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Domino is
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not only ethically
but metaphysically"
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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
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in Snakes

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Supercut video
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edited by Carl Rodrigue

Washington Post
review of Keesey book


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Sunday, November 13, 2016
Costume designer Amy Roth, the niece of costume designer Ann Roth, was interviewed recently by LRM's Gig Patta. "You have an amazing career," Patta asks Roth at one point, "with working from a comic book like The Avengers to American Gangster to even TV shows like Madame Secretary. What kind of projects do you love to work on? You have such a diverse career."

Roth responds, "It may sound negative, but working in the Marvel community can sometimes be difficult. You are working with a group of people who already created something. They're big and wonderful movies, but things are dictated from the Marvel comics down to you.

"My idea of a great piece is something along those lines—maybe fantasy. I love period movies. But, after doing this period movie, I would like to do something more inventive and people don’t tell you on what somebody wore 'cause you haven’t invented it in that world yet.

"It would be something like Blade Runner. Somebody like Ridley Scott, who likes to invent his own world. Or even somebody like Brian De Palma. Sometimes when you watch his movies, you feel like you’re in another world. I like to create your own reality.

"That would be fun right now for me."

Amy Roth's aunt, Ann Roth, has worked with De Palma on Dressed To Kill, Blow Out, and The Bonfire Of The Vanities.

Posted by Geoff at 5:23 AM CST
Updated: Sunday, November 13, 2016 5:39 AM CST
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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The above BBC movie by Adam Curtis, HyperNormalisation, uses news and documentary footage from the BBC's archives, as well as clips from films and other sources, to tell "the extraordinary story of how we got to this strange time of great uncertainty and confusion," according to Curtis' own description, "where those who are supposed to be in power are paralysed - and have no idea what to do." Included in the climactic few minutes is the key scene from Brian De Palma's Carrie in which the blood is dumped on Carrie, and the gymnasium full of onlookers stands in shock, unsure of how to react. The clip is used effectively in Curtis' movie to illustrate the shock, uncertainty, and confusion of our recent times. Shortly after the Carrie clip, the movie moves into a concluding montage which uses some of the split-screen sequence from De Palma's film to further illustrate (again, rather effectively) the use and state of confusion, which can come from any side. "And," Curtis' description of his movie continues, "where events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control - from Donald Trump to Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless migrant crisis, and random bomb attacks. It explains not only why these chaotic events are happening - but also why we, and our politicians, cannot understand them."

Note: the above version of the movie on YouTube is missing a minute or two (you'll notice an obvious edit around the 9:15 mark). Curtis' posted the unedited version on his YouTube page, but that version is in a smaller frame within the video. So I suggest watching the bulk of it in the above version, but catch those two minutes in Curtis' smaller version.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Wednesday, November 9, 2016 12:27 AM CST
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Monday, November 7, 2016
John Lithgow was interviewed by A.V. Club's Will Harris for the site's "Random Roles" series, in which actors discuss various roles without knowing in advance which roles they will be asked about. There is a nice segment about Lithgow's work with Brian De Palma:
Obsession (1976)—“Robert LaSalle”

AVC: How did you and Brian De Palma first cross paths?

JL: I was in a little summer theater workshop in Princeton, New Jersey. I was at Harvard at the time, and I was working with a bunch of Brian’s Columbia pals. It was sort of a college summer workshop. And we did a Molière farce, and they invited this friend of theirs, Brian De Palma, down to see it. And the first I ever knew of Brian was hearing him roar with laughter out in the audience. Brian has a huge cackling laugh that you don’t hear very often. And then backstage I met him for the first time. We were all about 20 years old back then. That’s how far back we go. In fact, Dealing—the movie that you mentioned—it was Brian’s idea! He suggested me to the director. So he’s part of my origin story as a movie actor! And then two years later, he cast me in my first major film role: Obsession. I’ve worked with him three times now.

Blow Out (1981)—“Burke”

AVC: Of the three, Blow Out is probably the most critically acclaimed.

JL: Yes! Yeah, it really is a terrific film. It really holds up. And it’s one of [John] Travolta’s really good performances.

AVC: It was also sort of an adaptation of Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up.

JL: Well, Brian doesn’t do adaptations. He sort of does riffs. Or homages, if you want to be pretentious. [Laughs.] You know, you could say that Obsession was his Vertigo film, and I can’t remember what the very, very precise references are in his movies, but those were his Hitchcock tributes. But they’re very distinctly De Palma’s.

AVC: Blow Out certainly has an ending that’s not for the faint of heart. It’s a bit dark.

JL: Oh, yeah! [Laughs.] He kills the people you’re really interested in!

Raising Cain (1992)—“Carter”/”Cain”/”Dr. Nix”/”Josh”/”Margo”

AVC: Raising Cain, meanwhile, has gotten a reappraisal recently as a result of a new director’s cut of the film that, oddly enough, wasn’t actually done by De Palma.

JL: Now you’re actually telling me news I didn’t know. I don’t keep up on these things! Who did the cut?

AVC: His name is Peet Gelderblom, and he took the film and created a new cut based on the original script, and De Palma thought it was great.

JL: Oh, Brian liked it? Wow! No, I haven’t heard anything about it. I’ll have to see it! Maybe he’s made a little bit more sense of it. [Laughs.] Brian’s movies are like Chinese puzzles. They’re incredibly intricate, and sometimes they’re so intricate that he has to edit them differently when it comes times to finish them. I remember a couple of my scenes being cut in two and separated by about 20 minutes.

AVC: That’s almost certainly the film where you play the most roles.

JL: Yeah. I think there’s five. It was kind of my Faces Of Eve. I loved it. It was really fun.

Posted by Geoff at 11:23 PM CST
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Sunday, November 6, 2016
Brannon Braga, creator of WGN's series Salem, was interviewed recently by Den Of Geek's Tony Sokol, who asked Braga, "What are your favorite devil movies?"
I'll tell you that Salem is chock-full of horror references. I'm quite a horror aficionado. I wrote science fiction most of my life, but my passion, really, has always been for horror. Everything comes out on the show, from Dario Argento to Alfred Hitchcock to the Japanese horror that could be harsh, a horror fan’s horror show. One movie that had a great influence was Roman Polanski’s Rosemary's Baby, the tone and style in which his movies were shot, or different directors, to keep the show grounded. I'm obviously a fan of Hitchcock's work.

I noticed similarities to Giallo horror films.

Oh, it’s all over the place. What a lost art. It's interesting when you looking at building things, like Brian De Palma was building on top of stuff. Everybody said he was doing Hitchcock. But no, he's not. He was doing Dario Argento. He was doing Giallo. We talk about that stuff all the time on the set. My favorite movie of all time is Notorious and we do pay homage that picture.

Which of those classic movies do you think have never lost power to scare? For me it's the scene in M when Peter Lorre breaks down in front of the criminal court.

Well, M is a masterpiece. In fact, child murder isn't exactly something that is probably ever going to be mainstream. That's a really good example of timeless horror. Some of the best modern 21st century horror has pushed the envelope and broken taboos. That's what horror does. I think one of the modern horror masterpieces of the 21st Century is the French film Martyrs. It is extreme horror, extremely frightening and extremely violent. It's a masterpiece. It was like they were taking things to the next level and I think horror has always done that. M is an excellent example of a timeless horror story. And I gotta tell you, Frankenstein is not necessarily as terrifying as it was to audiences when it first came out, but it is still the only true and truly successful horror science fiction story. That's a subgenre that you just don't see all that much.

I feel bad for the Frankenstein monster and King Kong. The witches on Salem have deep lives and we identify with them.

Oh, absolutely, I think these witches, mostly women, are oppressed, one of them is a slave, and powerless. Through witchcraft they found their power and I think the show’s feminist themes are relatable.

Posted by Geoff at 7:29 PM CDT
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Friday, November 4, 2016

Yesterday, Birth. Movies. Death.'s Chris Eggersten posted part one of a terrific "Oral History" of the prom scene in Brian De Palma's Carrie, which was released in theaters 40 years ago today. Part two of the oral history was posted today.

"On the occasion of Carrie’s 40th anniversary," Eggersten writes in the intro to part one, "I spoke with close to a dozen individuals who helped bring the sequence to life, including cinematographer Mario Tosi, art director Jack Fisk, screenwriter Lawrence D. Cohen, editor Paul Hirsch, associate producer Louis A. Stroller and stars Nancy Allen and P.J. Soles. De Palma, ever the elusive figure, was not made available for an interview despite multiple attempts, but if you care to know his thoughts on prom night, remembrances from the director are widely available elsewhere, including in the excellent Noah Baumbach/Jake Paltrow documentary De Palma released earlier this year.

"Here, I’ve pulled from a range of sources both above and below the line. Some, like stuntwoman Mary Peters and camera operator Joel King – who both risked and even sustained physical harm to fulfill De Palma’s vision – have rarely if ever been heard from before. Their participation is a direct testament to the collaborative nature of filmmaking itself, whose disparate elements rarely come together with such combustible force and synchronicity as they did in Carrie."

Posted by Geoff at 8:27 AM CDT
Updated: Friday, November 4, 2016 10:28 PM CDT
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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Nicolas Cage, who stars in Paul Schrader's new film, Dog Eat Dog, spoke on the phone recently with Moviefone's Drew Taylor, who couldn't help but ask Cage about Snake Eyes...
One of the other things that came out this year was in the "De Palma" documentary; the original ending for "Snake Eyes" was finally seen. Was that validating?

I didn't get to see it. I would love to see the "De Palma" documentary. I'm a huge fan of Brian's and I tried to get to work with him several times since we did "Snake Eyes." But I didn't get to see the documentary or the alternate ending. Could you explain it to me?

Oh sure, it was when the big wave comes over Atlantic City and you're trapped in a tunnel, drowning.

Yes, that's fascinating. I remember him talking about it but I didn't know that he shot the wave. That's fantastic.

Similarly, there was a documentary out last year about your "Superman" movie with Tim Burton. Was it nice to see that stuff finally get out there?

Yeah, it was nice that the filmmakers gave folks a chance to look at what it was really looking like, instead of that goofy picture that came out, which was a Polaroid that didn't have any real lighting. It wasn't even a real costume. It was somebody trying to start a story and created a shakedown on the Internet, but it was entirely false. You can see the way it was genuinely going with a little bit of care and understanding put upon it.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Friday, November 4, 2016 12:14 AM CDT
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Wednesday, November 2, 2016
David Koepp was interviewed recently by Collider's Steve "Frosty" Weintraub, who asked him about the critical reception to Carlito's Way...
I wanna jump into another project, you worked on Carlito’s Way right after Jurassic Park and you wanna talk about a back-to-back…

KOEPP: Yeah that was a pretty good year. I thought they’d all be like that.

Carlito’s Way, I don’t know what the reception was when it first came out, but it does seem like since its release the critical reception to the film has only gotten stronger and stronger. Have you noticed that?

KOEPP: Yeah there’s some that age and hold up nicely, and Carlito’s is one of them. I think that at the end of the ‘90s you got in [A La Mod note: it made the list in Cahiers du cinéma of] the best movies of the ‘90s, it was very nice. Because when it came out I think –Brian De Palma is about as savvy of a media observer that you’ll ever meet, then before it came out, before any critic had seen it, he said, “Well, I can tell you how it’s gonna go on this one. You wanna know?” I said, “Sure” and he said, “OK, Al [Pacino] sucks because he just won an Oscar and he’s played a gangster before. I suck because I did a gangster movie before, and this isn’t like it, but it’s enough like it. Sean [Penn] is fantastic because they haven’t seen him for a while and will like to have him back. That’s how it’s gonna go.” And that was exactly how it went. So it was a little disappointing that it wasn’t more warmly-received because I think it’s a really beautiful movie, but it went nicely over time.

What was it like working with De Palma on that, can you talk about that collaboration back then?

KOEPP: When he was predicting he also said, “Oh and the other thing is you suck because you’re ‘dinosaur boy’.” Brian was great, we did three movies together and it was great every time. I had a lot of laughs which and we’re close friends to this day. He’s a rather cynical man, but that’s what I love about him.

When you think back on Mission: Impossible, do you think back on it fondly or do you think back on just the arguments with all the people working on that screenplay?

KOEPP: The arguments and the conflicts fade in time, especially if the movie did well, so now I look back on it fondly, sure. If the movie had not done well, I think the memories would be less pleasant. You can look back on the arguments and the conflict now and find it all kind of confusing. But when you make a movie with people and in turns badly and it’s a flop, it’s weird, it covers your feelings about how the experience went, if it went well you start to remember it poorly, and then you run into the people you made it with and you act like you owe each other money. If it was a hit, even if you maybe had a lot of beefs while you were making it, you run into each other and it’s like, “Hey! It’s nice to see you!” So that’s superficial if that’s what it is.

I think that’s the way it is in real life with everybody. If something’s a success, you’re gonna just deal with ego. I know you’re working on Indy, but what other scripts are you currently working on, or are you just like a one-project-at-a-time person?

KOEPP: I do one at a time. What’s nice is if you –I have a couple of my own things, one or two things that I’m doodling in my down time. But I try to write on specs as much as I write adaptations or things that people ask me to do. And I think I’ve been pretty good at it, I wish it was 50-50 but it’s like 60-40 for things people ask me to do. The problem with specs is that sometimes they get in and sometimes they don’t, they vanish without a trace. But you always gotta have your own stuff going, you cannot stop, even though Hollywood has sort of turned away from original material a little bit, that’s no reason for you to stop.

Posted by Geoff at 12:03 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2016 12:22 AM CDT
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Friday, October 28, 2016

From Marc Edward Heuck's program notes for the New Bev's screenings of Phantom Of The Paradise this past week:
Recently, one of the New Beverly’s favorite working directors, Edgar Wright, hosted a screening of Brian De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise at the Picturehouse Central cinema in Picadilly, London. Most of the audience consisted of first-time viewers, unfamiliar with the film or its star and librettist Paul Williams, drawn to the event by their appreciation of Wright and their trust in his cinematic taste. The post-show reactions yielded the kind of rapture that modern film promoters can only dream of:

It is merely serendipitous timing that Wright’s UK screening took place mere weeks before the New Beverly’s upcoming shows on October 26th and 27th, but it provides excellent preamble. Moreover, it continues the film’s reputation as possibly the single greatest cult horror rock musical that is still criminally underseen by a wide audience. Or, to apply Wright’s welcoming and positive spin, it is the single greatest cult horror rock musical that millions still have the wonderful opportunity to experience for the first time.

Later in the essay, Heuck notes, "Eagle-eyed grindhouse movie lovers should pay close attention during the scene in Swan’s boudoir. Among the beautiful groupies clamoring for Swan’s affections are Jennifer Ashley from The Centerfold Girls, Robin Mattson of Bonnie’s Kids, Janus Blythe from The Hills Have Eyes, Patrice Rohmer from Revenge of the Cheerleaders, Janit Baldwin from the would-be Carrie ripoff Ruby, and Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith from Lemora, Swinging Cheerleaders, Caged Heat and many more."

Posted by Geoff at 12:41 AM CDT
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Thursday, October 27, 2016
Den Of Geek's Tony Sokol interviews Lara Parker, who appeared in Brian De Palma's Hi, Mom! in 1970, along with her real-life children. At that time, Parker was in the midst of her regular job, portraying the witch Angelique on ABC-TV's serialized drama Dark Shadows. "Lara Parker created one of the strongest woman characters on TV at the same time as what was called Women’s Lib was growing," Sokol states in his introduction. Early in the interview, this leads Sokol to ask Parker if she sees characters such as Angelique and Elizabeth Montgomery's Samantha on Bewitched as historic symbols of Women's Lib...
I've been asked that so many times because the women's movement had begun. Looking back historically, Angelique was one of the earliest strong women characters portrayed on television. She was really the first “Bitch Witch” that became so popular later. But at the time I wasn't aware of being any kind of social figure. I just felt that I had a good part and I was happy to have a job and go to work and be an actress. It's a gift. But I certainly didn't see myself in the larger sense of being any kind of a social influence.

I think it's rare to pick up on that in the moment. I think only looking back I see that I was actually fortunate to be, in a small sense, one of the movers and shakers in the women's movement.

I see you as more than that. I happen to be a big Brian De Palma fan and you were also part of the New York City independent film revolution. At the time, were you aware of how different Hi Mom! was from the Hollywood machine?

Well again, no. Brian De Palma cast me and they actually put in my two children. He was doing improvised theater. We were improvising on film, without lines, without a character to play. It was a whole different thing and I actually was not very good at it. But, yeah, I was aware that there was an experimental film movement, very much so, yes. It was actually very politically focused.

Hi Mom! has some kind of show [in] it called Be Black Baby where the people were all dressed up in black face. I was very young and I wasn't really very aware of what Brian De Palma was trying to do. He was young too. He was experimenting but he went on to do some wonderful films.

Posted by Geoff at 12:58 AM CDT
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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Thanks to Alex for sending along the link to the above video, which shows the on-stage discussion that took place following the 40th anniversary screening of Carrie two weeks ago. The Q&A was moderated by Bryan Fuller, on stage with Piper Laurie, Nancy Allen, P.J. Soles, Doug Cox, Terry Bolo, and Paul Hirsch. Below are some transcripted moments from the video:


Hirsch: Honestly, Brian would bring me his storyboards that he had drawn himself. They’re not like storyboards as we know them today. So then he would show me these drawings he’d made, and I couldn’t make head or tail of them. [laughter] And I said [nodding], “That looks great, Brian. That looks great.” [more laughter] And then, I would just react to the footage. But, you know, watching the film tonight, the first time I’ve seen it in 40 years [“wow” reaction from the audience]… ‘cause, you know, when you get to the end of a film, and you’ve seen it so many times, you never want to see it again [laughter], which is the Faustian bargain that editors make. But watching it tonight, I was struck by how interestingly every scene was shot: the angles, the lighting. And nothing was done conventionally. Every choice was very interesting, with a point, and an attitude. And I thought the scenes between Nancy and John were so rich in chemistry, and you could really feel the feeling between them—the dance of the eyes, as they say. And then the scenes between Piper and Sissy were like operatic duets. They were just fabulous. I just had a great time watching the picture tonight.


Fuller: Speaking of Nancy and John Travolta, you have such a strange relationship with him in this film, as in other films, and it has this BDSM sort of quality to it. So, you were kind of John Travolta’s first cinematic dom.

Allen: And I’m proud of it. [laughter]

Fuller: Can you talk a little bit about filming that scene? Because it’s interesting to watch it with a modern audience, where he’s slapping you, you slap him, you have this very physically-abusive relationship, and on screen, then you look at your chemistry in Blow Out, which is so dynamic… What was it like, doing those two different [audience applauding] – Blow Out, people, I mean, let’s come on. [applause] Also edited by Paul Hirsch.

Allen: Well, first of all, John and I had a ball in the movie, and we really did have tremendous chemistry together. He’s a lot of fun to work with. He’s a very funny guy. But, the scene in the car, as you know, I was slapped earlier by Betty Buckley, and she was really slapping me, a lot, and John was so sweet. I mean, he would [touching her hand to her face repeatedly] barely touch me with his hands. And the fact that I was so bitchy with him—in the original storyboards, when Brian showed me, before we shot the film, he was supposed to rip my shirt off in the scene in the car. And he said, [waving her hand] “Yeah, that would not work with her. We’re not going to shoot that. She’ll kill him if he does that.” So, you know, we also thought that we were the comic relief in the movie. We had no idea everyone was going to hate us, because the crew laughed at us so much. So, we had a great time on that, and when we came together in Blow Out, it was so very different. He had had tremendous success in Saturday Night Fever and Grease, and I hadn’t seen him in a long time, and I had no idea if he had changed, or what he was going to be like. But when he walked in for rehearsals, he said, “Hey, let’s order a pizza.” We ordered pizza, we started working, and started to do some improvisation together to make the script work for us, because it was very, very different. And to me it was always magical working with him, because you never knew what he was going to do.


Fuller: Now, Mr. Hirsch, in the middle of that tuxedo shop scene, you just fast-forwarded for a while. Were you just like, “Let’s get this moving along,” or… what sort of choice was that?

Hirsch: Well, it was an interesting problem, because the scene was constructed on jump cuts, and the middle segment was too long. And I didn’t want to throw in another jump cut, because the jump cuts were… I was saving them for more significant moments.

Fuller: Like when you blow up a car…

Hirsch: No, no, no, I mean like in that scene, there were two very definite time cuts. I didn’t want to throw another one in the middle of one of the scenes. The three little scenes. So I had seen this film directed by Agnès Varda, and edited by a friend of mine, Robert Dalva. [note: Dalva also later worked on editing De Palma’s Raising Cain, as did Hirsch.] And he had done that. They had this long scene, I remember two characters on the bed, and they just sped-up—like the boring parts—they just sped-up. And I thought, well, that’s a great way to shorten the scene, so I thought I’d try it. And then, I think Pauline Kael called it “a stupid editor trick,” or something, you know. [laughter]

Fuller: Oh, Pauline.

Hirsch: You win some, you lose some. But it worked to preserve the pace of the scene, and not have to throw in a jump cut where I didn’t want one.


Later on, P.J. Soles asks Hirsch how the split screen was decided on for Carrie’s rage at the prom. Hirsch explains that split screen is “a passion of Brian’s,” and how he had used it initially for Dionysus In ’69. “And he was always fascinated by split screen,” Hirsch explains, “because he thought, well, it expands your perception of what’s going on.”

Hirsch then continues, “There are certain situations where it works very well. It’s not ideally suited for an action sequence because the fact that you’re looking at a split screen is a distancing device that keeps you from identifying with the characters the way you would when the image is full screen. It’s an intellectual fascination as opposed to an emotional connection.”

Posted by Geoff at 7:53 PM CDT
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