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Insignificance

Great Britain 1985. Dir: Nicolas Roeg. 109 min. 35mm

35mm PRINT! The outer reaches of Nicolas Roeg’s cinematic cosmos are arrived at in Insignificance, the director’s deliriously metaphysical screen adaptation of Terry Johnson’s satirical play. A kaleidoscopic rumination on fame, history, Hiroshima, and the laws of the universe, this cosmic comedy revolves around four unnamed celebrities — but really, Albert Einstein (Michael Emil), Marilyn Monroe (Theresa Russell), Joe DiMaggio (Gary Busey), and Joseph McCarthy (Tony Curtis) — who converge in a Manhattan hotel room circa 1954. As Roeg is wont to do, space and time are detonated in a fireworks display of radical, parallel editing that smashes past, present, and future tenses together. (The film’s countdown to nuclear annihilation adds extra oomph to this device.) Though everyone in the ensemble shines, it is Roeg’s then-wife Russell, as a breathy, Seven Year Itch-aping Monroe, who absolutely radiates. The film’s abstract, apocalyptic ending joins Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point in the pantheon of visually audacious closers. Print courtesy of Harvard Film Archive.


COARSE LANGUAGE; VIOLENCE; NUDITY; SEXUALLY SUGGESTIVE SCENES
PERSONS UNDER 14 MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY AN ADULT

 

REVIEWS

"Absorbing, peculiar, richly comic, and oddly touching."

LA Times | full review