Thursday, April 18, 2013

INSIGNIFICANCE (1985) - Nicolas Roeg

If you've ever wondered what it would be like for Marilyn Monroe to recite the Theory of Relativity to Albert Einstein or what Senator Joe McCarthy was like in the sack or if Joe DiMaggio collected his own baseball cards, then Insignificance might be the perfect movie for you.

I'm not really one of those people who sits around thinking about the private lives of public figures or what-if movies about those icons hobnobbing together. Movies like this often take shortcuts in creating a character: You know just by living in America who Marilyn Monroe is, that she was once brunette Norma Jean, is prone to depression and suicide. A lot of the heavy character lifting is already done for the writer (in this case a playwright). Other than a few labored childhood trauma flashbacks, not much is needed in the way of exposition. So let's just put them all on the same stage (or, in this case, the same hotel) watch them mix it up.

Insignificance relies on this iconic crutch a little heavily. But, for this type of movie, it was diverting enough to keep me watching. Will Einstein finish his shape of the universe theorem in time for the World Peace conference? Or will he be sidetracked by old Joe McCarthy to testify before the House Un-American Activities? Will Marilyn get Einie too hot and bothered to concentrate? Will DiMaggio beat him down with a Louisville Slugger when he thinks they're shacking up? Important questions. At the same time, completely insignificant questions. It's the 50's. The bomb's going to kill us all anyway. Or at least make for a doozy of an impressionist ending. Here Roeg's montage skills really come alive. Like Zabriskie Point or Hiroshima's zero point or somewhere in between.

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