Nicolas Roeg's art obsession -- EW examines the quirky director's sci-fi catalogue

By Dalton Ross
September 30, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

Nicolas Roeg’s art obsession

”I hate the idea of an art film,” says director Nicolas Roeg on the commentary for his eerie sci-fi exercise The Man Who Fell to Earth. ”If you set about making an art film, that’s as ridiculous as trying to set about to make a solely commercial film.” Okay, but his films are pretty damn arty. Man tells the story of an alien (played with detached fragility by David Bowie) whose mission to save his dry planet is drowned in a sea of sex, booze, and brainless television. It remains visually stunning…and confusing as hell, with the passage of time marked only by the graying of Buck Henry’s hair. Roeg continued his obsession with gangly musicians by casting Art Garfunkel as an erotically tormented psychoanalyst in the multilayered and masochistic Bad Timing. What starts as merely curious and quirky eventually turns downright disturbing, culminating in a scene bordering on necrophilia. The subject matter caused the film’s own distributor to denounce it as ”a sick film made by sick people for sick people,” while Roeg notes, ”I thought it was brilliant.” The truth lies somewhere in between. Man: B Timing: B+

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