Sunday, February 08, 2009

8 1/2 Women

Film Club was a night early this week; I'm on stupid o'clock shift tomorrow, so having a drinking session tonight didn't seem like a good idea.

Sadly, Shazzerooneypoos is studying hard all weekend; Dong is doing something peculiar with beermats; Slocombe and Helen were otherwise engaged; and Frankenkeith forgot the change from the normal timings (oops!).

So film club actually became more of a married couple sitting down for an evening in front of a DVD. And jolly nice it was too.

We watched one that we've had in the cupboard for a while now; Peter Greenaway's 8 1/2 Women.What is there left to say about Greenaway's work? The visuals are stunning, the plot is barking, the humour is very dark, the undercurrents are deeply sexual and mildly disturbing. The man's, quite simply, in a class of his own.

My guess is that you're either going to love what he does, or you'll find you'd rather ignore it altogether. This is the third of his films that Mrs The Millbrooker and I have seen (click on the film title for previous crits of mine about The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover; and The Pillow Book).The narrative concerns Phillip Emmenthal (John Standing, above), a hugely wealthy businessman who is left bereft upon the death of his wife. Emmenthal's son Storey (Matthew Delamere) is a distinctly odd young man who runs a chain of Pachinko parlours in Kyoto as part of the family business.

Father and son form a close and (for the viewer an) uncomfortably sexual bond through their shared grief; Storey encourages his father into a myriad adventures, most of which are erotically fantastic (we get to explore nun fetishes, bestiality, female impersonation...). The film is never pornographic, but explores male and female sexuality in a cerebral and very left-field way.

As with every one of Greenaway's films that I've seen so far, the imagery is multi-layered and will stand up to repeated viewings to catch more and more of the mischievous allusions that the director drops into his film making.

And where else might you get to see an Ophelia figure who only a short while before her picturesque demise has been dancing as a female Kabuki female impersonator beside a large sow which is dressed in bondage gear? Yep - that's a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman in order to be more feminine and a pig in bondage restraints; work that one out, if you can. The scene is visually stunning.

It's a great film, but I suggest you don't watch it with your granny unless she's of the broadest minded and liberated variety of grand parent.

Another couple of Greenaway films are now on the list for future Film Club nights - huzzah!

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