Posts Tagged ‘Nic Roeg

12
Oct
15

Puffball: The Devil’s Eyeball (2007)

Just a little over three years ago, I packed a bag and housesat in the middle-of-nowhere Montana for six weeks. With not much else to do, Q and I decided we’d watch at least a movie a day. Montana was also the catalyst for me to start blogging again; I’d actually started this blog a few years before that but let it languish, wilt and die. Anyway, we brought a giant binder of DVDs with us, and many DVDs went unwatched (like I said, giant binder). It occurred to us that October would be a fine time to pluck Nic Roeg’s Puffball: The Devil’s Eyeball from the binder and watch it.

Set in the Irish countryside, Puffball centers around Liffey, a young and successful architect who has taken on a project renovating an old, dilapidated cottage. She and her boyfriend Richard are eager to get started, when he unfortunately gets called away on business in New York. Luckily, they bone on an ancient rock (which is actually an altar to Odin, as explained by Donald Sutherland) before he heads out of town. Unluckily, the condom breaks. While Richard’s away, Liffey discovers she is pregnant, and she is not happy about it.

A slice of country heaven.

A slice of country heaven.

She has more than that to be unhappy about, though. Liffey’s closest neighbors are well-versed in ancient Druidic magic. Molly, the matriarch of the family, believes the baby Liffey is pregnant with was actually meant for her own daughter, Mabs (Miranda Richardson), who has been trying to get pregnant with a little boy for quite some time now, for reasons the film will cram down your throat. It’s not working out, and the local doctor refuses her fertility treatments saying she’s just too old to be a new mum. But Molly isn’t worried, she is fairly certain that her knowledge of magic, coupled with Mabs’ daughter Audrey’s natural powers can get the baby back to the right family. A little penis mushroom here, a little tainted alcohol there and voila! The baby will be in the right womb.

Nosy neighbors.

Nosy neighbors.

Well, unfortunately Molly and her witchy cohorts aren’t as in tune with Liffey’s pregnancy situation as they think. The lines get a little crossed, and their meddling causes some seriously bad mojo for everyone involved. Most of this is happening without Liffey even realizing it. But, in the end, Liffey decides to keep her baby, much to Mabs’ dismay, which leads to a very unsettling argument/labor situation that is DEFINITELY not something you want to watch if you are eight months pregnant!

Too old to breed.

Too old to breed.

I’m still not sure how I really feel about this movie. It definitely made me very uncomfortable, but how much of that has to do with my own pregnancy and imminent labor I can’t be sure. Certainly the idea that there are forces outside of us working to influence the outcome of a pregnancy is a terrifying one. What I for sure don’t like is the insatiable I-need-a-baby-now attitude that defines Miranda Richardson’s character. Sure, the film makes no bones about why Mabs feels this way, and I guess this was necessary to contrast Liffey’s I-definitely-don’t-want-a-baby-but-oops-accidentally-got-pregnant thing, but it really made me feel as though the filmmakers, or perhaps Fay Weldon, the author of the novel on which the film is based, think there are only two categories of women: those who wish to spawn, and those who don’t. That sort of dichotomy leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Life-changing sonogram.

Life-changing sonogram.

I have other problems with the film as well, but I’m afraid they’re mostly due to the budget Roeg had to work with. The film is very cheaply shot and reminds me of a throw-away television production. Sometimes I’m able to overlook stuff like this, but here I found the cheapness distracting. I also felt a lot of the special effects, which were also distractingly cheap, were used in very heavy-handed ways. I am sure there are other ways to convey a fire from back in the day to a film’s audience than showing the present-day object with flames overlaid on top. Over and over again. Oy. We get it.

Somewhere deep inside Puffball there is a good movie. Maybe even a great movie. But as it is now, I am not sure I liked it very much at all. It is thought-provoking, which is of course a positive thing, but there are so many smaller problems with the film that they take away from my ultimate read of the thing. Also, don’t be too excited to see Donald Sutherland’s name in the credits; he is only in two short scenes and that made me sad, too. For the most part though, the other actors do a good job of pulling their weight; they just don’t have much to pull.

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20
Apr
13

Performance (1970)

What do you get when you mix a hardcore London Gangster on the run, a washed-up, drugged out rock star, an androgynous French model and psychedelic mushrooms? Nic Roeg’s Performance, of course. How could you not be intrigued? But wait, it gets better: the washed-up rock star is played by none-other than Mick Jagger. Yeah. Really. If you haven’t seen this yet you should be asking yourself why.

Chas, hard at work.

Chas, hard at work.

Our London Gangster, Chas, is a cruel man indeed, and he takes his work very seriously. His boss, a big-time London mobster, is always reminding Chas to keep personal beefs out of day-to-day work, but that seems to be the one thing Chas can’t handle. He takes it too far and ends up on the run, hiding out in the mysterious Mr. Turner’s (Jagger) scummy apartment. Turner is quite skeptical of Chas at first, but soon realizes he can provide him the creative spark he needs to jumpstart his stagnating career. He just needs to find out what makes Chas tick. And that’s where things get trippy.

Chas meets his match(es)?

Chas meets his match(es)?

This might be one of the most aptly named films I’ve ever seen. It is all about the many performances people put on throughout their lives; at their jobs, in their homes, in the mirror. Are we just the sum of our performances, or is there something more?

Who are you?

Who are you?

This movie starts out pretty damn brutal, so if you can’t handle violence, I’m afraid this one isn’t for you. However, the pay-off is definitely worth it. This is one of the most unique films I’ve ever seen, and the one thing I’m sure of is that I think I’m going to have to watch it a few more times before I can be sure I’ve gotten the most out of it I possibly can. I look forward to that task.

Ooh, Mick.

Ooh, Mick.

21
Oct
12

Don’t Look Now (1973)

Multiple people with good taste have told me Don’t Look Now is an awesome movie. What better time to finally watch it than during 31 days of horror? Also, Donald Sutherland. One wonders why I ever hesitated.

Christine’s accident

Laura (Julie Christie) and John Baxter (Donald Sutherland) have just recently lost their daughter Christine after a drowning accident. Shortly thereafter, John, gets a job restoring an old cathedral in Venice. Understandably, the couple (Laura particularly) is having difficulty coping with their daughter’s death. That is, until one day during lunch when Laura meets two sisters, one of them a blind psychic who tells her there’s no reason for sadness, Christine is not only with them, but also happy. After this encounter, John is both amazed and perplexed at his wife’s turnaround; no longer inconsolable, she is happy and bright. He is happy about

Creepy psychic lady.

this, but also skeptical, especially when Laura asks him to join her and the sisters for a seance.  After the seance his suspicions deepen; the sisters told Laura that John is in danger and they should leave Venice immediately. Laura wants to leave, but John of course doesn’t buy it. Instead, he wonders what these two sisters are up to, and what do they want with his wife?

Again, this is not exactly a horror movie, but of all the movies we’ve watched this October it’s the only one that actually gave me chills. It also maintains a constant what-the-fuck-is-going-on tone which I often find much scarier than a guy in a hockey mask, for instance. Oh yeah, and if you ever wanted to see Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie go at it in a super hot and heavy sex scene, this is the movie for you. But even with all this stuff aside, the movie looks awesome, and it’s not only because of Sutherland’s hair. This movie’s legit. Check it out.




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