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De Palma a la Mod

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Recent Headlines
a la Mod:

Domino is
a "disarmingly
straight-forward"
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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Exclusive Passion
Interviews:

Brian De Palma
Karoline Herfurth
Leila Rozario

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AV Club Review
of Dumas book

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« June 2024 »
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Interviews...

De Palma interviewed
in Paris 2002

De Palma discusses
The Black Dahlia 2006


Enthusiasms...

De Palma Community

The Virtuoso
of the 7th Art

The De Palma Touch

The Swan Archives

Carrie...A Fan's Site

Phantompalooza

No Harm In Charm

Paul Schrader

Alfred Hitchcock
The Master Of Suspense

Alfred Hitchcock Films

Snake Eyes
a la Mod

Mission To Mars
a la Mod

Sergio Leone
and the Infield
Fly Rule

Movie Mags

Directorama

The Filmmaker Who
Came In From The Cold

Jim Emerson on
Greetings & Hi, Mom!

Scarface: Make Way
For The Bad Guy

The Big Dive
(Blow Out)

Carrie: The Movie

Deborah Shelton
Official Web Site

The Phantom Project

Welcome to the
Offices of Death Records

The Carlito's Way
Fan Page

The House Next Door

Kubrick on the
Guillotine

FilmLand Empire

Astigmia Cinema

LOLA

Cultural Weekly

A Lonely Place

The Film Doctor

italkyoubored

Icebox Movies

Medfly Quarantine

Not Just Movies

Hope Lies at
24 Frames Per Second

Motion Pictures Comics

Diary of a
Country Cinephile

So Why This Movie?

Obsessive Movie Nerd

Nothing Is Written

Ferdy on Films

Cashiers De Cinema

This Recording

Mike's Movie Guide

Every '70s Movie

Dangerous Minds

EatSleepLiveFilm

No Time For
Love, Dr. Jones!

The former
De Palma a la Mod
site

Entries by Topic
A note about topics: Some blog posts have more than one topic, in which case only one main topic can be chosen to represent that post. This means that some topics may have been discussed in posts labeled otherwise. For instance, a post that discusses both The Boston Stranglers and The Demolished Man may only be labeled one or the other. Please keep this in mind as you navigate this list.
All topics
Ambrose Chapel
Are Snakes Necessary?
BAMcinématek
Bart De Palma
Beaune Thriller Fest
Becoming Visionary
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Bill Pankow
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Blow Out  «
Blue Afternoon
Body Double
Bonfire Of The Vanities
Books
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Cannes
Capone Rising
Carlito's Way
Carrie
Casualties Of War
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Columbia University
Columbo - Shooting Script
Congo
Conversation, The
Cop-Out
Cruising
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Dionysus In '69
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Fire
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Fury, The
Genius of Love
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Get To Know Your Rabbit
Ghost & The Darkness
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Happy Valley
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Hi, Mom!
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Iraq, etc.
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Key Man, The
Laurent Bouzereau
Lights Out
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Mod
Montreal World Film Fest
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Murder a la Mod
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Nazi Gold
Newton 1861
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Palmetto
Paranormal Activity 2
Parker
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Passion
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Print The Legend
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Raising Cain
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Redacted
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Monday, June 10, 2024
CINEMAEDITOR MAGAZINE - 'CUTS WE LOVE' - 'BLOW OUT'
2-PAGE SPREAD BY ADRIAN PENNINGTON IN LATEST ISSUE, WITH QUOTES FROM PAUL HIRSCH
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/cinemaeditor2024.jpg

Posted by Geoff at 11:42 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, June 10, 2024 11:52 PM CDT
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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
PAYPHONES IN DE PALMA (PART 13) - BLOW OUT
IN THE PHONE BOOTHS OF A PHILADELPHIA TRAIN STATION
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/payphonestation1.jpg


Posted by Geoff at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, May 29, 2024 7:47 AM CDT
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Monday, May 27, 2024
'MAYBE THE PHONE COMPANY'S IN ON THE CONSPIRACY, TOO'
AND THE "SHOT BY SHOT PODCAST" DISCUSSES BLOW OUT
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/phonecompany1.jpg

 


Posted by Geoff at 12:22 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, May 27, 2024 2:04 PM CDT
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Saturday, May 25, 2024
PAYPHONES IN DE PALMA (PART 12) - BURKE MULTITASKING
WATCHING JACK CARRY A PROJECTOR TO HIS JEEP AND THEN DRIVING OFF SOMEWHERE IN A HURRY
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/jackburke1.jpg


Posted by Geoff at 12:45 PM CDT
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Thursday, May 23, 2024
FILMING 'BLOW OUT' ON THE STREETS OF PHILADELPHIA - 1981
BRIAN DE PALMA ON THE GROUND, VILMOS ZSIGMOND BEHIND THE LENS, JOHN LITHGOW IN THE PHONE BOOTH
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/blowoutsetpicstreet.jpg

Posted by Geoff at 11:06 PM CDT
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Wednesday, May 22, 2024
PAYPHONES IN DE PALMA (PART 11) - 'IT'S BURKE, SIR'
"I'M CALLING FROM A SECURE PUBLIC PHONE BOOTH, SIR, I SUGGEST YOU CALL ME BACK ON SAME"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/burkesir1.jpg

 


Posted by Geoff at 11:21 PM CDT
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Sunday, May 19, 2024
PAYPHONES IN DE PALMA (PART 10) - 'BLOW OUT'
"HOW 'BOUT THAT DRINK YOU PROMISED?" - JOHN TRAVOLTA AS SOUND EFFECTS ARTIST JACK TERRI
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/payphonejack.jpg

Posted by Geoff at 10:03 PM CDT
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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
'BLOW OUT' AT ACADEMY MUSEUM IN L.A. ON WED MAY 1st
AS PART OF WEEKLY "BRANCH SELECTS" SERIES - DE PALMA'S FILM SELECTED BY THE SOUND BRANCH
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/soundbranch.jpg

Brian De Palma's Blow Out will screen at 7:30pm on Wednesday, May 1, at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles (in the David Geffen Theater). The screening is part of a weekly "Branch Selects" series:
Branches of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences represent distinct disciplines of moviemaking. Working with members of the Academy branches, the Academy Museum presents a weekly series that offers a one-of-a-kind journey through film history. Working alphabetically through all 18 branches of the Academy, each week a different branch selects a film that represents a major achievement in the evolution of moviemaking and its unique disciplines.

The Sound Branch has selected Blow Out:
Brian De Palma wrote and directed this mystery about a movie sound technician (John Travolta) who inadvertently records the assassination of a politician. Stylish and unexpectedly emotional, Blow Out has become one of De Palma’s most acclaimed films over the last four decades, and his script cleverly incorporates filmmaking techniques into its storyline. In collaboration with sound mixer Dick Vorisek and sound editor Dan Sable, as well as such De Palma regulars as cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, film editor Paul Hirsch, and composer Pino Donaggio, the director creates a worthy successor to the great conspiracy thrillers of the 1970s.


Posted by Geoff at 11:55 PM CDT
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Saturday, February 3, 2024
'BLOW OUT' MAKES FORBES TOP 25 MYSTERY MOVIES OF ALL-TIME
"JOHN TRAVOLTA DELIVERS A CAREER-DEFINING PERFORMANCE"
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/blowoutvictim45.jpg
"While both genres share the element of suspense, mystery and action/thriller movies differ in their focus and pacing," writes Travis Bean at Forbes, in his introduction to his list of The 25 Best Mystery Movies Of All Time. "At the core of a mystery film lies a web of enigmas," Bean continues, "typically untangled by a sharp-witted detective or keen-eyed amateur, leading to an unexpected twist that stuns both characters and audience alike. The journey to the solution is as important as the solution itself, with the audience invited to piece together the puzzle alongside the protagonist."

Beginning with Curtis Hanson's L.A. Confidential at #25, Bean heads toward David Lynch's Mulholland Drive at #1, with Brian De Palma's Blow Out at #7:

John Travolta delivers a career-defining performance in Blow Out, playing a sound technician who accidentally records evidence of a political assassination. Brian De Palma's direction melds suspense, political intrigue, and personal obsession into a tightly wound narrative that captivates and horrifies in equal measure. Audiences praise the film for its groundbreaking sound work, a gripping plot and an ending that haunts you well beyond the act of watching the film. If you're into mysteries and thrills, Blow Out will snag your interest. It mixes real-life scares with movie magic in a way that stands out. It throws you deep into a debate about what's real and scarily shows just how mighty the media can be in its depiction of truth.

Posted by Geoff at 9:12 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, February 3, 2024 9:13 PM CST
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Monday, January 29, 2024
BLOW OUT AT TRYLON CINEMA IN MINNESOTA FEB 4-6
ON THE CINEMA'S BLOG, CHRIS POLLEY WRITES - "JOYOUSLY VIBRANT" EVEN IN ITS MOST STRESSFUL SEQUENCES
https://www.angelfire.com/de/palma/iloveliberty1.jpg

Brian De Palma's Blow Out will screen February 4-6 at Trylon Cinema in Minnesota, as part of the cinema's 15th Film Noir Festival, which this year focuses on Neo-Noir. On the Trylon Cinema's Blog, Perisphere, Chris Polley delves into the film's paranoid trauma:
What would unfurl during the writing, casting, filming, and editing process would wind up not only cementing the auteur in suspense cinema history, but double as a diary entry of the damned. Blow Out isn’t just De Palma’s take on an age-old story of trying to do what’s right in the face of madness—it’s a crying out of contrition in the confessional booth.

What exactly De Palma winds up divulging in his taut genre exercise requires first breaking down what Hilary Jane Smith calls “the De Palma Gaze” in her 40th-anniversary retrospective on Blow Out: “a macho, threatening perspective [of the] unfiltered patriarchal mind that’s as primal as a cro-magnon man.” Basically, it’s Laura Mulvey’s foundational Intro to Film Studies term “the male gaze” without any of the subtleties. In nearly all of De Palma’s films, especially those from the early-mid 80s such as Dressed to Kill and Body Double, the camera’s eye both desires possession and destruction of the female form at the center of its iris. Blow Out is the filmmaker indulging in both of these tendencies while also attempting to wriggle out of them through meta-commentary on the production, assemblage, and distribution of movies as a downright sordid and perhaps even embarrassing business model.

The film opens in medias res with what unabashedly seems to be a nod to John Carpenter’s 1979 horror classic Halloween, replete with a roving POV shot of a slasher stalking coeds, only for De Palma to pull back the curtain. Here, it is revealed that the scene is nothing more than an exploitation flick in post-production being played back in a smoke-filled soundbooth by Travolta’s Jack and co. coming to a frustrating conclusion that the murder victim’s scream isn’t sufficient for a paying audience. It’s the kind of sardonic postmodernism that so effortlessly feels like what Hitchcock (whom De Palma is routinely criticized for aping) might have been capable of had he lived more than a few months past Reagan’s inauguration. But that’s arguably where the Hitchcockisms end for Blow Out. For Film Comment, storied critic Michael Sragow likens the 1981 film to a kind of reverse-Vertigo, saying, “De Palma and his hero don’t spend the movie creating an illusion but uncovering a reality moviegoers recognize.” What happens for the next 100 minutes is still all things De Palma/male gaze (prostitute with a heart of gold, serial killer of women thrown into the mix with graphic imagery, etc.) but with one hugely important distinction: the guy doesn’t get the girl, and he (spoiler alert) neither ends up vindicated nor released from his paranoid trauma.

When Jack unwittingly records the audio of a governor’s assassination while collecting ambient sounds for his job, De Palma isn’t shy to emphasize just how exhilarating it already is to witness the medium’s technological prowess as well as the simple beauty of a frog’s croak or the wind gently blowing. Then, a couple’s public displays of affection and ensuing skirmish catch our attention and suddenly all the quiet is left behind. And then after that, a gunshot immediately followed by a sedan careening into a creek and sinking fast. The equipment is temporarily abandoned and our hero is in the water attempting to save whoever may be in the vehicle. The natural world is long gone, and yet it’s also about to swallow up at least one innocent person whole. Jack’s rescue of Nancy Allen’s Sally proves the adage: No good deed goes unpunished. From then on, Jack and his audio reel are left to piece together who else was in that, who wanted him dead, and why. De Palma, a visual artist who traffics in the macabre, realizes that the same is likely true for him: he’s trapped himself in this scenario whether he meant to or not. As Michael Koresky says for Reverse Shot, the film “seems like penance for all of De Palma’s past and future cinematic crimes, as well as ours as viewers.” He is the Sisyphus of the moving image—forever fated to revel in the dark side of creation, only to let his creations inevitably tear him apart, just for him to start over again—and so are we.

Part of what makes the guilt go down the gullet with such ease is how joyously vibrant even Blow Out’s most stressful and problematic sequences are. Before John Lithgow shows up and dominates the narrative as a stoic, calculated killer who may be in on and/or working outside the story’s central conspiracy, the most rousing scene is when Jack is going through a tedious, laborious process of matching his audio to a spread of still images in a tabloid of the car’s swerve and descent off the bridge. Travolta is effortless when he feverishly uses a wide array of tools to splice photos and sound together, frame by frame. The film’s editor and longtime De Palma collaborator, Paul Hirsch, recalls in an interview with CineMontage, “I would be editing a piece of film showing Jack’s hand making a mark on the film with a grease pencil, and I would be looking at my own hand marking it with a real grease pencil.” He goes on to liken the experience to being inside an M.C. Escher drawing, alluding to the self-reflexive and labyrinthine works of the famous Dutch visual artist. It’s easy to imagine—and when watching or rewatching the film, it’s visceral—the kind of neurotic, obsessive energy this artistic ouroboros conjures up. On the other hand (no pun intended), another way to describe metatextuality is simple, beautiful, and healthy: it’s called reflection. Perhaps it’s okay to look deep into the photograph like Larrain did back in 1950s Paris, as long as you treat the gaze less like a window and more like a mirror.


Posted by Geoff at 10:47 PM CST
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