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Domino is
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De Palma on Domino
"It was not recut.
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mix or the color
timing of the
final print."

Listen to
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edited by Carl Rodrigue

Washington Post
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Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
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Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Starpulse's Jason Coleman sat down with Steven Bauer for a career-spanning interview, timed to the release of Scarface on Blu-Ray this week. Bauer talked about Brian De Palma's directing style, Oliver Stone's shocked reaction to being told that one of the scenes he had written for Scarface was not going to be filmed, and how De Palma restrained him for his role as Jack in Raising Cain. Here are some excerpts:

[Coleman] I’ve always wanted to know what De Palma is like as a director and specifically his filmmaking process when it come to working with the actors?

SB: Well, he was very, very hands off – he’s actually very trusting of the actors. He chooses great actors and let’s them do their thing. The most I ever saw him do was with Michelle. For us, he never said anything to us except ‘where are you walking in’ or ‘where do you want to do this’, you know? He let us play the scene and then he would move the camera. But with Michelle because she was so new, she was intimidated and it worked for the character and he kept her off balance I think. He wasn’t very nurturing and encouraging with her. She was having her issues of being the girl, the only girl, and us being in our own world and it worked for her. She explodes and she’s so angry and so done with Tony being such an ass and it was all about the boys. And that worked for her – she walked around like that. Really fragile and Brian didn't do anything to help that.

[Coleman] If screenplay writer Oliver Stone was on set a lot, were there any interesting discussions that came up between the two of you during shooting?

SB: Oliver was NOT on the set a lot – another news bulletin! Oliver was basically banned from the set after the second or third week out of seventeen weeks we shot. He was banned and the reason is because he had a lot to say about the scenes that he wrote and how they were played and what was said and everything. And once we started shooting it was like Oliver, please! Because he’d come around and he’d say, ‘What are you doing? What are you shooting today? What’s going on? What are you gonna do?’ And Brian would say, ‘Can you just relax and please let us do what we’re doing?’

[Coleman] Do you feel like it was that director side of Oliver coming to the surface?

SB: Absolutely! He was ready to go! He was ready to make his own movie! He couldn't help it! Put him on the set and he’s gonna tell you how to shoot the scene! It was just not a happy union - there was not a collaboration there at all. The collaboration was that he delivered this beautiful screenplay and we went to work with it. But his offerings were not welcome and eventually he was told in no uncertain terms that he was not welcome. And I think it really bugged the shit out of him – he was not a happy camper. One day he was standing outside the gates at Universal and I was pulling up and he called me over and he goes, ‘Hey, Steven! Steven!’ And I go, ‘What are you doing there?’ And he goes, ‘Well, they won’t let me on the set!’ So I said, ‘What?!’ And he goes, ‘Can you just tell me what your shooting today?’ (Laughs) And I remember this one moment – I can't tell you specifically, but the script was bigger then what we shot obviously and there were scenes we had to cut because they were to expensive. And I remember one day he found me and he goes, ‘Have you done the scene with the so and so...” and I said, ‘Uhhh...no, we’re not doing that scene.’ And he was like, ‘What do you mean you’re not doing that scene?’ And I’m like, ‘They cut it.’ And he goes, ‘Are you KIDDING me?!’ – like crazy! That’s another interesting thing that most people don't know.

[Coleman] "Raising Cain" was you second acting collaboration with De Palma – can you tell me what was both similar and different from working with him when you did "Scarface" vs. "Raising Cain?"

SB: "Raising Cain" is much more his comfort zone I think. "Scarface" was a tremendous undertaking and I’m one of those who really feel that no one could have done it like Brian De Palma. In that case I’m a Brian De Palma supporter and the way the film was made, the way the film is directed, "Scarface" is brilliant. The rhythm, tone and editing of it is perfect and a lot of that is him. Now that being said, I was sort of a skeptic before I met him and worked with him because the films that he made before "Scarface" always left me really frustrated. I was impressed by his technical and cinematic style, but I also felt manipulated always and I don't like feeling that as an audience member. I don't like feeling the director manipulating. So I wasn’t a big fan let’s just say, but when you get to "Raising Cain" after "Scarface," I’m a big fan. One more time he had me – I loved what he did with that movie. Loved the way it’s done, love the way it works on the senses and the surprises and I loved the acting in it. John Lithgow is amazing – he’s just so weird and goofy and beautiful. And he directed me really well too and he got a performance out of me I didn’t expect to deliver. I really thought of myself as much more active and he kept me really restrained, even in my physical appearance. I had to do everything possible to not fight him on it because it was like he wanted my hair combed all the time, he wanted the overcoat and he wanted me in a 3-piece suit. I said, ‘Why a 3-piece – why do I have to wear a vest?’ He goes, ‘Because I want you to be absolutely beautiful and gorgeous and I want you to be absolutely groomed perfectly in every scene – that’s who you are!’ (Laughs) He has these precepts and concepts on film visually that he imposes on the story and he’ll make it work, or not! In that movie it really works.

Bauer was also asked about his cameo in De Palma's Body Double ("It was just a cameo role that Brian put me in as a joke"), which he describes with just a bit of misremembrance (his cameo is actually during the "Holly Does Hollywood" commercial, not during the Frankie Goes To Hollywood segment), and several of his other films, including Steven Soderbergh's Traffic.

Posted by Geoff at 10:56 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 10:57 PM CDT
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Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Two Brian De Palma films were released today in the Blu-Ray format: Scarface and, from the director of Scarface, Dressed To Kill. Glenn Kenny offers a unique look at the latter by recalling the opinions of porn star Ron Jeremy, with whom Kenny knew through working as a production assistant in the porn industry during the "waning years of porno chic," as Kenny describes them. As Kenny explains, Jeremy felt that his past as a porn star would be less and less of a stigma as porn had been going through its "chic" years and mainstream films were becoming more permissive as far as depictions of sex:

Back in 1980 Mr. Jeremy was even more peculiarly delusional than he is depicted in the strangely poignant 2001 documentary Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy—albeit, perhaps, with better reason. A buff and boisterous 27 years of age, he was crowing to whoever would listen that he had just acquired his SAG card, and also completed some extra work in the new Woody Allen picture, which, as was even then the case with Woody Allen pictures, was as yet untitled. (My calculations put it as Stardust Memories, and I don't believe Ron made the final cut.) Because porno chic really still was a thing, and because of what was being perceived as the "new" or "newish" permissiveness in mainstream film, Ron believed that the porn thing would soon no longer be a stigma and that he'd be able to make a relatively painless and strain-free entry into the Hollywood firmament. I remember him waxing particularly eloquent on this topic with then-Playboy-writer David Rensin, who was visiting the set for an article and who sat around quietly dictating his notes into a mini-cassette recorder. Ron, I remember, had just done a threesome scene with two blondes that had sufficiently discombobulated him that he emerged from the bedroom set with his Fruit of the Loom briefs on inside-out. Warming to his topic, Jeremy ultimately decried the hypocrisy of the ratings system. "Did you see Dressed to Kill?" he asked Rensin. Of course he had; we'd all seen DePalma's Dressed to Kill, which had been released earlier that summer and was something of a succès de scandale. (Hey, look, I did the accent grave!!) I think I had seen it two or three times, 'cause me and my boys were big DePalma fans. Ron wasn't quite so sanguine about the picture. "I can't believe they gave that picture an R! It's total bullshit! I mean, come on. That shower scene in the beginning? I saw that finger go up there, you can't fool me. And they call US perverts."

Ron was referring of course, to the film's notorious opening shower-rape-fantasy scene, in which Angie Dickinson and, alternately, her nude double Penthouse Pet Victoria Lynn (and boy did Penthouse make hay out of THAT connection, if I recall correctly) are violently taken by an unknown hunky assailant. It was Mr. Jeremy's contention that the sex play in that scene indeed crossed the line into "hardcore," e.g., "penetration" and was getting away with something. Mr. Jeremy's subsequent public pronouncements, inasmuch as I've followed them, have not infrequently taken a similar why's-everybody-always-picking-on-me-when-somebody-else-is-doing-worse-stuff tone.

In Richard Schickel's recent Conversations With Scorsese, on page 116, Martin Scorsese delves into the days when porn was beginning to go mainstream:

[Discussing Taxi Driver]

Schickel: The woman—a society campaign worker—is attracted to Travis because he’s so out of her league, as it were. Her Junior League, I guess. Which makes this notion of taking her to a porn movie—

Scorsese: Oh! I know. Well, you have to remember, a lot of people don’t remember now, but at that time, they were trying to make porn acceptable, with Deep Throat and Sometimes Sweet Susan, and pictures like that.

Schickel: I went to a few of those.

Scorsese: It was okay to go with a girl. But Brian De Palma and I went to see Deep Throat, and he said, Look at the people around us, it doesn’t feel right. There were couples. I said, You’re right. We should be with all these old guys in raincoats. It was a wonderful kind of hypocritical thing that was happening—it opened up the society.

Posted by Geoff at 11:37 PM CDT
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Monday, September 5, 2011
A couple of days ago, I posted a link to the latest episode of The Projection Booth, which was devoted to Phantom Of The Paradise, and featured interviews with Jessica Harper and Ari, the Principal Archivist at The Swan Archives. Near the end of the program, the hosts asked Ari about the "dark side" of Phantom, namely the speculation that a photoplay published in a 1971 issue of National Lampoon called "The Phantom Of The Rock Opera" may have provided some inspiration for De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise (the photoplay can be viewed on the Swan Archives' Production page).

De Palma listened to the podcast, and said he "was quite impressed with Ari's understanding of Phantom Of The Paradise." However, the filmmaker would like to correct the speculative "dark side" mentioned above. "The 'revelation' that Phantom Of The Paradise was inspired by a National Lampoon satire is completely false," stated De Palma. "I have never read the National Lampoon and I can only guess the similarities are purely coincidental. Needless to to say, I have no problem borrowing from the classics, but this wasn't one of them."

Posted by Geoff at 6:20 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, September 5, 2011 6:21 PM CDT
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As Brian De Palma's Obsession turns 35 this year, it seems the perfect time for Robert Cumbow's essay on the film to be uncovered. Originally published in the January 1977 issue of Seattle's Movietone News, Cumbow's essay explores parallels between Obsession and Dante, but also digs deep into the ways De Palma's cinematic techniques provide subtextual clues to the psychological states of his characters (Obsession was written by Paul Schrader, based on a story by Schrader and De Palma). Cumbow (who also credits Grace Cumbow and Richard T. Jameson with assisting him in writing the piece) posited his own version of a 1977 "spoiler alert" by warning readers in his third paragraph that if they hadn't yet seen Obsession, "reading on can irreparably harm one’s experience of the film." I like the way Cumbow delves into the film's subtle clues in the following paragraph:

We are cinematographically tipped to LaSalle’s involvement in the plot against Court quite early in the film, even before we are fully aware there is such a plot. There is that arresting, unexpected, nobody’s point-of-view shot of LaSalle in the taxi, leaving Court in front of the Florentine church, LaSalle’s ambiguous expression inappropriately in focus while, through the rear window, Court blurs into the background as the taxi pulls away. But earlier still, we are given a stunning and troublesome presentiment of the increasing distance between the two partners (though at the time we may think Court’s obsession, not La Salle’s, to be the root of the separation): At a café party a drunken LaSalle lets slip his discontentment with Court’s disregard for money and his wasteful use of valuable park land as a memorial plot to his wife and daughter. Next day, Court and LaSalle face each other across a café table, more than a Panavision frame’s width between them, as we recall the previous evening’s moment of truth. As they talk, Zsigmond’s camera pans from one face to the other, distinctly not timing the pans with the alternating lines of dialogue, and racking focus as the camera rakes the space between the two men, fixing on the street scene outside the café window, so that each time the panning camera comes to rest on one or the other’s face, it must be refocused. This most dramatic stylistic emphasis stresses not only that both men are somehow out-of-synch with the real world, but also that they are no longer themselves compatible. Their partnership, no longer the unity of purpose it appeared to be in the opening sequence, has become a separateness of viewpoint and command.

Meanwhile, the PDF file of the entire Movietone News issue happens to include a year-end guide to the best films of 1976, a year that also saw the release of De Palma's Carrie. Cumbow listed Obsession as his film of the year, while Jameson found that film "tainted and trivializing," although he mentioned that Carrie came close to making his top ten (Cumbow found room for Carrie on his top ten list, and he also reviewed it near the end of the issue). Ken Eisler included Carrie in his top ten, and Rick Hermann included Obsession in his.

(Thanks to Peet!)

Posted by Geoff at 12:00 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, September 8, 2011 5:29 PM CDT
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Saturday, September 3, 2011
This past Wednesday's episode of The Projection Booth was devoted to Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise, and included a brief but fun interview with Jessica Harper. The entire episode, hosted by Mike and Mondo Justin, played host to Ari, the Principal Archivist at The Swan Archives, who shared bits from what seems like a limitless well of knowledge about Phantom Of The Paradise for almost a full hour. Ari differed with his hosts about each one's taste in De Palma's films in general (Ari loves them all, Mike and Mondo Justin, well, not so much), but all agreed that Phantom is something special. Harper talked about the Broadway (Hair) and Off Broadway (Dr. Selavy's Magic Theater) shows that led to her being discovered by De Palma and Paul Williams. She mentioned being in competition with Linda Ronstadt for the role of Phoenix, and that the dance she does in Phantom was "my own choreography," something she'd made up in rehearsal. Regarding De Palma, Harper says that the director was very helpful to her on Phantom, her first film. She said De Palma is able to get great performances out of people.

Posted by Geoff at 8:20 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, September 3, 2011 8:22 PM CDT
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Friday, September 2, 2011
There is a lot of misinformation going around the web right now regarding a trial that began Wednesday in Germany for the man who attacked American soldiers at the Frankfurt International Airport in March of this year, killing two and injuring two others. Several reports are citing other sloppy reports that claim that the Frankfurt shooter, Arid Uka, told a court in Germany yesterday that he was motivated to kill American soldiers heading to Afghanistan after he watched the movie Redacted. However, this is not what Uka said at all. What he said was that prior to the attack, he had been influenced by radical Islamic propaganda online. According to Stars And Stripes, Uka told the court that the night before the crime, he followed a link to a video posted on Facebook that purported to show American soldiers raping a teenage Muslim girl. According to a New York Times report from last March, Uka believed the video took place in Afghanistan. The video he viewed carried the title, “U.S. soldiers raping our sisters, wake up oh Ummah!” The video appropriated clips from Brian De Palma’s Redacted, sometimes with extraneous chanting and other audio over the clips. After the shootings, YouTube pulled the video from its site, but someone was able to capture it before it was pulled. It can be viewed at The Daily Caller.

According to German reporter Florian Flade, Uka, “a 21 year-old born in Kosovo, was member of a Facebook group spreading Islamic content.” It was on that group’s website that he found the link to the video described above. Campusblog captured parts of Uka’s Facebook page before it was taken down back in March. The blog claimed that Uka’s friends list “reads like a Who's Who of the German Islamist scene.” A separate New York Times article by Souad Mekhennet states that Uka had posted a link on his Facebook page to a jihadist battle hymn: “I can no longer stand this life of humiliation among you. My weapon is ready at all times.” The same article (from last March) states that “a German security official who is involved in the investigation but not authorized to speak about it said that Arid Uka had been friends with men known for their radical interpretation of Islam.” Mekhennet’s March 5th article mentions another video on Uka’s Facebook page:

On his Facebook page, Mr. Uka had a link on February 15 to a 4:42 minute-long Youtube video, with pictures of detainees in Guantanamo, chanting in Arabic with German subtitles: "I can not stand this life of humiliation." The video also features pictures of fighters and the clattering of machinegun fire.

German authorities believe that Arid Uka acted alone in the attack on March 2, 2011, and was not part of any terrorist organization, nor did he have any accomplices. A New York Times article by Jack Ewing and Souad Mekhennet from July 6 lays out what happened that day:

Mr. Uka, who had a temporary job sorting mail in the airport complex, went there armed with a pistol and two knives on the afternoon of March 2, prosecutors said, as they provided additional detail on the attack.

Authorities said that Mr. Uka spotted two airmen emerging from a baggage claim area in Terminal 2 of the airport, and followed them to an exit where a United States Air Force bus was waiting. Mr. Uka watched as 16 American military service members gradually arrived, then, shortly after 3 p.m., asked one of them for a cigarette and where the soldiers were heading.

After the airman confirmed that they were on their way to Afghanistan, Mr. Uka turned around, reached into his backpack and loaded a magazine into the pistol concealed there, authorities said.

Mr. Uka waited until almost all the airmen had boarded the bus, then shot one of them, 25-year-old Senior Airman Nicholas J. Alden, in the back of the head from about five feet away, prosecutors and Air Force officials said. Airman Alden died at the scene.

Boarding the bus, Mr. Uka then fatally shot 21-year-old Airman First Class Zachary R. Cuddeback in the driver’s seat and — repeatedly shouting “God is great” — seriously wounded two other men standing in the aisle of the bus, prosecutors said. One of them was blinded in one eye as a result.

The Air Force identified the two wounded men as Senior Airman Edgar Veguilla and Staff Sgt. Kris Schneider.

Mr. Uka next aimed the pistol point-blank at a 22-year-old airman who was trying to hide behind a seat, but the weapon jammed, prosecutors said. Mr. Uka then fled, pursued by an airman. He was captured by two German police officers in the terminal.

An Associated Press report about the trial, while not as detailed as the Star And Stripes report, stated that the clip Uka viewed from a Facebook link the night before the attack turned out to be “a scene from the 2007 anti-war Brian De Palma film Redacted, taken out of context.” The AP report was carried by most American media outlets. However, a BBC report simply stated that the video Uka viewed was “a scene from Brian De Palma's anti-war film, Redacted,” with no mention of context. This BBC report is used as the main source in a Daily Caller post with the headline, “Terrorist credits Hollywood for his recruitment.” This post by Neil Munro is blatantly inaccurate. It opens with the following statement: “A Balkan Muslim who killed two U.S. Air Force servicemen in March has told a German judge Wednesday that he was motivated after seeing the movie Redacted, made as a political statement in 2007 by Hollywood director Brian De Palma, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and several high-profile movie industry producers.” So now, all of a sudden, Uka had actually watched Redacted, in context and all? Definitely not.

That same paragraph is copied verbatim at the beginning of a Washington Times article, which in turn is linked to in an opinion piece by Yahoo’s Mark Whittington, who apparently thinks he is sourcing from the Washington Post (his link goes to the Washington Times article). With the headline, “Did Redacted Cross the Wrong Line Between Art, Life?”, Whittington seems to think that a man named “Arid Uki” was “one of the few” people in the world who “saw an anti-American, anti-war movie called Redacted.” Whittington stretches it again by stating that “a Muslim terrorist is citing an anti-American, anti-war movie directed by a famous American director as the motivation for his crimes.” (Redacted may be anti-war, but it is certainly not anti-American.) Meanwhile, Breitbart’s Christian Toto went back to the Daily Caller’s citing of the BBC article, which led him to state that Uka “saw the film [Redacted] and went on to kill two U.S. Air Force servicemen in March.” Toto continues, “Uka told a judge this week he was inspired by ‘the movie’s graphic depiction of U.S. soldiers raping a girl in Iraq,’ says The Daily Caller citing a BBC report.” As we have seen above, the video Uka watched was a video clip that appropriated clips from Redacted. These guys are suggesting that Uka watched De Palma’s movie in full and in context, which is so far from the truth it is incredibly embarrassing. Another one who sourced from the BBC article is Adam Martin at the Atlantic Wire, who posted the misleading headline, "Kosovo Man Says He Shot U.S. Airmen After Watching Redacted."

In any case, The Daily Caller’s Munro did get ahold of Redacted producer Jason Kliot, although he unfairly asked Kliot questions based on its own stretched truth (that Uka actually viewed Redacted). “I honestly had not heard about it,” Kliot told Munro. “I’m terribly sorry to hear that, but I don’t understand how my movie would impel anyone to commit murder. The real culprit here is the tragedy of war, it is not Brian De Palma’s brilliant film. I don’t see how people would be made to commit acts of violence [after watching Redacted], any more than they would for watching Fox News,” Kliot is quoted as saying.

Later in the article, Kliot is quoted again:

“War movies… show the nature of war,” Kliot said. “There is nothing more incendiary about telling the truth of what is happening in war.”

“Do Americans kill people in wars? Yes … [but] this is pro-American film, this is a pro-troops film… [because it shows the consequences] when soldiers are put in an impossible position,” Kliot said. “Right-wing nut-jobs” criticized the movie even though they had not watched it, he said.

Kliot said his movies show many sides of warfare, and cited his 2005 movie, The War Within, which shows a Pakistani preparing to murder Americans in New York’s Grand Central Station after he was radicalized by U.S. counter-terrorism policy. “Redacted is about ending wars, not starting them,” he said.

The Stars And Stripes article describes Uka’s confession on Wednesday (the first day of a trial that will take ten days, spread out on select Wednesdays between now and January). Here is the Stars And Stripes account of Uka’s confession (written by David McHugh and David Rising):

No pleas are entered in the German system, and Uka confessed to the killings after the indictment was read, telling the court "what I did was wrong but I cannot undo what I did." He went on to urge other radical Muslims not to seek inspiration in his attack, urging them not to be taken in by "lying propaganda" on the Internet.

Uka, dressed in jeans, sneakers and a crisp white shirt with rolled-up sleeves, smiled at his attorneys as he was brought in and his handcuffs were removed. But he wept repeatedly as he recounted the attack and watched the jihadist videos he said motivated him.

"To this day I try to understand what happened and why I did it... but I don't understand," he said, at times speaking so softly that court officials had to bring in a microphone and put it directly in front of him.

Cooperating with authorities and confessing can help reduce a defendant's sentence - but Uka refused to tell the court where he obtained the 9mm semi-automatic pistol he used, which Presiding Judge Thomas Sagebiel said meant his confession was incomplete.

Uka described becoming increasingly introverted in the months before the attack, staying at home and playing computer games and watching Islamic extremist propaganda on the Internet.

The night before the crime, Uka said, he followed a link to a video posted on Facebook that purported to show American soldiers raping a teenage Muslim girl. It turned out to be a scene from the 2007 anti-war Brian De Palma film Redacted, taken out of context.

He said he then decided he should do anything possible to prevent more American soldiers from going to Afghanistan.

"I thought what I saw in that video, these people would do in Afghanistan," he told the court, his voice choking with emotion as he wiped away tears.

Uka conceded when asked by prosecutor Jochen Weingarten that the airman driving the bus had not been going to Afghanistan. On the bus on the way to the airport to look for victims, he said he listened to Islamic music on his iPod while nursing doubts that he'd be able to follow through with his plan.

"On the one hand I wanted to do something to help the women, and on the other hand I hoped I would not see any soldiers," he told the court.

He says he now does not understand why he went through with the killings.

"If you ask me why I did this, I can only say ... I don't understand anymore how I went that far."

Prosecutors introduced evidence from Uka's laptop, cell phone and iPod, which included hundreds of files containing jihadist videos, literature, sermons and songs.

One song went, "Mother be strong, your son is on jihad," and "do not mourn for me." A video showed rifle-toting Islamic fighters in Pakistan, and a bullet-holed target with "Obama" scrawled on it.

Posted by Geoff at 12:10 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, September 5, 2011 6:34 PM CDT
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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Posted by Geoff at 7:49 PM CDT
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Friday, August 26, 2011
As we are in the midst of what has turned into an impromptu Scarface week, we might as well point out that several critics/viewers are noting Scarface references in the new Luc Besson-produced Colombiana, which is directed by Olivier Megaton, and opens today. (The film is loosely based on Besson's orginal idea for a sequel to Léon.) The main character in Colombiana, according to one blogger, has a poster of Scarface, which was already in the room she inherits when her uncle takes her in (the room belonged to the uncle's late son). A couple of people also mentioned Mission: Impossible as a reference for scenes such as the one pictured here. Below are some links and quotes:

Salon's Andrew O'Hehir
"...a trashy and ridiculous blend of La Femme Nikita, Scarface and Fast Five."

The New York Times' Mike Hale
"Colombiana isn’t content to be a comic-book joyride (though it is that); it has pretensions to a more turgid class of revenge melodrama, along the lines of Tony Scott’s Man on Fire. It also has pretensions, period: Mr. Megaton sprinkles in homages to Francis Ford Coppola (Ms. [Zoe] Saldana’s rising out of the water like Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now) and Brian De Palma (the climactic sequence at a drug lord’s lair is redolent of Scarface). The overall effect is distancing; there are some early comic moments that have you laughing along with the movie, but eventually the clashing tones and preposterousness just have you laughing."

Advance Screening's Matthew Fong
"Were your parents murdered in front of you as a child? Well Cataleya’s were and she instantly plotted revenge. There’s something eerily cute when a little 9 year-old girl replies to the question, 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' with 'a killer' (in a Colombian accent). She reads Xena: Warrior Princess and wants to become a warrior princess herself. Cliff Curtis plays Emilio Restrepo, Cataleya’s uncle, who takes care of her and trains her to become an assassin. He sets her up in his late son’s room which is filled with guns and a poster of Scarface so you can see what her influences were."

Movieline's Jen Yamato
"...watching the film there are a handful of notable nods to Colombiana’s genre predecessors — basically, every Luc Besson movie, The Professional and La Femme Nikita, and even a touch of Scarface."

indieWIRE's Drew Taylor
"Instead of a young American girl tutored by an aging French hitman, though [as in Léon], Colombiana is first set in Colombia, with the aforementioned parent-murdering (the little girl’s father was involved in some shady cartel business). The little girl then goes to Chicago where she’s taken in by her equally shady uncle (Cliff Curtis). The little girl, named Cataleya Restrepo, after a rare Amazonian orchid, wants her uncle to teach her how to murder, which he rejects by randomly firing his gun at a passing car (and presumably killing a perfectly innocent pedestrian). “Is that what you want?” he asks her, passion bubbling in his Al Pacino-in-Scarface-accented voice. She says no, she’ll wait, but it’s a shocking, clumsy moment that the audience barely has any time to recover from.

The movie then snaps forward 15 years, to Los Angeles, where Cataleya is now grown and carrying out a cleverly elaborate hit job in a local prison. Her target is Latin American, and she brands the corpse with her signature (a curlicue scribble of her namesake), so we assume that this victim had something to do with her parents’ murder. It adds a juicy jolt of thrills to the ingeniously plotted maneuver, which has all the hallmarks of a great Mission: Impossible jaunt, with the added bonus of Saldana pouring herself into a slinky black catsuit."

Not A Supermom
"And after a hard day of killing, there’s nothing Catalaya likes to do better than to return home, strip off, do a little sexy-dance around her empty apartment, take a shower and then spend a full minute eating a lollipop. Just like Pacino in Scarface! There are a few call-backs to Scarface in this movie, as well as the Lethal Weapon franchise. When she visits the FBI agent tracking her, you can almost hear him say that he’s 'too old for this'…stuff... Thankfully, Catalaya abstains from post-mortem one-liners. But feel free to add some in your own head throughout the movie. When she is standing on a balcony in the mansion and raining bullets down on the cartel henchmen, I defy you not to think 'Say hello to my little friend'."

Tr3s' Michael Lopez
"The final invasion on El Don is something straight out of Scarface, complete with machine guns, grenades, and choreographed head butts. Unfortunately, every action moment in this movie felt a bit too familiar. Cataleya's jail escapes mirrored Mission Impossible, her fights seemed like Guy Ritchie retreads, and so on. Colombiana definitely brings the action, but somehow lacks the punch."

Posted by Geoff at 7:46 PM CDT
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Thursday, August 25, 2011

My San Antonio interview with card set contest winner

Total Film


Posted by Geoff at 8:00 PM CDT
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Recaps of last night's Scarface cast reunion have flooded the web today, so below is a list of links to a few of them. Also, Livestream has been replaying the hour-long cast discussion from last night, so if you missed it, you can go two posts below this one and click the play icon to watch it. I've noticed in some of these recaps, quotes are sometimes attributed to the wrong person, and some are taken out of context of the longer story, so I will try to get my own transcription of some of these a bit later. For now, suffice it to say that Al Pacino kept talking about the melding of Brian De Palma and Oliver Stone, two forces he had expected to clash, but somehow blended very well (although producer Martin Bregman is said (by Bauer, I believe) to have banned Stone from the set to avoid such arguments). Also, Livestream was showing clips from what appears to be a new documentary for the Blu-Ray that comes out September 6th. The clips showed several people talking about the imact of Scarface, including Scarface Nation author Ken Tucker (the book received a shout-out from Pacino last night), L.A. Banks, author of the prequel novel, Scarface: The Beginning, that came out in 2006, and Jillian Reynolds, among others.

Associated Press

Movieline's 9 Revelations About the Gangster Classic

Collider Attends the SCARFACE Blu-Ray Party

The Daily Mail

The Montreal Gazette

Home Media Magazine

The Wrap - 'Scarface' Gang Thanks Spielberg & Scorsese for Early Support at Reunion Bash

The Examiner - Ludacris joins Al Pacino, Robert Loggia, and Steven Bauer in ‘Scarface’ reunion

MTV - 'Scarface' Hip-Hop Fans 'Really Get It,' Al Pacino Says

ABC Local - KABC

Entertainment Tonight

Big Hollywood's Jim Nolte:
"Scarface ranks in the Top 10 Most Re-watchable" DVDs

Posted by Geoff at 10:39 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 10:40 PM CDT
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