Friday, January 21, 2011

I Preferred Umberto D

And the only reason I didn't hate this one worse than Gladiator is because no one gave it a best picture Oscar. I'm not sure what about Performance provoked such a visceral revulsion that I had to split the viewing over two days, and was visibly twitching during the last half hour. That it tries so hard to be shocking in both content and style and so isn't? The "unconventional" edits that the movie just sort of drops in the last two thirds? The screeching sounds? The, as my brainmate put it, flashy parts? Don't know, but god, this one hurt. And part of what is so disappointing is that the plot itself--a gangster on the run holes up with a rock star hermit--has so much promise! Here are some genres that I think would have made much better use of the story:

Comedy: This has the potential to be hilarious. The hardened gangster rolling his eyes at the whiny excesses of the rock star? Trying to pretend that he's a European juggler, and everyone believing him?

Horror: Make it a straight-up thriller. The gangster literally cannot leave this bohemian house of horrors, and he is at the mercy of three drugged-out sociopaths with no impulse control or sense of consequences. It would be like a modern-day Dracula!

Porn: Look, it sort of wanted to be pornographic anyway, but managed neither to titillate nor to really push any sexual boundaries. So just let Showtime after Dark have a field day.

As is, I just really couldn't stand it. What do you think it was going for, Nat? At times I thought it was going to try to make some sort of statement about British masculinity, or about post-war economics, but that never really materialized. And what about that chick who looks exactly like Mick Jagger?


  1. We're totally brainmates.

    I think they were going for "art" but when one goes for "art," one generally ends up with crap.

  2. Let's say we were going to remake this in a way that didn't suck. Who would you cast as the aging rock star? The gangster? The Sapphic crew? Jagger is the obvious choice (since he now is, actually, aged) so let's eliminate him from contention.

  3. HA! Well, I think just for a cruel twist of whatever, it should be Keith Richards. Who else is as aged or rock? Although that's a little more doc/biopic than good movie.

    I bet Robert Downey Jr. would make a good ageing rock star but he's really my answer for everything. Or, we could be meta and choose someone like Gary Busy or Val Kilmer.

    For the gangster, I say Thomas Hardy or Jason Statham. That would even keep it British.

    NO!! I know! Colin Firth MUST be the aging rock star! Then it's totally British and he's not gross.

    I don't particularly care about the Sapphic crew but we have to eliminate the strange child. I think at least one should be just out and out wacky and, therefore, has to be Helena Bonham Carter or Tilda Swinton; or both. If one needs to be a French ingenue, the only one I can think of is Audrey Tatou. There should also be men in this crew, Sapphic or no--I say Chiwetel Ejiofor. Otherwise I'm sure we need Kiera Knightly or some other young Brit.

    Who are your picks?

  4. I LIKE Stratham. Maybe to keep the (ostensible) premise that these men could be doubled, Henry Rollins as the aging rock star? And I think it would be fun to pick a Sapphic crew (which is totally going to be the name of my rock band, should I ever form one) that consists of tartlets that an aging rock star would probably surround himself with. To make it meta, I nominate Lindsey Lohan and Britney Spears. Chiwetel Ejiofor should be in every movie, so I want to make him the crime boss. Why don't they just let us make the movies?

  5. OOooh. Rollins could be good!

    HA! I love the idea of an *actual* Sapphic crew. Lohan and Spears are good. There's also that tart of a popstar, Taylor Momsen. And, hell, we could toss in Paris Hilton for good measure as long as we don't let her talk.

    Ejiofor as the crime boss makes me happy!

    They should just let us make the movies. We're better at it a lot of the time--although neither of us were born when this one was made. My parents didn't even know each other. And, well, my mom was just 11 that year . . .