Brian De Palma

Carrie 1976

In contrast to Stephen King’s famous tomes The Stand, The Shining, and It, the author’s breakthrough novel – 1974’s “Carrie” – is relatively fit for adaptation as a feature-length film due to its various publications rarely running over two hundred pages. That said, beyond the usual acts of restructuring typical of Hollywood treatments, the movie versions of Carrie White’s story have stopped short of recreating the third section of King’s novel, “Aftermath.” Thus, they forego the subsequent history of a town that must physically and psychologically rebuild itself after an unfathomable tragedy. This section of King’s novel surveys the systemic long-term reactions to the Carrie incident: the development of scientific research and social programs for telekinetics, the slow rebuilding of a small town, and, naturally, a nation’s serious look in the mirror on the subject of high school bullying. While such a vast third act rarely takes shape in Carrie films, it’s the act that we’re collectively most familiar with when it comes to national news stories about young people, violence, and the ever-persistent phantom of bullying (still a term that resists a stable definition in school administrations), whether these real-life tragedies take the form of suicides or mass shootings.

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passion

The past few years haven’t been Brian De Palma‘s finest time as a filmmaker. Neither Redacted nor The Black Dahlia left a mark with audiences, critics, or most of his fans. De Palma explored new territories and some old ones too with varying results. He does the same for Passion, which has been billed as a “erotic thriller”. Like the masterful Femme Fatale, De Palma plays with an audience as much as his characters do with each other. While the two female leads play their games De Palma is calculating just as sinister of a move of his own. Or maybe some will see that narrative trick coming from a mile away. It’s all there in the highly-stylized aesthetic, never exactly hiding its impending reveal. A viewer will either find it on-the-nose or comforting. With De Palma’s tongue slowly cutting through his cheek though the result should be the latter. A part of how his reveal plays depends on one’s attitude towards the first half of the film. The set up is this: Isabelle James (Noomi Rapace) is an up and comer in the cutthroat world of marketing. She’s impressionable and naive, at least when it comes to her ice queen of a boss, Christine Standford (Rachel McAdams). At first their relationship resembles a friendly but flirty mentor/student dynamic, but it turns ugly when Christine takes credit for Isabelle’s successful ad idea — a commercial that, as hilariously pointed out, got millions of hits over night. It’s Christine and Isabelle’s film, and when it comes to casting, De Palma got at […]

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The morning’s best writing from around the movie website-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Passion Movie

During a 35th anniversary screening of Taxi Driver at the Indiana University Cinema in 2011, Paul Schrader stated that studios stopped making movies like Taxi Driver a long time ago, and moreover, studios weren’t interested in making movies for adults anymore. Judging by his collaboration with novelist/screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis in The Canyons, it seems he believes Hollywood isn’t interested in making movies anymore. The Canyons portrays an entertainment industry that has collapsed into the things that its product has afforded for its participants: lifestyle and status. The Lindsay Lohan’s Ghost-starring flick envisions a Hollywood in which its movers of money have stopped even pretending to care about the product peddled, instead spending all their time and efforts on the social capital afforded. The stylish restaurants, isolated mansions, cold XXX-capades, and even the privilege of getting away with murder.

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Brian De Palma

Passion, by all means, is a Brian De Palma movie. You’re either sold on that pitch or you’re not. De Palma has never been one to satisfy everyone despite coming from a generation of filmmakers — Scorsese, Spielberg, and Lucas – who are famous for achieving the opposite effect. The polarizing nature of his work has been affecting viewers ever since he briefly attended NYU. In his own words, he’s a film school reject (even if spent two semesters at one of the most prestigious film schools on the planet). His remake of 2010′s Crime d’amour pits Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace against each other, two actresses De Palma is clearly very fond of. Getting a chance to speak with him, the writer/director couldn’t stop himself from cracking up about the playfulness between the two (when you see McAdams’s performance you’ll understand why), reveling in the sheer joy of his work with the pair.

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passion-rapace-mcadams-stare

Passion is an erotic thriller that brings quite a bit of pedigree to the genre. First off, it’s a remake of a French film called Love Crime, and everyone knows that the French are some of the loosest people on the planet. Secondly, it was made by director Brian De Palma, who was pretty much a master of bringing slightly sleazy cinema into the mainstream from the 70s all the way through to the 90s. If you’ve heard about the film already, that’s probably because it played the festival circuit last year, and it had a trailer that teased a big lesbian kiss between Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams. Well, now the movie is ready for its North American release, so it’s come out with another trailer—one that doesn’t just tease a lesbian kiss either. Nope, this one features a couple of them in all of their pervy glory. That’s not all the sleaze that De Palma looks to be offering up either. Passion is a movie that also features blindfolds, restraints, weird masks, back stabbings, and even a little murder. Might it be tawdry enough to become the Basic Instinct of a new generation? Check out the trailer for yourself and decide.

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derrickson

Brian De Palma’s classic, and best film, Blow Out, isn’t the most obvious inspiration for co-writer/director Scott Derrickson‘s Sinister. They’re in different genres all together, but both focus on two characters dealing with failure who find themselves reduced to sitting alone in a room trying to figure out a plot that is bigger than they ever would’ve imagined. What is obvious about Sinister is its level of accessibility. The movie is never extreme with its scares, never relies on cringe-inducing carnage, and is straight-forward in its plotting, all of which probably helped make it a box-office success late last year. Speaking with Derrickson via email for the film’s Blu-ray release, that simplicity is entirely what he aimed for — making a horror movie for everyone. Here’s what else Derrickson had to say about creating the look of Sinister with the Alexa camera, Blow Out and working with child actors: 

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Pacino and De Palma

What is Casting Couch? Today’s it’s just a little casting news column trying to get by at the hands of a Sundance-bound Kate Erbland. Nathan, we need you! We’ve been due for a truly gritty, really in-depth on fallen from grace Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno for months now, but it turns out, we’re now set to get an even better project than we could possibly have dreamed of, because director Brian De Palma and star Al Pacino have now teamed up to bring the true life story to the screen. Deadline Hollywood reports that the two are set for Happy Valley (apparently a working title, thank goodness), which will come from Joe Posnanski‘s book “Paterno,” with Dave McKenna (American History X, Blow) currently in negotiations to script. Pacino was first attached to the project last year. The project reunites Pacino and De Palma, as the two previously collaborated on Scarface and Carlito’s Way, which worked out pretty nicely for both of them.

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Over Under - Large

What’s the one thing every rundown apartment that a college sophomore is sharing with his five best friends and every $30m mansion that a famous rapper lives in for five months out of the year have in common? The Scarface poster they have framed on the wall in the living room. There are a handful of gangster films that have become modern classics – The Godfather and Goodfellas being the other main two – but in recent years, Brian De Palma’s Scarface has really pulled ahead of the pack when it comes to pop culture relevance and awareness among a younger generation. Which kind of makes sense, seeing as The Godfather and Goodfellas are better-made films that deal with more mature themes and Scarface is the sort of empty, flashy nonsense that would appeal to young people and rappers. Really, at this point, should Scarface even be mentioned in the conversation of great modern gangster movies anymore? It’s got a lot of issues. Jacques Audiard’s 2009 prison epic, Un prophète, isn’t necessarily underrated in the sense that the people who saw it didn’t like it, but it’s underrated in the sense that not nearly enough people, at least in the United States, have seen it. Here we have one of those rare films that is just artsy enough to be respected by film snobs and just entertaining enough to be enjoyed by more casual audiences that it could conceivably become a perennial top contender when it comes to widely agreed […]

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Brian De Palma’s Passion, as alluded to in this review, teeters on a level of badness that, in turn, becomes camp. This female-vs.-female rivalry film with strong Sapphic overtones and a constant back and forth of ludicrous backstabbing can’t help but draw comparisons to Paul Verhoeven’s “epic,” Showgirls. Without revealing too many spoilers, below is a list of categories with which to pit the two films against each other in a brutal cat fight. Will the newcomer reach the near-impossible Razzie-winning, midnight screening heights of the Paul Verhoeven disaster? Let’s find out with these seven totally scientific, head-to-head category comparisons!

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Good camp films know what they are doing. They manipulate the audience into feeling exaggerated sorts of emotion and possess a sort of bravura that makes them unabashedly watchable. Based on Alain Corneau’s 2010 film Love Crime, Brian De Palma’s new offering, Passion, is definitely campy, but oftentimes it borders on just plain stupid. It is aimlessly over-the-top with eye-rolling twists and turns – for nearly the last quarter of the film, De Palma wastes the audience’s time with fake out after fake out (just kidding, guys – she was dreaming… TIMES FIVE!). The director lacks the artfulness in filmmaking that he once possessed in classics like Dressed to Kill. Christine (Rachel McAdams, scenery-chewing rather excellently) is a young, high-powered ad executive working in Berlin. She wants to work in New York City again but needs the right account to bring her enough success to propel that next move. Her answer, or so she thinks, comes in the form of Isabelle James (Noomi Rapace) – a “genius” creator of ad campaigns who she calls upon to come up with a marketing concept for a new smartphone.

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Beautiful women, classical composition, a dreamlike quality, and classy locations…that’s how you can describe much of the work of Brian De Palma. And those are certainly some of the descriptions his latest film, Passion, have been receiving ever since its Venice premiere; in usual De Palma fashion, the reaction to his remake has been split. To the director himself, that may not be such a bad thing. Whether you come out loving or hating Passion, at least you’ll still know it’s a De Palma picture. The director was kind enough to make time to speak with us before Passion‘s New York Film Festival premiere, in which we discussed his style, dealing with ranting and raving, and why beautiful women need film:

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Rachel McAdams in Passion

The past decade hasn’t been too kind to Brian De Palma. The director’s past few films have been his most divisive and critically lashed efforts of his career. With disappointments like The Black Dahlia and Mission to Mars, it’s easy to see why that is. After a five year absence, De Palma is returning to the big screen with Passion, an “erotic” thriller starring Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace that’s a remake of the recent French film Love Crime. The film is set to premiere  at the Venice Film Festival, which will then be followed up with screenings at both TIFF and the New York Film Festival. Check out the film’s first trailer to see Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace having…a good time, shall we say:

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Movie News: Brian De Palma

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column that has been returned to the hands of its rightful owner, for now. But before we get to my triumphant return after a week of vegging out and eating BBQ, lets give a round of applause to Nathan Adams, Luke Mullen, Kate Erbland, Kevin Carr and Robert Fure, who did a wonderful job last week during guest week. I don’t know about you, but I lizzed a few times while reading their work. Lets hope that I can bring the same verve to this week’s return. We begin, of course, with naughty bits… Several new images from Brian De Palma’s Passion this past week, courtesy of the Cannes Film Festival. That includes the above image, depicting a very devious, scantily clad Rachel McAdams burning a hole in my heart of hearts. It’s the eyes that do it. And the stockings. Definitely the stockings.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a fast and furious chase through the world of entertainment news. Film, television, song and dance, it’s all covered here. Alright, so there isn’t much dancing tonight. But there is mention of the greatest movies of all-time, Lena Dunham’s bite, the girls of Bond, The Avengers, Mad Men and my personal favorite, the craziness of Top Gear. We begin this evening with the first shot from Brian De Palma’s Passion, a film that is apparently about Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace making out in the back of a car. Or it’s the tale of “a deadly power struggle between two women in the dog-eat-dog world of international business.” I’m guessing its the later. Either way, this first photo has left its mark.

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Back when it was announced that Chloe Moretz would be the new girl getting laughed at it Kimberly Peirce’s upcoming remake of the horror classic Carrie, it was also rumored that the director had a couple of names in mind for Carrie’s overbearing, fundamentalist mother. According to word on the street, either Jodie Foster or Julianne Moore were the top choices. Of course, word on the street isn’t always very reliable, so that was news to be taken with a grain of salt. In this case, however, the gossip-mongers seem to have been spot on. Bloody Disgusting is now reporting that things have progressed with Moore to the point where she’s in serious talks to take the role. If things work out and Moore comes on board, she’s going to have some pretty big shoes to fill. Piper Laurie already portrayed the mother character very memorably in the Brian De Palma-directed Carrie, to the point where she’s fondly thought of as one of the creepiest and most evil villains in horror history. Moore already has one strike against her as far as horror fans are concerned due to her involvement in Gus Van Sant’s absurd Psycho remake, so if this film turns out to be as unnecessary and awful as that one, she could be marked as a pariah for life.

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If you ask me, Brian De Palma has been really underperforming over the last decade or so. I think I remember seeing Femme Fatale and The Black Dahlia from him, and that’s about it. When was the last time I was truly excited to see a De Palma film? You’d have to go all the way back to when he worked with Nic Cage on Snake Eyes. Thankfully, the director has a new project in the works, and while it’s not quite as exciting as a re-pairing with Nic Cage, it does sound appropriately ridiculous. This time he’s working on a remake of a Burt Reynolds movie, with Jason Statham in the Burt Reynolds role. Probably not a lot of people remember 1986’s Heat, because by all accounts it was pretty bad. It’s the type of movie that goes through multiple directors over the course of its production, and then eventually forces the guy who has to take credit for directing to not even use his real name.

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We’ve all heard the grumblings and complaints over the prospect of a new remake of Brian De Palma‘s adaptation of Carrie. What’s to care about with this remake? We’ve already got a pretty perfect adaptation. But now some of us can care, with the news that Kimberly Peirce could possibly be at the helm. Peirce is both an odd and kind of perfect choice for this project. Her acclaimed Boys Don’t Cry and lesser acclaimed but still pretty good Stop-Loss are both what one could call psychological horror movies, and Carrie very much is that. Peirce seems adept crafting films that chronicle young people going through a tough time, so she makes for an oddly suitable fit, really. MGM and Screen Gems are supposedly interested in a “gritty” take, despite the story involving a girl using psychic powers. Peirce, clearly being a lover of making all things gritty and realistic, could probably give them the realism they (oddly) want. Deadline Hermon is currently reporting she’s “in talks” to direct, and I certainly hope that deal goes through.

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The ridiculous trend of foreign language films getting English-language remakes immediately after they leave theaters marches on. This time around we’ve got Brian De Palma looking to remake the French film Crime d’amour, which just opened in U.S. theaters in September. The original film is a sort of psychological thriller in which a high-powered executive played by Kristin Scott Thomas takes on a young assistant, played by Ludivine Sagnier, so that she can toy with and corrupt her. A turn happens, however, when Thomas’s character overestimates the Sagnier character’s innocence and naiveté, and eventually the student becomes the master of manipulation. I haven’t seen it, but it sounds kind of sexy. De Palma is taking the film, which was released in the U.S. as Love Crime, and remaking it as Passion. And according to a report from Indiewire, he’s got his two lead actresses in mind. Apparently he’s looking to Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows co-stars Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams to fill the roles, and is currently in negotiations to sign them up.

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Culture Warrior

The self-reflexive practices of the meta-film take various forms. On the one hand, there’s the legacy of cinephilic directors from Brian De Palma to P. T. Anderson to Robert Rodriguez who shout out to specific films through their in-crowd referencing, or even go so far as to structure entire narratives through tributes to cinema’s past. Then there’s “the wink,” those film’s, like this weekend’s The Muppets, who exercise cheeky humor by breaking the fourth wall and by constant reference to the fact that they are in a heavily constructed film reality. The third category is less common, but perhaps the most interesting. There has been a recent influx of films that don’t use past films to construct present narratives or engage in Brecht-light humor, but have as their central narrative concern the broad developmental history of the medium itself, from practices of filmgoing to particularities of projection, and anything in between. Bertolucci’s The Dreamers is a good example of this mode of meta-filmmaking, but more high-profile films have begin to make this turn, specifically by directors who formerly operated in the first (and perhaps most common) category, like Tarantino with Inglourious Basterds two years ago. Now Martin Scorsese has followed suit with the 3D love letter to early cinema and film preservation that is Hugo.

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published: 04.18.2014
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published: 04.18.2014
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published: 04.18.2014
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published: 04.18.2014
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