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 Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?

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Salomé
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PostSubject: Re: Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?    Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:11 am

Dahlia's biggest flaw is the casting choice of Hilary Swank as Madeleine. She is just all wrong for the role, which ruins much of the experience for me.
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PostSubject: Re: Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?    Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:15 am

Interesting. Channel 4 are showing Black Dahlia next week and I'm debating to give it a bash having read the book. Just to 'see' it in action so to speak.
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Erica Ambler
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PostSubject: Re: Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?    Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:17 am

Salomé wrote:
Dahlia's biggest flaw is the casting choice of Hilary Swank as Madeleine. She is just all wrong for the role, which ruins much of the experience for me.

I doubt she was De Palma's choice. He doesn't have much clout these days. I'm sure his instincts would have screamed kirshner for both parts.

Vertigo all the way ...

I hope Black Dahlia's reputation grows then the director's cut might re-surface.
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PostSubject: Re: Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?    Mon Apr 08, 2013 3:31 am

Erica Ambler wrote:
Salomé wrote:
Dahlia's biggest flaw is the casting choice of Hilary Swank as Madeleine. She is just all wrong for the role, which ruins much of the experience for me.

I doubt she was De Palma's choice. He doesn't have much clout these days. I'm sure his instincts would have screamed kirshner for both parts.

Vertigo all the way ...

I hope Black Dahlia's reputation grows then the director's cut might re-surface.

That would have been rather perfect.

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PostSubject: Re: Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?    Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:21 am

There was a longer cut of THE BLACK DAHLIA, but according to De Palma, it wasn't massively different from the finished film (in fact, if De Palma's right, his original cut was only about eight minutes longer than the film we got):

Quote :
Geoff: Josh Friedman seemed to suggest in an interview that sometime after Fincher left the project, the producers or whoever were adamant that it be a two-hour picture. Is that kind of how it was when you came on?

BDP: Yeah. But I don’t know… I never saw the famous, whatever it is, the 180- or 220-page script. It was well within a two-hours, two-hours-twenty-minutes when the script was ultimately sent to me.

Geoff: And so as you were filming, you always had in mind that it had to be a two-hour film? Or as you were reshaping the script?

BDP: Well, it didn’t exactly have to be a two-hour film, but, I mean I had a two-hour and ten-minute version, but I… you know, there was a big interrogation of Red Manley that I took out. That seems to be the largest scene I actually took out that no longer exists. You see Lee really beat this guy up and terrorize him. The whole thing’s about the confession. But the subplots that sort of came down were, you know, the whole thing where everybody’s confessing all the time. Which… these confessions lead absolutely nowhere. But because it’s such a high-profile case, people are confessing to it all the time. So that went out. And then the whole sort of inner-departmental struggling with the D.A. that, you know, wanted to make a career on the high-profile case… that came down a lot.

Geoff: Were there ever any extra scenes shot with the Cleo Short character?

BDP: Oh, there was another Cleo Short scene. Yes, there was. It was very… very funny, really. Because they would go back to Cleo Short… and… I’m trying to remember now. There was a link there, because one of Cleo’s daughters was there, and she’s looking through a magazine that somehow tips Bucky… and you’re going to have to help me here, because this is in the book… there’s something in the magazine, a picture in the magazine that tips Bucky, I think, back to the Gwynplain, Man Who Laughs thing.

Geoff: Yeah… I was thinking it might be the picture of Mack Sennett and…

BDP: Right—there’s something, there’s a clue in that magazine, and that was in the original script.

[Editor’s note: the clue in the magazine was actually a still from a Keystone Kops movie that featured the same unmistakable background used in the Lorna Mertz/Betty Short stag film.]

Geoff: But you never filmed that scene?

BDP: No. It was on the schedule, but I ultimately cut it out. I never filmed it. No.

Geoff: And how about Amy Irving—did she ever make it out to Bulgaria?

BDP: No, again, that was another… you know, the Gwynplain painting is at the house of this other aristocrat that lives down the street from the Linscotts. And that sequence was ultimately dropped completely, because I said, you know, here we’ve got to have the painting somewhere else, and how did it get here, and she just gives a little more insight into the whole crazy Linscott family.

Geoff: And you also left out a scene at the end, or near the end, where Bucky and Russ burn down the shack?

BDP: Yeah. We shot that.


Last edited by Harmsway on Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:30 am; edited 1 time in total
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Erica Ambler
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PostSubject: Re: Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?    Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:30 am

Wasn't Short's ultra violent murder scene cut drastically?
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PostSubject: Re: Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?    Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:37 am

Erica Ambler wrote:
Wasn't Short's ultra violent murder scene cut drastically?
It's possible, but I haven't found any reference to that.
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PostSubject: Re: Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?    Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:46 am

There's an interview with KIrshner somewhere saying how distressing she found the filiming of it, but there doesn't seem much in the film that connects with her recollection.
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PostSubject: Re: Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?    Mon Apr 08, 2013 9:01 am

Erica Ambler wrote:
There's an interview with KIrshner somewhere saying how distressing she found the filiming of it, but there doesn't seem much in the film that connects with her recollection.
It's entirely possible more was shot than ever made its way into a cut of the film. De Palma said that many of Kirshner's scenes were improvised.
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PostSubject: Re: Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?    Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:19 pm

I love Kirshner, I wish she had played both parts, as opposed to Josh Hartnett playing both Bucky and Madeleine. That's what happened, right?

I've always said ScarJo was too young for her part. Kay Lake is a woman who's been through a river of shit, not just out of high school. ScarJo didn't have the life experience as an actor to carry it, IMHO.
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PostSubject: Re: Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?    Wed Jun 12, 2013 12:50 am

Armond White wrote:
Passion asks the question, Has Brian De Palma lost it? This remake of a French programmer shows De Palma’s misunderstood feminist side. Stay tuned for the results.

http://cityarts.info/2013/05/30/summer-at-the-movies/
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Harmsway
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PostSubject: Re: Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?    Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:44 am

The European critics (perhaps predictably) have gone ga-ga for PASSION.
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PostSubject: Re: Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?    Sun Sep 01, 2013 9:31 am

Interview with De Palma in the latest Vanity Fair.

http://www.vanityfair.com/online/oscars/2013/08/brian-de-palma-passion
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PostSubject: Re: Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?    Sun Sep 01, 2013 11:26 am

This is a great comment:

Brian De Palma wrote:
The people who never liked my type of cinema, they always review it the same way: that I'm an abstract expressionist and they're looking for a naturalistic painter.
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Harmsway
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PostSubject: Re: Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?    Mon Sep 02, 2013 1:31 am

Yep. I continue to find reviews of his work that leave me scratching my head.

I also think this quote (from here) is gold:

"The very act of seeing has become very strange with all this now easily available technique, and I try to reflect that on the screen."
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PostSubject: Re: Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?    Tue Sep 03, 2013 8:40 pm

Entertaining interview in a recent Guardian:

Quote :
"I'm not really interested in these comic-book movies. Why would I be? I'm 72 years old! I'm perfectly happy at the level I'm working at. I've worked in almost every genre imaginable. Besides, when you make these big, expensive movies, you have a lot of meetings with the studios. And, boy, are they boring."

As for his own career, what's next? Retirement? "In the words of William Wyler," he says, "when the legs go, that's when you've gotta pack it in. My cinematographer is older than I am. He does Almodóvar's movies. He's 74. I watch him standing up all the time. I say, "Why don't you sit down? He says, 'If I sit down, I fall asleep.' I think that's waiting for me."
However, the comments section is perhaps most interesting. I didn't write this, but it seems I had a siamese twin separated at birth.

Quote :
"I'm always surprised when I get critical reactions saying my films are sleazy." He laughs. "What's sleazy about them? They say they're 'erotic European trash'. I'm like, 'What are they talking about? These women look fantastic. I spent a lot of time making them look as stylish as possible!'"

Translation: No, my films have never been influenced off Italian gialli, like the elevator murder in the The Case of the Bloody Iris or a character bending down to reveal the killer standing right behind them in Tenebrae.
Hell, even this quote recalls Hitchcock and Argento:

"I like women, especially beautiful ones. If they have a good face and figure, I would much prefer to watch them being murdered than an ugly girl or man. I certainly don`t have to justify myself to anyone about this. I don`t care what anyone thinks or reads into it. I have often had journalists walk out of interviews when I say what I feel about this subject."
http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/aug/18/brian-de-palma-passion-interview


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PostSubject: Re: Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?    Tue Sep 03, 2013 11:48 pm

The White Tuxedo wrote:
I love Kirshner, I wish she had played both parts, as opposed to Josh Hartnett playing both Bucky and Madeleine.  That's what happened, right?

I've always said ScarJo was too young for her part.  Kay Lake is a woman who's been through a river of shit, not just out of high school.  ScarJo didn't have the life experience as an actor to carry it, IMHO.
What part has ScarJo truly shined in?
It's a serious question. Even in roles that appear tailor-made for her (Ghost World), she finds herself playing second fiddle to a superior performance (or performances).
If not for Kristen Stewart, she would be the weakest in what is already a weak generation of A-list actresses (those born in the 1980s and early 1990s).
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PostSubject: Re: Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?    Wed Sep 04, 2013 12:21 am

Another Ambler double?

Quote :
I'm sure apart from Bird, De Palma must at least have seen Tenebre, because he quotes it in both Raising Cain and his latest, Passion. But actually I have a feeling he secretly must have seen them all, if not for professional interest alone. But the other way around Argento admits to comparisons with De Palma, and he even chose Jessica Harper after seeing her in Phantom of the Paradise.
FWIW, I can find precious little regarding De Palma's comments on Argento (or vice versa). Apparently Argento talks about De Palma during the end of the TENEBRAE commentary.

I can't find any clarification on this, but Walter Chaw makes the following claim:

Quote :
Despite their similarities, Argento and De Palma to this day hate each other with a white-hot passion.
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PostSubject: Re: Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?    Wed Sep 04, 2013 5:24 am

Couple of very interesting links there, thanks, Harms. I imagine there was rivalry between them at one point though Dario Argento's career has been in decline for so long I'm sure that's long over.

I don't think any of Argento's films have been worthwhile since Opera and that was only partially satisfying. Problem is, they all have moments that remind you how good he once was. I saw him at the Scala in London back in 1991 or '92 but he lost me with all his talk of telepathic insects. I can't imagine the occult or mysticism appeals to De Palma, who has a much more scientific mind.
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PostSubject: Re: Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?    Wed Sep 04, 2013 5:29 am

Are we sure there's not a more obscure filmmaker both Argento and De Palma ripped off for those scenes in TENNEBRE, RAISING CAIN and PASSION?
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PostSubject: Re: Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?    Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:50 am

I suppose it's possible.
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PostSubject: Re: Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?    Wed Sep 11, 2013 8:41 am

Interview with DP Vilmos Zsigmond by a Norwegian film publication called Montages. Here it is translated into English.

Quote :
TJ: Mr. Zsigmond, thank you for having a few words with us at Montages. Let's start at the very beginning. In the 50s, you studied in Budapest with your friend and colleague Lazlo Kovacs. Did you have any vision in terms of what you wanted to do as a cinematographer at that point?

Vilmos Zsigmond (VZ): When I started, I had no idea if I was even going to pass my exam! They selected me to meet some other 40 people at the school, and then we had to go through another exam. I did not know much about cinematography at all. I knew a little bit about still photography, Because when I was 17, I worked in a photography shop for about a year, especially on lighting portraits. After that, I studied photography and shorthand writing, but I had no idea that I would end up as a cinematographer.

TJ: You did not have any kind of style? You did not have a desire two revolutionize the craft by doing things a certain way?

VZ: My idea was only to stay alive and stay in school [laughs]. Half of us were thrown out after a year, and the other half was thrown out after the second year. So there were only four of us  who survived. However, we had some incredible teachers. In fact, there were only 6 great cameramen with an international reputation in Hungary at that time. Just to listen to and learn from these masters was unbelievable. And speaking of style ... Yes, I learned style from all of them, and they were all very different. For example this old guy, Istvan Ivan, had an incredible black/white style which I can only compare to Leonardo da Vinci. This was probably the greatest influence on me, because I've always tended to like lighting the most.

TJ: That's interesting, Because one of the things that you are most famous for is the style known as  flashing or  pre-fogging . Could you tell us what that is and why that appealed to you so much?

VZ: I saw a movie by the famous cinematographer Freddie Young who had used the flashing technique. The reason he did it was Because it was a low budget movie and very little available lighting for the interiors. So he 'invented' the flashing technique, in a way, even though it originally came from still photography. What it means is that you carefully expose a little bit of the negative to light, and then you can choose 5% or 15% or however much diffusion you want.

So when I did McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) by Robert Altman, he told me he wanted a style for the movie which showed the time - that it was taking placing 100 years ago. When he showed me old, antique images, I told him about the flashing thing. He thought it was a great idea, and that we actually had a guy who could do it who was a standby photographer in Vancouver, where the movie was shot. I explained the technique over the phone, but then I flew over to do some preliminary tests myself. Eventually, the whole film was flashed from beginning to end.
It's interesting, because I did not really think that much about flashing at the time.My strength was lighting, and this was about creating a style that did not exist in those days, at least not in Hollywood. For me, Hollywood was always "too good", saturated, Technicolor and unreal. And I always leaned towards movies that were about people - characters, story, etc. - and not necessarily the big movies.

]
"Images" (1972)

TJ: I'd like to talk about three different collaborations of yours. We've already touched on Robert Altman. There is one film by him, in particular, that has always fascinated me, and that is Images (1972). In this film, Susannah York plays a schizophrenic woman who struggles with two different worlds - here imagined world and the real world. How did you approach that duality from a cinematographic view point?

VZ: That's an interesting question, actually. I did not select a different style for the imagined and the real. I do not think it needed it, really, Because The actors maintained the differences comfy rooms. Susannah York and the rest of the cast had to play multiple characters, so my job was more about recreating that wonderful area of Ireland in the winter.

TJ: Bleak ...

VZ: Bleak and black of black/white-ish ... and 'flashed' to get even less color. The movie was shot in a big Irish center, but the whole area was like a park. Behind the studio was a big mountain, and from there you could look down on a lake. The whole thing was already tailor made to set the mood with low level sun in the horizon. It was very challenging to Use the little sunshine we had.

TJ: It's almost like a fairy tale, Because The York character is herself a fairytale writer. There is one sequence, in particular, where she runs towards a waterfall and seen an image of herself. The whole thing is lighted in a way that puts it somewhere between reality and fairy tale.

VZ: Yes, everything was there, basically. It was one of the most beautiful backlot of a soundstage I've ever seen. I brought a book with paintings that I thought represented the mood and the colors of the picture. I Showed it to Robert, and it had a certainties 'greyness' which he loved. He said "I wish I'd had that a couple of weeks ago, before I repainted the set". I do not really like white walls, Because it bounces the light too much. Grey makes it easier to create darkness. Robert was a visionary filmmaker that way, because he always looked for things that were different in some way.

TJ: Speaking of visionaries, the second director that we wanted to talk about is Brian de Palma.

LO: For me, some of your most interesting work has been in his films. He has a reputation of being angry and difficult to work with. What was it like working with him, and what do you think about his style?

VZ: You know, his style is basically that he wants interesting shots. He's a master of staging,​ and he's a master of shooting long takes, camera movements, zooms etc. So I had a ball, Because I had never met anyone who was that good. In those days, he did not really talk too much. On Obsession (1976), we ran into problems Because The Italian crew did not like him. He did not say 'good morning' or anything. The Italian producer publican him "Look, Brian, this crew does not like you Because you just walk around the set without saying anything. You can at least say 'good morning', 'how is your kid? etc. when you meet them in the morning. Then they will probably work more efficiently too. "He said" OK, if that's what you want me to do, I'll do it ". And then the next morning he comes on stage and goes "bon giorno", "how is the 'bambini'?" Etc. to everyone [laughs]. He had a good sense of humor.

But he did not bother me, honestly. He is very introverted. He'll arrive at the set, light up the shot and when I understand what he wants, he will just sit down by the side of the set and think about stuff. He does not push me around or anything, he just reports.


"Blow-Out" (1981)

LO: He has a way of telling stories through the camera. There is very little dialogue in these long takes that simply tell us things audiovisually.I think Blow Out (1981) is one of the most outstanding examples. I have a question about the opening scene - the prologue with the POV Ste​adicam shot - was that inspired by John Carpenter's opening scene from Halloween (1978)?

VZ: In de Palma's films, you'll always find an Influence from someone else. He's a good "stealer" of ideas, but he does it his way, so it's still a Brian De Palma movie.And he's not really worried about it either, everybody is copying.

LO: And he's always been open about his Hitchcock influences, for example. But about that opening scene and its inspiration fromHalloween ?

VZ: No, if anything, Blow Out refers back to Blow-Up (1966) by Antonioni. That film dealt with still photography and the accidental capture of a possible murder.It's basically the same story in Blow-Out with someone taking a picture of the car going into the water.

LO: It's like a cross between The Conversation (1974) and Blow-Up .

VZ: Exactly!

LO: I also have a question about De Palma's Bonfire of the Vanities(1990). Again it's the opening scene and the complicated long take. How many times did you shoot it?

VZ: We actually shot it about ten times. It's a 6-minute take, and we used a full magazine. Panavision made ​​500 feet magazines, but Kodak never did that, so we had two roll them out to make 2500 feet rolls. [Laughs] This can actually be dangerous, Because anything can happen to the movie ... like scratches. We had to do the whole thing at night. We went there two scout at 7 o'clock in the morning, and as I saw this building with big windows by Wall Street, there was a gorgeous, beautiful, early morning light with shades of blue.

Unfortunately, Brian would not have that. But then I said two him "you have to promise me that the load takes are in the early morning before the sun comes up."And he said "Ok, I guarantee you, we'll do that." But then after about 6 takes, he said "that's it, we're going home." It was only three o'clock at night, and we had two shoot again at 6 So I said "Brian, remember what you promised me!". So I did a few more takes in the morning. The first was in the dark, the second at the perfect time, and the third when it was already too bright. Turned out the best performance was indeed the second take! [Laughs].

TJ: Moving on to the last director I've chosen, we obviously have to talk about Steven Spielberg and The Sugarland Express (1974), which was your first collaboration. I've read about your efforts put two cameras on the cars to avoid rear projection and also to find new ways to film car scenes in general. I wondered if you could tell me something about the challenges of doing that?

VZ: It was very challenging, actually. Spielberg was a young filmmaker, he had only done the TV movie Duel (1971) before. But he always had great ideas. He could think up almost impossible shots. Like the scene where two cars are going in opposite directions, but then meet each other at some point - and we had two do that in one shot through the windows of the two cars. The steadycam shot was unbelievable. It was done by Garett Brown , who invented the technique. He was a tall guy with long legs, and when he started running with the camera, nobody could follow him. We were all running after him, trying two catch up [laughs].


"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977)

TJ: Now, we have to talk a little bit about Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Because Spielberg is of course known for his his celebration of light. Whereas light is most often used to reveal things, Spielberg is more interested in overusing lights to obscure. What was the instructions that Spielberg gift you on the use of lights in this movie?

VZ: To tell you the truth, I do not think Spielberg knew that much about the use of lighting at that point. He was more concerned with almost documentary-style film making, like Duel and The Sugarland Express. But Close Encounters was a totally different movie. In the script, there was some information about immense amounts of light coming from the spaceship, and I knew that we had two get a lot of big two units generate the wanted effect. But for some reason, Steven did not think about the technical aspects of it.
Our soundstage was a remodeled airplane hangar in Mobile, Alabama and we had to black out everything because we shot night sequences during the day. It was unbearably hot, 130 degrees Fahrenheit. As I walked on to the stage, I could hardly see any lights. I asked Spielberg "Where are the lights?". They had used stage lights, but it was not really suitable for a movie situation, it was more like a documentary. And I said to Spielberg, "This is a different kind of movie, do not you think we need more lights?". He said "Yeah, yeah, I think you're right, but what are we going to do?" "We have to get more," I told him. And so we had two bring in these big 10ks and HMI lights. But Steven eventually understood, so he told the producers "Whatever Vilmos wants, get it". [Laughs]. Fortunately, the special effects coordinator was always on my side.

LO: What do you feel about lighting in Spielberg's films these days, with his new Collaborator Janusz Kaminski?

VZ: It's very good. Janusz is a great cinematographer. Lincoln (2012) I thought was brilliant. Beautiful.

TJ: And also muted. We talked about pre-fogging EARLIER, and Kaminski is also quite muted in his approach, often very grainy and dark.

VZ: Lincoln was actually darker than anything I've seen from Spielberg or Kaminiski. It's really intended to look like an old movie where there's not enough light source to light up everything. The important thing was that people were lit.

LO: Strange that it did not win an Oscar. The winner was Life of Pi(2012), which was odd Because it's a flat digital image.

VZ: And especially Because they shot it in 3D, which I think was a mistake. It's like their hands were tied because of the effects. The effects became more important than the lighting.

TJ: Are you working on anything new right now?

VZ: I'm reading some scripts and I have a couple of projects. They may or may not happen. But I can not say anything now, unfortunately.

TJ: Thank you so much for your time, Mr. Zsigmond.

VZ: You're welcome.
http://montages.no/2013/09/vi-har-mott-den-legendariske-filmfotografen-vilmos-zsigmond/
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PostSubject: Re: Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?    Sun Sep 15, 2013 4:29 am

De Palma has a new project. In addition to the upcoming HAPPY VALLEY with Al Pacino, ScreenDaily reports that De Palma is working on an adaptation of THERESE RAQUIN with Emily Mortimer:

Quote :
Also new from SBS is Brian De Palma’s loose adaptation of Emile Zola’s Therese Raquin, featuring both period and contemporary elements. Emily Mortimer will play the lead.

The story is about a film director and two actors shooting a movie version of Zola’s novel and finding that it reflects experiences in their own lives.
THERESE RAQUIN has been adapted quite a few times, including two recent attempts: Chan-Wook Park's THIRST and Charlie Stratton's THERESE.
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Largo's Shark
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PostSubject: Re: Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?    Sun Sep 15, 2013 5:21 am

Oh no.
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PostSubject: Re: Brian De Palma: auteur or charlatan?    Sun Sep 15, 2013 6:08 am

Not a fan of Zola, Sharky?
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