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The Blog, The Blogger, Her Movie and Its Costumes | Manolo for the Big Girl

The Blog, The Blogger, Her Movie and Its Costumes

A warning to Harry Potter fans: if you are a sensitive soul with deep emotional ties to everybody’s favorite gay and aged wizard, Albus Dumbledore, you might do well to avoid Peter Greenaway’s seriously twisted 1989 black comedy The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover starring Helen Mirren and Michael Gambon because it is entirely likely your world view vis the aforementioned magical headmaster will be changed entirely until the last, or at least next to last, trumpet.

Helen MirrenFor the rest of you, seriously consider renting this flick. The costumes by Jean Paul Gaultier are (not unlike Gaultier himself) sick and magnificent, and the rest of the film follows, er, suit. Witness Helen Mirren’s red dress, perfectly matching the oppressive red dining room of Le Hollandais, lose all as she enters the stark white restroom, and of course the birdcage corset dress that made such a scandal on the theatrical release photos.

Chock full of obscene food, fashion and sex, The Cook also holds the dubious honor of being the only movie I had to watch over the course of two nights because the damn thing disturbed me so much.

Watch the trailer here.

9 Responses to “The Blog, The Blogger, Her Movie and Its Costumes”

  1. AmelieWannabe May 8, 2008 at 2:06 pm #

    I love, love, LOVE this film but haven’t seen it in ages. I know what I’ll be doing this weekend.

  2. grudge girl May 8, 2008 at 3:04 pm #

    OMG! I saw this in the theater when it was first released, and I was like 19 or something, and my worldview was shattered into a million fafillion pieces and then gradually put back together again. Over like the next ten years.

    It is visually luscious and aesthetically glorious. It is also brutal in the extreme. But also sexy! But also disgusting! And sad as well!

    This is when I fell in love with Helen Mirren. And cinematography.

    Thanks for linking to the trailer. It brought it all back. I remember watching old people getting up and leaving the theater in droves. I felt awesome and sophisticated for staying, even though half the time I was watching through my fingers, or tears. I wonder what it’d be like to see it again. But I’m afraid. DAMN! I’m so… torn!

  3. California May 8, 2008 at 4:40 pm #

    I saw this in college at an arthouse theater. I HAD to have the video when it came out! Sadly, there was a slight difference between it and the theatrical release, Helen Mirren’s final line is cut in the videotape version. For shame! It makes the movie!

    FWIW, I didn’t find it either disturbing nor shattering of worldview, but lush, poignant, and deep (like the rest of the Greenway oeuvre). Then again, I was an art student when I first saw it. I think I processed it as “performance art” with a much higher materials budget than my art-school peers could manage.

  4. ChaChaHeels May 9, 2008 at 8:50 am #

    I saw this film for the first time when it made its debut at the Toronto Film Festival many years ago. Part of the audience boo’d, then started to walk out; then another part of the audience promptly started to “boo” those who’d boo’d and walked out! We’re all about bitter judgment and snarky rejoinders up here! Greenaway’s all about showing us the accepted and unquestioned ugliness of our interactions against backdrops of the spectacular and the opulent. Every one of his movies is a glorious feast and a hideous grotesque at the same time, they’re all disturbing in a nice, long lasting way. If you really want your movie star notions exploded, Greenaway’s your man: check out Belly of an Architect for an alternative view of Brian Dennehy; or, my favourite, The Pillow Books, for an entirely different glimpse of Ewan McGregor.

  5. Lee May 9, 2008 at 9:22 am #

    My dad saw this movie because he thought the poster was, ah, “cute” and because I told him it was very good. I feel that I *also* added that he should not see the movie because it is deeply disturbing and twisted (not something he enjoys in a cinematic experience). He does not remember me saying that and has blamed me ever since for the nightmares.

  6. boots May 9, 2008 at 9:40 am #

    Five of my friends were watching this movie together in college, and one fell asleep early in the movie. She woke up about 10 minutes from the ending, yawned, and said, “So, what’s going on?” and everyone else in the room screamed, in unison, “GO BACK TO SLEEP!!” Cracked me up.

  7. anon May 9, 2008 at 9:03 pm #

    Um… saw this several years ago and to this day feel queasy just thinking about it. Only made it to the end because the middle portions were so intolerably sadistic that I had to have some resolution or risk recurring nightmares. Yes, gorgeously filmed etc., but seriously, not for the (even slightly) faint of heart.

  8. littlem May 9, 2008 at 11:10 pm #

    I had always been afraid to see the film because of what anon says upthread just above me.

    But I guess La Mirren has always been fabulous, yes? My introduction to her was in the complete plot mess that was “White Nights”. Baryshnikov, Hines, Rossalini, and Mirren, and the film was still a mess. Never understood that, but have loved La Mirren ever since.

  9. Mr. Henry May 14, 2008 at 10:22 am #

    It’s a film that accomplishes something only a film can do. That is, the viewer’s experience could not be replicated by a stage production or a book. Terrific and sick night in the cinema.

    Did you know that was Michael Gambon’s first movie? A celebrated stage actor for a generation, he had refused to do film until this role.