films seen
average score
UK - 82 years old
Alive and kicking
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That is, if you appreciate the vulgarities. Even though the film itself is quite refined, its character are everything but.

The Pillow Book

1996 / 126m - UK
Drama, Romance
The Pillow Book poster

Eisenstein in Guanajuato

2015 / 105m - The Netherlands
Comedy, Romance
Eisenstein in Guanajuato poster

Not your typical biography, then again Greenaway isn't your typical director either. A pretty quirky look at Eisenstein's passage in Mexico, focusing on his sexual awakening more so than on his work as a filmmaker. That may put people off, especially big Eisenstein fans, but I found it quite refreshing.

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Greenaway also pays homage to Eisenstein's visual style, with many unique cuts and lots of visual trickery. It's a shame though he doesn't keep it up for the entire film. Still, there is plenty to admire here. Split screens, sharp editing, cool camera work and fun fades add a lot of extra flavor to the film.

Eisenstein is portrayed as a very colorful character and Greenaway has a lot of fun with him. Not sure how historically correct it all is, but at least it makes for a better film. There's not quite enough here for a 90-minute feature and the second half doesn't feel quite as fresh, but this was surprisingly fun and creative.

The Tulse Luper Suitcases, Part 1: The Moab Story poster

Prospero's Books

1991 / 124m - UK
Fantasy, Experimental
Prospero's Books poster

Peter Greenaway. There's a literary/classic background in many of his films that doesn't really speak to me. At the same time, his work is so very different and bears such a strong audiovisual signature that it's difficult not to be amazed and intrigued by the results. That explains why I'm giving this love-or-hate film a middle-of-the-road rating.

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Prospero's Books is a loose adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest. I'll be honest, it's hard to piece anything together while watching the film if you're not familiar with the story, so it's probably smart to read a short synopsis before submerging yourself in this film. It's not the kind that can be spoiled by reading the plot anyway.

The grand and imaginative sets and visuals are what sets this film apart, though it would be unfair to leave the epic soundtrack out of the equation. The story was too obtuse for me, but seen as an audiovisual/experimental film there was plenty to like and love. A fun little oddity, fans of Greenaway won't be disappointed.

The Draughtsman's Contract

1982 / 108m - UK
Drama, Mystery
The Draughtsman's Contract poster

Despite his fascination with the classical arts, Greenaway is a pretty interesting director. While The Draughtsman's Contrast may take the form of a costume drama, it's not a film that adheres to strict genre conventions. Greenaway's direction is always playful and different, and even though it doesn't always align with my tastes, it's never boring.

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Neville is a young artist who is commissioned by a wealthy landowner's wife to make some drawings of the real estate. Her husband is away and besides a hefty payslip, Neville also serves as a sexual toy for the misses. He feels like he has the situation under control, but he still gets caught in a web of intrigue.

The film isn't too serious (though I wouldn't call it an outright comedy), the cinematography is pretty remarkable and while there are still many typical elements of the costume drama present, the film never feels stuffy or outmodish. It's far from a personal favorite, but a lot better than the norm.

I like a good anthology, but when there are too many directors and the project is a little too vague or open-ended, it's difficult to turn it into something coherent (not just a random bunch of shorts bunched together). Visions of Europe is a miss in that regard, but it's still worth checking out.

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The title is pretty self-explanatory. 25 directors from 25 different European countries were given the chance to direct a short film about Europe. They were given free rein, which means you'll find many different ideas and approaches here, though few are actual straightforward narratives.

There are some pretty familiar and respected names (Tarr, Boe, Greenaway), but most of the directors are pretty niche and have limited appeal outside of their bubbles. There's a handful of memorable shorts, the rest is pretty forgettable, but it's at least quite varied and the shorts are well short, so it never gets too dull.

Drowning by Numbers

1988 / 118m - UK
Comedy, Drama
Drowning by Numbers poster