Well, I know this is a long time to wait for a review from me, but really, I cannot decide what I thought about this movie. Some would say that is recommendation in and of itself (you know, the old “cinema should make you think” attitude), but it is not necessarily a recommendation to slap down some hard-earned money.
The Pillow Book is not for everyone. It is not for the xenophobic, homophobic, or that strange chunk of middle America that keeps “Family Matters” and “Home Improvement” on the air. It is not a film for people who are uncomfortable with nudity, especially male nudity. Scads of it.
It *is* a film for Ewan McGregor fans (like me!) and for people who like really interesting lighting tricks and Japanese calligraphy and the occasional naked Asian woman.
I liked the story, I found it interesting the entire time. I liked seeing Ewan McGregor naked. I liked the interesting lighting tricks (projected images on the walls and so on) even though it was totally random and clearly for effect, rather than a design element in the “real story” (that is to say, I didn’t think the character had projected images as part of her home decor though it would be in keeping with her wackiness).
I hated this screen-in-screen conceit of the directors – while occasionally it was an interesting way to propel the story by showing us a scene in a small screen as it is being talked about in the large screen, much of the time it was like being in Best Buy with 4 different shows on the demos, except more annoying. And instead of propelling the scene with the inserted screens, they could have just stopped showing these bozos walking around and just cut to where they were walking. Director Peter Greenaway (The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover) would continue the shot on the walking and in-screen the place they were going to. I didn’t see The Cook etc., but I understand that I would probably dislike it.
Did I mention Ewan McGregor naked? And lots of handsome Asian men (and some not-so-handsome as well) naked and covered with beautiful calligraphy. It’s a film that thinks it is sexier than it is, but it’s still pretty sexy. Not American sexy, not Baywatch and Skinemax, but like actually reveling in skin and smells and things. It has a whiff of secret woman thoughts and pretty light and some GHASTLY music.
I don’t mean to be American and closed minded and all that but the weird “make way to make way” song is really irritating and played too often at important moments. You’ll see what I mean.It’s an interesting movie, not for everyone, but the story is engaging – read the book and pay full price for that! The aesthetics of the filmmaking overwhelmed the story at crucial moments.
MPAA Rating BC-17
Release date 9/12/97
Time in minutes 126
Director Peter Greenaway
Studio Le Studio Canal +/Columbia