Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|8 1/2 Women|
Actors: John Standing, Matthew Delamere, Vivian Wu, Toni Collette, Amanda Plummer
Director: Peter Greenaway
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
FATHERS AND SONS....GREENAWAY STYLE
Mark Norvell | HOUSTON | 12/12/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Typically bizarre and challenging Greenaway film about a man whose wife suddenly dies and can't get past the grief stage. His son moves in with him and they "reestablish" their relationship in a most unorthodox way. Literally. So the son concocts a way to help his father snap out of it. They turn the father's estate into a brothel of sorts with a strange array of women they "collect". This creates a rather Fellini-esque atmosphere and causes some friction among the ladies as well as a couple of their deaths. One woman challenges the rules and turns the tables on the men leading to the father's ultimate death wish and the son's turn to grieve. Greenaway allows the film to run from outlandish black comedy to sadly depressing---a gamut that kind've negates everything we've seen and experienced thus far. There's ample male nudity, bizarre costumes, a truly odd turn from Amanda Plummer as one of the women, striking color and rampant symbolism throughout which makes it a feast for the eyes. If you're a Greenaway fan it's an unusual ride. But I wouldn't recommend it for first time viewers who may find it heavy going."
Very challenging film
firstname.lastname@example.org | Las Vegas, NV | 06/10/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When I consider the state of sex in American films today, "American Pie 2" comes to mind. The sex here is treated in the usual leering, juvenille manner. All of the people are young, and it's the women who are expected to disrobe, and hint at lesbian encounters. The scene where the two coeds demand that the two men kiss each other before doing each other treats anything from this norm as aberrant behavior. As long as the subject is treated in this cookie-cutter manner, our country will show sex, and not actually explore it as the strong human emotion it is. The strong point of "8 1/2 Women" is that is challenges our thoughts of what sexuality can be in ways that are ignored in this country. The movie hits the ground running as we encounter the two main characters, a middle-aged man and his twenty-something son shortly after the older man's wife dies. We not only see full-frontal male nudity, a rarity in this country. But what is also somewhat shocking is not that they are interested in man-on-man encounters, but encounters between father and son. Sons wanting to sleep with their mothers have been explored before, but dad and son is something to think about.After this eye-opening scenario, the movie continues to challenge. Faced with seemingly unlimited wealth, the two decide to build a sexual playground to try and appease what must be a major league middle-age crisis by the father. They encounter and recruit a handful of women to come live with them and play out their fantasies. This is also where the film has it's strong points. The closest I can remember to this film is "Sirens", the Australian film that featured an artist surrounded by nubile females, among them Elle McPherson. But even that film was probably too hot for America to touch, and even this film filled it with very good looking women of the same cut. "8 1/2 Women" brings in all kinds of women from beautiful to hideous, dominent to submissive. Once again, it shows that while Playboy magazine shows an attractive cut of women, it is not the only source for sex in the world.I'm not saying I agree with all the choices, and they are diverse enough where most people also would not go for all of them. But that's the good point of the movie. By busting through cinematic stereotypes of how we think about sex, it shows that it is a subject that can be pursued by anyone, not just the "beautiful people" class."
Allow me to defend "8 1/2 Women"....
-¦- | over here. | 07/11/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've recently found myself being pulled into a swirling vortex of obsession with the works of Peter Greenaway. The man creates such a distinct atmosphere with the staging of his films, the cinematography, and the sets embodying a lavishness and beauty that clashes against dark, audacious, perverse, and indeed evil themes to cause a fascinating cacophony. Much of his output could be classified as surreal simply because of this instantly palpable dissonance.
"8 1/2 Women" is no different. Yes, it doesn't have the viciousness of "The Cook, The Thief...", or the delicious puzzlement of "Drowning By Numbers", but what it does have is the unmistakable Greenaway atmosphere and an air of utmost dream-like elegance, once again grinding against frank sexual obsession and perversion and an uncontrollable spiral of loss and grief.
I'll leave the plot details that are to be found in other reviews, but will say that I found this film a joy to watch. From the very beginning (particularly the experimental and kinetic sequence that opens the film), I was enthralled. With Greenaway, sometimes you don't want to look, but you can't turn away (to spoil the surprise a bit, the infamous incest incident is not shown...only very strongly implied). As the film wears on, it does take on a more fragmented, slice-o-life type of approach, but the episodal manner in which the progress of the bordello is documented actually conveys the chaos well. In such an arrangement, the only way to really give an idea of the vibes surrounding the downfall of the house is to give examples, then tell us how it finally came to self-destruct... which is done. Those who complain about lack of closure can only be speaking about the question of what becomes of the son after the house empties itself, but how much do you want handed to you? The movie is 2 hours long! A case of "The meal was terrible.. and the portions too small!"
Speaking of which, I'll end the review saying that those who hated it.... give it another chance? You know by now that half of the magic of Greenaway's idiosyncratic films is visual. Nobody has denied the beauty of "8 1/2 Women". So let yourself sink into that odd beauty, and maybe you'll be able to appreciate the distinct and conscious style that the characters execute."
Great film for Greenaway fans... not for everyone
Greenaway fan | Dallas, TX USA | 10/11/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Peter Greenaway is a master at visuals. Most Greenaway films, such as "A Zed and two Noughts", "The Draughtsmen's Contract" and "The Cook the Thief His Wife and Her Lover", appear like a moving painting with vivid color and dazzling images. Although all are great films, their plots can be confusing with the lack of common dialogue and character development. 8 1/2 Women does have some very nice visuals, though less intense compared to his previous works, and a story line that is much easier to follow than prior films, with a bit more character development, but still peculiar circumstance. The film's focus is the unusual relationship between a newly widowed husband, Phillip(John Standling) and his son, Storey(Matthew Delamere). After a viewing of Fellini's 8 1/2, the father and son become inspired to "collect" a variety of women (8 and 1/2 - one being pregnant) for their physical and emotional pleasure, creating a distraction to the death of the wife/mother. Amanda Plummer and Toni Collette give strong supporting performances as two of the very bizarre women in the collection. The film moves slowly at times, but the right combination of excellent performances, bizarre characters, dry comedic dialogue and dazzling visuals make it a must see for Greenaway fans and independent film lovers. The sexual content and story line may make many viewers uncomfortable and confused. Definitely an acquired taste."