Jul 31, 2013


In a sense, virtually all of English counter-culture auteur Nicholas Roeg’s films are ‘failures,’ but, at the very least, most of them make interesting failures due to the director’s propensity for taking risks and experimenting with narrative structures, complex themes, morality, etc. Unfortunately, Roeg is not simply a rogue filmmaker, but also an unrepentant leftist, cinematic deconstructionist and cubist, and dubious weirdo who had an obsession with seeing his then-wife Theresa Russell cinematically murdered, molested (by a horrid Heeb like Art Garfunkel no less!) and/or mutilated on the silverscreen and who has displayed a nauseating knack for xenophilia and ‘noble savage’ fetishism as depicted in Walkabout (1971), a perturbing admiration for Freudian psychoanalysis and ardent Philo-Semitism in Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession (1980), and a seething hatred for American/Southern whites in Track 29 (1988), thus making the director the product of a degenerate and largely ethno-masochistic zeitgeist. Of course, I was not surprised to learn that Roeg hates Joseph McCarthy, loves and empathizes with Albert Einstein, and has a sort of feminist revisionist opinion of the more tragic and sad than titillating and sexy Marilyn Monroe as depicted in his work Insignificance (1985). Of course, seeing as the film was based on a screenplay/play written by British dramatist Terry Johnson, who was inspired to write the play after learning that an autograph of Albert Einstein was among Marilyn Monroe’s possessions at the time of her premature death, one cannot simply give Roeg all the credit for the incendiary ideas/scenes featured in his film Insignificance, set in New York City in 1954, dramatizing a fictional interaction between American icons Marilyn Monroe, Joseph McCarthy, Joe DiMaggio, and Albert Einstein, who are never mentioned by name but are simply called The Actress, The Senator, The Ballplayer, and The Professor as their uncontested popularity makes even mentioning their names rather insignificant as their popular public personas as icons have transcended them as sort of American archetypes that were born in a cultureless nation following the prosperity of the nation as a result of victory during the Second World War. A sort of sardonic yet ultimately apocalyptic black comedy that shows what happens when culturally and politically diametrical American cultural bigwigs bump heads, Insignificance is an innately iconoclastic yet ultimately 'politically correct' work that attempts to connect the past to the present by presenting the 1950s, like the 1980s when the film was made, as a ‘reactionary’ time fueled by materialism, philistine celebrity worship, mass-mindedness, and anti-communist ‘witch hunts.’ As someone who considers Marilyn Monroe nothing more than ‘Hebrew Hollywood’s greatest whore’ and superstar Shiksa who did more to ruin the reputation of blonde women (despite being a natural redhead) than Nazi propaganda would, considers Einstein a cousin-copulating racist zionist who convinced FDR to work on the atom bomb so Germany could be wiped out and whose contributions to mankind were ultimately more negative than positive, and that Joseph McCarthy was right, if not ineffective, I found Insignificance to be a sometimes interesting cinematic experiment riddled with left-wing cliches, obnoxious overacting, and artistic pretensions, but nonetheless an interesting experiment in celluloid quasi-esoterism.

It is 1954 and tons of horny men have gathered outside to see the naughty bits of an actress (Theresa Russell), presumably Marilyn Monroe, in what will prove to be the iconic scene from Billy Wilder’s aesthetically deplorable and insanely overrated Freudian farce The Seven Year Itch (1955) where the seemingly half-retarded female protagonist’s dress is blown up in a manner that seems nothing less than absurdly orgasmic. Naturally, the Actress’ husband, The Ballplayer (Gary Busey), who is clearly modeled after Joe DiMaggio, is irked by the fact that virtually every man in American will be able to see the same unclad legs that are supposed to be his and his only. Meanwhile, a nauseatingly neurotic yet equally narcissistic Jewish scientist that goes by ‘The Professor’ (Michael Emil), who is clearly modeled after Albert Einstein—horrendous Heeb-fro and all—is minding his own business solving math problems when an absolutely heinous and barbaric fellow that goes by the name ‘The Senator’ (Tony Curtis, who starred along aside the real Marilyn Monroe in Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot (1959)), who is clearly a conspicuously crude caricature of Joseph McCarthy, shows up and demands that the poor and innocent Hebraic sage go before a committee to investigate his very probable communist-related activities. Of course, The Professor turns The Senator down and not long later the Semitic scholar receives a visit from the ostensibly Aryan Actress. To his shock, The Actress is no shit-for-brains Shiksa but a startlingly smart seductress who is able to give an almost vaudevillian demonstration of the Theory of Relativity via toy cars, soldier figurines, flashlights, and balloons. Despite being married to a belligerent Guido, The Actress is apparently a sapiosexual and admits to The Professor in an amorous manner that he is a the top of the list of people that she would like to share carnal knowledge with. While The Professor is eventually convinced to have sex with The Actress, he is completely cockblocked when The Ballplayer, who wants to talk to his wife about their marriage, shows up. Of course, The Professor realizes that he is no match for the martial prowess, so he changes rooms and meets an ‘Uncle Tom’ Cherokee Indian Elevator man (played by Will Sampson of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) fame) who claims he is no longer a Cherokee because he watches too much television, but that the scientist is because his Theory of Relativity is similar to some ancient and arcane Indian belief. While The Actress and The Ballplayer discuss their dubious marriage, the baseball maverick has already fallen asleep when his wife tells him that she thinks she is pregnant. The next morning, The Senator, who is revealed to be sexually impotent in the typically Hollywood Freudian fashion, arrives to The Professor’s hotel room, only to discover The Actress laying stark naked in a daze in the bed. Being an evil reactionary anti-communist, The Senator threatens to expose The Professor and The Actress, who he mistakes for a hooker, and even punches the little lady in the stomach, thus causing the superstar to have a miscarriage. Eventually, The Professor arrives and sees The Senator stealing his papers. Instead of allowing the Senator to have them, The Professor throws all his research out of the window and the politician finally accepts defeat and leaves. After discussing her marital problems with The Professor, The Ballplayer learns from his wife that their marriage is over. Of course, The Professor has worse things to worry about than The Ballplayer as he knows he is indirectly responsible for a bunch of Japs getting nuked during the Second World War, hence his constant looking at his broken watch, which is stopped at 8:15 a.m. (the time when the Americans dropped the nuke “Little Boy” on Hiroshima), and being h by hallucinations of Nazis and scorched Japs throughout Insignificance. Sensing his glaring guilt, The Actress finally bitches enough at The Professor for him to admit his feeling of responsibility for the nuking of Germany. At 8:15 a.m., he has a vision of a nuke covering The Actress and the hotel room in flames. In the end, the personal problems, as well as the iconic legacies, of The Actress, The Senator, The Ballplayer, and The Professor seem rather petty and insignificant.

While most of the characters featured in Insignificance seem like crude caricatures, director Nicholas Roeg and writer Terry Johnson did their damnedest to deconstruct these world famous 1950s American icons and portray them as individuals plagued with pestering personal problems just like everyone else, thus demystifying them in the process yet paradoxically adding to their 'mythos.' Of course, despite being a consistently experimental filmmaker, Roeg follows in the grand Hebraic Hollywood tradition of cinematically canonizing Albert Einstein and odiously obliterating Joseph McCarthy as if these softcore commie cinematic clichés were not infectious enough. Personally, I have always had nil interest in the American cultural icons featured in Insignificance and find baseball, Hollywood pseudo-divas and Playboy models, democratic politicians, and ‘eccentric’ Jewish scientists to be exceedingly dull symptoms of the contrived and ultimately worthless non-culture of America and that, as an ex-colony, the United States of America, never nor will ever have the great artists, divas, statesmen, philosophers, and poets Europa once had. If one were to rate America’s history, especially within the past century, in context, within world history, it would barely even warrant a footnote. Of course, America’s sole claim to fame is the atom bomb, which was largely the creation of German-Jewish minds who were kicked out of the Fatherland, which Insignificance alludes to when The Professor's sailboat is destroyed by a bunch of naughty Nazi brownshirts. Like Italian maestro Luchino Visconti’s penultimate work Conversation Piece (1974) aka Gruppo di famiglia in un interno, Insignificance is undoubtedly a rather idiosyncratic and underrated chamber piece among the filmmaker’s larger cinema oeuvre. Of course, like virtually all of Roeg's films, Insignificance suffers from its outmoded and now anachronistic leftist 'revolutionary' pretensions, as if some jaded Judaic jackass like Bill Maher or Jon Stewart shit in the director's brain. Still, to see abortion-addict Norma Jean's dress in flames and bosom covered in blood, as well as Einstein's pathological guilt over being largely responsible for contributing to one of the most deleterious inventions in human history, makes Insignificance worthy of the admission price, even if the film itself is largely insignificant in itself in its overall influence on cinema history.  

-Ty E

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