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Domino is
a "disarmingly
work that "pushes
us to reexamine our
relationship to images
and their consumption,
not only ethically
but metaphysically"
-Collin Brinkman

De Palma on Domino
"It was not recut.
I was not involved
in the ADR, the
musical recording
sessions, the final
mix or the color
timing of the
final print."

Listen to
Donaggio's full score
for Domino online

De Palma/Lehman
rapport at work
in Snakes

De Palma/Lehman
next novel is Terry

De Palma developing
Catch And Kill,
"a horror movie
based on real things
that have happened
in the news"

Supercut video
of De Palma's films
edited by Carl Rodrigue

Washington Post
review of Keesey book


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AV Club Review
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Tuesday, October 30, 2018
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/ffalsz1.jpgAleksander Szczepaniak, a graphic designer based in Warsaw, Poland, posted a stunning set of four new poster variations for Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale today on Instagram. Two of them are included here-- visit his Instagram page to see the other two, plus many other terrific poster designs.

Posted by Geoff at 10:57 PM CDT
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Monday, October 29, 2018

Earlier today, Criterion posted a video clip from a new interview with Jennifer Salt. The full interview is one of the extra features on Criterion's new edition of Sisters, released last week. In the clip, Salt describes Brian De Palma on the set:
So, on the set, when we were shooting, Brian was... kind of grumpy-- didn't love being on a set, didn't like being asked all these questions, didn't like the amount of time that everything took. He was impatient. He didn't like sitting around. So, he was never in the best of humor, and so he wasn't like somebody who said let's talk about this and let's rehearse it and let's go deeper. He never said anything like that. He just would say, "A little more of this," or some-- you know, it was minimal, what he was giving us, in terms of direction. He picked people he enjoyed working with, and kind of let them go their way and, you know, hope that they would do their thing. And it was easy to do that, because you were getting so much respect from him. You know, I found it very easy. I was never nervous on the set, or, I just, like I said, I just wanted to make him laugh.

Posted by Geoff at 9:50 PM CDT
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Friday, October 26, 2018
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/peetannounces.jpgDuring yesterday's Amsterdamned presentation of Raising Cain Re-Cut, Peet Gelderblom announced that he will "write, edit and direct a feature film entitled Kaleidoscope. A unique collaboration with Eye Filmmuseum and production company Tangerine Tree, in which footage from a multitude of forgotten films - silents, documentaries, propaganda, animation, advertising and educational video’s - will be combined to tell one big story." Sounds intriguing!

Posted by Geoff at 10:40 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, October 27, 2018 12:34 PM CDT
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Thursday, October 25, 2018

According to Vulture's TV critic Jen Chaney, Amazon Prime's new series, Homecoming, which is directed by Sam Esmail, has "a score that sometimes literally borrows from older films — like Alan J. Pakula’s Klute and Brian De Palma’s Dressed to Kill." Here's the whole paragraph, for more context:
There are moments in Homecoming that are positively Hitchcockian, particularly with regard to Esmail’s choice of imagery. In episode three, there’s a vertical shot of Carrasco descending a flight of stairs that’s deliberately evocative of Vertigo. In a later episode, Esmail deploys a Hitchcock zoom so glorious it deserves an Oscar, even though, yes, I know, Oscars are not given to TV shows. Elements like that and a score that sometimes literally borrows from older films — like Alan J. Pakula’s Klute and Brian De Palma’s Dressed to Kill — infuse Homecoming with a classic conspiracy theory thriller spirit that makes it feel a bit old-school and thoroughly contemporary all at once. That’s an appropriate combo for a series based on something modern (a podcast) that has the feel of a throwback (a radio serial).


The Wall Street Journal's John Jurgensen posted an article October 27th with the headline, "The Surreal World: TV Delves Into Paranoia, Anxiety and Misinformation." The article includes a discussion about Homecoming, and some interview comments from Esmail:

Homecoming” initially was a podcast, released by Gimlet Media in 2016 and featuring a surprisingly star-studded cast. Catherine Keener, who was the first to sign on, played Heidi Bergman, the character Ms. Roberts portrays in the TV adaptation. Oscar Isaac was Mr. James’s audio counterpart as the troubled veteran, while David Schwimmer played a hard-charging company man who launched the Homecoming program (played on TV by Bobby Cannavale).

The podcast’s creators, Micah Bloomberg and Eli Horowitz, also wrote and executive-produced the TV adaptation. When Mr. Esmail signed on to direct it, he expanded the story for a different medium by drawing on the tense cinema of the 1970s. For example, most of the music in “Homecoming” is from that era, using scores borrowed from movies directed by Brian De Palma, Alan J. Pakula and John Carpenter.

Mr. Esmail developed the style for “Homecoming” with many of his “Mr. Robot” collaborators, including cinematographer Tod Campbell and production designer Anastasia White. They tried to create a world in which characters deal with incomplete information in settings that feel askew.

The octagonal office where Ms. Roberts conducts counseling sessions creates a fishbowl effect. “You can move the camera around and it always feels circular, like there’s no way out and anyone can look in,” Mr. Esmail says.

In an unusual visual technique, “Homecoming” uses standard widescreen shots during the scenes from the past—before the Homecoming program unravels—but narrows the frame to a square when the story flashes forward.

That adds a claustrophobic urgency to the therapist’s quest for facts, Mr. Esmail says: “Boxes within boxes.”

As a director, Mr. Esmail is known for that kind of unorthodox camera work, intentionally framing characters off-center or surrounded by odd spaces. “Sam would walk into a room and his first question would be, ‘Does the ceiling come off?’ because he wanted to shoot from above,” Mr. Bloomberg recalls.

“We want absolute control over how we design the shot,” Mr. Esmail says, especially for scenes of people in a facility designed for surveillance. “They’re under a microscope.”

In an episode of Mr. Robot two years ago, Esmail opened with a flashback using Pino Donaggio's theme from De Palma's Blow Out. The episode's intro also brought to mind De Palma's Dressed To Kill and Carrie. Here's what I wrote on August 18, 2016:
Last night's episode of USA's Mr. Robot (season 2, episode 7, "eps2.5h4ndshake.sme"), which was directed by the show's creator, Sam Esmail, opened with a flashback set to Pino Donaggio's theme from Brian De Palma's Blow Out. The theme is the first significant sound heard in the episode (after a couple of footsteps), runs over the opening title and beginning of the credits, and includes a direct homage to De Palma's Carrie, a film which was also scored by Donaggio.

The episode opens with a hint of the way Donaggio's music brings us into Kate Miller's world in the first part of De Palma's Dressed To Kill. The Blow Out theme, lush and melancholic, is accompanied by a camera (us, the viewer, a.k.a. Elliot's "friend") consistently pushing in toward Joanna Wellick, the wife of Tyrell Wellick, a character we are so far led to believe is no longer alive. The flashback is centered on a gift, earrings, that Tyrell had given to Joanna just before a social gathering. As the camera gets closer to Joanna, and Donaggio's music offers sad reflection, Tyrell appears, and even when the scene shifts to the gathering (which includes the woman Tyrell murdered last season, leaving us without a doubt that we're in a flashback), the movement keeps moving from wide shot and, with help of a dissolve, into Joanna's face, seemingly moved by the earrings, the camera eventually providing the viewer a close-up view of an earring in Joanna's ear which, via a match-cut, takes us out of pre-Tyrell's disappearance and into a more present-day, post-Tyrell flashback, where Joanna is tending to her baby in a stroller on the street.

Donaggio's theme here enters into its sparse piano portion (the part that Tarantino used for a tender texting moment in Death Proof), as the episode's opening credits also begin. An older woman is walking by, and Joanna smiles at her, but the woman turns out to be one of the many angry members of society walking around the city in the wake the E Corp hack. Targeting Joanna (and while we as viewer are still focused on the fact that she is wearing the expensive earring gift), the woman suddenly throws a bucket of what appears to be red paint onto Joanna, while shouting, "Capitalist pig!" The use of the word pig, a bucket, and the color red (whether actual pig's blood or red paint) mark the moment as an overt homage to De Palma's Carrie, as does the way Joanna then begins to scream out at the world while splattered in red, yet we can't hear her screams, only the quiet piano of Donaggio's theme from Blow Out, as the title "Mr. Robot" starkly appears overlayed upon Joanna's rage.

As Donaggio's theme trails off to its poignant final notes, the scene shifts once again into present day, as Joanna is now gazing upon a new gift set on top of her kitchen counter: a framed ultrasound sonogram of the baby she and Tyrell created. Joanna has been receiving gifts that seemingly come from Tyrell, who may be dead, and as the camera looks up from the countertop to Joanna sipping on a glass of wine as she looks down at the gift, we hear Elliot's voice ("I see you"), and for a moment, juxtaposed against Joanna's face, we sense that Elliot has been sending the gifts, and perhaps watching Joanna, until we realize Elliot is addressing us, his "friend," the viewer. Or is he...?

In any case, it is a brilliantly-conceived opening sequence by Sam Esmail. Looking forward to seeing how it all fits in once we know the truth about everything that is actually going on.

Posted by Geoff at 8:06 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, October 27, 2018 12:24 PM CDT
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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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