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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


Exclusive Passion

Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
Leila Rozario


AV Club Review
of Dumas book


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De Palma a la Mod

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Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Last week, Le Point's David Mikanowski wrote an article about Brian De Palma's Casualties Of War, upon the release of the new Blu-ray-and-book box set from Wild Bunch. Here's an excerpt, with help from Google Translate:
The presence of a woman in a war film is astounding - this genre full of testosterone has traditionally been vested in men. Even though she is gagged, tied up, and spends most of the time moaning and crying, in a state of prostration. Besides, Oanh's death is a nightmare streak that seems to never end. Covered in blood, she walks like a ghost on the railway tracks of a bridge (the scene was shot on the banks of the River Kwai, near the Burmese border). Unforgettable, her slow agony resembles a funeral march, a requiem.

Depalmian heroes are often haunted by a woman they have seen die before their eyes, unable to rescue her. This was notably the case for the characters played by Cliff Robertson in Obsession (1976), John Travolta in Blow Out (1981) and Craig Wasson in Body Double (1984). This time, it's the one played by Michael J. Fox who becomes a passive witness to a crime and blames himself for being cowardly in front of the other soldiers by not preventing them from taking action. Through his melodrama, De Palma speaks of individual responsibility. And asks an ethical question: are rape and murder more excusable when committed in wartime? "Even in war ... Murder is murder," read the slogan of the film's American poster.

In the eyes of some, this appalling news item remains anecdotal and insignificant. A point of detail in a napalm bombing war. As a good moralist, De Palma, on the contrary, believes that Oanh's death is not a drop of water in a sea of blood. His film works as a metaphor: we must see in this rape that of an entire country by the American invader. And when Michael J. Fox is indignant during a scene, it is De Palma who expresses himself through him (the famous tirade of Eriksson: “Just because each of us might at any second be blown away, everybody’s acting like we can do anything. And it don’t matter what we do. But I’m thinking, maybe it’s the other way around, you know. Maybe the main thing is the opposite! Because we might be dead in the next split-second, maybe we gotta be extra careful what we do.”) Almost philosophical, the theme of Outrages (the individual who is right against the group) provokes reflection. And De Palma would rather dwell on the fate of a single victim, to move the public, than on that of thousands of dead.

Heroes or bastards

War makes heroes, but also bastards, the director seems to say. Dropped in the middle of a conflict they do not understand, attacked at night in the jungle (an incredible opening sequence in an underground gallery where the Viet Cong look like ants), the young American soldiers behave badly towards the Vietnamese civilians in the film. Because the army never prepared them to face a foreign country, a culture, and customs different from theirs. Towards the end of Outrages, the four soldiers guilty of the crime are sentenced (one of them to life) by a military court. But in reality, they were acquitted!

Indeed, after multiple appeals, the sentences were considerably reduced. None of them will have served more than five years in prison. Out of fear of reprisal, the real Eriksson even changed his identity and became a farmer somewhere in the Midwest. In 1972, Elia Kazan made a film that imagined a fictional sequel to this story: The Visitors with James Woods. In the heartbreaking drama, a soldier’s former comrades in arms, who had denounced them for the rape and murder of a Vietnamese woman, returned, after being released from prison, to his Connecticut villa for revenge. And took the opportunity to rape his partner!

No, Outrages is not a cool movie. It looks like a sticky nightmare, which causes discomfort and leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. Because De Palma's cinema is outrageous. Upon its theatrical release, the film divided critics. The New York weekly The Village Voice notably published an indictment against the film and its director - one of the most violent attacks ever directed against a filmmaker! But Outrages also has supporters. Steven Spielberg was raving about it in Rolling Stone magazine: “This is a huge film, perhaps the most beautiful that we have shot about Vietnam.” Renowned New Yorker reviewer Pauline Kael also wrote a lengthy, glowing article about the film.

In November 1994, in the pages of the monthly Les Inrockuptibles, Tarantino, in full promotion of Pulp Fiction, declared of Brian: “Blow Out is the absolute masterpiece of De Palma, closely followed by Outrages. The latter is in my opinion the best war movie ever made. It’s also one of the best movies about rape and Sean Penn’s best role - which is no small feat." Bertrand Tavernier also defended the feature film in 50 Years of American Cinema, his reference work co-written with another scholar, Jean-Pierre Coursodon: "De Palma manages to renew himself with this film which constitutes for him a real challenge, changing it at the same time of genre, place and register." The authors of the book also prefer his film on Vietnam to that of Kubrick: "The finale of Full Metal Jacket is a bit thin. And it is possible to find richer, even more courageous, a film like Outrages which, for its part, tackles a real moral problem head-on." Which is to say that De Palma was one of the few filmmakers to get their hands dirty, to immerse themselves in the Vietnamese quagmire.

In 2007, the bearded man filmed with digital cameras Redacted, a mock documentary that is once again based on a true story and is presented as an extension of Outrages, a twin film. He embarked on this adventure after reading an article about an incident during the Iraq war in which US Army soldiers allegedly raped a 14-year-old girl, shot her in the face and allegedly burned his body, before massacring his family.

How could these young people have come to this? What is original here is that De Palma recreates the drama through various sources of images: surveillance cameras, videos posted on YouTube, blogs and a GI's diary. A fascinating theoretical object, which forms a good double program with Outrages. A work that has lost none of its strength three decades later. Moreover, during his retrospective at the Cinémathèque française in 2018, the filmmaker without hesitation chose Outrages to represent his work. At the end of the screening of the film, he burst into tears in front of the audience of his master class, so much this film, for which he had fought for so long, was close to his heart.

Outrages boxed set with the film on Blu-ray (in its Director's cut version with six additional unreleased minutes) and on DVD (in its cinema version). As a bonus: numerous additions and a large 200-page book, specially written by Nathan Réra and illustrated with rare photos and archives. Limited edition of 2,500 copies. € 49.99. Wild Side.

Posted by Geoff at 10:28 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, January 4, 2022 10:30 PM CST
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Friday, December 31, 2021

Posted by Geoff at 10:42 PM CST
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Thursday, December 30, 2021

"Steven Spielberg's West Side Story is the latest example that you don't need a background in musicals to direct a great one," states Colin Wessman's sub-headline for an article posted the other day at Collider. The headline reads, "8 Directors Who Were a Surprisingly Great Match for the Musical," and Wessman includes Brian De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise in the mix:
It’s hard to say if Brian De Palma spent the majority of his career working in the thriller and horror genres just because he felt most comfortable there, or if Phantom Of The Paradise kept him there. The rock musical was a both a critical and box-office failure, but it has gained a cult following in the years since for how distinctly strange it is. Anchored by the original music (and an unlikely leading role) from pop maestro Paul Williams, the movie is a glitzy riff on The Phantom Of The Opera about a disfigured songwriter who lives inside a theater owned by a benevolent record producer who — as the immortal tagline states — sold his soul for rock ’n’ roll.

Despite its lofty ambitions as a modern-day Faust or Dorian Gray (in addition to Phantom of the Opera) that seeks to satirize the music industry, the movie is perhaps best viewed as a wonderfully gaudy spectacle that would make a great double feature with The Rocky Horror Picture Show. De Palma’s success with his next film, Carrie, launched him into the stratosphere of great genre directors, and though De Palma would never direct anything this zany again, Phantom Of The Paradise still has plenty of the director’s trademarks. Though his films often have a kind of meticulousness that lends him to the obsession of many a movie nerd, he’s also prone to the kinds of bombastic flourishes (see John Cassavetes’ entire body exploding in The Fury) that make this such a cult-y delight.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
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Wednesday, December 22, 2021

I came across this Japanese poster for Brian De Palma's Passion this week. I like the design - don't think I've ever seen this one before.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
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Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Last week, along with the images above, Sam Irvin posted a "Happy Birthday" tribute to Liv Ullmann on his Facebook page:
Happy 83rd Birthday to Liv Ullmann!
Imagine this: Liv Ullmann getting stabbed to death in the elevator in Brian De Palma’s DRESSED TO KILL. Huh?!
Little known factoid: Liv Ullmann, the brilliant muse of Ingmar Bergman in CRIES AND WHISPERS, PERSONA and FACE TO FACE, was Brian De Palma’s first choice to play the role of “Kate Miller” in DRESSED TO KILL — the role that ended up being played so iconically by Angie Dickinson.

The character gets shockingly stabbed to death in an elevator — an homage to Janet Leigh’s character “Marion Crane” getting stabbed to death in the shower in Hitchcock’s PSYCHO.

In both movies, it was essential to cast big-name stars in these parts to make it all the more shocking when they are unexpectedly bumped off early in their respective scenarios.

In the summer of 1979, when DRESSED TO KILL was in preproduction, I was working as Brian De Palma’s assistant. I was 23 — and a very big fan of Liv Ullmann — who had won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in THE EMIGRANTS (1971) and nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Actress in THE EMIGRANTS and FACE TO FACE (1976). So, you can imagine my excitement when Brian handed me a copy of the DRESSED TO KILL script and said, “I want you to hand-deliver this to Liv Ullmann at the Majestic Theater. She is expecting you in her dressing room.”

Liv was currently starring on Broadway in Richard Rodgers newly-musicalized version of I REMEMBER MAMA. I would be going to drop off the script between a matinee and evening performance.

I arrived at the stage door with a large envelope in my hand. I knocked and after a few seconds, the door cautiously cracked open as though it were a speakeasy. A crusty old doorman peered out from the shadows and said, “Yeah?”

“I’m here to see Ms. Ullmann,” I explained in my best business-like voice.

The doorman gave me the once-over, spotted Ullmann’s name written on the envelope, concluded I was just a messenger boy — which, admittedly, was pretty much what I was. He sneered, “A delivery? I can take it to her.”

He creaked the door open a little further and held out his gnarly hand, expecting me to give him the package.

As if. I wasn’t going to give up the chance of meeting Liv Ullmann when I’d already come within breathing distance. I gulped and stood my ground. “I have been instructed to deliver this to Ms. Ullmann personally. She is expecting me. My name is Sam Irvin. From Brian De Palma’s office.”

Poker-faced, the doorman said nothing for what seemed like an eternity.

Finally, he withdrew his empty claw and shut the door in my face.

Had I been summarily rejected? Should I knock again and demand to speak to someone higher up the food chain? My job was on the line! With all sorts of desperate thoughts running around in my brain, the door suddenly popped back open.

“Ms. Ullmann will see you now,” the doorman grunted, annoyed that he’d been out-maneuvered.

I stepped inside and followed him to her dressing room. He knocked and walked away. The door swung open with a breeze of perfume to reveal the resplendent, welcoming smile of Liv Ullmann attached to her entire being. In person. Yep. I was starstruck.

She graciously greeted me. We exchanged small talk. I gave her the script and she said, “Tell Brian I am looking forward to reading it. Thank you for bringing it to me.”

I departed on Cloud 9 and floated back to Brian’s office. Mission: Accomplished.

Sadly, Liv eventually passed on the project.

Nancy Allen, who played “Liz” in DRESSED TO KILL, recalled, “Liv was Brian’s first choice. He wanted it to be out of character for the actress who played the part to be having the sexual encounter with the stranger in the museum. Someone you might think of as sexually repressed. I suggested he send her flowers and take her to lunch. Ultimately she declined the role because she didn’t want her children to see her in that way.”

Then Brian had me deliver a script to the wonderful Jill Clayburgh, hot off her Oscar nomination for AN UNMARRIED WOMAN (1978). A long-time friend of De Palma’s, Jill had made her movie debut in his early feature film THE WEDDING PARTY (1969) opposite the young Robert De Niro. My encounter was brief and similar — but equally cherished and memorable. Unfortunately, she also ended up passing due to scheduling conflicts.

Ultimately, Angie Dickinson ended up with the role and knocked it out of the park.

Nevertheless, it is intriguing to imagine what the movie would have been like with Liv Ullmann in the role.

You MUST read my first-hand inside chronicle on the making of DRESSED TO KILL on which I worked as director Brian De Palma’s assistant! The recent issue of BOOBS AND BLOOD No. 4 is entirely devoted to my memoir of DRESSED TO KILL! 56 pages! 13,000 words! 175 photos!

And it’s for a great cause, too! All profits from the sale of the magazine go to the breast cancer charity Keep a Breast Foundation.

The DRESSED TO KILL Special Edition of BOOBS AND BLOOD No. 4 is available to order here:

Thank you to editor-publisher Miles Flanagan!

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
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Monday, December 20, 2021

As Valdimar Jóhannsson's Lamb gets set for release in France next week, Allocine's Thomas Desroches asks Noomi Rapace to talk about "five experiences that changed her career, from the role that revealed her in 'Millennium' to her return to Icelandic cinema." One of those five experiences is Passion:
"I was very intrigued by the relationship between my character and that of Rachel McAdams. They are very complex and desperate women, with a whole set of admiration, seduction and hatred. I felt like I was in a minefield, you never know when it's going to explode. It was a very difficult shoot, psychologically. I did a lot of research on psychopaths and met a professor who specializes in the subject. I was playing a woman with a sociopathic disorder, which means she has no empathy. It was a different way of working.

With Brian De Palma… [she pauses, Editor's note] there were a lot of clashes! He's from another era and I have a lot of character myself. I think he's used to filming with women who do whatever he asks. We held on long enough, and then we finally found a working rhythm. He was an old movie maestro who met a young rebel, obviously… But it was a very interesting and stimulating shoot."

Noomi Rapace tells of clashing with De Palma on Passion
De Palma: "She refused to play certain scenes the way I asked her."

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Tuesday, December 21, 2021 8:29 AM CST
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Thursday, December 16, 2021

In a "Composer Series" interview at Below The Line, composer Alexandre Desplat is asked by Edward Douglas about the use of temp tracks:
BTL: You work with a lot of other directors and filmmakers as well, a lot of people multiple times as you mentioned. Do any of the other directors you work with use temp music, either your own or someone else’s that they cut to, or do you generally get a dry edit with no music?

Desplat: Well, directors like Wes Anderson, like Roman Polanski, they don’t use temp. They never use temp, they don’t need it, because they have their own idea of what the music should be, and what the editing should be without using temp. Some others, they mix existing scores of mine or other composers. It’s a bit of a battle each time for the director to forget this temp that is heard again and again and again and again and again and again. And again. And again. And again. It’s always difficult to convince him that you can look for another sound, another pace, that the bass is not right, or the sound is not right, or the placement is not right, which is another story all along. I have to deal with it, and I try to convince the director that my choice is best. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose.

BTL: I’ve spoken to quite a few composers about hearing your own past music over new images, and the composers I’ve spoken to know right away that it’s not the right music for those images. I’m not sure if that’s just a natural knack one has a composer or the instinct of not wanting to lose scoring work to his or her past self. How do you feel about temp music even if it’s your own?

Desplat: There’s this famous scene between Brian de Palma and Bernard Herrmann coming to a screening where he used his previous cues, previous music from Hitchcock, and Bernard Herrmann just stormed out, saying it was impossible to use that music in this film, because it was wrong. And I understand. When you see a film, and you hear the music that you’ve written for something else, it’s disconnected. It’s just not right. You know that there’s something else that can be cooked by the chef.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
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Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Here's the description from Terry Wickham's YouTube post:
5th Annual Masters Roundtable Tribute - Brian De Palma. Rising Filmmakers; Terry R. Wickham (Devil's Five, Double Vision, Gruesome Threesome), Christopher Garetano (Montauk Chronicles, TV shows The Dark Files, Strange World), Patrick Rea (Nailbiter, Arbor Demon, I Am Lisa), Glenn McBride Jr. (Traffic Cops, Supply & Demand), and Film Historian/Author John Kenneth Muir (The Films of John Carpenter, Exploring SPACE: 1999, The Art of Horror: Wes Craven) sit in a virtual roundtable to share their deep appreciation for the Master of Suspense and pinpoint which movies you should see from the visionary director of Sisters/Carrie/Obsession/The Fury/Dressed To Kill/Blow Out/Scarface/Body Double/Untouchables/Casualties of War/Raising Cain/Carlito's Way/Mission Impossible/Snake Eyes/Femme Fatale/Passion.

Music by Michael James Romeo (Guitarist Symphony X / Film Music Composer)

Please hit 👍

Visit www.mantayaypictures.com
1st Annual Tribute - George A. Romero & Tobe Hooper
2nd Annual Tribute - John Carpenter
3rd Annual Tribute - Wes Craven

4th Annual Tribute - David Cronenberg & Stuart Gordon

SUBSCRIBE to Wickham's YouTube Channel (It's FREE) to see all Tributes and every Episode of his YouTube Channel Show Into the Depths with Terry R. Wickham

Posted by Geoff at 8:18 AM CST
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Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
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Monday, December 13, 2021

Last week, Matthew Jacobs at Vulture posted Griffin Dunne Answers Every Question We Have About After Hours, which included this section:
How much papier-mâché ended up on your body?
It took quite a bit to get off at the end of the night. I would just soak in a tub and get all of that papier-mâché off. They really stuck me in that sculpture, and Cheech and Chong carried me around. It was pretty easy to look claustrophobic in it with just my eyes.

The movie was originally going to end with you remaining in the sculpture, but test audiences didn’t like that fatalistic outcome, right?
Yeah, it was too claustrophobic. It didn’t give them any release. They worried about the boy in the sculpture: Is he ever going to get out? Marty showed it to his friends Brian De Palma and Steven Spielberg. We just came up with ideas. I forget whose idea it was that we got so excited about, which was that in the basement, Verna Bloom would go, Come here, quick, hide! She’d point to herself and then it would be a quick cut to her being pregnant with me. I think she was going to give birth on the West Side Highway and I was going to come out covered in plasma. And David Geffen, who financed the movie, went, No way, that is a disgusting ending.

I can’t say that I disagree with him based on that description.
No, I know! We were desperate for an ending, and it seemed like a good idea at the time. He brought us to our senses, and then we came up with Paul flying out of the back of the van and he cracks open and off he goes to work.

How long did it take for them to glue you into that sculpture?
It was in two pieces, and I fit into it in an embryonic kind of way. Getting into it was not a big problem; it just took a while to seal me in. I would be in that thing for quite some time before we rolled, and I wasn’t getting out between takes.

Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CST
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