Made of four short tales, linked by a story filmed by Wim Wenders. Taking place in Ferrara, Portofino, Aix en Provence and Paris, each story, which always a woman as the crux of the story, ... See full summary »
Three separate stories of love, desire and/or obsession are presented. "The Hand" tells of the desire that builds in the several years long largely professional relationship (his profession) between Xiao Zhang, the apprentice to tailor Mr. Jin, and Ms. Hua, a prostitute, the two who meet when he is first sent to take her measurements for a new dress. Sexually inexperienced, that meeting awakens Zhang's sexual desires. The story takes place during a phase of Ms. Hua's life when she becomes ill, making her unable to work and thus live to the style to which she is accustomed. In "Equilibrium", Nick Penrose is having his first session with Dr. Pearl, a therapist, Nick's anxiety and thus want to see a therapist probably due to a combination of starting a new project with his colleague Hal in their job as advertising executives, and a recurring dream he is having about a woman who he doesn't know but knows in the dream, that woman who is not his wife, Cecelia. These issues may be at play ...Written by
The version screened at the Venice Film Festival presented the three short films in the following order: "The Hand" (Kar-Wai Wong), "Equilibrium" (Steven Soderbergh) and "Il Filo Pericoloso delle Cose" (Michelangelo Antonioni). When the film was released theatrically in Italy, "Il Filo Pericoloso delle Cose" was presented as the first and "The Hand" as the third. See more »
Almost what I expected- Antonioni's segment was flawed, but not unbearable, and the other two segments worked wonderfully
It's always a tricky thing to comment on these 'omnibus' films, where world-renown directors come together to make little films combined as one film. The two that are likely most well known to American audiences, of most recent as twenty years, are New York Stories (featuring Scorsese, Coppola, and Woody) and Four Rooms (Anders, Rockwell, Rodriguez, and Tarantino). None of those films are total masterpieces, due to the fact that there are always un-even bits by the filmmakers, even in the better segments. Eros is no exception, but I would argue that there has been some over-load of flack against the short co-written and directed by 90-something year-old Michelangelo Antonioni. His segment has been claimed by almost all the critics and reviewers (on this site and for the press) has been claimed as a waste of time, as total soft-core porn, the ideals of an old man wanting one last grip on his libido. I didn't find his segment to be a waste, although it is one of his stranger, more enigmatic films in his sixty year career, and it isn't as fascinating as it used to be.
The other two segments are little classics in and of themselves for the younger of the two filmmakers. Wong Kar Wai delivers a touching, sad romantic tale of a tailor's apprentice who has a curiosity about a woman who does something erotic with him on a first visit (hence the title of the segment, The Hand, though it's not as pat a term as might be imagined. The actors involved are all marvelous, and the style in how Kaw-Wai sets up his shots demands attention, despite it being unconventional. The acting is very natural, the music used comes in at just the right moments for emotional contact (you almost anticipate it, and when it comes, it's powerful), and the ending wraps the story up rather fittingly. It goes to show that Kar-Wai might be the most skilled at making romantic-dramas in China, or at least is the most popular.
Steven Soderbergh, likely around the time he directed the slightly off-putting Ocean's Twelve, concocted this sort of comedy of manners, as he says, "so I could have my name on a poster with Antonioni." It stars Robert Downey Jr. and Alan Arkin as a salesman and a psychiatrist respectively, and Downey's character is anxious about his job and, more importantly, about a woman in his dream. Arkin is hilarious in his role as a man who would much rather look out the window with binoculars at someone we do not see in the short. But his physical mannerisms, as Downey goes through his dream to confront himself (filmed in nice black and white, by the way), makes the scene all the more worthwhile. The last shots, jump cuts, of a paper airplane flying out the window are filmed with a fine touch of whimsy. There is also a solid, painterly use of blue in one particular part of the dream scene early on in the segment.
Then we come to Antonioni. First off, let one address the good qualities, or at least the fair, expectable qualities, that come with many of Antonioni's films. In a sense, he's hearkening back to his classic 'trilogy' (L'Aventurra, La Notte, The Eclipse), where a married couple is going through a crisis, and they spend a lot of time not saying anything to one another, and looking out at beautiful Italian landscapes and beaches. In a way, I almost wish this was a feature-length film as opposed to a more or less half hour short. I wanted to know more about these people, about what they do, or what they were doing or going to. But there seem to be two big flaws in the segment (the nudity didn't bother me- there were actually a couple of memorable shots, one of which just a woman's foot on a bed). One was with the music. Some have said that the film is Antonioni's closest trip to soft-core porn. While I would class his directorial eye and style miles above anything on after-midnight Cinemax, the music by Enrica Antonioni and Vinicio Milani is a complete contrast of the music more associated with the director's work, which is either spellbinding in it's atmosphere, or haunting with the usage of rock and roll. Here he uses the music, electronic and with preposterous lyrics, in the more 'erotic' scenes. The other flaw is that, because of the film's short length, there isn't enough time as usual to build up the enigmatic stance of the story. The climax involves the two lead women (one the wife, the other the stranger adulteress) completely nude looking at each other on the beach. While it is interesting to have this image open for interpretation, it is also frustrating in ways that weren't so in the endings to the other Antonioni 'human mysteries'.
I understood some of the implications, but I didn't get the sense of what was lost or what was gained or omitted like in the other two segments. Everything shot and acted looks sweet and tight and concentrated in the segment, still a technical pro, but what exactly is the point? Still, I would not have walked out during the middle of anything by Antonioni, and this, by default the weakest of the bunch, should be open to more interpretation than what Ebert described as "an embarrassment". I felt the eye and mind of an artist working still during "The Dangerous Thread of Things", and my only wish was that I could understand more than what I was seeing and experiencing. Perhaps his segment, like Kaw-Wai's and Soderbergh's, are left up to that interpretation for a purpose. I'll likely want to see all three segments sometime in the future, and maybe get a better take on what eluded me or what enticed me. But, at the least, I didn't leave the theater feeling entirely cheated.
Grade (averaged): B+
33 of 47 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this