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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
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De Palma a la Mod

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

[Note: the role of the shrink in Mr. Jealousy ended up being played by Peter Bogdanovich. De Palma did appear as a "Famous American Movie Director" in the extremely hard to find German film, Rotwang muß weg! (1994), written and directed by Hans-Christoph Blumenberg.]

Pictured above: Scott Foundas (left) moderating "On Cinema" discussion between Brian De Palma and Noah Baumbach at the New York Film Festival Sunday.

Posted by Geoff at 8:43 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, October 7, 2012 10:33 PM CDT
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[Note: according to Deadline's Mike Fleming, 20th Century Fox acquired the rights to Gone Girl this past summer, and has it in development with producers Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea (both with Pacific Standard), and Leslie Dixon. Gillian Flynn herself is working on the screen adaptation, with no director or cast yet mentioned.]

Posted by Geoff at 2:24 AM CDT
Updated: Sunday, October 7, 2012 10:45 PM CDT
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Saturday, October 6, 2012
Brian De Palma's phenomenal Phantom Of The Paradise screens at 12:05 tonight (Saturday) at Brooklyn's Nighthawk Cinema. (So if you happen to be lucky enough to be heading to tonight's 9pm screening of De Palma's Passion at the Walter Reade Theater, you could make it a De Palma double feature, with a nice break in between.) The Principal Archivist at The Swan Archives notes that it will be a DCP screening, which, despite all the troubles with the DCP [non-]screening of Passion a week ago, should make for a pristine cinematic experience. "DCP," the Archivist adds, "provides a super high quality, scratch and splice free presentation with remixed sound...the [Phantom Of The Paradise] has never looked or sounded better." Phantom also screened last night at midnight at the Nighthawk.

Meanwhile, as if on cue, Critics At Large's Kevin Courrier has done a nice write up of this "neglected gem." Although he seems to have confused the lyrics for Paul Williams' Phantom's Theme with those of Williams' Faust, Courrier provides a brief history of artists' intrigue with the Faust myth throughout the years, leading up to Courrier's disappointment with Randy Newman's 1993 musical Faust, which the critic felt was too literal. "De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise, by contrast with Newman, has an imaginative power that links our associations with the legend of Faust to what we've already stored up from popular culture."

In his opening paragraph, Courrier mentions that he screened Phantom in a class on Alfred Hitchcock and De Palma: "Director Brian De Palma has accumulated a long list of neglected gems (The Fury, Blow Out, Casualties of War, Redacted), but the one whose neglect makes the least sense is his ingenious satirical rock musical, Phantom of the Paradise (1974). Fiendishly clever and percolating with film-making fever, De Palma provides ingenious allusions to Phantom of the Opera, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and The Picture of Dorian Gray. (Last year, while teaching a class on Alfred Hitchcock and Brian De Palma, I had more angry responses to this picture than some of De Palma's more inflammatory work.) But this pulsing musical comedy is an exhilarating modern retelling of the Faust myth (with roots in Dante's Divine Comedy) wherein a man becomes so consumed by his thirst for divine knowledge that he sells his soul to the Devil. In Phantom of the Paradise, though, the thirst is for something perhaps a little less lofty: rock immortality."

Posted by Geoff at 7:11 PM CDT
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Posted by Geoff at 12:51 PM CDT
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Friday, October 5, 2012

Posted by Geoff at 7:48 PM CDT
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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Posted by Geoff at 6:58 PM CDT
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Peter Labuza has written about Brian De Palma's Passion for his own blog, disussed it on his Cinephiliacs podcast, and now writes about it again for Indiewire. This time, Labuza includes Passion in an article that groups together three films at the New York Film Festival that "question our evolving relationship to the digital." The other two films are Leos Carax' Holy Motors and Alain Resnais' You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet. "Of the three," writes Labuza, "Passion is the most optimistic, even if it tells a gruesome story of betrayal and revenge."

Discussing the technology on display in Passion,Labuza writes, "De Palma’s obsession with the digital image -- camera phones, security footage, amateur sex tapes -- becomes not only essential to the narrative, but a startling vision of how technology runs our society and reveals truth...[skipping a potential spoiler]... De Palma shot Passion on 35mm, a red herring if there ever was one, to juxtapose celluloid and digital images. Andre Bazin suggested film captures light from the moment of reality, and thus has an indexical relation to the real. But in De Palma’s world, the real itself is an illusion, and one can only place their faith in digital."

"The decision to take the narrative from the 2010 French film Love Crime by Alain Corneau might seem odd," writes Labuza, "and some of the angry reactions to Passion have approached the film naively by examining it only as camp (an easy task when you have lines like 'Do you think I don’t see what’s going on in that dyke brain of yours?'). But to dismiss Passion as nothing more than a film with an occasional interesting camera movement seems ignorant, if not downright lazy."

And camp is precisely the approach taken by Film School Rejects' Caitlin Hughes, who seems to assume that De Palma was aiming for camp. The opening of her Passion review tries to Film School the reader: "Good camp films know what they are doing. They manipulate the audience into feeling exaggerated sorts of emotion and possess a sort of bravura that makes them unabashedly watchable. Based on Alain Corneau’s 2010 film Love Crime, Brian De Palma’s new offering, Passion, is definitely campy, but oftentimes it borders on just plain stupid. It is aimlessly over-the-top with eye-rolling twists and turns – for nearly the last quarter of the film, De Palma wastes the audience’s time with fake out after fake out (just kidding, guys – she was dreaming… TIMES FIVE!). The director lacks the artfulness in filmmaking that he once possessed in classics like Dressed to Kill." (The latter film is classified by Hughes as "good camp.")

Hughes seems to be confused by the film: "Passion’s mostly generic look makes you yearn for the saturated filmy-ness that was indicative of De Palma’s earlier work. This film could be made by anyone and lacks many of the notable De Palma stylistic traits. Toward the end, he suddenly switches to heavy-handed chiaroscuro lighting, which then also abruptly stops. No symbolism behind this is made evident. This inconsistent cinematography in combination with De Palma regular Pino Donaggio’s bizarrely ‘80s-TV-movie-sounding score makes for quite the odd final product. Passion is so teetering on the edge of bad that it might end up being screened ironically in a couple of years, as Showgirls is now."

Hughes followed up her review a couple of days later with a side-by-side "cat fight" between Paul Verhoeven's Showgirls and Passion. Hughes' final verdict:


"Showgirls wins out in 4 out of 7 categories, but Passion is only just trailing behind. Will Passion become a camp classic in years to come? It’s hard to say. While it has the prestige of being directed by Brian De Palma and of starring A-list actresses, its content is fairly ridiculous. There is a heavily-featured sex mask, after all.

"It will, undoubtedly, be included at camp classic screenings, but it might take a while for its campiness to marinate in pop culture. Passion is campy, but Showgirls is beyond campy, thanks largely to Elizabeth Berkley. Cristal and Nomi have a pop culture rivalry for the ages that while they come close, Christine and Isabelle can’t quite match their hilarious badness."

Posted by Geoff at 1:18 AM CDT
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Monday, October 1, 2012

Noting that "Brian De Palma and Noah Baumbach have become thick as thieves," The Village Voice's Nick Pinkerton reviews the two filmmakers' new films side-by-side. "While De Palma's black comedy re-phrases Godard's 'To live in society today is like living in one enormous comic-strip' to a contemporary 'To live in society today is like living in a digital hall-of-mirrors'," writes Pinkerton, "Frances Ha is blown along by the French New Wave's gentler spirits." Pinkerton playfully toys with an attempt to link the two filmmakers' works together, at one point writing of Frances Ha that "Frances repeatedly describes Sophie and herself as 'the same person'--Identical twins? A hidden thematic link between De Palma and Baumbach?"

Aside from all that, for Pinkerton, the "Ass cam" commercial in De Palma's film is "the perfect gag for a film about watching your back. The premise comes from an actual Levi's campaign, and it's the sort of Candid Camera scopophilia that has always been peekaboo De Palma's stock-in-trade, updated in Passion to a 21st century world whose inhabitants live in public in transparent corporate-park glass boxes, where personalities are infinitely fractured and refracted through ubiquitous image capture (smartphone sex tapes, security cameras, Skype conference), the weapons of choice in this three-way dual."

Pinkerton continues, "The color-coded casting--McAdams is blonde, Rapace brunette, Herfurth a redhead--has nothing to do with the director's positioning the women as symbolic placeholders representing various aspects of femininity. They're not merely passive subjects. De Palma respects his heroines as equal participants in his masquerade, colleagues in the field of image-making--McAdams at one point appears with the 'Image' of a Koch Image sign iconographically situated behind her--working towards hidden objectives from under cover of their archetypal roles, less clearly-delineated personalities than stand-in avatars representing themselves in a real-world that is ever more dissonantly virtual, their every interaction offering multivalent readings.

"McAdams, for example, does a fine (faux-?) heart-to-heart with Rapace, crying (crocodile?) tears over the girlhood death of a twin sister, a scene whose almost parodic pathos confounds comfortable response--as does Passion. Like most De Palma, it works perfectly well as slinky 'fun trash'--all the while throwing off infinitely more ideas per minute than works which present themselves to the public under the cumbersome mantle of art."

(Regarding the "trash" aesthetic, note De Palma's comment to MUBI's Daniel Kasman: "That's what I also don't like, when they say 'shoddy' and 'trashy,' when we try to make these people look as gloriously beautiful as we can. I keep wondering, 'What are you watching? Are you watching the screen?'”)

An image from Frances Ha:

Posted by Geoff at 11:48 PM CDT
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MUBI's Daniel Kasman today posted a fantastic interview with Brian De Palma, mostly about Passion (and watch out for possible minor spoilers within), but the conversation also gets into all kinds of film-related areas: TCM retrospectives, De Palma's relationship with composers, some key movies he's seen at film fests over the years, Greta Garbo, etc., etc.

In the midst of a discussion on composers De Palma has worked with, he talks a bit about working with Pino Donaggio on the new film. "With Pino," De Palma tells Kasman, "I worked on temp tracks for each of the cues, then changed them as we got closer and closer together to the feel of the scenes. One typical example was Noomi's breakdown, where I originally had that marvelous music from Contempt. There's nothing more beautiful than that, so our goal was to try to approach it."

De Palma mentions (again) all the beautiful women in Passion, "like my fabulous ballerina, who was just extraordinarily beautiful." And that's her, Polina Semionova, pictured here and below. In the following excerpt, De Palma briefly discusses filming in Berlin, the pervasive use of phones in Passion, and provides more details about his original idea to open Passion with a play on Christopher Nolan's Inception:

KASMAN: I love that the film is ostensibly set in Berlin but it's not until two-thirds the way through the film that people are speaking in German and are subtitled. It really does feel “international.” I remember the first time I went to Berlin was for the film festival, which is centered at Potsdamer Platz, which is also where much of Passion is shot. I couldn't believe that this was Berlin, was a city, this strange, anonymously post-modern mall / office complex / multiplex. It was unreal to see this expressed in your film, this transnational corporate space. It could have been London, or many, many other places.

DE PALMA: Yeah, and we also have the advertisement for the [film's] ballet on Potsdamer's big screen, but I don't think many catch that.

KASMAN: One of the things I really love about your films is that they are real records of the technology being used at the time of their creation. With Passion, its use of Skype and cameras that can record video—you're no longer making phone calls, you're making video calls. When you're writing the screenplay, are you integrating this technology into your plotting?

DE PALMA: I'm very aware of technical innovations. I used to build computers when I was in high school, knew every new technical advance. That sort of Internet, computer stuff I sort of play with as a hobby. It's fascinating to me. The most strange thing you notice in the last ten years is everybody walking around with these things [picks up my cellphone]. I'm always looking at people walking down the street looking like this [peers intently at the screen, mimes touching the phone's buttons], talking across tables and doing this. So, I thought to use this as a sort of weapon, almost, in a movie, first start the whole things as a commercial for this experience. It's very funny, ironically with the new iPhone there's all these competing smartphones that have commercials which try to satirize this very use and experience. Originally, the cellphone commercial in the film was going to be based on something out of Inception. The whole movie deals with dreams and the creation of this idea from Noomi [Rapace]'s subconscious. I had this whole, very complicated, three level thing where they finally find the key and it's the key to a vault and in it's the Panasonic phone. But I had some director fans of mine read this, and they liked the script but said “You can't do Inception!” And I asked why, commercials are constantly copying movies; but they suggested I think of something else. I thought for a while and looked on the Internet and there was this commercial—that I replicated, practically. My commercial is based on a real one, with two girls, one of whom stuck a phone in her back pocket, had people staring at her ass while it photographed them, and put up on the Internet. It went viral but people found out a week or two later it was created by two advertising executives.

KASMAN: You say you replicated it, and while I haven't seen the original, one of the first shots of the commercial is very much your image, of a multi-paned mirror and the women refracted across it.

DE PALMA: We did add the mirrors, but it's very much like the original commercial.

KASMAN: Clearly whether directly or not, the original commercial is inspired by the sort of paranoia of surveillance technology you've been making films about for ages. I suppose you are satirizing something that is already playing off your cinema. Yet, in something like Dressed to Kill, this surveillance technology is a niche thing, the boy is a geek and he happens to have this as a hobby. Whereas now, at the end of your new film we see a character recording an entire crime with a cell phone—this is no longer an unusual act performed by an outsider. Any consumer now has a device in their pocket that can record a crime or blackmail a person.

DE PALMA: Or follow someone and record them.

KASMAN: Exactly. It's not strange any more, the potential seems to be pervasive.

DE PALMA: That was the whole idea, having the phones and their many uses play across the whole movie, leading into the surrealistic last dream. Phones are always ringing—that's something else I've observed: in a restaurant a phone rings and everyone grabs for theirs. It could be their phones, whose phone is it?


Posted by Geoff at 5:51 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, October 1, 2012 11:15 PM CDT
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Posted by Geoff at 4:53 PM CDT
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