Saturday, December 12, 2015

EROS (2004)

Directed By: Kar Wai Wong (THE HAND) 
Steven Soderbergh (EQUILIBRIUM) 
Michelangelo Antonioni (THE DANGEROUS THREAD OF THINGS) 

Written By: Kar Wai Wong (THE HAND) 
Steven Soderbergh (EQUILIBRIUM) 
Michelangelo Antonioni & Tonino Guerra (THE DANGEROUS THREAD OF THINGS) 
THE DANGEROUS THREAD OF THINGS Based on the book By: Michelangelo Antonioni 

Cinematography By: Christopher Doyle (THE HAND) 
Steven Soderbergh * As Peter Andrews (EQUILIBRIUM) 

Editor: William Chang (THE HAND) 
Steven Soderbergh * Mary Ann Bernard (EQUILIBRIUM) 

Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Alan Arkin, Gong Li, Ele Keats, Chen Chang, Regina Nemni, Luisa Raneri
*Please note that some trivia and facts have been republished from imdb among other sources In this review

A three-part anthology film about love and sexuality: a menage-a-trois between a couple and a young woman on the coast of Tuscany; an advertising executive under enormous pressure at work, who, during visits to his psychiatrist, is pulled to delve into the possible reasons why his stress seems to manifest itself in a recurring erotic dream; and a story of unrequited love about a beautiful, 1960s high-end call girl in an impossible affair with her young tailor.

Designed as a tribute to Michelangelo Antonioni. Ironically, Antonioni's contribution was universally deemed to be the worst of the three.

This anthology by three different directors. Revolves around the theme of erotica. This film should be a worthwhile effort, but proves to be a disappointment on many levels.

The first segment THE HAND. By Kar Wai Wong, is by far the best and is what brings this movie into a more passable status.

It is the story of a tailor' assistant. Who makes dresses for a woman. Who upon first meeting him gives him a hand-job and tells him to remember that feeling he got while getting it from her and use that joy and emotion for specifically creating clothes for her and over the years he makes beautiful dresses. Obsessing about the beauty and quality of them for her. That leads to a heartbreakingly endearing unrequited love story. Trust me it is more moving and powerful then how I described it. It as a story about passion and creativity.

At 48 minutes this segment is actually the longest.

The second segment EQUILIBRIUM, directed by Steven Soderbergh is disappointing as it is a story of longing and being true to your attractions. In a repressed button down society. Which frowns upon letting you be who you truly are. Though watching it in soderbergh' realistic yet clinical style. That seems to want to be playful, yet keeps a straight face throughout.

This feels like a very long set-up to an ok joke with a twisted punchline. I mean you have Alan Arkin the consumate straight man and Robert Downey jr. All energy and quirks. Then you question as you watch. this is the best they could come up with?

A man in a psychiatrists office explaining his sexual problems. While his psychiatrist can't stop from peeping on the girl in the building across from his. It just feels bland yet very colorful in production.

This is Steven Soderbergh 's first self-penned original script since SCHIZOPOLIS

Pedro Almodóvar was originally set to direct the third segment but baled at the last minute. Steven Soderbergh stepped in at the 11th hour.

Then we come to the third segment THE DANGEROUS THREAD OF THINGS directed by Michelangelo Antonioni

Strangely this is the worst of the bunch, by a director who seems the only natural to be used in this premise and production.

As always his is hard to explain and open to interpretation when it comes to meaning. Though some in the audience will only see it as meandering.

Even though this is a short film it feels like you are sitting through a whole feature. It is that slow, but this is really the only story that has nudity. In fact so Much it feels like it is making up for any lack In the first two segments. Though here it doesn't feel exploitive more as natural and matter of fact. An extension of the characters and their emotional state. Being naked physically and maybe emotionally.

As much nudity that is here. There are also a lot of mundane conversations as the characters seem to continuously walk and roam with the camera closely following them. There are sliding stretches of periodic silence. I can barely remember what exactly what this segment was about. I remember it having something to do with two lovers. Who both run into a woman separately and are intrigued by her and they all have a bunch of conversations about art.

I will admit I have never been the biggest fan of Antonioni's work. Which I always felt like I was lost in and feel more like spiritual documentaries that really have no subject but beautiful camerawork and filmmaking. As the shots and visuals always look good.

Michelangelo Antonioni's segment was filmed in English. It was later dubbed into Italian after hostile critical reactions at initial test screenings. This was also his last film.

All of the segments in this anthology look good. The colors are usually vibrant. The cinematography exquisite, but watched all together. They road to disappointment. The acting was all good. Even though only one segment was spoken in English. And can be rather difficult to tell how good a performance is or the acting is if you don't speak the language they are immersed in. They could actually be really bad, but you get a sense they are good here at least. It seems that way anyway.

When shown in Hong Kong and North America, Kar Wai Wong's segment plays first. Elsewhere, Michelangelo Antonioni 's part plays first.

After a successful working relationship with Michelangelo Antonioni on BEYOND THE CLOUDS , producer Stephane Tchalgadijeff was keen to work with the famous director again. He came up with the idea of doing a triptych in conjunction with two other directors so the project wouldn't be too onerous for the octogenarian .

I believe that an audience will expect more from what is on display here. As three great directors collaborate on a project on a universal subject. Though the results are not as masterful as hey could have been. It feels like The anthology NEW YORK STORIES all over again. Where there is one standout and the rest are ok to bad. As they might be too self indulgent. It's disappointing considering the talent involved. Especially with the subject matter being so enticing and inviting. There should have been more passion on display. Especially from the foreign directors. Whose usual favorite subjects are emotions tied to passion, obsession, sensuality, sex and romance. Plus they aren't as close minded and prudish when it comes to sex it expressing it on screen in a non gratuitous way.

If you really think of of the hottest or most memorable erotic or sexual mainstream cinema. The ones who break through the taboos. They are usually directed by foreign directors. Who are a bit laid back when it comes to the subject. Not as eager to impress think THE LAST TANGO IN PARIS, BASIC INSTINCT, IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES.

I would say check this out only if you are a die hard fan of these directors or just watch the first segment by Wong kar wai. Think of the added two as supplemental material or added bonus. Though I warn you if you are looking for cheap thrills or a satisfying anthology movie look elsewhere.


1 comment:

  1. I saw this a few years ago but in a different presentation where the Antonioni short was first and The Hand was presented last as it's the international version of the film. The one you saw is the U.S. version. I love The Hand while I also enjoyed Soderbergh's short. Yeah, the Antonioni segment was terrible as it's a shame considering that it was one of his final contributions to cinema.