Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (Peter Greenway, 1989)

If men continue to insist on walking around and doing stuff in public, would it kill them to at least do so while dressed the way Michael Gambon and his posse of sycophants do in Peter Greenaway's The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover? I mean, I don't ask for much. What I think I'm trying is, I loved the fashion in this film. However, that was the only thing I loved about this film... at the beginning. You see, while I dug the clothes, the sight of Michael Gambon acting vulgar and crass at a fancy eatery in the early going wasn't really working for me; despite the fact that he looked so dapper while doing so (red and black, baby). Yet, as the film progressed, I slowly found myself starting to admire the artistry of it all. Everything from the costumes, to the sets, to the music (Michael Nyman) was sumptuous as all get out. Shot in a theatrical manner, the film puts on a mise-en-scène clinic. That makes sense, right? If it didn't, what I think I mean is, everything that appears onscreen was arranged in a way that seemed well-thought out. Which, I must admit, is not something I come across much nowadays. In other words, if was refreshing to see a film that actually seemed concerned about the way things looked (watching the recent crop of superhero movies is like watching filmed noise).

Since most of you know how I think by now, you  know a film needs to do more than just be artistic and junk to impress me. And that's where Helen Mirren's stockings and gloves come in. The fact that Helen Mirren's legs and arms were always sheathed in stockings and gloves put my mind at ease as the film progressed.

And when I saw Jean-Paul Gaultier's name appear in the opening credits, I knew right away that he would not let me down when it came to style.

However, like I said earlier, I was not down with this film's overall tone. Now, that might come across as a tad weird, as the film opens with Michael Gambon peeing on a naked man in a dog-ridden parking lot, but I just wasn't feeling it.

After he's done peeing on that guy (a member of his nattily dressed entourage offers to pee on him, but Michael Gambon says he doesn't want anyone to see his "shriveled contribution"), Albert (Michael Gambon), his wife, Georgina (Helen Mirren) and his gang enter Le Hollandaise, an upscale restaurant, with enough swagger to fill two large receptacles specifically designed to hold copious amounts of swagger.

It's Thursday night, and Albert and the boys are clearly ready to enjoy a late night feast after a hard day of thieving; I'm assuming he's "the thief" in the film's title and that he runs some sort of crime syndicate. If that's the case, than Georgina is "his wife" and Richard (Richard Bohringer) is clearly "the cook." I wonder who "and her lover" is?

While gnawing indifferently on a piece of asparagus, Georgina notices Michael (Alan Howard), a blonde fellow in the caramel-coloured suit, reading/eating at a nearby table.

Wait a minute, that guy can't be Georgina's lover. I mean, Michael might have, to use Georgina's words, "a beautiful cock," but he doesn't have the balls to bone a gangster's wife right under his nose. (How would Georgina know that Michael has a beautiful cock?) Whoops, it looks like the cat has just left the relative comfort of the proverbial bag.

Meeting in the ladies lavatory (a gorgeously designed room filled with extraordinarily dressed ladies), Georgina and Michael come close to getting it on in one of the stalls, but are interrupted by Albert, who nearly catches them in the act.

Since Albert is always sticking his nose in the ladies lavatory, it would seem that Georgina and Michael are going to have to consummate their affair somewhere a little more discreet. But where? Well, here's where the cook comes in. Aware of their situation/dilemma (and clearly sympathetic), the cook let's Georgina and Michael have sex in the kitchen's pantry.While not exactly sanitary (it's a health code violation just waiting to happen), the pantry gives them the privacy they need.

Given Albert's unruly temperament, how do you think he'll react if ever finds out that circumcised mediocrity is screwing his wife? Will he:

A) Throw a hissy fit.
B) Hurl verbal abuse at those around him.
C) Stab a gorgeous brunette in the face with a fork.
D) All of the above.

If you answered "D," all of the above, congratulations, your knowledge when it comes to British loutism is unsurpassed.

Actually he does more than just throw hissy fits, call people names and stab sexy dark-haired women with cutlery, he... well, I don't want to spoil it for anyone. But trust me when I say it's quite glorious, as The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover morphs into a kind of revenge movie. I say "kind of" because I've seen a revenge movie this well-put-together.

Speaking of well-put-together, if you're not into, let's say, Helen Mirren or Emer Gillespie (a.k.a. the gorgeous brunette fork-face lady), you could always savour the luminous Alex Kingston, who plays a waitress at Le Hollandaise. Seen dutifully doing her waitress duties throughout the movie, I would slowly come to cherish these moments, as the sight of Alex Kingston looking chic as fuck in her red waitress uniform would cause me to briefly forget that a vulgar twit (i.e. Thatcher) is running things.

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