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Monday, 8 June 2009

"The cook, the thief, his wife and her lover"

I thought this movie was pretty neat! I liked it despite the warped reality, crazy sex and cannibalism.

Directed by Peter Greenaway in 1989

Notes:
- Opening is of dogs feeding. Could be seen as a metaphor for the whole structure of the story. Everyone feeds on each other figuratively and literally.
- Two trucks park in dingy back entrance of restaurant. These stay here for most of the movie. There is fish in one truck and meat in the other. Eventually the produce rots as the plot progresses, again it could be another metaphor for how the relationships between characters become more complicated and twisted.
- Georgina emerges from car totally dressed in black. She looks like she's attending a funeral.
- Albert's "cronies" drag a man out who didn't pay his restaurant bill. They abuse him, rip his clothes off him and force dog shit down is throat as well as rubbing it over his body. They totally humiliated him. After Albert leaves, man gets up and stumbles back to the kitchen where the sympathetic chef sits him in a chair and the kitchen hands hose the distressed man down.
- Kitchen in short, is depressing. It is what I'd consider miserable, desolate place for people with broken hopes and no ambitions. The area is done in washed out dull colours and there is an overwhelming feeling that the area is a prison of some sort.
- Music is provided by a young kitchen hand. He looks about ten or eleven with white blond hair that is sticking up as though he got electrocuted. His voice is a beautiful pre-pubescent tenor found in church choirs. It is creepy and lovely--haunting would be the best word to describe it.
- Health hygiene in the kitchen is horrifying (but maybe that's because my dads a health inspector). Firstly, they let the man who is covered in shit back in the kitchen, which is just asking for cross-contamination. Faeces are the main cause of salmonella. One of the chefs is shirt less and no, he isn't eye candy, he's quite fat and the sight of him makes me shudder with disgust. Albert also tosses Georgina's cigarette in chefs saucepan--ewww! Despite his piss-in-the-wind attitude he seems obsessed with making sure Georgina always washes her hands in the toilet. It's quite funny.
- The camera follows their movement from kitchen to restaurant, which shows us a huge contrast between the areas. Where the kitchen is sad and depressing the restaurant is luxurious. It is decorated in sumptuous reds with gold trimmings and oil paintings. It's very vampy. The people are also dressed like Victorian snobs with over-the-top ornamentation. The clothes are very beautiful though. The costuming was done by Jean Paul Gautier so of course they'd be stunning.
- Albert and his cronies all look high-class but their table manners are terrible. Albert considers himself quite the conoisseur of food and etiquette. In reality he's shocking. He has a low class British accent, his manners and mannerisms are disgusting and his French pronunciation is hilarious. He isn't classy at all, where as Georgina is smooth and precise yet Albert always paints her out as a seductive shrew who corrupted him.
- When Georgina leaves for the bathroom, her blood red dress changes in the rest room to white. Her liaisons occur here with the demure librarian Michael. Maybe the change of colour shows how her relationship with Albert is dark and unhappy whereas with Michael the white could indicate how she's happy and what she feels with him is true love.
- Back in the restaurant Albert tells all his companions about the diseases to be found it bathrooms. Georgina claims she's forgotten her lighter and goes back to toilet to retrieve it. This is where she meets Michael in a stall. She gives him oral sex and then they do the whole deed only to be interrupted by Albert looking for her.
- He's crude and crass, leering about how long it took her and that she must be getting herself off -- which he succinctly tells her she's not allowed to do. He also says that he can help wipe herself if she isn't able to do it properly.
- "Don't forget to wash your hands, you don't know the women who use this place" -- Albert. I thought this quote was quite appropriate for the situation because in reality Albert doesn't really know the real Georgina and has no clue about what she does in the bathroom.
- On the return back to the deviant restaurant her white dress changes back to red.
- Albert is cruel to Georgina and blames her for steering him down a corrupt path. He tends to say "...but that was before I met Georgie." The viewer also learns that he beats her and doesn't care too much about where he abuses her.
- In the kitchen Georgina's clothes always become a pretty green. This is where she meets Michael again and they have sex in the bread pantry. It's quite a disgusting idea, especially since people are going to consume that food, however it is amusing at the same time. The director deliberatly positions them to have sex in comical places to alleviate the dark cynical-ness of the rest of the movie. Still, there is tension because Georgina only has a small time allowance before Albert goes looking for her.
- Albert gives the restaurant new cutlery which are gold and match the restaurant. However, they prove to be of poor quality and the chef tells him they are no good. This is a reflection of Albert. He looks classy in his nice clothes and car but his personality and soul are poor quality and evil.
- Albert does show weakness when someone mentions why he and Georgina don't have any children. He starts off professing he doesn't need them then breaks down confessing the Georgina can't have children. He also gropes her breasts in front of everyone.
- When Georgina embarrasses Albert he hauls her through the kitchen with the intent of punishing her. He also hears the choir boy singing and drags him off too just because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Young boy witnesses Albert sexually assult Georgina. Next time we see them, Georgina has a badly bruised jaw and shoulder.
- At this point, Michael and Georgina are formally introduced after Albert saw Michael reading at dinner and claimed that dinner would give him indigestion.
- Albert fabricates a life for Michael when he doesn't find the real person satisfying. He says he's jewish because he "looks like one" an proceeds to insult jewish culture.
- He forces Georgina to talk about herself. When she doesn't he tells her wat to say and she repeats it. When he urges her to make up her own answers, she angers him by pointing out the weakness in their relationship by confessing how many miscarriages she's had and that her gynocologist says she can't have children.
- Micheal says he's a gynocologist (though he isn't) which sends Albert in a tiz. He forces Michael back to his own table. Forces Georgina back through the kitchen where he punches her. She antagonises him further and he shoves her in the car and takes her home, running over a dog in the process.
- The next day, Michael and her have sex in a closet where they keep all the dead birds that need plucking.
- While they are here, they are spotted by a woman from their table who dangles Georgina's "toilet breaks" in front of his face and implys he's too stupid and conceited to even notice she's banging some other guy.
- Furious, Albert stabs woman in cheek with a fork. Then he says he has to go bathroom where he kicks all the stalls open, drags people off the toilet and throws anything throw-able at the customers. She's no where to be found so he rampages through the restaurant and breaks things. All the while he chants "I'll kill him and then I'll eat him".
- To get away, the chef hides Georgina and Michael naked in the freezer and then transfers them into one of the meat trucks outsidel. It looks quite traumatic for the couple because they are naked amongst rotting animal carcasses. When they arrive at Michaels place they get hosed down and for once Georgina looks optomistic about life. She is still afraid that Albert will find them but she's happy to be with Michael.
- Kitchen boy brings them food and lends some books from Michaels massive collection. On the way back to the restaurant he is captured by Albert and his cronies. They interrogate him on where the couple are and Kitchen boy refuses to answer, so Albert rips the buttons off his clothes and forces boy to eat them. When he runs out of buttons Albert says "there's one more button" and proceeds to cut the boys belly button. This is when he faints.
- Albert does look at the books which are stamped with Michaels name and address.
- Georgina hears about Kitchen boy and wants to go see him. While she is away at hospital Albert and his cronies get Michael. They force book pages down his throat with a wooden spoon causing him to bleed profusely. They stuff him as if he were a turkey and eventually he suffocates. They wreak the books and leave a horrid sight for poor Georgina who is distraught.
- She copes with the pain by acting completely normal. She tucks him in bed ad sleeps beside him saying all her hopes for the next day. When none of those hopes occurs she realises that he is totally dead and there is no return for him. She cries and becomes resigned to a life without him.
- Georgina confesses to Michaels dead body that Albert would beat her. He'd make her take a hot wet towel and accompany him to the toilet. After he finish, he had a suitcase with all sorts of things. Tooth brush, wooden spoon, broken bottle, drain pipe which he'd use on her. She said he wasn't interested in sex with women or anyone for that matter. Everytime she'd leave him, te cronies would retrieve her, strip her naked and beat her.
- On return to the restaurant, she asks the chef to cook Michael. It is completely mad!
- She asks the chef to tell her about all the liasions she had with Michael who describes their sex in vivid detail. Her justification for why he must tell her this is so that she knows that everything she experienced with Michael was real.
- At first chef is reluctant and tells her that she can't keep Michael by eating him. Georgina says that's not the reason she wishes to do this. She wants to cook Michael and feed him to Albert.

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That's all for now. Hopefully we'll finish the movie on Wednesday.

1 Comment:

ethan said...

What wonderful post, really well written, I love it!
wall art

1 Comment