Performance Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg

Originally imagined as a starring vehicle for Mick Jagger, Performance quickly blew up into a catastrophe for Warner Brothers in 1968 when the film was finished. So repelled were studio executives that it was shelved for two years thanks to disastrous test screenings (one exec’s wife even vomited from shock). Well, the times have certainly changed but oddly enough, Performance’s disorienting effect hasn’t. Finally released on DVD after years of floating in limbo, the directorial debut of Roeg (Don’t Look Now, The Man Who Fell To Earth) and Cammell (Wild Side) may not translate as the stuff legends are made of but there’s a reason why Brits hold this film as a beloved cult classic. Performance is incredibly insular (due to Cammell’s artsy slant), yet it perfectly captures the sex, drugs and rock’n’roll ethos of the ’60s that the studio was striving for. James Fox stars as Chas, a goon that throws around his muscle for a London mob boss. When a situation goes awry, Chas is forced to find refuge, which he does with Turner (Jagger), a reclusive rock star, and lovers Pherber (Anita Pallenberg, Keith Richards’ girlfriend at the time) and Lucy (Michele Breton). Both Chas and Turner then proceed to undergo personality transformations thanks to copious amounts of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. Really, from the moment Jagger enters the picture midway through the film enters a fog of hallucinogenic confusion that some will find absurd and others heady. A raunchy, narcotic-driven wank-fest, it wanders in and out of consciousness, feeding off amateurish acting, Cammell’s disjointed vision and Jack Nitzsche’s delusional soundtrack. But for some reason it’s hard not to love every bit of it. As Turner says, "the only performance that makes it all the way is the one that gives us madness,” and that couldn’t be any truer here. Additionally, "Influence and Controversy” is an in-depth featurette that boasts about the problems the film faced, while "Memo from Turner” breaks down Jagger’s contribution with a hilariously naïve explanation of the Moog (one of Turner’s toys in the film). (Warner)