(Just a single rule: mix-tape-style, no more than one film per director. You know, because otherwise the whole thing would be pointless.)
(#27) Don’t Look Now
Horror • dir. Nicolas Roeg • 1973 • UK
Not exactly the type of thing to shout from the rooftops, I admit. But I might as well accept it: some judicious nakedness, a little shagging, rarely makes a movie sag. If you’ll forgive the generalization, however, sex and the cinema often seem rather awkward bedfellows. More often than not, onscreen sex is serious, smutty, or silly, with very few shades of grey in between. For the longest time, Hollywood didn’t even touch it. Even as late as the mid-1960s – and in many ways beyond – the main studios were rigorously censored, leading to the weird ubiquity in film of lovers sleeping in separate beds. And don’t even get me started on how film studies approaches the subject. There are giant, doorstop books with titles as over-cerebral as they are surely under-sexed. Sexual Modes of Representation in the Hollywood Mainstream; Transgressive Discourses – Gender Issues and Sexuality in Film; Cinema’s Pornographic Gaze; Erectile Celluloid: I haven’t checked, but wouldn’t be surprised if some of these are real.
All of which is to say, the scene for which Don’t Look Now is most well-known – Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie fucking – truly is everything it’s cracked up to be. (The rumor isn’t true, by the way: they’re acting.) It isn’t superfluous, overdone, or underplayed. It’s just so – time away from the mysterious thrust of the film as a whole, but also a deeper look into what makes its characters’ tick. As with just about everything in Don’t Look Now, it’s a scene that compels your attention, at once powerful and subtle. The mood, atmosphere, and tone is so unerringly spot-on it’s frightening. As title’s go, Don’t Look Now is an invitation you can’t help but ignore.