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NICOLAS ROEG CHEATING DEATH IN VIENNA WITH 'BAD TIMING'

Teresa Russell playing a color test book in BAD TIMING
From slap-happy, smitten Film Noir dicks onward, the cinematic equivalent of a girl that's just no good or a "no good dame" is usually one who's simply too good to be true. And when a loose, liberal young lady from America — in the usually idyllic dreamland of Vienna — hooks up with a loose yet intellectual American professor who thinks he's more liberal-minded than he actually is, things go from... well in this case, worse to better to pretty bad to pretty good to downright awful... for her, that is...

Initially taking place at a hospital emergency room where Theresa Russell's Milena is being kept alive by desperate surgeons, BAD TIMING consists of flashbacks concerning her doomed romance with leading man Art Garfunkel as Alex. The most intriguing aspect of Nicolas Roeg's comparably obscure motion picture is how a dying Milena is edited into sporadic bouts of love-making, laughter, arguments, more love-making, tantrums, aspersions, more tantrums, wandering through Vienna and even a quick road trip along desert terrain, like where the late auteur shaped his future assisting David Lean on a little excursion titled LAWRENCE OF ARABIA before carving-out his own desolate territory for WALKABOUT...

Criterion Cover of Bad Timing
Harvey Keitel has a determined, steady, sharp yet peripheral and thankless role as a detective investigating whatever's been left behind of Alex and Milena's relationship, which isn't much but empty rooms. It's from the cold, off-putting indifference of Garfunkel's Alex that made Keitel's Inspector Netusil suspicious — more or less an intriguing distraction in an altogether glorious hybrid of direction and editing: a semi-surreal, sometimes sluggish and thoroughly offbeat template grounded and narrowed by an otherwise typical, inevitable device: the green dragon jealousy with its siamese twin, obsession: She's not only too good to be true, she's too good for you, buddy...

Bad Timing RATES: ***1/2
Making Art Garfunkel's reactions rise slightly above and beyond a somewhat bland performance: Injecting random bursts of wry energy throughout Nicolas Roeg's intentionally washed-out, dull-beige and in one scene, blurred photography...

And as usual, his creative camerawork literally makes the movie while the actors merely follow along. Save for an exceptional Theresa Russell's sexually riddled femme fatale, who's also an oblivious victim of what makes this feature ultimately daring, and controversial. Like STRAW DOGS and A CLOCKWORK ORANGE before, BAD TIMING is an example of otherwise "progressive" critics mixing up and/or blending together a fictional character's cruel actions with an avant garde director ambiguously pulling the strings, and without taking sides.
Art Garfunkel and a Goat take a ride in BAD TIMING
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