Since the release of the Sleeping Years’ debut album ‘We’re Becoming Islands One by One’ (Rocket Girl) last year, Dale Grundle and his band have been busy playing shows in Europe and the UK. Formerly of indie darlings The Catchers, Grundle’s new project pays close attention to his Irish roots with a highly personal collection of songs swathed in gorgeous melodies, intelligent lyrics and heart-wrenching melancholy. They have just played some shows in Spain and are playing in London throughout April: catch them at The Troubadour on April 2 (solo show), The Slaughtered Lamb on April 8 (full band), at the Local (downstairs at the Kings Head – full band) on April 17 and at the Downtown Diner in Ashford, Kent, on April 30 (acoustic). For more information go to their website or MySpace. Below, Dale Grundle tells us about his favourite films. LUCY HURST
1- The Night of the Hunter (1955)
I don’t think I will grow tired of watching this. Robert Mitchum is outstanding and the movie flows from one memorable scene to the next – from Preacher Harry Powell’s hands battling for good against evil, to the children escaping along the river under the stars, to the corpse in the water… Famously, it’s the only movie actor Charles Laughton directed. Well, if you are only going to do one…
2- Stalker (1979)
The first Tarkovsky film I discovered. People travel from their monochrome town (shot by Tarkovsky in almost tar-like tones of black) in search of truth or meaning that they believe will be found in the Zone (itself shot in a subdued green). It’s not for everyone – it’s a slow movie with lots of long shots (some lasting minutes), but it’s a wonderful thing to behold.
3- Touch of Evil (1958)
It opens with an amazing three-minute uninterrupted shot winding through a Mexican border town full of characters, including a grotesque Orson Welles, Charlton Heston as a Mexican, Janet Leigh and Marlene Dietrich. It feels like a movie taking risks and certainly seems a little out of step with Hollywood at that time.
4- Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
America at its most paranoid. All is not what it seems when a doctor’s reception begins to fill up with people convinced that their husbands, wives, parents are not who they are supposed to be. I still think of this movie every Xmas when I see lorries driving around with Xmas trees all bound up, pod-like in the back.
5- Jojo in the Stars (2003)
A really beautiful animated short created by Marc Craste. It’s a strange little love story set in a freak show where Jojo, the main attraction, glows brightest throughout. The animation stays in black and white and I love all the little details that appear, for instance the debris that blows up around the tower. It is worth tracking down for the soundtrack alone! Craste also directed a great video for the Icelandic band mÃºm…
6- Wisconsin Death Trip (1999)
The stories in this docudrama are based on 19th-century newspaper articles from the town of Black River Falls in Wisconsin. German and Scandinavian immigrants come to Wisconsin in search of what they think will be the Promised Land only to find barren soil and unforgiving winters. What follows is sometimes madness, murder and a struggle to survive. I love the whisper used by the narrator Ian Holm when he speaks of someone being taken away to the Asylum. I borrowed that effect for a line in my song ‘Human Blues’. A fascinating glimpse at an episode in American history.
7- Cat People (1942)
When I was growing up I was taken to Scotland every year to spend some time with my grandfather. One of my memories from that time is staying up to watch the old RKO and Universal horror movies. Lots of shadows and fog! This film stands apart from most of those movies partly because of Jacques Tourneur’s style. Some scenes are still very powerful – I love the pool scene that uses the reflections of the water on the ceiling and the reverb of the room to great disorientating effect.
8- M (1931)
A subject that would probably be hard to film these days – that of a child killer – in a movie that gets turned on its head. M is unique in that the mark – a chalked ‘M’ – sets Peter Lorre apart even from his fellow criminals. His murders have terrorized Berlin to such an extent that the police investigations have started to interfere with the underworld’s ability to continue with their own business. Lorre is unforgettable.
9- Wages of Fear (1953)
My keyboard player Dan introduced me to this. It’s full of thoroughly dislikeable characters trapped in a small town. They are so desperate to do anything for money that they sign up to drive trucks full of nitroglycerin along a hazardous journey. The cinematography is stunning, the language is brutal and the movie full of an almost uncomfortable tension. Director Henri-Georges Clouzot thankfully seems more intent on making great cinema than pleasing his audience.
10- Hana-Bi (1997)
It’s hard to choose which of Takeshi Kitano’s movies to add to this list but let’s go for this one. Poetic, violent, infused with moments of humour and serenity – you never know where he is going to take you next. Stylish cinema with Kitano at his most deadpan.