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Thursday, December 16, 2010

REMBRANDT BY PETER GREENAWAY

santas sleigh



This looks like someplace in Georgia, going by the trees. Found it in one of those emails of pictures people send around. Somebody in that trailer has a sense of humor. It took some serious labor getting all that set up. I love Christmas decorations when they're done beyond all bounds of reason, where you wonder where they keep all the stuff during the rest of the year, like it takes up an entire garage. An old boy over on Bullhead Road had a whole hillside of the entire Jesus story and Santa, the whole works. He quit doing it and someone else on Bullhead Road has taken to ultra decorating. They're fun to drive by and look at.



Watched a film today by Peter Greenaway (English) J'ACCUSE, the story of Rembrandt's great painting called Night Watch. In Amsterdam at the time men of wealth had clubs they belonged to and commissioned huge portraits of everyone in the club, 30 or so. Rembrandt was commissioned by this one club to do their portraits. It turned out that he told the story of a murder, all of it told in this one theatrical composition of a painting. It told relationships among them, who did in whom, who killed whom. Under examination, it tells quite a story of what this did to Rembrandt's life. The men in the club, powerful men in the city, cut him down. He didn't get any more commissions, he was out of the art circles, and was so out that he ultimately died "in penury." His reputation was destroyed, his name disgraced, and the 3 feet of the left side was cut off later, getting people out of the picture that pointed the finger of guilt.



Greenaway is a post-modern director who makes art films. He made Prospero's Books, an interpretation of Shakespeare's Tempest, and The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, a visual overload of a film that never ceases to amaze visually. First time I saw it, I came out of the theater in a state of minor shock. Next night I went back and it wasn't shocking at all the second time. I was ready for it. It has some powerful energy in it. Michael Gambon plays an egomaniac mad man who gripes, bitches and runs everybody down all the way through it, rough on the people near him, a gang boss type with his thug body guards around him all the time. And his wife, Helen Mirrin, is beaten down, treated like a dog, but in the end she gets her revenge. The title is the four main characters. It's so powerful, it's difficult to watch, while at the same time an exquisitely beautiful film. Prospero's books is at the top of my list of favorite films.



I'll watch the Rembrandt film again tomorrow. It's such a film that seeing it the second time will be like seeing it the first time. I'll find that I missed most of it. Back in the time of VHS I was always looking for videos of Peter Greenaway films. Now, with netflix, I have access to nearly all of them, except Prospero's Books. First time I saw it was in a small theater in London. The screen was rectangular, but the film was inside an oval, our lives are "rounded by sleep" (Shakeseare). The VHS I have shows it rectangular. Can't imagine why netflix would not have Prospero's Books. In my book, it's one of the most important films of the 20th century. Greenaway has an imagination that seems to have no bounds. Rembrandt's story strikes me as one saying leave be the powers that be. In Jr Maxwell's language, Stay away from important people.



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