Nicolas Roeg

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broadwayrock
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Re: Nicolas Roeg

#26 Post by broadwayrock » Tue Feb 24, 2015 10:50 am

This was tucked away in a recent BBC press release
BBC Four’s flagship arts documentary series Arena presents the first major profile of the great British film director Nicolas Roeg in which he has actively participated. The film examines his very personal vision of cinema as found in his films Don’t Look Now, Performance, Walkabout and The Man Who Fell To Earth.
To be aired this year.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg

#27 Post by nolanoe » Tue Feb 24, 2015 11:12 am

It does seem as if there was a huge drop in quality around the mid 80s - post 70s, I only do know The Witches, but what I hear of the rest doesn't sound too good.

I figure Roeg was more interested in creating strange visuals, and have them lead a story into unknown territory. However, nothing much seemed to materialize.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg

#28 Post by AnamorphicWidescreen » Tue Feb 24, 2015 12:06 pm

nolanoe wrote:It does seem as if there was a huge drop in quality around the mid 80s - post 70s, I only do know The Witches, but what I hear of the rest doesn't sound too good.

I figure Roeg was more interested in creating strange visuals, and have them lead a story into unknown territory. However, nothing much seemed to materialize.
I did like Roeg's segment in the film Aria. I was also a huge fan of the underrated historical TV series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (saw the show when it first aired, and got the DVDs much later) - Roeg directed at least one of these segments.

However, IMHO Insignificance (1985) seems to have been Roeg's last really great film.

I will have to go back & re-watch Performance (1970) - haven't seen this in years, but the one time I did see it I remember it having a lot of the great editing/playing around with time that Roeg is known for.....
Last edited by AnamorphicWidescreen on Tue Feb 24, 2015 4:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg

#29 Post by Roger Ryan » Tue Feb 24, 2015 1:33 pm

AnamorphicWidescreen wrote: ...As I implied in an earlier post, I thought Roeg's Track 29 (1987) was a P.O.S. - one of the worst films I've ever seen. Not only poorly done, but illogical -
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i.e., the main character (T. Russell) thought that the Gary Oldman character was her long-lost son, but as it turns out he was a figment of her imagination. However, if he was a figment, how could he interact with the truck driver (who drove him into town) and her friend - both of whom saw him? What a crock. I guess the film implied that her imagination "created him" out of thin air, which is fairly ridiculous...
I actually think TRACK 29 is better than the three I dismissed earlier in this thread, but it only works if viewed as a demented fable camped up to the rafters. Regarding the Gary Oldman character:
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My interpretation is that Martin is, in fact, a real person looking for his mother up through the scene when he meets Linda at the diner. After that, Linda only imagines Martin seeking her out and instigating the chaos that ensues. The "real" Martin is somewhere else and disappears from the film altogether.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg

#30 Post by AnamorphicWidescreen » Tue Feb 24, 2015 2:34 pm

Your interpretation of Track 29 is interesting re: the Gary Oldman character. However, if I follow your interpretation,
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why is it that the Oldman character "appeared" out of thin air at the beginning of the film?! I still think there's a chance the Theresa Russell character somehow "created" him out of thin air, and then maybe he faded away as time went on because he was unsubstantial...However, I will admit your explanation makes a lot more sense...
That being said, it doesn't change my opinion of the film - I felt it was a sub-par, poor film, & had a low budget, '80's "TV movie of the week" quality. I saw this recently for the first time, right after re-watching Roeg's masterpieces Bad Timing & Walkabout....and, Track 29 paled so much in comparison to these other two, that it was painful to watch as a result....
Last edited by AnamorphicWidescreen on Wed Mar 04, 2015 1:28 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg

#31 Post by Robin Davies » Tue Feb 24, 2015 2:44 pm

I sometimes wonder if Roeg's decline after Eureka was partly caused by the studio's appalling treatment of the film. After spending so much time making yet another masterpiece only to see the film get virtually no distribution and being forced to make personal appearances at every screening he may well have thought, what's the point?

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Re: Nicolas Roeg

#32 Post by repeat » Wed Feb 25, 2015 11:44 am

Robin Davies wrote:Roeg's decline after Eureka
Please, if we must perpetuate this commonplace (which might well be a truthful one - I wouldn't know as I've only seen half of Castaway), at least make it "after Insignificance"! :shock:

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Re: Nicolas Roeg

#33 Post by MichaelB » Wed Feb 25, 2015 2:21 pm

nolanoe wrote:It does seem as if there was a huge drop in quality around the mid 80s - post 70s, I only do know The Witches, but what I hear of the rest doesn't sound too good.
I liked Puffball, although I cheerfully acknowledge that I'm in a minority, and that I suspect a lot of the pleasure I experienced was down to the thrill of seeing a new and highly recognisable Roeg film for the first time in something like a decade. And being married to a midwife who's heavily into paganism didn't exactly hurt either, given the film's subject matter - she liked it even more than I did.
AnamorphicWidescreen wrote:I will have to go back & re-watch Performance (1970) - haven't seen this in years, but the one time I did see it I remember it having a lot of the great editing/playing around with time that Roeg is known for.....
Although Roeg was not only not responsible for the editing (which Donald Cammell and an uncredited Frank Mazzola carried out when Roeg was shooting Walkabout in Australia), but was so appalled when he saw it that he nearly took his name off the film. Which is why it's somewhat ironic that it's been referred to as "Roegian" ever since.

(This is one of the reasons why Cammell's White of the Eye was such an eye-opener when I saw it on its original release!)

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Re: Nicolas Roeg

#34 Post by Robin Davies » Wed Feb 25, 2015 2:43 pm

broadwayrock wrote:This was tucked away in a recent BBC press release
BBC Four’s flagship arts documentary series Arena presents the first major profile of the great British film director Nicolas Roeg in which he has actively participated. The film examines his very personal vision of cinema as found in his films Don’t Look Now, Performance, Walkabout and The Man Who Fell To Earth.
To be aired this year.
I suppose the bit about "active participation" is mean to disqualify the excellent 1983 documentary Nothing As It Seems which was shown on Channel 4 and is one of my most precious off-air recordings. The style of the documentary is a bit Roeg-ish and it was apparently "made with his co-operation" but the man himself only appears at the end in a jokey interview fragment where he collapses with laughter when asked "Could you tell us in a few words what your films are really all about?"

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Re: Nicolas Roeg

#35 Post by MichaelB » Wed Feb 25, 2015 2:49 pm

I've just dug out my Sight & Sound review of Puffball, complete with synopsis at the end.
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Puffball

United Kingdom/Canada/Ireland 2006
Director: Nicolas Roeg
With Kelly Reilly, Miranda Richardson,Rita Tushingham.


The fact that Puffball is Nicolas Roeg’s first feature film in over a decade makes it of more than usual interest, not least because one of British cinema’s few genuine visionaries is back on something approaching recognisable form. As in Walkabout (1971) and The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), Puffball turns an outwardly normal environment — rural Ireland here — into something charged with weirdly inexplicable potency. Alongside Performance (1970) and Track 29 (1988), it has elements of ritualised ceremony, though it has most in common with 1973’s Don’t Look Now, which similarly revolves around children, a building restoration project and sinister women with psychic powers.

Both films also feature Donald Sutherland, who makes two brief appearances here in circumstances so disconnected from the main narrative that his character Lars isn’t mentioned in the synopsis. He’s the former mentor of architect LiffeyLambert (Kelly Reilly), ostensibly examining the cottage she’s restoring, but he becomes fascinated by an ancient stone, triggering an all-consuming, possibly ancestral interest in Nordic gods. Lars argues that Liffey should raze the cottage to the ground because its built-in memories cannot be mellowed, whereas she wants these memories to evolve from the inside out— an exchange that reveals much not only about Puffball but about Roeg’s approach to cinema in general.

The project’s gestation is paralleled by Liffey’s pregnancy. Roeg has never fought shy of graphic sexual material but its purpose usually goes beyond titillation, whether as an expression of freedom (Performance), obsession (Bad Timing, 1980) or, most famously, between a couple clinging to each other in the wreckage of a bereavement (Don’t Look Now). Puffball, though, deals with coition’s primary biological purpose, emphasised by several startling shots of the inside of Liffey’s vagina at the point of her partner’s ejaculation. (This is true to Fay Weldon’s source novel, which is replete with similar gynaecological detail.)

However, the bulk of the film is a horror melodrama that sits uneasily with the more Roegian elements. Liffey’s neighbour Mabs (Miranda Richardson) has three daughters but is desperate for a boy, and when told that she’s too old, she blames Liffey, whose pregnancy seems to be sapping her ability to conceive. Her motive for having a boy is to ‘correct’ an appalling family tragedy, her brother having burned to death in the cottage — which was previously owned by their mother Molly (a red-wigged Rita Tushingham, whose presence similarly evokes plenty of memories).

A witch, Molly plants straw effigies and her son’s shoes in the cottage and concocts potions to try to boost her daughter’s fertility: she sees Mabs’ longed-for son as some kind of resurrection. Molly’s visionary powers are shared with her granddaughter Audrey (Leona Igoe), whose obsessive noodling on an electronic keyboard is not so much a symptom of teenage withdrawal as an urge to block out family strife and disturbing premonitory images. Roeg dissolves to close-ups of indeterminate crystalline patterns and developing embryos (sometimes inside the fungal puffballs dotting the landscape) before letting rip with a trio of full-blown supernatural set pieces featuring a deformed baby and a Caesarean by kitchen knife.

In short, Puffball is a cinematic brew just as heady as one of Molly’s concoctions. In this overwhelmingly matriarchal environment, it’s perhaps appropriate that the male characters barely register. Reilly acquits herself well with sometimes unsympathetic material (such as an uncharacteristically crass cut from her bleeding crotch at the point of miscarriage to the hole at the heart of the ancient stone), and veterans Richardson and Tushingham just about prevent the witchcraft subplot from lurching into farce. Aside from funding issues, it’s hard to see why the location was shifted from the novel’s Somerset to Ireland, since nothing is made of the country’s own pagan heritage aside from Liffey’s name now evoking Dublin’s ancient river. But although Puffball never regains the heights of Roeg’s 1970s masterpieces, it ranks alongside little-seen Two Deaths as his most intriguing effort since Insignificance.

Synopsis: Rural Ireland, the present. Architect Liffey Lambert and her boyfriend Richard are renovating a derelict cottage. Their nearest neighbour Mabs , who lives with her mother Molly, husband Tucker and daughters Audrey, Becky and Juliet - tells Liffey that she’s trying for a fourth child, as she wants a boy. Liffey and Richard make love on an ancient stone but the condom splits. Mabs is denied fertility treatment. Richard’s boss summons him to New York. Liffey discovers that she’s pregnant. Molly concocts a fertility potion from a puffball and the contents of Richard’s discarded condom. Mabs and Tucker drink the potion, but Mabs fails to become pregnant. Molly blames Liffey for 'stealing’ Tucker’s baby. Liffey has a miscarriage. Tucker visits Liffey to repair her generator, and they have sex. She has a positive pregnancy test, and requests an abortion. A scan reveals that the baby is between 12 and 15 weeks old: Liffey probably miscarried a twin. Richard returns, and thinks Liffey has changed. During a thunderstorm, Liffey is trapped in the basement. Audrey senses that something is wrong and runs to help, but the lock opens itself. Audrey tells Liffey that she can reverse Molly’s spells. Molly dies of a stroke. Richard and Liffey have lunch with Mabs, during which her sister Carol claims that the baby is Tucker’s. A confrontation between the men is ended by Liffey going into labour. She gives birth to a girl, and Mabs concedes that it’s Richard’s. The cottage is put up for sale.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg

#36 Post by swo17 » Wed Feb 25, 2015 4:57 pm

I was recently reminded of Puffball when trying to place Kelly Reilly in Calvary. I see she will also be starring in the upcoming season of True Detective.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg

#37 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Mar 01, 2015 9:14 am

The really big problem with Track 29 is that it is an American-transplanted version of a Dennis Potter play called Oedpius Schmoedipus. Track 29 is actually a pretty faithful adaptation (really too much of one, and that can be a criticism of the later Roeg films as a whole, though The Witches is the one case in which playing the adaptation straightforward works) of the tone and hysterical contents of a Potter production (even down to the big musical number!), but unfortunately the twitching net curtain middle class paranoia of dessicated suburban British characters suddenly getting their consciences pricked doesn't really work as well when it gets contextually transplanted to a North Carolina housewife. And this is also not a great Dennis Potter play, especially if compared to the much more savage (and like Alan Clarke's Scum, initially BBC-banned) Brimstone and Treacle, which deals with the same kind of material of the arrival of a personification of a repressed id to a family home.

In some ways I don't really think that Dennis Potter works too well out of a British context if this, the Steve Martin Pennies From Heaven and the Robert Downey Jr film version of The Singing Detective are anything to go by.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg

#38 Post by isakborg » Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:08 am

Speaking of "The Witches", it is a complete mystery to me how this superb film has never seen the light of day in other than a pan and scan Region 1 DVD. (If someone wishes to correct me on this, I'll be quite happy.) Perhaps someone out there knows a reason for the film's seeming disappearance?

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Re: Nicolas Roeg

#39 Post by britcom68 » Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:36 am

Roeg's "The Witches" should be a guilty pleasure for everyone, even if its current WB Region1 release badly needs an upgrade. As for the reasons behind its frustrating lack of TLC, it has got to be a combination of bad timing (... yes, pun intended). :roll:
This film was the final theatrical release for Lorimar, and the final film released before the deaths of both Jim Henson and Roald Dahl.
I would imagine that this triangulation of estates has tangled even more in the past decade since Disney finally took the controlling interest in the Muppets.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg

#40 Post by nolanoe » Tue Mar 03, 2015 10:08 am

The Witches was fine, from what I remember seeing it as a kid. It's up there with Time Bandits as "weird trend of scary kids movies that were shot pre 1990".

Now you guys made me curious for Puffball.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg

#41 Post by AnamorphicWidescreen » Wed Mar 04, 2015 1:13 am

isakborg wrote:Speaking of "The Witches", it is a complete mystery to me how this superb film has never seen the light of day in other than a pan and scan Region 1 DVD. (If someone wishes to correct me on this, I'll be quite happy.) Perhaps someone out there knows a reason for the film's seeming disappearance?
Yes, I think you're right re: The Witches - the only way I've seen this was on a terrible pan & scan R1 DVD. Very poor presentation, which marred my appreciation of the film. I felt the film was just alright, but I'm sure I would have appreciated this much more if it had been in the correct Anamorphic Widescreen, with better PQ...

That being said, this was definitely an unusual film for NR - in fact, if I hadn't known he had directed this, I would never have guessed - it definitely has Henson's fingerprints on this much more than Roeg's...

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Re: Nicolas Roeg

#42 Post by GaryC » Thu Mar 05, 2015 12:47 pm

AnamorphicWidescreen wrote:That being said, this was definitely an unusual film for NR - in fact, if I hadn't known he had directed this, I would never have guessed - it definitely has Henson's fingerprints on this much more than Roeg's...
I remember an interview in which Roeg said he wanted to make a film that children could see, as he liked children - and did father six of them after all, all sons.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg

#43 Post by MichaelB » Fri Mar 06, 2015 5:24 pm

...which is why he also signed up to Flash Gordon, before being replaced by Mike Hodges.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg

#44 Post by GaryC » Sat Mar 07, 2015 3:15 pm

MichaelB wrote:...which is why he also signed up to Flash Gordon, before being replaced by Mike Hodges.
I once attended a Roeg Q & A where someone asked him about Flash Gordon. He responded that he saw the material as something like a comic strip where you got things that looked like BDSM scenarios - Dale Arden tied up by the villain, for example - rather undercut by thought bubbles saying things like "I hope Flash gets here in time". I'm not sure how well that went down with the producers, though! Mind you, some of that approach remains in the film that Hodges directed, if I remember rightly.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg

#45 Post by TIVOLI » Fri Oct 02, 2015 11:54 am

Has anyone an opinion on the quality of the UK blu-ray of Bad Timing? I have found one negative review, but not much else.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg

#46 Post by Drucker » Fri Oct 02, 2015 12:15 pm

TIVOLI wrote:Has anyone an opinion on the quality of the UK blu-ray of Bad Timing? I have found one negative review, but not much else.
Doesn't look too bad in Caps-A-Holic.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg

#47 Post by TIVOLI » Sat Oct 03, 2015 12:50 pm

Thanks, Drucker. I"ll take a chance on it.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg

#48 Post by Cobpyth » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:49 pm

I am desperately looking for a copy of Roeg's Castaway. Does anyone know if there has ever been a proper DVD release or if it has ever streamed (or is still streaming) on a certain site? Is there a reason why it's so hard to find, compared to Roeg's other films?

Has anyone here ever seen it in a respectable quality? How was it?

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Re: Nicolas Roeg

#49 Post by MichaelB » Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:11 am

I saw it in 35mm on its original release and my reaction was “meh”. For me, it’s comfortably his least interesting 1980s film.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg

#50 Post by Dr Amicus » Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:57 am

MichaelB wrote:I saw it in 35mm on its original release and my reaction was “meh”. For me, it’s comfortably his least interesting 1980s film.
Same here, and I remember it being a bit of a slog by the end - I'd be interested in seeing it again, but have no urge to hunt a copy out. I seem to remember Dilys Powell thought it was one of Roeg's finest films (this was from her Radio 4 History of British Film series), but I could be wrong.

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