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Raymond J. Barry,
Rejected by Hollywood and facing pressure to return to Stalinist Russia, filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein travels to Mexico to shoot a new film. Chaperoned by his guide Palomino, he experiences the ties between Eros and Thanatos, happy to create their effects in cinema, troubled to suffer them in life.
After his wife dies, 55-year-old businessman Philip Emmenthal, at the prompting of his playboy son Storey, populates his Geneva villa with eight and a half concubines. Three are from Kyoto, where Storey manages Pachinco palaces. Each has a distinctive personality: a nun, a child bearer, a gambler, a student of Kabuki, a horsewoman with a pet pig, a maid. Philip throws off his strait-laced and repressed attitudes, immersing himself in pleasure. After about a year, the women begin to assert their own power. Side adventures pre-figure the household's breakup, and the women depart in one way or another, one at at time. Philip's fate is in the hands of Palmira, his favorite. Written by
A clever film, with understandable characters in a very surreal situation
Frederico Fellini's "8 1/2" is a movie this one is theoretically inspired by. There are consistent references to it in this film, some subtle, and some glaringly obvious. One should take this into account so that it will not hamper one's voluntary suspension of disbelief, though this movie definitely stands on its own if the viewer has never seen "8 1/2".
Voluntary is, perhaps, an inappropriate word. This movie takes disbelief, which should certainly be present, and suspends it for you, in a most amusing way. The film may well attempt to say something deep about human nature, and the interaction between a fickle heart which has lots of love to give and a bored brain with so many thoughts - but it doesn't say it so loud that you can't just sit back and enjoy the picture. Some scenes are funny to all; some scenes may cause you to be the only hysterical person in the theater. In any case, it's well worth the ticket or rental cost. Some male nudity is present, though no more than the average British movie containing male nudity. No sex scenes are overly graphic, though one should definitely have an open mind going into the movie in order to enjoy it. If you didn't feel a significant need to leave the theater during "Gouttes d'eau sur pierres brûlantes," which I was last week, you should be able to thoroughly enjoy this film.
(Lighting designers watch for the Kabuki scene; it won awards in Europe and definitely looks very cool.)
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