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Saturday, August 25, 2018

Garry Pastore (second from the right in the screenshot above) reminisced yesterday on Instagram about his small role in Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way:
Spring 1993. My mother was in the hospital in grave health. I got a call to get up to the city to meet Brian DePalma, he wanted to see me and Cousin Vin for a scene to be shot at the Copacabana with Pacino and Penn. Well I went and so did Vin and the rest is history. Yeah it was a small scene, but all things considered a very memorable one! “Hey you! Yeah you spaghetti dick!” Amazing performances by Penn and Pacino.

trajectoryfilmsMy late cousin Greg played the guy that dances with Penelope Ann Miller in that scene.

trajectoryfilmsThat’s Greg on the left. He passed away about 15 yrs ago while doing a play at the Kennedy Center.

mafiachroniclesEpic! 🙌🏼

garry_pastore@trajectoryfilms oh damn I didn’t know he passed away. Great guy I remember him well. We were held captive in the Copa together for days. My sincerest condolences my friend

In the credits for the film, Pastore, billed as Garry Blackwood, is listed as a "Copa Wiseguy," as is his cousin, Vincent Pastore. Gregory Misciagno is listed as "Italian at Copa."

In a span of four years from 1989 to 1993, Pastore (then known as Garry Blackwood) appeared in movies by De Palma, Spike Lee (Do The Right Thing), Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas), and Robert De Niro (A Bronx Tale). Currently appearing on HBO's series The Deuce, Pastore will also be seen next year alongside Pacino and De Niro in Scorsese's The Irishman.

Posted by Geoff at 11:36 AM CDT
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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Posted by Geoff at 6:18 PM CDT
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Sunday, March 11, 2018
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/quadpacinoway.jpgCarlito's Way and Scarface are both part of the series "Pacino's Way," an Al Pacino retrospective that begins this week at the Quad Cinema in New York, and runs through the end of March. Pacino himself will be on hand March 28 for a discussion following a double feature of his Salomé and Wilde Salomé. Last week, Pacino spoke by phone with Vulture's David Edelstein about the upcoming retrospective:
He is thrilled that “Pacino’s Way” was proposed by the folks at the Quad Cinema in the Village. On the phone from L.A. in three rambling, absolutely delightful hours, Pacino, now 77, effuses over the years (beginning at 16, when he dropped out of the High School of the Performing Arts) in which he roamed the neighborhood, sometimes homeless and sleeping on the stages of small theaters, moving from production to production, and meeting, in a bar at age 17, his mentor, the late Charlie Laughton (not the famous one), who brought him to the Herbert Berghof Studio.

“I was just stunned by the fact that the Quad offered this to me,” he says. “I immediately crashed on when I was a kid down there. Sometimes you feel closer to what you were than you expected.”

The retrospective (it begins March 14) features most of the biggies: the first two Godfather films (he thinks the third was a mistake), Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Scarface, Scent of a Woman, Heat, as well as — surprisingly, at Pacino’s request — his most formidable bombs, Bobby Deerfield and Revolution.

Equally vital for him are the movies he directed, like the rarely seen Chinese Coffee (based on a play) and two relatively recent films in New York premieres: a spare, stylized version of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé he stars in with Jessica Chastain — he’d hoped the film would help launch her career but she did pretty well without it — and Wilde Salomé, a documentary about his relationship with the play. In it, he reveals the often-wayward process of putting together the earlier film and a concurrent L.A. stage production. The documentary isn’t as exhilarating as his 1996 free-form seminar, Looking for Richard, a kind of goofy master’s thesis on the Bard, the hunchbacked king, and the nature of his theatrical obsessions. But it’s full of enjoyably bizarre episodes, like the one in which Pacino throws a lavish cocktail party so that an unprepared, rather confused Chastain can improvise. Wilde Salomé illuminates the space where Pacino is happiest: the experimental theatrical milieu in which, 50 years ago, he found his voice.

Later in the article, Pacino discusses the gangster pictures that are included in the retrospective:
Here’s what Pacino wants you to take away from the retrospective, especially if you think he’s often the same in every role onscreen — if you always say, “Oh, that’s Al”: “It’s an overview of an acting artist from the Village, really,” he says, and suggests looking at his four gangsters, Michael Corleone, Tony Montana in Scarface, Carlito from Carlito’s Way, and Lefty Ruggiero in Donnie Brasco. They couldn’t be more different. Pacino’s Montana is huge and burns like a filament, a purposely two-dimensional character in a film that the director, Brian De Palma, called a “Brechtian opera” — and Pacino loves how Tony became a cultural icon, however cataclysmic the trajectory. Carlito, on the other hand, is a man who gets out of prison and wants to put his life in order — the opposite of Montana, who manufactures chaos. Lefty is a Mafia middleman, a second-rater striving to rise in the ranks but brought down by a surrogate son who turns out to be an undercover FBI agent.

Sometimes, Pacino says, he goes overboard, sometimes underboard. “But as Lee Strasberg used to say, ‘Don’t do what you can do. Do what you can’t do. That’s how you learn.’ ”

I quote Michael Mann, who once compared Pacino to Pacino’s old Village pal Robert De Niro: De Niro “sees the part as a construction, working incredibly hard, detail by detail, bit by bit, building character … [Pacino is] more like Picasso, staring at an empty canvas for many hours in intense concentration. And then there’s a series of brushstrokes. And a piece of the character is alive.”

Pacino says, “Isn’t that great, to hear that? I’m so glad, because I remember hearing about Picasso, who stares for 12 hours at an empty canvas. So, I play around with stuff. When I find something, it’s a combination of doing it so much in my life … and also saying, ‘I don’t know anything about acting at all.’ ”

He’s still learning. In the space of a year, he has played a shocked, stricken Joe Paterno for Barry Levinson in HBO’s Paterno (premiering in April), which he says is more internal than most of his recent performances. From there, he jumped into the part of Jimmy Hoffa in The Irishman, working with De Niro (playing Hoffa’s close friend and likely killer) and, for the first time, Martin Scorsese. The film was shooting when Pacino signed up — Scorsese warned him it would be “a moving train” — which is not how he likes to work. But he trusted Scorsese and De Niro enough to hop aboard. Also, the budget of the film, produced by Netflix, is big and getting bigger, and the money will doubtless help to underwrite Pacino’s next theatrical experiments.

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CST
Updated: Monday, March 12, 2018 12:45 AM CDT
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Friday, March 31, 2017
U.K. magazine Little White Lies recently posted its list of the 100 best films of the 1990s, and included Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way at number 37. "The running order of this list was formulated by committee rather than a drawn-out ballot process," explains the introduction, "and the choices represent a tiny clutch of the films adored by the LWLies team. For the most part we’ve limited it to one great film per director, so if a personal favourite of yours is missing, that’s probably the reason why."

The magazine's Manuela Lazic wrote the following about Carlito's Way:
Al Pacino’s big, kind eyes say more about Carlito than his explanatory voiceover: the ex-conman, fresh out of prison, wants to believe again in the beauty of life. Director Brian de Palma employs his trademark voluptuous filmmaking to translate the hopeful passion that Carlito manages to bring back to his girlfriend, making this his most tender and romantic film. Yet the director’s pessimistic view of humanity hasn’t left him as Carlito can’t simply forget the code of the streets, nor can he rely on the law to protect him, corrupted as it is by selfish greed and rampant distrust. Even the most genuine and overwhelming love can’t survive when redemption remains but a dashed dream.

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, April 1, 2017 12:12 AM CDT
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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Last week, C.J. Smith at VHS Revival revisited Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way. Here's an excerpt:
Carlito’s Way is a movie of great style and energy, one that delights in the heady decadence of the disco scene while mired in the scum of the barrio, a place described as being ‘like them old cowboy movies, only instead of tumbleweed and cow dung we got stripped car wrecks and dog shit.’ Since Carlito went away, things have changed, and although some of those old faces remain, they look at him differently, and those who came up while he was gone have no respect for what went before. Respect for ones peers is a thing of the past it seems – and perhaps never existed; the moral code to which Carlito clings appears to be illusory.

Whether that was always the case we will never know. Carlito is a new man having beat a thirty year rap on a Kleinfeld-spun technicality, and when his old partner Rolando scoffs at this notion, you can only imagine what Carlito had been like before his sentence took him out of the game. The only window we have into that part of our protagonist’s life is through the people who now fill it. The movie features a wonderfully colourful cast, both lead and supporting, characters who are laced with slick and sleaze, while the bold and brightly coloured become dulled by greed and desperation.

Perhaps the most blatant hint at the person Carlito is trying to escape is young hothead Bennie Blanco, who boldly introduces himself as being ‘from The Bronx’. Bennie is a brash up-and-comer with a devil moustache and sinister glare, the kind of full-throttle delinquent who will either crash prematurely or rampage his way to the very top. Bennie is reminiscent of another De Palma character – Tony Montana from Scarface – and you can imagine this movie as kind of a quasi-sequel. Bennie seems to be smarter than your average thug, with the sense and ambition to offer Carlito some restraint as he sets about picking his brains. Of course, Carlito isn’t interested. He simply wants to take enough out of the club he has invested in to escape the streets that stalk him at every turn. He sees himself in Bennie and resents him for it, and eventually his ego takes hold as the new kid in town flaunts his growing power on his premises. Carlito is who Montana could have been had he been stopped in his tracks before he careened over the proverbial canyon.

In spite of these parallels, Carlito’s Way is very much a different animal. Unlike Pacino and De Palma’s previous foray into the world of crime, the movie is free of political leanings, extricated from the vengeful scribe of screenwriter Oliver Stone – but that doesn’t mean the screenplay is any less quotable. Adapted from a novel of the same name, the film is saturated in Elmore Leonard style prose, punchy and lyrical, with the kind of pulp poignancy which adds a peculiar depth to a world spray tagged with grandiose caricatures. Hypnotised by our protagonist’s narration, we are led wandering through a cinematic dreamworld, so dazzled by the poetic deceit and colourful language that we are unable to see the path in front of us, and by the time we arrive at our hero’s fated destination we fail to see it coming.

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CST
Updated: Friday, March 10, 2017 12:18 AM CST
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Thursday, December 29, 2016
Birth.Movies.Death.'s Jacob Knight posted an interview with John Leguizamo two weeks ago, and asked him about his work with Brian De Palma. Here is the excerpt:
BMD: Before I let you go, I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you about working with Brian De Palma. He’s my favorite filmmaker of all time and you were in one of his absolute masterpieces, Carlito’s Way.

JL: Aw man, I was supposed to be in Mission: Impossible, too, but had a Fox contract that they wouldn’t let me out of. I was so looking forward to being in that movie. It would’ve been the third time I got to do something with Brian. I was so devastated. I loved working with him. I owe my career to him. He creates this environment where anything is possible.

In Carlito’s Way, I found myself as an actor. With my entrance as Benny Blanco, he let me do between twenty and thirty takes. And we’re talking about doing this on film, not digital. This was the era when you usually got three takes and had to beg for more. Not with Brian. Brian would let you play, because he was digging what I was doing; all my flamboyance and improv.

BMD: Do you have any specific recollections about how he directed you on that set?

JL: He loves to tell one actor one thing and another actor another thing and then just watch them go at it. It’s all about conflict with Brian. He just wants to get everyone riled up. He gets off on tension and watching actors cross the line. I’m so glad you brought him up because he’s really one of the geniuses of our time.

BMD: Earlier this year, I got to watch Carlito’s Way on 35mm and took my girlfriend, who had never seen it, and she was completely blown away.

JL: I think it’s due to finally get recognized for what it is. I was so proud of my work in that.

BMD: As you should be. You got to play against peak Pacino and killed it.

Posted by Geoff at 11:57 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, December 29, 2016 11:58 PM CST
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Friday, December 23, 2016
As reported here last weekend, Brian De Palma's Raising Cain and Carlito's Way were screened back-to-back Friday afternoon/evening at The Film Society of Lincoln Center, as part of its current series, "Going Steadi: 40 Years of Steadicam." The Lincoln Center series is the cover story of the current issue of Film Comment, which includes an interview with Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown, who mentions Carlito's Way as a prime example of the Steadicam being used to shoot in conjunction with cuts, or edits, to create a dynamic flow of images (as opposed to elaborate single-take sequences). The interview was conducted by John Bailey-- here is the excerpt:
What do you think of movies that use the Steadicam as a real-time technique-- the entire film being shot in a continuous take? I think of a movie like Russian Ark.
Of course I enjoyed Russian Ark, and likewise several more recent, less rigorous examples that invisibly devided the operating chore into more manageable hunks. But they are tours de force and inevitably degrade the stoytelling to achieve a continuousness that non-cineastes might not even notice. I love cuts. Moviegoers don't even notice them, and I loved shooting for cuts with Steadicam. At best, such as in the subway sequences of Carlito's Way, they acquire an energy and dynamism and pure bold kinetic energy that would be inevitably diminished by any attempt at a "one-er." I cherish the Western cinema tradition as is... cuts and all!


Earlier this month, No Film School's Emily Buder interviewed Brown, and asked him to name "some of those greatest Steadicam shots which you have not operated yourself"...

Well, I was immediately a fan of the Goodfellas shot. God, there are just tons of them. The one from Boogie Nights I loved. Carlito's Way has some fantastic shots in it. Kill Bill. There's astounding Steadicam in that. And a vast number of foreign films. An inability to think of them as a sign that there are so many that are spectacular. It's like asking somebody, "What are your favorite violin solos in history?" and they flood in on you, the most astonishing ones by this and that artist.

The important thing that I learned—and we've all learned—is Steadicam is a rather crappy invention. By itself, it doesn't do a thing. In the hands of a gifted operator, it is an instrument and is of no more use than the skill of the operator. It just barely allows a gifted human being to do this amazing trick: to run along with their ever-moving corpus. Out the other end comes an astonishing dolly shot smooth as glass.

Not only that, it's a dolly shot that can do stuff a dolly can't. As a fingertip operation, you could put the lens precisely where it wants to be, not just in dolly to the right, but in French curves. It would drive a dolly group crazy. Instinctively putting the lens where you want as boom up and down, and traverse left and right and aim, pan, and tilt. Everywhere your feet can take you and your arms can put this thing, there is the potential path for a lens. But the point isn't to be flashy.

The point is to let these storytelling shots show you what you—the viewer—ideally would love to see; where you would put your eye if you were standing on that set looking. We do this a million times a day. Human beings are fabulous camera operators of our own eyes, and our own eyes are superbly stabilized. When you run, you don't see a jerky shot. You see a very smooth Steadicam shot. We instinctively lean left and right, stand up and move around, to see what we want to see. I think that is a devastating argument against handheld: human beings don't see in the shaky way that handheld presents the world. In fact, it's stupid that your audience would see a shakier vision than your actors would see.

There's a strong argument, I think, for at least being as stable as your own magnificent little internal Steadicam. Your inner ear tells your eye muscles how to move to eliminate the bumps. Look straight across the room and fix your eyes on something and shake your head up and down violently. It just sits there, right? Shake your head side to side. It just sits there. But if that was a camera, you couldn't watch it. Now, watch this: tilt your head to one side. The room does not tilt. Your brain is conditioned to perceive the room as level no matter what angle your eye is. Why? Because evolution didn't find that of any interest for keeping us alive. It's really fundamental stuff. I could be a great bore on this subject, but I'm not a fan of handheld, and that's why the Steadicam exists. I wouldn't have been able to put it in those terms 40 years ago, but it's become quite clear to me.

When you dart your eyes around left or right and fix on something and dart to the other side of the room and look, there are only maybe 30% or 50% of Steadicam operators that can do that with a Steadicam. There's almost nothing else that can do what is called a saccad. A saccad is when you dart your eyes from one side of the room to the other.

Posted by Geoff at 9:41 PM CST
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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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Wednesday, December 30, 2015
On October 24, 2015, Patrick Doyle received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 15th World Soundtrack Awards in Ghent. The Brussels Philharmonic, conducted by Dirk Brossé, performed a selection of Doyle's work, including the "Grand Central" theme he composed for Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way (watch/listen to the performance in the video above).

On choosing Doyle for the award, artistic director of Film Fest Gent, Patrick Duynslaegher, had said, "This year’s focus of the 42nd Film Fest Gent will be on British Cinema, so Patrick Doyle was the ideal candidate to grant the Lifetime Achievement Award to, during the 15th World Soundtrack Awards. Anyone who can still recount hearing Doyle’s score for Kenneth Branagh’s debut film Henry V in 1989 for the first time, knows that back then a great composer was born. Ever since, Patrick Doyle has been a close collaborator with Mr. Branagh and always gave a deeper musical layer to all of his films including the Shakespeare adaptations (Henry V, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It and Love’s Labour’s Lost). The immensely versatile Doyle enriched the films by Robert Altman, Ang Lee, Chen Kaige, Alfonso Cuarón and Brian De Palma (one of his greatest scores was for Carlito’s Way) with his alternating tragic, noble, triumphant and romantic compositions. With his work on blockbusters such as Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire he certainly proved his talent working on spectacular Hollywood action and adventure films."

Posted by Geoff at 11:57 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, December 31, 2015 4:55 PM CST
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Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way will screen from a 35mm print at 4:45pm this Sunday, November 22nd, at The Castro Theatre in San Francisco. The screening is part of a double feature with Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, which screens from DCP in a new 4K restoration before and after Carlito, at 2pm and 7:30pm.

Posted by Geoff at 2:03 AM CST
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