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Posted by martinteller on December 2, 2011

Joe DiMaggio, Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe and Senator McCarthy (or rather, unnamed facsimiles of them) converge in a hotel room.  The result is a thematically sprawling work, covering topics like celebrity, guilt, the plight of the Native American, the shape of the universe, Communism, and nuclear destruction.  I haven’t been a fan of Roeg at all, but there is something that draws you in to this film, asking you to sort it out and piece it together.  The problem is, I don’t think it can be pieced together.  It’s messy… perhaps uniquely messy or intriguingly messy, but messy nonetheless.  The story (based on a stage play) flits from one idea to another, too busy trying to cram them all in to make them resonate.  And I had big problems with the performances.  I can’t stand Theresa Russell.  Partly it’s her vacant, husky voice but I also just don’t think she’s a good actress.  Tony Curtis does what he can, but the characterization of McCarthy is too cartoonish and savage to take seriously.  Michael Emil is annoyingly nebbishy as Einstein, as if he’d been plucked out of a Woody Allen film.  Amazingly, that leaves Gary Busey as the best member of the cast, but all he really has to do is be a dumb lout.  Honestly, if the performances were just a little bit better I’d probably rank this film higher.  There are at least two fantastic scenes: one where Monroe explains the theory of relativity to Einstein, and the horrifying but gorgeously surreal finale where Einstein envisions the room being ravaged by nuclear carnage.  But taking the film as a whole, it’s just too all over the place.  Rating: Fair


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