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By TheophileEscargot (Mon May 08, 2006 at 09:08:49 AM EST) Watching, Reading, Museums (all tags)

What I'm Watching
Finally saw Eighties Peter Greenaway classic The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover. Was blown away by it: was expecting something fairly cerebral along the lines of Drowning by Numbers, but it's actually a very visceral movie, despite being very stylised. Not really for the weak of stomach though.

Plot concerns a sadistic gangster whose wife conducts an affair between courses at the restaurant they eat at. The allegory isn't too ostentatious, though the long tracking shots through colour changes get a bit repetitive. I think it might be a consequence of the way steadicam shots are everywhere these days: long dolly shots of people moving look very artificial now, maybe due to the unnaturally straight lines the actors have to move in.

Definitely worth seeing, but I expect most people who'd be interested have seen it already. #B3C2D8

Also saw Mission Impossible 3 at the cinema. Pretty decent, though not exceptional. Overdoes the angst and relationship stuff a bit, especially at one point where it`s blindingly obvious there's no need for angst. Seems like a bit of a patronizing attempt to keep the ladies happy, but maybe it'll work. Action scenes are well-choreographed, though not particularly memorable or original.

Overall, pretty acceptable way to spend a couple of hours. Worth seeing on the big screen: not much point waiting for the DVD. #9E3930

(Red=entertainment, Green=originality, Blue=intelligence).

What I'm Reading
Finished Adventures in the Screen Trade. Not much to add: pretty good, probably very good if you haven't read the sequel. There's a nice exercise at the end where the turns a short story into a screenplay, then gets a director, costume designer, composer and cinematographer to look at it and comment; not always favourably.

Saw the Inner Worlds Outside exhibition at the Whitechapel gallery. Interesting exercise: they mix in a bunch of "outsider art" by a amateurs and pysch patients with a few works by named artists, so you can wander around and spot the difference. Whitespace seems to be the giveaway though: artists have Absences and Voids while nutters fill in every bit of the paper.

Some interesting stuff though, especially a huge and painstakingly labour-intense mural of faces entangled in vastly complicated doodling. Worth a look, though not free unfortunately.

Also dropped in at Tate Modern again to look at their new re-hanging. Still only seems to be half-done: only one floor of free stuff is accessible, with a whole other floor out of action. The categories still seem fairly opaque though.

Interesting to watch them take apart the Rachel Whitehead mountains-of-white-boxes installation. Since they take up a lot of space, they had a big green conveyer belt leading to a large shredder; neatly demolishing the whole thing.

Public spaces are way overcrowded with tourist season: a bit too hot but not yet unbearably so. There were still a couple of tables free on the balcony of the members cafe, but filled up after we got there.

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I saw the Cook etc. in the theatre by spacejack (4.00 / 1) #1 Mon May 08, 2006 at 09:18:46 AM EST
when it came out. I remember not liking any of the characters and not really caring whether any of them lived or died. I couldn't figure out why the wife didn't just leave the guy if he was such a psycho, or why she ever got involved with him in the first place. But my memory of it is pretty faded by now :)

Not liking the characters by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 2) #2 Mon May 08, 2006 at 09:39:32 AM EST
Kind of the point...

Though there's a theory that it was just a political allegory.

Some British critics are reading the movie this way: Cook = Civil servants, dutiful citizens. Thief = Thatcher's arrogance and support of the greedy. Wife = Britannia. Lover = Ineffectual opposition by leftists and intellectuals.

It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Yeah I could see that by spacejack (4.00 / 2) #3 Mon May 08, 2006 at 10:14:32 AM EST
going right over my head back then. Maybe now too. Actually that'd be one of my gripes with Greenaway: I've never held directors who need supporting material to explain their movies in very high regard. If the analogy is to be made, then make it; that's your job as a storyteller.

I remember when Prospero's Books came out, Greenaway published an illustrated book to accompany the film. It bugged me that the guy seemed to be incapable of making a standalone film. But "Ooh, the photography and set design is amazing, inspired by classical paintings!"

Anyhow, I think this film just opens up some old heated arguments I used to have with other art students at the time who thought Greenaway was God, so I'm probably just ranting. In truth, I really don't remember it clearly enough to properly discuss it, so I should probably shut up now :)

[ Parent ]
Eh? by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #4 Mon May 08, 2006 at 02:56:10 PM EST
Brittania cooks her dead intellectuals and serves them to Thatcher before shooting her?

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

[ Parent ]
Metaphorically [nt] by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #7 Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:51:19 AM EST

It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
"We"? by ammoniacal (4.00 / 4) #5 Mon May 08, 2006 at 05:33:46 PM EST
Let's hear about your lady friend, mate.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

Keep meaning to watch all the Greeaways again by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #6 Tue May 09, 2006 at 12:37:54 AM EST
Belly of an Architect is good, Greenaway's trademark camerawork on the streets of Rome is too beautiful for words.

Another fave of mine is the early short films, which I hesitate to recommend because it's much more avant-garde and I know a lot of people find it boring. I think it's his most original stuff though, and A Walk Through H is one of my favourite ever films.

I'm going to see that exhibition at the Whitechapel in a couple of weeks. I don't seem to be as interested in outsider art as I was though, I like a bit of a concept behind my art nowadays.

It's political correctness gone mad!

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