Four unnamed people who look and sound a lot like Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, and Joseph McCarthy converge in one New York City hotel room for this compelling, visually inventive adaptation of Terry Johnson’s play, from director Nicolas Roeg. With a combination of whimsy and dread, Roeg creates a fun-house-mirror picture of cold war America that questions the nature of celebrity and plays on a society’s simmering nuclear fears. Insignificance is a delirious, intelligent drama, featuring magnetic performances by Michael Emil as “the professor,” Theresa Russell as “the actress,” Gary Busey as “the ballplayer,” and Tony Curtis as “the senator.” —The Criterion Collection
London-born Nicolas Roeg served in the military as a projectionist, and entered the movie industry immediately after World War II as a gofer and apprentice editor. He joined MGM’s British studios in 1950, and eventually became a cinematographer in 1959, working on a multitude of films of all types, from second unit work on Lawrence of Arabia (1962) to primary photography on the rock & roll exploitation films Just for Fun (1963), Every Day’s a Holiday (1965), and The System (1966). He moved into the director’s chair with Performance (1970), which he co-directed with Donald Cammell, and made a major impression with the low-keyed, eerily compelling drama Walkabout (1971). By the mid-‘70s, Roeg was one of England’s most respected filmmakers, responsible for the unsettling thriller Don’t Look Now (1973), and the sci-fi drama The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976). With the possible exception Insignificance (1985) and the compellingly obscure Track 29 (1988) Roeg’s output throughout the 1980s… read more
Roeg takes something that on the page is very theatrical and makes it cinematic, opens it op with his unique sense of Camera and Editing. Really, this film should be the benchmark for how to do theatre-like movies. I'm talking about you, Carnage. And you, Doubt. And you, Proof. I could go on. But most of all I'm talking about you, Shape Of Things. You should be ashamed of yourselves, now go sit in the corner.
Uneven, but with moments of real beauty, and a cast that includes Theresa Russell in a performance that maybe-should-be-iconic, a reminder that Gary Busey was a very good actor at one time, and an appearance by Will Sampson that makes it fun to think of the film as an unofficial sequel to ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST
I avoided watching this for years because I thought it might be one of Roeg's duds and the premise sounded too gimmicky but it's a great film. One of his best, up there with "Bad Timing". Try to forget that none of the actors look anything like the famous people their playing (except Einstein) and you'll appreciate what great work they're all doing. The final sequences were amazing!
A kaleidoscopic sample of film music: impossible fantasies, lush atmospheres, epic operas, sophisticated seductions.
Updated. Rainer Werner Fassbinder's newly restored Despair (1978) "was one of the hottest tickets in the Classics sidebar" in Cannes this