Centrefold: Roeg to nowhere: The ups and downs of Theresa Russell's husband

In 1990, Nicolas Roeg appeared on BBC2's Moving Pictures programme to bemoan the fact that his (then new) film Cold Heaven was languishing without a distributor. Four years on, the situation remains unchanged, though the NFT's Roeg season, entitled 'Stranger in a Strange Land', brings a chance to see this film, as well as his recent cable-TV adaptation of Conrads Heart of Darkness starring Tim Roth as Marlowe and John Malkovich as Kurtz.

Roeg himself likened Cold Heaven's fusion of dreams and reality to Total Recall. Would that it were as thrilling and coherent as that film. But whatever its flaws, it has flashes of vintage Roeg - the lovely Joyceian conceit of Theresa Russell's stream-of-consciousness ramblings, or the grisly, visceral fantasy sequences - and certainly doesn't deserve such a cruel fate.

Watching the work which Roeg put out in the Eighties, it's difficult to remember that, a decade earlier, he was one of the world's foremost directors. From his photography on Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451 and Schlesinger's Far from the Madding Crowd, he graduated to co-directing with Donald Cammell on the bizarre Performance. After turning the crime thriller on its head (who else would have put James Fox in drag?), his next four films were killer blows which effectively helped define 70s cinema: the enigmatic

Walkabout, the enduring psychological chiller Don't Look Now, the sprawling The Man Who Fell to Earth and the disturbing love story Bad Timing. In turn, a mosaic-cum-Cubist editing style and idiosyncratic casting (Jagger in Performance, Art Garfunkel in Bad Timing) defined him.

Then everything seemed to stutter to walking pace with a deeply flawed masterpiece (Eureka), a messy stage adaptation (Insignificance) and a scrappy true-life biopic (Castaway). The more unusual ventures - a film of Roald Dahl's The Witches and a collaboration with Dennis Potter on Track 29 - sounded more interesting than they actually were. Which leaves us with two questions: Where to now for Britain's one-time visionary? And is Theresa Russell (above, Insignificance), Roegs wife and five-time leading lady, just inept, or is that comatose demeanour deliberate?

The Nicolas Roeg season runs from 13-30 Sept and includes an interview with Roeg on 19 Sept. NFT, South Bank, SE1 (071-928 3232)

(Photograph omitted)

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