Don’t Look Now is Nicolas Roeg’s masterpiece

Don’t Look Now is Nicolas Roeg’s masterpiece

Robert Tanitch reviews the latest DVDs

Don’t Look Now (StudioCanal) Nicolas Roeg’s 1973 masterpiece, photographed by Anthony B. Richmond and excellently acted by Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie, is a disturbingly unpredictable psychological thriller about mortality.

Two parents, still grieving for a child who drowned in a pond, recuperate in Venice, not Canaletto’s Venice, not tourist Venice, but the creepy Venice of dark canals and dark alleys, a scary, deathly, easy-to-get-lost-in Venice. They meet a blind woman (Hilary Mason), who is psychic and accompanied by her sister (Clelia Matania).

Nothing is what it seems in this subtle horror film, which is notable for its cross-cutting, its uncanny connections and its use of the colour red. Roeg constantly plays with time, anticipating what is to come. There is a dramatic moment in slow motion when Christie faints and a fully laden table crashes with her. Even more unnerving is when Sutherland is standing on a high platform in a church and it crashes, leaving him hanging by a rope. The married sex scene is famous for its erotic montage of sharply edited shots, before, during and after the conjugal love, all in a non-linear mix.

Dragged Across Concrete (StudioCanal). Writer-director S. Craig Zahler’s complex, morally ambiguous and character-driven thriller takes its time and very slowly builds to a tense and grim climax. Two cops (Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn), both with racist and gender issues, are suspended from duty for using excessive violence. They turn to crime and decide to steal bullion hooded bank robbers have stolen. Gibson is the aggrieved cop who feels he has not been rewarded for 27 years loyal service and feels he has a right to proper compensation. Tory Kittles is excellent, too, as a decent ex-convict. Benji Bakshi’s photography, in its framing and especially in its colour, gives the film a distinctive art-house look.

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