A dark, trippy cinematic classic

It’s not just cinema that was transformed by Performance (out 2/13 on DVD), the 1970 psychological thriller co-directed by Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg. Legend has it that the experience of making it screwed with the minds of all who worked on it.

James Fox, who played a sadistic gangster named Chas, quit acting for years post-Performance and found Jesus. Mick Jagger, who played a decadent, druggy rock star named Turner, became . . . the evermore mythic Mick Jagger. (His sex scenes with Anita Pallenberg — then Keith Richards’s girlfriend — were rumored to be not mere acting. Same with the drug-taking.)

The film is about self-exploration: Chas and Turner, both “performers,” test the limits of sanity and identity as they become improbably entangled. But Performance is also about a new mode of storytelling: a seminally schizophrenic blend of cinéma vérité, jump-cut editing, and even a scene that amounts to essentially one of the first music videos.

To put it another way, lots of visual culture of the last quarter century — MTV, Tarantino, Soderbergh — started with Performance.

“>VIEW a clip from Performance (not necessarily workplace-friendly)

“>BUY Performance

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