The title of MULHOLLAND DRIVE is a wonderful paradox. It seems to promise something very specific about a place, yet at the same time it belongs in a strange, disjointed ‘non-place’ which could be LA or another plane of existence.
CHUNGKING EXPRESS refers to the Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui where the film is set but also is an imaginative, cinematic space that exists in the imaginations of the characters.
There are many films that take their name from actual places, PHILADELPHIA, MANHATTAN, and CASABLANCA, to name a few, but this Friday 5 is a celebration of film titles that are at postcode level.
UP OUR STREET
1) 10 RILLINGTON PLACE (1971) I saw this film at a relatively young age on television and it made an indelible mark on my attitudes towards justice, and capital punishment in particular. A simple yet effective film that derives its power from the central performances from John Hurt as ‘romancing’ simple man, Timothy Evans who ends up being hanged for the murders committed by Richard Attenborough’s chilling, calculating Christie who offers his back street abortions to the weak and easily manipulated. Ludovic Kennedy adapted his own book into the screenplay that was filmed at the site where the original murders took place. My impression of Christie is my party-piece, “..or, carbon dioxide as we like to call it.” He did the same schtick for MIRACLE ON 34th STREET (1994) his Chris Cringle gives me the shivers.
2) SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950) MULHOLLAND DRIVE offers a homage to Billy Wilder’s seminal movie about the movies. Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) a former silent movie star who is a fortress of self-belief. She has hidden herself away from the world that does’t seem to want her any more and dreams of a come-back; I dream of the remake starring Demi Moore. The films have got smaller.
3) ARLINGTON ROAD (1999) a wonderfully intriguing film that is in danger of being forgotten. A story of a paranoia, where a recently widowed professor played by Jeff Bridges, begins to suspect his neighbours of being terrorists and he becomes obsessed with attempting to foil their plots. Tim Robbins plays against type as a creepy bloke with a strange obsession with the architectural design of a shopping mall he claims to be designing. Although it is lumpen in places, the end is a genuine shocker.
4) NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984) Child killer Freddy Krueger is one of cinemas’s greatest creations with a hat set to a jaunty angle, his stripy pullover and claw-like gloves: he is omnipotent, if you die in your dreams then you die in real-life and he has a great line of cynical quips. He was great. The sequels turned him into a Scooby Doo villain.
ROAD TO RUIN
5) 84 CHARING CROSS ROAD (1987) Epistolary novels try my patience, so film about ‘transatlantic business correspondence’ will always have to work hard. Anthony Hopkins writes his performance on the back of a fag packet, sticks a stamp on it and sends it by carrier pigeon. It was Ann Bancroft’s pet project – the rights were bought for her as a gift from Mel Brooks- pity that they were unable to squeeze at least one joke about nazis.