Thursday, May 28, 2009

Film Review: EUREKA (1983, Nicolas Roeg)

Stars: 3 of 5.
Running Time: 130 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Gene Hackman, Theresa Russell, Rutger Hauer, Mickey Rourke, Joe Spinell (MANIAC!), Joe Pesci, Ed Lauter (TRUE ROMANCE, DEATH WISH 3).
Tag-lines: None.
Best one-liner: Not really.

Remember that one movie? The epic one with the atonal music. The one that began with a man making the solitary discovery of a massive quantity of a natural resource that exploded toward the heavens. The one where the guy had a really complex, disturbing relationship with his kid as a result of his own selfishness. There were striking visuals, majestic landscapes, and brief interjections of horrific violence. Yeah. Well, this is called EUREKA, and it came out in 1983. Now, I'm not gonna lie: THERE WILL BE BLOOD is a much better film than EUREKA, but it seems 'ole P.T. Anderson was adapting more than just a novel called OIL!, and he probably should have given credit where credit was due.

However, EUREKA is classic 'less than the sum of its parts.' It suffers from a rare condition known as ‘Nicolas Roeg disorder,’ which means that it's going to seem incredibly strong at the outset, possess breathtaking visuals and editing throughout, but ultimately, will kind of blunder into a morass where it doesn't quite know what the hell it's doing. And sometimes that's okay.
In my mind, DON'T LOOK NOW and BAD TIMING are films of his that escape completely unscathed. The first forty minutes of PERFORMANCE are 'top ten of all-time' quality, and then it derails into a Borges-wannabe psychedelic wankfest. Same thing kinda happens to EUREKA. Except its a long-winded courtroom-drama, voodoo-orgy kind of detour.

EUREKA still possesses some moments of power, however, and features some fine actors. Mickey Rourke is a mobster milquetoast, Rutger Hauer is a raging a-hole son-in-law, Theresa Russell is a sharp but self-destructive daughter, Joe Pesci is the same old gangster he always is, and Gene Hackman is this picture's gilded core.

I would recommend, however, watching the [your name here] cut of EUREKA. Whenever it starts to bore you, just shut it off, cause it's not getting any better, unless you really, really want to see Rutger Hauer in a cage. Three stars for effort.

-Sean Gill

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