Nicolas Roeg (1928-2018)

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diamonds
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Nicolas Roeg (1928-2018)

#1 Post by diamonds » Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:13 am


Solaris
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Re: Passages

#2 Post by Solaris » Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:40 am

:(

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Big Ben
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Re: Passages

#3 Post by Big Ben » Sat Nov 24, 2018 11:58 am

Man I don't even know what to say. Aside from being highly innovative, Roeg was one of the guys who was willing to go (Sometimes literally) completely balls out. One of the greats.

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Re: Passages

#4 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Nov 24, 2018 1:27 pm

That's incredibly sad news. Roeg is one of the best filmakers on the subject of time and memory, subjectivity and nostalgia, and the way that internal emotions driving his characters (consciously or unconsciously) often expresses itself and manifests on the surrounding world with complex results. Or at least cause tragic misunderstandings that split people apart, whilst they still retain the memories, or at least are marked by, their past relationships. All expressed through fluid stream of consciousness editing.

I am sure not to be alone in treasuring the unbroken fifteen year run of classics from Performance to Insignificance, but the films which follow whilst a little more conventionally structured have their merits too (I would particularly love it if Cold Heaven was rescued from obscurity at some point, even if its Catholic guilt theme is a little silly).

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Re: Passages

#5 Post by bearcuborg » Sat Nov 24, 2018 1:59 pm

Big Ben wrote:
Sat Nov 24, 2018 11:58 am
Man I don't even know what to say. Aside from being highly innovative, Roeg was one of the guys who was willing to go (Sometimes literally) completely balls out. One of the greats.
That pretty much says it all for me too. Also, perhaps the best cinematographer turned director? I would also love to see Cold Heaven again.

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Re: Passages

#6 Post by j99 » Sat Nov 24, 2018 3:47 pm

The run from Performance to Insignificance was quite incredible. I felt his first misstep was Castaway, and from there it was hit and miss. I thought the film he made for the BBC, Two Deaths, was an excellent return to form, but unfortunately is hard to find on dvd. The Masters of Cinema release of Eureka was terrific, and I’d love to see more of his films given this kind of treatment. I feel very sad at his passing. I grew up with his films; I would even go as far as to say he was the first director who offered an alternate vision to the traditional Hollywood fare I was accustomed to. He changed the way I saw films, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg (1928-2018)

#7 Post by Rayon Vert » Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:15 pm

Terrific director. I absolutely love Walkabout, Don't Look Now and Bad Timing - not so much Performance and The Man Who Fell to Earth. What are the odds of my liking Eureka, Insignificance or any of the later ones?
Last edited by Rayon Vert on Sat Nov 24, 2018 5:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg (1928-2018)

#8 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Nov 24, 2018 5:05 pm

It is difficult to say, as they are all quite different. Insignificance is slightly different from the earlier films in that instead of travelling the world it keeps its theatrical adaptation mostly (and purposefully) within one hotel suite (making it closer to Performance in some respects), and after a few early scenes of Marilyn on set of the Seven Year Itch mostly keeps its events beyond the hotel confined to iconographic flashback memories, at least until the hotel suite is invaded by fears of nuclear war in the final moments (spoiler!) Insignificance often seems to get criticised for how stagey it is, but that seems to overlook that it still does things with the material (especially with editing and the visions the characters have) that only the cinema can do.

John Cope really likes the Dennis Potter adaptation of Track 29, and it is quite striking with perhaps Gary Oldman's most bizarre performance, but it does feel as if transferring the same material from twitching net curtain suburban Britain to prescription medicated Southern states America does not quite work. The Witches is a great Roald Dahl adaptation but much less experimental in terms of editing style towards its narrative. Castaway is similarly very much straight ahead in its storytelling, with the copious Oliver Reed nudity being the most disturbing element on display there.

I think Cold Heaven is very interesting with a lot of the stylistic elements of the earlier Roeg films being present and correct. It also has the last Theresa Russell performance in a Roeg film and she is excellent in a very difficult role having to add a sense of plausibility to some of the action, though the whole 'Virgin Mary bearing a grudge for someone committing adultery' thing is a bit silly. I think it works well as a kind of re-envisioning of The End of the Affair in a post-Exorcist world in which actual religious forces are a real thing, who can torment and punish, yet also work miracles too. It has a final shot that is either a wonderful example of someone being redeemed through a miracle, or a rather too on the nose symbolic event:
SpoilerShow
In which Theresa Russell's character, who has a disabled arm throughout the film is miraculously cured after abandoning her lover (who is being tortured by the Virgin Mary in the motel room the couple were going to meet in throughout the film) for her husband and is suddenly able to embrace him. Given that the relationship between Roeg and Russell was presumably breaking up at that point, it is hard to try not to read something of a desperate wish fulfillment element into the plot of a relationship being pulled back from the brink of falling apart. But that is probably more my own projection as a viewer.
Russell's central performance also anchors Track 29, and it is interesting that in both Track 29 and Cold Heaven the outside force is kind of a 'return of the repressed' that torments the main character. They could tie in a little to Don't Look Now, though there the main character is in some senses willingly (albeit subconsciously) creating an embodiment of his lost daughter, while in Track 29 and Cold Heaven the main character is not being given a choice about being visited by spectres from significant past events, with it being unclear at first as to whether the figures are real (as in a real young man saying he is the main character's son; or whether the religious guilt is coming from an actual outside force) or some fantastical figure given a literal form by the main character's anxieties. Both films feel a little silly, especially compared to how beautifully Don't Look Now handles its supernatural-real aspect, but they are still well worth seeing.

I have not yet had a chance to see Two Deaths or Full Body Massage (which apparently is also supposed to be quite interesting), and Puffball is still in my to watch pile for the moment.
Last edited by colinr0380 on Wed Nov 28, 2018 5:27 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg (1928-2018)

#9 Post by Rayon Vert » Sat Nov 24, 2018 5:12 pm

Thanks a lot for the breakdown. What about Eureka? Is that similar to any of his earlier work?

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Re: Nicolas Roeg (1928-2018)

#10 Post by domino harvey » Sat Nov 24, 2018 5:16 pm

I hated it. Here are my thoughts from the 80 List
domino harvey wrote:
Sun Feb 02, 2014 11:45 pm
Eureka (Nicolas Roeg 1983) A film so stunningly bad in such a vibrantly weird way that I am sure there are people with normally perceptive taste who will argue it is a work of brilliance or art. I don't think so. I am familiar with Roeg and enjoy a great many of his films, but this is what happens when a filmmaker crawls so far up his own ass and everyone else just goes with it instead of working to make all the disparate elements work. Over the top theatrics and annoyingly gimmicky graphic violence, silly editing with none of the power of Roeg's typically keen style, broad performances from actors who know better, and plenty of superfluous shots of Roeg's then-wife Theresa Russell fully nude. Yep, it all sounds like some crazy person's cup of tea-- and their defense is no doubt a subtle variation of my argument against it!

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Re: Nicolas Roeg (1928-2018)

#11 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Nov 24, 2018 5:24 pm

I'm afraid that it has been too long since I last saw it to be able to comment (it is another disc in my to watch pile!) but I think reviews were a little bit kinder than domino towards it!

In the meantime I have had a quick trawl of YouTube and came across Roeg choosing a scene of Charles Grodin in The Woman in Red for the Close Up season, which was a series of five minute shorts that ran on BBC2 throughout 1995 as a celebration of the centenary of cinema. And here is the second half of Roeg's segment of the Aria anthology film from 1987 (NSFW), in which Theresa Russell looks very fetching cross dressed and with a moustache!

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Re: Nicolas Roeg (1928-2018)

#12 Post by bearcuborg » Sat Nov 24, 2018 5:53 pm

The Woman in Red is one of the most under appreciated comedies of the 80’s. Grodin deserved an award for that touching scene with Wilder...

Aria, the movie opera buffs hate...I rather like all of them.

Anyway, it’s not difficult to see Roeg’s influence on Jim O’Rouke. I haven’t listened to him lately, but he always had this elusive strangeness to his 90s albums.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg (1928-2018)

#13 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Nov 24, 2018 5:57 pm

Aria definitely feels like it places much more emphasis on the images than the music particularly, but what images!
bearcuborg wrote:
Sat Nov 24, 2018 5:53 pm
Anyway, it’s not difficult to see Roeg’s influence on Jim O’Rourke. I haven’t listened to him lately, but he always had this elusive strangeness to his 90s albums.
It all went full circle almost, as O'Rourke's track Eureka, named after the Roeg film, later turned up in a scene from Shinji Aoyama's Eureka in 2000!
Last edited by colinr0380 on Sat Nov 24, 2018 6:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg (1928-2018)

#14 Post by Big Ben » Sat Nov 24, 2018 6:08 pm

Eureka is one of those things were I'm not entirely sure what to make of it. I have never been able to decide how much of it is brilliant and how much of it is ghastly because I don't think there's much of a middle ground. The film is gorgeous for sure, as most of Roeg's films are, and most of the performances from most of the players are okay but by the time you get a certain trial sequence with Theresa Russell (Who happens to chew through it like a overcooked steak) it becomes apparent that the film has really spiraled out of control. I don't hate it like domino does but it is nowhere near the mastery Roeg displayed in films like Walkabout and Don't Look Now. Perhaps the real problem is that there's simply too much plot and that without the typical fragmentary Roeg-ish ambivalence the film just sort of falls apart under the weight of all the juggling it has to do. The more traditional the film becomes from a constructive standpoint the worse it becomes. And this of course sounds ridiculous given the actual story within (And is based on.) IS ambivalent about certain things but I guess that goes to show how disconnected the film really is from everything and that's why I ultimately don't think it coheres into anything entirely good. It is however, the last (Again literally) balls out Roeg film from where I stand.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg (1928-2018)

#15 Post by j99 » Sat Nov 24, 2018 6:12 pm

Eureka is patchy, but I did like the Masters of Cinema blu ray release. It has a very good opening hour. I would disagree with Domino here, because I think some of the scenes with the Gene Hackman character’s search for gold are quite stunning, and has Roeg’s unique visual style seen in his earlier films. However, the second half pales a bit, with a particularly histrionic and bad court room scene, and an awful performance by Theresa Russell. It has an interesting cast though; a young Mickey Rourke, Joe Pesci, and Rutger Hauer, pre Bladerunner, plus the always reliable Gene Hackman. I recommend it despite its obvious flaws.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg (1928-2018)

#16 Post by Aunt Peg » Sat Nov 24, 2018 6:14 pm

bearcuborg wrote:
Sat Nov 24, 2018 5:53 pm
The Woman in Red is one of the most under appreciated comedies of the 80’s. Grodin deserved an award for that touching scene with Wilder...
Just curious, what is Roeg's connection to The Woman in Red?

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Re: Nicolas Roeg (1928-2018)

#17 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Nov 24, 2018 6:20 pm

Just that Roeg chose to talk about it as a scene he appreciated (and played out in a purely cinematic way) in the above video.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg (1928-2018)

#18 Post by Aunt Peg » Sat Nov 24, 2018 11:35 pm

colinr0380 wrote:
Sat Nov 24, 2018 6:20 pm
Just that Roeg chose to talk about it as a scene he appreciated (and played out in a purely cinematic way) in the above video.
Thanks.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg (1928-2018)

#19 Post by Polybius » Sat Nov 24, 2018 11:53 pm

The focus here so far is (understandably) on his work as a director but I just wanted to take a minute and mention how much I love his gorgeous camera work in Far From The Madding Crowd and Walkabout.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg (1928-2018)

#20 Post by brundlefly » Sun Nov 25, 2018 12:52 am

Polybius wrote:
Sat Nov 24, 2018 11:53 pm
The focus here so far is (understandably) on his work as a director but I just wanted to take a minute and mention how much I love his gorgeous camera work in Far From The Madding Crowd and Walkabout.
Petulia as well (overdue on blu), which shared an editor with Performance and Walkabout and seemed to inform his way forward.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg (1928-2018)

#21 Post by Lemmy Caution » Sun Nov 25, 2018 4:02 am

Rayon Vert wrote:
Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:15 pm
Terrific director. I absolutely love Walkabout, Don't Look Now and Bad Timing - not so much Performance and The Man Who Fell to Earth. What are the odds of my liking Eureka, Insignificance or any of the later ones?
Insignificance is pretty much the only Roeg I've enjoyed. And I generally don't like staged-play type films in limited settings. It has an odd charm, a sense of humor, and a nice inventiveness. it is also quite accessible, so definitely give it a chance.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg (1928-2018)

#22 Post by Aunt Peg » Sun Nov 25, 2018 4:06 am

With the exception of Castaway, Roeg could do no wrong from Performance (1970) to Cold Heaven (1991) in my book.

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Re: Nicolas Roeg (1928-2018)

#23 Post by MichaelB » Sun Nov 25, 2018 9:54 am

colinr0380 wrote:
Sat Nov 24, 2018 5:24 pm
I'm afraid that it has been too long since I last saw it to be able to comment (it is another disc in my to watch pile!) but I think reviews were a little bit kinder than domino towards it!
The first time I saw Eureka, I thought the first half-hour ranked with the best things that Roeg has ever done, and it went downhill from that point. On second viewing, I found myself much more favourably disposed towards the middle, but still thought that it dropped dead when the courtroom climax started. I don't think there's any salvaging that, but there's enough terrific material for me to be happy to regard his 1968-83 period as his greatest.

(Zedz has observed this too, but I'm actually more concerned when I'm in sync with Domino about a particular film...)
Big Ben wrote:
Sat Nov 24, 2018 6:08 pm
It is however, the last (Again literally) balls out Roeg film from where I stand.
I'm assuming you haven't seen Puffball, which seemed to have been rather too balls-out for a great many people. (I was incredibly lucky with that film, since I'm married to a midwife who's heavily into paganism, and Roeg could have been aiming it precisely at her.)

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Re: Nicolas Roeg (1928-2018)

#24 Post by Robin Davies » Sun Nov 25, 2018 10:10 am

It's hard for me to be objective about Roeg's work because I saw his first six films at the right age and they opened up a whole new world of imaginative cinema for me. Those films (Performance, Walkabout, Don't Look Now, The Man Who Fell To Earth, Bad Timing and Eureka) are as good as cinema gets. I can understand the hostility to the trial scene in Eureka but I like it because it shows just how bold and challenging Roeg could be. The film had already provided a feast of the sort of visual splendour that he was already known for, so to suddenly dump us in a long stagey dialogue scene (with blatant spotlighting to boot) was a perversely enjoyable curve ball.
I love the man's work and was honoured to get his autograph after a rare early screening of Eureka (which was cruelly denied a proper release by the studio) and tell him how much his films had meant to me.
It's nice that he passed on the directing bug to David Bowie's son, Duncan Jones. Some photos here:
https://twitter.com/ManMadeMoon/status/ ... gr%5Etweet

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Re: Nicolas Roeg (1928-2018)

#25 Post by GaryC » Sun Nov 25, 2018 11:48 am

I was certainly aware of Roeg, from the film books and articles I was reading, before I saw any of his films. My first one was Walkabout (the second Australian film I ever saw), on its second BBC TV showing in January 1979 - my mother and I stayed up to watch it, on a school night too. (I was fourteen.) Then a double bill of The Man Who Fell to Earth and Performance (for some reason a one-day-only Sunday afternoon double bill at a local cinema, in 1983), Don't Look Now on TV and Bad Timing on pan-and-scan VHS (I have since seen both of those in cinemas.)

Eureka I had to struggle to see at all. It had a brief release in London in 1983, just as I was doing my A levels and by the time my exams were done it had closed - and was withdrawn by its distributor for nearly a year. Then there was just the one print in circulation, which had been damaged in places by the time I saw it at the Scala, in a double bill with Walkabout. I'm with MichaelB on this one - among his best work for two third, then going off the rails with a courtroom scene which verbally spells out what had been conveyed visually up to then.

Insignificance and Castaway both came out when I was at University. In fact I saw the latter twice, the first time in a pre-release version without the Kate Bush song over the opening credits. It's an interesting film which didn't quite work.

So I guess I saw all his key works at the right age. I met him twice, first at a Q&A at Southampton Uni before the Southampton Film Festival showing of Insignificance, then at the NFT when he did a Q&A after a showing of Heart of Darkness.

RIP.

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