D is for… Don’t Look Now (1973)
“Nothing is what it seems”, says Donald Sutherland early on, warning us to keep our guard up in Nicolas Roeg’s masterpiece of creeping horror.
Based on the short story by Daphne Du Maurier, Don’t Look Now understands that real fear comes from knowing that your fate awaits around the next corner.
This is the story of a married couple haunted by the death of their daughter. Venice is a lead character: a city submerged, a maze of alleyways and dead-ends.
Roeg brilliantly weaves together the past and the present, the seen and the imagined, into a tapestry of grief and hope.
There is a casual realism here that makes Sutherland and Julie Christie an utterly believable couple and sets the film closer in tone to the Exorcist than any Hammer Horror schlock fest.
What else? – the famous sex scene (copied by Soderbergh in Out of Sight), the iconic red coat (ripped off by Spielberg in Schindler’s List), and not forgetting Donald Sutherland’s magnificent moustache (replicated by Donald Sutherland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers). Accept no imitations and ignore the plea of that title – do look, it doesn’t have to be now but soon would be good.
“See also: Genova – Michael Winterbottom’s modern horror clearly doffs it’s cap to Don’t Look Now and features an excellent performance by Colin Firth (before he became royalty)”
“D” is for…. hmmm well, I have 4 main choices that spring to mind.
Firstly, and one of my personal favourites, I would say Donnie Brasco from 1997 starring Johnny Depp, Al Pacino and Michael Madsen. Based on the best-selling book, the film depicts the unbelievable true story of a FBI undercover agent, Joseph Pistone, who was sent to infiltrate the New York Mafia throughout the 1970’s. What originally started out as an experiment to see if it could be done with a ‘shelf life’ of only a few weeks, ended up lasting several years and in turn becoming one of the most intense and high-profile investigations ever undertaken into the Mafia. To this day and because of his actions, Joseph Pistone now lives with a new undisclosed identity and a several million dollar bounty on his head… Great tense drama and thriller rolled into one, highly recommend it!
My next option would be Tarantino’s Django Unchained (2012) starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx and Christopher Waltz. I won’t bore you with the details of the story as I’m sure most of you have seen this film whether at the cinema or from coming in to the store. For those of you who have not seen it…Watch it! With slick lines, great action sequences and every Hollywood star on great form, its one not to be missed…
Another one not to miss is Shane Meadows’ Dead Man’s Shoes (2004) starring Paddy Considine. The film follows Considine’s character Richard who lives in a rural part of Britain where there is little to do but get drunk, get high and torment the locals. Whilst away on military deployment, Richards younger mentally handicapped brother Anthony, played by Toby Kebbell, is left to the torment and bullying of the local low lives. Upon Richards return, he learns of the horrible acts done to his younger brother and vows to exact revenge on those who hurt Anthony. Filled with dark torment, violence and the rare moments of black humour this film is not for the everyday viewer. But with fantastic performances and simple but effective dialogue, this revenge style film is one to watch.
Lastly and purely for stupidity to counter act the darker films I’ve suggested, Dumb and Dumber (1994) starring Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels. It’s simply Jim Carey at his “best” playing the moronic idiot alongside his partner in stupidity Jeff Daniels. With no money, no jobs and owning only a dog van and a briefcase (which isn’t there’s) they decide to embark on a journey to re unite the briefcase and it’s owner. With a great 90’s sound track its a fun road movie meets ridiculous love story. It’ll make you laugh and cry for all the wrong reasons, but for those reasons exactly is why it should be watched! Enjoy!
D is for Down by Law
New Orleans. A pimp (John Lurie), a disc jockey (Tom Waits) and a tourist (Roberto Benigni) are arrested in separate incidents. They are imprisoned together; they jailbreak.
Down by Law, a film about John Lurie’s pout. See how his sunken cheeks suck laconically at hipster skull. Down by Law, about Tom Waits’s shoes and Ellen Barkin’s fury at a DJ’s malaise – “not the shoes NOT THE SHOES not the shoes”. Also about Benigni’s mother tongue ‘Bob’ Frost recital, and Robby Müller’s smoooth, spacious, black and white cinematography.
Such cool. Here Jarmusch gets the fundamental reciprocity between being cool and admiring cool. He pretty much hinges the film on it. “I scream you scream we all scream for ice cream”. Really really cool film.