a seemingly random journey through cinema's heart of darkness. so to speak.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

YouTubing-To-Obscure-Shameless-Self-Promotion Wednesdays: Peter Greenaway Comes Back?

Long ago, so the story goes, avant garde filmmaker Peter Greenaway sold his soul for the riches of modest, art house success. In hits like The Draughtsman's Contract and The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, he kept his obsessions with formalism, patterns, absurd organization and symmetrical static shots, but merged them with (gasp!) narrative film. Bad avant gardist! But even the art house crowd only tolerates formalism so much, so when the balance tipped back into obscuritanism via Prospero's Books, the backlash came something fierce. "Ha ha!," chuckled his former avant garde compatriots! "How pretentious!," chortled the art house crowd! And save for a brief sojourn filming Ewan McGregor's uncircumcised dick, Greenaway's success completely waned. Why, even a mammoth project -- boasting three feature films, an impenetrable website, a game, a planned phallanx of DVDs, TV shows, books and who knows what else -- couldn't get the world to jump back on his trolley.

Which brings us to Nightwatching, his film on Rembrandt painting (brace yourself) The Night Watch. The film is due at Cannes this month, which I suppose gives it a leg up in terms of anticipation over any of the Tulse Lupers. (By the way, there are at least five of us who'd really like to see the other two films in that (aborted?) series.) At the very least, it features the first purely dramatic turn from Martin Freeman. I know, it sounds weird having Tim from The Office headlining the latest Peter Greenaway. But at least on the evidence of this trailer -- which also shows that if Greenaway's coming back, he's coming back pretty much the same as ever -- it appears that he's actually quite the ideal Greenaway character. He knows how to deliver the director's nasty, self-impressed lines quite well. And I could probably listen to Freeman saying "goddamn" all day.

And here's his awesome 1974 short Windows

Me!! Me!! Three reviews of The Hip Hop Project, The Valet and Charles Burnett's amazing 1977 Killer of Sheep, which I hereby command all I know to see forthwith. Also, Rep.

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