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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


« December 2013 »
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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
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FilmLand Empire

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Not Just Movies

Hope Lies at
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Motion Pictures Comics

Diary of a
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So Why This Movie?

Obsessive Movie Nerd

Nothing Is Written

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This Recording

Mike's Movie Guide

Every '70s Movie

Dangerous Minds


No Time For
Love, Dr. Jones!

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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, December 12, 2013
In last week's (December 4) episode of FX's American Horror Story, a fanatically religious mother, not unlike the mother in Carrie, insists to her son that he has been made "unclean" by the witches next door, and after disturbingly attempting to cleanse him from the inside out, she locks him in a closet, bound and gagged. The episode was written by series co-creator Ryan Murphy, who tells Vulture's Denise Martin that the recurring "closet thing" (there was a mother/daughter closet scene in the first season, as well) comes from Brian De Palma's Carrie.

In the Vulture article, which contains several SPOILERS for the current season of American Horror Story, Martin querys Murphy, "When Nan finds Luke trapped in the closet by his mother, it reminded me of when Constance threw her own daughter [also played by Jamie Brewer] into the closet. Are those callbacks intentional given that each season has a different story?"

Murphy replies, "We do it more than you know. It’s fun for us. I call them the goodies, 'Where are the goodies buried?' People go on Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, they catch up with seasons they’ve been watching and then they re-watch it with passion and fresh eyes. So we’re very cognizant of that. There’s usually one goodie per episode. The closet thing was very much based on Carrie, and we’ve done riffs on that and other things in that movie many, many times because we all love Brian De Palma in the writers' room."

As we've noted before, one of those writers in the AHS writers' room is Jennifer Salt, she of many early De Palma pictures. In the season premiere episode of season two, two of Pino Donaggio's music cues from De Palma's Carrie were used very specifically. Murphy has talked about being obsessed with De Palma while making season two last year, mentioning Dressed To Kill as a major influence, as well.

Posted by Geoff at 12:34 AM CST
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Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The Sundance Film Festival this week announced its documentary premieres for its upcoming 2014 edition (January 16-26), and one of them is a film called Happy Valley, directed by Amir Bar-Lev, who also directed 2010's The Tillman Story. The Sundance description of Bar-Lev's Happy Valley is as follows: "The children of 'Happy Valley' were victimized for years, by a key member of the legendary Penn State college football program. But were Jerry Sandusky’s crimes an open secret? With rare access, director Amir Bar-Lev delves beneath the headlines to tell a modern American parable of guilt, redemption, and identity."

It appears that while Brian De Palma's film (also called Happy Valley) will focus on the life and career of Joe Paterno, Bar-Lev's documentary takes a head-on approach to the Sandusky scandal, and how it has affected the Penn State community. The News & Observer's Lewis Beale interviewed Bar-Lev this past April. Here's a passage in which they discuss Happy Valley:

“I’m not interested in stories with very clear white hats and black hats,” says Bar-Lev. “Those stories just reassure me my values are all in place. I’m interested in stories that provoke thorny questions, and cause me to evaluate and poke and prod at my belief system. That’s what good documentary filmmaking does.”

And that’s a good reason why Bar-Lev’s next film, “Happy Valley,” is about the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky pedophilia scandal. But it’s not that Bar-Lev is particularly interested in Sandusky.

“I’m more interested in how we relate to Jerry Sandusky, the mythological nature of Sandusky and (former Penn State football coach) Joe Paterno,” he says. “We call the film ‘Happy Valley’ because we’re interested in how the town is reckoning with itself in the aftermath of the scandal.”


(Thanks to Rado!)

Posted by Geoff at 5:25 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 5:27 PM CST
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Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Continuing with the 30th anniversary of the release of Brian De Palma's Scarface, Entertainment Weekly's Kyle Anderson talked with Giorgio Moroder, who composed the score and songs for the film. "I wanted something a little bit mysterious, because this character is very complex and kind of mysterious coming from Cuba," Moroder tells Anderson. "I wanted it to have a little bit of a classical feel in the sequence of the chords. The idea came from a German half-classical singer called Klaus Nomi. He had one song where he did a very high voice, a staccato, a little bit like Laurie Anderson on ‘O Superman.’ Those two songs kind of inspired me, so I came up with the chords and then brought in the big choir and strings and all the rest."

Moroder shared a new remix of "Tony's Theme" with EW. Anderson explains that it is actually "more of a complete reinvention — Moroder did not use any of the original tracks to construct the new song."

Moroder then tells Anderson about the theme's versatility. "It works quite well with a big orchestra, and it works quite well with just a piano. There’s one section [in the movie] when Tony kills someone, and there I played kind of soft; I think it’s just a bass line. So it works well both big and small." Visit the EW post to listen to the remix, which is also available on Moroder's SoundCloud page. As Rado pointed out to us some time ago, the latter features some tracks that were not avaiable on the released soundtrack to Scarface.

Posted by Geoff at 6:43 PM CST
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Monday, December 9, 2013

Brian De Palma's Scarface opened in theaters thirty years ago today. Both Complex and Moviefone celebrated the anniversary today with "25 Things You Didn't Know About Scarface" articles. The Hollywood Reporter's Aaron Couch posted an interview with Steven Bauer, who said that having spent so much time with co-star Al Pacino while working on the film, shooting the scene in which Tony shoots Manny was difficult for him. He said De Palma did "at least 25 takes" focusing on different angles. "The way [Pacino] looked at me was a little hard to take, I have to say," Bauer tells Couch. "I was sort of secretly happy it was over in a second, and that he fires the gun right away. There's no scene where I say, 'You got it wrong.' I am really glad it was written that way. Oliver [Stone] made it short and sweet."

Bauer also repeated his story of being conratulated by Martin Scorsese following an early Hollywood screening of the film. Here's how Couch writes it:


However, the director also gave him a warning. "'They are going to hate this movie in Hollywood,'" Bauer recalls Scorsese saying to him. "And I said, 'Why?' And he said, 'Because it's about them.'"

Bauer believes Scorsese meant there were similarities between the excesses of Tony Montana and some Hollywood executives at the time: "There's nothing wrong with chasing the American dream, but if you become greedy, it'll fall from under you. You will self destruct…. [Scorsese] knew there were tendencies in Hollywood to just be over the top."


Several early discussions of Scorsese's new film, The Wolf Of Wall Street, are using Scarface as a touchstone in discussing the newer film's irredeemably unlikeable main character, with some referring to Wolf as Scarface crossed with Boiler Room, crossed with Stone's Wall Street. In this excerpt from an article by Mary Kaye Schilling at Vulture from last August, Scorsese and Jonah Hill discuss some of these aspects:

Jordan [Belfort] was a brilliant guy in a world where there may be no morality ­whatsoever,” says Scorsese. “He got caught at what a lot of people didn’t get caught at.” As he sees it, Wolf is about what happens when free-market capitalism becomes a matter of faith. “If you look at what occurred in the world of finance—many times now and it will probably happen again—you really have to ask the questions: Is dishonesty acceptable? Aren’t people expected to go too far?”

Jonah Hill plays Donnie Azoff, Stratton Oakmont’s second in command (a composite of a few characters in the book). Azoff, if possible, is even more gonzo than Belfort, who at least regretted ripping off clients. “Jordan told me that certain people [at Stratton Oakmont] actually enjoyed hurting people,” says Hill, who, along with [Leonardo] DiCaprio, spent time with current day ­traders before shooting began late last summer. “I imagine it’s a lot more politically correct and less chauvinistic now. It certainly couldn’t be more politically incorrect or chauvinistic. But it’s still very alpha male, or alpha female, depending on the person in training. People who are weak, or perceived as weak and emotional, are fed to the wolves.” At Stratton Oakmont, says Hill, the philosophy was kill-or-be-killed, and ­Gordon Gekko was fetishized, but so were Scarface and GoodFellas. “Those were their models,” he adds. “They kind of ran their businesses with those sensibilities.”

Belfort’s arc does sound a little like Henry Hill’s in GoodFellas—in this case, a nice Jewish kid from Bayside, Queens, with a genius for sales, gets seduced and corrupted by Wall Street. But Scorsese disputes comparisons between gangsters and stock brokers. “The parallel between the Mafia and Wall Street works only to the extent that they’re all interested in making as much money as possible, as quickly as possible.”


A couple of months ago, someone posted a mash-up of the trailers from Wolf Of Wall Street and Scarface on YouTube.

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 12:03 AM CST
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Sunday, December 8, 2013
Thanks to Thomas for letting us know about the monster interview with Brian De Palma in the current issue of So Film, and also to Patrick for pointing out that the article inside provides a title for De Palma's upcoming project with producer Saïd Ben Saïd, which has been described as a loose adaptation of Emile Zola's Thérèse Raquin. According to the magazine, the title for that project is Magic Hour. Emily Mortimer, who had previously auditioned for De Palma's The Black Dahlia, will play the lead. Screen Daily's Geoffrey Macnab has previously reported that "the story is about a film director and two actors shooting a movie version of Zola's novel and finding that it reflects experiences in their own lives."

Another upcoming film adaptation of Thérèse Raquin was recently retitled In Secret. It marks the directorial debut of Charlie Stratton, and stars Elizabeth Olsen, Oscar Isaac, and Jessica Lange. The film is to be released February 21, 2014. A trailer was just released this past week.

Meanwhile, the interview in So Film was conducted recently in New York. In it, Fernando Ganzo asks De Palma questions that cover his entire career. It may take me some time, but I'll try to get some translations and share highlights in the coming days.

Posted by Geoff at 3:52 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, December 8, 2013 4:04 PM CST
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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Posted by Geoff at 7:38 PM CST
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Friday, December 6, 2013
Critics At Large's Steve Vineberg revisted Brian De Palma's Mission To Mars a couple of weeks ago for an ongoing series called "Neglected Gems." "When I saw Brian De Palma’s Mission to Mars in 2000 with a heckling, pre-release audience, I didn’t think much of it," begins Vineberg. "A year later, though, the American Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria screened it on a double bill with The Fury as part of a month-long De Palma retrospective, and a group of former students who took me out there to see The Fury persuaded me to stay and take a second look at Mission to Mars. Perhaps it was the juxtaposition of the two movies that made me look at Mission to Mars with new eyes, but the second time around I fell in love with it. The Fury has an almost insane narrative, but it’s a work of such visual inventiveness and emotional potency that, if you connect with it, the story is no obstacle; its excesses serve the movie just as equally ridiculous stories serve Jacobean tragedies and nineteenth-century operas. And though Mission to Mars has a much simpler silly plot, it too is a kind of outline – you might say a metaphor – for De Palma’s ideas about the tension between technology and humanity and the nature of loss, his two favorite subjects."

After describing the plot of Mission To Mars, Vineberg continues, "The key to gaining access to the face in the sand, it turns out, is the crew’s ability to furnish proof that they’re human. Mission to Mars is a space story, but it’s the anti-2001: A Space Odyssey. In De Palma’s Blow Out, the hero (John Travolta) keeps making the mistake of putting his faith in technology; so, on a smaller scale, does the teenage boy (Keith Gordon) in Dressed to Kill who’s trying to track down his mother’s killer. For these characters, technology is at best inadequate to achieve the (human, emotional) ends they want to put it at the service of; at worst it backfires and results in the deaths of the people they care about. By the time Mission to Mars takes place, technology is inescapably the ruling force, but De Palma uses the fact of all this technology, ironically, as a way of focusing on the human dilemmas that beset the people who have to deal with its inadequacy and its capacity for bringing disaster. Science has found a way for the astronauts to float through space without the benefit of a space capsule, but only for limited amounts of time, i.e., only as long as the oxygen in the tanks strapped to their backs holds out. When Woody is unable to harness the drifting capsule after the rest of the spaceship has crashed, he finds he hasn’t enough oxygen left to return to his companions. Terri insists she should float out to rescue him – a futile act that would end up killing both of them. So Woody pulls off his helmet and meets the lethal pressure of Mars’s atmosphere head-on, an act of self-sacrifice that comes out of his love for his wife. The separation of husband and wife plays off one of the movie’s most ecstatic visual moments, when they dance together to a Motown tune in the gravity-free atmosphere of the spaceship en route to Mars. But De Palma fans will also recognize his trademark image – the character who watches in helpless anguish while someone, usually a loved one, is destroyed before his or her eyes – from The Fury, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, Casualties of War and Mission: Impossible. Woody’s demise may be the most strangely poetic version yet of a motif that amounts to an obsession: Robbins’s face turns, magnificently, to cracked granite.

"The tragedy that divides Woody and Terri echoes, of course, the loss of Jim’s wife Maggie, whom we see only once, in a video (played, touchingly, by Kim Delaney) their friends prepared when they were chosen to helm the Mars mission. Jim watches it on a monitor in the ship when he winds up traveling there without her. It’s a double-time frame sequence – the video contains images from this joyous time interspersed with earlier ones from the McConnells’ wedding. I might not have made this connection had I not just rewatched The Fury, but the visual dynamic of an image embedded within another image and two sets of observers recalls the scenes in that movie where Amy Irving is caught in a psychic link with a besieged Andrew Stevens while someone else – who can’t see what she sees – tries to communicate with her. This is a visual notion with amazing emotional resonance for these stories of loss. In The Fury, Irving’s Gillian longs to meet the boy who shares her freakish psychic gifts; her separation from him, except in these imperiled visions she has no power to alter, underscores her isolation from the rest of the world, from the people she loves who don’t share her abilities. And when she finally does get close to him, it’s too late: he’s already destroyed. The video that brings Jim’s wife back to him, if only for a few minutes, is a trick of technology that is finally just a reminder of the uncrossable distance between them. He can replay this moment of happiness and relive not only his loss but also his bafflement: here they are at the peak of their lives together, anticipating a future that, though neither knows it, will never come to pass. In the video Maggie makes a toast to them standing at the threshold of a new world, but mere months later she was sick and he stood on the threshold of life and death, watching the most important person in his life fading away from him. De Palma gets at this idea in another way, too. The transmissions the first Mars crew sends back to earth have a twenty-minute delay. Back at home, Jim and the others watch as Luke and his companions, full of good humor and optimism, light a candle in a slab of cake to honor Jim’s birthday before setting out across the sand to explore the structure. The NASA observers have no way of knowing that even while they’re watching this transmission, twenty minutes after Luke sends it, his crew is being torn apart."

(Thanks to Hugh!)

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, December 7, 2013 12:07 AM CST
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Thursday, December 5, 2013

The above picture from the set of Brian De Palma's Carrie was posted today by Nancy Allen on her Facebook page, with the message, "Throwback Thursday... On the set of Carrie waiting to shoot the shower scene." She then added, "No one has ever seen this picture before. It was taken with my personal camera. I liked taking behind the scene pictures."

Posted by Geoff at 9:20 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, December 5, 2013 9:26 PM CST
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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Click here to watch the trailer for Romain Lehnhoff's new short film, Métropolitain.

Posted by Geoff at 6:15 PM CST
Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014 7:36 PM CST
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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Posted by Geoff at 11:38 PM CST
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