• * Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe).

  • * White asterisk: expanded format.

  • * Blue asterisk: not mine.

  • No asterisk: it probably sucks.


Catch the deluxe version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles, here.








The Cook The Thief His Wife & Her Lover


Helen Mirren film clips

Raw screen grabs


Scoop's notes:

I would not suggest this as a date movie. Eating is also a problem, even if you have no date. You probably don't want to eat beforehand, and you won't be able to eat afterward.

The basic story: a rich mobster holds a rude court each night in a restaurant, where he and his hangers-on abuse each other, the staff, and anyone else who crosses their paths, while indulging in various types of excessive behavior. You must understand that their idea of abuse goes far beyond anything you can conceive until you see the movie. The thief says anything and does anything he wants to. For example, the thief also owns the restaurant, and when he is unhappy with his staff, he has a cook stripped naked so he can piss on him and smear him with dog shit.

The thief's long-suffering wife spots a chance for an escape from her life of martyrdom. She spies a bookish intellectual who reads while he eats in an adjoining table. Not long after their eyes meet, they are wildly rutting in the ladies room, wordlessly. Their silence continues until they are introduced formally, after which they are allowed to talk to each other as part of the social ritual of the group, and they fall in love right under the thief's nose, forming their amalgamation each night in a different part of the restaurant.

Mr Thief does find out eventually, and he is just not happy at all, and I think you have already deduced that he is not a nice man. The lovers manage to escape his pursuit only through the help of the chef. The resolution of the story, the dramatic tension, comes from our involvement in the continuation of the pursuit. Will the thief catch them? What will he do if he does? How will the wife react?

The movie is an extraordinarily artistic success in many ways, especially the superb acting and the arresting visuals. If you are familiar with Greenaway's work, like "A Zed and Two Noughts," "The Pillow Book," "Drowning by Numbers" and others, you realize that he has a unique artistic vision. One can't help but admire his sense of composition, his obsession with symmetry, his ability to bring the principles of painting into film, his experimentation with lighting. In this particular movie, he lends a dominant color treatment to each room, and he actually changes the clothing of the characters when they walk from one room to another, allowing their costuming to reflect the mood lighting for the appropriate room.  The set design, typical of Greenaway, is both cluttered and surreal. The kitchen is a vision out of Dante or Bosch. It's impossible to absorb all the details in one viewing, but it is possible to drink in the effects if you just allow the film to deliver its message to you.

This movie produced some savage negatives in both Peter Greenaway's native England and in America, but for different reasons. In England, people interpreted the film as propaganda - as an anti-Thatcherite political allegory. The left in England viewed the Thatcher years as many of their American counterparts viewed the parallel Reagan years, as a time of wicked excess when the greed of the rich was indulged by a government willing to side with them at the expense of the working class. The Thief is essentially the Thatcherite plutocrats, pissing on the poor. The wife is England, her ideals betrayed, seduced by one side, then the other, ultimately corrupted. The lover is the ineffectual intellectual class, unable to save England or her workers, despite the best of intentions. The cook is the abused workers. Well, that's the way a lot of English saw it, anyway. They have a point. I guess the film does require an allegorical interpretation, because it doesn't really work on a literal level, For example, why would customers keep coming back to a restaurant where they are terrorized as if they were walking through a subway station in a decaying neighborhood?

Over the big pond, the film stirred up controversy unrelated to its politics. Greenaway is a genuine aesthetic master, but he achieves his vision through means fair and foul. He is not one who believes that art is nothing more than beauty, and the recipe for his films is peppered with nausea, black humor, shock, sex, nudity, and did I mention shock? In addition to what I've already described, this one is filled with the portrayal of graphic sexual appetite, plenty of gross-outs from decaying flesh surrounded by buzzing flies, rotting fish covered with maggots, and even cannibalism. This film is nauseating. And I mean that in the most literal sense, as opposed to, for example, when I say Air Supply is nauseating. Although I've always thought Air Supply should supply Air Bags, or whatever they call those little bags they give you on the plane.

I have written about Peter Greenaway on many occasions. Of all the filmmakers in the world, he is the best, and the worst. I like him best, and I like him least. He is the most brilliant, and the most difficult. He can be like your brilliant son who wants to use his genius to support causes you despise, and who is so much smarter than you that you can't offer any arguments against him. He is not a commercial filmmaker, but an artist. But at what point in an artist's pursuit of his personal vision does he just become self-indulgent? Who knows? The answer depends partially on the artist, but less on the artist than on the audience. Sometimes I think Greenaway is dazzling and that no filmmaker in the world can approach him. Five minutes later, I might think he's lost his own way in his surreal world, and he's just dithering. He's a great artist, but genuine greatness involves great risk. One doesn't get recognized as great by following a safe path already taken and approved by others. And risks don't always produce positive results. That's why they're called risks. Greenaway hangs himself out there and pushes you to the limits of your mind and sometimes your stomach, and he really doesn't care whether you like him or not, or whether he sells any tickets. He follows his vision uncompromisingly, and his recipe is never bland.

But I think you have to concede this: given the long history of cinema, most of what we see today is a rehash of what has come before. There is very little real originality in the world of film, but Greenaway is an exception. Whether you like him or hate him or both, he is a dyed-in-the-wool original.







Death Becomes Her


Well another day and this bug is still not going away, so it's another short "Hankster Light" page.

The Time Machine goes back to 92 for "Death Becomes Her". Some venerable veterans here with some leggage from Goldie Hawn and cleavage from Meryl Streep. Caps and 2 HD clips. I have to nap, so we will finish this tomorrow with some Isabella Rossellini.







Jenna Haze in Crank 2: High Voltage

Bai Ling in Crank 2: High Voltage

Amy Smart in Crank 2: High Voltage

Penny McNamee in See No Evil

Samantha Noble in See No Evil

Joanna Going in Lola

Mira Sorvino at a movie premiere in France. For an Oscar winner, she certainly has a quiet career, but she still looks great. Although 42 next month, her cleavage looks even better than when she was young.


Film Clips

Gillian Anderson in Straightheads in full 1920x1080 resolution

Another very long clip featuring Helen Mirren, this time very young, as she poses for screen legend James Mason in Age of Consent. She was 23 when she made this film, 43 when she made "The Cook The Thief, etc"

Full-frontal nudity from Julie Delpy in La Noche Oscura. I haven't seen this Carlos Saura film, but Delpy is supposed to be playing "The Virgin Mary." Whatever. It's a ridiculous emo scene, but Delpy was 20 and looked fantastic.

Leonor Watling in Deseo