This and Drowning By Numbers are peak Greenaway for me.
They're the two Greenaway films that best reflect his peculiar obsessions.
I still think "The Draughtsman's Contract" is is best for general audiences, and "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover" for those who can stomach a bit of ultraviolence.
I enjoy all Greenaway. But he isn't an infinite repository of ideas. He runs out for me around "The Pillow Book". I'm still as grateful as any pseudo for exposing me to Caroline Dhavernas.
Yeah, I saw The Pillow Book at some screening with a Q&A session afterward, and between the movie itself and his unmitigated pompousness I haven't really been able to enjoy even his good movies that much ever since.
Prospero's Books was pretty bad, too. Other than that, everything up through Cook Etc. is great in one way or another (or did Prospero come later than that? I forget).
It's interesting that his steep drop in quality seems to correspond with when Michael Nyman stopped doing his soundtracks, and it gives me a feeling that Nyman probably had a fair amount of input into at least the editing. I have a feeling he's one of those directors like Lynch where the music and sound design are as important as anything else and are part of the process from the beginning (which is how it should be). I asked him about the split at the abovementioned Q&A but he refused to answer, beyond "our creative partnership had run its course" which to me sounds like "we had a big falling out and I'm being diplomatic about it."
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