Brian De Palma

31 Days of Horror - October 2011

We continue our journey through a month of frightening, bloody and violent films. For more, check out our 31 Days of Horror homepage. Synopsis: A prostitute becomes embroiled in a murder investigation when a psychopath butchers a woman in the building where she is meeting a client. Anxious to clear herself of any involvement, she teams with the murdered woman’s son to pursue the most likely suspect: a mentally-disturbed female patient of the murdered woman’s psychiatrist. But before they can tighten the noose around this maniac’s neck, our heroic duo find themselves being stalked by their own razor-wielding prey.

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Twice before Hollywood has told tales of scandalous men achieving vast riches by selling illegal substances in movies named Scarface. The first time was in 1932, and the substance was prohibition era booze. The second time was in 1983, and the substance was cocaine. I remember watching the 1932 Scarface in a film class way back in the days when I was a lowly university student and liking it quite a bit. I’ve always thought that the 1983 version was pretty dated and indulgent though. Even with its cult status among rappers and people who like to watch Entourage. So how do I feel about THR’s news that Universal is looking to produce yet another version of Scarface, this one set in modern times? I guess I’m pretty indifferent about it. The story of a tragic figure experiencing a rise and fall in the crime world is one that has been told a thousand times already, and it will be told a thousand times again, so what’s the big deal if they want to sell another one by calling it Scarface?

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Your mission, if you choose to accept it… During an undercover mission in Prague, IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) witnesses his spy team picked off one by one—including his mentor and friend, Jim Phelps (Jon Voight). With the blame of sabotage and treason on his head, Hunt goes on the run to clear his name, entrap the real conspirators and deliver the perfect dose of tentpole bravado.

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It’s been a while since we’ve gotten a film from legendary Scarface director Brian De Palma. The last was an Iraq war drama called Redacted that came out in 2007, but honestly I don’t even remember that one happening. The last time he did something that I even recognized as a De Palma film was The Black Dhalia in 2006. And before that there was 2000’s Mission to Mars, which I only remember because of how laughably bad it was. Suffice to say, Brian De Palma has been off of the radar for a while. It felt a little strange today to see his name randomly pop up when Deadline Lenexa reported that he had signed on to direct a film called The Key Man. Written by relative newcomer Joby Harold, The Key Man is said to be tonally in tune with that spat of 70s thrillers that took over for a while and was probably best encompassed by Marathon Man and Three Days of the Condor. It’s going to be about a single father being tracked by government agents because his body contains important national secrets. In his body? How did that happen? “Million to one shot, doc.” Gross. All possibilities of anal insertion humor aside, is anybody looking forward to a thriller directed by Brian De Palma? The 70s style throwback makes it sound a little intriguing to me, but this is a director I wrote off a while ago. Do we have any indication that he might […]

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Arrow Video has quickly made a name for themselves as one of the top labels for genre cinema in general and Dario Argento’s films in particular. Their Blu-ray releases of Argento’s work have seen their fair share of ups and downs though with some being near reference quality and others showing real issues in the video and/or audio departments. Now Arrow has released a new Blu-ray from another well known director, their first from the man many critics (inexplicably) appointed the heir to Alfred Hitchcock’s suspense-filled throne. Will their first foray into Brian DePalma’s films fare better than some of Argento’s? The Movie: Michael Courtland (Cliff Robertson) is a well to do businessman living in New Orleans with his beautiful wife Elizabeth (Geneviève Bujold) and daughter. A party winds down and the family settles in for the night, but Courtland soon discovers his wife and child missing and a ransom note demanding cash. He pays what’s asked of him, but a botched rescue attempt by police leads to the death of both his wife and daughter. Years later the still bereft widower finds himself in Italy on a business trip and wanders into the church where he had first met Elizabeth… and where he meets a young woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to his dead wife.

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This Week in Blu-ray

This Week in Blu-ray we take a look at some new educational material from the BBC in the form of Human Planet, but it’s not without some high drama. We also take a walk with Terry Gilliam through the mind of Hunter S. Thompson. Again, not without some high drama. And there’s a quick sidestep into the world of South Park. High drama ensues. And finally there’s no high drama in the crime thriller Blood Out, not to be confused with the far better Brian De Palma film Blow Out, which also streets this week. It’s a lot of drama and a few laughs this week as we comb through the best and worst of this week’s Blu-ray releases. Human Planet There will be a much more in-depth review of this title coming soon, as I have so much to say about what the BBC has done with Human Planet. For now lets work with the short version. Narrated by John Hurt, Human Planet takes the idea of filming our big blue planet in all the glory of high definition and combines it with the study of man. How do we, the only animal to inhabit every terrain on terra firma, interact with the abundance of nature that surrounds us at every turn? From the wild rivers to the deep oceans to the sky-reaching concrete and steel cities we’ve erected from her upper crust, humanity has a unique relationship with our home planet. And this documentary series captures it brilliantly. […]

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Every day, come rain or shine or internet tubes breaking, Film School Rejects showcases a trailer from the past. Ever wonder where George Lucas stole the idea for Darth Vader’s helmet? Right here, my friend. This trailer is so damned cool – from the larger-than-life rock ‘n’ roll to the psychedelic visuals that make it tough to tell drug real from real real. Brian De Palma tells the tale of a disfigured musician in love with a beautiful singer and the price he pays for that love. Plus, the Darth Vader thing. Think you know what it is? Check the trailer out for yourself:

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Have you ever sat at coffee shop, minding your own business and munching on a tasty croissant, when pleasantly and unexpectedly a handsome man or beautiful lady sits down across from you? If life were a movie, one of you would drop something, reach to pick it up at the same time, and charmingly knock heads. Engaging conversation would ensue, you’d fall madly in love, music would swell, and credits would roll like the tears down your movie-self’s cheek. Le sigh and scene. But like movies are oft to show, so much sexual passion can just as easily bring out the evil in characters as it does the good. Movie love can be so intense it borders on destructive, and a budding couple’s sanity can unravel before the audience’s eyes as the story reaches its climax. Sex unites the couple and keeps them together longer than it rationally should, until both partners become weaved so heavily in a tangle of sex-caused insanity neither can see where reality and delusion lie.

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Criterion Files

Hitchcock’s name is so deeply engraved in the suspense/thriller genre that it’s almost adopted his name as a pseudonym by now. Whenever a filmmaker makes an exceptional thriller you’ll commonly see at least one quote stating that it’s “The best since Hitchcock’s ____________.” If the filmmaker gets on a streak of exceptional thrillers they’re dubbed the next “Master of Suspense” (which is saying they’re the next Hitchcock without saying it). The only filmmaker that works consistently in the suspense genre and has distanced himself from direct Hitchcock comparisons is Roman Polanski. Arguably, the most notable and gifted filmmaker that hasn’t is Brian De Palma.

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Tom Cruise

Whether you love him, hate him, love to hate him, or hate that you love him there’s no denying that Tom Cruise’s career decisions in terms of what directors he will work for have been second-to-none. Or, maybe they have been. You decide.

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Paramount is on an impossible mission (see what I did there? I referenced an old Commodore 64 game) to find a director worthy of helming a sequel to their blockbuster hit, Paranormal Activity. The original film from first-time director Oren Peli was produced for under a million dollars but went on to gross over a hundred million at the box-office. A profit that size made a sequel inevitable, and the studio has already announced a release date of October 22nd, 2010… less than eight months away.

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According to the producer, the project should have a script by this week and be on track to roll cameras early next year.

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The Boston Stranglers

Brian De Palma’s forthcoming serial killer thriller will boast an unusual marketing gimmick: If you don’t go see it, De Palma will personally come to your house and strangle you. Just kidding.

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