The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989)
Venue: FADA Atrium, FADA , Bunting Road campus
Date: Thursday 16 February 2017
Time: 6:30 for 7:00pm
The Cook serves up gourmet masterpieces in a beautiful restaurant. The thief holds his tyrannical court in the restaurant, terrorising all around him. His wife has a dangerous an illicit passion. Her lover is having the riskiest affair of his life. Peter Greenaway’s notorious film is a modern day revenger’s tragedy spiked with comedy.
Peter Greenaway. (for more information see below)
Jean Paul Gaultier. (for more information see below)
Michael Nyman. (for more information see below)
Review Roger Ebert
Rarely has a movie title been more -- or less -- descriptive than Peter Greenaway's "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover." On one level you can describe the movie simply in terms of the characters and the lustful and unspeakable things they do to one another.
On another level, there is no end to the ideas stirred up by this movie, which was threatened with an X rating in America while creating a furor in Great Britain because of its political content. So, which is it? Pornographic, a savage attack on Thatcher, or both? Or is it simply about a cook, a thief, his wife and her lover?.........
This isn't a freak show; it's a deliberate and thoughtful film in which the characters are believable and we care about them. Gambon makes the thief a study in hatefulness. At the end of the film, I regretted it was over because it let him too easily off the hook. Mirren's character transformation is almost frightening -- she changes from submissive wife to daring lover to vicious seeker of vengeance. And watch the way she and Howard handle their sex scenes together, using sex not as joy, not as an avenue to love, but as sheer escapism; lust is their avenue to oblivion.
"The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover" is not an easy film to sit through. It doesn't simply make a show of being uncompromising -- it is uncompromised in every single shot from beginning to end. Why is it so extreme? Because it is a film made in rage, and rage cannot be modulated. Those who think it is only about gluttony, lust, barbarism and bad table manners will have to think again. It is a film that uses the most basic strengths and weaknesses of the human body as a way of giving physical form to the corruption of the human soul. (Roger Ebert, cited rogerebert.com, Feb 2017)
Film Synopsis. The film opens with a London gangster, Albert Spica, arriving at his posh restaurant, La Hollandais, with his entourage of thugs and a man who owes him money. While his thugs hold the man down, Albert smears dog excrement on the him and forces some into his mouth. He leaves the man behind and enters the restaurant's kitchen, where he berates and bullies some of the staff, much to the annoyance of the restaurant's manager and head chef, Richard. Albert has also brought his long-suffering wife, Georgina, with him, whom he also subjects to continual verbal abuse. Meanwhile, Albert's victim is brought into the restaurant and tended to by some of the staff.
Albert comes to the restaurant each night and holds court with his entourage and Georgina, while criticizing Richard's menu choices. Georgina notices a quiet regular customer, Michael, who is always reading. The two begin a clandestine affair with most encounters occurring in the restaurant itself. Georgina believes that if she engages in her affair in Albert's place of business, it will be easier to keep hidden from her husband.
One night, Albert becomes furious when Georgina doesn't return to dinner - she and Michael are having sex in a back room of the kitchen while Richard hides their tryst from Albert. Albert rushes into the kitchen looking for her and Richard hides them in the freezer. He returns for them a few minutes later, after Albert has left the kitchen and offers them a way to sneak out of the restaurant together; they're both hidden in the back of a truck full of rotting meat and driven to Michael's home. Once there, they are cleaned off by one of the restaurant staff and remain, hiding from Albert. However, back at the restaurant, Albert is correctly suspicious that Georgina is having an affair and, after ransacking the kitchen, vows to find the mystery lover and eat him.
One of Albert's henchmen, Cory, catches sight of a young boy, Pup, leaving the restaurant with a basket full of food (it is for the hiding lovers). Cory reports to Albert, who orders his men to capture Pup. He tortures the young boy, hospitalizing him. Georgina rushes to the hospital to visit Pup, which was a ruse to lure her away from Michael. Albert finds Michael at home and kills him by having pages of his books stuffed down his throat.
Georgina discovers that Albert has murdered Michael. She goes to Richard and asks him to cook Michael and serve his body to Albert. Richard is initially reluctant but Georgina is able to convince him, considering Albert's deplorable treatment of everyone around him, including herself and Richard.
Albert is invited to the restaurant, which announces a private party for him. When he arrives, Georgina greets him and a procession enters from the kitchen made up of everyone whom Albert has offended. The procession is carrying a long, covered tray, which is placed in front of Albert. Georgina removes the cover and Albert is horrified to see the roasted body of Michael on the tray. Albert's assistant, Mitchel, grabs a knife but is easily subdued by a few of the guests. Albert attempts to draw his pistol but is easily disarmed. The gun is passed around to a few of the guests and is finally given to Georgina, who points it at Albert and orders him to eat from Michael's body. Very reluctantly and thoroughly sickened, Albert takes a forkful of flesh and eats. After a few moments, Georgina shoots and kills Albert who falls backwards. Her last word is "Cannibal."
About the Director
Peter Greenaway is a filmmaker trained as a painter. He has long been skeptical about the restrictive boundaries of cinema, and you could not say that his films were obsessive about the traditional characteristics of cinema. His films are very distinctive and stray well off the beaten path.
The list of disenchantments is long. He's far from being alone in holding these views. His present particular strategy to investigate and change these shortcomings, as he sees them, is to invest much time in extra cinema activities, if only in the hope of bringing those activities back in to cinema to find ways to reinvent it. For reinvention in the cinema is surely long overdue and very, very necessary. A medium without constant reinvention is doomed to perish. Many say now that there are no great inventors working in cinema any more. They have gone elsewhere. Perhaps they are right.
Even though Peter Greenaway is an Englishman, he was actually born in Newport in Wales (his mother is Welsh) on April 5th, 1942. The family left Wales when Greenaway was three years-old and moved to Essex, England. At an early age he decided he wanted to be a painter. He developed an interest in European cinema, focusing on the films of Antonioni, Bergman, Godard, Pasolini and Resnais. In 1962 he started studying at the Walthamstow College of Art, where amongst his fellow students was musician Ian Dury (who Greenaway would later cast in The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover). Greenaway would spend the next three years there, and at the time of arriving there he made his first film, Death of Sentiment. It was about churchyard furniture, crosses, flying angels, typography on gravestones, and was filmed in four large London cemeteries. In 1965 he joined the Central Office of Information (COI), where he remained for the next eleven years as a film editor and then a director. In 1966 he made a film called Train, composed of footage of the last steam train arriving at Waterloo Station (directly behind the COI), structured into an abstract Man Ray ballet mécanique, all cut to a musique concrete track. He also made a film called Tree in 1966, the tree in question was surrounded by concrete outside the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank in London. The 1970s would see Greenaway getting much more serious with his filmmaking.
About the Costume designer - Jean Paul Gaultier
Basic Overview of his life.
April 24, 1952 Jean Paul Gaultier is born in Arcueil, a suburb of Paris. Gaultier’s father is a bookkeeper and his mother, a cashier. As a teenager, he designs two collections a year, just for fun, taking inspiration from the top designers and fashion magazines.
1970 After having sent his sketches to several Paris-based designers, on his eighteenth birthday he is hired as a studio assistant by Pierre Cardin. 1986 The first Jean Paul Gaultier boutique opens in the Galerie Vivienne, Paris.
1988 The first Junior Gaultier collection is launched, offering the designer’s basics at prices that are more affordable for the general public.
1989 Gaultier records a house music song “Aow Tou Dou Zat” (“How To Do That”). • He designs costumes for the Peter Greenaway film The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.
1990 Gaultier designs the stage costumes for Madonna’s Blond Ambition World Tour. • The photo-strip autobiography À Nous Deux la mode is published. • Gaultier designs costumes for accordionist Yvette Horner’s show at the Casino de Paris.
2011 Gaultier designs costumes for the Pedro Almodóvar film The Skin I Live In. • End of the partnership with Hermès. The Catalan group Puig becomes the majority shareholder in the House of Jean Paul Gaultier. • Launch of the Kokorico men’s fragrance and the Jean Paul Gaultier layette line. • The first exhibition celebrating the designer’s thirty-five-year career is organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (June 2011). The exhibition later travels to the Dallas Museum of Art (November 2011), the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, de Young (March 2012), the Fundación Mapfre – Instituto de Cultura in Madrid (October 2012), the Kunsthal Rotterdam (February 2013), the Arkitekturmuseet in Stockholm (June 2013), the Brooklyn Museum in New York (October 2013), the Barbican Centre in London (April 2014), the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne (October 2014), the Galeries nationales du Grand Palais in Paris (April 2015) and the Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung in Munich (September 2015).
2012 Gaultier designs costumes for Madonna’s MDNA Tour. • Gaultier receives the DUFTSTARS – Berlin award for his entire body of work in fragrance. • Named creative director of Diet Coke, for which he designs three limited edition bottles and an advertising campaign in which he appears, photographed by Stéphane Sednaoui. • Designs costumes for the Opéra Orchestre National de Montpellier’s presentation of the opera The Marriage of Figaro, directed by Jean-Paul Scarpitta. • Designs the Jean Paul Gaultier par Lelievre collection of decor fabrics and accessories.
2013 Designs the costumes for Swedish comedienne Petra Mede, who hosts the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest. • Creates the stage costumes for Mylène Farmer’s Timeless 2013 tour, as well as for Amanda Lear in the play Divina. • Receives GQ Germany’s Man of the Year Award in the Fashion category.
2014 Designs a collection that includes women’s and children’s wear as well as lingerie to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of Scandinavian fashion chain Lindex. • In collaboration with Designers Against Aids, creates a collection for bag and luggage maker Eastpak. • Designs two costumes for Kylie Minogue’s Kiss Me Once world tour. • Jean Paul Gaultier ends his prêt-à-porter lines to focus on haute couture, fragrance and various special projects.
About the composer
As one of Britain's most innovative and celebrated composers, Michael Nyman's work encompasses operas and string quartets, film soundtracks and orchestral concertos. Far more than merely a composer, he's also a performer, conductor, bandleader, pianist, author, musicologist and now a photographer and film-maker. Although he's far too modest to allow the description 'Renaissance Man', his restless creativity and multi-faceted art has made him one of the most fascinating and influential cultural icons of our times.
At this stage of a long and notable career, he might forgivably have been content to rest on his considerable laurels. Yet instead of looking back on a lifetime of achievement that ranges from his award-winning score for the film The Piano to the acclaimed opera The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, via a string of high-profile collaborations with everyone from Sir Harrison Birtwistle to Damon Albarn, he's still looking forward - pushing the boundaries of his art with a diverse and prolific burst of creativity as energetic and challenging as any new and iconoclastic young kid on the block.
For more than 30 years, he had also enjoyed a highly successful career as a film composer, the role in which - sometimes to his slightly rueful regret - he is probably best known by the general public.
His most notable scores number a dozen Peter Greenaway films, including such classics as The Draughtsman's Contract and The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover; Neil Jordan's The End Of The Affair; several Michael Winterbottom features including Wonderland, A Cock And Bull Story, and The Trip; the Hollywood blockbuster Gattaca - and, of course, his unforgettable music for Jane Campion's 1993 film, The Piano, the soundtrack album of which has sold more than three million copies. He also co-wrote the score for the 1999 film Ravenous with his friend and sometime protégé, Damon Albarn. More recently, his music was used in the 2009 BAFTA award winning and Oscar nominated film, Man on Wire. Also, his score for the film Erasing David earned praise and won an award for Best Original Soundtrack at London’s East End Film Festival in 2009.
His reputation among highbrow critics is built upon an enviable body of work written for a wide variety of ensembles, including not only his own band, but also symphony orchestra, choir and string quartet. He has also written widely for the stage. His operas include The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat (1986), Facing Goya (2000), and the critically lauded Man and Boy: Dada (2003). He has also provided ballet music for a number of the world's most distinguished choreographers.