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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


Cultural Weekly

A Lonely Place

The Film Doctor


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

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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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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Posted by Geoff at 7:38 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, April 4, 2013 9:54 PM CDT
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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Career of Paul Thomas Anderson in Five Shots from Kevin B. Lee on Vimeo.

Posted by Geoff at 10:58 PM CDT
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Tuesday, April 2, 2013
At left is one of two unused designs created by F Ron Miller for the Criterion edition of Brian De Palma's Blow Out, which was released on DVD and Blu-Ray two years ago this month. Below is the text Miller included in his blog post today of the two designs (go to the link to see the other design).

"These are a couple of unused cover concepts for The Criterion Collection edition of Brian De Palma's Blow Out. The brief at the time was to bring the technology of the story somehow on to the cover design. John Travolta plays a movie soundman who's an ear-witness to a murder. His tools of the trade are a microphone and a reel-to-reel recorder. There's a terrific shot of the tire going pop and it seemed a natural to me to fuse it with an image of a tape reel. When the Travolta character retreats to his sound studio to piece together the crime he attempts to synchronize it with a moving image --thus the perforated audio tape with the X that marks the spot. This was one of those titles where the type was freighted with specific requirements. The stars names have to appear above the title in the same size and color as the film title. It's a tricky proposition when their names are as long as they are and the film title is as short as it is. Eric Skillman came up with the cover that was ultimately used. He cleverly laid type over space and objects in the frame which helped to direct the eye and let the title be readily seen."

Posted by Geoff at 11:31 PM CDT
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Monday, April 1, 2013
Ari, the Principal Archivist at The Swan Archives, continues to uncover and present amazing artifacts from the production of Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise. He recently added loads of new items, mostly to the Promotion and Production pages, including: De Palma's bill for the Los Angeles hotel he stayed at during the shooting of the film; a handwritten and signed note from Sissy Spacek in which she records that she spent $16.12 "for pink satin for Phoenix's dressing room" (likely at Goodwill, according to the site); Gerrit Graham's rental receipt for Beef's guitar; and so much more.

There is a letter from Edward Pressman to 20th Century Fox highlighting holes in the studio's New York marketing for Phantom just a week prior to its premiere. Pressman presents a laundry list of concerns, from lack of posters in New York, to wondering when the radio promotion will begin in New York (and wondering when the records will get to the DJs), to what celebrities will be coming to the New York opening. "Brian says Kristoferson and Coolidge want to come," Pressman writes. "Bette Midler wants to come, according to Lloyd, and, he said, Jagger and Alice Cooper. Do you want to contact Pat Luce, Paul Williams, etc. to get some more names?"

Have a look around the archives for these and much more.

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 12:20 AM CDT
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Sunday, March 31, 2013
French film critic and historian Jean Douchet does an annual lecture series at Institut Lumiere, and this year focused on four films of Brian De Palma. Videos of the analyses, which took place March 15 and 16, were posted online this past week. (Thanks to Alexandre!)

Posted by Geoff at 2:09 PM CDT
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Saturday, March 30, 2013
Scott Derrickson's Sinister was released on DVD recently, and spoke with Film School Rejects' Jack Giroux about the influence of Brian De Palma's Blow Out on his film.

"For me," Derrickson told Giroux, "the biggest influence of Blow Out was seeing how De Palma made something so compelling out of a guy sitting alone in his office. It was the specifics of [John] Travolta’s action that made it all work – the originality of the sound/picture technology he was working with. That made me think that the Super 8 film and projector needed to be not only authentic but interesting in the details. There’s a lot of footage of the projector and of editing the film, which comes straight from Blow Out. And I also think the more general idea of a murder mystery explored through film technology had a lot of influence on the script."

Posted by Geoff at 8:20 PM CDT
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Friday, March 29, 2013

From Calum Marsh's Slant review:

"But then, with little warning, things veer into markedly stranger territory, as the decadent, almost classic melodrama of the film's first two acts suddenly gives way to full-blown theatrical maximalism, with erotic liaisons erupting into garish displays of unholy abandon. The film quickly becomes a catalogue of aestheticized depravity, with Judith's cautionary-tale descent into hedonism expressed as a thick slice of exploitation cinema. From exaggeratedly steamy sex sessions to car windows smashed in rage, from laser-lit dens of nightlife sin to last-minute soap revelations (including an honest-to-goodness AIDS scare), [Tyler] Perry's Temptation appears across its last act more like Brian De Palma's Temptation, relishing the excess to such a pronounced degree that it's hard to tell what's meant to be taken ironically. Like De Palma, Perry embellishes every sensual detail, making a real show of lust and caution, blowing up the emotion and the style in equal measure. It results in a bizarre sort of friction—one that's very much jarring, but in a perverse way also rather mesmerizing—that simultaneously heightens the pleasure of the melodrama while severely reducing its credibility.

"For better or worse, Temptation isn't Good Deeds, though at its core it contains a similar honesty, its form is drastically wilder, careening into a stylistic ostentation at odds with both the heart of the material and the director's body of work. Perry has never been an especially extravagant visual stylist, but he does have a tendency to depict on-screen romance with a warmth and intimacy that borders on sensual (particularly where the steam of a shower is involved). Here that quality comes to practically define the aesthetic, pushed to an extreme that, once the prospect of violence enters the picture, makes it seem ripped from Dressed to Kill. (Because Temptation involves infidelity and stars black actors, it's been compared by some critics to Obsessed, but in terms of look and feel it's much closer to Obsession.) It's never clear, however, whether these over-the-top embellishments are meant to encourage or discourage identification, and it's hard to reconcile the conventional seriousness of the film's first two acts with the ostensible absurdity of its last act. If the point is to expand an already Christian-themed morality play to suitably biblical proportions, the gambit isn't so effective. And if the point, as it often is with De Palma, is to both relish and critique its own showy artifice (perhaps it's a demented vision of infidelity's worse-case scenario?), it isn't apparent how that meta-strategy relates to the apparent earnestness of the beginnings. But in any case, the last-act foray into veritable camp is certainly provocative, a quality with value of its own."

Posted by Geoff at 5:43 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, March 30, 2013 2:50 PM CDT
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Thursday, March 28, 2013
Screen Daily reported today that Metrodome has acquired U.K. and Ireland rights to Brian De Palma's Passion. Expect a theatrical release later this year, according to the article.

Meanwhile, last week it was announced that ARP Selection will release a PAL Region 2 DVD and Blu-Ray of Passion on June 18.

We reported last week that several sites are listing Passion as a "limited release" on June 7th. Earlier this month, Canadian magazine The Gate tweeted that its interview with De Palma would coincide with the film's release in June.

Now, earlier this week, The Film Stage's Nick Newman wrote, "We’ve received word that Brian De Palma‘s Passion, a title anticipated by many around these here parts, is finally coming to U.S. theaters this July, courtesy of eOne." For whatever reason, this particular story was picked up and retweeted all over the place, and now it is widely assumed that Passion will open in July. But this does not explain why so many sites, as mentioned above, specifically list the June 7 date (for "limited release"). It is possible that eOne is planning a slow rollout for the film to spread across the U.S., which would delve into July (and maybe later) in some parts of the country. Or perhaps June 7 is the "limited release" date, and July (sometime in July) will see a wide/wider release. We can only hope. Anyway, back on March 8, one of our sources received word from the Passion publicity firm stating that Passion will be released in the U.S. in June. Perhaps that has been altered or modified since then.

Posted by Geoff at 5:32 PM CDT
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Hemut Prein was hired to be gaffer to Passion cinematographer Jose Luis Arcaine (pictured above, with Brian De Palma). Prein has shared pictures and technical information about the fluorescent lights used for Passion with the Cinetel website. Prein states that it was his idea to have a package of fluorescent lights shipped in to the set from Madrid, where they were built by Cinetel according to the specifications of Alcaine, who pioneered the use of such lights as the key source in film lighting. Prein provides technical details about use of the lights, and also some photos, two more of which appear below. (Thanks to Chris for telling us about the photos!)

Posted by Geoff at 1:41 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, March 28, 2013 1:44 AM CDT
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Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Thanks to Christian for pointing us to a new series that began last week at Filmwell, in which Ryan Holt discusses Brian De Palma's cinema and Chris Dumas's recent book Un-American Psycho. Dumas has admitted the error of dismissing De Palma's Obsession in his book as a "work-for-hire," and of course, it is to be expected that many reading the book as it currently exists will find serious fault with this stumbling block, as did Adrian Martin. Nevertheless, Holt sees that "Dumas’ conception of De Palma as a failed revolutionary who has embedded the narrative of that failure in his films leads to some compelling engagement with De Palma’s work." This leads Holt to examine Obsession by looking at the "analogical structures" contained within the film, and contrasting it with those contained in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo. Doing so allows Holt to argue that Obsession is part of the same line of political filmmaking "built on a Hitchockian skeleton" (to quote Dumas) that, according to Dumas, began with Sisters.

Far from simply a mere attempted remake of Vertigo, Holt shows how Obsession veers from its source:

"Critics have often remarked on the presence of analogues for the screen-spectator relationship in Vertigo. Vertigo’s protagonist, Scottie, can be seen as progressing from the role of 'film watcher' (his interaction in Gavin Elster’s fictional ghost story) to 'film director' (his obsessive recreation of Gavin Elster’s fictional ghost story). However, this understanding cannot be applied to Obsession. Obsession’s protagonist, Michael Courtland, never progresses from 'film watcher' to 'film director,' though he can at least be said to the former. Obsession actually opens with a film of sorts: a title sequence montage of home photos that turns out to be the slide-show at Courtland’s wedding anniversary party. But this is really not a 'film' at all, as much as it is Courtland’s actual life; insofar as there is a 'film' Courtland watches, it is the intricately-conceived fantasy masterminded by his sinister business partner, Robert Lasalle.

This points to a key shift of narrative emphasis and structure from Vertigo to Obsession, the latter of which places significantly greater emphasis on the role of the manipulator. In Vertigo, the manipulator, Gavin Elster, fades from the picture around the halfway mark, but in Obsession, Lasalle remains a significant presence right up until the film’s climax. Obsession goes to great pains to emphasize Courtland’s business relationship with Lasalle, the details of which are explained in the opening minutes of the film and ultimately provide the key motivation for Lasalle’s villainy. De Palma further emphasizes Lasalle’s role in other ways, by directing John Lithgow to deliver an outrageous performance, accentuated by his outrageous Colonel Sanders appearance and accent—which puts the lie to Dumas claim that Obsession “may be said to be without humor” (59).

Lasalle may be built on the framework of Vertigo’s Gavin Elster, but in the way Obsession emphasizes his role as a devilish business partner, he seems closer to Phantom of the Paradise’s Swan, a manipulative businessman whose greed leaves no room for innocence. Swan and Lasalle both relentlessly seek to exploit the naïve in pursuit of their own interests. Take the Lasalle/Courtland confrontation scene, which has no precedent or parallel in Vertigo. Vertigo’s Scottie uncovers the scheme by himself, proceeding to very carefully deduce every feature and aspect of the plot, and takes his aggression out on Judy, not on Elster, who has since vanished from the picture. In Obsession, Lasalle reveals the plot to Courtland—Courtland is so desperate to believe that his wife has returned to him that he ignores all warnings and signs to the contrary—and taunts Courtland about his privileging of romanticism over financial gain. Like Phantom’s Winslow Leach, Courtland turns violent, murdering his manipulator.

Of course, the scheme hinges on romance, and once again we find substantial differences between the leading ladies in Vertigo and Obsession. Vertigo’s Judy/Madeleine remains defined by Scottie’s perception of her; she exists in the film only in relationship to Scottie. Obsession breaks away from this—leading Dumas to proclaim that Obsession fails locate 'the central theoretical issue in Vertigo (that la femme n’existe pas)' (59). But he does not consider the significance of this break, the shift from 'the woman does not exist' to 'the woman exists, but she is not who you think she is, and she is also a victim.' Amy/Sandra, Michael’s daughter who pretends to be his reincarnated wife, shares Michael’s tragedy, but from a different vantage point, and has become obsessed with her father’s failure and absence, and therefore mirrors Courtland in a way that Madeleine/Judy could never mirror Scottie. The love story of Obsession is the story of two damaged, exploited people, each playing a part in Lasalle’s scheme, never completely aware of their shared relationship with one another until the finale.

That final scene proves to be Obsession’s master-stroke, a brilliant revision of Vertigo which collapses reunion and loss into a single event. Where Vertigo concludes with a repetition of death, a brutal, devastating loss and a literal gaze into the abyss, in Obsession, the abyss is present in the reunion. Father and daughter are reunited at last, but what they have gone through has hopelessly shattered their relationship to one another and their sense of self (in the original cut of the film, their relationship had been demolished by consummated incest; concerns about censorship led to the transformation of their consummation of marriage into an ambiguous dream sequence, leaving incestuous overtones without sexual consummation). The camera whirls around them, in the same move from Vertigo’s famous 'reunion' sequence—but here, the camera is manic, spiraling out of control as Amy endlessly mutters 'daddy, daddy' and Courtland moves from shocked realization to mad laughter."


The second essay in the De Palma/Dumas series, De Palmian Dissonance, was posted yesterday. In it, Holt examines De Palma's strong urge to expose the lie in the illusion of cinema (most blatantly applied in Body Double, according to Holt), and how this contrasts with De Palma's love for pure cinema. "But what makes De Palma such a beguiling filmmaker," states Holt, "is that he isn’t just a trickster, but he is also a true-blue believer, which no film encapsulates quite like Mission to Mars. What makes the much-maligned Mission to Mars such an odd experience for those familiar with De Palma’s work is that it serves up standard Hollywood tropes and conventions without a hint of satire or parody. Instead, Mission to Mars utilizes the Hollywood blockbuster format in an attempt to achieve a sense of awe, offering a paean to scientific achievement and human determination. The film climaxes with an audience analogue that is as notable as the one Dumas singles out in Body Double: scientists come into contact with their creators through an extraterrestrial movie screen that plays out the history of the solar system and the birth of life on Earth. It’s humanity meeting God in a movie theater."

Posted by Geoff at 8:27 PM CDT
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