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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

The Virtuoso
of the 7th Art

The De Palma Touch

The Swan Archives

Carrie...A Fan's Site


No Harm In Charm

Paul Schrader

Alfred Hitchcock
The Master Of Suspense

Alfred Hitchcock Films

Snake Eyes
a la Mod

Mission To Mars
a la Mod

Sergio Leone
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
Official Web Site

The Phantom Project

Welcome to the
Offices of Death Records

The Carlito's Way
Fan Page

The House Next Door

Kubrick on the

FilmLand Empire

Astigmia Cinema


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Icebox Movies

Medfly Quarantine

Not Just Movies

Hope Lies at
24 Frames Per Second

Motion Pictures Comics

Diary of a
Country Cinephile

So Why This Movie?

Obsessive Movie Nerd

Nothing Is Written

Ferdy on Films

Cashiers De Cinema

This Recording

Mike's Movie Guide

Every '70s Movie

Dangerous Minds


No Time For
Love, Dr. Jones!

The former
De Palma a la Mod

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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Ambrose Chapel
Are Snakes Necessary?
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Body Double
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Boston Stranglers
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Capone Rising
Carlito's Way
Casualties Of War
Catch And Kill
Cinema Studies
Clarksville 1861
Columbia University
Columbo - Shooting Script
Conversation, The
Daft Punk
Dancing In The Dark
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De Niro
De Palma & Donaggio
De Palma (doc)
De Palma Blog-A-Thon
De Palma Discussion
Demolished Man
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Dionysus In '69
Dressed To Kill
Edward R. Pressman
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Film Series
Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Fury, The
Genius of Love
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Get To Know Your Rabbit
Ghost & The Darkness
Happy Valley
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Hi, Mom!
Home Movies
Inspired by De Palma
Iraq, etc.
Jack Fisk
Jared Martin
Jerry Greenberg
Keith Gordon
Key Man, The
Laurent Bouzereau
Lights Out
Magic Hour
Magnificent Seven
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Montreal World Film Fest
Mr. Hughes
Murder a la Mod
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Nazi Gold
Newton 1861
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Parties & Premieres
Paul Hirsch
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Phantom Of The Paradise
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Print The Legend
Raggedy Ann
Raising Cain
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Responsive Eye
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Rotwang muß weg!
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Snake Eyes
Sound Mixer
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Taxi Driver
The Tale
To Bridge This Gap
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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Posted by Geoff at 7:23 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, August 7, 2011 7:31 PM CDT
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Thursday, August 4, 2011
Stephen Pitalo, a music video historian, has a terrific blog called The Golden Age Of Music Video. Today, he posted "The Untold Story Of Bruce Springsteen’s Original 'Dancing in the Dark' Music Video." Pitalo spoke with Daniel Pearl, the award-winning cinematographer who shot the abandoned footage, and also with Jeff Stein, the director. Stein takes absolutely no credit for directing this video, however, telling Pitalo, "I love Bruce, and I had nothing to do with it. I usually take the blame, but not for that (laugh).” And when you read Pearl's story, you'll understand why (click the link above to read the original story in all its glory-- I'm just going to kind of summarize it here). Pearl says that it was Stein's idea to have Springsteen dancing in a completely dark space. When Springsteen appeared, Pearl saw that he had been working out and looked very manly, so he lit him very hard, "and just really chiseled him with light," he told Pitalo. Springsteen, nervous about creating a hit after his sparse release Nebraska, suggested a big silk lighting filter that reminded Pearl of the way he had shot Stevie Nicks. According to Pearl, he told Springsteen, "You’re not a pussy, you’re quite the opposite. You’re super manly here. I can’t light you like I would light a woman." Springsteen responded that that was what he wanted, and Stein suggested trying it Pearl's way. After shooting a few takes, Pearl told Pitalo, Springsteen went to the green room and never came back. Pearl blamed himself, and for years and years, avoided working with Springsteen. But that story has a twist ending that I won't reveal here-- read it here.

Posted by Geoff at 8:48 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, August 4, 2011 8:48 PM CDT
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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The above video shows three takes from an early concept for Bruce Springsteen's Dancing In The Dark video, directed by Jeff Stein. As Billboard reported back in 1984, Stein's concept was rejected by Springsteen, who then hired Brian De Palma to work on it. Note that the version prior to De Palma did not feature any scene where the singer picks a girl from the crowd to come up onstage and dance with the star. It seems likely that this was De Palma's idea, as he had wanted to include something along those lines, albeit more elaborate, in the unproduced Fire, a rock-themed film he had written around that time that was based on Jim Morrison. In De Palma's version of the video (see below), Springsteen keeps some of the Stein video's dance moves, which in the Stein version seem kind of like John Mellencamp channeling Olivia Newton-John by way of Loverboy. Really, though, I think Springsteen was attempting to channel some kind of Elvis spirit, and in the De Palma video, Springsteen's look seems to harken back to the fifties and sixties, with just a subtle silky hint of Prince, who was making it big with Purple Rain around the time the video was filmed in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Meanwhile, setting up the big dance scene at the end, De Palma throws in an early shot from the point of view of the girl (Courtney Cox). At one point, he shows Springsteen facing the camera with the crowd of thousands behind him. In keeping with the purpose of the genre of the music video, De Palma keeps the focus on his star, but can't help the subtle nod to the audience, even placing some of them behind the stage to cheer on this oddly cheerful Dionysian figure, maybe not starting fires, but working up a spark, nonetheless.

Posted by Geoff at 12:26 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, August 3, 2011 12:28 AM CDT
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Monday, August 1, 2011

To hype up its upcoming Blu-Ray release of Brian De Palma's Scarface September 6, Universal will be delivering the film to theaters for one night only, on Wednesday, August 31st at 7:30pm (local time). The film will be preceeded by a 20-minute feature from the Blu-Ray package that includes interviews with filmmakers and other talent discussing the influence of Scarface. Tickets for the special theater event go on sale today, August 1st. To check on where the nearest screening will be, go to Fathom Events and put in your zip code (you may have to like the Scarface page on Facebook first.

Meanwhile, this week is "Mob Week" on AMC, hosted by Rudolph Giuliani. Three De Palma films will be included: The Untouchables (Wednesday, 8pm eastern), Carlito's Way (Wednesday, 10:45pm eastern), and Scarface (Thursday, 8pm eastern). Other films include The Godfather (Monday), The Godfather Part II (Tuesday), Donnie Brasco (Friday), GoodFellas (Saturday), and Pulp Fiction (Sunday).

And that's not all. In anticipation of the upcoming Blu-Ray release of Scarface, Asylum UK's Oliver Jones interviewed Steven Bauer, who said that he is very proud to have been a part of the film. "Yeah," Bauer told Jones, "I mean of course, a film like Scarface, it became like this huge thing, bigger than anyone at the time could ever have really guessed. Was it like a curse for my career? In a way. At first people hated the film. Well, the critics I mean at least. They said this film is horrible, no-one who was involved with this film should feel any sense of pride, or goodness -- there isn't a single redeeming thing about this film. But then we had the fans. There were people coming out of the screenings going crazy. When something is that big, you become that person to them, and I guess it can be hard to become anything else -- which, you know, is what an actor does. Do I wish it had never happened? Not at all. I'm really proud of my role in the film and I'm really proud of the film as a whole, it was such a privilege to be a part of it."

Bauer also talked about working with Al Pacino. "I guess you could say Scarface set the tone for the rest of my career," Bauer told Jones. "In the film, I think when Tony kills Manny, it's like, he's gone past redemption, that's his point of no return. People still come up to me in the street and are like, I can't believe he killed you man. I can't believe it. When I came onto the set Al really took he under his wing -- he showed me that acting can be really instinctive -- you learn the script, you trust it. And you see how it comes out. I think we all knew we were part of something special. Me and Al sat there saying what are people going to think of this -- we were imagining where we'd be a year later." Bauer also briefly talked about how he and Pacino met with Cuban immigrants "about what it was like in Cuba. And they were tough guys. That was the thing that really struck me, how tough these guys were, how bad they had it, how few opportunities they'd had. That was so far from my experience, it really stood out to me. I grew up in America and I felt like I could do anything, I had lot of opportunities. That certainly had an effect on my character."

Posted by Geoff at 12:51 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, August 1, 2011 11:47 PM CDT
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Friday, July 29, 2011
AUGUST SERIES TITLED 'DeMented. DeRanged. DeCeptive. DePalma.'
Disclaimer: the upcoming Denver FilmCenter/Colfax August series of Brian De Palma films does not include 1992's Raising Cain. The series does, however, take its name from the poster for that De Palma film: "DeMented. DeRanged. DeCeptive. DePalma." The series will take place every Tuesday in August, beginning this upcoming Tuesday, August 2nd, with Obsession. The other four films are: Carrie (August 9), Dressed To Kill (August 16), Blow Out (August 23), and Body Double (August 30). Head Programmer Keith Garcia tells A.V. Club's Brad McHargue, "I would say that love him or hate him, Brian De Palma’s style and ability to create a twisted vision is second to none. Though often critiqued as borrowing from Hitchcock a bit too much, it becomes apparent after sorting through his many films, which we invite you all to experience—the way they were meant to be seen—on 35mm film, that he isn’t borrowing from the master at all, but [rather] responding to his work and adding all of the sexuality and sin that ol’ Hitch was never allowed to explore."

Posted by Geoff at 6:52 PM CDT
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Monday, July 18, 2011
In August of 2010, I posted about an Italian remake of Scarface that Massimo Emilio Gobbi claimed to already be directing. At the time, Gobbi had yet to cast his female leads, but he had the controversial figure Fabrizio Corona cast in the title role of what he referred to at the time as Scarface 2010. However, by the end of September, Corona had been kicked off the movie, according to Tuttogratis' Valentina Gerig. Gobbi told Gerig that the actor simply took everything too lightly, "as if the set was a joke." Gobbi said that Corona took a full month's vacation, and then wanted to go off to South Africa. "At this rate," Gobbi told Gerig, "in 2013 I finish my film!"

Catania Oggi posted an article today stating that the film, now titled Scarface Evolution, will be shot mostly in Sicily, where Gobbi has just spent the past weekend with his casting crew looking over four hundred people of all ages, male and female, to cast in the film. The article makes mention of one role in particular, that of the protagonist's sister. Gobbi, according to Catania Oggi, said that the sister role requires "a young Mediterranean actress, preferably Sicilian, with a great personality, strong-willed." The older Tuttogratis article mentioned Tony Sperandeo and Vincent Cassel as possible replacements for Corona. In Scarface Evolution, drug trafficking will be replaced by the handling of embryonic cells.

Posted by Geoff at 11:09 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, July 27, 2011 6:31 PM CDT
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Saturday, July 16, 2011
Yesterday, AMC-TV Blog's Robert Silva posted a nicely-written list called "Flashback Five - Brian De Palma's Best Movies." Calling De Palma "the most unappreciated of the so-called Movie Brats," Silva goes on to add, "Gifted with an impeccable visual style, his pulp stories are always more complex than they appear at first." AMC notoriously screens De Palma's Scarface repeatedly throughout the year, so it is no surprise to see that film listed at number one. But look at what Silva picks for number 2-- The Fury. "Contrary to common belief," Silva writes, "The Fury isn't all about exploding heads but rather a visceral exploration of young people on the cusp of adulthood who find themselves victimized by adults. The flick is a stylistic tour de force, with the director's signature plot puzzles and self-referential violence. And then there's the top-notch cast: you wouldn't expect to find Kirk Douglas and John Cassavetes in a thriller about psychic warfare, but here they are."

Time and time again it seems like The Fury is said to be too complicated, or too bogged down in the action plot of Douglas' character, or Robin isn't in the film enough, etc., etc. They have been showing this film on cable quite a bit lately, and every time it comes on, I get engulfed in its sumptuous images and intricate plot. De Palma pulled off a lot of terrific, interesting visual tricks with this film, almost like a kid in a candy store. And the performances are excellent. I recently read someonoe complain that the staircase shot, where Amy Irving appears to be standing in front of a giant movie screen showing an incident that happened with Robin in that same staircase, was somehow a shoddy effect. On the contrary, I feel the effect is very powerful, with the camera moving around Irving, watching the action unfold. It is a key part of The Fury's motif of "letting the screen fill your mind." So it is nice to see someone do a list such as this, and to put The Fury up so high.

Filling out Silva's top five are Blow Out ("a heady mix of Blow-Up, The Conversation, and The Parallax View"), Carrie (the prom sequence is "a masterpiece of apocalyptic glitz"), and The Untouchables, another AMC mainstay. Silva then adds a list of "Honorable Mentions," essentially giving us his top ten De Palma films, which includes one film that I never expected to read about on an AMC blog: Redacted. "With this Iraq-war movie," Silva writes of his number three honorable mention, "De Palma trades his sumptuous visuals for lo-fi digital camerawork that proves just as dazzling. Still, there's no shortage of the director's usual violence in this YouTube video from hell." Filling out the honorable mentions are Body Double (#1), Carlito's Way (#2), Dressed To Kill (#4), and Mission: Impossible (#5). Of the latter, Silva writes, "Some complain about a labyrinthine plot, but this is still one of the most stylish event movies of the nineties, with a knockout sense of visual storytelling."

Posted by Geoff at 6:59 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, July 16, 2011 7:01 PM CDT
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Sunday, July 10, 2011

After getting my hands on a copy of Jason Zinoman's new book, Shock Value (see earlier post here), I immediately skipped to the chapter on Brian De Palma, which is titled "He Likes To Watch." This chapter makes the book an essential read for anybody interested in De Palma's work. The chapter is put together with the help of new interviews with De Palma, William Finley, Jared Martin, Nancy Allen, Keith Gordon (pictured here from De Palma's Home Movies), Betty Buckley, Amy Irving, Lawrence D. Cohen, Tina Shepard, and, if I'm not mistaken, Steven Spielberg, and perhaps Stephen King (having not read the entire book yet, I skimmed but could not find any official acknowledgment of who provided new interviews for the book, but based on the way they're worded, I'm pretty sure Zinoman uses a couple of brand new quotes from Spielberg).

In this chapter, De Palma says that he couldn't see before what he sees clearly now: that the reason his films repeatedly feauture a character who fails to save somebody is because that was how he felt when his little brother, Bart, was all torn up over their parents marital woes. De Palma helped his mother get a divorce by spying on and eventually catching his father in the middle of a tryst with his nurse (De Palma later called the photos he snapped his first film). But he could not save his brother from the pain of the situation. And it is De Palma who sees now that this is the source of the heroes' consistent plight in his own films.

Hence, Zinoman argues, De Palma's films are much more invested in autobiographical elements than most (critics and fans alike) have given them credit for, and he points out the irony that De Palma's most confessional film, Home Movies, is hidden as a zany comedy that hardly anyone has seen or even heard of. Zinoman goes so far as to show how De Palma himself relates to the character Kate Miller in Dressed To Kill. While it may be a stretch when Zinoman tries to link to the above De Palma narrative by suggesting that Kate is a character who tries to save herself from a dead-end marriage, he is spot on that Kate goes to the museum and does essentially what De Palma used to do at museums: pick up a member of the opposite sex. Zinoman concludes that, far from the usual misogynistic reading of Kate Miller (who has an adulterous affair and symbolically "pays for it" with her death), De Palma is quite sympathetic to the character. Zinoman stops there, but I would add that by designating Kate's son, Peter (again played by Gordon), as De Palma's obvious surrogate in the film, the sympathy toward Kate is corroborated.

The chapter's main focus is on De Palma's Carrie adaptation, although Zinoman nicely leads up to that film by moving from the aforementioned divorce story, through De Palma's formative college years, and his early film work. Through descriptive passages, Zinoman relates how an experience De Palma had while sitting in the audience at a performance of Dionysus In ‘69, which he was preparing to film in split-screen, led to an idea for the key prom sequence in Carrie. Zinoman also delves into how the film departed from King’s novel, and a volley between Buckley and Irving over which of their characters should survive Carrie’s massacre (throughout filming, it was not known who would be the one to survive).

All in all, a terrific chapter full of new information that fills in some major pieces of the De Palma puzzle. I said that this book is essential to any research on De Palma, and in that respect, I would put it on a shelf along with The Film Director As Superstar by Joseph Gelmis, The Movie Brats by Michael Pye and Lynda Myles, Brian De Palma by Michael Bliss, The De Palma Cut by Laurent Bouzereau, Double De Palma by Susan Dworkin, The Devil’s Candy by Julie Salamon, Brian De Palma: Interviews, edited by Laurence F. Knapp, Brian De Palma, entretiens avec Samuel Blumenfeld and Laurent Vachaud, and Les mille yeux de Brian De Palma by Luc Lagier. There are other great books out there that feature insightful analyses of De Palma’s work, but the books mentioned above include interviews and provide priceless bits of information useful to anyone studying the films of Brian De Palma.

Today (Monday, July 11 2011) Complex posted Matt Barone's interview with Zinoman, who says he wanted to get the stories behind these films that haven't been told before:

The biggest challenge for me, though, was…. There’s a really excellent and dedicated sect of horror press that covers every single one of these movies all the time. There are so many wonderful blogs, and, seeing the response to my book, it’s hard not to be impressed by how smart all these people are. So one of the biggest challenges was: Wes Craven has been interviewed thousands of times, so how do you get him to recreate what it was actually like in the early ’70s to make The Last House On The Left, in a way so that it’s not him repeating the same stories that he’s told over and over again?

So, my goal with this book was to root it in reporting. There are definitely criticisms in it, and I have a strong point-of-view, but I wanted to really tell a story. I wanted it to read like a narrative, with these horror directors and writers as the main characters. and I wanted it to be rooted in original reporting. I found that spending long periods of time interviewing them was very helpful. Talking to a lot of people who don’t usually get interviewed was also key, like supporting actors, family members, people who went to school with these directors, childhood friends.

I tried to really look at sources from back in that time; I didn’t want to talk to people who are higher-level fans or made movies starting in the ’90s or later. I looked at it more as, “Who knew Brian De Palma before he was famous? Who went to college with him?”; Wes Craven’s wife from back before he made The Last House On The Left. Those people I found were excellent sources; they had firsthand knowledge of what was going on, that wasn’t informed by the fact that they’ve been telling the same stories for thirty years. Often times, I got a fresher perspective talking to those people, and once I talked to those people I went back to Craven and De Palma, joggled their memories with the stories I’d heard, and then I got all-new memories from these filmmakers.

Posted by Geoff at 11:17 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, July 11, 2011 7:19 PM CDT
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Hitch from Pascal Monaco on Vimeo.

Posted by Geoff at 11:40 AM CDT
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Wednesday, July 6, 2011
A new book on modern horror films that officially comes out tomorrow (Thursday, July 7th) has been getting quite a bit of pre-release web publicity this week. In the book, Shock Value, New York Times writer Jason Zinoman looks at the way horror movies changed in the 1960s, moving through the early 1980s, and, according to reviews, blasts several myths about these films and their makers along the way (notably citing "the problem with Psycho," and how these filmmakers responded to that "problem"). See reviews from Drew Taylor at the Playlist, Joe Meyer, Bookgasm's Rod Lott, and Johnny at Freddy In Space, who says he'll never look at a De Palma film the same way again. That's apparently because Zinoman begins his discussion on De Palma by relating the story about how as a teenager who wanted to impress and help out his mother, De Palma spied on his father (a doctor), and caught him cheating with his father's nurse. Zinoman, it is said, links this story to De Palma's films in a way that he argues makes them highly personal, and not the cold exercises in pure style they are often mistaken for. NPR's Fresh Air posted an audio interview, as well as an excerpt from the book.

Posted by Geoff at 11:55 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, July 8, 2011 6:50 AM CDT
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