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#96. Peter Greenaway, Art and Cinema

#96

Peter Greenaway

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With  the release of the 1990 film The Cook, The Thief,  His Wife and Her Lover, England finally had a director in Peter Greenaway who could match pretentious allegorical laiden cinema with any French one in the cutthroat world of arthouse cinema. The film would have a moderate amount of box office success and temporarily shine a spotlight on Greenaway’s other work.

When we look back at Greenaway’s films, dripping  allegories, replete with a lyrical sense of s cenery and words they immediately recall the works of 60s French filmmakers Alain Resnais and  Jean-Luc Godard. Surreal and sexy, intellectual and base, Greenaway outdoes his predecessors at their own game, with a coherant story and beautiful cinematography to boot.

. Wikipedia notes:

His films are noted for the distinct influence of Renaissance and Baroque painting, and Flemish painting in particular. Common traits in his film are the scenic composition and illumination and the contrasts of costume and nudity, nature and architecture, furniture and people, sexual pleasure and painful death.

As a child, Greenaway decided that he would become a painter. Rather than paint a still portrait of a  scene, setting or person Greenaway would find his calling after falling under the spell of that mysterious of all visual artists Ingmar Bergman.

Helen_Mirren_-The_Cook_the_Thief_His_Wife_Her_Lover-8
Peter Greenaway’s “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover
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Ingmar Bergman’s “Cries and Whispers”

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, arguably Peter Greenaway’s best film to date, remains the quintessential Greenaway film. Every scene was a tableau that Greenaway painted that told a segment told the story of the battered and beleagured life and marriage to gangster Albert Spica. We are not given a time period that the story unfolds during. Nor are we given any clue where the restaurant that Albert took over is even. It is a dream world and the actors are play out this chamber piece for out amusement, it would seem.

Yet, would be so very wrong  if you were to mistake this film frame for a long  lost scene from Caravaggio painting? Well, that may be pushing it but it illustrates the sometimes lyricism and poetry of cinema. For cinema at its core reflects the poetry of life. Sometimes we forget that for the insidcious pursuit of a cheap thrill. Few directors attempt to ever find this language. That is why Peter Greenaway is important.

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Greenaway has one of the most aggrivating gifts of any known film directors. He can make his viewer both wanting to hate him  and like him the same time. Greenaway seems quite content for his films to live their lives in the art house. Wikipedia notes:

His films are noted for the distinct influence of Renaissance and Baroque painting, and Flemish painting in particular. Common traits in his film are the scenic composition and illumination and the contrasts of costume and nudity, nature and architecture, furniture and people, sexual pleasure and painful death.

Greenaway caresses his stories and fleashes them out w\ith bes

and causes  beginssremains today probably the quintessential art house film director. At no point in his lengthy career has he ever ventured towards mainstream success. Lonntire

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Thomas Swan View All

You may have heard of me. I have been a staff writer for Rays Colored Glasses.com, Popcorn Sushi.com. I was editor of Flicksided.com and coeditor with my brother Brad Repka. I was senior writer at ClassicalLite.com, where I covered everything from Classical Music to Jazz and Blues and Bollywood.

I have interviewed actors and actresses. Notably Kevin Sorbo, Brian Dennehy, Lucas Til, documentary director Robert Mugge, Jazz Guitarist Jesse Cook
LBJBathroom reader is my first attempt at an entertainment site with what I feel is missing from other sites.

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