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8 1/2 Women [DVD] 
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Following the death of the mother, a father and son open up a brothel in their Genevan estate after watching Fellini's "8 1/2".
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with so many other reviews on amazon already - i will keep mine brief. if you're a fan of Fellini's rich film legacy (over rich visual language perhaps), a fan of witty dialogue, arresting cinematography, decadent allusion, bathing pigs, horses, pachinko parlours, geisha's with odd male/female gender preferences, wayword nuns, pervy sons + slightly less pervy fathers ,shimmering chiascuro scenes , grand chateau scenes, males as well as female nudity and endlessly inventive imagery ? if thats a yes to any, or most of this list - then Peter Greenaway's late 1990's loose homage to Fellini's 8 1/2 is for YOU. the dialogue in particular betwen the father + son as they "procure" their 8 1/2 women - bristles with intelligence + humour . a joy.
its been a long time since a film ticked (+tickled) so many boxes in what i seek in arthouse film. Greenaway + his beautifully judged cast of wayward characters here - never fail to entertain, amuse, provoke and surprise. an absolute joy of a film and for me - so much more better realised than his stodgy "The Cook,Lover,Thief".
Frederico F would have approved i'm sure..
Matthew Delamere (Storey) is the son and John Standing (Philip) is the father. It's a bit creepy seeing them sharing the same bed naked. In fact it's a bit creepy seeing John Standing naked, period. But that's part of the Greenaway intent. Let's shock the bourgeoisie. It's such fun to do stuff that will make them squirm.
They hissed at Cannes when this was shown (I understand; I wasn't there). It was first released in the Czech Republic, which says something, but I'm not sure what. It was banned in Malaysia--but that's pretty standard. The women are bizarre but, to be honest, intriguing. The story isn't much of a story. The rationale for suddenly taking on the life of the libertine is slight (Philip's wife dies) and a bit late in the coming. (And no pun intended.)
The story starts in Tokyo with Storey helping Simato, a pachinko addict played by Annie Shizuka Inoh, avoid financial trouble in exchange for sexual favors. But never mind. As I said, the story doesn't matter. What matters is the outrageousness of the events (mostly sexual) and the beautiful sets. That's it.
Most interesting thing in the film is Polly Walker who has both sex appeal and charisma. Most grotesque is that pig with its pinkish white skin so very human looking--and of course that was a sight joke and a comment upon humanity. But again, never mind.
By the way, the 8 1/2 in the title is because Fellini's famous film somehow inspired Storey and Philip toward their debauchery.
Greenaway has his protagonist ask if all directors make films to fulfil their own sexual fantasies, and we must assume (unless he is pulling our collective leg) proceeds to do exactly that, as Emmenthal pere et fils assemble a harem of female stereotypes in their mansion. As well as the obvious Fellini reference, the film harks back to "A Zed and Two Noughts" in a number of respects, in the sort of intertextual game-playing Greenaway fans will know and love.
As with all Greenaway's work since The Falls, the photography is ravishing. No-one makes films which look better. It's unfortunate that he's not found a musical collaborator to equal Michael Nyman, but you can't have everything. He may not be sweeping the art-house scene before him these days (in fact there's not much of a UK art-house scene left these days), but in the end, slightly below-par Greenaway is better than 99% of directors can even aspire to.
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