Though it’s going on 40 years since Performance was made (1968, released in 1970) it is still the most modern of films with “adult themes” (philosophical and otherwise) from an age when films weren’t primarily made for fuckwits. The themes of social, sexual and gender identity make the fuss being made about these issues now seem so tired and shallow. We didn’t freak out when we saw some of the scenes, scenes that just wouldn’t be seen today and if they were, it would be so phonily “provocative” — further compromised by going soft with some edifying PC resolution. Indeed, we welcomed being challenged by a film without having some sort of illiberal pearl-clutching indignation from a journalist, academic or some micro-group. Back then this petulance typically emanated from the Right, now most of this cry-bully petulance comes from the regressive Left. Performance is the film that Tarantino has been trying to make throughout his career. (OK, so Tarantino has made good stuff, all in the service in trying to make Superfly again :)). The editing (sound and vision) of Performance is superb, the music both from the Glimmer twins and Jack Nitzsche is perfect. The dialogue, the accents and the script are absolutely pitch perfect.
Memo from Turner
Didn’t I see you down in San Antone on a hot and dusty night?
We were eating eggs in Sammy’s when the black man there drew his knife.
Aw, you drowned that Jew in Rampton as he washed his sleeveless shirt,
You know, that Spanish-speaking gentlemen, the one we all called “Kurt.”
Come now, gentleman, I know there’s some mistake.
How forgetful I’m becoming, now you fixed your bus’ness straight.
I remember you in Hemlock Road in nineteen fifty-six.
You’re a faggy little leather boy with a smaller piece of stick.
You’re a lashing, smashing hunk of man;
Your sweat shines sweet and strong.
Your organs working perfectly, but there’s a part that’s not screwed on.
Weren’t you at the Coke convention back on nineteen sixty-five
You’re the misbred, grey executive I’ve seen heavily advertised.
You’re the great, gray man whose daughter licks policemen’s buttons clean.
You’re the man who squats behind the man who works the soft machine.
Come now, gentleman, your love is all I crave.
You’ll still be in the circus when I’m laughing, laughing on my grave.
When the old men do the fighting and the young men all look on.
And the young girls eat their mothers meat from tubes of plasticon.
Be wary of these my gentle friends of all the skins you breed.
They have a tasty habit – they eat the hands that bleed.
So remember who you say you are and keep your noses clean.
Boys will be boys and play with toys so be strong with your beast.
Oh Rosie dear, doncha think it’s queer, so stop me if you please.
The baby is dead, my lady said, “You gentlemen, why you all work for me?”