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A Zed and Two Noughts (rewatch)

Posted by martinteller on September 3, 2010

This Blu-Ray import was an awfully risky purchase, considering the last time I tried to watch it, I got annoyed and shut it off.  But knowing how wishy-washy I can be about Greenaway, and having vague memories of liking it the first time, I took a chance.  So glad I did, because this time around I was quite pleased.  It’s classic Greenaway: dense symbolism, double meanings, fringe intellectual pursuits, outrageous coincidences, bizarre names, art history, the alphabet, taxonomy, anecdotal storytelling, self-reference (a newspaper contains stories with elements from his next two films Belly of an Architect and Drowning by Numbers, and the name “Fallast” harkens back to The Falls), and painstaking compositions.  The cinematography (Greenaway’s first collaboration with the great Sacha Vierny) is eye-poppingly gorgeous, all the more so in high-definition.  With Vermeer as an inspiration, the photography is a masterpiece of lighting.  And the Michael Nyman score is as wonderful as always.  The film is just loaded with marvelous little details, plenty of sly wit, and food for thought.  Like a lot of Greenaway, it’s a rather cold and clinical film, but under the icy facade are some good human insights.  While I wouldn’t go so far as to call it “touching”, it has a lot to say about life and grief… not to mention Vermeer, mythology, symmetry, and of course, zoology.  Rating: 9


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