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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Longing for his flat belly days?
Perhaps it is a mid-life crisis and a fear of death that simultaneously hits Chicago architect Stourley Kracklite (Brian Dennehy). He has traveled to Rome to present an elaborate tribute to the French architect Louis Boullee. Kracklite is fifty-four years old, uncertain that he has fulfilled the promise of his youth. He is married to a woman (Chloe Webb) young enough...
Published on 22 Jan 2009 by Dennis Littrell

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Belly badly pressed
Belly of the Architect is a good tour of Roman architecture. The extra feature is a grainy copy of UK tv feature on a designer. Not directly linked to the movie.

My physical copy is a bad pressing; it pauses and jumps forward several seconds at several locations.
Published 15 months ago by 74prof


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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Longing for his flat belly days?, 22 Jan 2009
By 
Dennis Littrell (SoCal/NorCal/Maui) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Perhaps it is a mid-life crisis and a fear of death that simultaneously hits Chicago architect Stourley Kracklite (Brian Dennehy). He has traveled to Rome to present an elaborate tribute to the French architect Louis Boullee. Kracklite is fifty-four years old, uncertain that he has fulfilled the promise of his youth. He is married to a woman (Chloe Webb) young enough to be his daughter. So when he begins to develop stomach pains (perhaps due to a growing stomach tumor) while working in Rome and gets no satisfaction from doctors, he begins to believe his wife is poisoning him. Furthermore it appears that she is having an affair with an Italian architect named Caspasian (Lambert Wilson) who also desires to take over Kracklite's Boullee project. I think a lot of men in their fifties can identify with these sorts of threats to their well-being and perhaps be unable to tell the real from the unreal.

So the human belly is a big deal in this film. At one point Kracklite prints out scores of photocopies of the belly of a Roman statue as if in scrutinizing mass copies of a flat belly he might somehow explain why he is in pain. Or perhaps the flat belly symbolizes his lost youth and the insecure feeling he has about the affection and faithfulness of Louisa, his young wife. Maybe it is even the case that the belly is a euphemistic symbol of something else that is no longer as vital as it once was. When men in their fifties worry about such things they also worry about their ability not just to cut the mustard but the quality of their work. In short, they worry about being superseded. One cannot help but feel in this case that Kracklite's growing paranoia is in part responsible for his declining power. Fear of something may give it strength.

As for the way cinematic auteur Peter Greenaway directs this film, I think his intent is to let the film reflect the subject matter in the sense that both are of artistic intent rather than the movie being a commercial enterprise. (That is perhaps an understatement.) He shows the beauty of the architectural ruins of Rome. He thinks in terms of tableaux in wide shots. He picks a backdrop and sets the camera at some distance from the backdrop: Italian ruins, a spacious lobby, expansive steps in front of an impressive building. And then he plays the scene. Unlike most modern directors he mostly eschews close-ups. I'd rather he didn't. The effect is like being in a theater watching a play. There is a certain appropriateness I suppose about this technique since it creates in the viewer a feeling of spying, which is exactly what Kracklite finds himself doing in one scene, looking through a keyhole to see what his wife and Capasian are doing; and Greenaway has us see too, at the same distance.

In another sense, there is a studied feel to this movie that suggests something a bit cold like marble which again is appropriate. Yet Brian Dennehy, in an intense, engaging performance, makes us feel for him and his predicament. We understand that he is realizing his mortality and we appreciate that his reaction is understandably confused and frightened. As for his wife, she seems distant not only because of the camera work but perhaps because she is psychologically estranged from her husband and from what he is going through.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterwork and a great edition, 3 Aug 2012
By 
Paolo Tramannoni (Porto Recanati, MC Italy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Belly of an Architect (DVD & Blu-ray) [1987] (DVD)
This movie is, together with Fellini's La dolce vita, one of the strongest tributes to Rome. The "ethernal town" is rebuilt and reinvented by Greenaway to go straight to its core. The quality of picture and audio is stunning: the great cinematography and photography of the painter-director is fully preserved, including the original film grain. A must for all lovers of great cinema.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thinking Man's Movie, 2 Feb 2013
By 
Mr. Michael E. Noble "Mr M E Noble" (Huddersfield) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Belly of an Architect (DVD & Blu-ray) [1987] (DVD)
A great film when I first saw it and a great film now too!
One finds oneself gripped by the emotions of the Architect and you need to watch it more than once - THE sign of a GREAT movie!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Greenaway's Masterpiece, 28 Mar 2014
This review is from: The Belly of an Architect (DVD & Blu-ray) [1987] (DVD)
I my opinion this is Greenaway's best film. It has all of his style without the excess of his later films. It is also Brian Dennehy finest hour. I wish Greenaway hadn't turned his back on a type of intelligent filmmaking that once engaged his audience. Now that audience has all but deserted him. For me The Cook, The Thief was his last great film (Gambon is excellent). From that moment on there was only ever gratuitous excess. Along with La Dolce Vita & The Great Beauty this is one of the finest films set in Rome. A film where the city itself is the real star.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Greenaway's best., 13 Feb 2013
By 
Jonas Aghed (Johanneshov, Sweden) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Belly of an Architect (DVD & Blu-ray) [1987] (DVD)
Dennehy's best performance - noone could 'fill up' his character better - and Greenaway's most humanistic film. And a feast for the eyes, as usual with Greenaway (but sometimes he can be a total bore...). Also, the soundtrack, with Mertens and Branca is great, wonderful in itself.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Belly badly pressed, 23 May 2013
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This review is from: The Belly of an Architect (DVD & Blu-ray) [1987] (DVD)
Belly of the Architect is a good tour of Roman architecture. The extra feature is a grainy copy of UK tv feature on a designer. Not directly linked to the movie.

My physical copy is a bad pressing; it pauses and jumps forward several seconds at several locations.
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The Belly of an Architect (DVD & Blu-ray) [1987]
The Belly of an Architect (DVD & Blu-ray) [1987] by Peter Greenaway (DVD - 2012)
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