Tuesday 11 April 2017

On Blu-ray - David Hare enthuses over Peter Greenaway's EISENSTEIN IN GUANAJUATO

"Sir Gay" (Elmer Baeck) loses his cherry to "Palomino" (Luis Alberti) in Peter Greenaway's romp through a child's garden of Sergei in Eisenstein in Guanajuato (2015), now on a sparkling Blu-ray from Axiom (UK ) region free.

I have never been a fan of Greenaway as a movie director and his insistence on ceaseless talk, which is more like chatter than even the recitation of encyclopaedic data it actually is, has no letup in this latest outing. But the sheer sunniness of the setting and the absolutely gorgeous digital photography from Reinier van Brumelen seems to come alive more often and more gleefully than usual for one of La Greenaway's "serious" subjects. Ironically the subject happens to be one of the pioneers of cinema, and with it the director makes a very necessary and welcome amend to the simple historical fact that Uncle Eisie was substantively gay. Thus he gives a fuck you finger to Putin's Russia and the older Soviet KGB cultural nazis who have gone so far as to banish any mere mention of such despicable western decadence which might tarnish the hero they treated so abominably.

Mercifully, La Greenaway, like myself and a few hundred others has managed to get his hands on a book published in France in 1999, Dessins Secrets which compiles over one hundred of Eisie's amazingly imaginative and dexterous pornographic sketches from circa 1931 to 1945, with a predominance of items from '31, the same year he spent in Mexico soaking it all in, and possibly losing his cherry for his unfinished movie, Que Viva Mexico.

In any case the picture moves with enough swiftness and purpose to keep me attentive for its length. Which is more than I can say for any other Greenaway excluding perhaps the only other picture of his I could ever spend time with again, The Pillow Book. Maybe it's the male nudity and the chance to see Ewan McGregor's cock, as well as Baeck's and Alberti's for that matter in the new movie. Its something he enables with great felicity and - for a heterosexual white man - considerable glee. It's also perhaps the sheer impish pleasure of having his "characters" recite facts, references data and insight even faster than the last English director to have stumbled onto this means of dialectic, Derek Jarman most notably and unsuccessfully in the absolutely unwatchable Wittgenstein. But where Derek's Wittie comes across as a pommie prat there is something so completely beguiling about Greenaway's and Baeck's conception of "Sir Gay" that rings true for me.

And after prompting earlier I should comment that the moniker of "Sir Gay" is not my invention but one that Sergei himself, an intellectual with fluency in multiple languages including English used often and sometimes signed on some of his more prodigiously blasphemous pornographic sketches from his daily doodlings. In one of these, what looks like a Roman Catholic Cardinal himself impaled upon a giant phallic candle point holds a kind of magical multi-cocked candelabra upon which are also impaled a number of nuns, in a nightmarish tribute to the enduring obsession of that memorable belief system with deeply perverse sexuality. The signing by "Sir Gay' is like a millisecond of lightness in an entombment of the dark. He always claimed Disney was one of his greatest inspirations.

I guess if, unlike me, you also like Greenaway's films and method this should make any viewing of Eisie in Guanajuato an even greater pleasure.

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