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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

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Kubrick on the

FilmLand Empire

Astigmia Cinema


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Icebox Movies

Medfly Quarantine

Not Just Movies

Hope Lies at
24 Frames Per Second

Motion Pictures Comics

Diary of a
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So Why This Movie?

Obsessive Movie Nerd

Nothing Is Written

Ferdy on Films

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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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Friday, December 27, 2013


The University of Chicago's Doc Films will host a Brian De Palma retrospective on Wednesdays, beginning January 8 with Scarface, and concluding on March 12 with Femme Fatale. Most of the films will be screened from 35mm prints, but Phantom Of The Paradise and Body Double will each be screened in DCP. The series includes an intriguing choice at its halfway point: on February 12th, it will screen Michelangelo Antonioni's L'Avventura.

Dan Wang, who programmed the retrospective, writes in its introduction, "When Brian De Palma was to give a Q&A at Lincoln Center in Manhattan this summer (on the occasion of the wider release of his latest film, Passion), I asked the guy at the ticket office if he expected a long line. He doubted it. 'De Palma isn't really relevant anymore,' he said. I ended up sitting on the floor at the back of the hall behind a concrete pillar, despite showing up an hour and a half early; half the line was turned away.

"One can see what he means. De Palma's favorite themes--dangerously erotic women, voyeurism, psychological horror--seem like the titillations of faded era. Compounding these obsessions is his insistence on an extremely smooth, controlled and virtuosic style that's hopelessly far from current anti-formalist vogues. Recent hits like Aronofsky's Black Swan (2010 ) and Soderbergh's Side Effects (2014 ) tell De Palmian stories but dress them up in camera and video production styles currently in fashion (i.e. on YouTube ) ;hence the rejection of De Palma's importance is also the rejection of a particular, classical way of making films.

"De Palma is still relevant because his films remind us of the exhuberant joy of intelligent filmmaking--of an attitude to film worlds that Godard called, in reference to Hitchcock, the 'control of the universe.' Even his worst films have moments that leave one gasping at their beauty; his best ones feel like a confirmation of everything movies ought to be. In this partial retrospective (De Palma has an output that sprawls in genre and ambition of some thirty films ), we feature a mix of De Palmas: movies of psychological horror (Sisters, Raising Cain), gangster films (Scarface, The Untouchables, Carlito's Way), a musical (Phantom of the Paradise) and, of course, classic, pervy, Hitchcockian, joyous De Palma (Hi, Mom!, Body Double, Femme Fatale)."

And here is the retrospective's description of the L'Avventura screening: "Before Blow-Up moved De Palma, L'Avventura won a prize at Cannes. People saw something new: framing a shot like composing a painting; objects as well as characters telling a story and provoking a mood; spontaneous, even random, dialogue. One can be impatient. One can also let go of expectations of quick excitement and tidy plot resolution, absorb the imagery and the sadness of the characters, turn inward, and reflect on a different movie experience."

Posted by Geoff at 1:09 AM CST
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Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Last week we linked to a Hollywood Elsewhere post in which Jeffrey Wells called Martin Scorsese's The Wolf Of Wall Street the new Scarface. Reviews of Scorsese's film are proliferating online, and many of them mention that Brian De Palma film, but one review skips that and mentions a different De Palma film instead. "In a way," writes Seattle Weekly's Brian Miller, "this is the movie Brian De Palma tried and failed to make out of Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities (a book Belfort read in prison, inspiring his memoir). Maybe we’re more prepared to laugh now because we’ve weathered worse financial calamities."

The Village Voice's Stephanie Zacharek states, "There are hints of greatness" in The Wolf Of Wall Street, "one or two artfully constructed scenes that remind you why you look forward to new Scorsese films in the first place. But as a highly detailed portrait of true-life corruption and bad behavior in the financial sector, Wolf is pushy and hollow, too much of a bad thing, like a three-hour cold call from the boiler room that leaves you wondering, 'What have I just been sold?'"

In the concluding paragraph of her review, Zacharek compares Wolf unfavorably to Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby, and brings Scorsese to task, writing, "Scorsese is one of the few great old-guard filmmakers with the clout to make movies on this scale, and this picture — dreary, self-evident, too repetitive to be much fun even as satire — is what he comes up with? Some have already favorably compared this with Brian De Palma's Scarface, in that it invites us to revel in its characters' amorality from a safe distance, and at epic length. But that's a slippery, surface-level comparison. Scarface is violent as hell, and operatically blunt, but, oddly enough, it's not an aggressive picture. It rolls forward in crazy, melodramatic waves, without pushing its points about the horrors human beings are willing to commit in the name of capitalism. It doesn't have to, when there's a chain saw to do the talking. Scorsese, on the other hand, belabors every angle of this lukewarm morality tale. It's self-conscious and devoid of passion, and there's no radiant star at its center. Who would choose DiCaprio's depraved, squeaky Jordan Belfort over Al Pacino's twisted, basso profundo Tony Montana? The Wolf of Wall Street has everything money can buy, and still, it comes up empty."

Posted by Geoff at 3:31 AM CST
Updated: Tuesday, December 24, 2013 3:33 AM CST
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Monday, December 23, 2013
Experimental Film Society member Rouzbeh Rashidi "asked members of EFS, some of its friends, associates, critics, programmers, and filmmakers to send in lists of their twelve favourite filmmakers for publication on the EFS website. The criteria were simple: to list the filmmakers who had the most impact on your life and art." Brian De Palma appeared on five of the lists submitted.

In his introduction, Rashidi adds, "Contributors all found the task hard, even almost impossible, but in the end they all submitted a list of more or less twelve names. I personally am a huge fan of such lists and make them all the time. They are fun, revealing and, I believe, something we're all curious about. Obviously, they are subject to change as we grow and develop, and the love/hate relationship we inevitably have with them (so much has to be left out!) is amusing and challenging. I was very surprised with the results and hope you enjoy reading them."

Those listing De Palma as one of their twelve favotite filmmakers are Hamid Shams Javi, Kamyar Kordestani, Adrian Martin, Michael Koresky, and David Del Valle. Check out the lists here.

(Thanks to Chris!)

Posted by Geoff at 9:57 PM CST
Updated: Monday, December 23, 2013 9:59 PM CST
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Saturday, December 21, 2013
Il Giornale's Antonio Lodetti caught up with Pino Donaggio in Venice, where the composer discussed his beginnings, as well as upcoming projects. Along the way, of course, he discussed his work with De Palma. Here is an excerpt from the article, translated with the help of Google Translator:

Such destiny struck one morning when, on board a steamer at 6 am, back from a concert, he was noticed by a young producer. "He said I had the face to write music on a film of parapsychology, maybe he smoked too much. However, the film was starring Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland, I composed the score, and director Nicolas Roeg was delighted. Thus was born the soundtrack to Don't Look Now, which came out in Italy as A Venezia... un dicembre rosso shocking, and in England it was awarded as the soundtrack of the year." So, fate again, he arrived for a meeting with Brian De Palma. "It was just after the death of Bernard Herrmann, the composer of his confidence, but Brian had listened to the music of [Don't Look Now] on the disc of the same name , which he had bought in England, and I wanted at all costs to work with him. Thus was born the winning combination of Carrie. We understood each other on the fly, even if I lived in his house and, not knowing the language, we understood gestures. But there was a translator for the job and he was happy with what I wrote. I’m called on for the suspense films, in fact last year I set to music his Passion. He trusts me so much that only listens to my work in the hall with the orchestra, the finished work."

Donaggio tells Lodetti that he is working on a fictional movie about Enzo Ferrari with Robert De Niro, and also an adaptation of Giulio Andreotti's The Listener, to be directed by Carlo Lizzani. That latter project has Al Pacino attached to star.

Posted by Geoff at 1:37 PM CST
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I saw Spike Lee's Oldboy a couple of weeks ago. While I prefer Chan-wook Park's original (which I revisited again right after seeing the remake), Lee's film is a stylistic tour de force, with some nice personal touches. In his review of Lee's film, the Chicago Reader's Ben Sachs links it stylistically to Brian De Palma's Passion.

"Taken as stylistic exercise," writes Sachs, "Spike Lee's remake of Oldboy... may be the most impressive movie of its kind to hit Chicago since Brian De Palma's Passion. Lee ornaments the film with elaborate tracking shots, theatrical lighting schemes, and multitiered compositions containing screens within screens. He shifts dramatically between 35-millimeter, 16-millimeter, and even 8-millimeter film, and playfully disregards conventional flashbacks, editing, and good taste. Regardless of whether Lee succeeds here as a storyteller, he communicates such pleasure in the filmmaking process that you might appreciate it for the showmanship alone.

"Full of gruesome acts of revenge and dirty family secrets, the film is a sick extravaganza comparable to recent efforts by Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) and Danny Boyle (Trance), but it's a more controlled work than either. The directorial curlicues don't feel random—indeed, the film has a sustained, streamlined momentum that feels unlike much else in Lee's body of work. The Brooklyn-based director has never lacked for energy or imagination, but his movies tend to be all over the place in terms of what they want to say and do. To see him working with such focus is striking. If the movie is just an exercise, then at least it's a purposeful one. Lee's trying new things here, working in a different register than he normally does."

Posted by Geoff at 1:30 AM CST
Updated: Saturday, December 21, 2013 1:32 AM CST
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Wednesday, December 18, 2013
The Black List of best unproduced screenplays for 2013 was unveiled this week. It includes two screenplays about the making of Steven Spielberg's Jaws, and at least one of them includes Brian De Palma as a character, along with fellow "movie brats" Martin Scorsese, John Milius, George Lucas, and (of course) Spielberg. That screenplay, titled The Shark is Not Working, was written by Richard Corinder. Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere shared these samples from Corinder's screenplay:

In his post, Wells says the script is "about 28 year-old Steven Spielberg going through hell to make Jaws in ’74 and ’75." He adds that he's "skimmed through about half of it. It’s funny, smart, very well-written, entertaining. But I mainly like it because it simultaneously (a) makes fun of Spielberg for being a talented but shallow popcorn shoveller, and (b) admires and sympathizes with the poor guy for managing to survive a hellish production experience. The big breakthrough happens when Spielberg hits on the idea of (a) barely showing the shark and (b) deciding to rely on John Williams‘ creepy music to excite the audience’s imagination."

The other Black List script about the making of Jaws is The Mayor of Shark City, written by Nick Creature and Michael Sweeney. Wells points to a SpecScout coverage page for the latter screenplay, in which the truncated synopsis is as follows: "STEVEN (5) is at the cinema with his father ARNOLD (age 35). They are seeing The Greatest Show on Earth, Steven’s first movie experience. The young boy is blown away by the magic of cinema, and is captivated by his wonderful imagination. Steven’s imagination takes over as the screen is spilled open by a giant wave of rushing water. STEVEN (27) a scrawny man with shaggy hair awakens from a nightmare. He is being tormented by the film shoot he is directing, Jaws. The film production is now over 80 days over schedule. It is now a year prior to the shooting of Jaws. A young and energetic Steven Spielberg enters RICHARD ZANUCK’S office (38) a hotshot producer at Universal studios. Steven notices the manuscript titled Jaws that captures his eye. Without permission, he steals a copy of the script to read. Immediately, he is engrossed in the engaging story of a killer shark. His vivid imagination takes over as he dreams of what the movie can look like. Steven knows that he must direct this film. He begs Zanuck for the opportunity but is told that they already have a director for the project. Meanwhile, PETER BENCHLEY (33) the..." [the synopsis cuts off there for casual browsers]

The locations listed at SpecScout for The Mayor of Shark City are as follows: "1950s/1960s Locations/Decor for FLASHBACKS Old Movie Theater, middle-class home, Vietnam mockup on soundstage, submarine, aircraft carrier, fighter plane cockpit, underwater, fantasy meteor shower, fantasy animatronic Disneyworld-style ride. 1970s Locations/Decor Universal studio bungalow, Hollywood hills home, New York upmarket club, Hollywood production and studio executive offices, Martha's Vineyard, Old fishing ship, Soundstage (Universal Studios stage 12), Harbor, Hotel, Bar, Diner, Beach, Ferry, Cabin, Ocean, Tavern, Small town Movie Theater, Large Movie Theater, Cinerama Theater, Drug Store, Sunset Boulevard."

Posted by Geoff at 12:56 AM CST
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Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Posted by Geoff at 6:51 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 6:53 PM CST
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Monday, December 16, 2013
In a Hollywood Elsewhere post on Friday, Jeffrey Wells calls Martin Scorsese's Wolf Of Wall Street "the new Scarface," making a case as to why it might be disliked by a certain faction of viewers.

"I saw Wolf with critics the first time," Wells explains, "but last night’s screening played to a more mixed crowd and they were howling at times, trust me. Losing it, laughing hard. Were they absorbing what Scorsese and DiCaprio were really saying? Sure, of course, but I could sense that they were getting tingly contact highs. For The Wolf of Wall Street takes you back to your wildly irresponsible carousing days, allows you to laugh uproariously at the dumb (and perhaps reprehensible) things you did and have probably forgotten about, and then sets you free when it’s over.

"And yet for older, stodgier types who never went there in their teens or 20s or did and are determined to keep those memories in a locked box (or for those who can’t handle the crude sexual exploitation of women, which has always been a nocturnal characteristic of arrogant Wall Street types), Wolf is going to be seen as an ugly three-hour romp and nothing more. It’s not judgmental enough, Belfort is too much of a prick, what’s the point of this? and so on.

"This is why I’m calling The Wolf of Wall Street the new Scarface. It has so far been shat upon in certain quarters by the same kind of harumphy industry crowd that despised Brian De Palma‘s 1983 crime pic. And just as Scarface eventually became a cult flick (especially among 'urban' rapper/hip-hop types who idolized gangsta culture and the swagger of Al Pacino‘s Tony Montana) it’s probably going to be embraced by (a) present-day party animals and by (b) 40- and 50-somethings those who remember their druggy days and want to enjoy them once again by proxy — a three-hour tour."

Wells continues, "The Scarface Wiki page interprets the film’s reception as follows: 'According to AMC’s "DVD TV: Much More Movie" airing, Cher loved it [but] Lucille Ball, who came with her family, hated it because of the graphic violence and language, and Dustin Hoffman was said to have fallen asleep. Writers Kurt Vonnegut and John Irving were among those who allegedly walked out in disgust after the notorious chainsaw scene. At the middle of the film, Martin Scorsese turned to Steven Bauer and told him, "You guys are great but be prepared, because they’re going to hate it in Hollywood…because it’s about them."

“'Leonard Maltin was among those critics who held a negative opinion of Scarface,' the page says. 'He gave the film 1 1/2 stars out of four, stating that ‘…[Scarface] wallows in excess and unpleasantness for nearly three hours, and offers no new insights except that crime doesn’t pay.’ In later editions of his annual movie guide, Maltin included an addendum to his review stating his surprise with the film’s newfound popularity as a cult-classic.'

"This is why The Wolf of Wall Street is the only truly bold and nervy film in the Best Picture circle right now. It’s both appalling and gutsy as hell — a wild-ass moralistic 'comedy.' It’s clearly condemning Belfort’s behavior and yet…"

Posted by Geoff at 12:30 AM CST
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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Posted by Geoff at 9:40 PM CST
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Friday, December 13, 2013

Posted by Geoff at 6:07 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, December 14, 2013 9:49 PM CST
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