Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Book Fetish

Goltzius and the Company (2012) - Greenaway
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Goltzius and his printing company employees ask a wealthy Italian merchant Margrave (F. Murray Abraham) money so they can continue printing series of high quality eroticas. Margrave agrees to give him the money, only if he and his trope performed 6 plays about 6 sexual taboos based on the Old Testament for his pleasure. Even though Margrave gave his court freedom of speech, the plays are too blasphemous for some to take. To complicate the matter even further, there are constant squabbles in the trope about the roles they play, whether or not to have sex in public (simulated or otherwise) and creative differences. Soon there are casualties for people confusing play with real life.

As usual, Greenaway's aesthetically robust production is visually stunning. He makes the great use of giant old smelting plant with wide lens as a Margrave's palace. All his usual elements are here - book fetish, necrophilia, erect penises, free speech.... Love how he equates Goltzius' endeavor with that of a film director - financing, mananging (and failing) egos on set, fighting censorship, politics dealing with the audiences, etc. But like most Greenaway's stuff, the repeated visual rigor loses its steam and gets tiresome mid-way. The put-on accents of some actors get in the way of dense texts as I tried to understand what's happening half the time. Also, I wish Greenaway stayed away from CG effects since it lessens the impact of his already crowded palate. Still, it's a mesmerizing visual feat.

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