Nicolas Roeg once jokingly contrasted his work with that of Stephen Spielberg. Speaking in the context of release dates and general audience attitudes, Roeg stated “A person that has amazing timing is Stephen Spielberg… His movies are big films, they take three years to make, they come out just at the time when everyone is moving into that attitude.”(1) Evoking the title of his most infamous film, Roeg said “I have very bad timing…”(2), in reference to the fact that it took 25 to 30 years for attitudes to catch up to and re-evaluate films such as Bad Timing (1980) or Eureka (1983). Roeg’s career as a director that followed his already renowned run as a cinematographer perhaps best represents the changes the film industry experienced worldwide as the 70’s crossed over into 80’s. Beginning with the revolutionary Mick Jagger/James Fox-led Performance (1970), his initial tag-team effort with Donald Cammell, Roeg’s entire run throughout the 70’s was, for all intents and purposes, decade defining. As ambitious as they were innovative from narrative and technical perspectives, Walkabout (1971), Don’t Look Now (1973) and The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) defined the maverick nature of 70’s film as well as the chance producers and distributors, not to mention rock and pop stars like Jagger and David Bowie, were willing to take on truly forward-thinking material. Yet as Roeg himself alluded to, the title of Bad Timing was an omen of sorts, the divisive masterwork famously dubbed a “sick film made by sick people for sick people” by its own distributor (3) while Eureka was essentially buried by its own producers and shelved for two years.(4) Come the mid-80’s, the attitude of the Spielbergian blockbuster was firmly held audiences, producers and distributors alike while pioneers such as Roeg found themselves increasingly marginalized.
Roeg himself was quite candid about the changes filmmakers such as himself fell victim to, particularly at the hands of studios. Roeg once described Hollywood on the short-lived Channel 4 series Club X in 1989 as “an unusual place to be”(5) and as a“tight club… I’ve never been a member. I come as a guest and don’t try and join”(6). Going even further in the same interview, Roeg lamented the unfortunate lack of interest as he saw it in pushing the filmmaking medium forward. Explaining the difficultly in finding eager studios for independent material, thanks in part to the stranglehold of the blockbuster mentality on the industry but also changing societal mores, Roeg, sounding incredibly prophetic given the distribution woes he was soon to experience, said:
“Whenever you make an independent film, the difficultly, especially now, is in distribution because the studio has its own product and they’re more interested in seeing that get out and distributed… It’s been a bit of a regression the past few years. We were just getting onto another form of cinematic expression when we went into a deeply conservative social climate and it took a step back to re-consolidate itself, and we went back to a great literary form of expression in the cinema which was just breaking down… I’d already started to work outside that literary form before the regression happened. I can’t change my way of thinking. That’s the way I think about the cinema… I always think that “They’ll love this one!” but the studio tends to find its own material and offer that material out to filmmakers… The material they’ve offered me hasn’t been something I’ve wanted to spend a year of my life doing and material I’ve found, they don’t want to spend a year of their life doing.”(7)
Despite Roeg’s diagnoses of his own supposed “bad timing”, he was nevertheless astute in his remarks on how his films do tend to take sometimes decades past their initial release to receive any kind of substantial recognition. Bad Timing itself being the best example. Rightly recognized now as one of Roeg’s greatest achievements with home video treatment from a prestigious label like The Criterion Collection, it was nevertheless a fairly long journey for the film. The 2005 Criterion release was in fact the film’s North American home video debut, the film’s reputation built throughout the years on word-of-mouth and airings on the cult LA-based station Channel Z. Though Eureka was unceremoniously dumped onto VHS following scattershot theatrical showings in 1985 and later on bare-bones DVD in 2003, it too fit the definition of a “hidden gem”, only somewhat recently it seems that the film is viewed in the same light as Roeg’s films that came before. Likewise, the significance of Insignificance (1985) not fully realized until years after the fact, Criterion once again granting safe haven to the once-neglected film in 2011. Yet even with the significance of the better late than never recognition or releases of films such as Eureka or Insignificance, such recognition still seems quite niche, especially when compared with Roeg’s earlier films. Like so many directors before him that hit an early stride in the 70’s, there seems to be a general cut-off period in regards to both wide coverage and appreciation of Roeg’s later work. Particularity his theatrical features post-Insignificance. An unfortunate and rather puzzling oversight, with Roeg continuing to apply his wholly unique approach to genre like Don’t Look Now or troubling psychosexuality ala Bad Timing in this later crop of features.
Appropriately, the true “castaway” years of Roeg’s career really began with 1986’s Castaway, its obscure status bizarre given the film’s pedigree. Not simply being a Roeg, film but a Roeg film released by The Cannon Group starring Oliver Reed and Amanda Donohoe featuring a Kate Bush B-side, “Be Kind to My Mistakes”, playing atop the opening credits. The film was rooted in the real life story of British writer Lucy Irvine’s book of the same name written about Irvine’s year-long adventure of living on the small island of Tuin located between New Guinea and Australia with adventurer Gerald Kingsland after answering Kingsland’s ad in Time Out seeking a female companion to live on a deserted island for a year. Roeg found Irvine’s story the “perfect vehicle” for his own story about a relationship between an older man and a younger woman (8), something Roeg had “been wanting to make a film about for years”(9). Reed’s Gerald, a single a single swim instructor father to two boys, unlike the real life Kingsland, places the same advertisement as the real Kingsland seeking a female companion for a year long desert island adventure. Feeling her own sense of disenfranchisement and wanderlust, Lucy (Donohoe) answers Kingsland’s ad and only after a few dates agrees to the trip. The two run into a complication when immigration offices oppose the trip, essentially forcing the two into marriage. Enraged but determined to see her plans though, Lucy continues on, the two arriving on their isle and immediately forced to adapt and weather their new environment as well as themselves.
Irvine herself has commented that Castaway is a “strange, whimsical movie”(10) yet that the film “falls between two stools”(11), being “neither exciting blockbuster material nor sufficiently surreal to count as an Art/Cult film”(12). Irvine is accurate in her assessment of the film not easily fitting any one genre description as the film is one of many shifting moods, at times threatening to turn into its own kind of tropical thriller. As much as the film is a relationship drama built upon the older man/younger women dynamic, Roeg seems as much, if not more interested in the psychological dynamics between Reed and Donohoe, a brilliant pairing when either at each others throats or embracing one other. Tempting as it might be to call the film “Bad Timing on an island” due to the combustibility of the relationships at the center of both films, particularity the sexual combustibility, it’s precisely the sexual tension that sets Castaway apart. While Theresa Russell and Art Garfunkel’s relationship in Bad Timing was based purely on sex, Castaway is unique with Lucy’s added caveat of no sex on the island following the marriage conundrum. Generally speaking, Castaway is also a much more lighter affair when compared to Bad Timing. Though even with the more “whimsical” moments, as Irvine put it, the film is far from traditionally romantic. Likewise, despite the supposed “paradise” setting of the film, the reality of life on the island is far from Lucy and Gerald’s envisioned cornucopia and not simply due to Lucy’s shattering of Gerald’s idealized vision of a year on an island with a young wife. Roeg constantly contrasts the initial tropical whimsy with moments of very real darkness. The film even becomes slightly grotesque with Roeg’s constant shots of Donohoe and Reed’s increasingly skeletal frames from malnourishment later in the film.
While Irvine was also technically correct in saying that Castaway wasn’t a “surreal” film, especially when compared to films like Performance or The Man Who Fell to Earth, Roeg’s approach, even when semi-traditionalist is ultimately unorthodox. The island setting, which was actually the Seychelles in East Africa, unusual for such a story in the first place, inevitably and appropriately does feel somewhat like an “alien” environment. In that sense the island is to Castaway what Venice is to Don’t Look Now, or the Australian outback to Walkabout. Ultimately Irvine was right in claiming Castaway wasn’t going to be “blockbuster material”, Roeg officially out of step with the majority of the mainstream movie going public by 1986. Perhaps the most surreal aspect of the film to some would be its aforementioned production and distribution via Cannon. While Castaway might stick out on Cannon’s release roster next to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986), the company, legendary for low budget genre fare, was attempting to serve two markets during the mid-to-late 80’s, also releasing the likes of John Cassavetes’ Love Streams (1984) and Roman Polanski’s Pirates (1986) alongside Castaway. Roeg’s follow-up to Castway following his Verdi-based “Un ballo in maschera” segment in the opera themed anthology film Aria (1987), Track 29 (1988), would come from a similarly curious production house, HandMade Films. Formed by former Beatle George Harrison, HandMade’s releases include the likes of Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979), slasher classic The Burning (1981) and most interestingly Mai Zetterling’s Scrubbers (1983), Zetterling later returning to acting for Roeg in The Witches (1990).
Track 29 also saw the return of Theresa Russell to a leading Roeg role. Marrying not long after shooting Bad Timing, Russell became Roeg’s leading actress of choice with prominent roles in Eureka, Insignificance, Un ballo in maschera, Cold Heaven (1991) as well as Hotel Paradise (1995), an erotic short film that aired as a part of German series Erotic Tales. An American actress, Russell’s temperament was always more European in terms of the her choice of roles and the subsequent throwing of herself into said roles. Bad Timing once again providing the benchmark. Russell’s role in Track 29 was another typically challenging one, Russell hurling herself into the persona of terminally bored alcoholic suburban housewife Linda Henry with reckless abandon. Stuck in a dead-end marriage to an indifferent, train-obsessed husband, Dr. Henry Henry (Christopher Lloyd) in the midst of an affair with his nurse (Sandra Bernhard), Russell’s Linda spends most of her alone time turning to the bottle for escape. Already living in an alcohol-induced daydream, Linda’s empty world becomes even more unreal with the arrival of Englishman Martin (Gary Oldman), claiming to be the long-lost son Linda was forced to give up after birth.
As much as Russell gives herself to the film, co-stars Oldman and Lloyd provide stiff competition, the entire ensemble of Track 29 losing their collective minds throughout the film, one of Roeg’s most outlandish. Like Castaway, Track 29 is a film of many tonal shifts, Roger Ebert even referring to the film as “unlikable” and “bad-tempered”(13). Unlike Castaway however, Track 29 is more than sufficiently surreal in the classical sense, Roeg’s outrageous and fantastical story playing out with a stereotypical American suburbia backdrop. Falling somewhere between David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986) and John Waters’ Serial Mom (1994), Track 29 is on one hand a character study of a seriously troubled individual, the suburban facade hiding a stark, sad darkness. Again though, the film is one of Roeg’s most outrageous. Somber and dramatic, histrionic and madly hilarious all at once, the over-the-top absurdist humor and satirical feel, much like the blatant oedipal connotations between Russell and Oldman, is pretty up front early on and certainly betrays certain a sense of, if not unreality than certainty a heightened sense of one. The hints or questions of fantasy, again fairly obvious which surely had to have been intentional, as it relates to Martin are actually answered fairly early on. Whether a delirium tremens induced hallucination or a manifestation of years of desperation, perhaps both, Martin is indeed purely a figment of Linda’s imagination. Already a fairly unhinged piece of work, this revelation truly allows Track 29 to go off the rails with various unsolved perspective puzzles, some startling near-slasher violence and the lead performances reaching Zulawski levels of excitement. Oldman’s astonishing temper-tantrums and uncomfortable rapport with Russell are undoubtedly the films performative highlights, while Lloyd’s antics with Bernhard and awkward marital rows with Russell provide the majority of the film’s warped humor.
Roeg began the 90’s with The Witches, his adaptation of the Roald Dalh novel of the same name. Notable again for Swedish director Mai Zetterling returning to her original profession of acting in the role of grandmother Helga, nemesis of Angelia Huston’s Grand High Witch Eva Ernst, The Witches was also the final film puppeteer Jim Henson worked on prior to his untimely passing the same year. The Witches also sticks out, not just on account of being a fairly terrifying children’s film, but also for being one of the few Roeg titles from this period to receive widespread recognition and is still fondly remembered by those who caught the film at a certain age. Although generally well-received, it was a year following the completion of the film before anybody saw it, Roeg running into yet another distribution hurdle with The Witches getting shelved following the dissolution of the original distributor (14). As if the victim of witchery himself, a similar fate would befall and delay the release of Cold Heaven, a film also rooted in the concept of supernatural intervention, though in a drastically different and much more adult fashion than The Witches. Cold Heaven marked the fourth collaboration between Roeg and writer Allan Scott which started with Don’t Look Now. The two would collaborate on more than the screenplay for Cold Heaven however, with the two going to court to gain ownership of the film after the original backers MCEG went bankrupt (15), the film, much like Eureka and The Witches, forced to sit on the shelf.
Cold Heaven was the sixth of Roeg’s works to feature Russell. While a much calmer film than Track 29, Russell’s role found her once again as Roeg would describe it “just at the point of crisis”(16). Vacationing in Mexico with her husband Dr. Alex Davenport (Mark Harmon), Marie Davenport (Russell) had planned on leaving Alex after admitting to him her affair with another doctor, Daniel Corvin (James Russo). Marie’s plans are thwarted when Alex is accidentally hit by a boat and declared dead at a local hospital. A few days after the accident, Marie is given the unexpected news that Alex’s body has inexplicably disappeared from the morgue. Marie soon gets an even bigger shock days later when Alex appears to her in the same motel room where she had planed to meet Daniel. Compelled by the strange phenomena surrounding her, Marie, a lapsed catholic, reluctantly tells a local priest of a vision she had years prior of woman whom she assumed to be the Virgin Mary. The same vision which mirrors the nightly dream of Sister Martha (Talia Shire), a fanatically devout nun at a local convent.
Despite the film’s heavy Catholic thematics, Roeg was quick to note about Cold Heaven the hurdle that might pose, telling BBC2’s Moving Pictures “The word is impossible to use, the word “religion”… It isn’t a religious film, it’s a film of someones mental state.”(17). Roeg even went so far as to compare the film to Paul Verheoven’s Total Recall (1990) of all films, saying “The fact that this deals with… generally unsayable, unspeakable spirituality… I don’t think it’s much different from Total Recall, that’s a bit extra-normal, isn’t it?”(18) Cold Heaven differs from Track 29 in that unlike Oldman in the former film, Mark Harmon’s seemingly back from the grave Alex is revealed to be a physical presence to more than just Russell. Still, Cold Heaven is a logical continuation of Track 29, Roeg’s comparison to Total Recall quite apt actually with Cold Heaven posing many a perspective related question about happenings possibly of unknown, or “extra-normal” origin after the fact. Taken at face value, the returning Alex could be seen as a ghost, the film even having more hints of horror later on with what seems to be Alex coming under a form of possession and calling for a priest. “Metaphysical thriller”(19) is the selling term Scott used, though the film is more heavy on metaphysical marital dramatics. The title “Cold Heaven” is also curious with both Alex and Marie experiencing a form of not heaven, but rather a cold purgatory or in-between phase, Roeg almost Ferrara-esque in his use of “that word”, “religion”, as a conduit to guilt. Roeg and writer Scott also draw back on Don’t Look Now, Shire’s Sister Martha a variation on Heather, the blind clairvoyant, almost telepathically linked to Marie through their dreams and visions of the Virgin Mary.
The second sight is of course a common fixture in Roeg’s work. Along with Don’t Look Now and Cold Heaven, there is more than a suggestion of a telepathic link between father and daughter as portrayed by Gene Hackman and Russell in Eureka. “Telepathic” is also exact word Russell used when describing her working relationship with then husband Roeg. Russell said during a behind-the-scenes look at the film for UK television show Saturday Night at the Movies “I guess because I know him so well I need less direction when I do a film with him because I know how his mind works… it’s kind of almost a telepathic affair really in a way.”(20) The penultimate film for Russell and Roeg’s collaborations, Cold Heaven would ultimately be Russell’s final feature film for Roeg, the previously mentioned Hotel Paradise short being the pair’s swansong together. Cold Heaven would also be Roeg’s last theatrical release for a good four years, Roeg spending most of the 90’s working in television films, delivering an adaptation of Conrard’s Heart of Darkness (1993), Full Body Massage (1995), a peculiar erotic psychodrama and his take on the Biblical tale of Samson and Delilah (1996). In some ways Roeg’s career path in the 90’s mirrors that of Ken Russell, who, like Roeg, was at the forefront of the British filmmaking vanguard in the 70’s, finding himself in television by the 90’s, essentially ignored by the industries they helped to innovate. Interestingly, Russell’s final theatrical feature from around the same time as Cold Heaven, Whore (1991) starred Theresa Russell (no relation).
Roeg’s return to extremely scattershot theatrical screenings, though the project had television origins with BBC backing (21), was not only brief but considerably under the radar, Two Deaths (1995) being perhaps the most neglected of Roeg’s post-Bad Timing films. Based on the 1988 novel The Two Deaths of Senora Puccini by Stephen Dobyns, Roeg made a significant change to the setting. Originally set in Latin America, Roeg transported the story, though no actual place is ever named, to Romania with the 1989 revolution that led to the execution of communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife Elena as a backdrop. Very much in the vein of Bad Timing, Two Deaths is another tale of a “sensual obsession”. An far more interior film, confined to the home of Dr. Daniel Pavenic (Michael Gambon) for his group of school friends’ annual reunion dinner party, though he festivities this particular year are much different on account of the political violence happening just right outside Daniel’s door. Upon arriving, Daniel’s three guests are immediately taken by a photo of a mysterious woman, each speculating the true nature of her identity. Daniel readily admits that the photo is of Anna (Sônia Braga), his housekeeper, which further piques his friends interest. Throughout the course of the night Daniel proceeds to tell his friends the tale of how his all-consuming obsession with Anna led to an agreement, essentially making Anna his sex slave, Daniel’s shamelessness and bluntness inspiring his guests to make some personal confessions of their own.
A sibling film in many ways to Bad Timing, even told mostly though flashback, Two Deaths may be the most low-key title in Roeg’s filmography yet the film stands as one of Roeg’s darkest with sexual degradation being the main course of Dr. Pavenic’s dinner party. The former film may have gotten the “sick” diagnosis, however Two Deaths takes the concept of obsessive, possessive lust farther, each of Daniel’s revelations in his gradual perusal and enslavement of Anna legitimately shocking. In some ways the films the can be contrasted by their respective antagonists’ fields with Bad Timing being more calculated and intricate, matching the personality of psychologist Dr. Alex Linden. With Daniel being a medical doctor, Two Deaths feels more physical. Certainly Anna’s physical confinement is felt with the majority of the film taking place inside Daniel’s house, though Anna herself is the films biggest psychological puzzle. Portrayed almost specter-like by Braga, Anna, much like Russell’s Milena in Bad Timing, is as the surrealists might say, an obscure object of desire. Like Linden’s sexual relationship with Milena, Daniel may possess Anna in his home, having her physically at will, yet neither men could every truly “have” either woman. The tumultuous events outside the household occasionally do interrupt Daniel’s party, Roeg’s choice of re-staging the story within the context of at the time fairly recent events fascinating. While the film itself is free of political statements, it’s difficult not to conflate the fall of the existential political tyranny with the impending end of Daniel’s personal tyranny, his verbal exhibitions seemingly inspired by the outside revolution. Likely the same inspiration felt by Daniel’s guests, all revealed to be victimized by Daniel in their own ways, their own various admissions like repeated visits to prostitutes to be urinated on, seeming equally cathartic.
Already a difficult sell with a limited budget, the process of making Two Deaths was equally challenging with original lead Klaus Maria Brandauer abruptly leaving the project, the funding being slashed and production being put on hold twice (22). Distribution plans even changed multiple times before the project’s completion, going from a theatrical film to a planned showing on BBC’s Screen Two anthology series to eventually premiering at the 1995 Toronto Intentional Film Festival (23). Like Eureka a decade prior, Two Deaths was essentially a hidden film save for its festival screenings, Roeg taking the longest break in-between theatrical features of his career following Two Deaths. Roeg did keep busy in TV land with the previously mentioned Hotel Paradise airing later in the 1995 and Samson and Delilah coming the following year for the TNT network. The most interesting of Roeg’s projects from around this period was an experimental short film made once again for the BBC, as part of their Sound on Film project. Made in collaboration with Adrian Utley of Portishead, Roeg intended The Sound of Claudia Schifer (2000) to be “something that makes some sort of statement about sound but isn’t immediately understood as what people are used to”(24). Based around the idea of “a sound that is not necessarily connected to an image”(25), some of the imagery throughout the 16-minute short centered on the model Schifer’s bodily sounds, actually bearing a resemblance to the psychedelic effects produced by the supercomputer Proteus in Demon Seed (1977), the Dean Koontz adaptation from Donald Cammell, Roeg’s directorial cohort on Performance.
Twelve years would pass in-between Two Deaths and Roeg’s comeback film, what would ultimately become his final and sadly one of his most misunderstood features, Puffball (2007). Based on Fay Weldon’s 1980 novel of the same name, Puffball, a strange brew of Pagan mysticism and witchcraft with traces of Norse mythology but also pregnancy horror and even reincarnation, was Roeg’s most explicitly genre-based film since Don’t Look Now with Donald Sutherland even showing up late in the film in a small role. The set-ups to both films are also remarkably similar with mysterious, possibly supernatural events following an outsider working in a new environment. The professions of Sutherland’s John Baxter of Don’t Look Now and Kelly Reilly’s Liffey are even the same, with young architect Liffey arriving in a small north Ireland village along with her boyfriend Richard to renovate an old cottage. Much to her shock as it wasn’t in her or Richard’s plans, Liffey discovers that she is pregnant. The pregnancy comes at the same time as Liffey’s closest neighbor Mabs (Miranda Richardson) is unsuccessfully trying to have another child of her own. On hearing of Liffey’s pregnancy, the superstitious Mabs, along with her sister Carol and mother Molly (Rita Tushingham) begin to believe that Liffey has stolen the baby Mabs has been trying so desperately to conceive, leading Molly, the most superstitious of the three, to place a hex on Liffey and her unborn child.
Subtitled “The Devil’s Eyeball” on select releases, Puffball, despite the rather unassuming title, is anything but a soft film. Nor does it feel, at the risk of sounding frankly trite, like a film made by someone who at the time of shooting was 79 years old. Feeling at times like a deliberate provocation, Puffball, whether inadvertently or not, does ultimately feel like Roeg coming full-circle with the sexual frankness and ferocity of a Bad Timing fused with the mysterious mysticism that permeates so much of his work as a whole. As in Don’t Look Now but also Eureka and Cold Heaven, much of the said mysterious mysticism of Puffball stems from the obscuring of superstition and the actual supernatural. The psychological, perspective trickery of Track 29 is also taken further with all parties involved seemingly coming under the the effects of Molly’s bad magic. Whether merely the products of imagination or truly the results of a spell or hex, the singular horrors of Puffball are nevertheless unsettling. Dreadfully so at times too, Roeg’s horror conjured through his own brew of deliberate pacing and subtly unnerving editing and sound techniques. Like Don’t Look Now and its now famous dwarf reveal, Puffball in all actuality only has one similar moment of pure visual horror courtesy of the wonderfully witchy Tushingham. However, Puffball also evokes the ineffable environments of Don’t Look Now and to a certain extent Castaway and even Walkabout with northern Ireland and the inherent “mysticism associated with the place”(26), “extraordinary and unusual”(27) as Roeg noted. Although his is again an extremely minor role, Sutherland is worth noting as his character Lars seems almost a parallel take on an older John Baxter; a senior architect who, rather than a skeptic, is much more in tune with the unknown and arcane.
Like the titles that preceded it, the process of making and releasing Puffball seemed yet another cursed endeavor, Roeg initially not even receiving the script which had been sent to him by Weldon’s son Dan (28). As in one of Roeg’s own elliptically edited films, history repeated itself with the timing of the release of Puffball, reception to the film ranging from cold to hostile.” Just as Bad Timing arrived when Spielberg and his ilk had taken over the film industry, Puffball found Roeg once again on a completely different wavelength than audiences, critics and the industry at large, arriving during the beginning of the Marvel blockbuster era and when the mainstream perception of horror had been reduced to jump scares. A sad example of the more things changing the more they really stay the same, Roeg told The Guardian in 2008 in what reads like an echo of his statements made on Club X in 1989:
“Hopefully to people that love film the climate is receptive to the work I do, but there is a sense of control from people within the industry that I have to constantly grapple with. Marketing is such a key issue; in fact the marketing department is often involved in the approval of scripts now. They really don’t know how to market the films I make, but then I always exclaim that perhaps they shouldn’t be in marketing!”(29)
Although Puffball wasn’t forced to sit on the shelf like some Roeg’s previous films, a curious thing happened to the film when a long out-of-print DVD was sneakily made available in the US, proving Roeg’s point on marketing. Released under the “The Devil’s Eyeball” title in a slightly misleading package putting the film’s more occult elements front and center, the disc was made of all things, an exclusive for Blockbuster Video. Given the fact that not only were video stores as a concept unfortunately already a thing of past by 2007-08, Blockbuster Video itself was more than a dinosaur. As of November 2021, Puffball still has no other official US home video release options, the film, despite various international discs, remaining a contemporary hidden gem. “A lot of my movies have come to be thought about only years after the fact and I’m sad about that but also happy about it in a way as it’s given them longevity”(30) said Roeg in 2008. A year after Roeg’s passing in 2019, the respected Indicator label issued Track 29 in an equally respectable release with Cold Heaven arriving the following year from Scorpion Releasing, another regarded name in the home video market. Both more than welcome releases, though save for the rounds on the usual A/V review sites both releases seemed as quiet as their original theatrical runs. While time has certainly proved Roeg’s statement on longevity true with the likes of Bad Timing and Eureka, it unfortunately has yet to catch-up with the majority of what came after. Regardless if it eventually does or doesn’t, Roeg, in spite of the consistent regression of the mainstream, remained consistently miles ahead of it.
1-2. The Criterion Collection. 2005
3. Hasted, Nick. “Sick, sick, sick, said Rank”. The Guardian. August 15, 2000. https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2000/aug/15/artsfeatures.edinburghfilmfestival
4. Hill, Lee. “Roeg, Nicolas”. Senses of Cinema. May, 2002. https://www.sensesofcinema.com/2002/great-directors/roeg/
5-7. Club X. Channel 4. 1989. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlQ1PlSEE1s
8-12. Irvine, Lucy. 2002 https://web.archive.org/web/20120205223432/http://www.lucyirvine.com/faq.htm#castaway5.
13. Ebert, Roger. “Track 29”. October 7, 1988. https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/track-29-1988
14. Cinefantastique. September 1990.
15-19. BBC2. Moving Pictures. November 17, 1990. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OD6RERah1Xo&t=19s
20. Saturday Night at the Movies. March 11, 1989. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42uqrZpigdA
21-23. Kirkpatrick, Peter. “Dorich House in Nicolas Roeg’s Two Deaths (1995)”. February, 2021. https://www.dorichhousemuseum.org.uk/2021/02/25/dorich-house-in-nicolas-roegs-two-deaths-1995/
24-25. Roeg, Nicolas. “The World is Ever Changing”. Faber and Faber. November 14, 2013.
26-30. “Q&A with Puffball director Nicolas Roeg.