The recent Blu-ray release of the wonderfully surreal 1970 film "performance." shows that the range of the Warner Archive library extends beyond more mainstream films and television series. The graphic violence, strong sexual content, surreal images, and made-for-Blu-ray vivid colors evoke strong thoughts of the 1971 Stanley Kubrick classic "A Clockwork Orange."
The following uber-awesome must-see clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the original trailer for "performance." exceptionally conveys the elements described above. Having a narrator who either is Orson Welles or does a wonderful impersonation of him is a terrific bonus.
The film centers around Chas, who prolific English actor James Fox plays, a gangster who is a little over-zealous regarding the violence that his career requires. The extremely erotic opening scenes establish that he demonstrates the same "youthful exuberance" regarding his sexual encounters.
A scene in which Chas brutalizes a co-worker and another one involving incredibly wanton destruction of both a prized personal possession and the individual responsible for maintaining it are two examples of how Chas simply lacks either an off switch or dimmer.
This history of violence leads to an equally bloody and not-so-subliminally sexual encounter that requires that Chas go into hiding. Overhearing a conversation early in this process leads to Chas conning his way into the very bizarre household of retired rock star Mr. Turner, wonderfully played by then sexy beast Mick Jagger.
One of many sources of angst for Turner is that he tries, tries, tries, and tries but can't get no satisfaction. The girlie action that his two live-in companions provide are little solace for this tortured soul.
A very odd cross-dressing toddler, who acts in the manner that one would expect of a child raised on a commune, rounds out this odd group. The rampant sexual activity and drug use not phasing this boy contribute strongly to the late '60s- early '70s vibe of "performance."
The scene in which Chas and Turner meet and let their ids run wild is a little more "Rocky Horror Picture Show" than "Clockwork," which does show up in the imagery, but makes great and incredibly surreal cinema. It further includes a great music video by Jagger that features him stepping into Chas' shoes and Chas' trying on the footwear (and other attire) of Turner.
The special features seem to be as extraordinary as the film. "Influence and Controversy" and "Memo From Turner" are treats that are being saved for another day.
All of this amounts to 'performance.' providing folks who enjoy the counter-culture culture of that era or merely like the films that portray it a fun bit of nostalgia. It additionally gives film buffs and folks curious about what the "cool kids" got up to during that period a stronger sense of history.
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