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Domino is
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final print."

Listen to
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Washington Post
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Brian De Palma
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Friday, June 28, 2013

Noomi & Rachel's Wild 'Passion' Lip-Lock

Entertainment One released a pretty good U.S. trailer for Brian De Palma's Passion yesterday via Entertainment Tonight, presented as part of the latter's "Summer Movie Guide." The trailer can also be watched at Zimbio, Hulu, IMDB, and TV Guide.

For a change, this trailer does not mention that the film is "from the director of Scarface and The Untouchables," but simply "from acclaimed director Brian De Palma." Well, of course-- he's the director of Passion, which I've seen twice now on DVD (imported from France), and which I can say is excellent. I'll be writing up a full spoilerific essay about it sometime in July, but in brief, Passion is a whip-smart De Palma thriller with a magnificent split-screen sequence at its center, and a killer performance by Rachel McAdams. It's the most fun, relentless wind-up toy of a movie De Palma has put on screen since Raising Cain (Femme Fatale, which I like better than either of these, is fun, too, but not quite as wound-up; it sort of takes its own charming time). Looking forward to seeing this on the big screen.

Posted by Geoff at 5:00 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, June 28, 2013 10:38 PM CDT
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Posted by Geoff at 12:58 AM CDT
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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Posted by Geoff at 12:21 AM CDT
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Sunday, June 23, 2013

The picture above shows Brian De Palma chatting with John Waters yesterday at the Provincetown International Film Festival, where Waters was to conduct a late-afternoon conversation with Harmony Korine, in the same theater where De Palma presented his new film Passion later that same evening. The picture above was taken by George Weinstein, and appears at Demotix.

Meanwhile, Cape Cod Times' Tim Miller caught Wednesday night's screening of Passion at the festival. "The film is convoluted," states Miller, "where you often don't know whether you're watching a dream or reality, which is fine, but here it seems more than a little forced. No one ever accused De Palma of being subtle. But that can be a good thing, too: You can't stop watching Passion, wondering what bizarre thing will happen next."

Posted by Geoff at 11:38 PM CDT
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Posted by Geoff at 10:40 PM CDT
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Posted by Geoff at 12:40 AM CDT
Updated: Sunday, June 23, 2013 10:32 PM CDT
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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Posted by Geoff at 6:44 PM CDT
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Friday, June 21, 2013
The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney reported late last night that Brian De Palma will be a surprise guest at Saturday night's screening of Passion at the Provincetown International Film Festival. Rooney is reporting this as the U.S. premiere of the film, because the big New York Film Festival screening last year was canceled after an embarrassing glitch left De Palma and a packed house waiting for a film that was never to start. The film did screen at the festival two more times after that, but in smaller theaters. It also played at Provincetown this past Wednesday, the first night of the film fest. What characterizes the screening this Saturday as the U.S. premiere, then, is the fact that De Palma will be there to participate in an audience Q&A following the screening, in a more properly planned evening event (and a nice last-minute surprise for the audience).

Posted by Geoff at 7:13 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, June 22, 2013 8:31 AM CDT
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Wednesday, June 19, 2013
NPR's All Songs Considered this week featured Sami Yenigun asking Daft Punk's Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo to talk about the songs that inspired their new album, Random Access Memories (the linked page above includes an audio version, so you can hear the duo talking about these songs). Midway through the program, Yenigun says, "You mentioned Paul Williams as one of the guests you had on the record. Can we hear some of his music?"

Bangalter replies, "Yes. I mean, probably one our favorite songs or moments from Paul's career, which we really admire from beginning to end, is the song called 'The Hell Of It,' which is the ending title [music] of the movie that we love so much called Phantom Of The Paradise, directed by Brian De Palma. It's a 1974 film that had a very major place in our teenage years, [in our] discovery of films and music and what we wanted to do as musicians and as artists."

On the audio version of the program, they then play a portion of "The Hell Of It" from the Phantom Of The Paradise soundtrack.

The Guardian's Dorian Lynskey interviewed the duo prior to the release of Random Access Memories. Lynskey wrote, "Their first loves were Jimi Hendrix, the Velvet Underground and Phantom of the Paradise, the bizarre 1974 musical horror movie that Brian De Palma made with Paul Williams. 'It covered everything we liked when we were teenagers: horror, rock, musicals, glam,' says Thomas, glowing with fandom. 'Listening to Led Zeppelin songs backwards, watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre on VHS and getting KISS and David Bowie albums. It synthesised all of these elements.'"

In a review of the album, Slate's Geeta Dayal delved into the Paul Williams collaboration "Touch," and its relationship to Phantom Of The Paradise:


Here they’ve “sampled” the vintage production of their favorite records, using the same analog equipment, techniques, and musicians. Instead of sampling Chic, they brought in Chic co-founder Nile Rodgers to play guitar on two tracks. Instead of sampling Quincy Jones’ productions for Michael Jackson in the 1980s, they brought in the actual session musicians who played on the albums—including John J.R. Robinson, a drummer on Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall, and the guitarist Paul Jackson, who played on Thriller. They’ve “sampled” the clothes, too (Daft Punk’s tight sequined jackets resemble Michael Jackson’s) and the fonts (the cursive lettering on the cover of Random Access Memories resembles the cover of Thriller). Daft Punk even “sampled” their favorite movie—the 1974 Brian De Palma schlock classic Phantom of the Paradise—by inviting in Paul Williams, the movie’s composer and lead actor, to sing the album’s epic, melodramatic centerpiece, “Touch.”

Phantom of the Paradise is key to understanding Daft Punk’s aesthetic. In the movie, a nerdy songwriter is reborn as a phantom who attempts to exact revenge on an evil svengali record producer named Swan. In one scene in the movie, Swan traps the phantom—now wearing a tight black leather jacket and a robot helmet—in a sophisticated recording studio walled with racks of analog gear. The phantom, whose vocal cords have been destroyed, speaks through a talk box attached to his chest, sounding remarkably like a vocodered lyric in a Daft Punk song.

It’s easy to see why the rock opera was catnip for Daft Punk, who claim to have watched it more than 20 times—the movie is completely over-the-top, drenched in pathos, and layered with in-jokes and sideways references, much like the band’s music. Daft Punk’s black leather outfits in their 2006 feature film, Electroma, seemed inspired by the phantom. “Electroma is a combination of all the movies we like, paying a big, almost unconscious homage to them,” de Homem-Christo told Stop Smiling in 2008. “There are so many different influences: In the end, it becomes such a melting pot of everything that it resembles something else altogether. We love cinema the same way we do music—we’re from a generation that doesn’t segregate.”

Touch” is the apex of Random Access Memories, the total realization of the album’s ambitious reach. There’s nothing cool about it, and it takes guts to make music like this in 2013 on such a grand scale. It’s Daft Punk’s love letter to Phantom of the Paradise, and it’s schmaltzy and deeply weird. The lyrics are, well, daft (“Touch, sweet touch/ You’ve given me too much to feel”), but the lyrics are beside the point; Williams’ graceful vocal delivery is awe-inspiring. It’s simultaneously melancholy and uplifting; the moment where Williams’ voice trails off and “Get Lucky” begins is a great moment in pop music.


Meanwhile, Peaches' musical, Peaches Does Herself, which was inspired by Phantom Of The Paradise and others, opened in Toronto earlier this month. In an interview with Now Toronto's Norman Wilner, Peaches elaborated on the film's influences:

“The HAU theatre in Berlin asked me to do a production,” Peaches recalls. “And the first thing I said to them was, ‘I’d like to do Jesus Christ Superstar as a one-woman show.’ And they were like, ‘Done. What else? We want a bigger production, we’re gonna get government money,’ blah blah blah. And so I thought of all these ideas – burlesque, Weimar – and then I thought, ‘You know what? I am all that, right now! So I’m just gonna take 20 of my own songs and make a narrative.’”

The one thing she didn’t want to do with the show that became Peaches Does Herself was create a jukebox musical. Peaches hates jukebox musicals.

“They never have anything to do with the band they’re about,” she says, and “also, the asinine dialogue – that’s horrible, I don’t relate.” She gestures to the rest of her crew surrounding her in the diner booth. “That’s the reason why people like us don’t like [those] musicals – it’s never the original artist.

“That’s why I loved Tommy so much as a child,” she says, talking about the Ken Russell movie of the Who’s rock opera. “They’re all in it, and there’s no talking. The entire Acid Queen scene is, like, ingrained in my brain for life. And I also saw Phantom Of The Paradise – the music isn’t actually so great in that, but Brian de Palma did an insane, amazing job. And then Rocky Horror, which has amazing music, amazing production, [an] amazing theme – that’s my holy trilogy, right there.”

But there’s more going on in Peaches Does Herself, thanks to a lifetime of pop culture rattling around in its creator’s brain.

“My mother was really interested in the Busby Berkeley movies and Singin’ In The Rain,” she says, “and all that stuff. I got to pay homage to all those things that I loved, all those other musicals. And we decided to film it.”

Posted by Geoff at 10:38 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 10:58 PM CDT
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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Brian De Palma's Passion will get the U.S. big-screen treatment this week when it screens twice at the Provincetown International Film Festival in Massachusetts. The festival runs June 19-23. According to the fest's official Film Program, a print provided by eOne will screen at 9:30 pm Wednesday, June 19 (at Art House 2), and also at 10pm Saturday, June 22 (at Town Hall). Also screening at the fest will be Pedro Almodóvar's new film, I'm So Excited, which was shot by José Luis Alcaine, who also shot De Palma's Passion.

In writing about the festival, Edge on the Net's Jake Mulligan states, "There’s no film festival like Provincetown. While other festivals focus on independent films, or genre films, or foreign cinema; The Provincetown International Film Festival casts a wider net. They program their festival based not on arbitrary specifications but based on a mood; each film achieving some semblance of the fierce authorial vision that defines the festival itself."

Mulligan picks ten movies to see at the fest, including Passion, which he says is De Palma's best in more than ten years. "Brian De Palma’s latest film doesn’t open until August," writes Mulligan, "but fans of the Hitchcockian auteur will surely flock to P-Town to see his latest, Passion - it’s his best picture in over ten years. Not since Femme Fatale has the Carrie auteur had this much fun; setting up Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace here as two flirty PR executives engaged in a Parisian battle-of-wits. It’s De Palma, so the sexual tension quickly amplifies into actual sex, and then violence, and then total madness. But the real beauty is in the compositions, in the return of his trademark split-screen, and in his completely visual style of storytelling. Passion doesn’t just show that De Palma is back, it shows that he never went anywhere in the first place."

(Thanks to Patrick for the Passion pic!)

Posted by Geoff at 7:45 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 7:52 PM CDT
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