Friday, December 23, 2011

Top Ranked Films of Nicolas Roeg

Nicolas Roeg
4 titles, 90th in points with 9,472

Roeg is a cinematographer turned director with some imaginative, stunning results, especially from a visual sense. A veteran of British cinema for 23 years before directing, he once worked on the second unit for David Lean on Lawrence of Arabia, one of my favorite films. Performance (1970) woke me up when I first saw it, with gangster James Fox taking refuge in the mansion of a jaded rock star, Mick Jagger, to escape being killed by unnamed enemies; Roeg shared directing credit on this one, as well as being the cinematographer.

His first solo effort soon followed, and for me, Walkabout was one of the most unexpected and beautiful films I’d ever seen at that point, and remains so today. For me, it sums up my idea of Australia perfectly, a garden of eden tainted by what we like to call the progress of civilization. Two white kids are stranded in the outback when their father drives them there then kills himself, and they are lost when rescued by an aborigine teen on his walkabout, his rite of manhood. Without his survival skills, the two would have soon perished, and the three make an odd nuclear unit taking on the outback without any adult supervision. This was an entralling, inspired story, at the level of great literature; Joseph Conrad readily comes to mind, it’s that good.

These are all the films of director British Nicolas Roeg that made the top 1000 in our 2011 update of the Top Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls.

1. Performance (1970) / w.Donald Cammell #326
2. Don't Look Now (1973) #342
3. Walkabout (1971) #608
4. Man Who Fell to Earth, The (1976) #694

Just out of the top 1000
5. Bad Timing (1980) #1261 Underrated, I found this murder mystery both unique and compelling, and one that demands a re-watch

I didn’t find Don’t Look Now as successful as the other two in the top 3 here (but obviously most others did), a little too derivative of Hitchcock perhaps, but it did at least have some pace. The Man Who Fell to Earth fell apart in that regard, being so slow that it failed to involve me much at all, and I usually love good science fiction. I grew up on sf novels and have read about 500 at this point, certainly every famous and award-winning one. This is not good science fiction, it’s main claim to fame being that it was David Bowie’s first attempt at acting, appropriately playing an alien humanoid who lands on earth, and blends in well enough except he has about triple the IQ of normal people. It just didn’t go anywhere, and became a mundane story almost as boring as reality itself.

See the full list of top ranked 100 directors here: Top Ranked 100 Directors, 2011 Edition

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