Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Red Raincoat

Alternating with musical videos, we're watching scary movies. Don't Look Now (1973) was the movie Nicholas Roeg made before The Man Who Fell to Earth. I'd never seen it and Ms. Spenser assured me I would be able to take the tension, so I took the plunge.

It starts with happy couple Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie at their stately home, while their little girl plays outside in a shiny red slicker. Sutherland is taken uneasy, spills his drink on one of the architectural slides he is studying and runs outside. While Christie sees the stain spreading like blood across the slide of a church, Sutherland finds their daughter drowned in the lake.

Much later, the still-grieving couple is in Venice, where Sutherland is restoring a church. They meet a couple of weird sisters - The blind one tells Christie that she can see their daughter with them, and that she is happy. This brings Christie comfort that Sutherland can't share; he thinks it's a scam. Even though the couple have a long, hot sex scene, the death is coming between them, with shots of them getting dressed for dinner intercut with scenes of their lovemaking.

Although I think everyone knows how it ends (I had heard all about the red slicker), I'll leave off the rest of the story. The point is, this is a creepy, tense and haunted movie, made with a ton of style. Roeg called it a master class in editing techniques. There are masterful matchcuts, color leitmotifs, shadowy canalscapes, and surreal inserts.

When I was writing about The Man Who Fell, I realized that I was getting Nicholas Roeg mixed up with Nicholas Ray (Johnny Guitar) in my head. Well, maybe it isn't so far-fetched: both love overwrought psycho-sexual drama with a fever dream sense of style.

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