Wednesday, 25 January 2006

Eros

Eros

Meanwhile, I watched Eros, a series of three short films that supposedly touch on the titular theme. The Hand, the first film, is a magnificent Wong Kar Wai piece. Wong sets it in the Hong Kong of the 1960s that he mined so well in In the Mood for Love and 2046, with that same romantic sense of a time long gone and the passing of time. Wong squeezes so much desire out of the small gestures and quivers of the tailor Xiaozhang (Chang Chen) and the prostitute (Gong Li) who he expertly tailors clothes for and who he clearly loves throughout her life. And while this was the one film without nudity, it was the one that carried the strongest of erotic charges. Let's just say the title was quite telling. And let's just say no one expresses the frisson of repressed desire cinematically quite like Wong Kar Wai.

Equilibrium, the next film, was a Steven Soderbergh piece, and while it wasn't that compelling, it still had its moments. Robert Downey Jr. as usual turned in a good performance as the hyper Nick Penrose, a person visiting a psychiatrist, and Alan Arkin's role as the doctor was a nice counterpoint: Nick's mind is everywhere, and Dr Pearl's is nowhere in the room. Which, come to think of it, is a sort of equilibrium. Still, the main thing I thought about was the sharp lines of the black and white cinematography, and how the light through the blinds reminded me of Ellsworth Kelly. To consider the visual is no bad thing in a film on Eros, I suppose, but the lack of eroticism was kind of like Dr Pearl's detachment from Nick's dream.

But the last film, Michael Antonioni's The Dangerous Thread of Things, was truly, truly terrible. I feel almost bad criticising anything of Antonioni's - the man's clearly a cinematic genius, and Blow-Up is some kind of wonderful, to say the least. But how else to put it? The (seemingly dubbed) dialogue is laughably inane, sounding like sentences taken out of an English for non-native speakers book. And while Antonioni has always been a master of the erotic image - Eros was really conceived as a tribute to him, after all - the gratuitous nudity and quasi-portentous images hardly do much to redeem this film.

The Dangerous Thread of Things is roughly about a bad relationship but it would probably be more accurate to say it's about two women wandering around the beach naked at separate times with a guy while all three culprits spouting faux profundities. Although I suppose being in your 90s and still having the power to ask nubile young women to take off their clothing at your direction is a pretty decent way to age. And I suppose to be fair, apparently there's a non-dubbed version that may allow one to truly focus on the visuals. But as it stands, the dialogue really kills Thread, making it train-wreck-viewing, and finishing Eros off with an anti-climax.



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