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Domino is
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De Palma on Domino
"It was not recut.
I was not involved
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mix or the color
timing of the
final print."

Listen to
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Supercut video
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edited by Carl Rodrigue

Washington Post
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Sunday, March 26, 2017
Julia Ducournau's directorial debut, Raw, opened a couple of weekends ago. Several reviews have mentioned Brian De Palma, as well as other filmmakers, as potential influences, and specifically De Palma's Carrie and Sisters, in relation to Raw. In the first link/excerpt below, Ducournau explains to Dan at Geekadelphia why Carrie was the only consciously deliberate reference she made to any film. Following that are links to other reviews of Raw:

Geekadelphia's Dan interviews Julia Ducournau
You combine in your narrative social commentary, comedy, gender and horror so effortlessly and fluid in Raw. What were some of the influences that helped you craft the film?

So the thing is when I write and I direct, I really, really try for once not to watch the movies that I love to watch in real life. I try not to be tempted to reproduce anything, I am kind of scared of that. I never go back to my main influences when I do the job. The funny thing is I do not make any direct reference to any of the main filmmakers, like Cronenberg, Argento or Lynch who are a holy trinity in my life. There is a however a direct Carrie reference, you know Brian De Palma. Carrie is a movie I like very much but it wasn’t a foundation experience for me, even though I love it, like how strong it is with a Cronenberg for example.

I did it because lots of members in the audience would think to themselves the premise of the movie, so I decided to make a small wink to it and play with this reference so we can move on to the next scene.

A lot of people have said they see Suspiria, and its funny because Suspiria was one of the biggest shocks in my life when I saw it. Even though I didn’t think about it when I was writing or directing, when someone tells me this, I am like yeah I think I understand it. Somehow its unconscious, but your identity is also what you’ve watched, what you’ve liked and what you’ve reacted to.

Joseph Friar, Victoria Advocate

"Many of the film’s gory moments are reminiscent of Cronenberg’s style and there is an ode to De Palma’s Carrie when the group of incoming freshman are doused with buckets of animal blood. However, the film shocks the most when it does it in a subtle way and Ducournau manages to fool the audience into believing that they are watching a coming-of-age drama that suddenly becomes the perfect double bill with Hannibal or one of my favorites Ravenous. But here the audience never loses sight that Justine is not becoming this terrible monster by choice. She can’t seem to escape what the future has in store and even when she begins to do the unthinkable the audience still finds itself rooting for her to find a way out. Raw is a brilliantly executed horror film that instantly becomes a classic of the genre. The final act is both shocking and satisfying."

April Wolfe, LA Weekly

"The women’s competitive, murderous relationship suggests the psychodrama of Brian De Palma’s Sisters, which tells of separated conjoined-twin serial killers, but in Raw the soul siblings hurt themselves just as much as they hurt other people. When Justine smears lipstick on her face and grinds her hips into a mirror to a song whose chorus is literally “I like to bang the dead,” or when she rips her teeth into her own arm to quell her cravings, these scenes echo Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession, in which a woman is so wracked by sexual madness that she hurls herself over and over into a wall in a subway tunnel.

"A scene where drunk-on-passion Justine rips into her kissing partner’s lips, snagging a tasty chunk of flesh, brings to mind Claire Denis’ archetypal cannibalistic-love thriller Trouble Every Day. But Raw isn’t derivative — it’s fresh, funny and grounded in reality. Underneath all the blood and guts, this is the story of a woman whose body demands love in extremity and the only person who’ll ever understand her fully: her sister."

Peter Keough, The Boston Globe

"Ducournau has some brilliant set pieces to come. A couple, one painted blue, the other yellow, make love, forming green until an abrupt interruption. And in one of the most disturbing horror scenes so far this year, we learn that a human finger tastes like curry.

"But then Ducournau throws in subtexts of patriarchal tyranny, elitism, vengeful mediocrity, colonial exploitation, homophobia, eating disorders, incest, sibling rivalry, and vegetarianism. Plus, a handsome array of allusions to such directors as David Cronenberg, Alfred Hitchcock, and Brian De Palma. But we never get much closer to answering the key question — what’s eating Justine?"

Steve Erickson, Nashville Scene

"Sisterhood is powerful. It’s also powerfully damaged, according to the exciting French horror film Raw. Writer-director Julia Ducournau synthesizes the influences of Claire Denis (especially her film maudit Trouble Every Day) and David Cronenberg, while paying explicit homage to Brian De Palma and Alfred Hitchcock. Like many of the best films, Raw remains enigmatic to the end. I could list a dozen subjects and themes that it’s about, but in the end, it resists being reduced to a metaphor or, even more so, a message. Ducournau captures the sense of terror and the sheer oddity powering the best work of horror writers like Poppy Z. Brite and Clive Barker."

Kalyn Corrigan, Birth. Movies. Death.

In both Sisters and in Raw sexual acts prompt and coincide with the tendency toward violent acts. Just as Danielle discovers that she is as protective and violent towards anyone who tries to insert themselves between she and Dominique, Justine realizes that she, too, wants to keep her sister all to herself, because only her sister truly understands her -- the same can arguably be said about Alexia’s feelings toward Justine. Both stories feature women who evolve into more actualized human beings once their sisters pave the way to understanding themselves. Only the one who shares the same infected blood can point the way to self-acceptance, and only your sister will truly be there for you when you have a body that needs disposing of. It takes a true sibling to stand by your side while you’re holding a bloody kitchen knife in your hand – or, in certain circumstances, a bloody ski pole.

The inspiration for Sisters actually comes from a startling image that director Brian De Palma stumbled upon in an article in a 1966 issue of Life Magazine. The picture showed two conjoined Soviet twins named Masha and Dasha, and a caption in the bottom right corner reads something along the lines of “Although they are physiologically normal, as they get older, they are starting to develop mental problems”. Intrigued by this strange scenario, De Palma dreamed up a story about two Siamese twins who would eventually be surgically separated, resulting in one sister going mad and attacking any man who would dare try to date her one and only human connection. Influenced, as always, by Hitchcock, De Palma took his grand idea of a sibling set slasher and filled it to the brim with nods to his favorite filmmaker, giving it a very Psycho first act, as he kills off a lead character more than thirty minutes in, followed up by a small Rope homage as he uses as long of a take as possible to show the detective and reporter Collier making their way around Danielle’s apartment while looking for a body, all the while keeping a cool Rear Window style ever present with several characters watching important plot points develop through binoculars, typically from across the street, just as Jimmy Stewart does as Hitchcock’s classic wheelchair bound neighborly hero. During the editing process, he and Paul Hirsch even grew to believe it was necessary to get Bernard Herrmann to do the score.

De Palma is not character driven or a man of many words. He finds that too much chatter makes for a dull movie, and instead opts to find inspiration in a large set piece, or a big idea, and then shapes his story around that idea to match the image that he has in his head. Likewise, Raw director Ducournau is more into scoring long moments of silence rather than incorporating a ton of dialogue to explain what’s happening, and finds herself inspired by images of certain peculiar body movements, which she then uses as a jumping off point to build a narrative around. Therefore, although each director has his or her own way of doing it, the story actually comes second to the aesthetics for both filmmakers. Despite the difference in age, sex, birthplace, and point in time, they do share the habit of conjuring up strong visceral visuals and writing whatever is necessary to bring that visual to life.

In the case of these films, both of those visuals eventually came to involve sisters, and each showed the power of coming to terms with one’s own identity through the guiding force of her own female sibling. Blood, sex and carnage lined the path to self-actualization, but once each sister sets out to find herself, there was no turning back from the murderess that they would inevitably become.

Posted by Geoff at 8:39 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, March 26, 2017 8:42 PM CDT
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Saturday, March 25, 2017
Hot on the heels of Harry Knowles calling Personal Shopper an "instant classic" that reminds of Nicolas Roeg and Brian De Palma, comes an interview with that film's director in which he is asked if he'd thought of De Palma at all while making it. Here's an excerpt from the interview, conducted by Calum Marsh at the National Post:
So much of this film takes place “inside” a cellphone, so to speak. Is it an iMessage movie?

I had the desire to make a movie that was simply one long conversation over text messages. That’s a bit of a stretch, and would get us into some kind of experimental area, which is not quite what I wanted. But I think that text messaging — which has become such a big part of our lives, for such a long time now — is a fascinating mode of communication. I think its potential has never really been fully explored in films.

How do you mean?

Because texting creates a relationship to words, to punctuation, and other very complex things — how long it takes to answer, how it feels when you’re waiting for an answer. It’s so complex, and it’s so charged, and the way we use the words is so careful. It’s very similar to poetry. Texting is the closest thing we have to poetry in everyday life — because all of a sudden every single word echoes in all of its meanings. It’s very complex. And also fascinating, because we have this strange and disturbing addiction to the screens on our phone. It’s mesmerizing; there’s something hypnotic about it.

What exactly is so engrossing?

I think that any kind of text conversation is pretty intense. And it’s more intense than actual live conversation, which is mitigated by politeness and social conventions. Text messages are straight to the point: you verbalize things in a much clearer, straightforward way than you would do in conversation, where you sort of wrap it in niceness. In text messages, it’s not wrapped. It’s raw. I always thought there was an intensity there — and we’re not even talking about sexting, which one can do or not do, but when you even get close to that area it’s disturbing.

That’s fascinating dramatically. But what about aesthetically? How did you determine how the texting would look on-screen?

To me, it was obvious I was going to shoot the phones, to have the phone be held and used in close-up. I was not going to have those little pop-ups; I don’t like that at all. Because for me it has to do with the screen. If you disconnect the words from the screen, they don’t function the same way. It’s all about the screen. It’s the screen that fascinates us. Again, if you print the words, you don’t have the icons. You don’t have the waiting, the “received at that time,” you don’t get that kind of suspense. And that’s very specific — and addictive.

We’re addicted to the suspense of waiting for messages to arrive?

To all of it. I realized, you know, even when I was I was shooting the phone footage, and we’d wait for the text to arrive on camera, I would think, is it coming, is it coming? And I liked the idea of movement. A lot of times we have inserts, closeups; some of them we did separately but a lot of them have to do with the movement and the way Kristen is typing. She used to say that it’s a movie where her thumbs are the co-star. The way she types is interesting.

Did you instruct her to put a space before her question marks?

No! She did it naturally. This is something that’s not part of English punctuation — it’s something you do in France. In French, there’s a space.

Oh. That makes sense.

No, it makes no sense! But yeah, I never told her, “change this,” “you misspelled this or that.” I thought that was all part of the process.

I love this idea of turning off airplane mode and having the texts come through.

That was part of the screenplay, yeah. I wanted the fear to rise. I like the idea of the text messages coming as a cascade. But it was difficult to get it right — we had to do it multiple times. And the version in the film, it’s the only moment that’s slowed down. There’s a slight slow-motion.

Was Brian De Palma on your mind at all?

I love Brian De Palma. Not so much the recent work, but I’m a huge fan. I’m a huge fan. Some of his Hitchcockian work is pretty amazing. I never interviewed him, but I wrote a long piece about Body Double. I love most of his films from that period. The Fury is amazing.

It was on my mind because of the police interview…

Well, the love I have for De Palma, it’s like the admiration I have for filmmakers like David Cronenberg or John Carpenter. They are guys who make genre films that are just way beyond the genre. They are great artists. Usually they use genre to make films that deal with more complex things. Things that are more powerful. De Palma or Cronenberg, they deal with abstractions, with the mysteries of life. They are just great, great filmmakers, great writers. The genre element just makes it more powerful. So I tried to learn the lessons.

You’ve made genre films before. Boarding Gate, Demonlover. How do you balance those genre elements with a more sophisticated arthouse style?

Well, the more what I have on my mind is abstract — the more it can even be a bit intellectual, but I hope in the better sense, meaning reflexive — the more I feel I need the genre element to make it exciting. But it’s all about the balance. It’s only when you’re writing or editing when you feel the right balance.

Did the balance change in editing?

Yes. The music changed a great deal. Horror movies, they are covered in music, from start to finish, and it’s always very similar. At some point… you know, I’m friends with the Daft Punk guys, one of the Daft Punk guys. I wanted to use his music for the film, to have some kind of electronic soundtrack. And then I realized it would literally destroy the film — because all of a sudden it would become a genre film. That’s when I started using baroque music instead. It’s totally not what you’d expect in a genre film, and it doesn’t give it a genre tone. For me it’s a movie about Maureen that once in awhile goes into genre territory. So that’s mostly where the fine-tuning was. Also the ghost scene. Using CGI, it’s not exactly my world, it’s kind of strange to me. I thought I kind of needed to give some reality to her vision.


Harry Knowles: Personal Shopper reminds of Nicolas Roeg, Brian De Palma, moments of Spielberg/Hooper

Jason Shawhan, Nashville Scene review of De Palma's Passion:

"Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams play beautiful corporate warriors doing awful things to one another, and the end result is a delirious fusion of Assayas' Demonlover and Mean Girls."

Personal Shopper echoes Body Double, and De Palma in general

Posted by Geoff at 9:16 PM CDT
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Friday, March 24, 2017

Yesterday's episode of The NYFA Hour Popcorn Talk podcast featured Lamont Magee and Jeff W. Byrd, the screenwriters for Brian De Palma's upcoming Lights Out. During the podcast, they briefly discussed the project with hosts Joelle Monique and Pegah Rad:
Joelle: You’re working on a movie that Brian De Palma is going to direct. Did you guys write it before Brian De Palma came on board?

Jeff: Yes.

Joelle: Okay… Did it change at all when he came on board? How you approached the project? Or was it done and you were like, here Brian, let’s go?

Jeff: No, I mean, well, it’s still changing now, because he’s still, you know, transforming it and all that stuff. So, but the essence of it is pretty much what we wrote. But Lamont’s been really dealing with him directly, with the changes that were made most recently. But at the end of the day the essence will usually stay the same. Obviously, words may change, and situations may change, and things like that. When we wrote it, it was a little simple movie—two million dollar, little small thing.

Lamont: Right, it was like a million dollars. It was, like, small.

Jeff: Yeah, and then De Palma comes on board, and it’s like, what, forty or fifty or something… something insane. So it had to grow.

Lamont: But, there’s a funny story. I was working at Virgin Entertainment, and Jeff was just directing, you know, doing what he does. And we met at Marie Callender’s at the SAG offices on Wilshire, and we’d sat down and had lunch, and he was like, “I have this idea, we just need to do it ourselves.” And he pitched me what turned into Lights Out. And I was in. How long did it take us to write that?

Jeff: It was pretty short, actually. To be honest. What was it, like… six months?

Lamont: No… it was like, a couple months? Two, three months?

Jeff: It was fairly quick. It came out very swiftly.

Lamont: But with this guy’s vision of what he wanted—because he wanted a bare-bones action movie, with a female protagonist. I’m all in on that. And… yeah, it was fun.

Jeff: It’s going to be interesting to see what happens, what De Palma does with it, but…

Joelle: Can you guys give us your elevator pitch for the script?

Jeff: Um… could we? Let’s see, what was that…? [laughter] Well, you know what, if we do, I would have to preface it with this: it was way before what you’re going to think of. Okay? Way before.

Lamont: Right.

Jeff: Way before. Okay, so, the elevator pitch is: blind girl in a house, some folks break in, and…

Lamont: Shenanigans occur.

Jeff: Ensue. Yes—unexpected things happen, from that moment forward.

Posted by Geoff at 4:14 AM CDT
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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Personal Shopper echoes Body Double and De Palma in general

Posted by Geoff at 8:13 AM CDT
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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

What do Brian De Palma's characters dream of?

Posted by Geoff at 4:37 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 4:46 AM CDT
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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Richard Luck posted about Brian De Palma's Snake Eyes yesterday at Right Casino:
“Having done a lot of reading about Howard Hughes for another project, I found myself wondering what it would be like if a murder took place during a prize fight at a casino,” an unusually loquacious De Palma told [Charlie] Rose ahead of Snake Eyes’ release. “Hughes was always inviting bigwigs to the fights in Las Vegas and talking business. And as I'd grown up in Philadelphia and had seen how the casinos had come to effect Atlantic City, I thought that environment was the perfect place to stage a murder.”

Borrowing liberally from Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo [Editor's note: I think he really means Kurosawa's Rashomon] – in which a crime is viewed from a variety of different perspectives – and pretty much any Hitchcock movie you care to think of, De Palma fashioned a film that’s as big on style as it is small on substance. If the film is ultimately rather frivolous, it’s sure to fascinate anyone who’s either visited Atlantic City or harbours dreams of taking in the wretched hive of scum and villainy.

Of particular interest is the flamboyant Gilbert Powell. Played by John Heard of Cat People and Home Alone fame, Powell is very clearly the film’s equivalent of Donald Trump; The Donald being among the biggest names operating in Atlantic City around the time the movie was shot and set. Indeed, as the future president’s Historic Atlantic City Convention Center had played host to WrestleManias IV and V, so the man with the hypnotic hair had brought many a major box-office to the East Coast. Trump would also be instrumental in bringing MMA to Atlantic City, a bold move that led to UFC hefe Dana White being among the more unlikely speakers at the 2016 Republican Convention.

As a snapshot of Atlantic City in the late 1990s, then, Snake Eyes simply can’t be beaten. It’s just a shame that budgetary restraints prevented director De Palma from closing out the movie on his own apocalyptic terms. “I wanted to finish the movie with a tidal wave,” the filmmaker explains in the must-see documentary De Palma. “I thought that given the nature of Atlantic City and what goes on there, it might be interesting just to wipe the whole place off the map. So we shot that ending but then found that the effects budget wouldn't stretch to a tsunami. Because of that, we had to settle for the more conventional ending. Pity - I would've liked to see Atlantic City in ruins.”

Posted by Geoff at 7:08 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, March 21, 2017 7:15 PM CDT
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Monday, March 20, 2017

Posted by Geoff at 5:44 AM CDT
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On its Facebook page last week, Carlotta Films revealed the title and cover of the 160-page book that will be included in its Phantom Of The Paradise Ultra Collector's Box, due to be released April 12. The book is titled "Dr. Brian And Mr. De Palma," and will include a lengthy interview with Brian De Palma, reviews of the film, press materials, lyrics of all the songs in the film, and 40 archive photos. Here is how the book is described on the Carlotta website:
"What is a 'commercial film,' anyway? How do you know if a director makes a film because it is commercial, or because it corresponds to a personal desire? People often think that a personal film is not necessarily commercial, but it's not that simple. I would like to make a film that people really want to see. Fellini too, and it does not make him a 'commercial' director. - Brian De Palma

Dr. Brian and Mr. De Palma explores the duality inherent in Brian De Palma's work in Phantom of the Paradise. Through an in-depth interview with him, analyses and press reviews, the iconoclastic approach of the director unfolds, between celebration and criticism of popular culture. An unpublished work embellished with the lyrics of all the songs of the film and 40 photos from the archives.

Most of the other special features in the Blu-ray-and-DVD set, which includes a brand new 2K restoration of the film, have appeared on previous editions of Phantom:

-BRIAN DE PALMA IN THE COULISSES OF THE PARADISE (33 min) (a look back with De Palma)
-PARADISE LOST AND FOUND (six cut or alternate scenes)

As reported earlier, the cover art for the box was done by Matt Taylor.

Posted by Geoff at 5:16 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, March 20, 2017 5:55 PM CDT
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Friday, March 17, 2017

Go to the Hollywood Suite tweet to watch the video-- here's what Cam Maitland has to say:
I think if I had to choose, like, a fun guilty pleasure movie, I really like Brian De Palma’s Body Double. He’s kind of the king of guilty pleasures—he makes these beautiful movies that are really kind of cinematic objects, but that also have, like, a lot of sleaziness to them. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but I kind of love them all.

Brian De Palma made Body Double coming off of a lot of criticism of his previous film, Dressed To Kill. A lot of people said it was a little too gory, and that it focused a little too much on sex. But of course, being Brian De Palma, he just wanted to double-down on those criticisms.

It’s a big role for Melanie Griffith—I think a lot of people probably remember her character, Holly Body. And while this movie might seem a little trashy, she really credits it for doing a lot for her career. Specifically, she thinks she wouldn’t have gotten Working Girl or Something Wild without this movie kind of divorcing her from her childhood image as Tippi Hedren’s daughter.

My favorite sequence in it—and this is totally weird and out of place, but delightful—is in the middle of the film it breaks out into this Frankie Goes To Hollywood music video.

Posted by Geoff at 7:45 PM CDT
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Thursday, March 16, 2017

The video above, a "supercut" of the God's-eye viewpoint throughout Brian De Palma's cinema, was created by La Cinémathèque Française in preparation for a screening of Blow Out taking place today (March 16th). The screening will be followed by a discussion with the philosopher and musicologist Peter Szendy.

The following description of the video presentation was written by Bernard Benoliel (Director of Cultural and Educational Action at the Cinémathèque Française) and Xavier Jamet (webmaster at Cinémathèque Française), translated with the help of Google Translator:
From the beginning (the end of the 60s) and until today (Passion, 2012), and tomorrow still certainly, the staging of Brian De Palma will never cease to play the game of cat and mouse. But in a version where the roles are constantly reversed: to be beaten at one's own game...

Split screens, double focal lengths, slow motion, 360-degree panning, dives and counter-dives, multiplication of angles and axes, aerial camera, so many ways to expose a mise en scène or to sum up all reality to its mise en scène. In short, a sophisticated device of signs as so many indices that give the viewer the illusion of his omniscience: if all reality holds in its staging as in a box, then nothing is supposed to escape the one who Looks in the box. De Palma likes nothing more than to drive the spectator-voyeur, to make him go around the owner, to direct his glance and to designate a detail (to better conceal another). Is that not the very subject of Body Double?

The vertical plunge holds a place of choice in the De Palma fireworks. It is even a recurring motif of his work, a motif that is often quickly interpreted as a tribute to Hitchcock (the opening credits of North by Northwest, the staircase of Psycho, the tower of Vertigo, the pipe organ of Secret Agent…). In the visual economy of the cinema of De Palma, it is also the ultimate ruse: the zenithal point of view seems to make each spectator a god. Nothing escapes it apparently, everything is given to see and everything is seen, the foreground doubled as background. But this phantasm of all power makes him forget his constitutive infirmity: the spectator, like a character of De Palma, has no eyes in the back (if it were otherwise, Carlito would still be alive ...). It is there, at his back, that De Palma stands, and with him the truth of all his staging: there is always someone or something that looks at the one who looks. As in a game of mirrors, or in the painting by Magritte (Not to be Reproduced), one is always seen as "the eye was in the grave and looked at Cain" (Victor Hugo , La Conscience).

(Thanks to Donald!)

Posted by Geoff at 3:37 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, March 16, 2017 8:06 AM CDT
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