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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Carrie Rickey's essay for the new Criterion edition of Brian De Palma's Sisters (released yesterday) has been posted on the Criterion website. Here's how it starts:
In 1973, the arrival of Sisters, the first film by Brian De Palma that is recognizably his, almost concurrently with the release of Frenzy, the penultimate feature by Alfred Hitchcock, incited heretical talk among cinephiles. Many argued that the former was superior to—and, curiously, more Hitchcockian than—the latter. At the time, I thought those movie geeks were being provocative and/or blasphemous. With distance, I’ve come around to their way of thinking. That U-turn was, for me, a first brush with George Bernard Shaw’s insight that all truths begin as blasphemies.

Posted by Geoff at 7:57 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2018 8:01 AM CDT
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Saturday, October 20, 2018
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/cainamster.jpgPeet Gelderblom will be present for a Q&A following an Amsterdamned 2018 screening Thursday (October 25th) of his Re-Cut of Brian De Palma's Raising Cain. The Amsterdamned Film Festival takes place Wednesday October 24th through Friday October 26th. The screening of Raising Cain Re-Cut is part of a special Amsterdamned focus on De Palma at this year's festival. Screenings of Body Double and Phantom Of The Paradise will also be included.

In addition, Gelderblom tells us that he will be announcing an upcoming project at Amsterdamned: his first feature film. All the best to you, Peet!


Visit Peet Gelderblom at Directorama.net

Posted by Geoff at 1:35 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, October 21, 2018 9:01 AM CDT
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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Yesterday, Michael Possert, Jr., who was the visual effects crew chief of Dream Quest Images for Brian De Palma's Mission To Mars, posted the above pic on his Instagram page (circa1964), with the following caption, which led to the successive comments:
circa1964 Here we are moving the finished Mission To Mars spaceship - the Mars 1 - to stage for shooting. It was 21' or 6.4 meters from end to end. This was made at Dream Quest Images in Simi California in 2000.

#missiontomars #dreamquestimages #briandepalma #garysinise #timrobbins #doncheadle #connienielsen #practicaleffects #vfx #miniature #miniatures #handmade #modelcraft #scalemodel #scratchbuild #modelmaker #modelmaking #custombuild #moldmaker #setlife #behindthescenes #greenscreen #motioncontrol #2000 #spaceship #mars #rocket #blastoff #orbit #crew

curly.phil Wow! That’s crazy 😮😮 What’s the biggest ship you’ve worked on?

circa1964 @curly.phil I think this one. The Nightingale from Supernova was 19 1/2'. The alien craft that rises at the end of The Abyss was 20' across, maybe more. Can't remember but I think 20'. So, this one. Now, cities or landscapes is a whole other thing.

curly.phil @circa1964 😂😂 Go on then. Biggest city and landscape?

circa1964 @curly.phil I will get back to you on that. Memory overload.😁😂

mcsbro Is this the same model that’s currently in the Mission Space line queue at Epcot?

circa1964 @mcsbro I think it is! I just did a search online and found some pics. I would be surprised if it isn't. Thanks for the info.

Posted by Geoff at 3:05 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, October 14, 2018 3:07 PM CDT
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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Several critics at Cannes last May mentioned Brian De Palma in their reviews of Knife + Heart. Yann Gonzalez, director of that film, discusses De Palma and more in an interview with Film Inquiry's Hazem Fahmy, which posted a couple of days ago:
I know you’ve mentioned that you’ve drawn a lot of influence from Argento and Brian de Palma. Any films in particular?

Yann Gonzalez: I saw Phantom of the Paradise again two weeks ago, and this is one of the films I [showed] to the actor who plays the killer, Jonathan Genet, who was the lead in the last Żuławski film, Cosmos. There’s something so childish in Phantom of the Paradise. It’s like a kid playing with the images, and trying to invent and expand on them at every moment in the film. And I loved it, so much. [It] brings together so many atmospheres; it’s a comedy, it’s a tragedy, it’s super goofy, it’s super stupid at some points, it’s a musical, it’s a horror film. It’s so many things at the same time, and it’s dealing with everything in such a brilliant way.

Brian de Palma is my favorite director ever, and maybe it’s not my favorite film of his because I think he made stronger films. For instance, every time I see Carrie or Obsession, I cry, and cry, and cry, for half an hour at least. But with Phantom of the Paradise, you have this guy, this is maybe his third or fourth important picture– I think he made maybe five or six pictures before, but this is really one of the first important pictures he made, and he’s still so young at heart. You can feel the vibration of youth, the joy of making cinema and the artifice of cinema all the time in that [film]. That can be very exhilarating.

I’m seeing all kinds of similarities now that I think about it. From the masked monster to the relationship between creativity and violence; how a beautiful thing can have a really dark past. You mentioned the joy of filmmaking, which I think is really present in the film–

Yann Gonzalez: Thank you!

Like the way the opening sequence was unfolding, as Lois was editing and the murder was happening, I just kept thinking to myself: “God, snapping film like that must be so satisfying.”

Yann Gonzalez: This is why I mostly still watch films from the Seventies or Eighties. I think we kind of lost this naivety of cinema; just opening yourself and trying to be as free as you can, and expressing your joy [in] making a film. It’s getting more and more rare that you can feel this joy in making a film. There are too many producers, too many people involved in the filmmaking process. I think you lose this childish aspect of making a film, which I think is super important.

Is there something you do on set, or in preparing with your actors, to maintain that sense of joy in making a film?

Yann Gonzalez: It has to be contagious. Of course, it’s the job of the filmmaker, but you must choose the right people to maintain this joy. And it’s very fragile because there’s lots of tension on the set; sometimes it’s really excruciating to go through one day of shooting. There are so many issues, so many problems all the time. I think I was really lucky because, 95% of the time I was surrounded by people who were really kids at heart. And especially Vanessa Paradis, she has this real innocence, and this kindness of a kid. She’d never acted like a star, she was part of the crew, and that’s all, expressing the same joy as the crew. It was really contagious. We were like a bunch of kids doing film.

Posted by Geoff at 10:32 PM CDT
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Thursday, October 11, 2018
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/penelopetbt.jpgPenelope Ann Miller posted this image today on her Instagram page, with the following caption:
#tbt #carlitosway “Here’s looking at you kid” #alpacino #briandepalma #seanpenn #viggomortensen #luisguzman #ingridrogers Those were the days my friends! #blessed #grateful

alpacinofilmfestival shared the pic afterward, adding, "The location used as Gail's apartment (5-7 Minetta Lane) is the same building used to represent Frank Serpico's apartment in Serpico.

Posted by Geoff at 10:23 PM CDT
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The capture above comes from DVD Beaver's review of the new Criterion Blu-ray edition of Brian De Palma's Sisters, which will be released October 23rd. This Friday, however, the new 4K restoration of the film will premiere at The Quad Cinema in New York. Reviews have been popping up this week-- here are some links/excerpts:

J. Hoberman, New York Times

The 1973 slasher film “Sisters,” digitally restored and playing at the Quad Cinema, as well as streaming on services like FilmStruck, was Brian De Palma’s first homage to Alfred Hitchcock. Shamelessly lurid, it’s also his best.

Sisters” boasts an angsty score by Bernard Herrmann, who wrote the music for a number of Hitchcock films including “Psycho,” from which “Sisters” borrows much of its plot. De Palma also drew on Hitchcock’s brilliant use of editing to generate suspense, augmenting conventional crosscutting with his taste for split-screen action.

Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” is another source, bolstered by De Palma’s own interest in voyeurism. Indeed, “Sisters” opens with an episode from a mock quiz show called “Peeping Tom,” which allows a meet-cute between Danielle (Margot Kidder), a model hired for the show, and a winning contestant, the advertising salesman Philip (Lisle Wilson, best remembered for his regular role on the mid-1970s sitcom “That’s My Mama”).

That “Peeping Tom” awards Philip, who is African-American, dinner for two at a tacky theme restaurant called the African Room suggests that, like De Palma’s early independent films, “Sisters” will have elements of social satire; that Philip invites Danielle to dine with him raises the ante, not least by introducing her creepy “ex-husband” (the frequent De Palma collaborator William Finley); that Danielle turns out to have a twin complicates everything.

Although some mistakenly credited a “rave” review of “Sisters” by The New Yorker critic Pauline Kael with launching Mr. De Palma’s Hollywood career, her notice was actually an unequivocal pan: “‘Sisters,’” she wrote, “is a long way from being the brilliant thriller the ads say it is, but its limp technique doesn’t seem to matter to the people who want their gratuitous gore.”

It was actually Vincent Canby who wrote a strongly positive review in The New York Times, calling De Palma, hitherto known for his anarchic comedies, “a first-rate director” and noting, with regard to “Sisters,” that “an intelligent horror film is very rare these days.” (Kael boarded the De Palma bus a year later with his rock extravaganza “Phantom of the Paradise.”)

Hitchcock was a master of dark humor. De Palma’s wit is more facetious and, one might say, lacerating. Presupposing the viewer’s knowledge of “Psycho,” “Sisters” is something like a jaded, politicized remake, reflecting post-1960s disillusionment. The film scholar Chris Dumas points out that De Palma’s substitutions are crucial. His psychotic killer is a white woman and, rather than the ambivalent adulteress of “Psycho,” the victim is a black man (a role De Palma optimistically hoped might attract Sidney Poitier). The only witness to the murder is a 25-year-old would-be muckraking reporter for a neighborhood weekly (Jennifer Salt), widely disbelieved by investigators because of her articles on police brutality.

Once this allegorical setup is grasped, the journalist’s fate, the disposition of the corpse and the movie’s final shot make for a thriller that, while lesser than Hitchcock’s, is more brutally cynical and despairing.

Brad Gullickson, Film School Rejects
Herrmann’s score screams with the intensity of the emotions being savaged by the characters. There are no lows, only apocalyptic heights of ecstasy and revulsion. Yes, the restoration offers a classy, natural picture, but the uncompressed monaural soundtrack is enough to demand your dollars. Herrmann blares with the recognizable fervor of his Vertigo, but the New Hollywood aesthetic allows him to unleash whatever last drops of good taste he might be holding onto. The composer hits you with one fist while De Palma slaps you with another. Thank you, sirs, may I have another?

While De Palma had directed six films prior to Sisters, this is the first in his canon to be infused with a genuine sense of danger. It’s a risk that oozes from his twisted sensibilities, and the fear is that its toxicity is infectious. An inability to resist his deviant delights might transform you into a lifelong acolyte of the depraved. Commit or join the safety of the AFI approved films he’s riffing against.

You want to look away, but his camera robs you of the option. There is no flight from the scene of the crime. When the plot demands the intrusion of another character, De Palma relinquishes only half of the screen. Jennifer Salt is running to the rescue on the left, but the split-screen gives no respite from the horrors on the right. You can’t turn away. It’s a trick he would later get lost within, but in his earlier efforts, the effect is just one of many sharp instruments in his toolbox.

Sisters relates like a kinky rendition of a Popular Science puff piece. An anecdote overheard by Hitchcock chewed on by Georges Franju and regurgitated by De Palma. Those that lap it up deserve the poisoning that results. Whatever demented gorgers that remain hungry afterward should seek out Carrie, Dressed to Kill, and Body Double.

Kevin Jagernauth, The Playlist

Given his command of the craft and the trademark flourishes that define his oeuvre, including split-screen and split diopter shots, it’s easy to forget that Brian De Palma made a half-dozen pictures before “Sisters” would cement the style that would define his career. It’s unfathomable given the mechanics of today’s industry to imagine any filmmaker would be able to test out their talents on six features before finally scoring the hit that would propel them forward. However, the late ‘60s and ‘70s afforded filmmakers that luxury, and while all the aforementioned details are fascinating, the greatest pleasure in watching the new 4K restoration of “Sisters” is feeling like you’re in the hands of a master from the very first frame.

Borrowing liberally from the pages of Alfred Hitchcock — who was still very much alive at the time, with “Frenzy” and “Sisters” released the same year — you can already sense the torch being passed. Not only did De Palma manage to snare the scoring talents of frequent Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Hermann, but the film openly lifts from “Psycho,” “Rope,” and “Rear Window.” However, De Palma was no mere imitator. While you might see the faint fingerprints of Hitchcock on the scotch tape, De Palma’s approach moved beyond homage to transformation. Even more than 40 years after its release, “Sisters” feels thrillingly modern, and shaped with a sense of confidence that is simply awe-inspiring.

Sporting a ludicrous French accent that is nonetheless perfectly pitched for the film’s sensationalist storyline, Margot Kidder leads the picture as Danielle, a Quebecois model and aspiring actress trying to make it in the Big Apple. A chance meeting on a completely bonkers game show has her crossing paths with the handsome and kind Phillip (Lisle Wilson), and the pair goes out for dinner and winds up back at her place. However, the efficiently lean script by De Palma and Louisa Rose starts pulling the strings early. Danielle’s ex-husband Emil (William Finley) can’t stop hovering around the couple, and Danielle’s twin sister Dominique (also played by Kidder) arrives unexpectedly. Fast-forward a little bit and soon the cops and an investigative reporter, Grace (Jennifer Salt), are thrown into the mix and if you haven’t seen the picture, it’s best to experience the rest cold.

What’s most striking about De Palma’s film four decades later is its stunning composition. The director’s ability to frame and stage lengthy sequences — particularly when utilizing split-screen perspectives to ratchet up the tension — can still leave many contemporary filmmakers and audiences stunned. Of course, De Palma would employ this technique throughout his career with increasing complexity, and while on some later occasions the style tends to be a crutch for a screenplay that isn’t cutting it, with “Sisters” it’s all part of a seamless whole. The director clearly knows the material is tabloid level trash, but his audacity matches his accomplishment. “Sisters” never carries any feeling that De Palma is showing off or flexing his cinematic chops because he can, or is above the material. The film is utterly transfixing because it plays its schlock straight, and paired with Hermann’s hair-raising throwback score, the effect is giddy. The result is pure entertainment, and even though the film’s big twist can be seen coming with its first twenty minutes, you want to see how it gets there anyway. It’s worth the journey and it’s a helluva ride to take.

Particularly early on, De Palma’s films tended to orbit around freaks and outsiders — “Phantom Of The Paradise” and “Carrie” would be two of the next three pictures he would make following “Sisters” — but the sympathy he feels for these characters, even as they commit horrific acts, has always been notable. In “Sisters,” even as the blood starts to run, the filmmaker feels keenly for Danielle’s inability to cope with the rest of the world. With a background that forever marked her socially out of step, De Palma understands how that might motivate madness, but at the same time, refuses to allow that fact to forgive the choices Danielle makes.

It’s a surprising sensitivity to be found within the ingredients of a high-grade B-movie. However, De Palma has spent his lifetime pushing past and, at his best, transcending the limits of genre pictures. “Sisters” shows the director at a formative point in his career, taking the tools and experiments from his early work, and refining it into his first bonafide classic. However, you’ll probably be having too much fun to even think about that.

Posted by Geoff at 12:30 AM CDT
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Saturday, October 6, 2018

Anticipating David Gordon Green's upcoming Halloween, Niela Orr at The Ringer has posted an insightful essay, headlined "The Horror Psychopath in 2018," that looks at the slasher film trope of "the guy who won’t die," introduced 40 years ago in John Carpenter's Halloween:
In the 2018 film, directed by David Gordon Green, Laurie’s a vigilante and a grandmother and Myers is up to the same shit. He’s escaped from the psychiatric hospital again. This is a return to basics, with a crucial and timely update: Myers will be hunting Laurie, but she’s hunting him, too. Their inevitable confrontation will be between two legendary characters and two resistant horror tropes: the “final girl”—or the teenage girl or woman survivor of a horror film—and this other relentlessly alive figure—let’s call him the “guy who won’t die.” Killing him, which Laurie hopes to do, likely won’t be that easy given his track record of being both elusive and durable. The homicidal maniac is a familiar figure in horror: He shows up, stalks female characters, murders with impunity, and usually tricks police departments, private detectives, and his victims’ trusted confidantes into thinking he’s a figment of the victims’ imaginations. He then makes it to the next film and does it all over again. His invincibility is helped along by an infrastructure that disbelieves women. Still we tend to focus on invincibility as a description rather than as a trait. We take the recurring horror psychopath for granted when we see him on-screen; he’s going to come back, so that the films can too.

The trope is recognizable to most anyone who’s seen a horror film since the late ’70s: For one reason or another (or for no reason at all), the killer is after babysitters (Halloween) or camp counselors (Friday the 13th), or a group of teenagers with insomnia (Nightmare on Elm Street). The victims fight back with an impressive array of weapons and DIY traps, but it’s never enough. He keeps rising. Every time you think he’s dead, he’s either playing possum or had actually died but was somehow resurrected. This maniacal dude is in diametric opposition to the final girl’s position: He’s engineered the series of torments he subjects her to, while she’s an unwilling participant; he is seemingly infallible while she’s very evidently mortal; he’s implacable, emotionless, and she wears her feelings on her sleeve (until it’s inevitably ripped off). If the final girl is “abject terror personified,” as film theorist Carol J. Clover wrote, this recurring psychopath is the institutionalization of that terror personified. The only thing the two figures have in common is their survival.

Later in the essay, Orr discusses Brian De Palma's Blow Out:
The guy who won’t die seems indestructible. Most often his continued reanimation defies logic. His death-defying Whac-A-Mole pop-ups are mostly meant to keep the jump scares going and lay the groundwork for his eventual reappearance in the series’ next sequel. But his indestructibility also, necessarily, serves as punishment. As Seth Grahame-Smith explains in the genre manual How to Survive a Horror Movie, “Horror movie characters aren’t killed by machete-wielding monsters or reincarnated psychopaths—they’re killed by ignorance. Ignorance of the mortal danger they’re in. Of the butcher lurking in every shadow. Of the new rules. Ignorance of the fact that they’re in a horror movie.” Frailty becomes a justification for his ongoing rage.

Fittingly, given how fatal ignorance can be in this medium, the final girl often survives because of her smarts, and—aside from deus ex machina plot machinations and the fact that he needs to survive to keep the story going—it’s not always easy to tell how the guy who won’t die persists. But much of his survival has to do with the fact that he has the upper hand—his victims are on his territory, and they’re playing the game he designed. If the final girl provides “a cathartic end to the gore and gloom,” as Erik Piepenburg’s writes in The New York Times, the guy who won’t die represents the opposite of catharsis. He is an open wound that never heals, a menace who survives from generation to generation, terrorizing a new breed of women and young people who have to learn the rules all over again.

Sometimes making a movie is the best way to critique other ones. Brian De Palma’s Blow Out (1981), about slasher movies and political corruption, is one of the most incisive reviews of the slasher genre, its indomitable attacker, and the guy who won’t die outside of film. In Blow Out, a noir film about making films, John Travolta plays Jack Terry, a sound man for a production company that makes B-movies. When the film starts, Jack’s trying to place a scream in Co-Ed Frenzy, a low-budget slasher film. He ends up getting caught in a political quagmire when a presidential candidate dies in a car accident with a prostitute while he’s nearby recording sound. He rescues and then befriends the woman, Sally (Nancy Allen), who was in the car with the politician, but despite his best efforts to shield and protect her from harm, she dies wearing a wire for him. At the end of the film, still looking for the perfect scream, he uses the one Sally uttered before she died, which is captured on the wire. The last shot of the film is Jack covering his ears as he watches a new version of the film and listens to the overdubbed scream, the blue light emitting from the movie theater washing over him. The most brilliant and insidious thing about that movie is that despite Jack’s misgivings about Sally’s death and the trauma associated with it, he uses her scream anyway. He’s part of the system, and no matter how much he cared for his fallen friend, he chooses to keep making money and retaining his place within it. Despite his proximity to much of the same danger Sally faced, Jack survives, as do the slasher-film psychopaths he helps to foster into the world through his production work, and the political corruption the film critiques. He survives because of the system, which doesn’t explicitly target him. He survives because he knows the old and new rules. He survives because he knows he’s in a horror movie, to echo Grahame-Smith’s calculation.

Horror movies often anticipate our cultural acknowledgement of certain social issues, and in this case, Halloween and the psychopath were able to articulate some of our most common problems long before we had the language ourselves, or while we were developing it. The slasher film’s insistence on men who make rules and traumatize women, and who are still able to continue along in that way, has a brutal corollary in the real world. Men in power, from Bill Cosby to Harvey Weinstein to Les Moonves to Mario Batali and beyond, have consistently exerted their will over women who they think “don’t know the rules” or are ignorant of the fact that they’re in “a guy’s place,” or that they’re in a horror movie. What we as a society have finally begun to acknowledge is that they do know, and always have.

In an interview, John Carpenter explained that his task with the original Halloween was to make an “exploitation horror film,” and part of what makes Laurie Strode’s vigilantism in the 2018 version exciting is that it appears to play up the exploitative qualities of the original film as well as other ’70s movies across genres: the Blaxploitation revenge flicks, the Charles Bronson Death Wish–style swaggering vengeance. The textual elements of gender and violence were already there: the fear and craftiness of final girls and their ilk; the entitlement of the genre’s psychopathic male figures; the gaslighting done by male authority figures; the unfair playing field; the institutional nature of the villain’s terror, which is demonstrated in his continued survival. It will be interesting to see if this year’s Halloween will also exploit the tensions that have ramped up in the #MeToo moment, but which have been pronounced in the culture since at least October 2014, when the Cosby scandal first broke nationwide. In January 2018, Atlantic writer Caitlin Flanagan wrote that “female rage is the essential fuel of #MeToo. Unchecked it is the potent force that will destroy it.” She could have been talking about Carrie White, whom Carol J. Clover called a “female victim-hero,” an archetype who uses feminism and the rage Flanagan mentions to enact revenge on her tormentors. Jamie Lee Curtis draws different inspiration from #MeToo in her portrayal of Laurie, who moves from a quintessential “victim” to a hero in this new Halloween. On Halloween: Unmasked, Curtis talked about her most famous character’s importance in our moment, saying “Laurie Strode could be a #MeToo voice for people who have had violence perpetrated on them. … Laurie Strode’s violence is fake, it’s not real, but in a movie to see a character come around 40 years later and say, ‘No more, #MeToo,’ is powerful.” The patriarchy keeps showing up, like Michael Myers, and the countless copycat characters who have come in his wake. In Halloween, and in Supreme Court confirmation hearings, and in elevators outside the hearings, women aren’t letting these recurring villains thrive without a fight, just as the final girls don’t. But therein lies the biggest difference between the genre and real life: In horror films, there’s only one girl left standing.

Posted by Geoff at 10:38 PM CDT
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Monday, October 1, 2018

Shout! Factory/Scream Factory today announced a release date (January 15, 2019) for its previously-teased Collector's Edition Blu-Ray of Brian De Palma's Obsession. Also unveiled is the newly-commissioned cover art (seen above) by Sonny Day. According to Bloody Disgusting's John Squires, "This art will be front-facing on the slipcover and wrap. The reverse side of the wrap will showcase the original theatrical poster art design. Extras are in progress and will be announced on a later date."

Also worth noting: Order from ShoutFactory.com and get a free 18" X 24" rolled poster featuring the new artwork (available while supplies last), and they will ship to you two weeks early.

Posted by Geoff at 7:56 PM CDT
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Friday, September 28, 2018

The audiovisual montage above (beginning at the 18-second mark) was created in conjunction with an upcoming exhibition about the work of Brian De Palma in Spain, organized by the Terror Film Festival of Molins de Rei. The exhibition will be from October 26 to November 25, at the Ca n'Ametller exhibition hall in Molins de Rei. TerrorWeekend.com has more info:
Formed by a compilation of the material, property of the private collector Jordi Batet, the exhibition will exhibit, among other things, posters of all the director's films, photographs of shooting, costumes, figures of some of his characters, vinyl of his soundtracks, and the novels on which some of his films have been based. The visitor can also enjoy an audiovisual montage created for the occasion.

Exhibition 'Brian De Palma. The unfolded look ': October 26 to November 25 in Ca n'Ametller de Molins de Rei

During the period of the exhibition, several lectures will be held about the work of Brian De Palma and a commemorative book will be presented that explores the keys of his filmography. The celebration of this exhibition is part of the activities organized by the Terror Film Festival of Molins de Rei, whose next edition has as leitmotiv the great filmmaker, under the concept of De Palma Vs. De Palma.

De Palma vs De Palma - Book & Fest in Spain, Nov 9-18; Book includes forward by Keith Gordon

Posted by Geoff at 7:11 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, September 28, 2018 7:13 PM CDT
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Thursday, September 27, 2018
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/wrightcurates.jpgGenesis Cinema in London presents a day of films this Saturday (September 29th) curated by Edgar Wright: Top Secret!, Phantom Of The Paradise, After Hours, and The Sentinel. Here's what Wright says about Phantom Of The Paradise in the program's notes: “I will go to the grave with the firm opinion that of the two horror musicals distributed by Fox in the mid 70’s, this is the better movie, twice as good as Rocky Horror. Brian De Palma goes all out on his neo gothic Faustian music biz satire. Brilliantly played by Bill Finley, Jessica Harper, Gerritt Graham and the marvelously evil Paul Williams (who wrote the whole score), this is cinematic gold right down to the best end credits song ever.”

Of Martin Scorsese's After Hours, Wright notes: "Someone once wrote that ‘Edgar Wright must have learned everything he knows from the direction in After Hours.’ That’s not totally true, but it isn’t too far off. This film is one that beguiled me as a teen and continues to dazzle. It’s amazing to see Scorcese at the peak of his powers direct the hell out of a small all-in-one-night comedy. Fun fact: 2nd camera assistant, David Dunlap went on to be my Director Of Photography on Shaun Of The Dead."


Meanwhile, Coheed and Cambria premiered a new song today. "Old Flames" is the fourth track to be released from the band's forthcoming album, Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures. Last month, the band's frontman Claudio Sanchez told Rolling Stone's Ryan Reed that Phantom Of The Paradise was an influence:

I have to ask about “Unheavenly Creatures,” the title track. I can’t think of another band that mixes prog, metal, hard-rock, power-pop and post-hardcore in that way. Do you recall how you put that one together?
I wrote two songs together, “Old Flames” and “Unheavenly Creatures.” I think a little bit of “Old Flames” inspired “Unheavenly Creatures.” I was inspired by this Brian De Palma movie Phantom of the Paradise. It’s basically a Seventies version of Phantom of the Opera, a movie musical.

That makes sense. Several of these songs are super theatrical, like “Old Flames” and even “The Gutter.”
With “Old Flames,” I was trying to write something that sounded a bit more Fifties. I just sat behind my digital piano in my living room and constructed the opening piano sequence. I wrote it from there on piano — it wasn’t written on guitar. To me, it had a pretty powerful chorus. After writing that song, that put me in this mindset of writing that sort of material. I’d written “True Ugly” and “Black Sunday,” so I was in this Coheed pop idea. So when I started “Unheavenly Creatures,” I took out this Roland boutique one-oscillator synthesizer, the SH-01A — it’s a very easy-to-use synth that has a very fun sequencer on it. I just punched in a bunch of notes and created this very long sequence and played it back. It was just by chance. I was just trying to create something. Every now and then, I’d hit the wrong note and have to start over. It was fun to put together. When I played it back, it was like, “Oh, this is so magical to me!” And that’s how the chords started to come together. Those were the first two songs Atlas started to gravitate toward. He’s all about the record, but especially those two — with “Old Flames,” I played the chorus like three times, and he’s already singing it as I’m constructing it. I’m like, “Maybe I should go down this path.” He’s a kid! He doesn’t care about anything but whether it sounded good to him. Then I made my way into “Unheavenly Creatures,” and the same thing started to happen. I was like, “Are you telling me you want a production credit on this, son?” In a way, it was like entertainment for him. As I was constructing these songs that were a little more melodically friendly.

Posted by Geoff at 11:59 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, September 28, 2018 12:15 AM CDT
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