Tag: brian de palma

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. ACF #30: The Black Dahlia


After Chinatown, we turn to another wonderful neo-noir vision of the foundation of Los Angeles, or rather its turning into Hollywood, the dream factory: Brian De Palma’s parting shot to Hollywood, The Black Dahlia. The movie came out in 2006, had a great cast: Josh Hartnett, Aaron Eckhart, and Scarlett Johansson, was based on a James Ellroy novel, whose L.A. Confidential had wowed audiences and critics in 1997, and was filmed beautifully by Vilmos Zsigmond, who was nominated for the Oscar for his work. Nevertheless, the audience didn’t really love it and the critics even less–it’s a more tragic story about Americans chasing after beautiful dreams and finding a horrible cruelty hiding behind splendor. But it’s precisely this tragic character that makes the film so impressive.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. ACF #29: Scarface part 2


Today, @johnpresnall and I are wrapping up a discussion on tragedy — that is Scarface — with some political notes and also a view of the cycle of regimes presented by Socrates near the end of Plato’s Republic. Yeah, we’re working overtime to make the most despised or at least underrated of the masters, Brian De Palma, reveal his inner greatness. In the mean time, we’ll go to the shocking lengths of praising Oliver Stone and making a bit of fun of Sidney Lumet…

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. ACF #28: Scarface


The podcast’s going back to the great De Palma–our fifth, after The Untouchables, Blow Out, Body Double, and Carlito’s Way. You’ve got Al Pacino, cocaine, Miami, an Oliver Stone script, and the ’80s: So naturally everything goes crazy and turns into a tragedy. Scarface is both a rebuke to liberals who look at criminals as mere victims and to conservatives who look at them as failures. American liberalism–Jimmy Carter–invites immigrants on moral grounds; conservatism–capitalism–invites workers on economic grounds. But Scarface escapes both morality and business, revealing the weaknesses of an American society that cannot deal with the poor or with narco-capitalism.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. ACF #23: Blow Out


Folks, here’s the completion of my trilogy with John Presnall on liberalism confronted with technological surveillance: Brian De Palma’s Blow Out, which puts together image and sound, Antonioni’s Blow-Up and Coppola’s The Conversation, turning these theoretical studies of art and technology into a practical matter — where does art stand to corrupt politics in our world.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. ACF#41 The Untouchables


Let’s talk about The Untouchables, Brian De Palma and David Mamet’s answer to The Godfather! My friend John Presnall and I give you a conversation about the Mafia and America and all the different elements these amazing artists wove together: Democracy, tyranny, Europe, America, Protestants, Catholics, WASPs, Irishmen, Italians, and all sorts of other things brought to life by Sean Connery, Kevin Costner, Andy Garcia, Robert De Niro, and Patricia Clarkson. Listen and share, friends!

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. ACF #31: Body Double


The podcast’s going back to Brian De Palma. My friend John Presnall and I are going to defend, from a conservative point of view, De Palma’s most indefensible sex and violence movie, Body Double. De Palma makes porn the mirror of Hollywood (the underground of Hollywood) and brings Hitchcock into the ’80s, with all the new scandals, but the same moralistic intention: Showing how society hides from evil and perpetuates it. De Palma criticizes the all-American ambition for success and popularity in order to defend man’s heroism. However vulgar, we all want to be a man and save the girl and beat the bad guy.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. ACF#14: Carlito’s Way


New podcast, new interlocutor, and a new departure — defending gangster films as middlebrow! My friend John Presnall, from storm-beaten Houston, and I are also defending Brian De Palma from a conservative point of view and we’re introducing lawlessness studies as a way to get at the desire to free oneself, to be self-made, and to chase the American Dream. Carlito’s Way is the most self-reflective gangster film, one of the last memorable roles of Al Pacino and, get this, we’re arguing this is a superior movie to Scarface. We’re nothing if not fearless and we hope you’ll listen to and share our discussion wherever you can. Help me spread the gospel of Middlebrow, Ricochet! Hashtag as far as the eye can see!