Recutting Brian De Palma’s disowned and under-resourced thriller Domino = a quixotic lark
Filmmaking grandmaster Brian De Palma’s small-scale thriller Domino was released in 2019 to indifference and poor reviews.
He’s spoken publicly several times of the project’s troubled history and clashes with producers.
All of the above bothers me. He’s almost 80 so we don’t know how many more films he’ll make.
Seems unjust to me that such a major cinematic voice could be muffled, so I recut the film and called it DOMINO redemption.
I doubt the official 89-minute release is the cut De Palma and his editor Bill Pankow turned in. It seems other hands tinkered with his edit.
To my eye, De Palma tends to move his story in a specific line for at least a few scenes at a time (and often much longer than that).
In the 89-minute version, Domino‘s three plot threads are intercut too fast, jerking the story around in awkward fragments.
Story momentum is off-kilter and individual scenes are trimmed back to cryptic nothings; there are unusual inclusions and exclusions throughout.
The choppy structure makes it hard to get into a narrative groove with the characters… who themselves are thinly drawn due to the truncated scenes.
Based on his public comments, I don’t think De Palma knows the released version has been reduced to the state it’s in. He’s borderline disowned the film anyway.
So I began the quixotic task of cutting the released footage into the most compelling narrative possible.
It just seemed like a nice way to pass lockdown (hello from 2020) and restore (to some small degree) the film and filmmaker’s reputation.
I changed the name, added new titles and reordered and trimmed a heap of scenes to make tracking the story easier.
About five minutes of footage was dropped in the streamlining.
My only rule was to leave the setpieces alone – all the suspense sequences play as I found them in the original cut.
It might seem like a bizarre errand to run – recutting a little-seen, under-resourced misfire made at the end of an idiosyncratic and influential career.
And I guess it is.
PS there is some precedent here: Dutch filmmaker Peet Gelderblom privately re-edited De Palma’s Raising Cain and that version’s become the official cut!