16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 1 August 2009
'Bad Timing' is a great and criminally under-rated film from a director who at the time seems to have been at the peak of his powers. In Roeg's filmography, only 'Don't Look Now' comes close, but I would say that 'Bad Timing' is more direct, more challenging and more fascinating even than that fine film.
Other reviews and the amazon summary have probably provided the plot details - basically all that happens in the narrative is that Art Garfunkel's aloof Professor Alex Linden has a passionate, damaging affair with Theresa Russell's elusive and unpredictable Milena, and because of what happens between them, Harvey Kietel as a local Police Inspector is on Alex's trail. The film is however all about intermingling themes, obsessions and preoccupations - trust, love, hate, truth and co-incidences, and how much we really understand about the world around us. Images, performances and editing all emphasise those themes, and the effects on the viewer are unlike any other film.
I fully accept, and feel it should be emphasised, that some people will find it very hard to sit through this film. The general atmpsphere is heavy and doom laden and there are a few scenes of (even by today's standard's) shocking violence - but the unflinching approach to the material will leave other people hooked - as will one of the most beautiful opening scenes in film history, filmed in the Belvedere gallery in Vienna in the Klimt room, with Tom Waits on the soundtrack. The very last image is also (to this viewer) completely baffling - anyone with any ideas please comment on my review to share them!
The UK DVD release of this film is perfectly watchable but for more extras and a sharper picture the Region 1 Criterion is your best bet. I can't promise, if you are new to this film, that you will enjoy it but it would be hard not to appreciate its brilliance.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 12 May 2009
I remember catching the last hour of this film late one night, and was so disappointed I'd missed the beginning I bought it the next day. This film is completely and utterly enthralling.
Stylistically shot, using flashback techniques (commonplace in many Roeg's films), superbly acted by Art Garfunkel as Alex Linden, and Theresa Russell as Melena Flaherty, this film is a must for anyone who can appreciate a film with an intelligent and highly emotional plot.
Not for those who enjoy light hearted, easy-going films, this film at times can be extremely difficult and disturbing to watch. Like Roeg's previous work 'Don't look now', Bad timing will always remain categorised as an all time great film, that excells in it's complex plot and stellar acting, rather than many films nowadays which require little or no thought, no imagination and require only the skills of the special effects department.
To me, Bad Timing is Nicolas Roeg's gem so to speak, and I highly recommend this film to anyone who truly appreciates the works of fantastic directors.
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
A quarter of a century since its troubled first release, 'Bad Timing' stands out as one of Nicolas Roeg's most satisfying and complex films and yet it can be one of his hardest to discuss. Even on a second viewing it's still rather overwhelming. It's interesting how it manages to be so genuinely multi-layered, more like a novel than a film - the way it mixes voyeurism, spying and emotional, psychological and legal investigation (with Keitel's investigation of the suicide scene placing him firmly in scenes as an unseen voyeur through Tony Lawson's typically brilliant editing) is remarkable enough, but the film manages to do so much more besides. And the performances are incredibly brave - how many leading men can you think of who would effectively (and quite deliberately effeminately) play the woman's role during the lovers' initial meeting? Russell in particular shows an astonishing range in what should be an impossible part, making her inability to find decent roles these days even more disappointing.
True it falls apart in the last couple of reels when the performances don't quite ring true, but it's still the last great film Nic Roeg made before settling into prolific mediocrity. It's as a brilliantly edited post-mortem into a mutually destructive relationship rather than a police mystery that it really enthralls, even when it doesn't entirely work. Much more impressive than I remembered, it's not a feelgood movie - if anything it's the date movie from hell - but it is a remarkably ambitious and acomplished one.
So why is the film so little-known and perhaps even less-seen? Well, that seems to be down to some bad luck and bad timing of its own.
In the US it hit censorship problems and in Europe it had major problems with its distribution. It was one of Rank's last full slate of British productions, so should have been guaranteed a circuit release on the Odeon chain in the UK. Unfortunately, the head of Rank Theatres was so disgusted by the film (the Rank Organisation was originally started to make religious films and many of the old guard were still in place in 1980) that he refused to book it into a single one of their theatres - the only Rank film to be so 'honored' (although he wasn't much enamoured of Eagle's Wing either). The second biggest circuit was owned by Rank's biggest rival, EMI, who weren't interested in helping out their balance sheet, so it ended up on Lew Grade's very small Classic chain. Rank's distribution in Europe was no more enthusiastic.
(Of course, Roeg's next film and most expensive, Eureka, had even bigger problems, being pulled a couple of weeks after opening due to a libel lawsuit that kept it on the shelf for years. Since then, despite the not really successful brave try with Cold Heaven, he seems to be little more than a director for hire on a slew of disappointing pictures and cable movies.)
As a result, it's long been hard to track down, but worth the effort if you're looking for challenging fare. Although not as comprehensive as Criterion's US DVD, Network's new release does offer an upgrade in extras (deleted scenes, two trailers, stills gallery, booklet and press book PDF) over the previous Carlton release, which offered only a trailer and had some edge enhancement problems.
A better bet is Criterion's Region 1 NTSC DVD, which boasts a much better transfer than the UK DVD and a more comprehensive extras package - interviews with Russell, Roeg and producer Jeremy Thomas, stills gallery and 16 deleted scenes. However, the laziness that has crept into some recent Criterion discs is evident in the latter: while 8 of those deleted scenes have no soundtrack, surely it wouldn't have been asking too much of Criterion to have included subtitles for the missing dialogue or at least to have included an introductory caption explaining the scenes? It's an irritating blemish on an otherwise excellent disc.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 2 January 2012
I've seen this film at least 10 times at the cinema many years ago, and now several times on DVD. It is dazzling...dazzling in its colour, its music (no, Garfunkel doesn't sing!) in the locations: Vienna, Morocco, the Klimpt Museum. The eroticism is mind-boggling, and it is no surprise that the film originally ran foul of the censors. The acting is suberb Harvey Keitel as the suspicious , puzzling police officer, Denholm Elliot as the sad, betrayed husband, Theresa Russell as the beautiful, touching slut and, most importantly, Art Garfunkel as the obsessively jealous and possessive control freak. It is said that the choice of Garfunkel for this rôle is a surprising one. I think not; under the sweet-faced, appealing vulnerability that is Art Garfunkel seems to lie a deep sexiness.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 8 January 2013
I purchased the Network, brand new, digitally restored transfer, region 2 version of "Bad Timing" and have to say that I am very impressed with the quality of this product. The picture is in the correct aspect ratio and the print is very sharp, bright and clear. The box contains a "Rank Organisation Press Book" which looks to be a reproduction of the original press release from back in the day when the film was first released; I think this is a really nice touch
With that said, I would just add that the film itself is really fascinating and compelling to watch, with really excellent performances from all of the cast. Theresa Russel looks amazing on screen and has the most beautiful eyes, and Art Garfunkel delivers a performance that has to be a career best. Superb film. Would love to have had some commentary tracks from Nicolas Roeg, Theresa Russell and Art Garfunkel to hear their thoughts on the film now, and their memories and intentions from the time of filming this classic.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 February 2015
It's been quite a wait for this film to make it to BluRay. Well worth it though. Nick Roeg's films are always beautifully photographed and this high definition transfer from Network presents it beautifully - the picture is classy and detailed. The sound is still in the original mono but that's quite appropriate for a drama like this, the dialogue is clear and the music soundtrack well chosen.
As for the movie itself - well, 'Art Garfunkle in a dark psychological drama' might seem an incongruous proposition, but he gives a disturbingly convincing performance against Theresa Russel, with Harvey Keitel and Denholm Elliot offering solid support, creating a film that holds it own with Roeg's best work.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 16 September 2003
Perhaps Nic Roeg's last genuinely great movie, and following on from Performance, Walkabout, Don't Look Now and The Man Who Fell To Earth, that's pretty impressive going, even if the eighties and nineties were a little on the quiet side (finding the poor guy loitering in TV movie hell).
This is an excellent, disturbing psycho-drama which has been overdue a re-release for too long. The cast, while unconventional, are all excellent (even Art Garfunkle, no seriously) and Roeg's compositions and editing heighten the sense of dislocation and mounting unease. Not to all tastes, but essential for Roeg fans.
The DVD info is a little misleading, the picture is 4:3 but letterboxed, which is a slightly roundabout way of saying non-anarmorphic widescreen. A decent, mostly clean print and clear sound make up for the lack of any notable extra features. A director's commentary would have been great, but seriously unlikely. All in all a bit of a bargain.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 25 January 2011
This was quite a shocking film when i first watched it as a teenager. It had images that stayed with you long after the film had finished. Yet i've watched it again lately and even though it is still a fascinating film, full of the disturbed and self-destructive Russell and the repressed Garfunkel, I find that the director Nicholas Roeg is hardly capable of treating the feelings of the characters seriously. I hate the distracting photographic techniques, the zoom-in's, and the cutting back to Teresa on the hospital bed, it's overly intellectual editing that calls attention to itself and takes us away from the most important part of the film which is the characters. The opening sequence has paintings by Klimt but it needs Schiele, something dirtier and more sordid for this story of distorted sexual desire. Instead we get the occasional, almost embarrassed snippet of a breast or bottom.
Harvey Keitel has no real purpose and serves as another distraction, whilst Denholm Elliot has far too little screen time as he's a fascinating character. Overall it's a bit of a mess but an interesting mess nevertheless.
on 2 April 2014
I have seen this film 2 or 3 times. The back to front structure is classic Roeg, the story unfolds slowly, but the shifting nature of the relationship is fascinating and makes one think about what we all want/need from a partner. The soundtrack is amazing and underpins the key moments in the film beautifully. I can hear Tom Waits 'Invitation to the blues' as I write.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Nicolas Roeg, the enigmatic British film-maker who directed this 1980 tale of obsessive 'love', for me at least, qualifies as one of Britain's most mercurial (and, arguably, wasted) talents. Here is a man with an almost unparalleled skill in melding together the visual and aural elements of cinema, as evidenced in his ground-breaking (co-)directorial debut film Performance and his masterpiece Don't Look Now, as well as exhibiting moments of similar brilliance in other works such as Walkabout, Eureka and Insignificance, and yet I can't help feeling that this really only scratched the surface of the man's potential.
As if to further emphasise the point, Bad Timing is another in Roeg's idiosyncratic cinematic oeuvre. In parts a brilliantly powerful and innovative piece of cinema, but one which (for this viewer, at least) does not quite carry through on its initial promise. If I was being particularly harsh (and probably unfair) I would contend that Bad Timing has a brilliant opening five minutes and then goes downhill from there! During the said five minutes we are treated to the sound of Tom Waits' magnificent Introduction To The Blues as cinematographer Anthony Richmond's camera floats over the profiles of stars Art Garfunkel (as Dr Alex Linden, psycho-analysis lecturer) and Theresa Russell (as Milena Flaherty) studying the art of local boy Gustav Klimt in a Viennese art gallery. Moments later, Richmond depicts a similarly beautiful and evocative sequence as Milena parts from husband Stefan Vognic (played, albeit with a 'funny' accent, by the great Denholm Elliott) in the drizzle on the Austria/Slovakia border, classic Mercedes, Pachelbel's Canon and all - a short sequence, but one long enough to convince me that Russell (in particular) is destined to impress here.
Of course, thereafter Roeg's (or more accurately screen-writer Yale Udoff's), tale focuses exclusively on Alex and Milena's tempestuous relationship and obsessive love. Although Garfunkel as Alex is certainly not a lovable (or even likeable) character, indeed he is reserved, cold, jealous, voyeuristic and rather creepy, acting-wise I have never seen him this good, whilst Russell is (almost exclusively) quite superb as the troubled (broken family, two abortions), impetuous, (slightly too) wacky, promiscuous, extroverted, obsessive/compulsive, insecure, romantic Milena. As is Roeg's wont, he has constructed his film in innovative style, with his story of doomed relationship being told in flashback from Milena's hospital bed, and with frequent jump-cuts and the odd freeze-frame to keep the audience on its toes. In addition to Garfunkel, Russell and Elliott, the other main acting turn here is given by Harvey Keitel who, whilst rather miscast as an American-Austrian(?) police detective, does the best he can in the circumstances.
Watching the film again recently I couldn't help but be struck again by Roeg's visual flair and eye for cinematic detail, something that I tend to find most common among continental European directors, such as (for example) Poland's Krzysztof Kieslowski. Whilst Roeg's films don't in any overall sense resemble those of Kieslowski, Roeg has a similar trait of (from time to time) focusing his camera on seemingly irrelevant (or trivial) details (here, Milena's brooch is a good example), thereby adding to the overall cinematic palette. Films that Bad Timing (at times) called to my mind would include (from Roeg's work) Performance (even to the extent of including at the film's conclusion the shot of Alex looking out the back of a receding taxi cab window) and Don't Look Now, as well as Antonioni's The Passenger and Polanski's The Tenant.
For me, Bad Timing certainly has its flaws, but for all that, is a powerful, and innovative, tale which I would rate behind only Don't Look Now and Performance in Roeg's body of work.