|Index||4 reviews in total|
26 Bathrooms is a witty, light little film that must be seen be those who appreciate Greenaway's darker, more allegorical works. Simultaneously satiric and celebratory, the lighter side of his humanism washes through this quirky quasi-documentary of our most fundamental bodily needs and the spaces we create to fulfil them.
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
How strange talent is. Even ordinary, old Greenaway is superior to most of what else one encounters.
This film employs all the Greenaway signatures minus one. Here we have moving water, casual nudity, numeric or alphabetical (here the latter) organization, and a Nyman score. Along the way, one gets a brief tour of a mildly naturalistic philosophy and some rather lovely images. What's missing is his usual esoteric symbolism within a mystical notion of order. This latter piece is what makes him a potentially lifealtering filmmaker.
Without that all one can do is charm, which this does.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Inside Rooms: 26 Bathrooms, London & Oxfordshire, 1985" is a really long title for a fairly short film. It runs for 26 minutes and was directed by British filmmaker Peter Greenaway in 1985, so this one is over 30 years old already. The music is by Oscar-nominated composer Michael Nyman. Greenaway here uses the letters of the alphabet to depict (not so) usual bathrooms and their equally (not so) usual owners. It is at least as much about the people as it is about the bathrooms. I personally did not enjoy this film too much, but then again Greenaway has not yet impressed with anything I have seen from. Now I still wonder how many of these bathrooms still exist today and how many of their owners still live in the same places. However, the topic is also not really an interesting one, so I doubt other directors could have made this a more exciting watch. I hardly care about my own bathroom and I really don't want to know about anybody else's. Not recommended.
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