Catching up on classics

Though I’m still taking a break (sort of) from film criticism, I continue to watch a lot of films — mostly older ones. (Thanks, TCM and Netflix discs.) Two I’m ashamed to admit I had never seen are Silkwood and Performance.

The former (4 stars on 0-5 scale), from 1983, proves once again that director Mike Nichols and actress Meryl Streep are superheroes. (Who needs Marvel?) The film is also memorable for an effectively serious, muted turn from Cher.

The latter movie (1 star), though considered one of the most influential British pictures of all time by some critics, left me cold and exhausted. I’m afraid I must agree with Charles Champlin of The Los Angeles Times who described Performance as a “pretentious and repellent little film.” I was especially disappointed considering my love of director Nicholas Roeg’s later film, Don’t Look Now. One can see a lot of cinematographic similarities between the two movies, but Roeg’s debut (which he directed with Donald Cammell in 1968 but wasn’t released until 1970) is a shadow of his later work. Still, cultist cinephiles are drawn to the movie’s rapid-fire editing, stylistic flourishes, groundbreaking sexuality and odd performance by Mick Jagger. As for me, I couldn’t get no satisfaction.

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