Roeg. Though he’s not quite in his class, Roeg reminds me of Godard who had a great run and then fall off. He’s a supernova who burned brightly and died out quickly. Roeg worked as a top DP on many 1960’s British films (Far from the Madding Crowd, Petulia — worked on Lawrence and Zhivago but wasn’t DP) and then went on a run as director/auteur from 1970-1980 that gave him 2 of the best 163 films of all-time. He struggled in the 1980’s and then eventually couldn’t get work in the 90’s. Many auteurs on this list can’t match The Man Who Fell to Earth (a fascinating and striking film) as their third best. I wish his filmography had more depth but 5 of his 6 archiveable films make the top 100 of their respective decade.  

Don’t Look Now takes full advantage of the Venice setting

Best film:  Performance Somewhere between (from a time stand point, not quality) Persona and Mulholland Drive lies Performance—doppelgänger masterpieces. It’s a stunning debut that’s got all of the Roeg traits and when the “music video”— “memo from turner” –comes on… you’ll be blown away.

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Roeg’s “Memo to Turner” sonic boom moment in Performance
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an eye for framing even in his debut- here in Performance

total archiveable films: 6

top 100 films: 0

top 500 films: 3 (Performance, Don’t Look Now, The Man Who Fell to Earth)

top 100 films of the decade: 5 (Performacne, Don’t Look Now, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Bad Timing, Walkabout)

David Lean-like work here in Walkabout

most overrated:  None. The TSPDT consensus has his top 4 films all in the top 1000 and none of the 4 are overrated.

most underrated:   The Man Who Fell to Earth is #965 on TSPDT that is entirely too low for a film this inventive and brilliant. I have it at #316.

a great set piece in The Man Who Fell to Earth

gem I want to spotlight:  Don’t Look Now. If you haven’t seen it I hate to say that it might take 2-3 viewings to fully appreciate this visual exhibition- at least it did for me.  When you’ve had a chance to fully study it you’ll come to the conclusion that Don’t Look Now is one of the 10 most beautiful films of the 1970’s. The incredible and justifiably famous slow-motion opening will not slip past you.

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the horror of Don’t Look Now visually presented here– formally sound- elusive and opaque
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there are dozens of these stunners in Don’t Look Now
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strong work in lighting
perhaps no image greater than this

stylistic innovations/traits: I’ll be the first to admit that those who say things like “ultimately it’s about the storytelling” and love movies for their quotes aren’t going to love Roeg. He’s a former DP and his photography is his essence. Don’t Look Now is the most picturesque of the 70’s horror masterworks. His films are elliptically and jaggedly edited (another Godard comparison) but brilliantly so— as his films are purposefully fragmented films. Roeg is a visual artist who seems to take pleasure wreaking havoc with conventional screen narratives. I think you could call “Memo to Turner” the first real music video (most would argue Lester in A Hard Day’s Night) but either way Roeg is synonymous with rock and roll (2 of his best 3 films star icons Mick Jagger and David Bowie), personality transformations (before Bunuel and Lynch), and drugs (and everything that comes with it including paranoia).

top 10

  1. Performance
  2. Don’t Look Now
  3. The Man Who Fell to Earth
  4. Walkabout
  5. Bad Timing
  6. The Witches
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By year and grades

1970- Performance MP
1971- Walkabout HR
1973- Don’t Look Now MP
1976- The Man Who Fell To Earth MS
1980- Bad Timing HR
1990- The Witches R

*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film

MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film

HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film

R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives