Stormy Monday (1988)

Stormy Monday (1988), written, scored and directed by Mike Figgis.

We assemble our cast in Newcastle, an old industrial town "up north", spiffed up for this film with neon nightlife and extra jazz clubs. We have:

It is not a complicated plot, but it doesn't need to be. We explore the characters and their interactions, watch the night life and listen to the jazz. It is intense enough when the big wheels start to roll. In a crime film people are going to get hurt.

Photographed by Roger Deakins. Mournful jazz score by the director. B.B. King performs the title song over the closing credits.

Available on Blu-ray from Arrow. Not a lot of high def detail on this one, but it is an upgrade from my old DVD flipper disc.

The commentary track is a frank conversation with the director. This was his first feature film and a Newcastle homecoming for both him and Sting.

He put in much biographical experience. He played in jazz bands and was a janitor at clubs. That bit where London hard men come to town and are turned around by the local tough guys: it really happened, although the bone-breaking gear was his invention for the film.

Melanie Griffith was their star and had a veto over her leading man. Tim Roth was not handsome enough but Sean Bean passed muster. Her character claims to be from "New Ulm, MN", the birthplace of Tippi Hedren, Griffith's mother.

Tommy Lee Jones was a bit scary and stormed out saying he hadn't realized the film would be so anti-American. Figgis argued that wasn't the case and says people generally like American culture (the music, say) but do resist business and political domination. He quotes John Lennon: "First time anyone hears Elvis Presley they become American".