By and large, these selections are the most accessible of Peter Greenaway’s work for most general audiences. Aside from being a trained painter and fantastic avant-garde filmmaker, Dr. Greenaway holds a PhD, and has a thorough knowledge of art history and music. The subjects of art, music, science, history and philosophy all share the stage in Greenaway’s theatrical approach. His films are intensely unique and meticulously executed.
The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989) is written and directed by Peter Greenaway. A cruel and glutinous crime boss conducts regular restaurant dinner parties where he gets to be the center of attention. His neglected wife soon finds herself in the arms of another, and so the offending lovers must hide their acts from his wrath. The music of Michael Nyman helps to both pace and propel the film. It is a shocking visual feast, as intended.
The Pillow Book (1996) is directed by Peter Greenaway, who also adapted a Japanese classic from the 10th century for its screenplay. A woman fetishizes a family ritual wherein her face was painted in calligraphy by her father, while being read to from The Pillow Book, which concerns the art of love, by her aunt. Her ultimate quest is realized when she can paint poems on her lover’s body, played by an unclothed Ewan McGregor. There is a clinical approach to the erotic tale from the scholar, Dr. Peter Greenaway.