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This is one of the most interesting movie related documentaries I've ever watched. British director and screenwriter Donald Cammell has almost been totally forgotten by history. 'The Ultimate Performance' attempts to explain why this has happened and redress the situation. Cammell was a fascinating figure who moved from the bohemian art world into movie making with spectacular results.
Cammell had a bad experience as writer for late 60s thriller 'Duffy' - his original ideas not ending up on the screen (a situation which would plague him throughout his whole career). While making that movie he formed a friendship with actor James Fox which would soon become very important. He joined forces with noted cinematographer Nicolas Roeg, and they decided to film his script 'Performance'. Fox co-starred with another Cammell friend Mick Jagger. What they came up with together was one of the most innovative and influential movies of the late 60s/early 70s, 'Performance'. A movie that still confounds and amazes, even today. In fact, it gets better and better as the years go by.
The documentary then sheds light on what happened to Cammell after this career high point. Seduced by Hollywood he spent many years seeing projects fall apart, or get lost in "development hell". The very few films he managed to get made (eg 'Demon Seed', 'Wild Side') were interfered with by studios, often re-cut without his consent, and generally ended up NOTHING like he intended. This eventually became too much for Cammell, and may have contributed to his suicide.
Whatever the truth, Nicolas Roeg's post-'Performance' success with classics like 'Don't Look Now', 'The Man Who Fell To Earth' and 'Track 29', that featured similar fragmented narratives and blurring of reality and fantasy, has meant that Cammell's major contribution to cinema has been discounted. 'Performance' was essentially HIS vision, and this needs to be remembered. Try and see 'Donald Cammell: The Ultimate Performance' if you can. It's a real eye-opener.
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