A monthly focus on the profound impact of film. Graphic Designer and Artist Scott King selects his three titles
FILM PICKS WITH
Heat (1995) Michael Mann
I love 'Heat', along with 'Quadrophenia' (24 times in the early 80s) and 'The Sopranos' (7 times, entire series), I think it's the one thing I've watched more than any other. There is no singular stand-out sartorial style in it. It's not like De Niro as Sam Rothstein in 'Casino,’ where De Niro seems to have an even more marvellous outfit for every consecutive scene. What I like about ‘Heat’ is the overall style. ‘Heat’ builds and builds, set in either freeway smog or offices, homes, bars where you can almost hear the air-conditioning units rattle... in fact that's it isn't it? It's an “air-conditioning” movie in every sense, that kind of plasticity runs deeply through it, including (and especially) the really primitive CGI most obvious on the hilltop love-scene with De Nero and Amy Brennaman; where the deep blue sky seems to have been painted straight on to the celluloid. So, it's the plasticity set against the tension that I love - air-conditioning and a fight to the death.
Le Cercle Rouge (1971) Jean-Pierre Melville
I first saw 'Le Cercle Rouge' as a teenager, probably late night on Channel 4. I remember starting to watch it, thinking I'd go to bed, then been dragged into it. What I remember most about it is that it was a bit crap... that is, the action and the whole premise seemed to be so utterly low-key compared to say, 'The Godfather'. Despite the subtitles, ‘Le Cercle Rouge’ seemed very 'localised'. I made a determined effort to become an expert on French gangster movies a few years ago - I failed - but did watch lots of them; though none of them ever quite matched up to the brilliantly localised dourness of ‘Le Cercle Rouge’ and this, despite Alain Delon and his fabulous mac.
The Ladykillers (1955) Alexander Mackendrick
'The Ladykillers' is one of the first films I ever remember watching and loving of my own accord. I still love it today. I love the colours of it - the grubbiness - the portrayal of post-war London. Despite the technicolor all the backgrounds are a sort of mud green and these eccentric and essentially evil, if hapless, men all operate in a kind of visual swamp. It was shot around King's Cross, and you can still see that if you watch it today. I have a great fascination with the grubby side of post-war London. I love the novels of Patrick Hamilton, all two-bar fires, bedsits, booze and despair. I love to read about the young Francis Bacon and the grubby, one-room, penniless, champagne lifestyle he had - brushing his teeth with Vim and dying his hair with boot polish. In fact 'The Lady Killers' has a lot in common with the paintings of Francis Bacon, these grotesque figures trapped in murky landscapes, desperately trying to find a way out.