Criterion Files #566: Nicolas Roeg Deconstructs Stardom in ‘Insignificance’

The 1980s proved to be an interesting and difficult time for auteurs of the 1960s and 1970s. Directors like Copolla, Scorsese, De Palma, Altman, etc. offered works that were far from their classics of the previous decade, but many of these films have aged well and proven to be compelling entries within the respective ouvres of these directors precisely because they aren’t part of their canon. While British director Nicolas Roeg did not play a central part in New Hollywood in the same way as the directors I listed, his 1970s work was certainly part and parcel of this brief countercultural revolution in narrative storytelling. I see Roeg as something of a British equivalent to Hal Ashby: someone who made brilliant entry after brilliant entry throughout a single decade, only to fade out of the spotlight once the 1980s began. But unlike the late Ashby, Roeg has continued making films during these years, and
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Blu-Ray Review: Criterion Releases ‘Insignificance,’ ‘The Makioka Sisters’

Chicago – The Criterion Collection is one of the greatest gifts to pure cinema buffs ever perpetuated. Founded in 1984, their mission is to sell “important classic and contemporary films,” and they do just that with there latest Blu-ray releases, Nicolas Roeg’s “Insignificance” and Kon Ichikawa’s “The Makioka Sisters.”

It is an interesting pair of films indeed, made within two years of each other. Ichikawa was near the end of a long and fruitful career, the Sisters film represented a late career comeback. Roeg was on his sixth film with his outsider status intact, Insignificance has the happenstance of catching a couple of movie stars near their influential end (Tony Curtis, Will Sampson), and a couple near the beginning (Gary Busey, Theresa Russell).

Insignificance” (1985)

As brilliant a metaphor as ever been made about American celebrity obsession, Insignificance capped an amazing period for director Nicolas Roeg that began with “Walkabout” (1971). Framed
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Insignificance DVD Review

Director: Nicolas Roeg Writer: Terry Johnson Cinematographer: Peter Hannan Stars: Theresa Russell, Michael Emil, Tony Curtis, Gary Busey Studio/Running Time: Criterion, 108 min. What happens when Marilyn Monroe, Albert Einsten, Joseph McCarthy and Joe Dimaggio meet in the same hotel room? While this sounds like the setup to a bad a joke, it’s also the premise of Nicolas Roeg’s Insignificance, adapted from a play of the same name by Terry Johnson. Although none of the characters are named, the film plays on our obvious perception of who these people are and what they should be doing, such that its...
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Fassbinder, De Sica, Roeg and More DVDs


Rainer Werner Fassbinder's newly restored Despair (1978) "was one of the hottest tickets in the Classics sidebar" in Cannes this year, notes Dennis Lim in his Los Angeles Times review of the new DVD out from Olive Films, which has also issued Fassbinder's I Only Want You to Love Me (1976). "The relative obscurity of Despair is surprising given its pedigree. It's based on a Vladimir Nabokov novel, adapted by Tom Stoppard, and starring the English actor Dirk Bogarde. Nabokov's story of a Russian émigré, written in the 30s, takes place in Prague. Fassbinder changed the setting to early-30s Berlin, teetering on the abyss of the Third Reich…. Despair is perhaps the most explicit elaboration of one of Fassbinder's recurring themes: the alienation of someone who not only 'stands outside himself,' as Hermann [Bogarde] puts it, but also wants to escape himself and indeed flee the trap of identity altogether.
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New Blu-ray and DVD Releases: June 14th

Rank the week of June 14th’s Blu-ray and DVD new releases against the best films of all-time:new Releasesbattle:los Angeles

(DVD and Blu-ray | PG13 | 2011)

Flickchart Ranking: #3294

Times Ranked: 3631

Win Percentage: 42%

Top-20 Rankings: 9

Directed By: Jonathan Liebesman

Starring: Aaron EckhartRamon Rodriguez

Cory HardrictGino Anthony Pesi • Ne-Yo

Genres: ActionAction Thriller • Alien Invasion Films • Apocalyptic Film • Science Fiction • Sci-Fi ActionThriller

Rank This Movie

Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son

(DVD and Blu-ray | PG13 | 2011)

Flickchart Ranking: #19020

Times Ranked: 83

Win Percentage: 31%

Top-20 Rankings: 1

Directed By: John Whitesell

Starring: Martin LawrenceBrandon T. Jackson

Jessica LucasMichelle AngPortia Doubleday

Genres: Comedy • Police Comedy

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Hall Pass

(DVD and Blu-ray | R | 2011)

Flickchart Ranking: #5878

Times Ranked: 1164

Win Percentage: 40%

Top-20 Rankings: 4

Directed By: Bobby & Peter Farrelly

Starring: Owen WilsonJason SudeikisJenna FischerChristina ApplegateNicky Whelan

Genres: Comedy • Romantic Comedy

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Kill The Irishman

(DVD and Blu-ray | R | 2011)

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This Week On DVD and Blu-ray: June 14, 2011

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Last week there were some Blu-ray deals to note and this week there are a couple more. Here's a list of some I found particularly intriguing: The Godfather - The Coppola Restoration Giftset [Blu-ray] - $49.99 GoodFellas [Blu-ray] - $10.49 The Departed [Blu-ray] - $9.29 True Grit [Blu-ray] - $14.99 The Dark Knight [Blu-ray] - $10.99 Once Upon a Time in the West [Blu-ray] - $10.49 Avatar (3-Disc Extended Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray] - $19.99 With Father's Day coming up it only makes sense that these titles are priced to move, and with the sale items out of the way, let's have a look at this week's new crop.

Battle: Los Angeles Kevin just wrote up an entertaining review for this Blu-ray, which you can read right here. After reading it I was trying to figure out how his thoughts compared to mine when I gave the film a "C+" in my review back
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DVD Playhouse--June 2011

DVD Playhouse June 2011


Allen Gardner

Kiss Me Deadly (Criterion) Robert Aldrich’s 1955 reinvention of the film noir detective story is one of cinema’s great genre mash-ups: part hardboiled noir; part cold war paranoid thriller; and part science- fiction. Ralph Meeker plays Mickey Spillane’s fascist detective Mike Hammer as a narcissistic simian thug, a sadist who would rather smash a suspect’s fingers than make love to the bevvy of beautiful dames that cross his path. In fact, the only time you see a smile cross Meeker’s sneering mug is when he’s doling out pain, with a vengeance. When a terrified young woman (Cloris Leachman, film debut) literally crossed Hammer’s path one night, and later turns up dead, he vows to get to the bottom of her brutal demise. One of the most influential films ever made, and perhaps the most-cited film by the architects
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Criterion's June Slate Includes: 'Kiss Me Deadly,' 'Zazie Dans Le Metro,' 'Insignificance' & More

Criterion's June Slate Includes: 'Kiss Me Deadly,' 'Zazie Dans Le Metro,' 'Insignificance' & More
Nicolas Roeg, Louis Malle, Robert Aldrich, Kon Ichikawa--Criterion has announced their slate of films to street in June and as usual, it's crack cocaine for classic film lovers. Kicking things off, Nicolas Roeg will have another title enter the collection with his high-wire 1985 film "Insignificance" getting the wacky C of approval. The film places Marilyn Monroe (Theresa Russell), Albert Einstein (Michael Emil), Joe Dimaggio (Gary Busey) and Joe McCarthy (Tony Curtis) in the same hotel room in 1953 and lets them bounce off one another, and discover they have much in common. The extras are thin--only a short making-of…
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New Release: Insignificance Blu-ray and DVD

Theresa Russell goes Marilyn in 1985's Insignificance.

Having already issued editions of Nicolas Roeg’s Walkabout (1971) and Bad Timing (1980), the Criterion Collection will continue to explore the director’s canon with the release of his 1985 film Insignificance on Blu-ray and DVD on June 17.

Four unnamed people who look and sound a lot like Albert Einstein (Michael Emil, In the Spirit), Marilyn Monroe (Theresa Russell, Spider-Man 3), Joe Dimaggio (Gary Busey, Shade of Pale) and Joseph McCarthy (Tony Curtis, Sweet Smell of Success) converge in one New York City hotel room for Roeg’s inventive movie adaptation of Terry Johnson’s 1982 play.

With a combination of whimsy and dread, Roeg creates a fun-house-mirror film of cold war America that questions the nature of celebrity and plays on a society’s simmering nuclear fears. Pretty wild stuff, and arguably the best thing that Ms. Russell (the former Mrs. Roeg) has ever done.
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June 2011 Criterion Collection Titles Announced!

It always manages to amaze me how fast the months fly by, it seems like only yesterday we were announcing the May 2011 Criterion Collection titles, and here we are with June’s. This month continues Criterion’s recent trend of increasing the new titles selection, and bringing an amazing director to the Eclipse Series.

Let’s go through all of the new titles first this time. Earlier this year, Criterion released their “wacky new years” drawing, hinting at a couple of titles that we are finally getting to see made official this June. In that drawing we had an image of Marilyn Monroe with Albert Einstein’s head, hinting at Nicolas Roeg’s film, Insignificance. This will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 14. In that drawing, we also had the infamous glowing briefcase, hinting at Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly (which also screened last year at the
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