Song Of The Day 10/23/2016: Michael Nyman – “Memorial” (from “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover”)

Extra Long – Finally this week, here's the theme to one of my favorite movies of the 1990's*, Peter Greenaway's combination of high cuisine, explicit sex and more animal entrails than an abbatoir, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover. There are so many things I like about it. Helen Mirren's in it, for one. The use of primary colors in the set-lighting might be the best I've ever seen on film. The pervading sense of dread and fear is relieved only by moments of horror and repulsion, the most extreme and affecting of which happens right at the very end.

I'll give you the set-up, see if any of this rings a bell: A beligerent, irredeemable gangster (Michael Gambon, aka Dumbledore v.2), full of potty and grunts, takes over a fine dining establishment in London with his henchman and his subdued martyr of a wife (Mirren). In the kitchen the head chef (Richard Bohringer) joylessly presides over the finest ingredients in England to be consumed by the thief and his vulgar gang. Alone at another table another man (Alan Howard) wordlessly eats while reading a book. The wife, seeing a possible refuge of intelligence and modesty in the bookreader, very carefully plots with the cook to orchestrate their affair right under the thief's snorting nose. That's all I'm going to tell you about the plot. It's a studied meditation on the sacrifice of high culture, humanism, rationality and advancement to lumbering, uncontrollable, unrefined money-grubbers and their unschooled, savage acolytes. It could never happen here.

*The IMDb date for this movie is 1989 but it wasn't released in the States until April 1990.

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