Friday, June 23, 2006

Performance (1970) and Psychedelic Decadence




"The only performance that makes it, that really makes it all the way, is the one that achieves madness."

Woe on all you Finnish people who missed this one, shown last night on MTV3 channel.

This nasty and pervy cult flick grinds Jorge Luis Borges, Hassan-I-Sabbah (the mythical predecessor of Osama bin Laden and the founder of the sect of Assassins/Hashishins), the Kray Twins (the notorious gangsters of the 1960s London), magic mushrooms, mixing up of gender identities and psychedelic decadence into one ugly and beautiful cut-up carnival, à la William S. Burroughs. Alongside these references there are also visual tributes to such artists as Francis Bacon. A psycho-sexual mindfuck of the highest order, courtesy of the late Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg (who later on directed more cult movies: Walkabout, Don't Look Now and David Bowie's finest film moment, The Man Who Fell To Earth, among them).

Among those visually striking scenes there's one particularly disturbing where we see a bullet making its way through the brain, only to end up to a photograph depicting Jorge Luis Borges, the Argentinian master of literary labyrinths, whose works heavily influenced this movie.

The controversial Performance was originally filmed in 1968 but only released in 1970. It is said that the sex scenes between Mick Jagger, Anita Pallenberg and Michele Breton got so heavy that the scenes cut from the theatre version were shown with great success at an adult film festival in Amsterdam.

Mick Jagger's own music video-like performance (sic) of 'Memo From Turner' is particularly memorable. (Hmmm, might this be one potential future cover version for Kompleksi...?)





Memo From Turner
(Jagger/Richards)

Didn't I see you down in San Antone on a hot and dusty night?
We were eating eggs in Sammy's when the black man there drew his knife.
Aw, you drowned that Jew in Rampton as he washed his sleeveless shirt.
You know, that Spanish-speaking gentlemen, the one we all call Kurt.

Come now, gentlemen, I know there's some mistake.
How forgetful I'm becoming, now you fixed your business straight.

I remember you in Hemlock Road in nineteen fifty-six.
You were a faggy little leather boy with a smaller piece of stick.
You're a lashing, smashing hunk of man;
Your sweat shines sweet and strong.
Your organs working perfectly, but there's a part that's not screwed on.

Weren't you at the Coke convention back in nineteen sixty-five?
You're the misbred, grey executive I've seen heavily advertised.
You're the great, grey man whose daughter licks policemen's buttons clean.
You're the man who squats behind the man who works the soft machine.

Come now, gentlemen, your love is all I crave.
You'll still be in the circus when I'm laughing, laughing in my grave.

When the old men do the fighting and the young men all look on.
And the young girls eat their mothers' meat from tubes of plasticon.
Be wary of these, my gentle friends, of all the skins you breed.
They have a tasty habit -- they eat the hands that bleed.

So remember who you say you are and keep your noses clean.
Boys will be boys and play with toys, so be strong with your beast.
Oh Rosie dear, doncha think it's queer, so stop me, if you please.
The baby is dead, my lady said, "You gentlemen, why you all work for me?"


More:
http://www.phinnweb.org/roeg/films/performance/