Reviewed by Jeff DeLuzio
Rating: 4 Beans
f words like "pretentious", "pompous", "self-indulgent", and "overwrought" did not exist, it would be necessary to coin them in order to review the films of the Artist Presently Known as Peter Greenaway. Yes, his images frequently look interesting. Occasionally he has a point to make, though, as in "The Cook, the Thief, his Wife, and Her Lover," he does so with the subtlety of a major plague, and with about the same effect, too.
And no, I am not offended by Greenaway merely because of his excesses-- though that would be a good reason. I genuinely enjoy the more recent work of David Cronenburg, who has seldom been accused of cinematic restraint, and I thought "Pulp Fiction" was halfway good.
But I can't enjoy Greenaway's films. I feel like I'm watching a clever child trying to impress himself, and hoping we'll all be impressed, too. One can almost hear him on the soundtrack: "D'you see the way I layer images? Huh? Huh? D'you like my attention to details? And look at how far I go into taboo territory! Aren't you delightfully shocked? Aren't I just precious?"
His unpalatable tendencies have been kept least in check in "Prospero's Books." Not even Greenaway's speculation on the contents of Prospero's books can maintain my interest. Nor, ultimately, can the naked people.
This movie features A LOT of naked people.
Basically, Sir John Gielgud reads excerpts from Shakespeare's "The Tempest," while surrounded by naked people. Greenaway layers image upon image, and asks us to be impressed by his ability to do so. The imagery grows confusing, and finally, boring.
At one point, Greenaway treats us to the sight of a littleboy urinating for, something like five minutes.
Perhaps he was reviewing the film.
Perhaps he was standing in for the director:
"See me? See my peepee? I'm a big boy now!"
Yes, little Peter. Now go to your room and paint some more pictures, okay?
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