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Inside Rooms: 26 Bathrooms, London & Oxfordshire, 1985 (1985)

| Documentary, Short
Greenaway's documentary short shows us...well, 26 bathrooms, some in use by their owners while we visit. Whee!

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Greenaway's documentary short shows us...well, 26 bathrooms, some in use by their owners while we visit. Whee!

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Rubber ducky
27 March 2012 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

The sound of running water is soothing to me. Listening to running taps & flowing pipes while snuggled up in bed warm at night is a key childhood memory, likewise the pitter patter of rain on the shingles above. So imagine the delight at spending a full half-hour reveling in the best spot in the house- the john! (or worst depending on your priorities). Now I don't think I could review a full length Greenaway movie, too dense for my limited capacities (just a few minutes from any of his will probably overload virgin viewers) but this seems just perfect for amateur eyes.

The imagery is just as ornate in this bite sized serving, focused entirely on a beautiful array of bathrooms, alphabetically classified (of course) with the a neoclassical score buzzing away in the background, overlaid with the ponderings of inhabitants who are often in a state of undress, the same Greenaway humor too (though gentler).

I was surprised that one scene even featured a child washing himself in the background, even though this is Greenaway & frankness about the human body, uninhibited by media hierarchization is part & parcel. PROSPERO'S BOOKS exploited that to the fullest and its one of the most joyous productions I've ever had the pleasure to ogle. The mother washing her infant at the start is such a simple, unguarded moment- it was beautiful in a way that has nothing to do with glamour or sexiness or any of the stuff we now seem to exclusively associate with the word. The lady here was even addressing the danger in looking at the human body in just sexy terms. I find it hard to reconcile Greenaway physicality with the mainstream version you see around you, the airbrushed symmetrical perfection and plastic rigidity that's very contrived & inhuman but no less immersive. It's a very different POV.

But this works wonderfully- the nudity, the cultivated vulnerability, catching people brushing their teeth or peeing or shaving, stripping off the vague shame associated with the facility & letting it all hang out, so to speak. That it comes out in this precise, clipped English pronunciation makes it even better.

Its light & frothy without sacrificing those core directorial flourishes.


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