Brian De Palma

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Dylan
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Re: Brian De Palma

#51 Post by Dylan » Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:50 am

Brian De Palma's next project is a horror film inspired by the Weinstein scandal

The article also mentions that Domino, while completed, is currently sitting on the shelf because it was underfunded by the producer and some of the staff never got paid.

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Reverend Drewcifer
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Re: Brian De Palma

#52 Post by Reverend Drewcifer » Tue Jun 05, 2018 5:28 pm


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Re: Brian De Palma

#53 Post by Cremildo » Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:47 pm

None of which is outrageous or unreasonable.

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Lost Highway
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Re: Brian De Palma

#54 Post by Lost Highway » Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:12 pm

I don’t think of Soderbergh as a strongly visual director. I like him, I think he’s a good storyteller, but I don’t associate a strong visual style with his films. Sometimes I even find his work visually clunky. Whether it’s diplomatic to diss a fellow director who is much admired is another thing. I have some sympathy for cranky-old-man syndrome setting in when you’ve been undervalued and misunderstood by much of the critical establishment for your entire career and have found it near impossible to get funding for a couple of decades.

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Re: Brian De Palma

#55 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Jun 05, 2018 11:12 pm

Soderbergh isn't showy, but he's a very visual director I've always thought, often finding novel visual ways to communicate something. It'd be interesting to see what he could do going all out, De Palma style (indeed I think one of the weaknesses of Side Effects is that he didn't tho' the story was begging for it). But for the most part Soderbergh prefers to be more understated and/or efficient.

I'd like to hear Domino weigh in on this.

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Re: Brian De Palma

#56 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jun 05, 2018 11:25 pm

Soderbergh has an immediately recognizable visual style, but it's one primarily achieved through the composure and editing of shots. It doesn't surprise me that de Palma doesn't recognize what Soderbergh is doing, since the clinical detachment of his films is at-odds with the hyperbolic camera movements and fluidity of de Palma's films. Soderbergh is also a more holistic director-- Soderbergh, like many classical Hollywood directors, is a storyteller first, but not always in traditional ways. It's this experimentation that makes him so consistently fascinating, and yet all of these excursions share common aesthetic choices within their branchings off. By contrast, De Palma is far too easily distracted by showiness and unchecked grandeur. There are some de Palma films I enjoy, but none for their narrative. I think this is just de Palma not actually being too familiar with the director that he's dissing, and not caring because he's been around long enough to not give a fuck

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Re: Brian De Palma

#57 Post by All the Best People » Tue Jun 05, 2018 11:31 pm

Soderbergh clearly has a distinct visual style, and one I quite like (I also get a lot of joy from De Palma's style). I agree with Domino that De Palma citing only The Knick in his answer implies he's not terribly familiar with what Soderbergh has been up to (though that is a notably visual series, at least in season one, the only I've seen, so it's an odd example).

On the other hand, Soderbergh has said he has to study directors like Fincher to learn how to best convey story points visually, particularly in setpieces (I believe he mentioned this in relation to the Ocean's movies/vacation excuses). So I suspect he might not completely disagree with De Palma, in the sense that he doesn't seem to think his visual sense comes naturally. But he also seems rather hard on himself, creatively.

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Re: Brian De Palma

#58 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:47 am

Anyone who created the shot-countershot in Behind The Candelabra of Matt Damon in that jockstrap versus Michael Douglas without the wig (a shot that came to mind recently whilst watching The Greasy Strangler, which is basically that one moment stretched out to feature length!) has to have some grasp on visual language and how it can create a feeling in an audience!

And if you need a particularly standout visually memorable scene in a Soderbergh film, you cannot go wrong with the helicopter scene in Traffic!

I actually cannot think of a filmmaker who has switched styles more often than Soderbergh! Big budget gloss, low budget handheld, tinted sequences, etc. Which perhaps suggests that Sodgerbergh is not a filmmaker whose visual style overwhelms the story, but who is trying to build a style that fits the particular story he is telling, which is a slightly different thing. There have also been times when Soderbergh seems to have actively attempted films where stylistics 'overwhelm' narrative (Kafka, The Underneath), although those have turned out to be the problematic films of his career that Soderbergh himself appears to be the least satisfied with, but they are still interesting.
Last edited by colinr0380 on Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:57 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Lost Highway
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Re: Brian De Palma

#59 Post by Lost Highway » Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:12 am

I have no doubt that Soderbergh has a grasp on the visual language of cinema. But there are devices he employs, like the different hues for different plot lines in Traffic and the golden hue for the flashbacks in Solaris, which I find unsophisticated and quite ugly. A more visually oriented director would achieve something like that more elegantly.

Of course De Palma is an entirely different type of director. Style is content with him and for Soderbergh the visuals are in the service of the plot. But Soderbergh isn’t one of those directors who leaves me with anything that visually excites me and cinema which is visually exiting is the type of cinema I gravitate to the most and no doubt, so is De Palma.

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Re: Brian De Palma

#60 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:07 am

The other thing that I think we should note is that it seems from the piece that this was led more by the interviewer than De Palma sitting down and saying "I simply must get this off my chest. You know who has no style in their films? Steven Soderbergh!". This was De Palma being asked to comment on two specific directors and their stylistics by an interviewer, and he may just not have had a strong opinion one way or the other about them, or at least a considered one having to just answer on the spur of the moment.

I mean, it seems to me that this would be similar to asking Oliver Stone to comment on the latest Ken Burns documentary series, or something like that! It is pure speculation but I guess you would get a negative 'reaction' there too towards the epitome of the talking heads documentary filmmaker, especially when Stone is less about 'just the facts history' and more about 'the mythology' that real events allow people to build up around themselves (and that is just as valid and useful a point of view in understanding the tone and tenor of a historical period in some ways as a purely objective one!). It does not mean that one filmmaker has 'style' and one does not, they're just different, and a variety of different approaches to material is something that should always be celebrated.

Although this does lead me to wonder about who is really working in the old school De Palma operatic-bombastic-imagistic mode any more? Gaspar Noe comes to mind (as does Nicolas Winding Refn), and I would not mind hearing what De Palma would have to say about that filmmaker, but then I could also imagine De Palma maybe not finding Noe's films that successful due to their inherent 'bagginess' of composition (which is a valid direction for Noe as a filmmaker to take, I hasten to add!) compared to De Palma's razor-sharp, precise use of the camera for specific (practical or emotional) purposes.

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Re: Brian De Palma

#61 Post by Oedipax » Sun Aug 05, 2018 10:11 pm

colinr0380 wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:07 am
Although this does lead me to wonder about who is really working in the old school De Palma operatic-bombastic-imagistic mode any more? Gaspar Noe comes to mind (as does Nicolas Winding Refn), and I would not mind hearing what De Palma would have to say about that filmmaker, but then I could also imagine De Palma maybe not finding Noe's films that successful due to their inherent 'bagginess' of composition (which is a valid direction for Noe as a filmmaker to take, I hasten to add!) compared to De Palma's razor-sharp, precise use of the camera for specific (practical or emotional) purposes.
I think Refn is a pretty good suggestion (less sold on Noe in this particular context), and I would also add Yann Gonzalez, whose A Knife in the Heart is pure De Palma in many sequences, at the level of conscious homage. Gonzalez really captures that dreamy yet knowing, elevated artifice feel of a lot of De Palma, for instance in his POV steadicam shots where you see the killer's hands and such. But it's there also in Gonzelez's willingness to let things go a bit cheesy, like dialogue scenes in a softcore porn or something, the way De Palma does as well in a film like Body Double.

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Re: Brian De Palma

#62 Post by bad future » Mon Aug 06, 2018 1:22 am

I always think of Park Chan-wook as the progression of whatever lines you can draw from Hitchcock to De Palma. Park has his own overt Hitchcock remix in Stoker (his Shadow of a Doubt), in addition generally favoring that Hitchcockian romance-suspense mode that too few strive for these days. And for as much as De Palma carried that torch to more visually dynamic and R-rated places, Park is like the even more bombastic and sensual progression; the De Palma to De Palma's Hitchcock. Or is that too reductive? I know talking about De Palma in terms of Hitchcock is way played out, but I mean it affectionately; it's like my favorite branch of a big tree.

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Lost Highway
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Re: Brian De Palma

#63 Post by Lost Highway » Mon Aug 06, 2018 5:34 am

While Park Chan-wook’s work can have a degree of flamboyancy which can be compared to De Palma, I found his Hitchcock homage static and lifeless with its " every frame a piece of art" aesthetic. In its preciousness Stoker lacked the kinetic momentum of a Hitchcock or a De Palma, it felt more like a lifestyle spread for Wallpaper magazine than a thriller. It flattened the heart breaking coming of age narrative of a girl realizing her idolised uncle is a monster to a trite "inherited evil" twist which only someone who has never seen a evil-child horror film would find intriguing or transgressive.

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Re: Brian De Palma

#64 Post by JSC » Mon Aug 06, 2018 8:50 am

To return to Soderbergh for a moment. I've admired his work over the years, but I
honestly don't see him as having a consistent style as, say, someone like Robert
Bresson. While it is tempting to claim Soderbergh as an auteur, I see him more as
a very accomplished film craftsman in the mold of Robert Wise or Fred Zinnemann
who worked in a wide variety of genres and visual modes. Besides, I find it pointless
to compare the visual style (and I'm sure someone has) of Kafka to Out of Sight,
or Che to Schizopolis.

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Re: Brian De Palma

#65 Post by knives » Mon Aug 06, 2018 9:01 am

The use of filters alone is very related across his films let alone the fact he often produces, ghost writes, and various other things his films. People need to accept that the term auteur doesn't as strongly apply today.

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Re: Brian De Palma

#66 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:09 am

Would I be able to see a shot or sequence from a film (assuming I didn't recognize the film itself) and immediately peg it as Soderbergh? No. But like has already been described in different ways here, Soderbergh kind of has a home cooking vibe to his work where it goes a long way that you can feel him behind the camera (or very closeby it). Some of the most exhilarating moments in his work come from camera movement or placement where you sense a strong guiding personality, one that is totally there in all of his work in a cohesive way despite experimentation with multiple styles. Totally unsurprised that De Palma has a "that don't impress me much" take on all that.

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Brian De Palma

#67 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:27 am

Having a consistent style was the only marker for auteurism back when so many many other people and institutions had a significant hand in the final product. It makes no sense applied to someone who writes, shoots, directs, edits, and produces his movies. You don’t need to look for a consistent style with Soderbergh: there’s literally no one else to attribute things to. It’s not even a theory: he is literally, on a practical, physical level, the primary shaper of all his films. Every one of Soderbergh’s films could look like they were made by completely different people with mutually exclusive sensibilities and he would still be more of an auteur than John Ford.

The auteur theory was designed for a uniquely collaborative medium in order to help facilitate the kind of macro-criticism you can get with mediums where there is a single creator suggesting continuity across works. There’s a reason no single-author medium has anything like an equivalent theory: it would be incoherent. You don’t need auteur theory when one person is pretty much doing all the creative work: authorship’s not a theory, it’s literal reality. No one would say writer x isn’t actually a writer because his books don’t resemble each other. That’d be incoherent. People'd mainly just praise said author’s range and proficiency.

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Re: Brian De Palma

#68 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Aug 06, 2018 12:12 pm

Something important about auteur theory no one ever mentions: it can't tell you who's not an auteur.

Auteur theory was built for an ambiguous situation where you can't obviously tell who the author of a film is because so many people have creative input. In the absence of directly observable evidence, auteur theory proposes a specific kind of consistency centred on style and theme from which you can infer that this or that person had more creative input than anyone else. It's a good theory because phenomenons like Hitchcock are incoherent without it.

Here's the problem: auteur theory proposes product-level consistency as the marker not because that's the fundamental quality of authorship (again, no one says writer x is not a writer for having a discontinuous oeuvre), but because that's the only consistency you can reliably use to tell authorship in ambiguous situations. So you can't actually say that Robert Wise or Michael Curtiz or whomever isn't an auteur; the best you can say is that there is no way to tell if they're auteurs. The situation is too ambiguous. They could very well have had the majority of the creative input on their projects and, say, chosen a discontinuous, impersonal, chameleon-like approach. I mean, they're probably not auteurs, but you can't tell, not from the films themselves. The only thing you can say with certainty is that there's no point analyzing them from an auteurist perspective.

I think people need to realize the limits of auteur theory: it only applies to ambiguous situations; it only allows for inferences; it can only use a limited, constrained, and frankly artificial idea of authorship. We use it in the absence of direct evidence to infer a conclusion. For people like Soderbergh, we have direct observable evidence, so we don't need and shouldn't use the theory.

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Re: Brian De Palma

#69 Post by Rayon Vert » Mon Aug 06, 2018 12:40 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 12:12 pm
Here's the problem: auteur theory proposes product-level consistency as the marker not because that's the fundamental quality of authorship (again, no one says writer x is not a writer for having a discontinuous oeuvre), but because that's the only consistency you can reliably use to tell authorship in ambiguous situations. So you can't actually say that Robert Wise or Michael Curtiz or whomever isn't an auteur; the best you can say is that there is no way to tell if they're auteurs. The situation is too ambiguous. They could very well have had the majority of the creative input on their projects and, say, chosen a discontinuous, impersonal, chameleon-like approach. I mean, they're probably not auteurs, but you can't tell, not from the films themselves. The only thing you can say with certainty is that there's no point analyzing them from an auteurist perspective.
I'm not sure if this is a little different from what you're saying here, but my understanding of the way Sarris, more specifically, defined the auteur, was not that the auteur director, as opposed to a non-auteur one, had more of a creative input on the project, but that he "imposed his own personality" on the film (le style c'est l'homme). So in that sense, Wise or Curtiz, in the way you characterize them above, just as hypotheticals, would by definition be non-auteur directors (or towards that category on the continuum).

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Re: Brian De Palma

#70 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Aug 06, 2018 1:24 pm

It amounts to the same thing. Boy is Sarris’ definition vague and loaded with a bunch of aesthetic and political assumptions, tho’.

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Re: Brian De Palma

#71 Post by knives » Mon Aug 06, 2018 1:35 pm

Which is of course the big problem with Sarris' model and to a lesser extent Truffaut's. This is also why I like Chabrol's semi sarcastic alternative by which there are a multitude of authors on any, industrial, film which can cause thematic and aesthetic incoherence except when one of those personalities overpowers the other.

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Re: Brian De Palma

#72 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Aug 06, 2018 3:20 pm

The problem is the people mainly responsible for the auteur theory weren't systematizers.

Still, as problematic as the whole thing is, I wouldn't be without it.

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