refracted through a piece of jewelry, blinds a truck driver who drives the men into the spikes of a metal grate, a most violent and lethal penetration. De Palma, like Hitchcock, is perpetually concerned with the idea of “the gaze”—the gaze of the camera, of the spectator, and of the straight male (all of which may be, in some sense, variations of the same thing)—and with disrupting the equation that to look is to see; to see is to know; and to know is to have power.

Shortly before she seduces Nicolas, Laure does a short striptease for a man in the basement of a bar, as Nicolas watches from the other side of the doorway. We see most of the striptease from Nicolas’s point-of-view, as though she’s dancing for his benefit and, by extension, for ours. It’s pure titillation, a softcore cinematic masculine fantasy. Then De Palma turns everything around. The other man loses control and lunges at her, and Nicolas, perhaps out of jealousy or some masculine impulse to protect Laure, jumps and attacks him. We watch her watching them, the fight visible only as a shadow play on the wall. They do their little masculine dance, and she spectates with delight, applauding as it reaches its climax. Perspectives shift—the looked-at does the looking; power dynamics are reconfigured. Fetish becomes critique in this deadly game of transmuting identities and shifting realities, a veritable cinematic hall of mirrors.



Posted by Geoff at 11:27 PM CDT
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Wednesday, September 20, 2023
TWEET - ADS FOR 'BODY DOUBLE' IN LONDON, 1985
CENSORED VIDEO VERSION RELEASED DAY AFTER FULL-ON THEATRICAL
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/londondb4a.jpg


Posted by Geoff at 11:22 PM CDT
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Tuesday, September 19, 2023
FINLEY'S PHANTOM COSTUME BEING PUT UP FOR AUCTION
AND STEPHEN BISHOP MAKES NOTE OF HIS OWN CAMEO IN DE PALMA'S FILM
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Thanks to the ever-loving Swan Archives News Page for the link to an upcoming auction: what the preview lot at Bonhams is calling, "William Finley 'Winslow / The Phantom' Complete Hero Costume from Phantom of the Paradise. An important note at the end of the Bonhams description below: "Other movie-related William Finley treasures available as well." Here's the full description:
There are movies that are not only hallmarks of our popular culture, but resonate with their audience with such ferocity, that they inspire and influence a generation, for life. Phantom of the Paradise is one of those special movies, and it continues to captivate new generations. All the planets aligned in 1974 with a break-out directorial feat for a young Brian DePalma and his screenplay, a score and songs by the legendary Paul Williams, makeup by FX pioneer John Chambers, and a sexy leather bondage ensemble by Rosanna Norton, worn with finesse by the unforgettable character actor William Finley. All this magic wrapped up in camp and, most notably, Rock & Roll! Small wonder a legion of future filmmakers was mesmerized by this miraculous, modern, monster movie.

And as is the case with many off-beat, trend-setting efforts, who could predict the ever-growing cult fandom that would follow this film right up to this day. As much attention and acclaim as the film has earned, it's shocking how little material exists from production. Collectors have been known to pay tens of thousands of dollars just for a replica helmet! There's barely a trace of prop or fabric...until now! This is the screen worn, complete "Winslow / Phantom" costume worn by William Finley in the film, stored away by the actor for nearly half a century, and discovered in perfect condition by Mr. Finley's family after his passing.

Twentieth Century-Fox, 1974. The custom costume includes: 1-leather strap and metal buckle tunic, 1-long sleeved turtleneck under tunic, 1-matching pair of leather buckle pants, 1-pair of leather gloves, 1-pair of leather boots, 1-crushed velvet red and black character cape, 1-black and silver character cape, 1-two-piece cast fiberglass shell visor helmet with one smoked eye lens painted in gunmetal silver, and 1-set of chromed dentures that would slip over the actor's own teeth. The costume even includes the sport socks Finley wore in character. The rarity of this holy grail costume can't be over-emphasized, and provenance is unquestionable.

Other movie-related William Finley treasures available as well. The cornerstone of our Music & Monsters auction can be the cornerstone of your collection!


MEANWHILE...

I somehow had no idea that that was Stephen Bishop, before he became well-known, as one of the people auditioning for Swan...! Earlier today, Bishop shared the post below on his Facebook page:


Posted by Geoff at 6:55 PM CDT
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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"
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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
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Posted by Geoff at 11:33 PM CDT
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