Puffball (Nicolas Roeg, 2007)

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Solaris
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Puffball (Nicolas Roeg, 2007)

#1 Post by Solaris » Wed Apr 11, 2007 8:30 am

Roeg's latest seems to be a good comeback after some rather dire films (except for the hugely underrated Two Deaths).

It is yet to be confirmed if it will premiere at Cannes this year.

Here's the poster:

Image

Puffball at IMDb, who also have another Roeg film listed as upcoming - Adina.

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#2 Post by rs98762001 » Wed Apr 11, 2007 11:51 am

This is exciting, even if for no other reason than the reunion of Roeg and Donald Sutherland.

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#3 Post by John Cope » Wed Apr 11, 2007 1:00 pm

Adina has been "listed as upcoming" forever. What the hell happened to it?

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#4 Post by ellipsis7 » Thu Apr 12, 2007 3:33 am

PUFFBALL shot last year here in Ireland... That way he could raise the money...

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#5 Post by DrewReiber » Thu Apr 12, 2007 3:46 am

John Cope wrote:Adina has been "listed as upcoming" forever. What the hell happened to it?
I think it must have stalled because there was no mention of Puffball when Adina was announced last year. I'm thinking financing didn't come together and timing was just right to move on the other project. It can't be long before they start promoting his new film and we'll get an update then.

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#6 Post by David Ehrenstein » Thu Apr 12, 2007 9:24 pm

Also it's a new Rita Tushingham film!

Sadly Theresa Russell, Roeg's ex inamorata is now on one of those dreadful english-language telenovelas, American Heiress

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#7 Post by ellipsis7 » Fri Apr 13, 2007 2:28 pm

I have notification today of an Irish Academy preview screening of PUFFBALL - soon but no date yet... Will try to catch it & report...

planetjake

#8 Post by planetjake » Sat Sep 22, 2007 12:00 pm

Any word on this anywhere? I'm dying over here!

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#9 Post by ellipsis7 » Sat Sep 22, 2007 12:32 pm

It screened at Galway Film Fleadh in the Summer - didn't catch it, but Donald Clarke in The Irish Times reviewed it as being an awful mess, nothing like the best work of a great director like Roeg...

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#10 Post by MichaelB » Sat Sep 22, 2007 12:51 pm

Variety was pretty scathing too.

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#11 Post by malcolm1980 » Sat Sep 22, 2007 1:31 pm

It's nice to see him still working. Isn't he almost 80?

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#12 Post by David Ehrenstein » Sun Sep 23, 2007 9:38 am

A mere lad.

Manoel De Oliviera is closing in on 100.

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#13 Post by Antoine Doinel » Wed Sep 26, 2007 10:00 pm

planetjake wrote:Any word on this anywhere? I'm dying over here!
Not sure where you are located, but the film is opening (with nothing remotely resembling an ad campaign) here in Montreal on Friday and I'm guessing some other Canadian cities as well.

planetjake

#14 Post by planetjake » Thu Sep 27, 2007 1:12 am

I'm down in Chicago.

Still, after hearing dire reviews of other Roeg films; Eureka, Track 29, Two Deaths, and even Samson and Delilah and coming to admire and even love some of them. . .

I'm really looking forward to Puffball. . .

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#15 Post by Solaris » Thu Sep 27, 2007 5:29 am

planetjake wrote:Still, after hearing dire reviews of other Roeg films; Two Deaths,
It isn't that bad at all, in fact I think it's up there with his 70s work. You should really check it out.

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#16 Post by chaddoli » Mon Mar 03, 2008 3:19 pm

Some news buried in this Hollywood Reporter story about IFC's new branch "Festival Direct" which sounds strange but interesting. It's basically IFC First Take (day and date theatrical screening and availability on demand) without the screening at the IFC Center.

I usually end up going to the theater more often than ordering the On-Demand because it's only a few block walk and a dollar or two more (I have been buying Senior-priced tickets from the ABO for several years now). The OD stuff isn't displayed in HD but is in OAR. I've seen Walkabout projected and would have preferred to see this that way as well.

IFC has been doing some fascinating and important things lately. I think they deserve their own thread, what with First Take and now Festival Direct as well as their increasingly challenging, essential selection of films to release. They are the only distributor willing to take risks on the new work of Rivette and Hou, among many others. And sometimes they don't distribute a film, but play it at the center - like in the case of Still Life (another film no one wanted).

The kicker is that they are doing good business with most of these difficult projects. Good for them and us.

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#17 Post by Barmy » Mon Mar 03, 2008 3:40 pm

In other words, it's direct to video, just like Jean Claude Van Damme's recent ouevre.

Here's the trailer. Looks kind of dire.

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#18 Post by Dylan » Tue Mar 04, 2008 6:39 am

Couldn't they have just called it Puffball and left it at that? Having The Devil's Eyeball follow...it's sort of funny.

Regarding the trailer itself, it doesn't really tell us anything about the film, but it's loaded with low budget horror trailer cliches, like digitally stretching shots of people screaming and/or looking sinister. It doesn't look very interesting, but it's also a pretty lame trailer, so it's hard to tell.

I still hold out hope that Roeg makes Adina, which sounded like a magnificent project, and a lot more interesting than this.

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#19 Post by Bikey » Sun Jun 01, 2008 7:46 pm

It's getting a UK theatrical release July 18. At last!!

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#20 Post by MichaelB » Mon Jun 02, 2008 1:50 am

I haven't seen Two Deaths, which is the only thing that prevents me from saying that Puffball is Roeg's best film since Insignificance, even if it doesn't come close to the brilliance of his 1970s work.

The good news is that it's clearly a Roeg film - you can guess the director in seconds, and it's crammed to the gills with characteristic touches, such as his ability to turn the most outwardly unexceptional landscape into something sinister and foreboding, or his eye for a truly startling shock-cut - which I won't spoil here. It's also got his most memorable sex scenes since Don't Look Now and Bad Timing - memorable not in the sense of being mindblowingly erotic but in capturing the gloopy messiness of the act: it makes you realise how sanitised most sex scenes are.

The bad news is that the narrative is by far the least interesting aspect of the film (I haven't seen the trailer, but I can well imagine how terrible it must look), and I completely lost interest in its female protagonist Liffey and her various problems at a very early stage. I don't think this is necessarily a criticism of Kelly Reilly so much as a character that's clearly supposed to represent a particular notion of Womanhood without ever being especially rounded (put it like this: I don't think original casting choice Samantha Morton would have done any better). Miranda Richardson and Rita Tushingham also struggle with badly underwritten roles, and the whole pagan subplot is treated indifferently enough to make me think that Roeg's real interests lay elsewhere.

So it's strictly for Roeg fans, but I suspect they might be pleasantly surprised if they approach it with a sufficiently open mind.

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#21 Post by MichaelB » Fri Jul 18, 2008 3:56 am

Bikey wrote:It's getting a UK theatrical release July 18. At last!!
Heads up - today is July 18th, and I suspect it's not going to stick around for long.

UK reviews generally fall into two camps - the "it's a bit of a mess but it has some good bits and it's good to see Nicolas Roeg back behind the camera, so we'll cut it a huge amount of slack" (which was broadly my take) and "Oh my God, how the hell did this gibbering catastrophe get funded?". My favourite opening paragraph by far was this one from Nigel Andrews in the Financial Times:
Where does Puffball belong? In the home and heritage centre of Nicolas Roeg - great British wizard of Walkabout and Don't Look Now - it is the singing fish on the recreation- room wall. We don't know why it is there. It looks funny and makes odd noises. It is either a bizarrerie of genius or a novelty no one knows what to do with.
Most of the reviews aren't long enough to be worth linking to, and my Sight & Sound piece isn't online - so here's Mark Lawson's 'The end of cinematic sex' from today's Guardian, in which he compares the sex scenes in Puffball to the famous one in Don't Look Now.

I do think he misses a fundamental point, though - the films aren't really comparable because the sex scene (more properly, the love-making scene) in the earlier film is an overwhelmingly emotional experience, whereas the sex in Puffball is much more to do with the act's fundamental biological purpose. Lawson uses the phrase "biological candour", but doesn't acknowledge that Roeg has taken that approach for a specific narrative reason over and above the fact that you can get away with more in 2008.

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#22 Post by Nothing » Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:30 am

> "Oh my God, how the hell did this gibbering catastrophe get funded?"

Which is, of course, what they should be saying about the mind-melting crap that the British film industry churns out on a daily basis, as opposed to a Nicolas Roeg film.

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#23 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Jul 18, 2008 9:55 am

He's also missing the point that the availability of explicit sex has changed attitudes in a good way too. It could be argued that the ready availability of this imagery is going to force the cinema (and society in general) to grow up in its attitude. Once the shock and novelty of getting to see 'whatever' for the first time wears off then I hope that there will be a move towards the meaning of the sex act taking predominance again and that true intimacy and interesting cinema still comes through mental connections between people that inform their actions.

It could be suggested that everyone will become jaded by explicit imagery but I'd like to think that things will settle down in the same way that adolescent joy of discovery becomes a more adult and aware approach to relationships in which sex plays an important but not the only part. This must be better than the childish 'single beds and one foot on the floor' approach of only hinting at sex and I would suggest that cinema has gone through a longer extended adolescent fixation on the subject of nudity and sexual activity in part because of the repression slowing progress to a crawl so that each and every nipple flash or bare bottom gets column inches devoted to it - or whole films whose only purpose is to show some nudity to the limits at which they were allowed at that point!

Of course Roeg has already used sex in his films with an emphasis on more than just the act itself but on what it means to the characters, even if reviews mostly focus just on the act of shagging as their main point of interest as if it were just a narrative-less porn film!

Even if Puffball is sub-par Roeg or really terrible I completely agree with Nothing!

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#24 Post by MichaelB » Fri Jul 18, 2008 10:18 am

colinr0380 wrote:He's also missing the point that the availability of explicit sex has changed attitudes in a good way too. It could be argued that the ready availability of this imagery is going to force the cinema (and society in general) to grow up in its attitude. Once the shock and novelty of getting to see 'whatever' for the first time wears off then I hope that there will be a move towards the meaning of the sex act taking predominance again and that true intimacy and interesting cinema still comes through mental connections between people that inform their actions.
...and I think this is what Roeg has always been trying to do. In my review I pointed out that the sexual act in his films always has a function beyond mere gratuitous titillation - be it an expression of freedom in Performance, obsession in Bad Timing, twisted mother-son love in Track 29, and of course an emotionally devastated couple clinging to each other in Don't Look Now - and as Roeg pointed out, if you cut that scene, as the BBC notoriously did on its first TV outing, all the couple does is snipe and bicker.

And what's interesting about Puffball is that here he's adding pregnancy into the equation, something the vast majority of cinematic sex scenes prefer to ignore. There are three graphic copulations in the film which either lead to conception or are intended to - which is why the cervix-cam shots have a function over and above shock value (though the first appearance, where you actually see a condom splitting at the point of ejaculation. is a real jaw-dropper - in fact, it was at that point that I seriously thought that Puffball might be a complete return to 1970s form).
It could be suggested that everyone will become jaded by explicit imagery but I'd like to think that things will settle down in the same way that adolescent joy of discovery becomes a more adult and aware approach to relationships in which sex plays an important but not the only part.
I've always had a huge amount of respect for Roeg for attempting this throughout pretty much his entire career as a director.
This must be better than the childish 'single beds and one foot on the floor' approach of only hinting at sex and I would suggest that cinema has gone through a longer extended adolescent fixation on the subject of nudity and sexual activity in part because of the repression slowing progress to a crawl so that each and every nipple flash or bare bottom gets column inches devoted to it!
I think the single biggest problem is that certain highly influential organisations in the US have yet to snap out of this adolescent mentality. There is nothing remotely shameful about making a serious film about sex aimed at an adult audience, yet the stigma attached to the X rating and then the NC-17 (which, ironically, was created to try to get rid of said stigma - so it's not so much the MPAA to blame as the cinema chains that won't screen NC-17 films and the mass media outlets that won't advertise them) makes this virtually impossible in high-profile English-language cinema.
Even if Puffball is sub-par Roeg or really terrible I completely agree with Nothing!
It's certainly sub-par, but then achieving par for Roeg's course would be pretty damn incredible given the funding and logistical restrictions he now has to work under, quite aside from his age and lack of activity in recent years. In fact, one of my gripes with the film is that the Irish setting is so obviously a funding condition - the novel was set in Somerset, and in transplanting it Roeg makes absolutely nothing of Ireland's own rich pagan heritage.

Whether or not one finds it really terrible largely depends on whether one is prepared to overlook some pretty glaring flaws and stress the genuine excitement of seeing a new Roeg film that's so recognisably 'Roegian'. In fact, one of the negative reviews even acknowledges this, when the writer said that she found it "more peculiar than boring". My wife's a Roeg virgin, and she really liked it - though as a midwife/ultrasonographer with a strong interest in paganism she's possibly an unreliable witness, as few other viewers will be quite so perfectly attuned to it!

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#25 Post by ellipsis7 » Fri Jul 18, 2008 12:40 pm

In the actual film review page of The Guardian today, Xan Brooks totally lacerates PUFFBALL, giving it a meagre 1 star rating...
Puffball, sad to say, is a borderline disaster, a preposterous carnal burlesque that catches the one-time visionary looking woozy and exhausted, his pants metaphorically around his ankles. Kelly Reilly stars as a libidinous architect who finds herself preyed on by the locals next door (jittery Miranda Richardson, screeching Rita Tushingham). When Reilly whips off her bra for the film's big sex scene, Roeg is so enamoured of the spectacle that he elects to show it again but - get this! - in slow motion and from a slightly different angle. It's the one instance when he seems properly excited by his material, like a rest home resident momentarily stirred by the sight of nurse.
Cruelle!!!...

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