Friday, September 21, 2007


Tuesday's second movie was Peter Greenaway's melodramatic black comedy A Zed & Two Noughts (1985),1 a characteristically tortured Greenaway title alphanumerically approximating the word zoo. Here the director begins to plum in earnest the theatrical presentation of baroque turpitude he'll bring to a crescendo in his later tour-de-bravura The Cook the Thief his Wife & Her Lover (1989).2 The curtains rise on the first of a handful of stages the director redresses throughout the movie: a windswept patch of urban roadside surreal with strobe-lit glass, a fetching tiger billboard, a woman screaming. It's the scene of a horrible swan-related car accident which has killed the wives of brother animal behaviorists Oliver and Oswald Deuce (Eric and Brian Deacon), working a zoo predominately devoted to black-and-white animals. The driver of the car, Alba (Andréa Ferréol), is seriously injured. The swan is dead. This tragedy begins a spiral of misshapen events in the brothers' environment while they themselves lose their historically fragile autonomy. One hides in the zoo's auditorium, screening hours of David Attenborough-narrated natural history programming and, queasily, swallowing handfuls of collected safety glass. The other begins cobbling together time-lapse documentation of various decaying specimens culled from the zoo. Both seek self-destructive refuge in the story-telling of Venus de Milo (Frances Barber), a hooker in a little back-and-white dress who is attracted to zebras. Milo's name echoes the plight of Alba, the driver, who loses one leg after another under the care of her mad surgeon, heir to a famous Vermeer forger. "You can never see the legs in a Vermeer" she notes. The movie follows an intuitive sensibility rather than cleaving to narrative logic, advancing through the director's gaudy stages like a wicked dream punctuated by montages of animal decay. Intermittently difficult to watch, but worth every minute. [Cavin]

Then, a 4 sided conversation ensued...

To which Blogger Ellie added:

It sounds strange.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007 3:43:00 AM  
To which Blogger Mr. Cavin added:

Oh it's strange all right.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007 4:34:00 AM  
To which Anonymous 'ell joy added:

Something about this made me think of "Dead Ringers."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007 9:25:00 AM  
To which Blogger Mr. Cavin added:

Well, I'd tell you how much closer you are than you know, but then that would be a spoiler, wouldn't it? It's not as damn scary as Dead Ringers, and possibly not as good; but it is just as creepy, and a lot odder. It is very much, in tone, like the Greenaway movies you've already seen, only perhaps less overt with more of a sci-fi feel. I'm rambling.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007 1:25:00 PM  

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