Thursday, March 3, 2016

800. The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover
Directed by Peter Greenaway

800!!  Honestly, I would rather talk about this milestone than this disgusting movie.  Yay, 800!  I can't believe I have written about 800 movies!  Yay...okay, I guess I can't milk that for very long.  Ugh, let's get on with it...

A brutish English gangster, Albert Spica, takes over Le Hollandais restaurant.  He dines there often with his cronies, bringing along his frequently abused wife. I still can't get over the fact that this man played Dumbledore.  I believe his character is the reincarnated spirit of Frank Booth.  Anyway, his wife has an affair with a bookshop owner and surprisingly, things get even grosser.

Ugh, what happens to the bookshop a reader, that shook me to my core.  Obviously, this was an absolute horror to sit through; I suppose it is up to us to decide if it was worth it. I really don't think so.  I felt like I was watching Blue Velvet again, although at least in this film, the wife does take some sort of stand against the abuse.  Well...kind of.  I think it is possible to have a visceral movie experience without fecal material involved.

Definitely not for people with weak stomachs, although that makes it sound like you're chickening out if you don't want to endure this Rabelaisian nightmare.  How about, definitely not for people with stomachs?

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

The tracking shot from the restaurant to the toilet is supposed to be symbolic of the way food travels through the digestive tract.  Ew.


  1. Congratulations on 800!! Sorry you didn't like #800 though. I actually really dug it, but to each their own.

  2. Also congrats on hitting a milestone ..
    (Although I was never sure if I should celebrate - say- 800 or 801..)
    OK< Cook, thief etc ..
    OK, it is sort of supposed to be disgusting .. it is attacking something disgusting . I believe it is supposed to be an allegory of the Thatcher years, of the 'get rich at all costs' culture of the late 80's. As such .. sorry Amanda, I'm going to vote this a hit. Perhaps a slightly (ironic comment) unsubtle comment .. but a valid and scathing comment.
    I'm afraid we do slightly disagree on this general point of representation. War, The Holocaust, rape, rampant greed / offensive consumerism, excessive wealth.. all things film needs to tackle and come out screaming (at times) NO NO NO NO THAT IS SO WRONG.
    I think 'Come See' did that fully for Children getting dragged into war situations'.
    I think Cook, thief..' did it very well for obnoxious, overly rich sexist assholes situation.
    I even, (sorry Amanda), think the rather overly long and horribly traumatic rape scene in 'Girl with the Dragon tattoo' worked (at least was trying to) in showing how brutal and revolting a rape is.
    (I may agree with you more that - say- the rape scene in 'Clockwork Orange' was .. almost comic in it's portrayal and probably didn't work)

    Sorry, we are returning to a recurring theme.. and one I know you don't like us talking about too much. I will shut up.

    1. No it's okay! Well, first I haven't seen Girl with the Dragon Tattoo so I can't comment on that. I agree that film does have to tackle these subjects and should handle them responsibly (as you say, this doesn't always happen, like in A Clockwork Orange). But that raises some questions. First of all, should you have to see a rape happening to know that it is a brutal and vile act? I know this already; watching it happen on screen rarely is an enlightening experience. I also feel like it is something that constantly happens in films so it's not exactly a subject that needs more representation.

      I recently read American Psycho for the first time. Here, I think all the violence worked (Though of course this is in a literary context). It makes sense that a psychopath would describe brutal torture in the same deadpan way that he describes his favorite 80s albums. So I am not always against anything distasteful.

  3. I love this film. The art direction is stunning. So vivid, so creative, so unconstrained by convention. Yes, the depravity, in all its forms, is pretty graphic. But that's the point of film in general and this film in particular, isn't it? Otherwise we can just read a technical manual which tells us "greed is bad, bad things happen, the end". It's the power to feel shock viscerally (and many other emotions) that makes cinema so special.

    1. I agree that film has the power to touch us deeply. But I don't think something should be praised just because it's "shocking." It's quite easy to shock people. Just look at something like Flaming Creatures.

  4. I keep meaning to look up what you made of Flaming Creatures...

    True, a film has to do more than shock. Borat, for example, to my eyes, just shocked witlessly. The difference may be if it's boringly shocking. But I think that this is very much more than the sum of its shocking parts.

  5. First of all, CONGRATS ON REVIEWING 800 MOVIES! I am so impressed with your dedication and the ability to continue to write interesting, insightful and humorous reviews.
    Next, that's quite a few comments. I know Ray is male, not sure about Dessie---I have never heard that name before. I am assuming from the comments, he is male. I could be wrong. I have been known to be wrong. Anyway, the subject: violent movies and frequent rape scenes in movies. We live in a rape culture. We do not need any more graphic, lengthy, violent rapes shown in all their glory. We do not need to give any predator any more ideas, and we do not need to see a rape in every other movie we watch. (Or see the effect of the bullet throough someone's brain for that matter.) I wonder about the List Makers. Are there any women or any understanding men involved in this list-making? Have none of them been touched by this is real life? I can't believe that could be true. Let's not judge movies by how many "realistic, graphic and true-to-life scenes" are included to make it "list-worthy."Part of changing the rape culture we live in is to STOP acting as if rape is ok---even in movies.

    1. Thank you so much Diana! Dessie is male too. I agree Diana. I understand everyone else's argument that cinema shouldn't just be happy fairytales. But we really do live in a rape culture and the way it is shown in films isn't helping.