Movies: The Official "Movie of the Week" Club Thread III

Discussion in 'Entertainment' started by TP, Oct 17, 2018.

  1. kihei

    kihei Registered User

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    Performance
    (1970) Directed by Nicolas Roeg

    Performance, about a small time hood (James Fox, minus posh accent) who runs afoul of his own gang and gets all tangled up in the psychedelic '60s, is a terrible movie that would not be remembered at all except that it contains Mick Jagger in a very early film performance. Performance is also noteworthy for being Nicolas Roeg's first directing gig. You would think as a respected cinematographer Roeg would have assimilated some ideas about directing along the way, but you would never know that from this movie which is an abomination from just about every way that one can cut it. Speaking of cutting, let's begin with the editing, which is amateurish and distracting. Initially Roeg jump cuts every few seconds seemingly just for the hell of it--which makes his movie look like some film student's final year "experimental" project (the whole film looks like it was made by someone with enthusiasm but little talent). Eventually Roeg calms down a bit, but we are still left with a mise en scene and narrative that is filled with sleaze and a particularly unappealing brand of homo-eroticism. In short, Performance is a pointless exercise and an ugly mess.

    This and that: Mick Jagger's performance is kind of fascinating, but he seems to be acting in a vacuum, aware of his own inner voice but seemingly existing in a little bubble apart from the other actors. Anita Pallenberg is a complete delight, unselfconsciously sultry and sexy to the point of lubriciousness--it's amazing her acting career didn't blossom after this, but then maybe Keith was just too much fun to say no to. Roeg righted his ship soon enough and directed at least two masterpieces, Walkabout and Don't Look Now. Everybody survived Performance. That's maybe the best thing that can be said about the movie.

    If you want to see someone who knows how to jump cut, see any Takeshi Kitano directed gangster movie.
     
    KallioWeHardlyKnewYe likes this.
  2. Jevo

    Jevo Registered User

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    Performance (1970) dir. Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg

    Chas (James Fox) is a thug in a London gang. His speciality is intimidation and violence. He takes pleasure in his job, perhaps even a little too much pleasure. Chas' boss forbids him from getting involved in a take over of a betting shop, due to a personal history between Chas and the owner of the betting shop. Chas ignores this and goes after the owner anyway. The owner then comes to Chas' apartment to give him a beating together with some thugs of his own. Chas however manages to get a gun and shoot them. He runs for his life, and after overhearing a musician talking about going on tour and leaving a room, Chas decides to pretend to be a friend of musician and use the room as a hideout for now. The owner of the house is Turner (Mick Jagger) a former rock star who lost his groove, and now lives as reclusive artist in an open three way relationship with two women. At first there's a great deal of contempt between Chas and Turner, but slowly Chas is being drawn into the world of the house he now lives in.

    The first half of Performance is almost a by the numbers crime thriller, perhaps a bit violent 1970, but outside of that there's nothing really special about it, apart from the fact that it is well made. But once Chas seeks refuge at Turner's house, everything changes. The movie becomes a sexual experimental film, where social norms are challenged, the breadth of reality is changed, and the concept of identity is taken somewhere it really hasn't been before. Like Chas you don't see this coming from as far out as you should have. But unlike Chas you perhaps don't have the assistance of psychedelic drugs to help you make sense of what is happening.

    Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg perhaps found a perfect match in each other for this film. Cammell's story and overall direction is just as crazy as Roeg's visuals are. The slow descent into insanity (or sanity) that they create functions exactly as intended. Something that was often feature in Roeg's movies, but probably never in as experimental fashion as here.

    Fun is a strange word to use about his movie I think. But I want to call it fun, because I think it's a fun movie to experience. The first half is the start of great thriller. A thriller I kinda want to see the last half of as well, but alas. I'm not certain it's a good idea to think too much about the last half of Performance, at least not while watching it. But for me it's a fun experience to sit and just take it in. James Fox and Mick Jagger also do a great job here, and they are a big reason why this works so well. Even though I think it's fun, it's probably gonna be a while before I feel the urge to watch it again. Because there is a lot to take in with this movie, even though much of it isn't particularly coherent. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
     
  3. Jevo

    Jevo Registered User

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    I'm not sure I can disagree with Kihei's point about the movie being terribly made. Because there are a lot things in Performance which are not well made, and should not work, and probably do not work. But sometimes a bunch of terrible things get put together in such a way that it becomes fun to watch. Either by genius or by accident. I'll let someone else judge which might have happened here.
     
    KallioWeHardlyKnewYe likes this.

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