Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 274: Tue Oct 1

Performance (Roeg/Cammell, 1970): Rio Cinema, 6.30pm

The daddy of midnight movies this was a weekly feature of the late-night cinema circuit in London in the 70s and 80s and is showing from a 35mm print. Not to be missed. I'm busy re-reading Colin McCabe's BFI Film Classics book, a wonderful introduction to what the author calls "the greatest British film ever made."

Tonight’s presentation includes a Q&A hosted by critic Jason Solomons with the film’s producer Sandy Lieberman and the author of ‘Perfomance — the Making of a Classic’, Jay Glennie.

Time Out review:
Nicholas Roeg's debut as a director is a virtuoso juggling act which manipulates its visual and verbal imagery so cunningly that the borderline between reality and fantasy is gradually eliminated. The first half-hour is straight thriller enough to suggest a Kray Bros documentary as James Fox, enforcer for a London protection racket, goes about his work with such relish that he involves the gang in a murder and has to hide from retribution in a Notting Hill basement. There, waiting to escape abroad, he becomes involved with a fading pop star (Mick Jagger) brooding in exile over the loss of his powers of incantation. In what might be described (to borrow from Kenneth Anger) as an invocation to his demon brother, the pop star recognises his lost power lurking in the blind impulse to violence of his visitor, and so teases and torments him with drug-induced psychedelics that the latter responds in the only way he knows how: by rewarding one mind-blowing with another, at gunpoint. Ideas in profusion here about power and persuasion and performance ('The only performance that makes it, that makes it all the way, is one that achieves madness'); and the latter half becomes one of Roeg's most complex visual kaleidoscopes as pop star and enforcer coalesce in a marriage of heaven and hell (or underworld and underground) where the common denominator is Big Business. 

Tom Milne

Here (and above) is the trailer.

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