Fractured. This is my favourite piece of cinematography. Hands down.
Nicolas Roeg’s 1973 chiller “Don’t Look Now”, starring Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland, is a study in restraint. I like the way the story unfolds gently, gaining momentum towards a creepy climax which, despite its now comedic impact, induces giggles of the nervous kind. The film stays with you for a long time. Its in parts love story, tragedy, murder mystery and horror movie, all this set mostly in Venice! I rank it amongst my all time favourite films.
I don’t normally look to film for inspiration but there’s definitely meat in this one. Visually alone there’s a contrast between the faded grandeur and slight seediness of Venice. Water is a leitmotif throughout, from drowning, rain and the canals, as well as the colour red. The red coat of a dead child. The use of red reminds me of Almodovar or M. Night Shyamalan’s “Sixth Sense”. The film is famous for the love scene which is interspersed with shots of Christie and Sutherland getting dressed_
Julie Christie glows throughout the film. Her fragile beauty is unbreakable amidst all the gloom and sadness. She also sports a natty piece of tailoring in one of the scenes. The sleeve head is a feat of engineering and bears a resemblance to those Christophe Decarin made famous at Balmain a few seasons ago. The proportions are perfectly judged and I like the lean silhouette and how the jacket is paired with a dark roll neck.
The scenes I found most creepy were the more suggestive ones that hinted at something darker . For instance, the one involving the elderly sisters that start off being harbingers of evil but end up being guardian angels. This is perhaps one of the cruelest things I have ever witnessed on film. The younger of the two parades the elder, who is blind, around Venice wearing mismatched socks. So cruel. Mind you, the blind elder sister is supposedly psychic so she should have “seen” it coming! Very Prada, all the same_
I love this shot of Rosario Dawson from the film 7 Pounds (2008). The way her hair and face are partially submerged in the bath water remind me of Millais’ painting of Ophelia. Underwater, her hair takes on a hazy, airbrushed texture, almost like ink drops bleeding in water… Dawson’s facial expression is flawless, subtly expressing an incredible amount of emotion. I also like how the shade of her eye shadow complements the colour of her lips, all enhanced by her honey-hued skin, and how the curvy shape of the bath frames her, cocoon-like. Its a perfect, perfect composition.
Drowning By Numbers: Millais’ Ophelia
I’ve been to Naples a few times and it is one of my favourite places in Italy. There really is no other place like it. Taking a taxi is taking your life into your own hands! There’s an amazing market on the outskirts that many fashion houses and vintage store-owners go to get their fix. Everything’s piled high and you’ve got to dig deep. Found the most beautiful sun-bleached nappa blouson there. However, you’re warned to leave the moment the market finishes for your own safety. Now I know why…
I really don’t want to say too much about this film. Watch it. It took me a while to get round to it. Perhaps you’ve read the book. I haven’t but I’m planning to. It’s one of the most powerful films I have seen in ages. It centres around the Camorra, an organised crime network based in the Province of Napoli, in Southern Italy. Whereas a lot of “maffia” films tend to glamourise crime this is as hard-hitting and realist as it gets. In fact, there is a scene where two twentysomething “knob heads” reenact scenes from Scarface that’s very tongue in cheek.
Gomorrah is an incredibly violent film albeit done with a solid dose of realism – nothing is gratuitous. You really feel like a fly on the wall. Incredible acting. The whole thing is done so matter-of-factly that at the end of the film I found myself thinking: God, people really do live like this.
The author of the book, Roberto Saviano, is under police protection. He seriously pissed some people off and Umberto Eco’s called him a national hero.
For me, as always, I was drawn to the powerful imagery in the film. Take a look…
I’m a sucker for ye ole cinema Frenchy, especially the bourgeois kind where someone’s always giving a violin or cello some finger love [Un Coeur un Hiver] or staring off camera in a melancholic, yearning sort of way. Or suddenly turning their head to stare at you mid-pout, mock horror. Yes, a bit shlocky, I know. “Fromageoise” for sure. Mais oui, J’aime beaucoup. Can’t help it.
Anyway, one digresses. This is probably one of my all time favourite closing scenes of the beautifully odd love story “Confidences Trop Intimes” (2004) starring Sandrine Bonnaire in full on frump mode. love the way that they never kiss or barely touch each other throughout the entire film. It’s frustrating and claustrophobic. And the film ends with her admitting defeat in the face of love [sounding a bit Babs Cartlands here] and seeks her shrink lover who has now moved from the city to a beachside apartment – don’t ask. It ends with her on the analyst’s couch and him sat down watching her. They talk. There’s a lot of talking in that film, BTW. The camera slowly pans out from above and I find the whole thing graphically pleasing to one’s eye. probably the most romantic end to a film I’ve ever seen.