A rarely seen 'Performance'

Critic's choice: Television

August 08, 1999|By Chris Kaltenbach

Critic's choice: Television

Hardly anyone knew what to make of "Performance" when it was released stateside in 1970. Co-directed by Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg and written by Cammell, "Performance" merged the worlds of decadence and rock and roll in ways that were previously spoken of in only the most hushed voices. James Fox stars as Chas, a sadistic gangster who seeks refuge from his mates in a flat owned by Turner (Mick Jagger), a former rock star living with two women (Anita Pallenberg and Michele Breton) whose life consists almost entirely of sex and drugs. The merging of Chas' world with Turner's is the stuff of which nightmares are made; on film, the association peaks when Turner sings the harrowing "Memo From Turner," accompanied by dancing, stripping gangsters. The rarely seen "Performance," airing at 9:15 p.m. Friday on the Independent Film Channel, is one of those films that may very well change the way you look at movies. It's preceded at 8 p.m. by "Donald Cammell: The Ultimate Performance," a documentary look at the renegade artist and filmmaker who would direct only three more films before committing suicide in 1996 at age 62.

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