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Bad Timing
Drama, Mystery
IMDB rating:
Nicolas Roeg
Denholm Elliott as Stefan Vognic
Robert Walker as Konrad
Lex van Delden as Young Doctor
Stefan Gryff as Policeman #2
Sevilla Delofski as Czech Receptionist
Ania Marson as Dr. Schneider
George Roubicek as Policeman #1
Gertan Klauber as Ambulance Man
Art Garfunkel as Alex Linden
Daniel Massey as Foppish Man
Eugene Lipinski as Hospital policeman
Theresa Russell as Milena Flaherty
Harvey Keitel as Inspector Netusil
William Hootkins as Col. Taylor
Storyline: The setting is Vienna. A young American woman is brought to a hospital after overdosing on pills, apparently in a suicide attempt. A police detective suspects foul play on the part of her lover, an American psychology professor. As doctors try to save her life, the detective interrogates the professor, and through flashbacks we see the events leading up to the woman's overdose; her stormy and intensely sexual relationship with the professor, her heavy drinking and numerous affairs, and her estrangement from her Czech husband. A darkly erotic study of several rather unsympathetic characters.
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This was erotic?
I didn't get this movie. 'Its a screwed up world and everybody has their problems' is the theme of the movie as far as I could tell. Garfunkel was extremely dull in the movie. Russell is better. Keitel isn't too convincing as the inspector. Also a 'cold war' vibe to the movie. Shown in flashbacks and sometimes confusing imagery. I wouldn't say don't watch it. I didn't like it but judge for yourself.
Not Bad Timing , it's Bad Movie
I don't agree with the title of the movie. The most appropriate title for this movie would have been 'Bed Timing' as on an average every fifteen minutes the movie shows a steamy bed scene. Next suitable title could have been 'Bad Movie' as this really is a bad (I mean it, nasty bad) movie. I won't categorize this movie as either drama or mystery; as a matter of fact the most suitable category for this movie is soft porn.

Performances wise also we don't have a very bright report at hands. Theresa Russell is sexy, convincing, revealing and OKAY but Art Garfunkel had a baaaaaaad timing. Subplots and side stories are disastrous and out of line with the main movie. The destructive love affair between Doctor Linden and Melina finally ends up in a waste of over two hours. Melina insists on freedom and Alex is jealously possessive and becomes obsessive and irrational. Director has tried to present rape as a murder but has finally achieved rape of the movie. The jumbled mixture of mystery and sex is awful. Bad timing is not a sensual obsession, it's a mental torture. Director switches back and forth in the chronology of the story and I found the links between present story and flashback sequences intelligent and well matched. Vienna also seemed like a beautiful place. Overall look and feel of the movie was also not that bad, but as a whole the movie didn't do much good.
Art Garfunkel surprised me in this one
When this movie was shown on television a couple of days ago, I had never heard of it before, but given the fact that it has received less than 600 votes until now, even though it is already from 1980, means that I'm not the only one who didn't know of its existence. Apparently some things went wrong with the distribution and the dark content of the movie was probably not what they were used to see at that time either. Does that mean that it is a bad movie? Far from it, the story for instance is multi-layered, interesting and quite impressive.

It all starts with a young American woman who is brought to a hospital in Vienna after a suicide attempt by overdosing on pills. But the police detective that investigates the case suspects that there is more going on than what her lover, an American psychology professor, wants to admit. As the doctors do everything possible to save the woman's life, the professor is thoroughly interrogated by the detective. Through a series of flashbacks, we see how the relationship between the two started and evolved and what that had to do with the suicide attempt. Everything will be shown: their passionate sexual relationship, her drinking problem, the numerous affairs that both have, her hidden marriage...

As I already said, this is a multi-layered story. For me, that makes this movie only more interesting, but I have the feeling that not that many people can cope with it, as today we are only used to see straight and easy stories which don't demand too much of our brains. This movie combines all kinds of aspects like espionage during the Cold War, romance, thriller, drama,... but always feels like one solid film. That only proves the skills of the director and the screenwriter of course. It was the first time that I saw a movie from the hand of director Nicolas Roeg and Yale Udoff is a complete stranger to me as well. But together they made the entire story work.

The fact that this is such a solid movie also has a lot to do with the good acting. Not that I expected anything else from people like Harvey Keitel and Theresa Russell, but Art Garfunkel certainly surprised me. Normally I don't like all those singers / would-be actors who only appear in movies to get the movie a larger audience (not that it worked this time) and not because they know anything about acting. But when their performance is OK, I'll be the first one to admit it as well and so I say here that Art Garfunkel was really very good in this movie.

Overall this is a very good movie with an interesting story and some very fine acting. It's too bad that it isn't better known, because it certainly deserves to be seen by a much larger audience. I give this movie at least a 7.5/10, maybe even an 8/10.
a stimulating movie
a stimulting movie , because you have what i consider to be an honest perspective on a human relationship . to wit , a beautiful woman , wayward/rebellious ?? , with her own ethos on living her own life , and her own individuality , becoming embroiled in a relationship destined to cause her harm due to her emancipation/individuality . mixed in with this , we have the cultural (klimt etc) undertones (as evidenced in the interpretation of his pictures and , from an art point of view , colour arrangement )and the psychoanalytical infusions (ie freud etc) - sex as a factor in mental development - ego and id - but why is the "protagonist" , a supposedly intellectual guy who is fully aware of the psychoanalytical arguments , drawn into the "primaeval" role ? roeg juxtaposes all these elements , in the manner to which he is renowned , to produce a complex character study with many layers to appreciate . all that , and an opening track from tom waits and harvey keitel to boot!!
This is not really a proper review, as I only watched 3/4 of this film. I warn you all now: if you want to watch this movie you MUST watch it from the beginning, else you just won't understand it and you'll be trying to guess what the hell is going on here! Art Garfunkle plays someone whose lover has just attempted to kill herself. Harvey Keital plays the cop who is investigating the suicide attempt, and who believes that Garfunkle has more to do with it than he is admitting to.

That was the basic gist of it from what I could gather. I can see the makings of a good film here artistically. the way in which it switches from past to present is interestingly used. But it is confusing to those who go into the film after the beginning, as I did.

Having said that, I continued to watch it, and I was gripped by the performances of Keital and Garfunkle.

One of the best movies ever
A woman (Theresa Russel) tried to commit suicide. While her life is fought for in a hospital, (Art Garfunkel) the man who called the ambulance is being questioned (great cutting!) about his relations to her.

The rest is to save for people who haven't seen the film.

"Way ahead of it's time" cutting, acting, photography, directing, made this story, which is almost impossible to tell, plausible and makes the film full of suspense.
Goof grief!
All I have to say is that if the hair on your butt looks just like the hair on your head, you probably shouldn't be in any sex scenes The movie was "OFF" enough without the porn like scenes with art Garfunkel. I would call this a horrible flick that is a must have for any cult film collector. I wasn't even sure if the film was foreign or not thru most of it. I kept thinking to myself "what the..." All in all, I want everyone to see it if only so I don't have to be the only one. I will excuse Harvey since he later made a few flicks that were a bit more bearable than this one was. Even still, I hope everyone over the age of 20 sees this flick. Just so they can sat they did.
Only one reason to watch this flick...
...& that is the incredibly sexy desirable Teresa Russell. Roeg was apparently not yet married to Russell in 1980 but his lust & passion for her are palpable in this film.

Teaming her with quintessential nerd Garfunkel & wimpy Elliot is the crowning touch. Russell is the sexiest female ever in film in my book. The many shots of her in various states of love-making deshabillé are true homages of a man totally enamored of his mate. No Viagra needed for this long-time union.

The most interesting way to watch this is as a kind of post-modern Liaisons Dangereuses.
In spite of all the sex and nudity, a rather dull film...
"Bad Timing" is a film you'll either love or hate. Many of the reviews give it high praise and have very high ratings...but many also were very ambivalent about it. Place me in that second group. This is because in spite of all the nudity and sexuality, it sure left me very, very bored.

The film begins with some doctors working on an overdose patient, Milena (Theresa Russell). Then, throughout the rest of the film, you see a series of flashbacks about her relationship with an American psychology professor, Alex (Art Garfunkel). To call their relationship dysfunctional is clearly an understatement and it seemed very odd to me that a psychology professor would have a relationship with such a disturbed woman. She shows many of the symptoms of a Borderline Personality--with an inability to deal with boredom, compulsive use of sex and intoxicants, an inability to truly love or trust another (often adoring him and then hating him with little warning) and a lot of other behaviors that ultimately result in Alex rightfully calling her "a crazy bitch". Some might enjoy all these histrionics...but after a while it all became incredibly dull...even with all the nudity. Some of this is the choice of music--music that often exacerbated the slow pace and depressing mood of the film. The only time it really got interesting was late in the movie when you learned more about Alex and his actions during her suicide attempt...that WAS a bit of a surprise! Sadly, it took way too long to get there...and by then I was pretty much finished with the film.

Overall, a mildly interesting portrait of some very sick people...her for her many, many self-destructive behaviors and him for putting up with it and his behaviors late in the film. I couldn't see any genius in this one...just a film that left me waiting and hoping it would all end very soon.

By the way, although the film is set in Vienna, no one seemed to be Austrian! Not only were Alex and Milena Americans but so was the detective investigating (Harvey Keitel)....and this casting really didn't make any sense. Nor did it make much sense that the Doctor really didn't speak German very well despite living in Austria!
Doubts that Bind
Love is internal. It is sustained by questions of doubt, tension, expectation. The solidity of the hand is strengthened by the slipperiness underfoot.

So suppose you wanted to make a film about the fields that animate your anchor relationships. You couldn't do what everyone else does: deal with the tokens: the looks, the physical moving away of bodies and then re-entering. You want it to have the passion it deserves, which is a tricky thing: the passion in the relationships between the film and the viewer has to be based on the same field of passion between lovers. That field requires faith to overcome doubt. This need for investing in love as a counter to the doubts about love is what drives us, with religion and tribalisms as mere side effects.

Roeg wanted to do this. During a certain sweet spot in his career, he could shape any story into this, a story about what makes story. And to do it all by cinematic misdirection. This isn't "Last Year at Marienbad," which is abstract. This is internal, subconscious, but with the real fleshy stuff we actually dream in.

Some viewers will think this is a simple detective story. Bad guy lies; insistent detective catches him. It is all about sequence, the "timing" of the title. What happens first; how the thing is "explained."

But I believe this is something much more important. Like Roeg's other films, these are dreams. The things that happen here — that we see — drift close to what actually happens, and then away being more like imagined fears.

It is all about urges; the grandest passions rest on a collection of urges, most of which slip into uncontrollable futures.

I will advise you to approach this as something that goes on in the character's soul. Polanski and Kiesloswki have the same relationship to reality, but here we work closer to image and the uncontrollable ends.

The overall shape of thing is a love affair, one that is deep and all-consuming. The hero/filmmaker's mind has some tools that allow us to enter the world of dreams:

— He is a "research psychoanalyst" in Vienna. This is the most unlikely of cities for intellect, and even today produces ideas that fold in on themselves in tightly wound ways. Roeg quotes "The Third Man" a bit, and assembles a number of Austrian artifacts, all having something to do with control. It is Wittgenstein in his first period.

— He is a spy. He lectures about spies. He spies on patients as a theorist of obsession. He literally works for a spy agency, spying on the woman, who in other identities he is falling in love with. This is Wittgenstein in his second period, having renounced the genius of his knotted mind and theories of word play as mazes.

— He is a detective, instanced as a second being, a sort of "Fight Club" alter ego that examines himself from the outside. This is Wittgenstein in his third, suicidal period, where his work was on himself. He literally builds a container, a house, here a film. Harvey Keitel since Taxi Driver understood the idea of playing and imagined other. Garfunkle's cluelessness as a person and actor is overwhelmed by him, just as that part of the character's mind is.

These three fight for control of self over a woman. The film is so effective, and so energetically unsprung that there is a fourth layer outside. Roeg himself developed an obsession over this woman, falling deeply in love with her. (He would marry her.)

The visual storytelling, the editing, the timeshifting, the identity swapping, the depth of texture could not have been as effective were he not obsessively in love in the three ways of the doctor.

The genius of starting with Tom Waits and ending with Jarrett's Koln concert is by itself enough to make this an essential experience.

Ted's Evaluation -- 4 of 3: Every cineliterate person should experience this.
See Also
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