De Palma: Weinstein Horror Gets A Title; Disses Soderbergh & Calls Domino A "Horrible" Experience

Good morning from Brian De Palma. The American master of suspense and lurid sleaze has caught the attention of the press with a controversial, arguably opportunistic project: a movie about the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault scandal that will center on a movie studio mogul who’s also a sexual predator. Also, it’s a horror movie and the title was revealed this morning: “Predator” (wonder what 20th Century Fox and that franchise has to say about that). Ben Saïd, who produced De Palma’s 2012’s “Passion” starring Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace, and Paul Verhoeven’s rape revenge film “Elle” with Isabelle Huppert will produce (via Deadline).

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Late yesterday it was revealed the drama going to be set during the Toronto International Film Festival to make it more meta and further uncomfortable for pretty much all of Hollywood.

Perhaps that’s the very intent. After all, in a recent Le Figaro interview, De Palma described “Hollywood values as corrupt.” Currently on a promotional tour in France to publicize his first-ever retrospective at the venerable La Cinémathèque and the release of “Are Snakes Necessary?” a political thriller novel he wrote with journalist Susan Lehman, the already-admired filmmaker has been the toast of the French press of late.

READ MORE: Brian De Palma’s Harvey Weinstein Sex Scandal Horror Movie Will Be Set At TIFF & May Shoot Next

Press abroad is notoriously seductive. International press sucks up to you in a way American journalists don’t (not always anyhow) and their subjects always fall prey to a false sense of security; as if being abroad, you can finally let loose and talk shit because the American press isn’t around. Not how the internet works obviously, but perhaps old habits die hard for filmmakers approaching their eighties.

So, in an in-depth interview with Le Point, to plug his aforementioned retro and book, De Palma went off, sprinkling a little bit of diss dust on several subjects for no apparent reason. First, he began with “Magic Mike” filmmaker Steven Soderbergh.

“Steven Soderbergh, a gifted visual director?,” De Palma asked rhetorically. “Are you kidding? Give me an example of a great, visually memorable scene in a Soderbergh movie … I saw an episode of his series ‘The Knick’ and there was nothing that really blew me away visually.”

De Palma then went in to tear in on the Hollywood system and granted, he’s not wrong here. “My movies deal with adult themes,” he said, presumably with teacup pinky in the air. “And apart from a few directors that have creative freedom in their movies like Nolan, Steven (Spielberg) or Martin (Scorsese), the money still goes mainly to sequels, reboots, and comic book movies. Steven is a studio all by himself, he can finance his films himself and Martin works with very powerful actors. Anyway, even in the ‘70s and ‘80s I always felt at odds with the Hollywood system. What’s happening right now in Hollywood is a total contradiction to what art is supposed to be about. Executives now control filmmakers and call the shots. Even if ‘Mission to Mars’ wasn’t a flop, I probably would have left the system like I have done.”

De Palma found a way to slag the current television studio system, those that make TV, the current creative TV renaissance as well as revealing that he had developed “Paterno” before the recent Barry Levinson and Al Pacino version that hit the cable channel.

“I had developed a script for ‘Paterno‘ with producer Edward Pressman but, I found HBO to be extremely intrusive in the creative process,” he said candidly. “We never stopped receiving notes from them, I did not like their attitude. Just before starting the shoot, I received a new pile of notes, there were too many and I left the project. Anyway, TV is the medium for the screenwriter. TV is basically the filming people who talk to each other. Conversations take precedence over aesthetics, it has nothing to do with a type of visual narration, which is the basis of cinema.”

Lastly De Palma’s next movie, the murder mystery “Domino” with “Game Of Thrones” stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Carice van Houten, and Guy Pearce, sounds like it’s in trouble with the director bordering on disavowing it. De Palma described “Domino” as a “horrible experience.”

“‘Domino’ is not my project, I did not write the script,” he said. “It is the revenge story of a revenge of a cop duo against terrorists who killed another. But the whole political aspect will be very little exploited, the film was more for me a new opportunity to explore a visual narrative. In the film, terrorists are obsessed with the idea that their actions are instantly visible live on the Internet or on TV.”

“I had a lot of problems in financing [‘Domino’],” he continued. “I never experienced such a horrible movie set. A large part of our team has not even been paid yet by the Danish producers. The film is finished and ready to go out, but I have no idea what its future will hold, it is currently in the hands of the producers. This was my first experience in Denmark and most likely my last.”

Promotion for that one should be fun. That’s the De Palma dump for today or until the next time he decides to machine gun down friends and family. Hey, at least he loved “Lady Bird.”