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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
I went in expecting the worst and left completely turned around. 8 1/2 Women doesn't hold a candle to The Pillow Book, The Cook the Thief..., or his earlier Drowning By Numbers, but I had fun! It was almost like Peter Greenaway does Woody Allen (wanna talk about film makers who purge their sexual fantasies on screen!) With the exception of a couple of scenes, the visual style of this film is stark and simple (much like Drowning...) and relied heavily on smart dialogue, which at times got a bit over the top, intellectually speaking, but kept the film going. I never got bored with it, I never got too disgusted, and even if I can't recommend it to most of the people I know, I still feel it's a strong feature.
Now, even though this is Greenaway Lite, it still isn't for people who didn't like any of his earlier films. But even if you only liked The Cook The Thief, you should give this one a chance. Forget that you have hang ups about sex and sit back and watch the perversion unfold! Pure, sick fun!
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