Mike Figgis

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7.0 Stormy Monday (1988)
6.5 Internal Affairs (1990)
6.8 Liebestraum (1991)
7.3 Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
7.0 The Loss Of Sexual Innocence (1999)
5.0 Miss Julie (1999)
7.4 Time Code (2000)
7.1 Hotel (2001)
6.5 Cold Creek Manor (2003)
Suspension of Disbelief (2012)

Michael Figgis (Britain, 1948) debuted with Stormy Monday (1988), a hard-boiled crime film, shot in the film-noir style. It's a nocturnal thriller fueled by jazz rhythm, drenched in extreme melancholy. All the characters are losers, both the good ones and the bad ones. (Translated from my original Italian text by DeepL)

Brendan, a man with no past, is hired as a cleaning man at a jazz club. The club's owner, Finney, has just hired a curious Polish band that is staying in the hotel where a pan-American event is being organized. Kate (Melanie Griffith) is the woman of Cosmo, a shady American businessman who is in charge of organizing the event. Cosmo needs the approval of some ministers for an important plan of his. Kate works as a waitress in a restaurant. While Brendan is eating at that restaurant, he overhears the conversation of two gangsters planning to murder the nightclub owner, Finney. Brandan, infatuated with the waitress, invites her to have a drink with him. She accepts, but is not free until after midnight. Leaving the restaurant, Brendan tries to warn Finney, but the police will not let him into the hotel. It`s midnight: Brandan goes on a date with Kate at the jazz club. He spots Finney going out with a blonde and chases him to warn him, but Finney, busy seducing the blonde, is not listening to him. Brandan returns to the club and invites Kate to his apartment, where they become tender lovers. The next day, as Cosmo is opening the event, the two gangsters break into Finney`s office and order him to sign the contract by which he sells the place to Cosmo. But Finney, finally warned by Brandan, has set ` a trap for them: his men break in, disarm them, and torture them as they wanted to torture Finney. Finney orders Brendan to give the gangsters a pound and in return gives them the keys to their luxury car. Finney knows who they are and why they are after him: they are Cosmo's men, who needs the place for his own speculation. Kate leaves the reception disgusted by the jealousy of Cosmo, who treats her like private property, and the guests, and goes to meet Brendan. Determined to change her life, she stops by the restaurant to resign and smash some dishes. Kate and Brandan go to a party of Polish musicians. She warns him that he is in danger of courting her. They drive off again in the rain. They are attacked by two bandits who attempt to kidnap the girl. Brendan wields a gun and kills one of them. These had also been sent by Cosmo. Cosmo meets Finney and tries in vain to convince him to become his partner while a pro-American parade parades in the streets. Brendan and Kate are making love in her hotel room and she proposes that they disappear together. Kate goes to her apartment, but Cosmo is there waiting for her. Cosmo tells her that there are two plane tickets for her: take them and leave for New York. She goes to pick up Brendan in his car. Cosmo goes to the club, where the Polish musicians are playing, to settle his business with Finney. Brendan senses that this is a trick to eliminate them and makes Kate return to the club. He gives the car to a musician, who leaves. At the club they find Cosmo. Seeing Cosmo surprised, Brendan guesses that the trick is in the car. He chases the car but it is too late: at midnight the car explodes. The bomb was for the two lovers. Brendan wields the gun to kill Cosmo, but Finney convinces him not to: Cosmo has decided to leave town. Brandan, Kate and Finney return to the club to listen to the musicians.

Internal Affairs (1990) is a crime movie, a classic story of a duel between good and evil, and a great portrait of cold, calculating, psychotic evil.

"Internal Affairs" is the police department that investigates the police officers themselves to eliminate corruption. One night three cops carry out the arrest of a drug dealer. They are good friends: Dennis (Richard Gere), Van and Dorian. One of them, black officer Dorian, accidentally kills an innocent. The senior cop, Dennis, plants a knife so it will look like legitimate defense. At home Van is unstable and his wife Penny is scared of him. He catches her talking on the phone with (presumably) a lover and he beats her up. Dennis arrives just in time to stop him. A new recruit at Internal Affairs, Raymond, is introduced to his partner: a grumpy lesbian, Amy. They are assigned to investigate Van who is suspected of repeated abuses. Raymond knows Dennis and Van from police school, and Van considers him an old friend, but Dennis warns Van that Raymond works for Internal Affairs. And soon Van has to face Raymond at an interrogation. Raymond senses that Van is a neurotic drug addict. We see something about the private lives of the cops. Raymond is married to the classy Kathleen, who runs an art gallery. Dennis has been married four times and has eight children. Raymond and Amy interview Van's wife and see the bruises on her face, but the wife refuses to answer questions. They notice that she drives an expensive car. Meanwhile, Dennis saves a prostitute from Dorian who has arrested. Dorian doesn't want to be part of it but Dennis reminds him that Dorian owes him. Raymond asks Dennis off the record if Van's wife is cheating on Van. Dennis is hostile and Raymond begins investigating Dennis. Raymond is a diligent professional and senses that Dennis, Van and Dorian are hiding something. Dorian happens to also have a second job which was facilitated by Dennis. Raymond finds out that several cops have similar second jobs. They are related to a club run by a gangster. Meanwhile, Dennis meets with a business man and his wife: they want him to kill the wife's parents, who are standing in the way of their wealth. They offer Dennis some money and Dennis ridicules the amount but doesn't say no. While he is negotiating the deal with the husband, he is touching the wife's thighs under the table. At home Raymond has a strained relationship with his wife: they are both busy and hardly spend any time together. Raymond and Amy submit their suspicions about Dennis to their boss, who refuses to listen to them because Dennis is one of the most productive cops in the department. Raymond summons Van and offers him amnesty if he cooperates to frame Dennis. Van instead informs Dennis that Raymond is closing in on him. Dennis meets Raymond and provokes him until Raymond punches him in the face. Van is having second thoughts and calls his wife Penny to discuss Raymond's offer but he doesn't see that right then his wife is having sex with Dennis while talking to him on the phone: his wife sleeps with his best friend Dennis. Dennis overhears the conversation but is calm and indifferent. Later, Dennis organizes an encounter with a friendly gangster so that Van gets shot. Dennis then kills the shooter to leave no witness behind, but someone else is in the car and drives away: there's a witness on the loose. And Van is still alive, agonizing. Van begs Dennis for help. Dennis strangles him to make sure he's dead when other cops arrive. Raymond and Kathleen are having an argument at home, frustrated at the increasing distance between them. Amy calls to inform Raymond that Van is dead. Raymond suspects that Dennis caused Van's death and wants to find the witness before Dennis finds him. Raymond is a Hispanic and asks a cousin who runs a nightclub to spread the word that he's looking for the driver who ran away that night. The cousin finds out that the man is a drug dealer and provides a tip on a forthcoming drug deal. Raymond gets Dorian a promotion and then asks him to help arrest this man. Unbeknownst to them, other cops show up to arrest the drug dealers and the operation becomes a massive shootout. Raymond tries in vain to convince the drug dealer that he only wants to talk to him: the other cops kill him. Before dying, the drug dealer mumbles the last name of Dennis. Meanwhile, Dennis' wife Heather hears on the radio of the brutal killing of a wealthy couple and notices that the last name of the couple is written on Dennis' notebook. Raymond follows Dennis and sees that he meets with... his wife Kathleen! The conversation is innocent, but Raymond loses them and doesn't see what happens next: he runs to Kathleen's gallery but she's not there. Later, Dennis corners him in an elevator, beats the hell out of him, boasts of having had anal sex with Kathleen and leaves him underwear claiming they belong to Kathleen. Raymond is a very jealous man. He runs to a restaurant where Kathleen is entertaining very important business partners and makes a scene in front of everybody. Raymond is now obsessed with images of Dennis and Kathleen having sex together. When Raymond and Kathleen finally meet again at home, they have a furious argument but eventually Kathleen clarifies that she did not sleep with Dennis: Dennis made it up to humiliate and provoke his persecutor. The following day at work Amy tells Raymond that Dennis' wives enjoy an unusual degree of wealth. Raymond and Amy confront Van's wife Penny and are puzzled that Penny refuses to cooperate, but then they realize that Penny's motive is simple: she is Dennis' lover. A distraught Penny confesses her fear of being indicted to Dennis' wife Heather, and Dennis overhears them. Heather decides to talk to Raymond and Amy and gives them the address of the businessman who hired Dennis to kill his wife's parents. Just then this businessman returns home to find Dennis sodomizing his wife, who seems to enjoying it. Instead of shooting Dennis, Dennis talks him into shooting his wife. Raymond and Amy arrive at the house and find two dead bodies: the wife and the businessman himself. Dennis, on the way out, shoots Amy. Now Dennis is a wanted man. Raymond is at the hospital, waiting for news about Amy's conditions. Suddenly, he realizes that his wife could be in danger. In fact, he finds Dennis there, ready to rape his wife, but Dennis, rather than surrender, keeps fighting until Raymond has to kill him.

Liebestraum (1991) is a stylish and atmospheric crime film that recalls David Lynch's Twin Peaks. Most of the dialogue is whispered in an annoying detached tone, but the film has its merits. In particular, the way the director relates the past and the present is subtle and freudian.

Two lovers are making love while a record plays "Liebestraum". A man parks the dark downstairs, walk up the stairs and shoots them.
One generation later, Nick, a journalist for an architectural magazine, takes the train to go and visit his dying mother. At the hospital ward he does not recognize his own mother. At night, Nick wanders around the city and is fascinated by the building where the murder was committed, mainly because he likes cast iron. The following morning Nick is there again. A construction crew is working around the building, and it turns out that their boss is Paul, an old friend of his. Nick learns from Paul that they are not there to restore the building: they are there to demolish it. A limo swings by and its window rolls down. A sinister face stares at the men without talking, and Paul and his men stare back in disbelief and alarm. One of the giant stone letters of the builring falls down into the street and could have killed Paul if Nick had not seen it coming.
A taxi driver thinks he recognizes Nick. Nick is going to a party at Paul's place. There he meets Jane, Paul's attractive wife. At the party he is almost forced to dance with a sexy pathologist who works at the morgue, while Jane is molested by a drunk guest, Pete, a police officer. At the end of the party Nick is offered a ride back into town by the very same Pete, who behaves like a complete idiot and takes him to a hotel/brothel, where a girl is playing Beethoven and all the girls seem annoyed to death. The sexy owner parades the goods of the girls, but Nick does not want any, and, as soon as the police officer is done, he gets a ride back to the hotel. That night Nick dreams of Jane.
The following morning Nick goes to witness the demolitiion. Jane is taking pictures of the building and Paul's men are entering the old hall. Nick thinks it is a crime to destroy such a beautiful relic, and Jane is hostile to her husband's sheeply behavior.
At the hospital, Nick's mother seems to be trying to tell him something, but can't. At night, he has nightmares of his childhood. Nick and Jane begin seeing each other more often. He tells her that his father was killed in a car accident just before he was born. His mother starts talking to him: she is obviously obsessed with something that happened in the remote past, and she has called him to her bedside, after many years of estrangement, to reveal a secret. The narrative relates her agony to the destruction of the building, as the action swings back and forth, showing the workers demolishing walls and floors while his mom recalls intimate portions of her life.
Nick and Jane become lovers. Jane finds out the gorey story of the building: the owner found his wife cheating on him with an employee, killed both and then killed himself. The building (a department store) was then closed down. She seems to feel pain as she tells him the story in the car, staring at the heir of that fateful dynasty.
As he goes on a night-time recognition of the old building, and wanders around dusty mannequins, Nick panicks, hits a wall and spends the night unconscious on the floor.
The relantionship between Nick and Jane mixes lusty passion and discussions about the triple murder. At the hospital, Nick's mother has a violent fit when she sees in the paper a picture of the building. Nick wants to know the name of the man who was killed by the owner. Then he digs into the records at the hospital and at the police.
Nick has more nightmares: he is visiting the heir of the building's owner and in his vast salon a beautiful girl in a wheelchair begs for help covered in blood.
As the demolition progresses, his mother's health deteriorates, and his lust for Jane increases. They are making love in his hotel room when the phone rings: his mother has had another attack and wants to talk to him. Jane waits outside and sees another patient, in a wheelchair, braindead, with a bullet in her head. A man comes to visit her and calls her "mom": he is the heir. The adulteress survived the shooting, but spent the rest of her life in a mental institution.
Nick and Jane make love in the old building. We see both the scene of years before, when the husband came home to find the two lovers, and Jane's husband entering the building. We see what really happened: it was a woman, Nick's mother, who shot the two lovers and then the husband. We hear the shots while Jane has her orgasm. Jane's husband sees the two lovers and cries. At the hospital, Nick's mother has just died.
The only problem with this film is too much whispering. The director ruined the film by forcing the actors to recite like zombies.

Figgis also directed a remake of Terrence Rattigan's The Browning Version (1993).

Mr Jones (1993)

Leaving Las Vegas (1995) is another psychological study, but this time there is virtually no action. The portrait is all interior.

(Translated from my original Italian text by DeepL)

Ben is a chronic alcoholic who spends much of his time buying bottles of liquor and then targeting them in solitude. He was a good screenwriter, but he is now disgraced. Not only has he been abandoned by his wife, who also took his son with her, but he is shunned by former colleagues and fired by his boss. When he is drunk, he also becomes lecherous: he attends strip-teases, recites aloud his erotic fantasies to a bank teller, makes daring proposals to a woman he just met at the bar counter. The problem is that he also occasionally gets seizures. With the severance money, he decided to move to Las Vegas. He takes lodging in a very cheap motel. In Las Vegas she practices a prostitute, Sera, who is exploited by a psychopathic pimp, Yuri. Sera boasts that she is not only a professional but an artist of sex for hire; although then she cannot help but think back to some dangerous adventures. One night Ben almost runs over Sera. Ben follows her, offering her money for an hour. At his motel, though, he does not make love but only asks her to drink and chat with him. She falls asleep by his side. When she wakes up it is late, she runs to her pimp, but is beaten. The next day Sera finds Ben drunk: he has sold his car and watch. Yuri is afraid of someone; he tells her to leave. On her way out, Sera encounters the goons who are about to kill Yuri. Sera is finally free. She goes to Ben and invites him to move in with her. She needs someone to take care of, someone to talk to, and someone who does not care about her job. He would not want to take advantage of her, because he knows he can never stop drinking. She is okay with that anyway. She immediately shows herself to be caring, loving, understanding. Everything seems to be going well until she happens to see him when he loses control like an epileptic. She continues to do her job to support both of them, he drinks to excess, gets beaten up at the bar, can`t stand. But she is the one who needs him. They take a two-day vacation at a motel in the middle of the desert. It is supposed to be a romantic vacation, but he gets drunk and makes a mess: the motel throws them out the door. Sera`s romance is always frustrated by Ben`s inability to stay sober two minutes. He`s always and continually drunk, and of course the fits get worse in intensity. She tries to be the perfect little wife, but he staggers around her without understanding much of what`s going on. Sera breaks their pact by asking him to see a doctor. He threatens to leave, and she quickly becomes afraid of losing him. But one night she returns after "work" and finds him in bed with a fellow prostitute. She throws him out and bursts into tears. Three boys hire her but then rape and beat her to a pulp, ruining her face. The landlords ask her to leave. She is also driven out of her usual casino. She looks for Ben and finds him in a dark little room, where he is about to expire.

One Night Stand (1997)

The Loss Of Sexual Innocence (1999) is an ambitious, metaphorical film that alternates between the biography of a man and the allegory of the Garden of Eden. The plot is structured as a reconstruction from memory and dreams. The film is an exercise in non-linear storytelling and in surrealistic photography.

A boy plays in the thick vegetation of Africa with other children. Through a slit in the wall the boy watches an elderly white man in an armchair listening to a young black girl who, wearing only her underwear, reads aloud a passage from the Bible. Her tone is fractured as if she was just learning how to read.
Fast forward to a funeral. The boy, Nic, is now a teenager. At the subsequent party, his girlfriend Susan ignores him. Later, Nic finds Susan, drunk, in bed with another guy. As she sees him, she throws up.
A young black man emerges from a pond. He walks out of the water and explores the wonderful landscape.
A family (husband, wife, child) driving on a country road. They stop at a gas station. As the man enters a restroom, he remembers how, as a child, he was shown pictures of people who had been murdered.
A young white woman emerges from the pond.
The family arrives to their destination. The man remembers his childhood, playing with the other children in the streets of that town and discovering the body of a dead man.
Nic and Susan as teenagers walk into her house at night. As they are making out on the floor and he's trying to get on top of her, her father walks in. He doesn't seem them and simply takes some pills to calm some awful pain.
The family moves their luggage into the house. The man puts the child to bed, and then tries to make love to the woman, as she keeps cutting vegetables (in a scene reminiscent of her frigidity that night on the floor). He pulls down her underwear and begins making love to her, but the phone rings and they have to stop.
A dream sequence shows the woman who stops her ironing and walks into another room, which turns out to be a night club, where she begins to strip while he's playing the piano. Then he is in a subway and meets himself as a child. As he walks out in the dark, a man stabs him in the back. His wife finds him lying on the pavement in a pool of blood. Finally, he watches as himself (as an adult) hugs his wife and his child and walks into his house.
Two twins are born. Two Italian nuns discuss the case of the adolescent mother and the twins, who will be separated.
A woman wakes up, takes a shower, gets dressed, walks out, takes a cab.
A phone rings. A woman in bed picks up: it's Luca. She sends him to hell (in Italian). The phone rings again. She is sleepy, moody, annoyed. He is her boyfriend. We see that she is in bed with another woman.
The previous woman is on the plane. She is crying. Nic (adult) is on the same plane. Her twin sister is waiting at the airport. The hand-held camera follows the passengers as they disembark. The twins are very close but don't see recognize each other for a while. Then their eyes lock in a very long gaze. But the twin was not waiting for her. A man hugs her and takes her away. The other twin was waiting for Nic. They had met accidentally.
The black man and the white woman (Adam and Eve), both naked, explore the landscape holding hands. He catches a fish for her. They pee together in the pond. He touches her breasts and she touches his penis. They are amazed by everything they see. A snake crawls towards them.
At a station in Italy Luca waits for the train. Another person is waiting: a gorgeous young woman. The train arrives. Luca welcomes his lesbian lover and Nic, who is with her. But all the time he is attracted by the gorgeous stranger.
Still completely naked, Adam and Eve eat and drink. Eve finds the snake and eats the apple.
Nic, the woman, Luca and a black man are driving in the desert. They reach a remote exotic town. The woman is hurt by a blind woman whom she was trying to help.
Nic is an ethnographer. Nic tells the others of how cannibals trained children to violence. Then remembers how, as a fat child, he was humiliated by a teacher who had him beaten with shoes by all the other children. The group keeps driving inside the desert.
Images of Adam and Eve eating apples in Eden alternate with images of the group making their documentary. Adam is getting sick.
Eve seduces Adam. They make love for the first time.
The group is driving in the desert. Luca and the woman have an argument. Luca loses control and runs over a beduin child. The debuins gather around the dead child. An airplane rises in the sky.
Nic wants to go and call the police, but the beduins say that one of them must stay. They argue about who should stay. The woman insists that she should be the one because they would not hurt a woman. Instead, the moment the others turn, the beduins stab her to death.
In the last, Fellini-an scene, police officers with dogs are chasing Eve and Adam, while a gigantic cross appears in the sky. Eve and Adam are captured and kicked out of the gate (the Garden of Eden was literally a garden!). A crowd of photographers is waiting outside, as if Adam and Eve were movie stars. The two put on whatever clothes they can get, while the photographers keep shooting, and they run, still chased by the paparazzi.

Miss Julie (1999)

Time Code (2000) is a puzzle of a film that carries on four simultaneous views of the story and eventually explains how they relate to each other. Each view is one long cut (no montage) and is hosted in one fourth of the screen. Basically, one is seeing four movies at the same time. After a while, the stories intersect and one realizes that each story corresponds to the viewpoint of one of the characters: there is a cameraman following each of the four main characters. They are all women, and eventually another woman appears who explains how they relate. They are the same woman, at different stages of her life (a trick borrowed from a tale by Borges, which is also the tale that one of the characters mentions).
What keeps the stories in sync is actually an earthquake that keeps striking every so often and is reflected in all the points of view.
Figgis has virtually invented a new way of making films, a new level of montage.
The stories per se depict a world of utter depression. Nobody's happy, they all lost something or somebody. They chase each other, all of them insecure and fragile.
But the film is more comedy (and satire) than tragedy. Everybody has a cell phone, everybody has more than one lover, everybody is driven by Hollywood's greed and ambitions.

The screen is divided in four "quadrants". The audio shifts from one quandrant to the other. In 2. a woman talks to her psychoanalyst: they discuss her dreams, her crisis, her depression. In 1. a woman tamper's with a car's tire, then walks into her limo and waits. A younger woman walks out of the house and finds the flat tire. The woman offers her a ride.
In 3. A massage therapist walks into the hall of a building and is introduced into the suite of a production company.
In 4. The receptionist takes the therapist to the room where the team is having a meeting.
In 3. A blonde enters the building and talks to the security guard. They know each other very well.
An earthquake shakes the scene of all four quandrants.
1. The women in the limo are Lauren and Rose. They are lovers. Lauren is jealous and suddenly her jealousy explodes. She blames Rose of having an affair with someone else. Rose reassures her. Lauren is an actress, Rose is an aspiring actress who is going to an audition.
3. A man outside the building, Alex, calls Rose on the cell phone, but Rose hangs up right away.
4. Alex returns to the building and joins the meeting. He is the boss. They are discussing scripts.
3. The blonde enters the offices of the production company
1. Rose steps out of the limo to buy something. Lauren plants a mike in Rose's purse before Rose returns.
2. The client finally leaves the psychoanalyst and walks in the streets
3. The blonde leave the office and meets the security guard again. They walk in the back and do drugs together.
3. The limo arrives at the building. Rose steps out. Lauren insists that she will wait for her outside.
2. The woman walks until she arrives at the building. She is Alex's wife, Emma. They talk of their crisis.
3. Alone, Rose rehearses. Lauren is listening to everything she is saying.
The earthquake strikes again.
4. Emma tells Alex that she has decided to leave him for good.
3. Rose's phone rings.
1. It's Alex calling Rose.
2. The blonde leaves.
3. and 4. Rose and Alex meet in a room where a film is being shown. The noise of the film keeps Lauren from understanding what Rose is doing. Rose is having sex with Alex.
1. and 2. The blonde knocks at the limo and ask for a light
2. The blonde walks into a bookstore.
1. The film ends and Lauren hears Rose making love to Alex.
2. Emma walks into the same bookstore and meets a friend.
4. Rose begs Alex for a chance to audition. Alex is tired of his life, only wants to move to Tuscany.
3. Alex walks outside to smoke a cigarette.
1. and 3. Lauren and Alex are smoking on the same sidewalk, next to each other.
2. Emma meets the blonde. The blonde consoles Emma who is crying.
4. Rose meets the director of the movie, who is immediately impressed by her.
1. and 3. Alex calls his wife, but she doesn't want to talk to him.
4. The director has decided to audition Rose
2. Emma and the blonde are having fun
1. and 4. Rose calls Lauren all excited that she got the audition
3. Colleagues convince Alex to attend an important meeting with a prospective customer who would help the production company financially in return for producing her film.
4. Rose auditions
2. Emma and the blonde meet the customer, Ana, who is walking with her agent towards the building.
The earthquake strikes again
3. Ana is an eccentric Russian emigre`, accompanied by a sound technician. She sings and shows awesome vocal skills.
1. Lauren enters the building and walks to the production company, while the security guard tries to stop her.
2. Blonde and Emma do drugs
3. and 4. Ana is also a film critic and gives them a sermon about the future of cinema, and how she would like to make a film that is four stories of women with no montage, and the four women are actually the same woman at different stages of her life.
2. Blonde and Emma are having sex.
4. Alex bursts our laughing in front of Ana and tells her honestly that she will get the deal not because of her ideas but because the company needs her money.
1. Rose walks out and meets Lauren
3. Ana says she likes Alex' sincerity and wants to work with him.
1. Lauren attacks Rose about Alex and beats her in the limo
3. and 4. Lauren walks back into the building and looks for Alex, followed by Rose. Lauren shoots Alex and walks out. Nobody dares stop her.
4. Ana is filming Alex'agony
2. and 4. Emma calls Alex on the cell.
1. and 3. Rose calls Lauren on the cell. The police has arrived. Lauren is still walking away.

Hotel (2001)

Cold Creek Manor (2003)

Suspension of Disbelief (2012)