Insignificance (UK, 1985)

936full-insignificance----criterion-collection-coverDirected by: Nicolas Roeg. After seeing Walkabout years ago, I was willing to take a chance on just about anything with Roeg’s name on it. This was another happy stumble-upon enabled by Criterion and my public library: without either of them, I surely never would have come across this interesting little gem of 80’s abstract cinema. If you do a Wikipedia search and read the plot summary, and that’s not enough to pull you in, then you probably shouldn’t bother. I would add, just to tip the scales a bit, that this is a particularly well-cast, well-written, and well-shot film. There’s a beautiful extended explosion scene at the end which is, I’d hazard to guess, one of the most beautifully rendered explosions in cinematic history. A lot is made of Roeg’s devotion to collage in his films and to cubist and pre-cubist art movements. This film shows that in a pretty direct way. Even besides all the “film stuff”, it’s just a pretty interesting idea for a movie. I love seeing New York as mythology, particularly 1950’s New York. Each character is handpicked for what they stand for—Senator, Ballplayer, Professor, Actress—these towering iconic figures all bumbling around in this “comedy of manners” that’s actually not really a comedy, but an attempt at some kind of philosophical filmmaking. That’ll get my vote every time, and especially when you give such great roles to Gary Busey and Tony Curtis (who actually knew Marilyn—get it?). The Actress—Theresa Russell—and the Professor—Michael Emil—are two of the best things I’ve seen in a movie, and I don’t think I’ve seen those actors elsewhere. Keep your eyes peeled, though, and keep your eyes peeled for more Nicolas Roeg.

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