Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Movie Review: Don't Look Now

don't look now poster

First released: 1973
Starring: Donald Sutherland, Donald Sutherland's butt, Julie Christie
Director: Nicolas Roeg
Based on: a short story by Daphne Du Maurier

After their daughter dies in England, the Baxters need a change of scenery and take off for Venice, where John Baxter is restoring an old church.  One day, Laura Baxter meets up with two freaky old ladies to whom anyone with any sense would give a wide berth.  But not Laura--because one of the ladies, who's blind, says she can "see" Laura's dead daughter, and she's warning them of danger!  Lo and behold, pretty soon John's in danger.  He also thinks he's going mad because he keeps seeing his dead daughter in the labyrinthine streets of Venice.

This movie was definitely better than Summertime, although still not really that great.  My favorite part about it was Venice, which did feel creepy as heck by the end--and it definitely can be creepy when you're wandering around, semi-lost, all by yourself, and then you pass... a puppet shop!

Um, anyway, we definitely get scenes of a "different," non-touristy Venice in this film.  On the down side, however, this movie is pretty confusing.  There's a sex scene that lasts incredibly long and feels totally random, like it belongs in another movie.  And I saw way too much of Donald Sutherland's butt.  I could really use some mind bleach right about now, because Donald Sutherland and Skinemax-level sex and nudity is JUST. NOT. RIGHT.  To be fair, though, he looked pretty good.  Not Alexander SkarsgĂ„rd good, of course; don't get your hopes up.  Just good considering it was Donald Sutherland.

Aside from the sex scene, the rest of the movie had a bunch of disparate plot elements that never came together for me.  There were the creepy old ladies, the Cosa Nostra guys who loitered around street corners and freaked John out, the gloomy religious aspects, and the visions of Baxter's daughter.  Admittedly, I did get bored and started reading a book about halfway through (I also might have drifted off at one point, I can't remember), but I didn't really understand what was going on aside from the blind woman who could talk to dead people and thought Laura's son and husband were in danger.

And don't even get me started on the foreshadowing and slow-motion, which was OUT OF CONTROL.  Aie freaking yai!  I get it already!

It's pretty unbelievable, but according to Wikipedia, this movie has been referenced a lot in popular culture.  Some of the more interesting examples:

  • In the feature film Flatliners, Kiefer Sutherland is tormented by a small childlike figure in a red hooded coat in a homage to his father's film.
  • The video to Sophie Ellis-Bextor's single "Catch You" draws heavily on the film's imagery as Bextor runs around Venice in a red evening dress.
  • Clips from this film appear in the video for Big Audio Dynamite's 1986 hit "E=MC2" which is an homage to the films of the director, Nicholas Roeg. It contains the lyric "met a dwarf who was no good, dressed like Little Red Riding Hood" etc...
  • The drowning scene is referenced by the 2005 film The Dark starring Sean Bean and Maria Bello in which their daughter drowns wearing a bright red sweater.
  • The end chase scene is referenced in the 2006 release of Casino Royale where James Bond is pursuing Vesper Lynd through Venice while she is wearing a red coat.
  • The 2008 film In Bruges has many references to Don't Look Now, including the claim by one character that the film-within-a-film is a pastiche of Don't Look Now.
  • Portions of the film are sampled in the M83 song "America."
  • The film is mentioned in a portion of the graphic novel Swamp Thing, written by Alan Moore.

See, don't you want to watch it now?  You're missing out on this cultural phenomenon, not to mention Donald Sutherland as you've never seen him before!  Unless you've seen this movie, of course.

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