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Variety on Vantage Point
"Pic suggests a collision
between 1998's Snake Eyes
and the two most recent
'Bourne' movies, minus Brian
De Palma's voyeur-implicating
subtexts and Paul Greengrass'
kinetic precision."

Political Culture:
Films They Won’t
Be Celebrating
on Oscar Night

Doug Liman promises
"outrageous" take on
Valerie Plame film that
will also get around
any possible government

"I have a really, really
insane take on how to
tell it. It’s so outrageous.
Ultimately, I’d be doing
something no one has ever
done before. Therefore it’s
automatically appealing to
me. I’m just starting to
explore whether [what I
have in mind] is even
possible to do."

Shaun Brady on
Diary Of The Dead

"In the YouTube age,
the handheld, character-
wielded camera has become
an all-pervasive meme.
Romero's use of the tactic
echoes both Cloverfield and
Brian De Palma's Redacted
in the credulity-stretching
conceit that characters in
the midst of life-threatening
situations continue filming
rather than getting directly
involved in events unfolding
directly in front of them,
though he employs that
concept to more compelling
ends. Diary shares with
Redacted the idea that a film
student uses the camera to
distance himself from
shocking realities; and with
Cloverfield the more
intriguing suggestion that,
surrounded by media, today's
young people are simply
unable to process their
surroundings without an
intervening media scrim...
Romero's cynicism has
increasingly edged toward
misanthropy over the decades
as his sympathies have
shifted from living characters
to dead, and Diary closes
on an image that burns
itself into the brain, a more
effective evocation of the
Abu Ghraib photos and other
recent atrocities than the
obvious referents in
Land Of The Dead."

First reviews from Berlin
of Errol Morris' Abu
Ghraib doc Standard
Operating Procedure

David D'Arcy: "Morris's
distillation of long talks
with young ex-soldiers and
the female general who
commanded prisons all over
Iraq is among the best
documentaries on the Iraq
war and on official efforts
to cover up ugly aspects
of the 'war on terror'.
It will test the current
American aversion to most
films about Iraq."

Variety: "All the fancy
style applied to the sordid
military equivalent of
basement videotapes, and
further whipped into a
lather by Danny Elfman's
music, makes the proceedings
feel far too melodramatic.
A stark, matter-of-fact
approach would seem all
that's required when dealing
with such powerful central
images, but Morris detracts
from them by placing them
within his elaborate
modernist frame."

Nathan Lee on
Diary Of The Dead

"Visually, Romero's ersatz-DIY
experiment isn't as suave as
Brian De Palma's similar
effort in the recent and
risible Redacted, nor as
exactingly engineered as
the video convulsions of
Cloverfield, but its
scrappy, ultra-low-budget
edges are part of
its charm."

Movie Poster Artist
John Alvin has
passed away

"The Smithsonian even
named one of his works,
for Brian De Palma's
Phantom of the Paradise,
one of the best posters
of the 20th century."
(Thanks to Akahan!)

Michael Sooriyakumaran
asks, "Why Is Every
Movie I See These Days
Such a Bummer?"

"While Allen, Lumet and
the Coens, consciously or
not, allude to the civilian
casualities in Iraq indirectly,
De Palma's Redacted is a
frontal assault on the
audience even before the final
sequence, which is why it's
been marginalized. Of course,
this could never be film for
mainstream audiences, even
if more staid Iraq-war movies
weren't dropping like flies at
the box office... De Palma
obviously wants people to see
these images, which he's
stated in interviews were the
main reason he made the film,
but nobody really wants to
see a film with these kinds of
images (at one point I closed
my eyes, they're so awful).
It's self-defeating."

Geoffrey Macnab on
Operation Homecoming

"The filmmakers don't ask
their subjects why they
volunteered. Perhaps as a
result, Operation Homecoming
has had a mixed reception left
and right. Some have been
infuriated by its failure to
condemn the Bush administration.
Supporters of the war have also
attacked it. Meanwhile, it has
elicited enthusiastic responses
in unlikely quarters, for example
in the Pentagon, where it was
shown to Government officials
last year... Operation Homecom-
makes a striking counterpart
to Brian De Palma's Redacted.
De Palma (who based his
screenplay on veterans' accounts
of the war he found on the web)
shows US soldiers committing
rape and murder. He suggests
that the soldiers have utterly
lost their moral bearings. By
contrast, the soldiers whose
writing is showcased in Robbins'
documentary are portrayed as
heroic and intelligent – and
making the best decisions
they could in impossible

Jeffrey Wells on Oscar's
bias against Iraq war docs

Still Waters director
Carolyn Miller took
advice from De Palma

"Miller recalled an early
conversation with Brian
De Palma while she was
working as his driver on the
set of The Black Dahlia in
which the helmer urged her to
quit that job and throw herself
into realizing her dreams.
That was a pivotal moment,
she said, that gave her the
confidence to commit herself
to being a filmmaker."

Nigel Andrews on Haditha
"There will be no better
film about the Iraq war than
Nick Broomfield’s Battle for
. With its emotional
immediacy and depth-charged
intelligence, it surpasses even
Brian De Palma’s Redacted,
its closest cousin in subject
(a true-life atrocity) and
treatment (reportage-style

Jamie McLeish on
Battle For Haditha

"The film shares close
parallels with Brian
De Palma's Redacted, which
investigates the real-life
rape and murder of an
Iraqi girl and the massacre
of her family. De Palma's
outrage prompted him to paint
a starker, more simplistic
piece of agit-prop, whereas
Broomfield is more subtle
in his presentation."

Hoberman on Rambo,
the "one-man surge,"
endorsing John McCain

"Brian De Palma is hardly the
only old New Lefty equating
Iraq with Vietnam. But
Redacted is 'Vietnam: The
Bummer.' Rambo is something
else. Stallone knows that if
the Republicans nominate
action-hero McCain, Vietnam
will return—with bells on.
And, back on the national
agenda, the war will have
to be won again

Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff
on White Noise 2

"There is one scene where
a piano plummets from
several floors up while Abe’s
character races up the
stairs in a futile attempt
to stop the tragedy about
to happen that is pretty
amazing, capturing for me, a
very similar kind of cinematic
'wow' moment I experienced
watching Brian De Palma’s
famous baby-carriage-down-
the-stairs scene in The
. In fact the
cinematic influence of
De Palma is very much
present throughout the film,
especially during White
Noise 2
’s opening scene."

Patrick Z McGavin on
What Just Happened?

"Like Brian De Palma's Femme
, the movie recreates
the pomp and circumstances
of the Cannes Film festival
and gets pretty much every
single part of the
festival wrong."

Sisters website from Japan

Oliver Stone casts
Josh Brolin as
George W. Bush

Stone says Bush will have
a structure comparable
to Frears' The Queen.
"It's a behind-the-scenes
approach, similar to Nixon,
to give a sense of what it's
like to be in his skin," Stone
told Daily Variety. "But if
Nixon was a symphony,
this is more like a chamber
piece, and not as dark in
tone. People have turned my
political ideas into a cliche,
but that is superficial. I'm
a dramatist who is interested
in people, and I have empathy
for Bush as a human being,
much the same as I did for
Castro, Nixon, Jim Morrison,
Jim Garrison and Alexander
the Great."

What Just Happened?
screens at Sundance

Friedman: "A film that sort
of picks up where Robert
Altman's The Player left off,
but really is more of an ode
to Blake Edwards' S.O.B."

Zacharek on Cloverfield
"Maybe we're supposed to give
Abrams and Reeves extra points
for cleverness, for the
way they've adapted traditional
narrative into YouTube-style
storytelling, using seemingly
homegrown video footage
to heighten the sense of
immediacy. But we've already
seen a far more effective
version of that approach in
Brian De Palma's Iraq war drama
Redacted, and George Romero's
upcoming Diary of the Dead
makes use of some similar
techniques. It's no longer good
enough to be among the first;
you have to be an effective
storyteller, too, and that's
where Reeves, Goddard
and Abrams fail."

Foundas on Cloverfield
"But unlike Brian De Palma's
recent Redacted and Romero's
forthcoming Diary of the
— both of which use
subjective cameras as a way
of questioning our YouTube-d
universe and the trust we
put in recorded images —
Cloverfield's first-person
videography has little sense
of purpose. It's just another
salable gimmick in a movie
whose closest kinship to
Blair Witch may be the
genius of its ad campaign."

Similarities between
Body Double &
Mulholland Drive

Scarlett to direct
short film for New
York, I Love You

White Noise 2 director
on being called "the
Brian DePalma of the
direct-to-video world"

"Yeah I read that DVD
Talk review... loved it. The
'DTV De Palma' is an amazing
compliment. When we were
tweaking the script in the last
week before production, Matt
and I would talk about De Palma
a lot, especially Blow Out
which we were both huge fans
of. That film, Untouchables,
Dressed To Kill, Carrie,
Obsession, are all incredible
De Palma films. There are
several sequences where we
discussed De Palma's style,
not to mimic it, but there
was, especially in his early
films, such a great sense
of dread and impending
doom that just consumed
each frame. We took
inspiration from that
beyond a doubt."

Dargis on Redacted
"What has really been shocking
about this year, though, aren't
the idiocies of Hostel: Part II,
but rather the rage radiating
off the movie screens. Brian
De Palma's Redacted, about
American soldiers who rape
and murder an Iraqi girl (and
her family), falls short in many
ways, but the director's anger
is itself a tonic. I think that
De Palma's focus is misplaced -
you can certainly blame these
soldiers, though the tougher
film would blame people like
us, who let them be sent to
Iraq - yet I am grateful
for his fury."

Dargis on Swank in Dahlia
"One reason she was so good
in Brian De Palma’s convoluted
noir The Black Dahlia, in
which she crept around like
poison ivy, is that her
performance as a femme fatale
is set inside quotation marks.
She didn’t register as a
toxically dangerous woman but
as an idea of that irresistible
sexist cliché. She filled out
her character’s snug gown
as a drag queen would."

Armond White
on Sweeney Todd

"Don’t think Burton has
stepped up in class by
stepping into Sondheim’s
jackboots. Sweeney Todd
lowers Burton’s own comic-
book vivacity. The empathy
Burton usually provides for
freakish outsiders like Depp’s
memorable Ed Wood and
Willy Wonka gets debased.
Perhaps only David Fincher
could have appropriately
conveyed Sondheim’s depravity.
Imagine Zodiac with a score
by Philip Glass. (Oops, that’s
Woody Allen’s upcoming
Cassandra’s Dream.) Reveling
in bloodlust is too much like
torture-porn, too analogous
to Abu Ghraib. This movie
should have offered the giddy
sanity of De Palma’s Grand
Guignol musical, Phantom
of the Paradise
, not pseudo-
operatic gravitas. Burton turns
Todd’s bloodletting into a
cascade of crimson tears; his
final tableau stretches outrage
into mawkishness. When
Burton goes wrong, he
morphs into David

Director of Taxi To
The Dark Side
censorship in MPAA's
rejection of poster

"Not permitting us to
use an image of a hooded
man that comes from a
documentary photograph is
censorship, pure and simple,"
said producer, writer and
director Gibney. "Intentional
or not, the MPAA's disapproval
of the poster is a political
act, undermining legitimate
criticism of the Bush
administration. I agree
that the image is offensive;
it's also real."

Video from 1986:
Carrie Snodgress talks
about working with
De Palma on The Fury

Michael Joshua Rowin
on Adam Rifkin's Look

"What separates Look from a
similar recent film like
Brian De Palma's flawed
but critical Redacted, is
that it earnestly believes in
a simplistic correspondence
of image to truth. Since our
position vis-a-vis the film's
parade of embarrassing
idiocies is privileged and
superior--and since everything
that happens in front of
the cameras is either
moralistically punished or
cheaply, ironically rewarded--
we never have to think about
the ethical, psychological, or
philosophical consequences
of having our lives constantly
monitored and recorded.
Whereas we're asked in
Redacted to take a second
look, as it were, at a media
landscape that doesn't just
give us access to things we
would not ordinarily see but
changes their very reception,
in Look we're asked to
simply gawk, to view its
walking caricatures, laugh
at and judge them, and
then leave the theater
unmoved and indifferent."

Aaron Hillis on Look
"At least Brian De Palma's
Redacted and George Romero's
Diary of the Dead wield their
peeping-tom filters for
more ambitious purposes, and
Michael Haneke's Caché teases
and implicates audiences
by drawing focus to the
camera's eye. Look isn't
processing, critiquing, or
even warning; in the end,
it's just recording."

Eric Kohn on Look
"In the deplorable tradition
of Brian De Palma’s Redacted,
Rifkin makes a flawed attempt
to replicate off-the-cuff
dialogue. The whole thing
feels so heavily scripted
that it brings down the
overarching impact. The
misguided route raises the
question of what kind of juicy
stories might be produced by
the real thing. It’s hard
not to imagine a better movie
buried in some CIA vault—
assuming that it hasn’t
already been burnt."

ABC News: Woman claims
govt. cover-up after she
was gang-raped by
coworkers in Iraq
two years ago

Her lawyer: "I think that
men who are there believe
that they live without laws.
The last thing she should
have expected was for her
own people to turn
on her."

Watch Scorsese's secret
Hitchcock experiment

(Thanks to Space Ace!)

Iraq war vets disturbed
by public's lack of interest
in recent films

To some soldiers who served
in Iraq, public indifference
to the films has little to
do with filmmaking
techniques or cultural
controversies. It's just
another sign that the folks
back home don't really care
to hear much about their
experience. "I feel that
it's a general sign of the
apathy out there towards
Iraq," said Joe Wheeler, a
San Bruno resident who
spent a year in Iraq as a
surgical assistant in the Army.
The 31-year-old limousine
driver is under treatment
for post-traumatic stress
disorder and has felt his
condition stabilizing. "It is
happening somewhere else
to somebody else, and the
last thing they want to do
is go see a movie about it.
Personally, it affected me
to see the lack of interest in
these films," said Wheeler,
who has seen Elah and
Lions for Lambs.

Kevin Hassett: Iraq Movie
`Curse' Is a Myth Worthy
of Hollywood

Michael Medved:
"The out and out worst,
most disgusting, most
hateful, most incompetent,
most revolting, most
loathsome, most
cinematic work I
have ever encountered."

TIME's Richard Corliss:
This Means War

"What De Palma is going
for, and achieves, is a mix
of edgy ennui and hysteria
that could be close to
the daily lot of
soldiers in Iraq."

Awards Daily's Ryan C.
Adams loves Redacted

"You know that movie about
the war in Iraq that's
been MIA this year? Not
the disappointing ones;
I mean a good one. I
think I've found it."

Oscar race is under way
"And the darkest of dark horses
is Redacted, director Brian
De Palma's raw, unflinching
fictionalization of a real war
atrocity in Iraq, on screens
next week. Here the question
is whether Oscar has an
appetite for the feel-really-
bad movie of the year."

John Thomason on
Taxi to the Dark Side

"The horrifying photos from
Abu Ghraib, censored by the
mainstream media, are shown
uncut here and resemble less
a military interrogation than a
scene from Pier Paolo Pasolini’s
repugnant Salo. That the United
States is endorsing the same
kind of barbarism it’s alleging
to combat is just one disturbing
revelation to take away from
this should-be argument for
presidential – or vice-
presidential – impeachment."

Charles Taylor discusses
Redacted and De Palma

From Zaillian to
De Palma to Fuqua
to George to Scott

Getting Gangster Made

Peter Keough on
American Gangster

"Scott goes so far as to
steal from Brian De Palma’s
Scarface, itself an imitation
of generations of better
films. Which makes Gangster
a knockoff of a knockoff."

Jeff Simon on
American Gangster

"It’s a solid ’30s mobster
movie for the era after
Brian De Palma’s Scarface
remake. But the movies it
reminded me of the most
were those magnificent and
increasingly revered Sidney
Lumet movies of the ’70s."

Hannah Levin on
the Art of the Horror
Film Soundtrack

O'Reilly to Mark Cuban:
"You push that movie,
I'm your worst nightmare."

New Spanish trailer for
Redacted uses quotes
from Bill O'Reilly

Hollywood writer "David
Kahane" fires the audience

"You’ve let us all
down by not going
to see our movies."

A. O. Scott: A War
On Every Screen

"It’s a franchise."

FBI informant posing as
al-Qaida emissary used
the name 'Montana'
from Scarface

"The witness, Elie Assad,
acknowledged Wednesday under
questioning from a defense
lawyer that he was often
known as Elie Assad Montana
after arriving in the United
States from the Middle East
in the late 1990s. When asked
why by defense attorney
Albert Levin, Assad replied,
'Scarface'... Working covertly
for the FBI, Assad acted as an
emissary from al-Qaida who
was supposedly sent to help
the group of seven Miami
men, led by 33-year-old
Narseal Batiste, realize
their alleged goal of
destroying the Sears Tower
in Chicago and attacking
five FBI offices around
the country."

Conviction in
Last Seduction case

Danny Elfman picks the
most unforgettable
music of the movies

"Every now and then, somebody
says, 'You know, the thing
about film music is you
really shouldn't notice it. It's
best when you don't notice
that it's there.' And I go,
'You're crazy. Go check out
Lawrence of Arabia and
Citizen Kane. Those
scores are so there.'"

Redacted vs. Medium Cool

The Whole World is
Watching: Medium Cool,
Redacted, and Documentary

Coppola disappointed with
Pacino, De Niro, Nicholson

Greenaway announces
the death of cinema

"If you shoot a dinosaur
in the brain on Monday, it's
tail is still waggling
on Friday. Cinema is brain
dead... Cinema's death date
was 31 September 1983,
when the remote-control
zapper was introduced to the
living room, because now
cinema has to be interactive,
multi-media art... Here's a
real provocation: Bill Viola
is worth 10 Martin Scorseses.
Scorsese is old-fashioned
and is making the same films
that DW Griffiths was making
early last century... [cinema
should not be] a playground
for Sharon Stone. Cinema is
wasted on cinema – most
cinema is bedtime stories
for adults... We're still
illustrating Jane Austen novels
– what a waste of time...
We're obliged to look at
new media... it's exciting
and stimulating, and I
believe we will have an
interactive cinema which will
make Star Wars look like a
16th-century lantern lecture...
Thirty-five years of silent
cinema is gone, no one looks
at it anymore. This will
happen to the rest of
cinema. Cinema is dead."

Anne Thompson on Redacted
"I feel strongly that
De Palma's movie in its
fiction form is much watered
down and less powerful--
it is, on some level, finally,
fake--than it would have
been if he had followed
his initial conception through
and made a documentary
instead. When I saw De Palma
in Toronto, it seemed like
he was regretting the film's
selection by four major fall
film fests. He was feeling
beat up, and it wasn't over
yet. While the director
was feted in Venice by the
Europeans, he was grilled
less mercifully in Telluride,
Toronto and New York. I don't
think De Palma had any idea
what sort of maelstrom he
was walking into."

Redacted to open
in Canadian cinemas
on November 7

Jeffrey Wells:
"If I had the power,
I would make every person
who voted to continue the
Iraq War by voting for
Bush's reelection in '04
watch every last Iraq War
movie there is. I would
have them gently brought
into theatres and strapped
down like Alex in A
Clockwork Orange
with their
eyes kept open with those
clamp devices and shown
every last one. Okay, I might
let them off the hook with
Brian De Palma's Redacted,
which is a rough sit even
for people like myself.

But they'd see all the
rest. I'd make sure they're
comfortable and serve them
good food between screenings
and offer free shiatsu neck
massages to anyone who
wants one, but they would
see each and every Iraq
War movie, Afghanistan
movie and 9/11 movie...
anything to do with that
general tragedy."

Sally & Jack
from Blow Out

Life imitates film noir
as The Last Seduction
haunts murder trial

Rebecca watched The Last
to prepare
for Femme Fatale

"Before we started shooting,
I watched Double Indemnity
seven times because my
character is obsessed with
Barbara Stanwyck. I watched
a bunch of Brian De Palma
films like Body Double and
Dressed to Kill. And I
watched Linda Fiorentino in
The Last Seduction because
that's the last time a
female character like this
has come along--one who
is unapologetically wicked.
Being this evil is normally
reserved for male
characters. It was so
cool to get to be that bad."

The Kingdom is
pro-war, despite
director's intentions

NYFF committee chairman
Pena on film selection

"If you had told me
we would never show a
De Palma film, I would
have said 'that's
probably true.'"

Anne Thompson:
Hollywood tries to
distance itself from
the "Iraq movie" label

"Thus, The Kingdom is
an actioner set in Saudi
Arabia, Lions for Lambs
is a thought-provoking
examination of war, from
Vietnam to Iraq, Grace
Is Gone
, Stop Loss and In
the Valley of Elah
with the war's aftermath
in the U.S., and The Kite
is firmly placed
in Afghanistan. As for
Redacted, Brian De Palma's
politically-charged anti-
Iraq diatribe, there's no
way to distance that
movie. It is what it is.

Anderson's There Will
Be Blood
was secret
closing night film
of Fantastic Fest

"Anderson's film is a
true American saga -
one that rivals Giant
and Citizen Kane in our
popular lore as origin
stories about how we came
to be the people we are. In
The Treasure of the Sierra
, it's not the gold
that destroys men's souls
but greed; in There Will Be
, the commodity that
drives the greed is oil."

Durning to receive SAG
Life Achievement Award

"Durning never spoke of
his war experiences until
the 50th anniversary of
D-Day, when he disclosed
that he had been among the
soldiers in the first wave
that stormed Omaha Beach
during the Normandy
invasion, suffering machine
gun and shrapnel wounds.
He was also stabbed eight
times by a German soldier,
taken prisoner during the
Battle of the Bulge and
was the sole survivor of
40-man unit that took
out a German machine
gun nest. He has three
Purple Hearts and
a Silver Star."

Why distorted flat-
panel pictures are
ruining TV shows
and movies

Battle For Haditha
at San Sebastian

"I think this film can
play a role, provide
information at a time
when there is very little
information coming
out of Iraq that is not
from official sources.
This is a war with very
little information," said
Broomfield. The film
includes several harsh
scenes which led several
people who watched
the screening in San
Sebastian to walk out
early but was widely
applauded by those who
stayed until the end.

David D'Arcy on
The Kingdom

"Like it or not, US
audiences will welcome a
movie like this with
vengeance at its core.
The mission depicted in the
film is the slam dunk
(albeit smaller) that the
Iraq invasion was
supposed to be."

Burum to receive ASC
Lifetime Achievement

Mike Hale on Hal
Ashby's The Landlord

"Matching the tenor of the
times, the humor of The
isn’t always subtle,
particularly with regard to
Elgar’s family — his loonily
conservative father (Walter
Brooke), his well-meaning
but fundamentally racist
mother (a hilarious Lee
Grant, who was nominated
for a best-supporting-actress
Oscar) and his liberal-when-
stoned sister (Susan Anspach).
Their scenes together often
involve a racial-political
vaudeville reminiscent of
Brian De Palma’s high jinks
in Greetings (1968) and
Hi Mom! (1970)."

Battle Fatigue:
Has the Iraq film
surge already fizzled?

Jeffrey Wells:
"I'm trying to think
of a more shallow and
contemptible attitude
toward the Iraq War movies
than 'they don't ring my
bell -- I'd prefer something
more entertaining.'"

Cronenberg's Eastern
wins at

Reitman's Juno is first
runner-up, followed by
Body of War, Phil
Donahue and Ellen Spiro's
doc about U.S. soldier
paralyzed in Iraq

CHUD: De Palma is
one of several big-name
directors HBO is circling
to direct pilot episode
of Preacher

Radar: Did O'Reilly
even see the movie
he attacked?

"Six years and one day
after 9/11, millions are
taking comfort in the fact
that Bill O'Reilly has
finally identified and
cornered America's true
enemy: Brian De Palma."

Roeper: How about a
movie about Dick Cheney?

"Of course we shouldn't
shirk from the atrocities,
alleged and confirmed,
committed by our side.
But would it be so
horrible to make a film
showing American soldiers
performing genuine heroics?
Or how about a film that
shines the harsh spotlight
on the administration that
so badly botched the war
and especially the 'post-
war' efforts? Maybe we'll
eventually see such movies.
In the meantime, even though
some of this is Oscar-
quality work, in terms of
subject matter, Hollywood is
giving the Fox News crowd
some fastballs right
down the middle."

Video with Venice press
conference and clip
from Redacted

Variety on Romero's
Diary Of The Dead

"It's giving nothing away
to point to pic's sad,
brutal coda as one of
the most powerful antiwar
statements since America
invaded Iraq."

O'Reilly transcript from
Sept. 11 (first part)

O'Reilly transcript from
Sept. 11 (part two)

Bill O'Reilly goes after
De Palma a third time

Tuesday's segment featured
clips from Redacted and
from De Palma's press
conference in Venice

Iraq leads Oliver Stone
to revisit Vietnam

"Why now? Because of Iraq.
That's a major reason. I
had no intention of
making a fourth Vietnam
movie at all. But this
last year — you know my
feelings about the Iraq war
of course — I think the
time has unfortunately come
back around to remember
events like My Lai... it
seems that there's so many
similar things [between
Vietnam and Iraq]. Sometimes
the best way to reflect
on something is through
parallel history."

Brian De Palma poses
at Toronto Sept. 10

Movies about Iraq war
plentiful at Toronto

All the marines in The
Battle for Haditha
, in
fact, are played by real-
life military men...
Broomfield's film
masterfully manages not
only to show the war from
the Iraqi perspective, but
to humanize the marines,
even as they execute 24
innocent and unarmed Iraqi
men, women and children in
retaliation for a
roadside bomb that killed
one of the U.S. men. The
film doesn't truly vilify
anyone, not the men who
plant the bomb nor the
jittery soldiers who commit
a terrible crime in a moment
of madness - but who were,
in fact, following standard
marines procedure to take
out everyone in a house
if it's believed to be
"They're little kids,
these guys who join,"
Broomfield says. "I hate
the way they join the army
and they turn into killing
machines, but you can't
blame the marines. If you
teach a dog to be an
attack dog, which is what
they are, don't be
surprised when they attack."
Broomfield is blunt: he
hopes his movie and others
like it will persuade the
U.S. government to pull
their troops out of Iraq.

Venice ends on sour
note with shock
film choices

Reporters and critics in
the press room, watching
the closing ceremony beamed
live on a big screen, booed
when Lee's Golden Lion was
announced, and again, more
loudly, when Hollywood star
Brad Pitt was named best
actor... More popular were
the Silver Lion for best
director to De Palma, whose
brutal film stunned audiences,

and the best actress prize
for Cate Blanchett.

De Palma calls Redacted
'an experiment'

De Palma's win sparked
several questions at the post
awards post ceremony press
conference as to why Paul
Haggis' The Valley of Elah,
also an Iraq themed film,
and which was very well
received on the Lido, was
shut out of the awards.
Jury president Zhang Yimou
simply told journalists,
"Even if all seven of us
had the help of the heavens
we couldn't have given a
judgment that pleased

Poland on Argento's
Mother Of Tears

"A completely gratuitous
shower sequence with [Asia
Argento] comes close to
Dressed To Kill quality...
It is an absolute B-asterpiece.
So why isn’t it pushing
my buttons? Because you
can feel the feelings of
the man sitting in the
director’s chair. And while
there is a real cruel streak,
towards both sexes, in Eli
Roth, you get the distinct
feeling that while he is
raising the stakes endlessly,
Dario Argento is just having
a nasty good time. There is
something deeply perverse
about a man who strips his
daughter naked and has the
camera linger on her body
parts. But unlike Roth,
you get the feeling he
loves that body that came
of his genes. And with
Roth, you just get the
feeling he, like a frat boy,
wants to have sex with the
body and then leave it on
the side of the road to
fend for itself."

De Palma to bring more
of his cast to Toronto

"De Palma's always been
booked to do media, but
now the plan is to bring
in a lot of the cast
to hype the film."

Séguret Olivier on the
"intrusion of reality into
the 7th art" at Venice

"Documentary, true or false,
in all its forms and in all
its states, was one of the
big themes of the festival,
confounding all selections.
Whether it was openly of a
fake, like the pseudo biopic
by Todd Haynes devoted to
Dylan (I'm Not There), of
a more ambiguous product
like Redacted by Brian
De Palma on Iraq, or of
the survey carried out by
Oliveira into Christopher
Colombus (The Enigma), of
the portrait devoted to
Rembrandt by Peter Greenaway
(Nightwatching), of that
dedicated to Jimmy Carter
by Jonathan Demme (The
Man From Plains
), or finally
of the family document
of Desplechin (L'aimée) or
of the double blows to the
Chinese textile industry
(Useless by Jia Zhange and
Umbrella by Du Haibin),
reality did not cease infiltrating
the Venetian program... The
only certainty on which one
can rest at the end of such
a wave of reality effects, it
is that the cinema is in crisis,
but in the best direction
of the term: crisis of the
fiction, the characters,
the storytelling."

Paola Jacobbi contrasts
Redacted and Elah

"I think the film by
De Palma is more original
and innovative, also because
of the use it makes of new
media, while the one by Haggis
is more of a traditional
movie. The only problem with
De Palma's film is that it
preaches to the converted,
it's very ideological."

Vic Gold believes movies
can shape public discourse

Dr Strangelove, Stanley Kubric's
satirical Cold War masterpiece,
was hatched in late 1962,
in the aftermath of the
Cuban missile crisis, and
released in 1964. "It was
at a time when the Cold
War was its most intense,"
wrote Terry Southern, a
scriptwriter on the movie.
As Gold and his boss [Barry
Goldwater] discovered,
it was a simple matter
of marketing to transfer
perceptions about the
caricature played by Peter
Sellers to the presidential
aspirant, Goldwater. "They
[the Democrats] used the
Cold War and built Goldwater
into a Dr Strangelove
character," Gold says. "That
had a tremendous impact,
of course." Goldwater lost
the 1964 election to Lyndon
Johnson in a landslide.

Christopher Heard on
De Palma's "not-so-
secret love affair"
with the Toronto
Film Festival

"This man told me that
he often ducked into a
film, if it grabbed him
in the first ten minutes
he would watch it all, if
not, he was on to the next
one. Often times he said
he had to duck out half
way through one film to
catch the first half of
another because they
were scheduled in such
a way that he simply
couldn’t see either in
their entirety but wanted
a taste of both."

Gleiberman on Elah
"Hank manages to swipe
his son's camera phone
from his quarters and
bring it to a local street
hacker, who decodes the
files and sends them
along, one by one. As
Hank watches the jerky,
staticky replays of Mike's
missions in Iraq, the videos
are like something out of
Blow-Up — we scan every
last inch of those digital
"bricks" to learn the truth
of what went on, and how,
if at all, it might explain
his murder. Hank's amateur
sleuthing, driven by a
father's sorrow and rage,
has an arresting
low-key gravitas."

Iraq war films among
favourites for awards
at Venice

"For pure shock value,
Brian De Palma's Redacted
wins hands down..."

Variety at Telluride
Redacted "sparked heated
arguments in gondolas
and is already
bringing hate mail,
according to the
film’s distrib
Magnolia Pictures."

Cahiers du cinéma
Venice diary

Eugenio Renzi: "I have
a premonition that there
is something in the air
in Venice. No need for
Mr. Weatherman to figure
out that the film that
has divided people up is
the docufiction by Brian
De Palma about the Iraq
war. The critics seem to
like it; the public is snub-
bing it, making faces. What
about us? We are more
and more convinced that
it is a masterpiece.

Video of De Palma's
standing ovation

De Palma gets
10-minute standing ovation

"The audience had a very
emotional response to the
images, and many were in
tears," said Ms. Weiss,
still shaken, from Venice.
"Brian's eyes welled up
during the ovation."

Clips from Redacted
and press conference

(Thanks to Jochen!)

Video added!

Sky News publishes exclusive
intv. with De Palma from
set of Redacted last April,
and a video, too

"I am sure before the movie
comes out people will say,
'De Palma lost his mind,
doing a $5m video project'.
That's how I want to tell this
story, under the Hollywood
radar... I feel like one of
the characters in my film
that goes along with the
rape in spite of his moral
objection to it. In real
life, I feel helpless to stop
these horrible things that
are happening, this horrible
war that I am financing as an
American citizen... People
will be arguing over this
film... that is what I hope
will happen, depending on
how successful it is. It is
un-American to criticise
the government... Personally,
I am not scared. I am the
man they love to hate. I
am sure they will say; 'It's
another De Palma misogynist
saga'. But this film is about
Americans at war and what
we do and we need to
stomach it."

Variety review of
In The Valley Of Elah

The film "continues a line of
recent movies addressing the
first Gulf War (Jarhead) and
the current one (Home of the
, Grace Is Gone) that
fail to capture the realities
of war experience and familial
angst beyond basic truisms
and pictorial surfaces."

Hollywood Reporter on Elah
"...a deeply reflective, quietly
powerful work that is as
timely as it is moving."

De Palma's 'Redacted' is a
montage of stories about
the conflict and is said
to be highly critical of
the Bush administration.

In his motion picture,
De Palma denounces the
manipulation of facts
by reporters covering
the conflict.

Posted January 30 2008
Brian De Palma's two most recent features will be screening at separate film festivals in February. The Black Dahlia will be screened in the Fiction Films Section of the 26th Fajr International Film Festival, which is held in Tehran from February 1 to 11. Meanwhile, Redacted will be screened at the 2008 Glasgow Film Festival, which runs from February 14 to 24.

Posted January 19 2008

Stephen H. Burum, pictured above getting set to shoot on the River Kwai in Thailand for Casualties Of War, is the recipient of the American Society of Cinematographers' Lifetime Achievement Award this year. Burum is featured in the January 2008 issue of the Society's magazine, American Cinematographer (where the above picture comes from). Burum has worked with Brian De Palma on eight films: Body Double, The Untouchables, Casualties Of War, Raising Cain, Carlito's Way, Mission: Impossible, Snake Eyes, and Mission To Mars. He tells the magazine that De Palma is one of his favorite collaborators, because he truly is a collaborator. "Among directors, there's a whole range of understanding about the filmmaking craft, and you look for someone who wants to let you give what you can to a project," Burum tells the mag. "Some directors don't know anything about the craft and aren't interested in knowing anything about it; some, like Brian, know a lot and will still let you do what you think is right because they have their own job to do; and some want to do it all themselves, which isn't any fun for you. You want to stay away from [the latter] because you can't help them. You want someone who plays well with others. A lot of the fun of making movies is feeding off each other creatively."

Burum tells the mag that he and De Palma never discussed Hitchcock while making Body Double. "Brian and I never talk about that stuff! On each picture, Brian gives you a general idea of what he wants, and then he expects you to do what the right thing is. On Body Double, he said, 'I want it to look like Helmut Newton.' At the time, movies had this wonderful golden look, so the production designer, Ida Random, and I were plotting one day-- you're always plotting with the production designer-- and I said, 'I'm tired of all these orange pictures.' Ida said, 'Me, too!' So we decided to do the film in mauve and blue." Burum says that De Palma is always looking for the best idea. "Brian gives you a lot of leeway, and he lets everyone throw his piece of the action into the pot. If he gets a take he's happy with, he always says, 'Can we do it any better?' If someone says, 'Yes,' he says, 'Okay, we'll go again.' He's always ready to see something better."

Burum will be present for a discussion tonight at a 7:30pm screening of Casualties Of War at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

Posted January 14 2008

According to Joe Brown at The Las Vegas Sun, "A Las Vegas audience got its first look at the controversial new Brian De Palma film, Redacted, Thursday night, and was initially left speechless after the closing credits." Brown further states that the capacity crowd at the Galaxy Theatres Neonopolis was left "in stunned, perhaps even traumatized, silence" by the end of the film. In his article, Brown mentions that "Las Vegas itself is a central plot point and metaphor in the film, and is frequently mentioned by the characters" in Redacted. The article continues:

A 30-minute panel discussion followed the screening, with candid commentary by David Schmoeller, a writer/director and assistant film professor at UNLV, Joseph "Andy" Fry, UNLV Distinguished Professor of History, and Joshua Longobardy, who reports on current news social issues and politics for the Las Vegas Weekly.

After a few rounds of questions, members of the audience, stirred to outrage, couldn't contain themselves and began shouting their opinions on the film, the war and the administration.

(Full disclosure: This Sun blogger moderated the discussion, and was as shaken and disturbed by the film as everyone else--and was as eager to talk about it after a few moments of recovery.)

Last night's screening kicked off the CineVegas Art House Screening Series. Each week the festival screens a different independent, foreign, underground cult or documentary film that otherwise might not be shown in Las Vegas. "We specifically chose to show 'Redacted' because no one else in Las Vegas would have played it," said CineVegas spokesperson Kelly Frey. "As a cultural organization and film festival in town, we feel it's our role to show all sorts of films reflecting a variety of viewpoints. We want to give the public the opportunity to see these films and have a forum to discuss them."

"Redacted" was released in the U.S. in Nov. 17. For a gallery of critical responses, click here. All proceeds from last night's screening went to Nevada Public Radio. CineVegas will continue to screen "Redacted" at the Neonopolis until Thursday, Jan. 17. Tickets are available at the theater's Web site. If you see "Redacted," please come back and tell us what you think in this blog's Comments section.

We already know that Film Comment editor-at-large Kent Jones picked Redacted as worst film of 2007 (see post below from January 6 2008). But in the latest issue of the magazine, which features its annual poll results of the best films of the year, Jones writes about De Palma's latest as one of the mag's "Movies That Mattered." Here is what Jones writes about Redacted:

Did the master return to form, or did the bipolar image-maker whose talent has always swung too heavily in the direction of formalism go "independent" as a last resort? One of the most striking events in American movie culture over the past year was the speed with which Redacted, hitched as it was to a big attention-getting idea ("Finally, someone has had the courage to deal with Iraq"), fired up the old dream of "De Palma." When was the last time a director was given extra points for being angry? Or given a free pass in matters of dramatic consistency and performance? The "redaction" of the film's final, shamelessly appropriated images by its distributor was the crowning touch. The master can now officially add "martyr" to his C.V.

Posted January 11 2008

Miriam Paschal at Mystery Man on Film has obsessively deconstructed (almost) every shower scene from Brian De Palma's oeuvre and their relations to the shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. Paschal also delves into themes of rain in De Palma's films to conclude that De Palma "has extrapolated the fear evoked by falling water and nakedness to study how water can be a powerful symbol in film. Women feel vulnerable when they are physically naked, and men feel vulnerable when they are emotionally naked." Image captures from the films are used to great detail in the post, making this a must-read.

I'm a little late in posting about this, but you can probably still find a copy of the January 2008 issue of Vanity Fair, which features a winning profile of Angie Dickinson, in which writer Sam Kashner highlights Dickinson's "unforgettable appearance" in De Palma's Dressed To Kill. Dickinson recalls asking De Palma if he "wanted to put in dialogue in the museum scene, and he said he'd written lines, but when he saw the rushes, he knew that they weren't needed. And he was right. He knew exactly what he wanted." Dickinson also mentions that there was some friction between herself and De Palma's then-wife Nancy Allen, who plays Liz in the film. "His wife hated me because I asked her to stop smoking in a small room... I mean, hated me. And the director didn't want to hear about two bitches bickering." Dickinson tells Kashner it is her favorite of all her film roles, because "I'm good in it, and it's a great part. I'm sorry I didn't try to go for an Academy Award for that role. I think I could have won it. But the studio didn't want to put up the campaign, and I felt that I didn't want to go for a supporting-actor award, because I'd always thought of myself as the lead, even though by then I wasn't getting starring roles. I regret it now. Of course, De Palma is to blame for the great performance."
(Thanks to Akahan for the tips!)

Posted January 9 2008

Above is the cover art for the upcoming DVD release of Doug Buck's remake of Brian De Palma's Sisters. The DVD will be released March 11. Today, Fangoria posted an exclusive trailer that makes the film look like it will be pretty good...
(Thanks to Jochen at the 24liesasecond forum for the initial word!)

Posted January 7 2008
"Huckabee gets shave and haircut, Capone-style"

Brad Warthen's Blog

Posted January 6 2008
Well, the Village Voice's J. Hoberman includes Brian De Palma's Redacted in his runner's up add-on to his top 10 list for 2007 ("In a lesser year, any of these 10 alphabetically listed honorable mentions would have made my top 10," he writes), so perhaps that, for now, can be the deciding factor in what so far is a tie between critics who placed Redacted on their best films list, and those who placed De Palma's latest on their worst list.

Getting the worst out of the way first
While no critic (that I know of) has placed Redacted at the top of their best list, The Big Picture's Colin Boyd did choose the film as worst of the year, and also named De Palma as worst director. Three other critics named Redacted as their pick for worst film of 2007 in the Village Voice/LA Weekly year-end poll: Independent Weekly's Godfrey Cheshire, former Film Comment editor Harlan Jacobson, and current Film Comment editor Kent Jones.

(The Nov/Dec issue of Film Comment, by the way, features an essay by Paul Arthur in which he pits De Palma's Redacted against Nick Broomfield's Battle For Haditha, and concludes that where Broomfield's film helps us understand "war culture," De Palma's film "winds up contributing to the antiwar movement in the same way Scarface helped the cause of gun control or Dressed To Kill furthered transgender rights. Which is to say, not at all.")

Rounding out the worst lists (aside from Owen Gleiberman, whose remarks are quoted in the post below from January 1st) is The Deadbolt's Brian Tallerico, who put Redacted at number ten on his worst list, writing:

Brian De Palma took the anger that the current situation in Iraq has created in him and spit it back at audiences in a violent, bloody loogie. Redacted purports to be a realistic look at what war can create, using handheld cameras and new media forms to document some of the most atrocious crimes you'll ever see on-film, but it never feels genuine. It's a formerly creative voice gone horrendously stale and a group of actors reenacting torture to inflict the same on a viewer. Anyone who gives that a pass as art has a serious masochistic streak. Redacted should have left us furious at what man can do to man and how the Iraq situation has lit fire to a fuel-covered part of the world, but it only left me angry at the people who made it and the critics who somehow feel anything can pass as art as long as it agrees with their political viewpoint.

Also in that January 1st post below are quotes from two critics who placed Redacted on their top 10 lists for 2007. We can now add four other such critics' lists to that group. Redacted came in at number 93 on that Village Voice/LA Weekly poll, right after David Lynch's INLAND EMPIRE (which tied with five other titles for number 87 on the list). Hoberman's introduction to the poll links the films' preoccupation with "homicidal sociopaths" to the fact that America has "been at war for the past four and a half years—with, to cite the top-polling documentary, No End in Sight (#29)." In one passage, Hoberman calls out Redacted as "the year's most significant fiction film about Iraq":

Tone-deaf but gutsy, genuinely enraged and generally abrasive—not the least in its dark humor—Brian De Palma's Redacted (#93) eschewed any sort of distancing crime-movie metaphor to show innocent American soldiers as bloodthirsty maniacs.

Redacted was a throwback to the brash, blithely offensive comedies with which De Palma began his career, and it's striking that with There Will Be Blood (#1), No Country for Old Men (#2), Zodiac (#3), I'm Not There (#5), Ratatouille (#9), The Assassination of Jesse James (#12), Michael Clayton (#15), Southland Tales (#23), Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (#26), The Darjeeling Limited (#34), Sweeney Todd (#30), and Day Night Day Night (#46)—to sample only the poll's top 50—2007 was as strong a year for American movies as any since the much-fetishized early '70s heyday of the Hollywood New Wave. (In addition to De Palma, vets Sidney Lumet and Francis Ford Coppola even weighed in.)

So on to the other four critics who placed Redacted in their top 10. LA Weekly's Scott Foundas shoehorned several movies into his top 10 by pairing or tripling them up by theme. His number 10 slot consists of Redacted and No End in Sight and The Wind That Shakes the Barley. Here is what Foundas writes:

First, the only two essential Iraq movies in a veritable minefield of them: Brian De Palma’s bilious, Brechtian deconstruction of wartime propaganda, from the frontlines to our living rooms to cyberspace, and political scientist Charles Ferguson’s blistering, minute-by-minute account of how it all went wrong in the first place. Then, for a bit of perspective, there was Ken Loach’s masterful telling of an earlier war on terror — the Irish Republican Army’s guerrilla ops against British occupiers, circa 1920 — complete with its own cautionary lessons about centrism at odds with extremism, and political interests placed before human ones.

Salon's Stephanie Zacharek also paired No End In Sight with Redacted in her number ten slot. Here is what she writes:

Pauline Kael once said, "If movies aren't entertainment, what are they -- work?" But she knew as well as anyone that some movies demand more of us than we may willingly want to give, and opening ourselves up to them is a kind of work. Of all the Iraq war-related pictures released this past year, these two are essential: Charles Ferguson's No End in Sight is documentary as nightmare, a clear-eyed explanation of how we got into the Iraq mess in the first place, but more important, a grim reminder that there's little hope we can extricate ourselves without failing the very people we were supposedly trying to help. Brian De Palma's Redacted is a nightmare posing as a documentary, a fictional story based on true events (most significantly, the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl in 2006 by American troops) that challenges us to question how we process -- or fail to process -- whatever information we get from the media. Events unfold in ways that are sometimes confusing, contradictory, not immediately readable; the movie's structure alone is a metaphor for the struggle to make sense out of chaos. This is a picture that's electric and alive, so loaded with feeling that it's sometimes difficult to watch, but De Palma makes turning away impossible.

Cinema Scope's Christoph Huber places Redacted at number six on his list. (By the way, the latest issue of Cinema Scope features an interview with De Palma that I have yet to get my hands on.)

Bill Krohn is the Los Angeles correspondent of Cahiers du cinema, and also contributes to Cineaste. He placed Redacted at number ten on his list of best films for 2007. Krohn's top film of the year was Richard Kelly's Southland Tales.

Posted January 1 2008
Brian De Palma's Redacted has hit at least two critics' top 10 lists for best films of the year, and also made Owen Gleiberman's list of the five worst films of 2007. Gleiberman's lists appear in the year-end double issue of Entertainment Weekly. His list of the ten best films of 2007 tops with Todd Haynes' I'm Not There, and his worst list tops with Francis Ford Coppola's Youth Without Youth (a "sodden, bloated, and incomprehensible disaster," according to Gleiberman). His worst list continues with Hannibal Rising (#2), Lars And The Real Girl (#3), I Know Who Killed Me (#4), and then Redacted at number 5. Here is what Gleiberman writes about the latter film:

Brian De Palma had the good idea to stage the war in Iraq through a dozen media formats. The trouble is, his soldiers don't sound like soldiers. They sound like the cast of Rent pretending to be badasses.

Meanwhile, Redacted made the top ten best lists of two other film critics. The Province's Glen Schaefer tops his list with the Coen Brothers' No Country For Old Men, and then fills out his top five with Juno, There Will Be Blood, Lars and the Real Girl (also on Gleiberman's worst list), and Atonement. Schaefer's sixth best is Redacted-- here is what he writes about his choice:

A cast of unknowns star in director Brian De Palma's documentary-style fictionalization of a real Iraq-war atrocity, wherein U.S. soldiers raped a 14-year-old Iraq girl and then murdered her and her family. The movie looks to have been assembled from random visuals -- websites, surveillance cameras, a French documentary crew and a homemade video by one soldier -- but there's art in De Palma's apparent spontaneity.

The San Francisco Chronicle's Mick LaSalle places Waitress at the top of his ten best list, followed by Atonement, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, No Country for Old Men, and then Redacted. Here is what LaSalle writes about the film:

Brian De Palma's visually and narratively innovative film about American soldiers committing atrocities in Iraq took the directing prize at the Venice Film Festival. Though raw and featuring patches of uneven acting, it's the year's most impassioned political film, the sort of anti-war drama that generally doesn't get made until six years after a war is over.

LaSalle's ten best list also includes a film that inspired De Palma while researching Redacted: Bruno Dumont's Flanders. Here is what LaSalle writes about that film:

Unbelievably downbeat and beyond pessimistic, French director Bruno Dumont's film about a country boy drafted into some nameless Middle East war teems with outrage beneath its affectless surface - one of the year's most memorable dramatic experiments.

Posted December 21 2007
An interview with Brian De Palma by Robert Cashill is the lead article in the winter 2007 issue of Cineaste. It follows an editorial by the magazine's editors that takes Variety's Todd McCarthy to task for suggesting that fiction filmmakers should leave the task of covering the Iraq war to documentarians. "As a magazine devoted to both the art and politics of the cinema, Cineaste has never merely promoted films because their hearts were in the right place," the editorial states. "While keeping in mind our commitment to both high esthetic standards and political acumen, we believe, unlike McCarthy, that it is quite possible to make fiction films on vital contemporary crises such as the Iraq War that are as artistically compelling as they are politically courageous. Although filmmakers taking on the morass in Iraq may not have yet produced anything comparable with Jean Renoir's Grand Illusion or Stanley Kubrick's Paths Of Glory, De Palma and Broomfield's recent efforts are certainly steps in the right direction."

Following that statement, the magazine moves on to its first ever interview with De Palma in its 40-year history (Cashill mentions this in his first paragraph, after quoting De Palma at last October's New York Film Festival: "To all the young filmmakers out there, I'd like to say that it took forty-five years for me to get into this festival, and I want you to keep trying"). This interview is one of De Palma's most radical since his early days, when he was regularly ranting about the corporate system and the absurdities of capitalism. At one point, Cashill suggests that despite the fact that Redacted has thrown De Palma into a political spotlight, many of his prior films deal with political issues, as well. De Palma replies:

A lot of them reflect the corruption of power, or greed: Swan, the record mogul, in Phantom Of The Paradise, Tony Montana in Scarface. And I've seen it all along, watching my compadres from many years ago become incredibly wealthy and powerful. When you do, I find there's a tendency to try to project that reality on nature, be it Hugh Hefner or Walt Disney-- you create environments that are extensions of you. You see this a lot in rich people in their homes. You go into their palaces, and they've got their things there that represent them, and you're in their space... and they don't want to go to your space. They want you to go, they summon you, to their space. This whole capitalistic thing that people fall into always amazed me.

The first serious car I bought in Hollywood, this little sports car in the seventies, I put into my garage for the first time, and as I was doing that people on the street passing by were watching me. As I walked away from it, I thought, "Suppose somebody comes in here and tries to steal it?" When I had rented cars I had never had to think about that, not for two seconds. "Did I lock my garage? My car? Should I go back and check on it in two minutes?" When you start worrying about your private property, or your investments, or your millions-- you are in big trouble. And as an artist, you should be out there in the world, not hiding behind your chandeliers and golden doors.

Other things mentioned by De Palma in this great interview:

The blog material in Redacted was filmed inside a small one-room apartment that De Palma keeps in his building for his daughters when they visit (De Palma mentions later that he has his 16-year-old daughter explain things like MySpace and Facebook to him). De Palma dressed the room with his own war books "and some Sixties radical stuff I had the producers go out and get for the set decoration." The ranting teenager was shot in the kitchen of that apartment.

When asked whether the look of Redacted was influenced by the documentaries that have come out of Iraq, De Palma replies, "I have them all at home. I looked at everything I could find that was out there."

Eric Schwab used the internet to find the locations in Jordan. De Palma says that's the way location scouting is done now.

De Palma discusses how the Iraqis who worked on Redacted had gone through many traumas depicted in the film, and how Schwab "was really touched by that." De Palma said their biggest concern "was doing the rape scene with an Iraqi girl, without knowing what the particular sexual manners and codes are in that country. I explained to her what she would have to do, which was one of the most disturbing things in the world to have to do. She was excellent. I would show her what the soldiers might do and camera-rehearse it over and over; you didn't know what might happen. The soldiers were very upset with what they were doing. We did it a couple of times and had to stop. The people that they are harassing are people who have been victims of this kind of harassment-- they've had bags put over their heads, they've had relatives shot in front of them. The little girl, especially; she had been completely traumatized. Patrick Carroll, as Reno, just had to go with it as far as we could." When asked if he'd felt like he was exploiting the Iraqi performers, De Palma replied, "I felt I was portraying what I had observed in my Internet research. This is exactly what happened. I had to find a way to dramatize, to visually record it, that would seem like a reality TV show."

When asked if he had any qualms about showing the real images at the end of Redacted, De Palma replied, "Not at all. I'm responsible for my country invading another country and occupying it and I want to see what the hell we're doing. We're paying for it. I don't want any redacted, spun, whitewash; I want to know what's going on. People are getting blown up everyday. That's a pretty unusual event and we need to see it."

Rob Devaney improvised the quote, "Here endeth the lesson," from The Untouchables-- it was not in De Palma's original script. (De Palma says, "I heard him do it, and thought, Why not?")

When asked about being pigeonholed for making a certain type of movie, Oliver Stone's name comes up for the sake of comparison. De Palma then says:

Oliver's taken a lot of shots, come on; he's not afraid to get into some very dangerous areas. I think what you don't want to become as an artist is a catchword, to get pigeonholed. I mean, in Oliver's case, to make that film [JFK] about that nutty DA in New Orleans who tried to prove the Kennedy assassination... I read all the Kennedy assassination books, and this was not the guy to make a movie about. There are many interesting assassination theories, but not that guy. [Laughs] But Oliver did it with such brio and conviction.

You don;t want to become a rallying point, which is the problem of becoming too well known. You don't want to become Michael Moore, because then you can't do anything anymore because you're Michael Moore.

We made Redacted completely under the radar. Nobody knew we were doing it. My journalist friends told me that this could be very upsetting, that we should keep it low profile. The way that this film has been written about it's as if we dropped a bomb in the theater. And now that it's out there, I'm very happy to get back to my normal life. I do not want to become a banner for something.

Posted December 18 2007

An article today by Dave Mazzarella at Stars and Stripes asks a few journalists embedded in Iraq for their reaction to Brian De Palma's recent criticisms of the embedded practice. The article uses De Palma's quote from a recent interview on NPR's "All Things Considered" as a springboard for the journalists reactions. Here's what De Palma said: "Now we have embedded reporters, and all the stuff you’re seeing is basically public relations pieces. So the next time, you know, you see the embedded reporter … running around and getting it, supposedly on the ground in Iraq, the real story, maybe you should wonder a little bit what the truth value there is." The NPR interviewer John McChesney said that De Palma had "seemed surprised" when McChesney told him he was able to report some soldiers' statements that were critical of the war in Iraq. It is interesting to note that, despite De Palma's criticism of the embedded practice, a scene in his fictional film Redacted shows an embedded reporter asking critical questions about what the soldiers are doing (a report that apparently was not redacted before getting out into the world).

In any case, the journalists interviewed by Mazzarella talk about having no qualms in reporting things as they see it. "I think his comment denigrates the objectivity, hard work and substantial risk that every journalist in a war zone takes on a daily basis," said James Crawley, president of the Military Reporters and Editors (MRE) organization, of De Palma's criticism. "It also ignores the sacrifices in lives of journalists killed while covering the war. … While embedding isn’t a panacea and has significant drawbacks, it provides one of the best opportunities to get an accurate story in a dangerous environment." Joe Giordono, who covered the war while embedded for Stars and Stripes, told Mazzarella that De Palma was the "worst type of critic," because while he thinks he knows what he is talking about, he remains uninformed. "Are there issues with the embed system?" asked Giordono. "Yes, there are. But any reporter worth their salt knows that they can write what they see. … We’ve had our fair share of run-ins when we’ve published stories or photos that the military did not like."

Mazzarella's article concludes with a story from another reporter embedded with Stars and Stripes, Monte Morin:

Morin had a similar reaction. “The reality is, if you’re a good reporter and you’re embedded, you write about exactly what you see,” he said. “I did that for Stripes for two years and, in some cases, what I wrote made units and story subjects very happy, while in other cases it made them angry enough to put me on the next helicopter to Baghdad.”

In fact, Morin earned a fair amount of notoriety on the ground, his fame preceding him in the most unlikely of places, as this story of his makes clear: “On one of my last embeds in Iraq I spent time with a unit in Baghdad, where a public information officer or the CO had — just before my arrival — posted my photograph, story samples and suggested ‘talking points’ on the wall of their dilapidated latrine in a dusty combat outpost. I guess they figured the latrine was the best place to get the word out about my visit and offer a few thoughts on how to respond to my questions.

“Well, when I arrived for my embed — and before I myself visited the latrine — I ran into a young enlisted soldier who told me he’d read some of my work. I was thrilled — ‘So you’re a loyal Stars and Stripes reader?’ I asked.

“‘No,’ the soldier said, kind of gloomily. ‘I read about you on the shitter wall. They’ve got your picture there and a list of things we’re supposed to tell you. They don’t want us to tell the truth.’

“Well, after that conversation I was even more determined to describe everything I saw there, and exactly as I saw it, because I could tell that young soldier and many others like him wanted and needed someone to tell the story exactly as it was happening — good, bad and ugly.”

Posted December 15 2007

Dvdactive has information about the upcoming DVD of Brian De Palma's Redacted, which will be released February 19 2008. According to the site, extras will include "High Definition: Redacted Episode," a behind the scenes featurette, refugee interviews, and a photo gallery.
(Thanks to Jon Rubin and Adam!)

Updated December 6 2007 - Posted December 5 2007
Brian De Palma's Redacted opened the 29th International Festival of the New Latin American Cinema last night at the Karl Marx Theater in Havana. The film's screening followed a performance by Argentinean musician Fito Paez. De Palma was not in attendance, but Redacted's Canadian producers Jennifer Weiss and Simone Urdl were there to present the film. According to Granma and Mathaba, Weiss and Urdl stated that it was an honor to show the film at the Havana festival and for the first time in Latin America. The two then shared a message from De Palma: "It’s an honor for me to present my movie Redacted in the Havana Film Festival. I feel a great love for the Cuban people and, as many of you know, I have made many movies with Latino actors. I identify with Cuban culture and I would have liked to be there with you, but it seems that the State Department couldn’t find a visa for me. Toast me with a café con leche!" The festival runs through December 14th.

Other sources:
Cuba News
The Miami Herald
El Paso Times
Cuba News
Cuba News
Prensa Latina

Updated December 5 2007 - Posted December 4 2007
According to Dread Central and CHUD, Paul Williams revealed Sunday night that he is working on a stage musical version of Phantom Of The Paradise, with producer Edward Pressman and Brian De Palma involved. Williams was speaking after a screening of De Palma's Phantom hosted by Edgar Wright at the New Beverly Cinema (as part of Wright's "The Wright Stuff" festival, the night also included a screening of Bugsy Malone, and a secret third film, Ishtar, all with music by Williams). Indeed, De Palma was to direct a workshop of actors for a stage version of Phantom, adapted by Williams, last February, but those plans fell short when De Palma found a window in which to make Redacted. Sounds like Williams is keeping the adaptation alive...

Posted November 28 2007
Brian De Palma was Elvis Mitchell's guest today on KCRW's "The Treatment." You can listen to or download an mp3 of the show from this page. This is a great discussion, where De Palma goes into the reactions to Redacted, his movie scores on Rotten Tomatoes, and the initial reactions to Greetings almost forty years ago. He also mentions his latest idea, Shoot The Messenger.

Update: November 27 2007-- Romain from The Virtuoso of the 7th Art did some checking, and found out that De Palma was not in fact going to make it to the event at Paris' MK2 on November 27. The screening was to go on without him.

Posted November 21 2007

Brian De Palma will participate in a discussion following a screening of Redacted at the MK2 Bibliotheque, at 11am Tuesday, November 27. According to Jon Rubin at the 24LiesASecond forum, Cahiers du cinema editor-in-chief Emmanuel Burdeau, "who seems to adore the film," introduced a screening of Redacted at the MK2 earlier this evening.

Posted November 21 2007
According to the Washington Times, California Republican Duncan Hunter, a ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, sent a letter today to Motion Picture Association Chairman and CEO Dan Glickman, regarding Brian De Palma's Redacted. The article by Sara A. Carter explains:

"Unfortunately, Brian De Palma's new movie Redacted, which opened in several theaters this week, portrays American service personnel in Iraq as uncontrollable misfits and criminals," Mr. Hunter stated in his letter. "While incidents of criminal behavior by members of our military should never be ignored, the isolated incident on which this film is based negatively portrays American service personnel and misrepresents their collective efforts in Iraq."

Mr. Hunter's letter isn't the first criticism of Mr. De Palma's film, which other critics have stated is his own bias against the administration's war in Iraq.

"The film intentionally fails to show or give any indication of the more than three million inoculations administered by American forces, the construction of medical clinics and schools, as well as the construction of other important infrastructure," the letter went on to state. "Additionally, the film's negative depiction of our military blatantly ignores the many acts of heroism performed by our soldiers, Marines, airmen and sailors in Iraq."

Posted November 21 2007
Edgar Wright, who has acknowledged the influence of Brian De Palma on his latest film Hot Fuzz, will be programming a festival of films called "The Wright Stuff" this December at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles. To kick off the fest on December 2nd, Wright will welcome Paul Williams for screenings of Alan Parker's Bugsy and De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise. Williams wrote the songs for each film, and played the evil Swan in Phantom. Wright will introduce each film, and then Williams will join him for Q&A's afterwards. In the Press Release for the festival, Wright talks about his love for each of these two films:

I'm a huge fan of these films, the fact that they are my two favorite musicals is in no small part due to the mighty Paul Williams' fantastic songs.

Bugsy is a much-loved film in the UK and deserves to be more of a staple here. What other film could pair up a pre-Chachi Scott Baio with a just-wrapped-from-Taxi-Driver Jodie Foster?

And De Palma's Phantom is a glorious revelation for those who've only seen his work in other genres. It remains the much underrated spiritual cousin and in my opinion superior rock opera to Rocky Horror Picture Show.

See the former to experience the pure joy of child actors lip synching Paul Williams vocals and the latter to witness the man himself in master villain mode.

Dressing up not essential, but encouraged.

Wright's line-up of films for the fest looks incredibly fun: Flash Gordon (with Timothy Dalton in attendance) and Danger Diabolik (introduced by Wright and Joe Dante) on December 5th; Shane Black will be on hand for screenings of The Last Boyscout and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang on December 7th; John Landis will join Wright for a screening of An American Werewolf In London, paired up with Tremors on December 10th; Top Secret (with David Zucker on hand) and Bananas on December 12th; Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls and Head on December 14th; and closing off with Raising Arizona and Evil Dead 2 December 16-17.

Posted November 15 2007

There is an incredible amount of interviews with Brian De Palma pouring in through the internet. Many are from the Toronto Film Festival, but some are more recent. Some new things De Palma is quoted about include his fascination with Reality TV, his reevaluation of Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon (back in the early 1980s, De Palma had wondered out loud to an interviewer, "What happened to Stanley Kubrick?" De Palma now explains how he was not yet ready to process Barry Lyndon until years later), and how the forms of internet media have changed so much in only the six months since he wrote his most recent screenplay (which we might assume to be Shoot The Messenger). De Palma also stated to one interviewer that he thought it made sense to go after Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan following 9/11, but that there was no reason to go into Iraq. Below is a series of links to the new interviews, with some choice De Palma quotes...

Tom Toro @ Rotten Tomatoes
It's not like I had a plan. In the process of researching I came up with all these unique ways of expression that are completely indigenous to the web. Nobody's ever seen this onscreen before. I have another idea to put in this form, but things have changed in the last six months since I wrote it! There are even newer forms that people have not seen yet. There's all of this new media going on. It's very interesting to tell these types of contemporary stories in this form.

Straight-forward narrative filmmaking essentially would have been Casualties of War, but there's no point in doing that again. I was quite happy with the different forms that I came up with when I researched the material. And who knows; this may be one experimental film that comes and goes, and we move on to whatever. But I feel that there's something here, in Redacted, and I want to experiment with it more, because it's the way that I've noticed my daughters take in information. They're sixteen and eleven, and they sit on their beds with their computers on their stomachs and they browse from thing to thing to thing to thing to thing. They don't go to the theatre and sit down and watch O'Neil for five hours. That's not how they're getting their stories told to them. So, I don't know where it's going, but it's certainly changing.

The uncomfortable reactions to the movie must be coming from not only the disturbing subject matter, but also from the fact that it's a new language. A normal theatergoing audience can't quite comprehend it yet.

De Palma: Exactly correct. To me it's almost atonal. Suddenly you're playing atonal music and people don't know what to make of it. That's what I noticed when I screened it at the beginning, is people had nothing to say afterwards. Basically they were struck dumb. They couldn't process the material. Then the first thing, of course, when you don't understand something, you attack it. "It's not this, it's not this, it's not this." I'll never forget the first time I saw Barry Lyndon, I just wasn't ready to process the way Stanley Kubrick did the movie, and I reacted very strongly against it. The way he told this particular story, with this particular technique. But over the years it's become one of my favorite movies of Kubrick's. Once it gets you into the temporal sense, and the pictorial sense, of the period, of the piece, it all makes perfect sense to you. But when you first see it, you go, "Why all these endless shots, why these zoom-ins -- what's going on here?"

Like Redacted, Barry Lyndon is also a movie where the filmmaker imposed very stringent technical limitations on himself.

De Palma: Exactly correct.

Is there any other reason besides your admiration for Barry Lyndon for why you wanted to use the same music in your movie?

De Palma: I think what was so instructive about Barry Lyndon was how Kubrick slowed down time; using very classical, measured music, he used very elaborate pull-backs. Of course I didn't have the beautiful pictorials that he did. You make the audience study the frame; something that I think people have completely forgotten about.

As far as the actors whom you chose to portray the soldiers, none of them will be recognizable faces to an audience, but I thought all of their performances were convincing. Private Flake was an incredibly frightening character.

De Palma: It's interesting that you say that, because that's one of the main criticisms I get all the time, "Oh, these actors are overacting; they're a bunch of amateurs." Ridiculous! I mean, they're acting in relationship to what situation they're in. When they're in barrage, they behave like warriors at the post, because that's what they're supposed to look like; that's how the director wanted them to look, and the actors take on a personae and an acting style appropriate for that form. When they're being filmed by Salazar, they're mugging and confused and spontaneous, which is exactly what it's like if you're taking a home video. When people react against Redacted so strongly, they don't understand the context of what the actors are doing. People are used to movies where the actors are always the same because the point of view never shifts. But when you change the form, the acting has to adjust.

So instead of a classical "character arc" you were going for a more prismatic study of people.

De Palma: Yes, but there's still very much a sense of character progression. Flake is a little tweaked when he gets over to Iraq, but you can see him sort of changing as the movie goes forth. People just don't understand how the form affects character presentation.

Matthew Hayes @ the Montreal Mirror
M: It’s odd to speak with you on the anniversary of 9/11. I remember that day, because I was here at the festival and there were a bunch of us in a hotel lobby watching the big-screen TVs they’d arranged so we could watch the news. You were among the crowd in that lobby. What was your immediate reaction?

BDP: The immediate reaction was going after Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan made sense. That was done quite surgically, and that was fine. But the invasion of Iraq made no sense whatsoever. The build-up to the war was ludicrous. Frank Rich has written about this very well. As a filmmaker, I’m fully aware of how you can manipulate images and tell people anything you want. Television can be used as a selling tool for any product or position or ideology you want. And I can see the puppet masters pulling the strings. The irony of this war is that we don’t see any of the images, despite the fact that everyone’s got a camera, and people can upload stuff online all the time. It was harsh images that galvanized the American public to get out of Vietnam. The architects of this war learned from Vietnam.

John Harkness @ Now Toronto (with additional audio clips)
"Television is essentially a merchandising device. When you're on television, you're essentially selling something, whether it's your movie or a point of view or just some product. It affects your behaviour. With these characters, it's not just that they're being recorded, it's that they know they're being recorded and they're playing to the camera."

So what does Brian De Palma like to watch?

"A lot of C-Span and BookTV. I'm fascinated by reality shows. The fact that people continue to believe in them just amazes me. I watch some dramas because they give you ideas about actors, and I watch classic movies with my daughters."

Glen Schaefer @ The Province
The crew used Jordanian locations as the Iraqi town of Samarra. "At the beginning the Iraqis were a little tenuous. . . . when they realized we were trying to at least show something from their viewpoint, they were very supportive. We made a lot of good friends over there."

The low-budget, gritty Redacted marks a departure for De Palma, but the big-screen entertainments always pull him back.

He's torn between two projects as we speak -- another verité Iraq story, and a big-budget prequel to his The Untouchables.

"If I get a chance to make a couple more, that's great. But when you're getting into your late 60s, you know, in the immortal words of Tony Montana, 'Every day above ground is a good day,'" he says. "I've got some big set-pieces and some big broad canvasses still to paint, but you've got to be happy with your life."

Katherine Thomson @ The Huffington Post
Redacted has brought the Scarface, Casualities of War and Bonfire of the Vanities director renewed attention from the media. Last month Bill O'Reilly called De Palma "a true villain in our country" and said the movie could lead to deaths of U.S. troops.

"That's how these people make a living," De Palma says in response. "They attack me one day and they attack someone else the next day. They just go into one of their right wing rants... They do this every day. This is people stirring the water and on to Lindsay Lohan or some other outrage. I wish it had some meaning." As for the media, De Palma says, "I'm very disturbed that people try and scare us all the time. I'm tired of being frightened! Now it's the drumbeat to Iran. It never ends."

De Palma also expressed his disappointment with the media's coverage of recent war films, often with Monday morning stories of their box office woes and articles highlighting audience apathy like this, this, and this.

"They seem to relish it," he says. "They are so excited that meaningful movies about our foreign policy are not doing well. They were made with extreme difficulty and financed in weird and creative ways. All made because a movie star decided to push for something he cared about."

"They've been tranquilizing us for how many years? My movie - it costs so little to make it's paid for by the time it hits the screens. These movies were never meant to make hundreds of millions of dollars they were made because they felt strongly about the material. I hope people will join them and learn something."

Sam Adams @ The Philadelphia City Paper
The strange thing about the controversy is that the images in Redacted are available to anyone with an Internet connection. "What always astounded me was that everybody has a digital camera over there, they're on the Internet, and yet none of these images has ever gotten into the mainstream media," says De Palma. "How does that happen?"

Gerald Peary @ The Phoenix
“I loved the music, the ingenious way with Kubrick that time was slowed down,” said De Palma. “It was a great idea then — why can’t it be used again? The carriage rolling down the steps in my film The Untouchables — just because Eisenstein used it [in The Battleship Potemkin], we should never use it again?”

David Friend @ The Canadian Press
I have been needlessly attacked in the press and the blogs as a left-wing wacko who should be horse-whipped, and how can I say anything terrible about what's going on in relation to the troops," he said.

He also said he's not simply trying to push people's buttons or court controversy.

"I just state what I feel very strongly, and I don't have to be loved," he said. "I'm not running for office."

Max Evry @ Coming Soon
CS: It seems like in some ways the war doesn't make these soldiers bad, these guys show up being profoundly messed up.

De Palma: Well, I wouldn't say that. What you want to show, much like "Casualties of War," is how guys go so off the rails like this. I'm very specific to say that these are bad apples, they address themselves as bad apple, I have a very long scene where they talk about "I'm a wild card." I studied a lot of these kind of crazy incidents, which go all the way back to the Yablonski murders. [Joseph Yablonski was a United Mine Workers of America union official who was murdered, along with his family, in a hit ordered by UMWA president W.A. Boyle] When they had to get the guys together to kill Yablonski they couldn't get the right group together until they found the one nutcase they put in, much like "In Cold Blood"… you've gotta find that one guy that's just a little tweaked, and he gets the other guys to go along with him. I was trying to be very even-handed on that 'cause that's been my experience basically, and it was certainly true of "Casualties of War". Same thing, where the sarge lost his best buddy and they just go crazy.

CS: When you were growing up did you do any military service?

De Palma: No, but my father was an orthopedic surgeon in World War II, he was on a hospital ship in the Pacific. That's another thing you see when you talk to soldiers: they can't talk about what they experienced. My father never said a word about it. It was interesting to see recently, Charlie Durning, who I starred as an actor in one of my early movies, you knew Charlie had something to do with the war, but we didn't realize he was on Omaha Beach! I mean, he had a couple Purple Hearts! Suddenly 50 years later Charlie started to talk about this. They don't want to talk about it, they can't convey it to someone who hadn't been there. You want to try to get that idea across, and that has a lot to do with those images at the end of the movie. These are the images. One of the more striking digital video movies I've seen is "Baghdad ER". I've been in an ER, my father was a surgeon. I've spent a lot of time in a big city hospital. I've seen those scenes, I've smelled those smells. You never forget that stuff, and that was very effective.

Posted November 13 2007
More interviews are popping up today, as HDNet prepares to sneak preview the film tomorrow night (HDNet is also showing clips and an interview with Brian De Palma on its "Sneak Preview" program). Sean Axmaker interviewed De Palma for an article posted yesterday at GreenCine. Today, Stephanie Zacharek posted an interview and podcast with De Palma at Salon. Keith Uhlich has also posted his aforementioned "On The Circuit" podcast at Zoom In, featuring parts of two brief interviews with De Palma from a Toronto Film Festival "Breakfast with Brian De Palma," and from the New York Film Festival. And tomorrow, De Palma is scheduled to be featured on NPR's Fresh Air (you can listen to an archived version of the program online after it airs on the radio-- thanks to Guynoir at the 24LiesASecond forum for that bit of news!).

On his O'Reilly Factor program last night, Bill O'Reilly dug into Mark Cuban for distributing Redacted. According to a report at The Brad Blog, O'Reilly said that Cuban's "arrogance is horrifying," calling him "anti-American." O'Reilly promised to let viewers know later this week about setting up protests outside theaters showing Redacted. Here is an excerpt from the Brad Blog report:

Last night on The O'Reilly Factor, the Fox "News" host shot back, promising still more publicity for the film, by calling for the public to show up outside theaters showing Redacted with signs reading "Support the Troops." O'Reilly claimed that he will personally be at theaters holding up such signs, charging that "Mark Cuban has a grudge against his country" and that he is somehow "putting our troops in danger."

At the end of the segment, O'Reilly promised that he would "have more information about what we're going to do and when we're going to do it...coming up."

The Brad Blog has a video clip of the segment.

Posted November 12 2007
Ruthe Stein interviewed Brian De Palma at the Toronto Film Festival last September, and the article appeared in yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle. In one segment, De Palma talks about the early stages of Redacted:

I'll never forget. At one point, I submitted a script that was, like, 55 pages long. And they said, 'Well, no, we have to have 90 pages.' I said, 'I keep on telling you that the actors are going to improvise off of these scenes. This is going to get longer.' But they said no. So I sat down one day and wrote the necessary number of pages to make the script long enough. Unbelievable. But you know, I'm a very determined guy.

Eventually, the conversation moved on to De Palma's early years in the film business...

I met Spielberg through a girlfriend of mine, Margot Kidder, who knew him because she worked on the Universal lot," he said. "So that's how we all knew each other. We were a pretty close-knit group - talking about material together and scripts and actors and helping each other out. I'm the godfather of Marty's daughter and Steven's son."

De Palma still gets mildly annoyed at the way he was portrayed in "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'n' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood," a 1998 book about the young directors. He was made to look skeptical, almost belittling, of Lucas' first "Star Wars" movie.

"The fact is, we were all at an early screening of 'Star Wars,' " he said. "I have a very - how should I say it? - caustic wit, and I made some good-natured jokes about 'The Force.' But we were all there basically to help George. When we saw the movie, nobody thought it was in any way not going to be extremely successful. But there were things in it.

"We had screenings like this because it's a way to get another director to say, 'Well, you know ...' You can take this kind of criticism from one of your peers, somebody who cares about you."

De Palma thought that Lucas tried to cram too much information into the scroll that comes up in the beginning of the film and that it might confuse audiences.

"It got so complicated. So we edited it and added a few things, as I recall. George and I laugh about this because, you know, we are still very good friends."

He feels about Lucas and the other now-famous directors from that era that "we've been though the war together. We've all gone on different paths, but, you know, we've gone through very similar circumstances in terms of experience. We all wanted to be David Lean, but that never quite worked out."

At the end of the article, De Palma responds to the poor public reception of several recent films...

"I'm at peace with my career," he said. "Your success is usually measured against the fashion of the day, and if you're unfashionable, your movies don't do well. So I usually do what I think is right for me and let the chips fall where they may.

"I've been up, and I've been down. It doesn't sway me anymore because I've seen both sides."

Chris sends along news that Redacted is scheduled to be released on DVD February 19-- there is a page up with no image at Amazon.
(Thanks to Chris!)

Posted November 10 2007
Brad Friedman blogs from the Blog World & New Media Expo in Las Vegas, where yesterday, Mark Cuban delivered the closing Keynote address. During the Q&A, Friedman asked Cuban "whether he finds [Bill] O'Reilly's attacks 'to be a net plus or net minus' for his various business interests and enterprises." Friedman writes...

After [Cuban] first replying that O'Reilly's attacks didn't much matter, and that they had very little effect either way, I followed up to ask specifically about Brian De Palma's upcoming film, Redacted, which Cuban's network, HDNet is releasing shortly.

"When it comes to a specific project like Redacted," Cuban responded, "which is a small movie, it's grown bigger and bigger by the day. So I'm very grateful to him."

"Bill O'Reilly is my new best friend," he added, to laughter from the crowd which was made up of bloggers and industry-related folks of all political stripes.

Posted November 9 2007

The second YouTube clip above from Redacted was posted by Magnolia Pictures to promote the Ultra VOD release of the film last week (the other one features three scenes from the film). Reader Jesse Tucker was able to catch a view of Redacted, and sent along some thoughts...

Thanks to Mark Cuban's weird release plan, i saw Redacted over the weekend. It was worth the 19 bucks (!). Let me tell you something, one hardcore De Palma fan to another: this movie is absolutely moor-wrenching and destructive, and the most disturbing film in the entire De Palma canon. It is, tragically, a remake of Casualties of War, but NOT because of some post-modern, wink wink De Palma trickery. No: Redacted needs to repeat certain scenes from the earlier film, certain off-hand spoken words and thematic/narrative elements to show how far we haven't come. We still live in a world that allows for wars to breed the same story that unfolded decades ago. And the film is not overly "Stagey". Once again, people are letting their pre-conceived notions of who or what this director represents prevent them from seeing the forest from the trees. What is so doggedly affecting about Redacted is the realization that Iraq has become, tragically, an opportunists war. Cameras are more ubiquitous than bullets, and the film becomes a mosaic of people (like the soldier, Salazar, and the French TV crew) filming the war for their own professional gain. THAT is why every camera is perfectly angled when in the hands of a non-authority entity. The cast (excellent) is playing men who are always "on", always performing, either for cameras trained to them or from some impossible image of the bellicose soldier. This is dangerous, Gonzo film making, a cinematic pipebomb, risking everything to convey to the viewer nothing less than our own troubled present moment, where splinter web-sites offer greater truth than "old" media.

The film is not perfect. There is a security-camera deceit that i thought contrived. But it is a brave splash of water in a desert of arid, acceptable movies that allow for underwhelming works like American Gangster. A word on the final scene in Redacted: It does not, in my opinion, greatly alter the film. The final-final shot, a searing image forever burned in my head, is re-created, unredacted, and deeply powerful. The photo montage is preceded by a final scene that resembles Blow Out: set in the open arms of the American mainstream, a man is nevertheless adrift in his own personal tragedy. Like Casualties, it shows how Iraq (and, inevitably, Vietnam) will always haunt our shores. But Redacted doesn't have the catharsis of the previous film. It has been made in a present ellipses, with no conclusion in sight.

Posted November 7 2007
Tonight's Movie Geeks United! program was a terrific success, opening with a lively interview with Brian De Palma, followed by a rousing telephone-round discussion with four actors from Redacted: Ty Jones, Patrick Carroll, Rob Devaney, and Izzy Diaz. You can listen to an archived version of the program at the Movie Geeks United! website. Keith Uhlich also came on during the last segment, and mentioned that he has recorded a podcast interview with De Palma that will be posted at The House Next Door (as part of "On The Circuit") on Tuesday or Wednesday (November 13 or 14).

During the "Geeks" interview, De Palma mentioned that the idea for the final montage in Redacted was, like everything else in the film, based on some things he actually found on the internet, where such montages of victims have proliferated. De Palma talked about the way the administration uses the media to push fear buttons on the public, saying that he is very aware of these techniques, having made several films that push similar buttons in audiences. De Palma continued to be amazed that no one gets outraged by all of the lies pushed by the U.S. administration. De Palma sounded thrilled that he has tapped into a new form of filmmaking, saying he has grown tired of the straightforward narrative type of cinema that seems more and more to have run its course. "I'm getting kind of bored with the traditional filmic form," he told the Geeks, "because I've done a lot of movies, and we have a great history of the use of this form. It's almost like writing opera. You know, the time may have passed for this form, and there are new forms, and I'm kind of excited about exploring them."

When asked whether he was anxious to return to working in HD, De Palma said, "I am anxious to return to it. I don't want it to be a substitute for film. Like in any new media forms, you want it to find its own particular... [host Jamey DuVall offers "identity"] exactly... identity. I'm just starting to experiment with this. I have a lot more feelings about what's going on with this war. I could make another film like this. I like it because I can do it quickly. I'm sort of left completely alone. And I've always felt that once you've developed all these tools, you'd better have something to say. And that's what's so missing in so much of our contemporary cinema, nobody has anything to say, even though they've spent years developing all kinds of techniques."

DuVall asked De Palma about the reported new script he sent to his Redacted producers. De Palma replied, "As a matter of fact, I'm... except, I'm not writing any more because of the writers strike, but yes indeed, I did complete a script tentatively entitled Shoot The Messenger. Yeah, I'm very interested in dealing with the sort of George Orwell take on this war, and showing how by things being reedited and how myths are created... all the spinning that went on to sell this war. And I have a lot of thoughts about using this digital form to do it."

DuVall also asked De Palma about the Untouchables prequel: "Well again, we are still trying to cast this," replied De Palma. "We've had this together with a bunch of different actors over the last couple of years. Things keep on falling in and out. I have nothing to report. We thought we had it together again. I don't know if its gonna pull itself together soon enough for me to shoot next year. I have to shoot it in the wintertime, because the Valentine's Day Massacre in it has got to be done in the cold in February. So if we can't get it together in another month or so, I'm gonna go off and do something else."

Each of the four Redacted actors was asked about working with De Palma, and shared their experiences about working on the film. Ty Jones shared a funny story about consulting De Palma on a particular scene, and another story about De Palma being confronted by two Marines who had just seen Redacted at the Toronto Film Festival. Jones said De Palma is a tough guy who does not back down. "There were two Marines that came up to him at the Toronto Film Festival," Jones said, "and both of them were not happy with the film. One came up and essentially said, 'Your film definitely put across your idea.' And then another guy came up to him and was like, 'Yeah, this movie is definitely a slap in the face to the military.' Well, Brian had kind of leaned back on this little sort of railing, and kind of crossed his legs, and said, 'You guys, if you think my movie is somehow even remotely as heinous as the actual rape itself, and what it's done to these people, then I don't know what to say to you guys.' Those guys, you could hear a pin drop." Keith Uhlich was on at the end and got into a discussion about Redacted, as well. Listen to the archived program for these moments, and so much more-- the whole show was enthralling.

Posted November 7 2007
Brian De Palma has been saying that he has a new idea with a similar format as Redacted, and now, according to an article by Jay Stone at the Leader-Post, he has presented a new script titled Shoot The Messenger to Jennifer Weiss and Simone Urdl, and is asking them to produce it. The article offers no other information about the project, but perhaps De Palma will provide some clues tonight during his live radio interview with Movie Geeks United! In Stone's article, Urdl and Weiss discuss De Palma's anger with the redaction of the photos at the end of Redacted, with Weiss saying, "Better to get the film out there, in maybe not the cut he wants, rather than the film not having a shot out there. That could have been a very likely alternative." Urdl adds, "We really felt that even with the images the way they are, this film is saying so many important things, things he wants to say and get out there. Better to let the film go out as is and still have the impact that he wanted to have and unfortunately just have to deal with the fact that the ending is not the ending that he wants."

Posted November 6 2007
One man's gangster is another man's villain. Bill O'Reilly has found someone who is a greater threat than even Brian De Palma. In a column titled Harming America The Pop Culture Way (which apparently served as his "talking points" memo at the start of last night's O'Reilly Factor program), O'Reilly again attacks Redacted. However, after mentioning that the film was directed by De Palma, O'Reilly states, "The film is being distributed by billionaire Mark Cuban, the Dallas Internet guy. It is Cuban who is the primary villain here." O'Reilly then threatens to go after Robert Redford and Tom Cruise for their film Lions For Lambs, which comes out Friday. Then O'Reilly does a funny thing: he praises Ridley Scott's American Gangster (a film O'Reilly actually saw over the weekend) as a film that "help[s] the United States," because it demonstrates for children the evil of its title character, and does not, according to O'Reilly, glorify the drug dealer.

Stanley Crouch of the New York Daily News would probably beg to differ with O'Reilly. Crouch contrasts Scott's American Gangster, which is based on the true story of Frank Lucas, with BET's documentary on the real Lucas, also titled American Gangster. Using De Palma's Scarface as an example to highlight the influence of on-screen Hollywood gangsters to American culture, Crouch foresees Denzel Washington's portrayal as potentially having a similar impact. "But here's the rub," Crouch writes...

Frank Lucas has been given qualities that he simply did not have. We see him played as a soft-spoken and sophisticated man who closely studies the written word and only explodes into violence every now and then. In actuality, as the BET documentary reveals, Lucas was illiterate and could not count. He helped keep his books by learning that 22 pounds of $100 bills amounted to $1 million. He not only killed people to impress his ruthlessness on the underworld, but even put out a murder contract on one of his own brothers, whom he had brought from North Carolina to work in the drug trade with him. Lucas squashed the contract only because another brother had been killed and the druglord did not want his mother to have to mourn for two dead sons at the same time. Always a family man.

Crouch ends by saying that Hollywood "is often no better than the lousy gangsters it makes into well-dressed entrepreneurs rather than the glittering spiritual vomit that they actually are."

I also saw American Gangster over the weekend, and while the film is entertaining, it was difficult to get the name "Ultrahack" out of my head the entire time. "Ultrahack" is Armond White's alternate name for Ridley Scott. Every now and then while watching American Gangster, I could see the faint trace of a style poking through (such as when Scott's handling of the American coffins coming back from Vietnam begins to build up into a pending revelation that threatens to strike a real cultural nerve), but then "Ultrahack" undermines the moment by hacking his way into another quick-cut cliche, instead of investigating a potential moment of cinema.

What this ultimately meant was that throughout the film, I could not help but consider how much better it would have been had it been directed by De Palma, who had flirted with directing Steven Zaillian's script when it was still called Tru Blue, just before he signed on to make The Black Dahlia at the end of 2003. Scott has a terrific knack for casting, finding perfect fits for Clarence Williams III, Armand Assante, Ruby Dee, Ted Levine, Josh Brolin, and Cuba Gooding Jr. But here, at least, he lacks the visionary power of someone like De Palma.

Posted November 6 2007
Brian De Palma's Redacted will get a promotional screening in Toronto at 7pm on Monday, November 12. Producers Simone Urdl and Jennifer Weiss will be in attendance for a post-screening discussion. Passes are being given away by Torontoist, if you go to their website and provide your name, e-mail, and favorite De Palma film by noon Sunday.

Posted November 3 2007
From Rick Groen in Saturday's Globe and Mail:

...Redacted is something else entirely. De Palma was late to the topic of Vietnam (the uninspired Casualties of War in 1989), but he's early here and remarkably blunt. A fictionalized account of an actual war crime in Baghdad – the rape and murder of an Iraqi teenager, and the slaying of her family, by American GIs – this film is the culmination of every Iraq film that led up to it, and could as well be titled Sex, Lies and Digital Tape.

Why? For all these reasons: It unfolds as an apparent documentary that reflects the preponderance of cameras in the war zone – everything we see here is filtered though a lens held by someone, by a soldier or a journalist or an insurgent or a blogger. It argues that each of these filters filter, and the paradox of war in the information age is that “you can't trust anyone out here.” It implies that, conditioned by the pressures of an urban battleground, U.S. troops have degenerated into either psychotic thugs or the abettors of psychotic thugs. It argues that “every movie about Vietnam” has succeeded only in “immortalizing monsters.” It ends with a real-death montage of Iraqi civilians, the bloodied corpses of children, of pregnant women and of the actual girl who was raped and killed; in each case, their faces are blacked out, “redacted,” at the behest of studio lawyers and over De Palma's objections.

That's an unnerving and unique portrait. I think it's safe to conclude that no other war could have produced a movie like this. In its style and its content, Redacted holds up a mirror to this time and that place, where elevating myths simply don't exist, where even the most appalling deeds go unpunished, the most appalling confessions unheeded, and where the only truth in war is death and suffering – suffering that lacks a point, death that lacks a face.

If Vietnam was a quagmire that yielded epic movies aspiring to art, to date Iraq is a God-forsaken hellhole whose depiction on screen, crawling as it is with corrupted soldiers and corrupting politicians and finger-wagging pundits and the innocent dead, seems to deny even the possibility of art. In Apocalypse Now, we glimpsed the heart of darkness, but this is a whole other terrain. This feels post-apocalyptic – no heart, no darkness, no good, no hope, just nihilistic shades of grey.

Posted October 31 2007
Brian De Palma continues to gear up for the upcoming release of Redacted by discussing the film with various outlets. It was just announced last night that he will be interviewed a week from today (November 7) on Movie Geeks United!, in a program that begins at 10pm eastern (you can listen to the live stream then, or listen to the archived version afterward). During the broadcast, listeners are invited to call in with their questions by dialing 718-508-9477.

Meanwhile, Phil Nugent at the Nerve Film Lounge spoke with De Palma the day after Redacted was screened at the New York Film Festival. De Palma started out by saying he was surprised there were no young filmmakers out there commenting on the incident portrayed in Redacted. He said the news media since the Vietnam era "has basically been co-opted and made rich." Nugent asked De Palma if he has taken a lot of heat throughout his career for being critical of the media. De Palma replied:

I've never really been part of the establishment. I've always been critical of the establishment in all forms. We need a critical press, a watchdog press, but instead they present things as a sort of fait accompli, like, "this is the way it is," and that doesn't make any sense to me.

But their arguments are very cleverly packaged and argued, with educated and sort of sophisticated people presenting them to you. They come up with things like "Weapons of Mass Destruction"; who came up with that? It sure sounds scary! And having lived through the Cold War, where they basically kept you scared for thirty years, with all those missiles pointed at our hearts, and any moment somebody's gonna hit the button and we're all gonna be liquefied, I think I got a little annoyed at the idea of keeping us scared all the time. And then when the Bush administration did it constantly — "We're in the green, in the red, in the purple zone, we just stopped another terrorist attack and we can't tell you where or how or when, it's all classified." You just go, wow! And because I'm a director, I'm very aware of how things are manipulated through television and imagery. You try to find a venue to show that to your audience.

De Palma discusses being amazed at the things he'd found on the internet, including the Legofest website's reenactment of the rape incident. "What you see in this movie, it's my way of saying, I can't believe it myself," De Palma told Nugent. Nugent asked De Palma about the video blog post in his film, where a teenager rants about the soldiers. De Palma replied:

Strange you should bring that up. That was the one thing I could actually purchase. Everything else I had to fictionalize because nobody would give me the rights to it. I couldn't use the news stories, I couldn't use the things that were actually said by the real people. But that thing that you bring up was an actual blog by "Wild Bill", and I just basically took exactly what he said; I may have changed a little but, I don't think I changed it much. That was a written blog, and I just gave it to an actor to say, and the best person to do it was that girl. I had guys read it, but she just did it with such brio!

Dan Harris at ABC News wrote an article last weekend about Hollywood projects critical of U.S. actions since 9/11, referring to Redacted as perhaps the most controversial of the pack. Harris quotes Bill O'Reilly speaking on his FOX News program about the film: "Imagine young Muslim men, already steeped in hatred, sitting there watching a Muslim woman raped in living color. If even one of those men enters the fight and kills an American, it is on Brian De Palma." Harris' article continues...

De Palma thinks U.S. policy is the real problem.

"I think our invasion and occupation of this country is going to produce a lot more angry Arabs than my movies will ever get near," he said. "We're doing so much damage to that part of the world, I don't feel my movie will have any effect."

Posted October 25 2007
Brian De Palma’s Cinematic Education of the Senses
You may remember Eyal Peretz from the Movie Geek's United radio program this past summer. Peretz' new book, Becoming Visionary: Brian De Palma’s Cinematic Education of the Senses was published this month, and is now available through Amazon and other outlets. The book brings together philosophy and film studies, focusing on the De Palma films Carrie, The Fury, Blow Out, and Femme Fatale. I will write more about the book after I've had a chance to check it out.

Posted October 23 2007
It looks like Mark Cuban is going ahead with his plans to offer a "sneak preview" of Redacted, two weeks prior to its theatrical run, via HDNet's Ultra HD Video on Demand. The V.O.D. will be made available November 1st. According to a Variety story from August, DirecTV, Time Warner Cable, Charter, Verizon and other cable-network distributors will be able to offer the sneak preview to their customers for a price somewhere between $12.95 and $19.95. HDNet will then premiere Redacted on its channel November 14, two days prior to the film's wider release in theaters (November 16).

"I don't know how these people live with themselves"

You can listen to a couple of reports on NPR today. The first one is a report on Redacted, which focuses on the redaction of the photos, with sound clips from the film, and an interview with Brian De Palma. Referring to the redacted photos, De Palma said, "You should see these people's faces, their suffering, and when you take their faces away from them... I don't know how these people live with themselves." At one point, De Palma suggests to reporter John McChesney that we should be wary of watching reports from embedded reporters in Iraq...

De Palma: Now we have the embedded reporters, and all the stuff you're seeing is basically public relations pieces. So next time you see that embedded reporter running around and getting it supposedly on-the-ground in Iraq-- the real story-- maybe you should wonder a little bit about what the truth value there is.

McChesney [to listener]: When I pointed out that I had embedded in Iraq, and had been able to report soldiers' remarks critical of the war, De Palma seemed surprised.

A second, brief NPR report focuses on the lack of box office success for films with post-September 11 themes.

Posted October 19 2007
Redacted opens today at the Silver Super Saver Cinema 8 in Norwalk, California. This move by Magnolia Pictures will make the film eligible for any potential Oscar nominations, since it will now play in a Los Angeles County commercial theater for at least one week prior to any television or internet transmissions (Redacted will premiere on HDNet November 14, two days before its wider release in theaters).

Meanwhile, De Palma had been expected to attend the London Film Festival, where Redacted had scheduled screenings yesterday and today. However, according to MDB at the 24liesasecond forum, a representative from the U.K. distributor of the film said that De Palma was ill, and could not attend. MDB was moved by the film, writing on the forum today, "Redacted was also deeply disturbing and upsetting. It’s telling that when the credits rolled and the audience filed out of the auditorium, you could practically hear a pin drop: I’ve never seen an audience leave a screening so quietly before."

It's unlike anything people are accustomed to watching
The Hollywood Reporter ran a story today about the challenges studios face in marketing films about Iraq. Magnolia's Jeff Reichert interviewed about the studio's strategy for the Redacted trailer:

Even Redacted, the controversial Iraq war film from Brian De Palma that focuses on a group of U.S. soldiers who rape an Iraqi girl and kill her family, depicts no footage of soldiers, war or weapons in its trailers. Instead, Magnolia Pictures' campaign emphasizes De Palma's track record and the film's festival awards while taking advantage of its theme of images of the war being redacted or withheld. For nearly one entire trailer, only text appears on the screen with voice-overs from the movie.

"We're marketing Redacted not as an Iraq film necessarily but as a film that is going to provide an experience that is going to be rich for moviegoers," said Jeff Reichert, Magnolia senior vp publicity and marketing. "That's why we went with this trailer, which we feel is intriguing and powerful. You're given a certain amount of information and you probably assume the film is about the war, but you don't see a soldier, anyone in fatigues or a weapon. The only image you see at the end is a man in a suit crying with his wife in a bar."

And Redacted too, is trying to set itself apart from any other war-related films that have disappointed at the box office. "We're trying to suggest there's a very real difference between this film and anything else you're going to see this fall," Reichert said. "It's different from other Iraq films; it's different from other narrative films. It's unlike anything people are accustomed to watching."

A Reuters story making the rounds today finds De Palma still upset about the censoring of Redacted, blaming the insurance companies for having too much control over film distribution. Near the end of the article, written by Christine Kearney, De Palma rages about the money being made from the war by corporations and the media...

De Palma said he expected the images in "Redacted" to stir U.S. public debate about the conduct of American soldiers. Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi was gang-raped, killed and burned by U.S. troops in Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad, in March 2006. Her parents and another family member were also killed.

He said the film provided a realistic portrait of U.S. troops and how "the presentation of our troops has been whitewashed" by mainstream media.

De Palma, who looked at the atrocities of conflict in the 1989 film "Casualties of War," which also centers on the rape of a young girl by U.S. soldiers, believes news coverage of wars had changed since the Vietnam War.

"We saw fallen soldiers, we saw suffering Vietnamese. We don't see any of that now," he said. "We see bombs go off, but where do they come down? Who do they hit?"

The U.S. invasion of Iraq was "clearly a mistake," he said, that was perpetuated by "defense contractors, big corporations of America" profiting from the war.

"How many billions of dollars are those companies making? And who gets more famous than ever? The media. There is nothing like a war to fill the airwaves 24 hours a day," he said.

IndieWIRE has posted a brief bit about the "Monday Nights with Oscar" screening of Carrie earlier this week. Here is an excerpt about the Q&A that followed the screening:

"Oh, the shower scene," recalled De Palma, present along with actress Amy Irving for a Q&A. "all those girls, with all their clothes off. Oh my... we shot all these close-ups of Sissy in the shower, for two days, absolutely every single section of her body. I'll never forget Sissy watching the dailies, saying "Gee, thanks, Brian".

"I've never had to work so hard to get a role," said Irving. "There were two big films that needed young actors - there was a cattle call to meet George Lucas for Star Wars and Brian De Palma for Carrie. They had every kid in town going through that office with the two of them sitting there, and deciding who gets which took weeks of auditions, improvisations, role plays, fake class elections- that kind of thing."

Irving's memory proved fantastic - when De Palma would forget any detail, Irving would be there to remind him of everything. "I don't think we thought we had much of an ending," said De Palma, of the film's most famous, final shock, and Irving concurred. "I read the line, 'and then the hand comes out and grabs Sue Snell', and I just didn't think it read well....I saw it at the first screening, and the audience scared the shit out of me. They jumped 3 feet in the air!"

Posted October 18 2007

From left: Carrie screenwriter Lawrence D. Cohen, Amy Irving,
and Brian De Palma pose together at Monday night's Oscar
screening of Carrie at New York's Academy Theater.

Posted October 18 2007
Another item from the MTV Movies Blog, this one posted by Shawn Adler. Brian De Palma revealed to MTV News that, "As a matter of fact, years and years ago they came to me with Spider-Man. I still have those stacks of comic books." But, De Palma said, it wasn't really what he does. "The comic book world is not something I have a natural affinity for," he confessed to MTV. "I like to go into real situations and do stylized, expressionistic renditions of them more." Now the question: does "years and years ago" mean way back when Carolco owned the rights to the character (and hired James Cameron to work up a treatment), or later on, around the time Sony took over and hired De Palma's friend David Koepp to adapt Cameron's treatment into a screenplay?

Posted October 17 2007

Akahan sent over the above picture of Amy Irving and Brian De Palma during their Q&A following a screening of Carrie at New York's Academy Theater Monday night. A new 35mm print of the film was supposed to be screened, but only half of the reels arrived on time, so a DVD version was projected instead. According to Akahan, during the Q&A, De Palma was asked about his next project. "De Palma said he wanted to do another Iraq film along the lines of Redacted, telling more stories using the same techniques; he also mentioned the Untouchables prequel," says Akahan, but De Palma did not mention The Blue Afternoon.

Posted October 16 2007
We have interviews galore to link to today, some in electronic print, and some in audio/video. First up is something that was just posted this morning by Josh Horowitz at the MTV Movies Blog. De Palma told Horowitz that his Untouchables prequel, Capone Rising, will likely be his next project. De Palma also confirmed that Gerard Butler is still on board ("Gerry is still with us") as the younger version of Malone, but they are still looking for a young Capone. "You’ve got to have that street animal sexuality," De Palma said about the film's title role. De Palma also assured Horowitz that he would like to keep things very consistent between the two Untouchables films. "I would like to use a lot of the original music from The Untouchables," De Palma said, "and the original locations in Chicago." He added, "It’s got a lot of fabulous set pieces in it. It will be a lot of fun to do."

In an audio interview posted by Nobuhiro Hosoki last Thursday, De Palma mentioned three projects he is currently developing, including Capone Rising. After a long discussion about Redacted, De Palma said, "I have another idea working in this form again. There's a lot more to be said about what's going on in this war, and there are all kinds of new forms which are emerging on the internet that I don't even know about yet" (De Palma had mentioned earlier that three years ago, YouTube did not even exist, marveling at the rapid emergence of new media). The third project he mentioned was his adaptation of William Boyd's The Blue Afternoon, which De Palma introduced as "a very romantic love story set in the Philippines in the turn of the century" (this is the first time that I know of that De Palma has publicly mentioned this project). When asked whether he would ever return to the science fiction genre, De Palma mentioned The Demolished Man as a project he has been interested in throughout his entire career. He said that various versions have been in development throughout the years, and he has seen many scripts, but it has never yet been made by anyone. De Palma's tone indicated that he keeps up hope that he may yet make this film in the future (check Laurent Bouzereau's book The De Palma Cut for more on De Palma's ideas for The Demolished Man.)

There was also another De Palma radio interview with Brian Lehrer from WNYC (there's a short video excerpt on YouTube). In this and the other interview mentioned above, De Palma talks about the characters in Redacted who instigate the horrible acts, comparing them to the Yablonski murders (De Palma wanted to make a film about that in the early 1980s) and In Cold Blood. And in an interview from Venice just posted by Karin Badt at the Huffington Post, De Palma is asked, "Why are your soldiers so one-dimensionally bad? You don't show their humanity." De Palma replies...

I protest. Flake is like "what am I doing here!" The army is taking people they would normally not take, people with emotional problems. Who would want to go to Iraq now? You are getting the bottom of the barrel. Nobody tries to change. You try to show the circumstances that make these soldiers do what they do in the horrible environment. It is the same thing in Casualties of War. They are set up for an ambush. The Sean [Penn] character just goes south. This is what happens to Flake. The other guys are trying to hold on to some moral.

De Palma was also interviewed by Air America's Rachel Maddow last Thursday. Maddow joked around with De Palma about going onto Bill O'Reilly's program (something De Palma has no plans to do anytime soon), and De Palma seemed to be having a good time on the show. During the discussion of Redacted, one significant thing he mentioned was that when he first began researching for the project, he watched a French film called Flanders. De Palma did not go into any details about that film, but it is a Middle Eastern war drama directed by Bruno Dumont that depicts soldiers who commit atrocities. Some have criticized Dumont's film for its lack of explanation for the motives of its characters, who are sent to an unamed land and do not seem to know why they are there.

Posted October 14 2007
NPR's Brooke Gladstone featured a segment about the controversy over the redacted photographs at the end of Redacted, playing a clip of the rape scene from the movie, and speaking with Brian De Palma (You can listen to or download an mp3 of the segment at On The Media).

While discussing the potential legal issues involved, De Palma mentioned the possibility that, had he known about the studio's fears ahead of time, he might have recreated the photos instead of using the real ones. "What I found unusual about the whole situation," De Palma told Gladstone, "was that they had vetted everything in the script, they knew we were using real photographs. If this was always a problem, they could have told me, and I could have recreated them. So, I think somebody actually looked at the photos and got extremely upset and said, 'My God, we can't put this on the screen.' Then they hid behind the insurance company."

Gladstone pointed out that the squiggly black lines that appear over the faces of the victims in the photos are very similar to the ones that appear over words at the beginning of the film, and asked De Palma if he designed those black bars himself. "No, I had nothing to do with it. I refused to have anything to do with it. I said, 'If you're going to redact these photographs, you do it, so the world can see you eradicating the suffering faces on these people.'" De Palma said it is too late now to do anything about changing the film prior to release, as it has been in film festivals all over the world, etc.

After a discussion about the whitewashing of the Iraq war, Gladstone asked De Palma, "If you're going to fabricate everything else, why mix the real pictures in and open up this can of worms?"

De Palma replied: "I was forced to fabricate everything else because of our legalities. I can't use anything real, because it's real. Doesn't that seem rather strange to you? You can put it on the radio, you could put it on your television stations, you can show it in your magazines, but I can't put it in a movie? Why is that?"

Gladstone: "Is it because of the difference in the genres? That yours is a drama, a dramatization, and these are ostensibly news reports?"

De Palma: "My dear, it's all entertainment. Don't for a second think it's really news."

Also on the same segment, Gladstone talks with legal scholar James Boyle, who has some very interesting things to say about De Palma's right to fair use in the case of the photos in Redacted. (Thanks to akahan for the link!)

Meanwhile, producer Jennifer Weiss told the Globe and Mail that Magnolia's Eamonn Bowles apologized to De Palma soon after last Monday's press conference spat, once tempers had cooled off. "The issue here is we basically were led to believe if we delivered a film that was covered by errors-and omissions-insurance, then Brian had final cut because it was in his agreement," Weiss told the paper. "But what happened is at some point Mark Cuban's lawyers looked at the photos and thought these are really high risk because we couldn't get subject releases. It's a grey area because, obviously, under the circumstances, it's very difficult to get subject releases. There are varying opinions of what the risk really is. The photographer who gave us the photos is an Iraqi journalist living in Jordan, and he very much wanted us to get these photos out. He feels - like Brian does - that the images we see are sanitized."

Weiss also told the paper that Bill O'Reilly has invited De Palma onto his program, The O'Reilly Factor, to debate the merits of Redacted, but she says De Palma has firmly declined. "Our response is that he should see the film before he attacks the film," said Weiss, who says that O'Reilly is "misinformed" about the film, especially when he accused De Palma of using real photographs of "blown-up GIs." Weiss said that O'Reilly has missed the point. "Brian is trying to show the victims of the war - the Iraqi people, the photos that people in Iraq are taking with digital cameras but aren't making it into the newspapers at all."

Posted October 12 2007
New York Magazine's Darrell Hartman spoke with Brian De Palma the other night at the New York Film Festival, where De Palma announced he had lost the battle to get the photos unobscured at the end of Redacted. "I couldn't get around the legalities. I tried to, I fought a hard case," De Palma told Hartman. "But it was the difference between letting the film go out or just keeping at this." Hartman said that "De Palma looked pretty pooped as he explained." De Palma said that as he finished the film, it was clear to everyone involved that he was using real photographs, but it wasn't until someone high up actually saw the photographs that Magnolia got cold feet about them. "Everybody knew I was using real photographs," De Palma told Hartman. "What happened ultimately is that somebody up in the hierarchy of the company saw the photographs way after we'd shot the film and said, 'Oh, my God, this is pretty intense.'" When asked how high up, De Palma replied, "All the way up." Hartman ends his article with the following:

But this time around De Palma wasn't as eager to mention the big boss, Mark Cuban, by name. "The insurance companies control what you can put in a movie," he said. Sounds like it's been quite a journey, we offered. He agreed: "I'm more than happy to get off the train." Sounds like the old blame-it-on-the-Man-and-get-out. But you have to hand it to him — at least he's got an exit strategy.

Posted October 12 2007
Katey Rich at Cinema Blend has provided a nice transcript of Brian De Palma's press conference from Monday at the New York Film Festival. De Palma discusses the development of Redacted (mentioning HBO's Baghdad E.R. and reality TV), which he refers to as "experimental" in its attempt to try to interpret a story in fragments the way one might (and the way De Palma actually did) discover it via new media (mostly the various sources on the internet). At one point, someone oddly asked De Palma about some "black metal" on the soundtrack, and De Palma replied, "What is black metal? Besides some background music in the poker game, there's only two uses of music in the movie." Speaking of music, at one point, De Palma's cell phone rang, and Rich points out that the ringtone was Vivaldi's "Four Seasons - Spring." At another point, De Palma mentions a song ("Last To Die") from Bruce Springsteen's new album that includes the line, "Who will be the last to die for a mistake?" De Palma also expressed dismay about the Iraq situation, saying, "To me, especially this war has been so misrepresented in the major media, and it was consciously done by the Bush administration. I keep saying all the time, where are the pictures, where are the pictures? If we're dropping bombs and occupying countries and killing innocent people and I'm paying for it, can you please let me see the pictures? The pictures that I saw in Vietnam got me out into the streets. You know when this administration's over all the things they did are going to come out. […] We basically just want to sort of end this war, and by trying to show what the reality of this war is, to stop sugarcoating it."

Posted October 11 2007
New York Magazine's David Edelstein has some interesting things to say about the use of the photos at the end of Redacted. In contrast to Anne Thompson, who feels that De Palma was forced to fictionalize everything in his film, resulting in a "watered down and less powerful" movie, Edelstein thinks the film is powerful even without the real photos at the end, which he says he did not even look at. Here is an excerpt from Edelstein's blog:

But if the legal issue is a smoke screen, then the photos need to go back at once. They’re intended to convey De Palma’s outrage over the death and destruction happening beyond the film frame — happening this instant.

I write that as someone divided over their use in an otherwise fictionalized depiction: I think Redacted is strong enough without the images of dead soldiers and Iraqi women and children. I didn’t, to be honest, even look at them. But if De Palma feels the need to get in our faces, good good good for him. Someone should. The Bush administration has made it illegal to photograph the coffins of American soldiers; the thinking is, out of sight, out of mind. In my last post, I wrote about the documentaries Lake of Fire and Unborn in the USA, in which anti-abortion protesters use photos of aborted fetuses to break down people’s defenses. There is no reason why an artist who is furious about this catastrophic war should not avail himself of the same tools. It will make a difference.

Posted October 11 2007
Akahan sends over some news from the New York Film Festival, where Brian De Palma and cast attended the U.S. premiere of Redacted last night. Akahan thought the film was great, and said that it's "FULL of cool things that none of the reviews I've read have mentioned." He said that during the post-screening discussion, De Palma stated that within the past 24 hours, he had lost the battle to get the images in the final montage unredacted-- the film will be released as is, with the faces of the Iraqi victims obscured.

Meanwhile, Bill O'Reilly told his viewers last night that the pictures De Palma has been fighting to get into his film "are dead American soldiers, many of whom had been brutalized, cut up. De Palma wants to use the real dead soldiers in his vile film," claimed O'Reilly, who obviously has not seen the film. I asked Akahan via e-mail whether this was true, and he said that all of the photos in the montage "are of dead or wounded or grieving Iraqis. There are no photos of American soldiers in the collection at all. I mean, you might see a soldier's leg or something in the foreground or background of a shot or two, but they're not injured, they're just THERE as the picture is being taken of the dead/injured/grieving Iraqis." O'Reilly really needs to see this movie before he talks about it again. You can watch the video of O'Reilly's segment, where he interviews Holly McClure, author of Death By Entertainment and calls De Palma "a true villain," at the Fox News website, and you can read a transcript right here.

Posing before the screening of Redacted at the New York Film
Festival October 10-- from left: Mike Figueroa,
Kel O'Neill, Patrick Carroll, Brian De Palma,
Ty Jones, Rob Devaney, and Izzy Diaz.

Posing before the screening of Redacted at the New York Film
Festival October 10-- from left: producers Jason
Kliot, Joana Vicente, director Brian De Palma,
and producer Jennifer Weiss.

Posted October 9 2007

Posted October 9 2007

Brian De Palma, J. Hoberman, Jason Kliot

Update: A new video of yesterday's press conference clears up a lot of the misinterpetations of bloggers linked to below. De Palma stated that he had nothing to do with the redaction of the images at the end of Redacted. He said that the film was submitted to all of the film festivals in an unedited form, and feels that "my cut was violated." In the video, when De Palma mentions the reason being that "Mark Cuban, who financed this movie, was disturbed by the photographs," Eammon Bowles yells out, "that's not true!" An annoyed De Palma looks out and says, "Excuse me?" After asking for the refuter to identify himself, De Palma says, "Well, I'm sorry, Eammon, I have direct testimony to that. In any event, I am protesting it, and I am trying to get the pictures unredacted." When Bowles chimes back, "Uh, it's a legal issue, but that's okay," De Palma replies, "Yeah, it's a legal issue that we are going to resolve, Eammon." (Bowles then says "That's fine.") De Palma then continues, "In any event, I felt that my cut was violated, and I am seeking to have those pictures unredacted." The debate continued after that, with Bowles pressing that it was a legal issue, because they need releases to allow the photographs to be used. De Palma shot back, "Oh, how do you get releases for war photographs, Eammon?" When Bowles continued by saying that a person might see a photograph and recognize the individual, and then sue, he said again that it was a "legal issue," to which De Palma shouted back, "A specious legal issue!" Eammon stated that he appreciated the dramatic use of the photos, and wondered what other company would have made this film. When he started suggesting that as president of Magnolia, he liked the thematic effect of having the images be redacted, De Palma got annoyed, saying, "That is not your judgment to make." Bowles then said, "Brian, who else would have made this film? What other company..." and then De Palma stated angrily that "I made this film," strongly suggesting he felt it should be his decision as to what goes into the final product. Near the end of the video, De Palma leads up to an impassioned case for why he feels the montage (which some have seen as merely tacked on for no good reason at the end) is such a key part of the story he is trying to get across.

Jamie Stuart, who has been creating short films about this year's New York Film Festival for Filmmaker, sent an e-mail out to several people about Brian De Palma's press conference yesterday at NYFF, suggesting that a debate between De Palma and Magnolia Pictures over the film's final montage was a planned publicity stunt. After De Palma stated that the montage was in danger of being redacted by Magnolia at the request of executive producer Mark Cuban, Magnolia's president Eammon Bowles began shouting out from the back of the room to refute De Palma's claims (but Cuban readily admits to the truth of De Palma's claim, as we shall see below). A couple of blogs (Movie City Indie, Filmmaker Blog) have posted Stuart's e-mail, which reads as follows:

In the middle of Brian De Palma's NYFF pc for Redacted earlier today, as he began discussing the film's use of actual war photographs and their graphic nature, Eammon Bowles from Magnolia began shouting from the rear of the Walter Reade theater to refute De Palma's claims that Mark Cuban was trying to...well...redact them from the picture's release. Then, just as the pc was coming to a close, producer Jason Kliot rushed the stage and grabbed moderator Jim Hoberman's mic to offer the crowd his version of this distribution controversy. I was left wondering how spontaneous this all was or whether they knew it would be immediately blogged upon to stoke media attention.

This morning, Cuban sent an e-mail in response to a query by Karina Longworth, confirming De Palma's claims. Longworth writes:

Cuban confirmed to me that Magnolia has, indeed, asked DePalma to remove the images from the film, and will not release Redacted unless the final montage is cut.

“The film is going to be ‘redacted’ before we release it. He is using images that have not been cleared. We can not use images that have not been cleared. No movie can,” Cuban writes, noting that Magnolia has offered DePalma the opportunity to buy the film back and release it on his own dime. “At that point if its a matter of principle to him, he can absorb 100 percent of the risk and release the film as he sees fit. If he chooses not to, then we will release the movie without the images.”

Cuban characterizes this business decision, at least in part, as a moral issue. In other words, don’t expect the montage to resurface as a DVD extra on his watch. “There is no way I am going to include images of people who have been severely wounded or maimed and killed when the possibility exists that their families could unknowingly see the images and recognize a loved one,” Cuban writes. “In this day and age, those pictures will be stripped out of the DVD release and unquestionably be posted on the internet exponentially increasing the likelihood it could happen. I wouldn’t do that to anyone.”

Longworth notes that De Palma is scheduled to do a press day in New York tomorrow (October 10).

Posted October 9 2007

The above poster for Redacted comes out of the Sitges International Film Festival of Catalonia (thanks to Meet In The Lobby for the image), where Brian De Palma's latest will screen on Thursday, October 11. That makes six film festivals around the world this month for Redacted, which is set to have its public U.S. premiere tomorrow at the New York Film Festival, and will also screen sometime in the next two weeks at the Montréal Festival du Nouveau Cinema and the Middle East International Film Festival, as well as the London Film Festival on October 18 and 19. Earlier this month, Redacted screened at the Vancouver International Film Festival.

Posted October 8 2007
Magnolia Pictures' website for Redacted has expanded, and now includes separate pages providing information about the film, photos, theater dates, and press links. The "About" page, which features the synopsis and credits, also includes links to information about John O'Hara's Appointment In Samarra, one of Brian De Palma's favorite novels, which is alluded to in Redacted. Meanwhile, the press links include articles on the recent wave of Iraq-themed films, as well as an editorial by Bill O'Reilly ("Can Movies Kill?"), and the Pat Dollard blog, which features the YouTube video by "Bashman" calling Redacted "a case for treason." Also check out the playdates, as more theaters have been added. The Redacted website states the official date of release as November 16.

Posted October 6 2007

Amy Irving will join Brian De Palma as special guests at the Monday Nights With Oscar screening of Carrie October 15 at New York's Academy Theater at Lighthouse International. (Thanks to Cinema Retro for the news.) Irving made her feature film debut in De Palma's Carrie, and went on to star in De Palma's next film, The Fury (1978), before going on to marry De Palma's best friend Steven Spielberg. De Palma hired Irving to dub a key voice at the end of Casualties Of War in 1989, and had planned for her to have a role in his recent adaptation of James Ellroy's The Black Dahlia, but then decided that the film version did not need that character (a neighbor of the Linscotts) after all. The pair have remained good friends since filming Carrie in 1976. Irving reprised her role as Sue Snell in that film for the sequel, The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999), which was directed by Katt Shea.

Posted October 5 2007
Karina Longworth reports that, due to popular demand, Brian De Palma has rescheduled his press conference for Redacted at the New York Film Festival, which will now take place Monday, October 8. Longworth writes...

Almost two weeks ago, I posted the news that Brian DePalma canceled a press conference previously scheduled to coincide with a screening of Redacted at the New York Film Festival. NYFF’s press office has just sent out a press release announcing that, “by popular demand”, DePalma has agreed to the meet the press after all.

The press conference, rescheduled for Monday afternoon, should be particularly interesting in light of the fact that Redacted has been widely reviled by most of the New York press (myself included). In fact, the only local defender of the film that I can name off the top of my head is New York Magazine’s David Edelstein, who just this morning blogged about not being able to get a word in edgewise at Tuesday’s Todd Haynes event. I wonder: will the Redacted haters cancel their Columbus Day plans en masse in order to get all up in DePalma’s face, or will Edelstein have a much easier time getting his questions answered?

Posted October 3 2007

Landmark Theatres has posted a theatrical trailer for Brian De Palma's Redacted on YouTube. (Update-- you can watch a higher-quality version at Ain't It Cool News.) The highly effective trailer is made up mostly of disembodied dialogue from the film, played on the soundtrack against heavily dramatic music (initially, a briefly edited passage from Handel's Sarabande, and then a piece that I do not yet recognize) and other chaotic sounds from the film, as quotes from critics fade in and out on screen. Finally, near the end of the trailer, a moving image of Rob Devaney being consoled flashes briefly onto the screen. From the trailer, the film looks fantastic.

Posted October 3 2007

Jessica Harper (Phoenix) "chicken-waltzes"
in De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise

Just when I thought we'd counted all of the film festivals Redacted would be screening at this month, a new one pops up out of nowhere. "Tal" caught a screening yesterday of Brian De Palma's latest at the Vancouver International Film Festival, and sent in a glowing review to Ain't It Cool News. Tal says he hasn't seen a lot of De Palma's films, but he did recently watch De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise...

I sat through that whole movie grinning ear to ear. I don't know if I even liked it. But there's something truly extraordinary about its strangeness. There's an audition scene featuring the graceless Jessica Harper chicken-waltzing aimlessly across a stage. Surely De Palma realized how shitty her dancing was. But that's what makes it work. It's so unapologetically bizarre. "What? Phoenix dances any way she wants. She's a star. Fuck it." Cut to the diminutive Paul Williams lustfully pursing his tiny little lips and you have a cult film for the ages.

It takes gigantic, talented balls to make creative decisions like those. They hook you in. You have no idea what's going to appear on-screen next.

Tal later uses the above discussion to shed light on why the performances in Redacted work for him...

There are moments where the actors performances seems melodramatic ... but somehow, like Phantom of the Paradise, it just WORKS. The CHARACTERS are melodramatic. They're being recorded. They're emotional and impulsive; they posture and grandstand. In a way, the characters are more believable when they ham it up for the camera.

Redacted will screen at the Vancouver fest one more time tomorrow night.

Posted October 2 2007

Anthony Kaufman of the Village Voice interviewed Brian De Palma at the Toronto International Film Festival last month. De Palma told Kaufman that he was told that the reason the real-life faces of Iraqi civilian casualties at the end of Redacted had to be blacked out was due to fear of potential lawsuits from the victims' families. But, Kaufman writes, De Palma doesn't believe this is the case. "I think they're too upset by the pictures and I think this is an attempt to tamp them down," De Palma said. Kaufman then states that De Palma "remains committed to fighting for an uncensored director's cut." De Palma explained where he got the pictures: "I said to the producers: Go to the photographers and get the pictures they can't get published. And I got them." Saying he set out to "show the other side," De Palma told Kaufman, "We have all these infomercials created by the Bush administration. But if you go on the Web and read soldiers' blogs or look at the pictures, you go, 'Whoa!' You see a whole different story." In another passage from the interview, Kaufman writes...

While scanning the cover of The New York Times, which features a photo of suffering Sierra Leoneans, De Palma recalls seeing "a fantastic picture from Darfur, of a starving baby crawling across the ground with a huge vulture a step or so behind it," he says. "I thought this was one of the most striking images out of this particular atrocity, but there are no pictures of Iraq. Why is that?"

At the end of his article, Kaufman writes about the controversial final image of Redacted...

There is one photograph that remains in full view. Staged and shot by New York photographer Taryn Simon, the film's final picture shows, in grisly detail, the image of a young corpse that's meant to be the murdered girl, Abeer Qasim Hamza. "It's staged, but it's a real death," maintains De Palma. "That little girl really died in that war. When you shoot the crucifixion of Christ, how do you represent it? You don't have the real Jesus, so you have to do artistic rendition."

For some, this final shot will muddle the power of the documentary pictures that precede it. But De Palma sees nothing wrong with distorting reality. "If they can do this for the last six to seven years and pursue an amoral war, shouldn't I have the right to tell the other side of the story— to tell a greater truth?"

De Palma's choice of Simon to create the staged photo does not appear to be an arbitrary one. Indeed, it creates another level of irony considering Simon's latest work, An American Index Of The Hidden And Unfamiliar. In this work, currently in exhibition at MMK (and available in a hardcover book as well), Simon has managed to persuade people to allow her to photograph spaces that are normally closed off to society, such as the U.S. Customs Contraband Room at JFK airport, or a research marijuana crop grow room in Oxford, Mississippi. After getting access to photograph these spaces, Simon spends time creating her desired lighting and camera position before taking the photograph. Her purpose is to bring to light things that are normally hidden, which is what De Palma is trying to do with Redacted.

In the following excerpt from Kaufman's article, De Palma explains why he chose this particular incident to focus on, and how Redacted is linked to Casualties Of War by way of Hi, Mom!...

Shot in Amman, Jordan, the production cast the victims from among the millions of Iraqi refugees living in the country. ("Needless to say," says De Palma, "they're looking for work.") According to producer Jennifer Weiss, the girl who plays the younger sister experienced an incident in which American soldiers came into her house, put guns to her head, and killed some of her family members. "It was a very upsetting night," Weiss says of staging the rape-and-murder scene. During another sequence in which soldiers blast a car with AK-47s, "a lot of the Iraqis started to cry."

De Palma chose to reproduce this particular incident because of its resonance with Casualties of War, his own 1989 Vietnam War film. "You could do Haditha, you could do Abu Ghraib, but it clicked with me because I did a similar story with Vietnam, and, of course, you do, in fact, rape the country," he says. "It's a big metaphor. You destroy the country: burned, dead, ravished."

If overt metaphors, exaggerated dialogue ("You're not a fly-on-the-wall; you're a jackal!"), and images of bullet-ridden pregnant women seem a tad explicit, De Palma acknowledges the film is meant to be a cinematic attack, likening it to the infamous "Be Black, Baby" pseudo-doc in his 1970 Vietnam-era satire Hi! Mom, in which white audiences go to a black theater performance, only to be painted in blackface, humiliated, robbed, and terrorized. "The audience should be upset," he says. "I'm upset. I'm upset that the Fourth Estate has collaborated with the administration and sold a bill of goods to the American people about why we're there and what we're doing."

Weiss also talked to the International Herald Tribune about filming with Iraqi refugees in Jordan. "The authenticity was as accurate as we could get it," Weiss told the paper. "Wardrobe, accents, behavior, cultural differences: we involved the Iraqis we worked with in the preparation." Co-producer Simone Urdl added, "Brian knew exactly what he wanted. At the same time, it was an experiment because he had no idea how this was going to work. He didn't cover himself - it was going to work or not. Until he got back to New York and went over it with his editor, he didn't know what he had." Weiss also states, "At first Brian wasn't that interested in working in high definition. But once he came up with the concept, he decided that it was the only way he wanted to tell the story." In the following excerpt from the Herald article by Joan Dupont, the producers discuss De Palma taking them back to his roots...

De Palma saw the story of the rape and murder on the Internet. "He thought that even though this is the most documented war, the mainstream wasn't presenting it all," explained Weiss.

The director knew that he had to make the movie quickly; he let the actors improvise. While casting, he saw 600 soldiers. "He focused on the actors, not on the script," said Urdl. "Part of the reason we did such a huge casting is that it was important that they not be recognizable." The result is that they do look like real soldiers and not actors from a TV series.

For De Palma, "making this movie reminded him of when he made 'Hi Mom,' which was a bit of an antiwar statement," Urdl said. "He took us to this place in New York and said he was going back to his roots."

After mentioning that Weiss and Urdl had lunch in Toronto recently with De Palma and Canadian director Atom Egoyan ("They both have strong visions," said Urdl, and "they match intelligence and imagination - they have amazing minds"), the article delves again into De Palma's anger about the censored images in his film...

De Palma is a veteran, and "Redacted," which will be released in the United States in November and in Britain and France in March, has already taken some friendly fire. The legal team behind HDNet felt that the filmmakers were taking a risk showing the faces of murder victims. So, at the end of the movie, the faces were blacked out.

"We had gotten these images from an Iraqi photo journalist from Baghdad, in exile - we paid him for the right to use these images. We felt that the victims' humanity and pain was edited out of their lives," Urdl said.

Weiss added, "Brian was very upset: his reaction was, 'I don't want to show the film in Venice then.'"

Posted September 30 2007

Brian De Palma will participate in a post-screening discussion of Carrie at New York's Academy Theater October 15. The screening is part of Monday Nights With Oscar, an official event of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. De Palma's 1976 adaptation of the Stephen King novel garnered Oscar nominations that year for Sissy Spacek (nominated for Best Actress) and Piper Laurie (nominated for Best Supporting Actress). The screening, which begins at 7:30pm, will feature a new print from the Academy film archive, and the website states that De Palma will participate, "schedule permitting."

Posted September 29 2007
Brian De Palma's Redacted will screen in the Special Presentations section of the Montréal Festival du Nouveau Cinema, which runs October 10-21. This means that the film will screen at four film festivals around the world within this week-and-a-half time span, along with its opening at a single theater in California on October 12. Here is Variety's article about the Montreal fest line-up, and here is the fest's full line-up in pdf form.

Posted September 28 2007
The Magnolia Pictures website has added more playdates for Brian De Palma's Redacted, which will now include a theater in Chicago, as well as two more in California, when the film expands on November 16. A couple of weeks later, on November 30, two theaters in North Carolina will begin playing the film, and then on December 7, a theater in Little Rock joins the list. Redacted will have a "sneak preview" premiere on HDNet on Wednesday, November 14.

Posted September 27 2007
A must-read interview with Brian De Palma on the Jordanian set of Redacted has just been posted at HAARETZ. De Palma discusses the Legofesto website, which had recreated the rape incident in Mahmoudiya, and which De Palma had originally intended to include in his film when it was going to be more of a documentary. But the use of the brand name Lego was one of the first things the lawyers had problems with. De Palma says in the April interview that instead of Legos, "we are going to create a fake blog using clay." De Palma had to change a lot more due to the lawyers fearing litigation, so De Palma decided to fictionalize (most) everything. When the interviewer, Yael Lavie, mentions the "fair use" code of journalists (once something is reported, they can simply use it as available fact), De Palma says, "Sometimes capitalism does not enable free creativity, or speech for that matter, my dear." The article features many more great quotes and moments, such as Lavie sitting in on a rehearsal, and De Palma insisting that the actors' dialogue in one scene overlap and sound less theatrical. Go read it now...

Posted September 26 2007
According to a press release schedule, Brian De Palma's Redacted will premiere on HDNet Wednesday, November 14, about one month after premiering in a single theater (the Silver Super Saver Cinema 8 in Norwalk, California), and two days before expanding out to six more theaters. No word yet on possible availability in other networks.

Posted September 25 2007

Brian De Palma's Redacted was announced today as one of five Special Presentations to be screened at the inaugural edition of the Middle East International Film Festival, which runs October 14-19 in Abu Dhabi. Redacted looks likely to screen there in between its screenings at the New York (October 10 and 11) and London (October 18) film festivals. Joe Wright's Atonement, which was the opening night film at the Venice fest in August, will again serve as the opening night screening at MEIFF. The other three Special Presentation films are Todd Haynes' I'm Not There, Gavin Hood's Rendition, and Claude Lelouch's Roman de gare.

Posted September 25 2007
Brian De Palma's Redacted is scheduled to have its press screening today at the New York Film Festival. According to Karina Longworth at Spout, De Palma has canceled today's post-screening press conference, but is still scheduled to appear at the film's public premiere at the fest on October 10. Longworth writes:

It’s the first real disappointment of the fest, and its announcement was met with an audible sigh from the assembled press [Monday] morning. I saw the film at Telluride and would not call myself its biggest fan, but I was looking forward to hearing from De Palma’s cast of non-professional actors. No specific reason for De Palma’s last-minute cancellation was given, although as he’s still scheduled to appear at Redacted’s public NYFF premiere on October 10, we can probably chalk this up to a travel conflict. But the fact that an audience of public ticket buyers and Lincoln Center patrons will make for a softer post-screening Q & A? That’s gotta be gravy.

Longworth seems to be overlooking the amount of public protest Redacted has already been building up-- the questions are not likely to be much "softer" than any critic's fastballs.

Posted September 22 2007

An image from HDNet's ad for Redacted.

Brian De Palma and Paul Haggis discussed their respective Iraq-themed films, Redacted and In The Valley Of Elah, with The Scotsman's Stephen Applebaum. De Palma told Applebaum that the parallels between Redacted and his Vietnam saga Casualties Of War are deliberate, because the soldiers' stories from each conflict are the same. "They're like, 'What are we doing here? Everybody seems to hate me. Is that guy an insurgent or my friend? All of a sudden my buddy got blown up behind me...,'" De Palma tells Applebaum. "It's the same story from Casualties of War, and there's such anger among the soldiers. They're in a country they dislike. They don't like the people. They don't speak the language. They don't understand them. And all they realise is they're trying to kill us all the time. Why anybody would think our presence would make anything better, I don't know. Obviously our interests have to do with the oil. No-one likes to talk about it but that's the whole story. And we're going to be around for quite a while, certainly as long as we're driving our SUVs."

De Palma and Haggis agree that while the real images from Iraq make us uncomfortable, the stories the images tell are important for Americans to see. Here is a long excerpt from the article, with many quotes from De Palma, and some from Haggis:

The facts, or the reality of the war, are also De Palma's concern. Redacted is a counterblast to what he - and Haggis - regard as the mainstream media's failure to give the American people an honest picture of what is happening in Iraq. During the Vietnam war, no-one who owned a television was left in any doubt about the horror of the conflict, and it was the graphic images of carnage coming into people's living rooms which many argue helped to expand the anti-war movement and bring the troops home. It is different today, says De Palma. "The media have shielded us from the information. It's been sanitised, and nobody has any idea of what the reality on the ground is."

You can get a pretty good idea, however, looking on the internet. De Palma did most of his research online and Redacted recreates the soldiers' blogs, YouTube-style video diaries and Islamist beheading videos that he found. So why do more Americans not know about this material? I ask. "Because they're not curious and they don't want to find out," says De Palma. "Why would they? Who wants to look at pictures of dead Iraqis?"

They will have to if they watch Redacted. The film ends with a distressing montage of photographs of maimed and dead victims of the war, many of them children, that De Palma says were considered too graphic to publish by the mainstream media.

"Our journalists were doing their job in Vietnam," says Haggis. "They were there telling us things we didn't want to know and showing us things we didn't want to see. Now, all of our media refuses to show us things because they think they will make us feel uncomfortable. We should feel uncomfortable. We should feel as uncomfortable as those soldiers who are there doing this job for us."

Ironically, De Palma was forced to redact the pictures for "legal considerations", scribbling out the subjects' eyes and mouths in order to hide their identities. "I think that is terrible because now we have not even given the dignity of faces to these suffering people," he says.

Will Americans have the appetite for a film like Redacted? We'll find out when it is released there in November. "One hopes that these pictures will get the public incensed enough to motivate their Congressmen to vote against this war," says De Palma. "But if the images don't exist, how can you be incensed?"

Applebaum's article continues...

Some on the political right are already incensed. Even before anyone had seen the films, the conservative website Libertas was bristling with posts condemning De Palma and Haggis. De Palma's goal of getting the troops out was described as "immoral" by one contributor - "Terrorist rape and murder holds no interest in the Hollywood mindset" - while a recent review of In the Valley of Elah concluded that the film is "heavyhanded and cruel" propaganda designed to destroy viewers' belief in the war, the military, and the servicemen and servicewomen themselves. "Bring 'em on," says Haggis defiantly. "because you know what? The troops are with this."

But does anyone believe that a film can change anything? "It can bring some understanding about what the soldiers are going through because that's the thing that's completely forgotten," says De Palma. "We say we only lost close to 4,000 troops and had 30,000 casualties, but we don't know the psychological damage we've done to these guys. Redacted comes from a feeling that there is great injustice being done. We have to speak out, like some guy on a soap box, and provoke discussion."

In an interview with the Globe and Mail last week, De Palma talked about his annoyance that the photos in Redacted's final montage had to be redacted themselves, on the advice of lawyers and his producers. "The whole point is to show the faces," De Palma told the paper. "The government and the media have dehumanized the Iraqi population. What I hoped to show with this film is the horror of the war and what it's done to the people of that country. The irony is really incredible. It really annoys me that the lawyers can't see this." According to De Palma, his lawyers "claim that the families of the dead people in the shots could sue. But the whole point is to see the faces of the people. Then the audience will be as upset as I am."

Producers Simone Urdl and Jennifer Weiss told the Globe and Mail that they wanted to leave the faces intact, but, they insist, their hands were tied. The article continues...

"If we wanted the film to get out there, we didn't have a choice," added Urdl, who co-produced the $5-million feature. "We were forced to redact the actual images on Brian's behalf because lawyers and insurers didn't feel it was a risk they wanted to take. We didn't have much say in that. We felt it was more important for people to see the film, even with the redacted images, rather than people not have the opportunity to see it."

Urdl and Weiss said that completing the controversial film has been a challenge. "On one hand, we were telling a fictional story very much inspired by real events," Urdl said.

"And we tried to be so careful on the way because the actual events hadn't gone to trial. We had to be careful as filmmakers not to implicate anyone. We had a moral responsibility not to draw conclusions or call someone guilty. [The actual incident of the rape and murder] really was just inspiration rather than wanting to tell this exact story."

While Urdl said it was unlikely that a version with the faces revealed would ever be released, they are continuing to explore the options. "Because we believe, as filmmakers, that a lot has been taken out of the dignity of the victims, through the redaction," Urdl told the paper. "If we had a choice, we'd leave their faces." The article comcludes with the following passage:

De Palma acknowledged that the blacking out of faces could make for a potent, if unintentional, point, but "it wasn't something that I planned.

"The expressions on those faces is more powerful."

Urdl is also quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle, saying, "Brian is angry, he's upset about the war. He feels that the mainstream media has been co-opted by the government. The images of much of the war have been redacted before they get to the North American audience." Urdl told the Chronicle that they got the green light to make the movie about a year ago, as public opinion about the war was turning. She said the filmmakers wanted to make the film quickly so they could get the images out to the American public. The SF Chronicle article continues:

Weeks before the fall premiere, FOX News commentator Bill O'Reilly criticized Redacted, saying "this vile man (De Palma) and his vile film will have an effect, all right. Imagine young Muslim men, already steeped in hatred, sitting there watching a Muslim woman raped in living color. If even one of those men enters the fight and kills an American, it is on Brian De Palma."

Replied Urdl: "I just hope that when people comment on the movie that they see it first."

Posted September 21 2007

According to the Magnolia Pictures website, Brian De Palma's Redacted will open at one theater, the Silver Super Saver Cinema 8 in Norwalk, California, on October 12, 2007. That is two days after the film hits the New York Film Festival on October 10 (with another screening there October 11). About a month later, on November 16, Redacted will branch out to six more theaters: two in California, one in Washington, DC, one in Cambridge, MA, one in New York, and one in Philadelphia (these seem to all be Mark Cuban-owned Landmark Cinema theaters). Since most sites are reporting a release date of December 14 for Redacted, it would appear that may be the date for wide release of the film.

Posted September 17 2007

Posted September 17 2007
(Thanks to Ari!)

Posted September 16 2007

This HDNet ad for Brian De Palma's Redacted was posted on YouTube earlier today. Opening with the sound of an explosion as the titles on screen read, "From the director of Scarface," Rage Against The Machine's Bulls On Parade fades in as a soundtrack for that film's "Say hello to my little friend" finale, followed by Robert De Niro beating a crony's head with a baseball bat from The Untouchables. Then the music picks up ("Quit it now!") as Sean Penn and Michael J. Fox butt heads in Casualties Of War, afterwhich the music cuts to Buffalo Springfield's For What It's Worth. After "A Film By Brian De Palma" and the title Redacted, clips from CNN are scanned, amidst the onscreen titles, "Modern Media War Coverage... Exposed." The ad intercuts clips from Redacted with shots of the making of the film, and features an interview with Ty Jones. Clips from De Palma's Carrie and Body Double also pop up to illustrate that De Palma is "as controversial as he is successful." At the end, the ad says Redacted is "Coming Fall 2007."

Posted September 15 2007

An image from Brian De Palma's Redacted

It looks like the current plan by Magnolia is to give Brian De Palma's Redacted "a traditional platform release in early autumn," according to an article by Screen Daily's Geoffrey Macnab, writing from the Venice Film Festival August 31st. After that, according to Macnab, "the studio will try to build the audience up as debate around the movie grows." Producer Jason Kliot told Macnab that De Palma would love an internet release for the film, but since distributors are still nervous about "jumping into something that will diminish the value of the film as a film," the studio felt it was better not to hamper the potential of Redacted by straying too far from the norm.

Meanwhile, as the Toronto film fest winds down today, there are still at least two more festivals on the horizon for Redacted: the New York Film Festival, which runs from September 28 through October 14 (Redacted will screen there October 10 and 11), and the London Film Festival, which runs from October 17 through November 1 (Redacted will screen there on October 18 and 19). For those in the New York area, indieWIRE will present an evening with Redacted producers Jason Kliot and Joana Vicente at the Apple Store SoHo at 7:30pm Wednesday, Sept 19th (thanks to Space Ace for that info!).

The mother of Pfc. Jesse Spielman, the soldier recently sentenced to 110 years in prison for his part in the Mahmudiyah incident, tells her local newspaper, the Chambersburg Public Opinion, that she will watch De Palma's Redacted when it is released. "I just want to see it," Nancy Hess told the paper. "I don't know why. We know how people feel. They are going to believe what they want, whether it is fact or not. I know many will take it as truth. That's what he (De Palma) wants."

The article quotes Mark Sachleben, a political science professor at Shippensburg University and co-author of Seeing the Bigger Picture: Understanding Politics through Film and Television. "From what I've heard about De Palma's film, it seems that he is looking to question the military's role in Iraq in a very blatant way," Sachleben tells the paper. "Those types of films don't usually play as well with the public. They only play well with the segment of society that is interested, or predisposed to being opposed to the war, not necessarily to the broader public at large." Sachleben said that the movie's influence outside the U.S. also has the potential to be positive. "The prevalence of American films worldwide helps the United States to get its view of politics out to the world," Sachleben said. "What impact Mr. De Palma's film has is difficult to say, but a likely impact will be to demonstrate that there is a diversity of opinion in the United States about the war in Iraq. In those countries where there is strong public opposition to the war there might be some solace that their views are mirrored in the debate within the United States."

It seems that two camps are developing in regards to two of the Iraq films screened at the Toronto fest. According to Ty Burr of the Boston Globe, "Brian De Palma's Redacted and Nick Broomfield's Battle for Haditha drove audiences into opposing camps... People liked one and hated the other; there was no middle ground. Either you found the crudeness of the De Palma film intentional and politically electrifying, or you preferred the craft and humanity of Broomfield's film." There appears to be at least some evidence of Burr's observation on the talkback forum of Jeffrey Wells' Hollywood Elsewhere column, where "JD" wrote the following yesterday:

I thought Haditha was totally inept. Broomfield has no skill for visual filmmaking. The only thing he's capable of shooting is catch-as-catch-can coverage. De Palma, on the other hand, shows some real flair and imagination... but his movie is more like a Jean-Luc Godard film than a conventional narrative drama so the commercial prospects aren't good. That said, it lacks the complexity of Godard's best work and has too many awkward, embarrassing moments. Still, a satisfactory and original effort.

Jim Emerson agrees that Redacted brings De Palma back to the Godardian mode of his early counterculture efforts such as Greetings and Hi, Mom! However, Emerson doesn't think the new film's techniques work as well. "The night raid scene in Redacted," writes Emerson, "is the 'Be Black, Baby' National Intellectual Television documentary in Hi Mom! But what seemed radical and revolutionary and experimental in the late 1960s and early 1970s is now fairly commonplace. Adding references to Arab satellite networks and Islamist web sites and video conferencing doesn't have the same impact. We've all seen this sort of thing in other movies and on network TV." Emerson says that De Palma makes several prominent references to Stanley Kubrick (Paths Of Glory, Barry Lyndon, and Full Metal Jacket), but wonders why De Palma does not include adequate representation of the decent soldiers and Marines who find themsleves "ill-equipped to deal with situations beyond anything their leaders told them to expect." Emerson concludes by writing, "There's a scene in which the two 'bad apples' (did Donald Rumsfeld shoot this bit?) shoot their own badass video post-mortem that is so callous and crazy and pointless that I began to wonder if De Palma had suddenly decided to include it just to feed material to the Fox News agit-prop machine."

Posted September 14 2007

An image from Brian De Palma's Redacted

According to two recent reviews from the Toronto film fest, the montage of real photographs at the end of Redacted includes at least one photograph that was "staged" by director Brian De Palma and his team. Ryan Stewart at Cinematical states that at the Q&A following a Toronto screening, one of the film's producers "acknowledged that some" of the photographs were staged, while LA Weekly's Scott Foundas states distinctly that "De Palma inserts a single staged photograph into the montage of 'actual' Iraq combat photos that concludes the film." This was apparently one of several things that bothered some viewers about the film, and it is interesting to note that De Palma employed a sort of reverse technique in his previous picture, last year's The Black Dahlia. In that film, an actual police photo of Elizabeth Short was mixed in with the film's staged photos of Mia Kirshner posing as Short. Prior to Dahlia, De Palma made Femme Fatale, which ended by showing a montage of photos on a wall of an apartment that, in the fiction of the film, were all taken by Nicolas Bardo (played by Antonio Banderas), but in reality were taken by De Palma's brother, Bart De Palma, and included shots of the film crew making De Palma's Femme Fatale (the creation of the film bleeding into the film itself).

The 2000's are becoming the decade in which De Palma seems to be delving ever deeper into the true meaning of the image, whether its origin is "real" or staged. I have yet to see Redacted, but Foundas more than wets the appetite with his discussion of the film's shifting perspectives, and the way the film's subjects are always aware they are on camera. Here is an excerpt...

The movie begins as the purported video diary of an American army Private, morphs into a French documentary with delusions of humanistic grandeur, becomes a Muslim fundamentalist website's streaming video of IED attacks on U.S. soldiers, and sheds its skin nearly a dozen more times before it's over. Each time the form of the film shifts, so does the perspective on the material: Did, for example, American soldiers indiscriminately open fire on a pregnant Iraqi woman after waving her through a checkpoint, as is reported by an Al Jazeera-like TV network? Or was it just a matter of linguistic confusion, as appears to be the case from the French documentary? And do such distinctions even matter given the chilly lack of remorse exhibited, in the video diary scenes, by the soldier who pulled the trigger?

Redacted poses many such questions and offers few conclusive answers, splintering and obfuscating the “truth” at every possible juncture—sometimes obviously, sometimes less so—as when De Palma inserts a single staged photograph into the montage of “actual” Iraq combat photos that concludes the film. For those and other reasons, Redacted has angered many viewers here, as it did in its Labor Day weekend screenings at the Telluride Film Festival, and that, I would argue, proves just how effective the movie is. De Palma wants to rankle audiences, especially those who may enter the theater anticipating some genteel, hand-wringing, good-little-liberal lament about the physical and emotional scars of wartime. Redacted is unapologetically angry and direct, and De Palma does very little to ease you into the movie. Some have suggested that this is evidence of haphazard construction, or shoddy acting by the film's largely unknown cast, but it is the entire point of Redacted that we are observing crude, found video objects, and that their subjects, aware of the camera that's recording them, assume the awkwardly self-conscious stances of people in vacation pictures and birthday-party videos.

Indeed, the biggest enigma of Redacted may be that anyone could take the film's dizzying manipulations of image and reality as anything less than fully intentional on the part of a director who has spent his entire career pondering the art of voyeurism and who is on record as saying, “Where the camera is placed is, to me, as important as the material itself.”

Posted September 14 2007

Read transcript

Posted September 13 2007

(Thanks to Jon Rubin at the 24liesasecond forum!)

Posted September 13 2007

Hostel director Eli Roth mostly defended Brian De Palma and Redacted during an interview with FOX News host Neil Cavuto on September 11. Roth even daringly took Cavuto to task for focusing on Paris Hilton the last time he was on Cavuto's program, instead of doing his duty by discussing something important, such as the situation in Iraq (more on that below). During the discussion, however, both Roth and Cavuto showed signs that they were both talking about a film they had not seen, despite Cavuto's attempts to sound like he knew all there is to know about the film, and despite the fact that Roth was in Venice on the day Redacted premiered there August 31st (Roth was seen that same day at the fest's Michael Clayton premiere, but must not have had a chance to see Redacted).

Cavuto and Roth seem to be under the misconception that the only horrific act the film shows is the rape of the Iraqi girl by the U.S. soldiers, leading Roth to agree with Cavuto that Redacted is "one sided." In fact, several reviews have commented how the film shows the cycle of recrimination, from all sides. Cavuto cites Redacted and A Mighty Heart at the beginning of the piece, taking the latter film to task for not showing the horrible beheading of journalist Daniel Pearl. Cavuto asks, "But why doesn’t Hollywood then, to be fair, show the acts of horror that the terrorists commit? Those seem to be glossed over. Take the movie Mighty Heart, about the hunt for Daniel Pearl’s killers. Nowhere in that movie is his beheading shown."

However, there is a harrowing beheading of a U.S. soldier shown in De Palma's Redacted (in fact, a review by Ryan Stewart at Cinematical actually complains that the rape scene is "upstaged" by the images of this beheading). There is also a soldier being blown to bits by an Iraqi-planted bomb. Cavuto is obviously unaware of this, and Roth must be, too, since he never corrects Cavuto on this point. Cavuto, purposely misleading his audience in his intro, even goes so far as to imply that FOX has footage from Redacted beyond all the clips that have already been shown in media stories everywhere, by saying (as clips from the film run onscreen), "For obvious reasons, uh, we’re not going to show you how graphic this scene [of the 'raping and killing'] is, but it did happen, and it was indeed atrocious, and Hollywood has every right to show it." The implication is that FOX has seen the film, but just like they won't show us the real-life images that De Palma says have been redacted, they will also not show the scene from De Palma's film (which they seem to believe is the only "graphic" scene in the film).

More about Roth's comments below, but it is worth noting that Roth posted a follow-up to the FOX interview on his MySpace blog, and one of his readers, Jimmy Hemphill, then posted the following response (which hopefully Roth will read)...

Cavuto proved he's a boob once again with his whole line of reasoning on REDACTED--the fact is that the movie (which I, unlike Cavuto and all the right wing idealogues who are slamming it, have actually seen) IS just as graphic in its presentation of violence against U.S. troops as it is in portraying violence perpetrated by them. We see one guy get beheaded and another U.S. Sergeant blown to bits by insurgents, and De Palma never turns the camera away a la A MIGHTY HEART. So what the hell is Cavuto's beef? Glad to see you up there defending The Man.


Meanwhile, someone has posted the September 11 clip from the O'Reilly Factor, in which O'Reilly decides he doesn't need to see (and, in fact, refuses to see) Redacted. Near the end of the discussion, O'Reilly states, "You know, and we have other movies coming out too in the fall. We're not going to condemn them without seeing them. We've seen enough of this De Palma thing. We've heard his own words. We know why he made the movie-- to undermine the war in Iraq." O'Reilly said he wants to bury this movie, and to "embarrass De Palma."

Below is a transcript of the rest of the discussion between Cavuto and Roth, where Roth at one point runs through some knowledgeable history of De Palma's war-themed films...

Cavuto: I don’t begrudge Hollywood doing these type of movies. I guess I begrudge the fact that we then assume that the other guys don’t do anything approaching that. What do you think?

Roth: Well, I think that with the example of A MIGHTY HEART, that’s a situation where everyone who’s gone to see that film knows what happened to Daniel Pearl, and most all of us have seen the images. The De Palma film REDACTED, and this rape, it’s a horrible thing, is much more of a reaction to the fact that the news we’re getting from Iraq has been so sanitized, that we don’t really see any of these horrible things that are going on, that you’re seeing filmmakers like, you know, like Brian De Palma that are speaking out, that are showing that there are horrible things that the U.S. army is committing over there.

Cavuto: All right, but would you say that those horrible things (and this was a horrible, factual incident) is the minority? And not only that, the real distinct minority, and that soldiers are then interpreted by the foreign viewers seeing them, to all be butchers, rapists, and murderers?

Roth: No. I do think that, number one, I do think that it is the minority. I think it’s absolutely the minority. But I think that it just speaks to a much larger problem, and that we’re not even shown images of bodies that are coming back from Iraq. These American soldiers that are dying over there, you know, we’re not seeing anything. It’s so sanitized, that an image comes up, that you see Lynndie England and a pile of bodies, it’s so shocking, but it makes everyone think, “What’s really going on over there?” I think that if there was actually a more balanced view of what was happening, if we got to see some of the bad stuff as well, then there wouldn’t be films like this coming out.

Cavuto: But Eli, would you say this much: De Palma has said that he hopes this movie could get us out of Iraq, and show the futility of being in Iraq, and that that really was his mission, as well, going into this film. Would it have killed him, then, to show violence perpetrated on our troops—troops that are blown up with land mines and the like. To illustrate the point, if you feel that American soldiers are so awful, that a lot of horrible stuff happens to them, too. It’s fairly one-sided in this film, wouldn’t you agree?

Roth: Well, I completely agree that it is one-sided, Neil. I’m not saying that Brian De Palma’s movie is a fair and equal balanced portrayal of our troops. I’m not saying that at all. But if you look at Brian De Palma’s history, he’s a provocateur. He made a film 40 years ago called GREETINGS, about three guys dodging Vietnam…

Cavuto: Yes…

Roth: And then he made a film called HI MOM, where it’s Robert De Niro coming back from Vietnam, where he joins this kind of Black Panther-type organization and becomes an urban terrorist. He already made a film called CASUALTIES OF WAR, where soldiers rape a girl, and Michael J. Fox sees that they’re brought to justice. I think his mission now is to get people talking. I don’t think he’s trying to convince people that the U.S. army is evil. I think he just wants people discussing Iraq…

Cavuto: [Interrupting] But, Eli, guys like you and Brian De Palma have enormous sway and influence, especially over young and impressionable minds. And I think it is fair to say, don’t you, that people who might not know much else about our involvement in Iraq would equate the butchery of those soldiers involved in this rape and killing, with being typical of all American soldiers. So is there not a burden placed on you, as artists, to be truthful?

Roth: Uh, not necessarily, Neil. I think that if you’re putting out a movie like that… first of all, it’s not our responsibility to educate the American public. It’s more the responsibility of a channel like FOX News. Now, for example, last time I was on, you had myself, Ann Coulter, Buzz Aldrin, and Bill O’Reilly, and the only questions you asked us about were Paris Hilton. You had a one hour show where you have far more influence than I do, to talk about Iraq…

Cavuto: [Interrupting] No no no, I also asked, in your case, about criticism of some of your movies. And I said that I like your movies. [Ed. note: Roth’s facial expression here is priceless, as though he cannot believe Cavuto just said this in defense of what Roth was just ranting about.] Eli, what I’m asking you in this particular case is, do you think that when you make a movie out of sole fiction, as you do, vs. when De Palma’s making a movie based on an historical incident, a fact, and then equates that incident with typifying the behavior of soldiers, intentionally or not, there is a distinct difference with that, is there not?

Roth: Yeah, there absolutely is. Because I’m not presenting my film as fact, and he is presenting his film as that this actually happened. Although I do think that we shouldn’t shy away from these incidents. I think it’s actually worse to not discuss it than to discuss it. If De Palma puts that movie out there, at least people are talking about [that] this happened, and maybe we can get to the root of the problem of why this is happening, and then maybe that will stir up more stories of heroism, and you can have it more equally balanced. But I think to completely ignore it is the real crime.

Cavuto: All right. Eli, always good having you. You speak your mind.

Roth: Pleasure to be here, Neil.

Redacted premiere party at Toronto Sept. 10, 2007
Left-to-right: Daniel Stewart Sherman, Brian De Palma,
Patrick Carroll, Kel O'Neill, Rob Devaney and Ty Jones.

Posted September 12 2007
Jared at Buffalo Spree posts from the Toronto International Film Festival, where he attended the press conference with the cast of Redacted:

[The] underlying theme [in Redacted] is helped expressed so effectively because of the wonderful acting at hand. Every scene was mapped out before, but since they were filmed in continuous digital camera shots, almost all sequences were ad-libbed for realism. Each actor went through a two-week boot camp and was able to interview army soldiers in preparation for the role, but in the end, they created who their role would be and ran with it. The four actors that attended the screening seemed very proud of the film and the message that they are expressing with it. The shoot was hard and fast and one must give them a lot of credit for creating such a realistic end result. Between main filming and the second unit footage used for the “Barrage” moments, everything was put to camera in 18 days. Special mention should be made for Patrick Carroll, Rob Devaney, and Kel O’Neill, (who showed his great sense of humor during the Q&A), for really shining above all else.

Posted September 11 2007

Jay Stone at the Montreal Gazette talked with Brian De Palma at the Toronto fest, where the director said that Redacted was designed to raise questions about the situation in Iraq, and about how the press is covering it. De Palma is quoted, "What are we doing over there? What is the reason we're in there? It's obviously due to some crazy policy that somebody thought they had to get done, or some political thing that had to be repaid or whatever. But in terms of common sense, what are we doing there?" De Palma then turns his attention to the way most American experience the war through the media. "It's important to show that you can lie with seemingly real documentary footage," he told Stone. "That's another point. You think this stuff is real."

De Palma told Duane Dudek of the Journal Sentinel that while researching Redacted's true story on the internet, he eventually decided to simulate "all the digital ways the story was being told." De Palma said he didn't know what to call the result (whether it is a film, or something different). "All I can say," De Palma told Dudek, "is I that I discovered the stories of the soldiers, people who were angry about the war, wives of soldiers and the actual news stories about the incident were all . . . in a very unique form (like) these YouTube postings that nobody knew about two or three years ago. It's a whole new information media, and since it's somewhat free, you tend to get more a more candid and honest look at what's going on." Dudek's article continues...

De Palma said the soldiers who commit such atrocities were sent to "wreak damage on a country where they don't understand the people, can't speak the language, can't tell the enemy from civilians. And then your best buddy is blown up next to you. That's what this movie is trying to show; how these guys go off the rails."

While the barrage of news from Iraq can be desensitizing, he said, films "can take such information and construct it in a dramatic and emotional way."

De Palma, who directed violent films such as "Scarface," "Carrie" and "The Untouchables," argued that the violence in "Redacted," including a beheading and gruesome photos of civilian victims, is important because "since the images we saw in Vietnam turned the public against" that war, "the architects of this war learned to keep (such) images off the television and out of the newspapers."

Showing such images in films like "Redacted," he said, "can only help the situation."

De Palma reiterated what he'd said in Venice last week: "I want them to show the pictures like they did in Vietnam," he said. "I think that would get people in the street and there would be a huge protest and the war would come to a quick end." But the film screened in Toronto still featured the black bars over the real faces of those killed in the conflict because, as Stone puts it, "film company lawyers thought the relatives might sue over emotional upset." De Palma continued, "The lawyers redacted my images. I'm still fighting with the lawyers to get them unredacted."

De Palma acknowledged to Stone that now that he has been "revved up" by this low-budget, political project, it may be difficult to go back to normal Hollywood filmmaking. "There are so many more things I want to do in terms of this war and also the way the media have represented it," he told Stone. "There's another movie to be made there. And this time I will get the pictures out. I will not get redacted."

Posted September 11 2007
Brian De Palma gave several interviews yesterday at the Toronto International Film Festival, and while many of them have to wait until the journalists get back home from the fest to transcribe their many converstions, the Globe and Mail's James Adams published his in today's editions. Under the headline, "De Palma's Comeback," Adams writes about what he saw as a "philosophical" De Palma after winning his Silver Lion for Best Director this past weekend at the Venice Film Festival. "Y'know, I've kinda seen it all," De Palma said to Adams. "I've been up and I've been down. Everything from now on, you're just glad you're alive, that you have your faculties about you and that your children are healthy."

De Palma told Adams that Redacted "has been kind of a miracle film. Everything's sorta worked out." He said he was given the money to make whatever kind of film he wanted (as Cuban has said, HDNet gives filmmakers carte blanche). All HDNet wanted was for De Palma "to make a film in high-def," he laughingly told Adams. "I coulda made a movie about my cat. They didn't care." And on an intriguing note, De Palma mentioned to Adams that he expects to return to the types of political themes and aesthetics used in Redacted in the future. Here's looking forward to some innovative new cinema from De Palma... (Thanks to Jack Terri at the 24liesasecond forum for the link to this interview!)

CNN's JD Cargill interviewed De Palma at Toronto for a future CNN report, and also introduced a "giddy" De Palma to Laura Linney. And the Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips said that De Palma "had a simple answer to one audience member's question about the lack of protest regarding the war: 'They're not seeing the pictures [of casualties] that we saw during Vietnam.'" Meanwhile, Bill O'Reilly is threatening to talk about De Palma's Redacted on his O'Reilly Factor FOX News program tonight.

Posted September 9 2007

George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead

Time Out Chicago's Ben Kenigsberg has posted a review from the Toronto Film Festival, where Brian De Palma's Redacted had a screening this morning (the official screening with press conference is tomorrow). Kenigsberg attended the midnight premiere of George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead the night before seeing Redacted, and found the two films linked by themes of the Iraq war and modern forms of do-it-yourself (DIY) media. (He also noted that De Palma's film includes an allusion to his own adaptation of Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire Of The Vanities.) Here is an excerpt from Kenigsberg's post:

George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead—the fifth movie in Romero’s zombie anthology—was conceived as the director’s return to low-budget filmmaking, following 2005’s very fine Land of the Dead. That’s in part a function of the story: An allegory the media’s failure to question the rush to war with Iraq, is shot in the manner of Blair Witch, with the no-name cast members taking turns videotaping each other. What initially seems like amateurishness is actually the film’s style—a call to advocacy, to record reality through DIY means before it can be distorted by the media and the government.

Romero said he was inspired by the rise in blogging and so-called “unofficial” journalism in the past few years, and he was careful to emphasize that, unlike in Blair Witch, the seemingly tossed-off aesthetic was operating in service of a linear story. This isn’t technically a sequel to the previous four Dead films because it starts from the beginning, the first day when the dead begin to walk the earth. The allusions to Iraq are frequent and overt: Non-zombies are written off as collateral damage, and relative safety can only be found in the homes of the wealthy...

In any case, Diary made for a pointed and entertaining contrast with one of this morning’s movies, Brian De Palma’s seriously off-putting Iraq film Redacted, which employs the same basic concept: soldiers videotape themselves during the weeks leading up to and after the rape-murder of a 15-year-old girl. This movie is De Palma’s attempt to get political, but ever the homage fetishist (would it kill him to make one movie in which the camera didn’t circle a card table à la Howard Hawks’s Scarface?), he litters the movie with in-jokes, including references to his own oeuvre (scenes repeated almost verbatim from Casualties of War, even a winking allusion to The Bonfire of the Vanities).

Kenigsberg says that Redacted is "cruder and less direct" than Diary Of The Dead, and said that De Palma's film is "too interesting to dismiss but too muddled to take seriously."

Posted September 9 2007

Brian De Palma and Jonathan Demme arrive at the
Cinema Palace before the award ceremony at Venice

Brian De Palma was his ever cynical, radical self at the podium as he received his Silver Lion for Best Director at the Venice Film Festival yesterday. According to Stephanie Bunbury at the Sydney Morning Herald, after accepting his award from fellow director (and jury member) Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, De Palma said, "Prizes are always great because it helps your film to be seen. But critics and prizes just tell you what the fashion of the day is. We don't make movies to get prizes."

De Palma's statement attests to the tendency for many films to be overlooked in their own time, only to be praised years later, while many films that do win awards are often looked back on as hardly memorable. But the films that win the awards reflect the currents of culture in that specific moment in time, and many filmmakers doing their best work get easily overlooked.

Brian De Palma receives the Silver Lion for best
director from jury member Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Posted September 8 2007
The lions have roared, and Brian De Palma has been honored with the Silver Lion for Best Director at the Venice Film Festival. His film Redacted also won the Digital Award from Venice's Future Film Festival, as well as the Cinema for UNICEF award.

Snapshot from Drudge Report 8:30pm CST September 8, 2007

The Golden Lion for best film went to Ang Lee's Lust, Caution, a surprise to most as Lee's film had been written off by critics after its world premiere last week. But the jury at the Venice fest, made up of all film directors, have lived in a different world than the critics and public the past week and a half. The award for Best Cinematography went to Lust, Caution's Rodrigo Prieto. Todd Haynes' I'm Not There shared the Special Jury Prize with Abdellatif Kechiche's The Grain Of Life, while Cate Blanchett won the best actress prize for her role as Bob Dylan in Haynes' film. Best actor went to Brad Pitt for his role in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and Best script went to Paul Laverty for It's A Free World, directed by Ken Loach. The Marcello Mastroianni award for best young actor or actress went to The Grain Of Life's Hafsia Herzi, while Nikita Mikhalkov won the Special Lion for overall work. Bernardo Bertolucci was also presented with a Golden Lion for his career achievement.

Posted September 7 2007
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Brian De Palma's Redacted "won the Digital Award from the Future Film Festival, as the Venice event's best film made using digital technologies." This comes on the heels of yesterday's announcement that Redacted would receive the Cinema for UNICEF award at the Venice Film Festival. Other early Venice honors, according to the Hollywood Reporter, went to Wes Anderson's Darjeeling Limited, which was awarded the Golden Lion Cub ("an award selected by school children"), and Ed Radtke's The Speed Of Life, which won the Queer Lion award ("The story was judged to have featured the most accurate portrayal of a gay character out of the 57 new feature films screening in Venice").

Posted September 7 2007

Brian De Palma arrives for screening of Redacted
Friday at the Deauville Festival of American Cinema

At the 24liesasecond forum, "Jon Rubin" reports on today's screening of Brian De Palma's Redacted at the Deauville Festival Of American Cinema. Rubin said that De Palma avoided the standing ovation "by saying goodbye after less than one minute." There was a short press conference afterward, and at the end, according to Rubin, De Palma thanked the press for its intelligent questions.

Rubin indicates that there are shades of De Palma's previous film, The Black Dahlia, during a scene near the end where one of the soldiers returns to the U.S. and meets some of his friends at a bar. Rubin says that De Palma provides the off-screen voice of the buddy who is filming, just as he did in last year's Dahlia, where he played the off-screen director needling Mia Kirshner's Betty Short (which itself was an echo of De Palma-as-off-screen-director's voice in 1967's Murder a la Mod). Here is what Rubin wrote on the forum: "The soldier speak[s] about the rape and so on and then cr[ies] on his wife's shoulder, while BDP is saying 'hey we're celebrating, let's take this picture, give me a smile'. Echo of the dahlia, surely." Below is the returning soldier's monologue as written in De Palma's screenplay for Redacted. The soldier is responding to his buddy's off-screen voice, asking him to tell them some of his war stories...

Okay. But it's nothing like you expect. When I went over there first, to Afghanistan, I was there to get some licks for what they did to the Towers. I wanted to be a war hero. I was all amped up to kill for my country. But Iraq was a totally different story. You grow up fast there because all you see is dying. And the killing I did there made me sick. These feelings, the horrible snapshots stuck in my brain, the smells... And I'm feeling bad about myself. You know you need a good fucking reason for one of your buddies to die in your arms or be blown up in front of you. And there was a lot of shit that went down there that I don't know how to live with... I went on a raid in Samarra and the other men raped and killed and set on fire a 14 year-old girl and I did nothing to stop them.


Patrick Carroll arrives for Redacted
screening Friday at Deauville

Rubin, who said he found Redacted "beautiful," said he was impressed by how good the high definition film looked "on such a big screen." He wrote, "If Miami Vice was using the device to create impressionist pieces (the High of HD), Redacted is more on the Definition side." He also said actor Patrick Carroll is "amazing" in the film.

Posted September 7 2007

From the French website Comme au Cinema

Venice round-up via YouTube

(Thanks to Jon Rubin at the 24liesasecond forum!

Posted September 6 2007
News out of Venice today is that Brian De Palma's Redacted will receive the Cinema for UNICEF Award tomorrow in a ceremony to be held at the Hotel Excelsior. This prize is also awarded annually at the Venice Film Festival award ceremony, which takes place on Saturday (September 8th). The award goes to the film "that best transmits the values and ideals of UNICEF, giving voice and face to the rights of children." Stefano Dammicco, founder of Eagle Pictures, which will distribute Redacted in Italy, will accept the award tomorrow. De Palma will be in Deauville, giving a press conference following a screening of Redacted.

Posted September 6 2007
In his blog, Mark Cuban posts his statement to Bill O'Reilly in its entirety, and includes the entire e-mail exchange between himself and an O'Reilly Factor producer. In one part, Cuban writes of Redacted, "And this is one of many movies we produce. I actually have seen it and think it is an amazing movie. But to answer your question, I didnt read the script or know all that much about it before we greenlit it. As we do with several big name directors, we give them carte blanche in producing their movies."

Posted September 5 2007

FOX News' Bill O'Reilly did a double segment on "two brutal attacks on the U.S. military" Tuesday night. O'Reilly started with Tim Robbins (who discussed the Iraq war on Bill Maher's Real Time last week) and then moved on to Redacted, saying that Mark Cuban and Brian De Palma have "teamed up" to make a movie about "U.S. soldiers raping Iraqi women." (Yes, he actually spun it that way, even though the tragic rape at the center of the film is of a 14-year old girl). O'Reilly said that Cuban won't come on The O'Reilly Factor to discuss the film, but did send a statement about Redacted, which has been criticized (by people who have not seen the film) for presenting this single incident as though it were the norm for the U.S. military. Here is Cuban's statement as read out loud by O'Reilly:

It doesn’t represent the norm, and the movie doesn’t say that it represents the norm. The movie is fully pro-troops. The hero of the movie is a soldier who stands up for what is right in the face of adversity. Maybe Bill O’Reilly can attempt to be fair and balanced, and actually see the movie before he thinks he knows what he’s talking about.

O'Reilly then said, "Okay, I’d like to see the movie. I haven’t seen the movie… We’re going to do more reporting on this Redacted film when we get the script—we will get it, we will look at it, and, you know, we’re going to hold Mark Cuban and Brian De Palma responsible. If it is a pro-troop movie, then we will say that as well. Fair?"

Posted September 4 2007

Paul Haggis and Brian De Palma arriving for screening
of Haggis' In The Valley Of Elah September 4th at Deauville

Apparently, subtitle issues have led to the planned screenings of Redacted at the Deauville Festival Of American Cinema being delayed until Friday, September 7th. The film was supposed to screen for the press on Monday, with a public screening planned for today (Tuesday). Brian De Palma was supposed to give a press conference on Wednesday, but now that has been moved to Friday, right after the film screening. De Palma arrived at Deauville on Monday and caught a screening of The Assasination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford. (Thanks to Jon Rubin at the 24liesasecond forum for the info out of Deauville!) On Tuesday, De Palma posed with Paul Haggis on the red carpet at Deauville as the two arrived for a screening of Haggis' In The Valley Of Elah. And in case anybody forgot, there is one other film about the Iraq war that is likely to cause a stir this festival season: Nick Broomfield's Battle For Haditha is scheduled to make its world premiere on Monday, September 10th at the Toronto International Film Festival, the same day the festival will be screening De Palma's Redacted.

Posted September 4 2007

In this clip from BBC TV, Brian De Palma is asked if he is worried about what the reaction will be to his new film Redacted in the U.S. He replies:

Well, that’s already pre-programmed. I mean, they’re already ranting and raving about it, you know. I mean, when you get a banner headline on the Drudge Report, you know you’re in trouble already. I mean, the right wing is going to come at this film. I mean, I’ve done something that is… it just can’t be done. You can’t ever say anything critical of the troops.

Posted September 4 2007

Brian De Palma called Variety's Anne Thompson Sunday morning to talk to her about Redacted. According to Thompson, De Palma cites Paul Greengrass' docudrama United 93 as an inspiration, and he reconstructs for Thompson how his own $5 million project that was initially to be done using found footage from the likes of CNN and YouTube, ended up being a reconstructed docudrama (or, as the press notes call it, "a fictional documentary"). De Palma met HDNet's Laird Adamson at last year's Toronto International Film Festival. Adamson told De Palma, "We'll give you $5 million and you can make whatever you want." Thompson writes:

De Palma thought about what would lend itself to that format. He was impressed by HBO's Baghdad ER, which brought back his own memories of haunting the ER when his father was on duty, of "sorrow and suffering. I said to myself, 'boy some people will see this and think hard about what we're doing over there.' HD has intimacy on TV; it's more vivid than film."

Then De Palma found a shocking event, the March, 2006 rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl and her family in Mahmudiya; five U.S. soldiers were charged; four were sentenced to five to 110 years. Redacted was "inspired" by that horrific episode, a word that De Palma has been told to use by HDNet Film's lawyers.

Thompson continues:

"It was almost the exact same incident we did in Casualties of War," he says. "You can't tell the insurgents from the people they're supposed to be protecting. In Casualties of War they were abducting a farm girl. There was the usual frustration trying to tell someone about it. It was impossible to get justice. Everyone wants it covered up and forgotten. I wanted to tell that story again, about Iraq."

After delving into De Palma's roots as a documentary filmmaker, Thompson continues...

This is where things got tricky. De Palma couldn't get the rights to use the original story, nor could he get CNN or Skye News or YouTube to let him use their material or logos or newsrooms. "Everyone bailed out on us," he says. He wound up using the Arab media instead, filming real Arab newcasters. HDNet's lawyers told him he couldn't use anything real about this true event. He had to fictionalize it. They insisted that he show them a script. Instead of chasing down a documentary about what was really going on and how it was being told---or not told, in the American media--De Palma tried to recreate it in fictional form with inexperienced young actors, relying on young Canadian producers to show him how to film on the cheap.

Thompson'a article continues:

De Palma admits that he used his characters in Casualties of War as protoypes for Redacted's raw recruits, and wrote the script himself. "It was irritating," he says. "When we started I said 'give me $5 million, and I'll give you a movie.' I wanted to do it like Hi Mom with some younger actors, we'd write a scene and they'd do some improv off it, like Cassavetes. But I kept on getting notes: where's the script?"

Thompson's article continues...

The script had to be vetted by lawyers. De Palma had to write the whole thing, word for word, "like I was doing a legal brief," he says. He sent his long-time second unit director Eric Schwab to Amman, Jordan to put the production together; Schwab shot the stylized French documentary about the agonizingly slow repetitive anxiety at an American checkpoint. "He's used to working in every crazy capitol in the world," says De Palma. "He emailed me locations while I was rounding up my cast. We had to make it look like real people, not actors."

De Palma tells Thompson that the actors were so well-rehearsed, shooting was completed in only 18 days instead of the planned 24. Thompson then reiterates what many have been saying about the acting in the film:

In the end, while there are riveting and upsetting sequences that are all-too-believable and hard to watch, many of the dialogue scenes with the soldiers lack that punch of the real. It feels like we're watching young thespians spew dialogue.

De Palma then raves to Thompson about how his whole purpose was to get these images out to the public, but the images are still being restrained. Referring to the images that make up the film's final montage, De Palma tells Thompson, "Europeans are mystified as to why Americans are prosecuting this war, why there are no protests in the streets like the 60s. I say it's because they don't have the pictures. The pictures will stop the war. The irony is even these pictures have been redacted due to ridiculous legalities. E & O insurance has gotten skittish since 9/11 about insuring anything. They're worried about the relatives of the people who died in Iraq in the pictures. I'm still fighting all the way. It's outrageous, obscene the way they redacted the faces with black lines across them so as not to be identified. Don't get me started! You can't see these pictures in the U.S. and you hardly see them in my movie. Redacted is being redacted."

Meanwhile, there was an article published this past weekend in the Globe and Mail about the producers of Redacted, Simone Urdl and Jennifer Weiss. De Palma had been invited by the pair to the Toronto Film Festival in 2005 and 2006 to mentor young Canadian filmmakers as part of the fest's Talent Lab. The picture above shows De Palma at the Toronto Fest 2006 party for Away From Her, which Urdl and Weiss produced. After getting the offer from HDNet, De Palma was having dinner with Urdl and Weiss, and asked them to consider producing the project. Urdl tells the paper:

He thought of us because we'd just produced [Away From Her] for $5-million and he was impressed," said Ms. Urdl, 40. "We said, 'Why don't you do something political?' And he said, 'Funny you mention that because that would be the only thing I really want to do because the media plays too heavily into politics.' He had a story about Iraq he wanted to tell through this medium."

By the end of October, the project got the green light. In February, they were in Jordan, where Redacted was shot with a mostly unknown cast. "When Brian arrived, Jen and I met him at the airport," Ms. Urdl recalled. "He looked at us and said, 'Look at where we find ourselves. That shows you what a late-night dinner in Toronto can do.'"

Weiss tells the Globe that De Palma was particularly thrilled when the film got accepted into the New York Film Festival. "When we called him, we put him on a speaker phone. And he was shouting, 'Yes! Yes!' You don't get that kind of reaction out of him often. But it's the first time, in his 40-year career he's ever had a film in the New York festival. And being a New Yorker that has a specific meaning."

Posted September 3 2007
From The Hot Blog:

The line for a filmmaker making a simulated doc is very thin. Is there political value in a film that recreates what has already been shown in doc form, but adds 10% of material that polemicizes the reality by creating “simulated reality” that extends what the filmmaker would like to be the truth. If this film was an investigation, on some level, of the issue of where that line lives, I would be happy to watch that. But I would argue that what it does is to create evidence – even though we are watching an admittedly fictional film – to make a case that cannot be made with the actual facts.

Ironically, one of the films that Redacted seems to steal from – a house raid seems to be almost shot for shot the same – is Gunner Palace, which also had young soldiers who were in danger of going adrift and who were constantly facing the dichotomies of this war.

Emmanuel Burdeau at Cahiers du Cinema:

What is incredible is that De Palma has created fiction in REDACTED, where others, or even he previously, would have made a documentary. The film bears his signature and yet doesn’t. He shows no cynicism in using home movie or internet procedures, just the humble recognition that the cinema’s means have become accessible to everyone (that phrase is awkward; let’s just say the cinema is really in the now.)

One thing is certain: of all the filmmakers of whom we’ve said it, Brian De Palma is the only one for whom the image is the object, the one thing that matters.

Updated September 3 2007 -- Click on picture below to read indieWire's report! Posted September 2 2007

Redacted had a sneak screening yesterday at the Telluride Film Festival, one day after its world premiere at Venice. According to Karina Longworth at Spout, about ten people walked out of the screening, "most during a horrific rape scene right in the center of the picture." Karina writes that most who stayed gave the film "an overwhelmingly positive reception." Brian De Palma participated afterward in a live video chat with filmmaker Larry Gross that Karina says "danced dangerously close to De Palma hagiography from the outset." Also in attendance was a friend of Jeffrey Wells, who said that Gross was "worshipping De Palma so sycophantically [that] I had to leave the room." Karina says that Gross set the tone with his opening statement, directed toward De Palma: "Thank you for making this film, which seems like a real act of moral integrity on your part."

De Palma has already told journalists at Venice how, due to legal reasons, he had to "redact" the faces of the real people pictured in the final montage of Redacted. During the Telluride chat, according to Karina, De Palma indicated that the montage may not make the final cut due to legal reasons (hopefully, De Palma was simply referring to the fact that he had to censor the faces-- did Telluride see a version that did not have the faces blocked out?).

Karina describes one other passage from the interview:

At the Q & A, De Palma became defensive when asked if he cared that about the fact that his fictionalized, extremely subjective film is surely going to distract attention away from the actual documentaries and video blogs in which soldiers and/or Iraqis tell their own version of events with minimal mediation. “We’re all on the same team here,” he barked in response to the suggestion that there’s something not quite ethically kosher about making a $5 million remake of existing DIY journalism. “We all hate this war and want it to end.”


Karina also provides a stimulating discussion about the film. In the following passage, she reveals some interesting details:

Chatting after the screening, the director contextualized Redacted as a drama derived from a composite of internet detritus: blogs, videos, images describing the general situation in Iraq, and specifically, the actual rape of a teenager and the murder of her and her family by four soldiers in 2006. DePalma changes names, transfers the action to Samarra, and presents the single story through at least seven different filters. These include a soldier’s video diary, an artsy French documentary (complete with a sweeping score which DePalma admitted is a deliberate allusion to Barry Lyndon), surveillance cam footage, videotaped depositions, terrorist propaganda videos, civilian video blogs, Al Jazeera-like news broadcasts.

When the multiple modes are used to draw attention to the way each party is mediated by different gazes, it works. There’s also some nice subtext about the ways in which the soldiers (mostly undereducated and poor) filter their world through their only reference points for human experience: pop culture. Frustration over an extended tour of duty is “just like” the frustration of working overtime as expressed in Clerks, and a lost soldier is “our very own Private Ryan.” Typical of the film’s cynicism, we’re supposed to imagine that from that point, it’s only a small jump to the realm where some combination of exposure to hardcore porn and the ideology fueling the invasion could lead to the justification of rape as “part of winning the hearts and minds.”

While Ray Bennett of the Hollywood Reporter was naturally reminded of Kubrick's Barry Lyndon when he heard Handel's "Sarabande" in Redacted, the Opera Chic blog from Milan reveals that the final montage in Redacted is scored specifically to "E Lucevan Le Stelle" from Puccini's Tosca (Mark Salisbury says that the opera is used in the faux "arty French documentary" that is used as one of the various points of view in Redacted). This opera is also to be featured in De Palma's upcoming prequel, The Untouchables: Capone Rising. A year ago, De Palma explained to Jeremy Smith at CHUD how he had written an "assassination in Tosca" for an unnamed previous screenplay...

There’s an assassination in Tosca that I’ve always wanted to do that I wrote for another script, and I was able to get it into this script. It’s an incredible set piece where they kill [mobster James] Colosimo while he’s watching Tosca, which is something I’ve wanted to do for years.

Redacted is scheduled to screen at the Deauville Festival of American Cinema in France on Monday, September 3rd. De Palma himself will attend a press conference for the film there on Wednesday, September 5th. The Venice fest runs through Saturday, September 8th. Meanwhile, the Toronto International Film Festival begins Thursday, September 6th. De Palma is expected to attend when Redacted screens there on Monday, September 10th.

Posted September 2 2007

Both of the reviews at TIME (by Richard Corliss) and Aint It Cool News (by Mastidon: "By far, the most upsetting film I have seen since Schindler's List.") go into heavy detail about Redacted. Corliss, writing about both Redacted and Paul Haggis' In The Valley Of Elah, writes: "Both films have a startling impact and a lingering chill. Just as important, both demand that their viewers consider the cost of the government's decision to invade a land no American was properly prepared for fighting in." Both like Redacted very very much. Look for a digest-type report here later on today!


Snapshot from Drudge Report 9:30am CST August 31, 2007

Patrick Carroll, Brian De Palma, Robert Devaney

Snapshot from Drudge Report 2:00pm CST August 31, 2007

Snapshot from Drudge Report 6:30pm CST August 31, 2007

Snapshot from Drudge Report 5:00am CST September 1, 2007

Snapshot from Drudge Report 1:00pm CST September 2, 2007

Snapshot from Drudge Report 8:30am CST September 4, 2007

Paul Haggis, Brian De Palma at Deauville

Snapshot from Drudge Report 5:30pm CST September 4, 2007

Snapshot from Drudge Report 3:30pm CST September 5, 2007

Posted August 31 2007
According to Reuters and other articles, Venice was left stunned and sobered by this morning's press screening of Brian De Palma's Redacted. Reuter's Silvia Aloisi wrote that the film had "shocking images that left some viewers in tears." After the screening, according to Aloisi, De Palma told reporters that Redacted "is an attempt to bring the reality of what is happening in Iraq to the American people." According to an Agence France-Presse report by Gina Doggett, De Palma added, "All the images we have of our war are completely constructed -- whitewashed, redacted." Aloisi's account continues with De Palma saying, "The pictures are what will stop the war. One only hopes that these images will get the public incensed enough to motivate their Congressmen to vote against this war. In Vietnam, when we saw the images and the sorrow of the people we were traumatizing and killing, we saw the soldiers wounded and brought back in body bags. We see none of that in this war. It's all out there on the Internet, you can find it if you look for it, but it's not in the major media. The media is now really part of the corporate establishment."

The photo at right shows (from left to right) Robert Devaney, De Palma, and Patrick Carroll at the press conference. Aloisi's article continues:

The film's title refers to how, according to De Palma, mainstream American newspapers and television channels are failing to tell the true story of the war by keeping the most graphic images of the conflict away from public opinion.

"When I went out to find the pictures, I said (to the media) give me the pictures you can't publish," he said, adding that because of legal dangers he too had to "edit" the material.

"Everything that is in the movie is based on something I found that actually happened. But once I had put it in the script I would get a note from a lawyer saying you can't use that because it's real and we may get sued," De Palma said.

"So I was forced to fictionalize things that were actually real."

The film, shot in Jordan with a little known cast, ends with a series of photographs of Iraqi civilians killed and their faces blacked out for legal reasons.

"I think that's terrible because now we have not even given the dignity of faces to this suffering people," De Palma said. "The great irony about Redacted is that it was redacted."

An Associated Press article has more of De Palma discussing the connections between the Vietnam war and the current conflict in Iraq:

"Why doesn't American learn from its past mistakes?" he said at the festival. "Boy, that's a good question, because the architects of this war were right there on the ground during Vietnam; of course they didn't serve, but they've observed, and they kind of feel that maybe we should have stayed in Vietnam, we would have won that war.

"I don't know, it's just one of those questions - you just sort of shake your head: 'Are we doomed to repeat history over and over again?'

"It seems quite obvious to me, we shouldn't be there."

The article then talks about how De Palma feels that the key to ending the conflict is being exposed to its harrowing images. De Palma continues:

"I remember picking up Life magazine and seeing pictures that would horrify me about the Vietnam War. We don't have those pictures in America [today], I don't even know if you have them in Europe, but we certainly don't have them.

"The pictures are what will stop the war, and if we can get these pictures in front of a mass audience, and get these stories in front of a mass audience, maybe we'll have some effect."

Redacted producer Jason Kliot told Screen Daily that De Palma would love for the film to be released on the internet.

While it seems ironic to mention spoilers with a film that is attempting to reveal true images to the world, some may wish to go into Redacted not knowing certain things, including what the opening and final shots of the film is. If that is you, don't read this section, because an article at Daventry Express gets into some key details about Redacted's story and images...

It is based on the notorious real-life incident in Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad, in which soldiers raped a 14-year-old schoolgirl before setting her body alight and shooting dead her parents and five-year-old sister. Other events retold on film include the fatal shooting of a pregnant Iraqi woman at a military checkpoint as her brother was driving her to hospital.

And in one graphic scene shot in the style of an al Qaida internet video, a sobbing US soldier is beheaded.

The film, shot in stark high definition video, is arranged as a montage of films shot from differing viewpoints - a home movie made by one of the soldiers, a website run by the wives of military personnel and Arab TV reports. It ends with a montage of real-life photographs of Iraqi war victims, including maimed and dead women and children. The final picture is an image of the real-life 14-year-old rape victim.

Derek Elley's review in Variety describes the film's final ten minutes:

Ironically, pic's most powerful section is its final 10 minutes, as McCoy's traumatic experience is reduced, back home, to a bar yarn that ends with friends cheering him as a hero. De Palma follows that with a photo montage of real-life Iraqi victims of violence, dubbed "Collateral Damage" -- a harrowing couple of minutes that seems, alas, to be a coda to a better picture than Redacted.

Ray Bennett's review of Redacted in the Hollywood Reporter mentions that a French film crew's documentary makes "clear how the monotony and constant fear of maintaining checkpoints grinds the [U.S. soldiers] down." Variety's review gives the name of the faux French documentary as "Barrage," describing it thus: "Complete with Baroque music, finely shot closeups and a metaphysical commentary." Bennet's HR review continues...

Constantly being told they have to remain on duty for a further tour, they are drained and on edge. The docu reports that over 24 months 2,000 Iraqis were killed at checkpoints with only 60 proven to be insurgents. In one such incident, a pregnant woman and her baby are killed when her brother, taking her to the hospital, races through the unit's checkpoint thinking he's been waved on.

Following the above incident, according to the Variety review, "the locals take revenge on one of the group, in a well-staged shock sequence."

Dan Fainaru's review of the film at Screen Daily mentions De Palma's use of Handel and Puccini on the soundtrack. Bennett concludes his review by saying that De Palma "makes great use of Handel's 'Sarabande' in the picture, the somber tones familiar as the main title music in Kubrick's Barry Lyndon. It's a reminder that nothing depicted in this film is new and that it's a shame it needs to be told again."

According to a review at the Telegraph,"'Redacted' means 'edited' or 'blacked out,' and the film's first image is a written disclaimer on the screen, with more and more words gradually being deleted." Variety's review says the "intriguing opening... shows words blacked out on a document by a censor's pen."

Posted August 30 2007
At left is a picture of Brian De Palma on the set of Redacted, one of several new pics up at CinEmpire.

The preliminary press notes being sent out for Redacted call it "a fictional documentary by Brian De Palma," and include the following "Director's Statement" about the project:

Once again a senseless war has produced a senseless tragedy. I told this story years ago in my film Casualties of War. But the lessons from the Vietnam War have gone unheeded. But how to tell the story today? And how did it all begin? Last year at the Toronto Film Festival I was approached by a representative of HDNET films who asked if I would be interested in making a film using high definition video. I said I would if I could find a subject matter that would be best explored in the medium. Then I read about an incident in Iraq war where members of a US army squad had reportedly raped a 14 girl, slaughtered her family, shot the girl in the face and set her body on fire. How could these boys have gone so wrong? In searching for the answers, I read soldier's blogs, books, watched soldier's home made war videos, surfed their web sites, and their YOUTUBE postings. It was all there, and all in video.

To redact is to edit, or prepare for publishing. Frequently, a redacted document or image, has simply had personal (or possibly actionable) information deleted or blacked out; as a consequence, redacted is often used to describe documents or images from which sensitive information has been expunged. The true story of our Iraq war has been redacted from the Main Stream Corporate Media. If we are going to cause such disorder then we must face the horrendous images that are the consequences of these actions. Once we saw them in Vietnam our citizens protested and brought that misguided conflict to an end. Let's hope the images from this film have the same effect.

The press notes also indicate that Redacted will play at this weekend's Telluride Film Festival in Colorado, in addition to the Venice and Toronto fests (and then the New York fest, too). The Telluride Film Festival is notorious for keeping a tight lid on its line-up, with attendees rarely knowing exactly what they are going to see before arriving. However, the official line-up was revealed today, and Redacted is not mentioned.

Here is the description of Redacted from the Magnolia press notes:

A fictional story inspired by true events, REDACTED is a unique cinematic experience that will force viewers to radically reconsider the filters through which we see and accept events in our world, the power of the mediated image and how presentation and composition influence our ideas and beliefs. A profound meditation on the way information is packaged, distributed and received in an era with infinite channels of communication, REDACTED utilizes a variety of created source material—video diaries, produced documentary, surveillance footage, online testimonials, news pieces—to comment on the extreme disconnect between the surface of an image and the reality of ideas and the truth, especially in times of strife.

Centered around a small group of American soldiers stationed at a checkpoint in Iraq, REDACTED alternates points of view, balancing the experiences of these young men under duress and members of the media with those of the local Iraqi people, illuminating how each have been deeply affected by the current conflict and their encounters with each other. The charged apotheosis of Brian De Palma’s filmmaking career, REDACTED caps off a body of work which has explored the politics of image-making and reception more fully than any living filmmaker.

Posted August 29 2007
The 64th Venice Film Festival opened today with the world premiere of Joe Wright's Atonement, starring Keira Knightley. Prior to that, however, was the introduction of the judges of this year's films in competition-- all of them are film directors. They are, from left-to-right: Ferzan Ozpetek (Sacred Heart), Paul Verhoeven (Black Book), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Babel), Emanuele Crialese (The Golden Door), Zhang Yimou (jury President, director of Curse Of The Golden Flower), and Catherine Breillat (Anatomy of Hell). Not pictured is Jane Campion (The Piano), who won't arrive until Saturday due to the health problems of a family member. Brian De Palma's Redacted is one of 22 films, all world premieres, competing for this year's Golden Lion.

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