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Preview: De Palma a la Mod

De Palma a la Mod

Last Build Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2018 07:08:48 -0600



Fri, 23 Mar 2018 07:08:42 -0600

(image) The video does not appear to be working, but Steven Spielberg appeared on stage recently to talk to La Repubblica, and was asked by Mario Calabresi for a one-word definition for each of his fellow "Movie Brats." Spielberg responded, "Francis Ford Coppola is the Godfather, Martin Scorsese is a speed demon, he speaks and thinks very fast, George Lucas is a comedian, and Brian De Palma, I would say, is a split screen". Spielberg also says of Stanley Kubrick, "I met him on the set of The Shining and we remained friends until his death"


Wed, 21 Mar 2018 23:04:21 -0600


Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin will present lectures and screenings of five Brian De Palma features July 18-22 at Summer Film School Rotterdam. The film school will also include a separate lecture and screening series on Alain Resnais. Here's the rundown on the De Palma series:
Brian de Palma: Vision, Obsession and set-up

Brian De Palma (born 1940) is one of the most inventive film directors that America has produced. Formed in the counter-cultural scene of the 1960s, he has never abandoned his interest in formal, modernist innovation, nor his ultimately pessimistic view of society and politics. This series will take you through the major phases and tendencies of his career so far, from anarchic comedy and complex plotting through to Hitchcockian ‘pure cinema’ and social satire. The ultimate goal of the course is to elaborate the extremely complex and thrilling ‘machine of sound and vision’ that De Palma creates with the elements of film.

Cinema Experts
Cristina Álvarez López
Cristina Álvarez López is a film critic and video maker based in Vilassar de Mar (Spain). Her work has appeared in MUBI Notebook, LOLA, and De Filmkrant, and in books on Chantal Akerman, Bong Joon-ho, Philippe Garrel, and Paul Schrader. More info.

Adrian Martin
Adrian Martin is an art critic based in Vilassar de Mar (Spain). He is the author of eight books, including the forthcoming essay collection Mysteries of Cinema (Amsterdam University Press). His ongoing archive website of film reviews, covering 40 years of writing, is at

Lectures and Screenings on Brian de Palma

July 18 — De Palma’s Beginnings: Art, Music and the Counter-Culture
Phantom of the Paradise (1974, 92’, DCP)
July 19 — The Hitchcockian Model and its Variations
Obsession (1976, 98’, DCP)
July 20 — Vision and Sound: The Complex Machine
Carrie (1976, 98’, DCP)
July 21 — Story, Identity and Point-of-View
Body Double (1984, 114’, DCP)
July 22 — The Langian Model: Narrative and Society as Trap
The Black Dahlia (2006, 121’, 35mm)


Mon, 19 Mar 2018 16:17:32 -0600

(image) New York's Tribeca Film Festival announced today that this year's fest will include a 35th anniversary screening of Brian De Palma's Scarface ("one of the most referenced and revered films in pop culture," states the announcement) at 7pm on Thursday, April 19th. The screening will be followed by a conversation with De Palma, Al Pacino, and Michelle Pfeiffer. The screening will take place at the Beacon Theatre, and tickets go on sale at 10am tomorrow, March 20th.

One week after the Scarface screening, the fest will present a 25th anniversary screening of Steven Spielberg's Schindler’s List at 6:30pm on April 26th. Following that screening, Janet Maslin will moderate a conversation with Spielberg, Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, and Embeth Davidtz.

Here is the Tribeca announcement description of its Scarface screening:

Scarface – 35th Anniversary, Sponsored by Kia

Scarface, Brian De Palma’s blazing modernization of Howard Hawks’ 1932 classic, is an electrifying consideration of the humanizing motives of evil men. It went on to receive three Golden Globe nominations and became one of the most referenced and revered films in pop culture. Al Pacino delivers his riskiest performance in a career-defining role, garnering a cult following for the film. Revisit the gangland masterpiece thirty-five years later, a rich, harrowing, eminently quotable ride to excess and self-destruction that laid the groundwork for all the anti-hero stories to come. A Universal Pictures release.

After the Screening: a conversation with director Brian De Palma and actors Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer.

DATE: Thursday, April 19th
TIME: 7:00 PM
LOCATION: Beacon Theatre


Sun, 18 Mar 2018 22:11:13 -0600


La Cinémathèque in Paris put out a teaser on social media Friday by tweeting a slightly redacted email response from Brian De Palma. The email, with the subject, "Re: Scheduling", confirms that De Palma's Blow Out will screen at la Cinémathèque on May 31st, with Casualties Of War to follow on June 2nd. The fact that De Palma himself is confirming is a strong indication that he plans to be in attendance for each of these screenings. There is nothing about any of this yet on the actual Cinémathèque website.


Fri, 16 Mar 2018 00:30:48 -0600


In a video posted yesterday on the Amblin Twitter page, Steven Spielberg said the following during a press junket for his new Ready Player One, a movie steeped in nostalgia for the 1980s: "I have the most intimate relationship with nostalgia. And it's based on the fact that I have been doing...from, when I was twelve years old, eleven years old, I started taking 8mm movies of my family on camping trips, when I was a kid, growing up in Arizona. And when videotape came in, I started taking videotapes. And then I started taking my 8mm sound movie camera when I was hanging out with Coppola and Lucas and Scorsese and De Palma, and that whole group back in the '70s, and I would [swings hands around as if moving a small camera] ... I've got something like sixty hours of footage of all of us growing up and making movies together. Someday, could be an interesting documentary, if I could get the rights from any of these guys to go public-- probably eighty percent of the footage they would not want released." [laughter]


Thu, 15 Mar 2018 22:28:48 -0600

"IT'S GOT SOMETHING TO DO WITH HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT WHAT YOU'RE DOING"The Village Voice's Bilge Ebiri posted a profile piece on Al Pacino yesterday, to coincide with the start of the Pacino retrospective, "Pacino's Way," at Quad Cinemas in New York. In the article, Pacino mentions Scarface a couple of times. The first mention stems from a question about the contrast between the actor's more "understated" performances and his more "theatrical" ones. Later on, he brings up Scarface again to describe a role where he felt he had something that he'd wanted to express, and to "paint this," to dig around and discover something: "that I was speaking to something." Here's an excerpt:I talked to Michael Mann last year about Heat and he said something interesting contrasting the way you and De Niro approached your parts. He said De Niro would be the guy who asked a lot of analytical questions about his part and about his motivations, but that you just absorbed the scene weeks in advance and had it bouncing around in your head as a way of building out the character. Does that sound right? Yes, at times, because I work relative to what is around me. The role, the amount of time, what I’m doing, who I’m doing it with. I really like to approach roles, if I can, alone. It’s almost like writing about the character. Consuming it. I used to say “channeling it.” But I require more rehearsal than I usually get, and so I have to figure out how to cope with that. The thing I remember with Heat is saying, “Well, what are these mood changes the character has?” I thought, “All right, he chips cocaine, this guy.” And it turns out he did! Every once in a while I’d ask Mike, “Could you shoot something?” Because the audience doesn’t know he’s chipping cocaine like a nut, and they’re thinking, “What’s the matter with him?” And so we even shot something. But it’s not in the film. So, sometimes I look a little irrational. But that’s the source I used. I thought it added a kind of interesting texture to a cop. In a lot of your earlier parts there is a kind of understated quality — the characters are very watchful, always absorbing things. In later years, you’re unafraid to go big, to at times be almost theatrical. Was that a conscious decision, or an evolution? I think sometimes I went there because I see myself kind of like a tenor. And a tenor needs to hit those high notes once in a while. Even if they’re wrong. So sometimes they’re way off. There’s a couple of roles that, you know, the needle screeched on the record. But if I ever see a movie that I feel, “Oh, gee, I went too far,” I just fast-forward it a bit and move on. [Laughs] If I had to do it again…I don’t know, I might still do it that way. I think what happens is once you do it one or two times, it becomes a signature. In Scarface, for instance. Brian [De Palma] said right at the start, “This is an opera, and this is what we’re gonna go for. This is not down-and-dirty realism.” And we called it Brechtian. That’s what we went for. Oliver Stone allowed for that in his conception and writing of the script. I saw that character as bigger than life; I didn’t see him as three-dimensional. It’s like, you know, Icarus and the sun; I saw him fly with that thing. That was the dynamic of Tony Montana that we went for. When I saw Paul Muni do the original Scarface, I only wanted to do one thing and that’s imitate him. And of course my performance is not at all like what he did, but I think I was more inspired by that performance than any I have seen. I called Marty Bregman after I saw it, and said, “Marty, I think we should try to redo Scarface. Howard Hawks of [...]


Mon, 12 Mar 2018 23:03:46 -0600


Full interview segment at YouTube.


Sun, 11 Mar 2018 23:45:03 -0600

"IT'S AN OVERVIEW OF AN ACTING ARTIST FROM THE VILLAGE, REALLY," SAYS PACINOCarlito's Way and Scarface are both part of the series "Pacino's Way," an Al Pacino retrospective that begins this week at the Quad Cinema in New York, and runs through the end of March. Pacino himself will be on hand March 28 for a discussion following a double feature of his Salomé and Wilde Salomé. Last week, Pacino spoke by phone with Vulture's David Edelstein about the upcoming retrospective:He is thrilled that “Pacino’s Way” was proposed by the folks at the Quad Cinema in the Village. On the phone from L.A. in three rambling, absolutely delightful hours, Pacino, now 77, effuses over the years (beginning at 16, when he dropped out of the High School of the Performing Arts) in which he roamed the neighborhood, sometimes homeless and sleeping on the stages of small theaters, moving from production to production, and meeting, in a bar at age 17, his mentor, the late Charlie Laughton (not the famous one), who brought him to the Herbert Berghof Studio. “I was just stunned by the fact that the Quad offered this to me,” he says. “I immediately crashed on when I was a kid down there. Sometimes you feel closer to what you were than you expected.” The retrospective (it begins March 14) features most of the biggies: the first two Godfather films (he thinks the third was a mistake), Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Scarface, Scent of a Woman, Heat, as well as — surprisingly, at Pacino’s request — his most formidable bombs, Bobby Deerfield and Revolution. Equally vital for him are the movies he directed, like the rarely seen Chinese Coffee (based on a play) and two relatively recent films in New York premieres: a spare, stylized version of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé he stars in with Jessica Chastain — he’d hoped the film would help launch her career but she did pretty well without it — and Wilde Salomé, a documentary about his relationship with the play. In it, he reveals the often-wayward process of putting together the earlier film and a concurrent L.A. stage production. The documentary isn’t as exhilarating as his 1996 free-form seminar, Looking for Richard, a kind of goofy master’s thesis on the Bard, the hunchbacked king, and the nature of his theatrical obsessions. But it’s full of enjoyably bizarre episodes, like the one in which Pacino throws a lavish cocktail party so that an unprepared, rather confused Chastain can improvise. Wilde Salomé illuminates the space where Pacino is happiest: the experimental theatrical milieu in which, 50 years ago, he found his voice.Later in the article, Pacino discusses the gangster pictures that are included in the retrospective:Here’s what Pacino wants you to take away from the retrospective, especially if you think he’s often the same in every role onscreen — if you always say, “Oh, that’s Al”: “It’s an overview of an acting artist from the Village, really,” he says, and suggests looking at his four gangsters, Michael Corleone, Tony Montana in Scarface, Carlito from Carlito’s Way, and Lefty Ruggiero in Donnie Brasco. They couldn’t be more different. Pacino’s Montana is huge and burns like a filament, a purposely two-dimensional character in a film that the director, Brian De Palma, called a “Brechtian opera” — and Pacino loves how Tony became a cultural icon, however cataclysmic the trajectory. Carlito, on the other hand, is a man who gets out of prison and wants to put his life in order — the opposite of Montana, who manufactures chaos. Lefty is a Mafia middleman, a second-rater striving to rise in the ranks but brought down by a surrogate son who turns out to be an[...]


Sun, 11 Mar 2018 02:13:40 -0600


Brian De Palma's The Fury opened in U.S. theaters on March 10, 1978. Following the success of Carrie in 1976, De Palma worked with producer Frank Yablans on a larger-scale picture with the biggest budget of his career at that point. Yablans had helped finance De Palma's Greetings and Hi, Mom!, and De Palma included several of his regular players within the large cast (during filming, De Palma began to realize early on that there were too many characters and asked screenwriter John Farris, author of the original novel, to condense where possible). In the shot above is Charles Durning, who had played the landlord in Hi, Mom! (and, of course, had also appeared in De Palma's Sisters). Below is a shot near the beginning of the film, where Amy Irving, fresh off of her role as Sue Snell in Carrie, walks a Chicago beach front with Melody Thomas (who had, incidentally, played the child version of Tippi Hedren in Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie). Stalking them is De Palma's old friend William Finley as the psychic Raymond Dunwoody, a character who ended up with less lines and scenes than originally written, via the aforementioned cuts De Palma had asked for from Farris.


And then there is Rutanya Alda (below), who had been in both Greetings and Hi, Mom! (and who was about to work with Robert De Niro again in Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter)...


Before he had made Carrie, De Palma had pleaded in vain to direct the film version of Robert Stone's Vietnam/counterculture novel Dog Soldiers. That film ended up being directed by Karel Reisz, with the title changed to Who'll Stop The Rain. Even though that film arrived in theaters a few months after De Palma's The Fury, cinematographer Richard Kline had already finished shooting it before De Palma asked around about him and hired him for The Fury. De Palma explained to Paul Mandell at Filmmakers Newsletter that he had liked the way Kline had lit some of the films he'd worked on. "So we sat down, looked at the book, decided what kind of filming style we wanted to use, and then did it. And we worked together quite well."

See also:
SYFYWire: Brian De Palma's The Fury at 40


Thu, 8 Mar 2018 08:08:21 -0600

(image) John Lithgow spoke on stage the other day at Ringling College in Sarasota, Florida. The moderator was Bradley Battersby, the head of Ringling's film department who got his start as a student of Brian De Palma's when the director taught a class at Sarah Lawrence by making Home Movies with students there in 1979, with stars like Kirk Douglas, Vincent Gardenia, and several De Palma house regulars. Battersby went on to work with fellow students on films such as The First Time before directing the noir Blue Desert (1991, starring Courteney Cox), followed by several more pictures, including The Joyriders (1999), which starred Martin Landau and Kris Kristofferson (and also featured Elisabeth Moss). The Herald Tribune posted an article with a video featuring some highlights from the on stage discussion-- here's a brief bit centered around De Palma:
Bradley Battersby: I was telling John that it was Brian De Palma who really influenced me in creating this program the way it developed. In that, you know, you put the young people with veterans-- the pros-- from the industry, and it just, it can take off, and be such a win-win for both parties. Because I think Brian got a lot out of it, stayed in touch with everybody for a long long time. So, pretty interesting. He gave you a number of roles, didn't he?

John Lithgow: Yeah, in three Brian films. Obsession, Blow Out, and Raising Cain. For some reason, he loved the idea of me, this sort of bland, benign WASP, ending up the villain of the piece... [laughter] ... the sadistic killer.