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Domino is
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I was not involved
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musical recording
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mix or the color
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final print."

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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Thanks to Chris Dumas for sending along this link to an AV Club article from last fall, in which Katie Rife interviews Bong Joon-ho, who won Best Director and Best Original Screenplay Oscars earlier this month for his Best Picture winner, Parasite. The interview ends with this bit:
AVC: Who are your favorite directors of all time, and who are some younger directors you’re excited to see more from?

BJH: Among contemporary directors, I really admire the horror films of Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa. In the generation above that, I have affection for De Palma. But I think that if you climb up that pyramid [Draws a triangle with his hands.] at the very top is Hitchcock.

AVC: I agree.

BJH: I’ve admired him since I was little, and I think I’m under his umbrella as well.

More recently, three days after the Oscars, Bong visited Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he was the featured guest at the Walker Art Center’s 30th Anniversary Film Dialogue series. Former Variety critic and current Amazon development executive Scott Foundas interviewed Bong on stage. The photo above, from the Walker Center, was published as part of Peter Diamond's recap of the event for Mpls St Paul Magazine.

Diamond, however, left out the mentions of Brian De Palma and Sam Peckinpah, so here's an excerpt from Citypages' Bryan Miller:

Quadruple Oscar-winning director Bong Joon-ho arrived at the Walker for the 30th anniversary of their Dialogues series just days after he made history at the Academy Awards with his masterpiece, Parasite. He told interviewer Scott Foundas he’d taken Monday to rest from the night’s festivities, then boarded a plane Tuesday for Wednesday’s talk that concluded a partial retrospective of his work. He was still reeling.

“It happened four days ago. Three days ago?” Bong asked, and not rhetorically. “It feels like three years ago.”

It was, he said, a great thing he needs time to process. “It’s still hard to understand.”

He demurred when former Variety critic and Amazon development executive Foundas inquired about his surreal Sunday night, being crowned Best Director and receiving a Best Picture award, but the auteur opened up when the audience couldn’t stop asking about it during the later Q&A.

Bong admitted he thought Parasite’s best chance was for Best International Feature—pausing to apologize for his presumption to fellow nominee Pedro Almodovar, whose Pain and Glory he called “a beautiful movie”—and after he won he felt tremendously calm, expecting nothing more from the rest of the ceremony.

Then the presenters kept saying his name again, and again, and again.

When he took to the stage to accept the award for Best Director, he had no planned speech. He happened to lock eyes with Martin Scorcese. On the spot he felt moved to pay tribute to the Irishman director, which led to the moving standing-O for Scorcese. After that, Bong said he wished he could share the award with his fellow nominees, dividing it into five parts “with a Texas Chainsaw.” “I still don’t know why I talked about Texas Chainsaw. Very strange,” he admitted on Wednesday, chuckling.

In his homeland of South Korea, he’s known as "Director Bong," a fittingly authoritative title for an artist whose films are so precise and supremely controlled. Yet it belies the jolly nature of the man with the boyish mop of hair, who carries himself with graceful nerdiness and isn’t shy about sharing his big, generous laugh. He arrived onstage wearing all black—from socks to suit to undershirt—but he punctured any dour auteur vibes when he started spinning Foundas’s rotating chair as they turned to watch a clip from one of his films. His genuine humility was on display when he confessed he thought his debut film, Barking Dogs Never Bite, was “disappointing” and “amateurish.”

“I’m so happy Barking Dogs wasn’t included [in the retrospective],” he said, laughing as he waved the program in the air. “Never watch that!”

Seven films into his career, Director Bong has earned a global reputation as an undisputed master. It’s fitting that he’s the first director to make a non-English-speaking Best Picture winner, as he’s truly an international director, shifting as fluidly between Korean and English (with some help from a translator on Okja and Snowpiercer) as he does between film genres.

American genre movies are “the blood flowing through my veins,” he explained; you don’t ever think about the blood in your veins, you just know it’s there. He first glimpsed these American movies in edited form on then strictly censored Korean television, and got an unfiltered look at the films of Hitchcock and DePalma and Peckinpah, which were unedited but also untranslated, on the U.S. military’s Armed Forces Korean Network. Years later he’d see the same movies translated in his college film club and contextualize the images burned into his brain. His aim became to merge “the joys of genre with the realities of Korea.”

Foundas screened clips from several movies while Director Bong shared an array of fascinating tidbits of their origins—like how he wrote Mother for actress Hye-ja Kim and would have scrapped it if she hadn’t agreed to star, or how he pondered the first half of his acclaimed Parasite for four years, but only conceived of the twisty second half of the film in the final few months of writing the screenplay, which dug deeper into the class-conscious themes that pervade his work.

Foundas joked that when they spoke a few years prior, Director Bong explained he had to go back to South Korea to make a smaller movie out of contractual obligation to the producers of Mother—the film that would eventually become Parasite.

“You couldn’t have made it sound less significant,” Foundas marveled.

Director Bong said he felt “happy” and “safe” in Parasite’s intimate world, working with his frequent collaborator, actor Song Kang-ho.

Funny, because nothing about Director Bong’s work feels safe. He’s become the face of the incredibly rich Korean film culture that includes massive talents like Park Chan-wook, Kim Jee-woon, and Lee Chang-dong. This group of filmmakers, Director Bong says, have more of a loosely shared aesthetic as opposed to a conscious collective movement like Dogme 95 or the French New Wave.

“We’re the first generation of Korean cinephiles.”

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Thursday, February 20, 2020 1:45 AM CST
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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Jeremy Smith at Yardbarker today posted "Movies turning 50 in 2020 that everyone should see." Smith has put together a great list that includes Brian De Palma's Hi, Mom!:
Before Brian De Palma made his mark as the new master of suspense with “Carrie” and “Dressed to Kill," he made a couple of counterculture-skewing satires that hold up very well today as mischievous documents of a turbulent time. The best of these is “Hi, Mom!," a sequel of sorts to “Greetings,” that stars Robert De Niro as a voyeuristic adult filmmaker. The film is basically a collection of vignettes, the highlight being a guerilla theater performance of “Be Black, Baby," in which white theatergoers are coated in blackface and terrorized by the African-American actors. It’s a searing sequence that is as masterfully orchestrated as anything in De Palma’s impressive oeuvre.

Posted by Geoff at 11:37 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, February 18, 2020 11:42 PM CST
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Monday, February 17, 2020

"People have seen different things when they’ve looked at John Travolta through the years," states Nathan Rabin at the start of his piece on Blow Out at Nathan Rabin's Happy Place. "Brian De Palma, who directed two of Travolta’s best and earliest movies, for example, looked at the strapping hunk and preeminent teen heartthrob and saw a man who could get things done working with his hands. In Carrie, that meant possessing the technical know-how, nerves of steel and casual cruelty to pull off a prank for the ages. In Blow Out, Travolta’s hyper-efficient, exceedingly handy obsessive possesses the sharp mind, training and experience to solve the murder of a prominent politician and presidential candidate using only a recording of a fatal car crash, some pictures and some snooping. Travolta’s earliest vehicles focused on his raw sexuality and dreamy good looks but Blow Out smartly casts the Welcome Back, Kotter standout as a grown-up who ekes out a living with his hands and his mind instead of that gorgeous face and muscular body."

After delving into detail regarding the happenings in Blow Out, Rabin continues:

The police and the powers that be are eager to write off the death as a tragic accident. But Jack is convinced that an assassin shot the tire of the car the night of the incident to cause the deadly accident and pores meticulously through tapes of the evening to piece together what happened and who is responsible.

Jack’s obsessive exploration of the night of the accident puts him on a collision course with Burke (John Lithgow), the lunatic responsible for the blow out of the tire and the politician’s death. I don’t think it’s hyperbolic to call Lithgow’s glowering sociopath one of the greatest villains in the history of American film.

I would happily watch a Blow Out prequel focussed exclusively on Burke’s character, that illustrated exactly he came to be such a fascinatingly fucked-up, utterly amoral human being. Burke was ostensibly acting under orders when he shot the car but it’s apparent that the cold-blooded killer is always willing to improvise it means killing more people.

Burke seems like the kind of guy who got into the assassination game primarily because it affords so many literally killer opportunities to wrack up bonus murders in the form of witnesses, loose ends and pretty much anyone who needs to be killed, which in Burke’s mind is pretty much everyone in the world besides himself.

It’s crazy and impressive that Lithgow can simultaneously be the very image of genial, avuncular warmth and the scariest, most evil motherfucker alive, which is a good description of the mass murderer he plays here. Like Christian Bale in American Psycho, there’s an unfathomably vast emptiness at the core of his being where his soul and morals should be.

Like Patrick Bateman, Burke suggests a malevolent space alien who can only pretend to be a human being because he possesses no genuine humanity. Burke is an actor playing the role of someone with feelings and emotions and objectives beyond killing as many people as possible and getting away with it.

Though he occasionally works with, and for, other people, Burke is, at his core, a solitary man, a lonely figure cut off from the rest of humanity by his peculiar and unfortunate line of work and also his compulsion to kill in both socially sanctioned ways and just for fun and sport.

In the time-honored tradition of psychological thrillers, the solitary killer obsessed with tying up the loose ends on his biggest murder to date and the ex-cop obsessed with solving a crime the gaslighting powers that be insist doesn’t exist are weirdly simpatico figures, lonely men on lonely missions only they seem to understand.

In a lesser movie, that convention might qualify as hackneyed and cliched but DePalma, who wrote the screenplay as well as directing, breathes passionate life into this hokey old trope. DePalma knows how to get the most out of Travolta as an actor as well as a movie star.

Travolta is charismatic and magnetic enough to be absolutely riveting doing nothing more than listening for sounds but DePalma’s script gives him a real, nuanced character to play with a fascinatingly lived-in backstory and a code of ethics that sets him apart from every other character in the film.

Travolta’s obsessed sound man is moved to do what’s right even when he has nothing to gain by doing so and everything to lose. Everyone else is motivated by money or lust or power or convenience. In a world of scumbags, Jack is a decent man.

Blow Out is a product of the 1980s but it feels like a 1970s movie in many ways, including its very post-Watergate conviction that American audiences will inherently assume that politics, particularly at the very highest levels, are inherently corrupt and duplicitous, and consequently prone to believe conspiracy theories involving malevolent forces working furtively behind the scenes.

DePalma makes brilliant use of the star-spangled, flag-waving history hometown of his hometown of Philadelphia, particularly in regards to the Liberty Bell and a climactic patriotic parade to pointedly and ironically juxtapose our country’s idealized, romanticized past and ideals and its dark, dystopian contemporary reality, which is that bad people get away with murder and the truth is sometimes so deeply hidden that no one even thinks about looking for it.

Blow Out is a meticulous movie about a meticulous man, a masterpiece of total virtuosity from an auteur operating at the very apex of his ability. I know that there are lots of people who dislike DePalma for a wide variety of reasons, many of them quite valid, but watching Blow Out, I fell in love with DePalma as a filmmaker and a storyteller all over again.

THIS is filmmaking. THIS is mastery. THIS is the work of someone who knows exactly what he wants to do as a filmmaker and does it. DePalma is in total control of his craft. Everything pays off in a dark and inspired and unforgettable way, perhaps most famously the search for a convincing scream that opens the film.

Spoilers if you haven’t seen Blow Out yet, but Jack wires Sally with a microphone, who is murdered by Burke just before Jack can save her. Jack manages to kill Burke but he’s understandably despondent and, like many grief-ridden souls, throws himself into his work.

In a real Monkey’s Paw type situation, Jack achieves his goal of recording the most realistic scream in the history of slasher movies in the form of Sally’s dying noises. The scream sounds real because it is real. For the sake of verisimilitude, Jack transformed a genuine howl of death from someone in the process of being brutally murdered into the ultimate in hardcore sound effects.

It’s a shame that DePalma has to kill a character as sympathetic and messily human as Sally but this is DePalma so of course a movie that begins bleak, and only gets bleaker would end on a darkly hilarious, hilariously dark note.

The gut-punch of an ending helps explain why audiences at the time rejected Blow Out. Even by DePalma standards it’s grim and obsessed with the mechanics of film and the filmmaking process but it’s a thriller that’s also just about perfect. There is not a thing I would change about it, from the scumminess of a low-rent photographer played by Dennis Franz, winner of the Academy Award for Dirtiest Undershirt, to the director’s trademark use of split screens and deep composition.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Tuesday, February 18, 2020 12:13 AM CST
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Sunday, February 16, 2020

When I first met Brian De Palma, he asked me how I got into his work. "Was it Mission: Impossible?" he asked. This was in 2002, about six years after Mission: Impossible was released, and it had been De Palma's biggest financial success up to that point (it remains so, today). But when I started telling De Palma that no, I had actually been following his work since I had seen Blow Out, Dressed To Kill, and Phantom Of The Paradise on video years before that, he perked up. I thought of this moment today when I read a tweet from Matt Zoller Seitz, who was responding to a tweet from Mike Ryan, a senior writer at Uproxx, who wrote this morning, "We don’t make a big enough deal that Brian De Palma made an awesome Mission: Impossible movie."

Seitz responded, "There was an interview where he said he thought that was the movie he would be remembered for, and it was difficult to tell if he was genuinely enthused by the prospect, or if he had that old director thing where the film that made the most money is by definition 'the best.'"

Based on my conversation with De Palma in 2002, it would seem he probably saw that prospect as a simple matter of fact. Yet, even though De Palma had smuggled a personal film into his biggest commercial blockbuster (in the Scorsese sense of "the director as smuggler"), De Palma, to me, would seem to be more enthused at the prospect of being remembered for something like Blow Out, or even, perhaps, Carlito's Way. The latter two films are the ones he had personally chosen to open and close his 2002 retrospective at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. In any case, Mike Ryan's tweet about Mission: Impossible led to a whole lotta love for De Palma's film in response.

Meanwhile, this past Wednesday, Film School Rejects' Margaret Pereira posted an article with the image above, and the headline, "The Shot That Made Mission: Impossible." A subheadline reads, "We take a deep dive into the first of many memorable Mission: Impossible shots." Pereira's article then begins:

The iconography of movies is always a little unstable. The imagery and symbolism that are legible to an audience depend so much on the cultural, historic, and generic context. There are even entire academic subfields dedicated to studying it. The visuals we associate with certain themes or characters can be as simple as the Batman logo and as nuanced as Han Solo’s smirk. But there are also images so powerful that they immediately seep into the filmic bloodstream and soak into every nook and cranny of culture. Mission: Impossible contains one of these images.

Tom Cruise, suspended by a single cable, hanging over a computer console. His black secret-agent garb contrasting with the pristine white background. Utter silence. It’s almost absurd that it’s so simple. Directed by Brian De Palma, the 1996 adaptation of the TV series of the same name finds Ethan Hunt (Cruise) embroiled in the first of many scraps with the IMF. Ethan’s been accused of double-crossing, in a botched mission that found the rest of his team dead (or so he thinks). To clear his name, he must steal a list that reveals the secret identities of all operatives in the IMF and team up with a smattering of ex-agents to do so.

In truth, it doesn’t particularly matter what he needs to steal and who he needs to steal it for. This first entry in the Mission: Impossible film franchise spends a lot of time explaining the exact circumstances of the conspiracy. It’s something later movies will mostly abandon — we just get that Cruise has to hang off the side of a plane and we’re happy with that. In fact, the labyrinthine plot of Mission: Impossible contributes to the power of this single shot. The stunning immediate impact of the shot has all viewers forgetting briefly the scene’s narrative purpose and instead investing in the film emotionally. You’re too anxious to be concerned with the specific reason why we’re in this room.

Part of what builds this intense anxiety is the circumstances of the break-in. Alarms will be activated if any sound is too pronounced, a gauge notes the room’s average temperature, and the floor has a sensitive pressure sensor. Because of this, Ethan has to be suspended directly in the middle of the room. The way Cruise’s body breaks up the geometric design of the space adds a lot of visual interest and thematic weight. This bunker is designed solely to keep information in, the secrets of which Ethan must expose to get his life back. He descends into this hyper-codified, precisely organized space as a major disruption. It mirrors the way he disrupts the plans of his adversaries and even his status as a generally rogue agent in future movies.

What’s masterful about De Palma’s approach here is the way he implicates the audience in this shot. While many filmmakers emerging from the more-is-more school of thought might add the classic musical twang here, De Palma opts for silence. Ethan must be dead quiet so as not to trigger the alarms, and we realize that we must be as well. By extending the rules of the story world using sound (or rather a lack of sound), De Palma connects us more deeply to Ethan and his mission.

De Palma also ensures the camera’s slow descent into the space with Ethan leaves the audience hanging on for dear life. The camera never feels like it’s resting on the ground; it’s hovering. Our perspective is just as precarious as his. Ethan is our lifeline; he’s the only one who’s hooked into the cable. We’re forced to trust him. All of these techniques cause the throat-catching, breath-holding effect we’ve come to expect from the Mission: Impossible movies.

There exists a grand meta-narrative of the Mission: Impossible franchise, wherein Tom Cruise is the Ethan Hunt of Hollywood filmmaking. Cruise refuses to let his audience down; he comes back again and again even when we say we’ve had enough. No scandal can keep him down for too long; no box-office disappointment can force his retirement. He’ll hang off the side of a building or jump out of an airplane if he has to, whatever it takes to get his mission done. This film, and particularly this shot, help begin that dynamic.

Mission: Impossible was also the first film Cruise ever produced, and he’s clearly aware of the importance of his own iconographic effect in this movie. Cruise’s producing career includes the rest of the Mission: Impossible films, along with a couple of Jack [Reacher] films, and most recently, Top Gun: Maverick. These projects are a sign of self-awareness in Cruise; he knows what his audience wants to see and is willing to back it financially and creatively. Mission: Impossible cemented his status as a movie star as well as a major creative force in 21st century Hollywood.

Not every movie star would understand that his visual impact lies in being a spatial disruption. The image of Cruise’s body suspended in mid-air isn’t particularly macho or sexy. It simply signifies to audiences the most important part of his persona: he’ll never drop us. This shot sticks in our collective craw certainly because of the gorgeous construction and the utter silence. But even more than that, it establishes Ethan Hunt as the character willing to risk it all, and Cruise as the only actor who could ever convincingly play that. Mission: Impossible created the visual symbolism of Tom Cruise, and his impact will be forever meaningful to audiences because of it.

Posted by Geoff at 6:30 PM CST
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Saturday, February 15, 2020


Posted by Geoff at 9:38 AM CST
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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Along with Brian De Palma remembering filming Home Movies with Kirk Douglas in this week's Kirk Douglas tribute issue of The Hollywood Reporter, the magazine also has a remembrance from Amy Irving, as told to Benjamin Svetkey:
The Fury was my first starring role. This was a real big deal for me. And I had a certain way of working, getting myself there emotionally to play the character. I wasn’t very experienced in front of the camera at all. So, while Brian De Palma was setting up shots, I was sitting in my little director’s chair, in my own world, concentrating on where I’m at in the scene — I was taking it really seriously and getting myself into an emotional state. And as tears were rolling down my face, Kirk came over to me.

"Are you all right?" he asked. I told him I was just preparing. He said, "Amy, first of all, you’re what, 23 or 24 years old? You’re never going to make it to 30 if you put that much into everything while they’re lighting the set. My advice to you is, A, save it and use it when the camera is rolling. And, B, did you not hear what lens he was using on this shot? With that lens, you’re going to be the size of a pea on the screen. It really doesn’t matter how emotional you are."

It was a really good lesson. And he was right. I probably would not have made it to 30 if I had not had that sage advice from Kirk Douglas.

Posted by Geoff at 7:52 AM CST
Updated: Wednesday, February 12, 2020 7:55 AM CST
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The Hollywood Reporter this week has a special tribute issue to Kirk Douglas, including this brief remembrance from Brian De Palma:
When I was teaching a filmmaking course at Sarah Lawrence College in the late 1970s, Kirk joined me in producing a super-low-budget feature titled Home Movies. My concept for the course was to show the students how to make a low-budget feature by making a low-budget feature. Once the class had written the script, we sought out financing and started casting. Since Kirk and I had enjoyed working together on The Fury, I asked him to join our project.

He agreed immediately and even invested in it with me (along with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg). My students were shocked and surprised: "My God," they exclaimed, "we have Kirk Douglas in our student movie!" They created and wrote a character — a film school teacher called the Maestro — for him to play. I have fond memories of Kirk sitting on a tree branch with his co-star Keith Gordon in the middle of the night instructing him on the virtues of Star Therapy ("You must be the star of your own life," his character lectured, "not an extra!").

A star: No one embodied it better.

Posted by Geoff at 7:31 AM CST
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Sunday, February 9, 2020

Brian De Palma's Sisters is included as part of "The New American Nightmare," a TIFF Cinematheque retrospective that began January 24th. Sisters will screen on Friday, February 21, with programmer Peter Kuplowsky providing an intro, as well as a Q&A after the film. The series takes the recent resurgence of the horror genre as an opportunity to revisit the Robin Wood-curated horror series, "The American Nightmare" from 1979, by looking at some of the films Wood had examined, and taking a similar approach to "provocative new explorations of the genre by Jordan Peele (Get Out), Ari Aster (Hereditary), and Robert Eggers (The VVitch)," according to the series description. Here's the programmer essay by Richard Lippe and Barry Keith Grant:
The period from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho in 1960 through to the Reagan '80s constitutes a "golden age" of horror cinema, an era that saw the breakthrough work of directors whose notion of horror constituted a radical challenge to bourgeois society and a rejection of middle-class notions of normality. Films like George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead, Brian De Palma's Sisters, Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and Larry Cohen's It's Alive were made and released during the turmoil of the Vietnam conflict and the Watergate scandal, and it is no coincidence that these and other horror films of the period contain some form of social and political critique.

Responding to this phenomenon, in 1979 Wayne Clarkson — who had recently been appointed executive director of the Festival of Festivals (later TIFF) — invited film critics Robin Wood and Richard Lippe to program a series of 60 horror films for the Festival's fourth edition. Opening with F.W. Murnau’s 1922 classic Nosferatu and concluding with John Carpenter’s recently released Halloween, the programme featured onstage interviews with a number of the featured directors (including Carpenter, De Palma, Hooper, Romero, Wes Craven, David Cronenberg, and Stephanie Rothman) and an accompanying book of essays. Although it had a small initial printing of only a few hundred copies, The American Nightmare: Essays on the Horror Film was a pioneering work that set the terms for critical study of the horror genre for decades to follow.

Ironically, following the publication of this landmark study the horror genre began to experience a period of exhaustion. Making once-fresh innovations stale by repeating them ad nauseam, the largely unimaginative and conservative movies that emerged in the 1980s effectively removed the radical frisson from horror, draining it of social criticism and turning their characters into mere targets for whatever weapon the respective killer happened to be wielding. That drought persisted for a long time: even as many of the foundational films of the genre's great period were remade (sometimes repeatedly), it is hard to think of many horror films from the last few decades that approach the allegorical resonance of Romero's remarkable zombie movies, the greatest film series in the history of American cinema.

In the last few years, however, horror has entered another period of revival and experimentation, as a new generation of filmmakers — including Jordan Peele, Ari Aster, and Robert Eggers — has mobilized the genre's basic conflict between normality and the monstrous Other in distinctive and provocative ways. It thus seemed to us appropriate to revisit one of TIFF's pioneering programmes now, as the horror genre is once again becoming a vehicle for progressive awareness in a mainstream cinema that, for the most part, continues to pretend that ideology and entertainment are two distinct entities.

The event page has a programmer's description of Sisters:

The first of Brian De Palma's Hitchcock homages conceals a more serious, and ultimately more truly horrific, layer beneath its jocular salute to the Master. From the opening of the film, De Palma invokes familiar Hitchcock themes from foundational works like Rear Window and Psycho (voyeurism, normality vs. the monstrous, etc.) in tongue-in-cheek ways, as a one-night stand between French-Canadian model Danielle (Margot Kidder) and a fellow contestant on a voyeurism-based game show called Peeping Toms ends in morning-after murder — an early-act killing that invokes Psycho's shower murder, but is considerably more brutal and explicit. Our identification then shifts to Grace (Jennifer Salt), an intrepid but occasionally overzealous reporter who witnesses the killing and tries to get to the bottom of the subsequent cover-up. Her quest leads her to a delirious, narcotically stimulated hallucination in a sinister medical clinic, where she relives a traumatic incident from Danielle's past at the hands of a creepy surgeon (William Finley). Abandoning Hitchcock and radically shifting tone in its final movements, Sisters finds its horror not in the masterful manipulation of audience expectations, but in patriarchy's pervasive control over women.

Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Monday, February 10, 2020 12:45 AM CST
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Saturday, February 8, 2020

Brian De Palma's Hi, Mom! is screening this week at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago, as part of the theater's "Fringe Benefits" series. "We continue the mostly monthly series dedicated to provocative and outré films that have galvanized audiences and critics alike, incited passionate conversation, and inspired devoted cult followings among adventurous cinephiles," reads the series description. Hi, Mom! screened last night, and is scheduled to play again this upcoming Thursday, February 13th.

The event description includes an excerpt from The New Yorker's Richard Brody: "An exuberant grab bag of mischievous whimsy that blends radical politics, sexual freedom, racial tension, and emotional hangups with the director’s own catalogue of artistic references, from Hitchcock and the French New Wave to cinéma vérité and avant-garde theatre—and adds a freewheeling inventiveness and an obstreperous satire all his own."

Below that is a description from Cameron Worden:

Before achieving notoriety as a director of formally audacious commercial thrillers, Brian De Palma found his footing in the New York independent film scene of the late ‘60s, producing a series of oddball underground features that culminated with this scabrous comedy. Prefiguring his turn in TAXI DRIVER, De Niro stars as a Vietnam vet navigating the seedier corners of New York City, first as a pornographer surreptitiously filming his neighbors’ sex lives, then as a member of a politically radical avant-garde theater company, before eventually dipping his toes into domestic terrorism. Moving freely between sitcom-ready mugging, Godardian direct address, and gritty faux cinéma vérité, HI, MOM! would demonstrate the breadth of De Palma’s gifts as a cinematic stylist and preternatural ability to stage memorable set pieces. 35mm.

Posted by Geoff at 9:16 PM CST
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Friday, February 7, 2020

Posted by Geoff at 7:47 AM CST
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