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Belly of an Architect [Import]

Brian Dennehy , Chloe Webb , Peter Greenaway    R (Restricted)   VHS Tape
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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By Wayne
Format:VHS Tape
The ebullient Brian Dennehy gives a fine performance as Stourley Kracklite, an American architect who is in Rome with his younger wife Louisa (Chloe Webb) to arrange an exhibition on the French architect Etienne-Louis Boullée. Kracklite is obsessed with Boullée and even writes letters to him. Kracklite's life soon begins to deteriorate. He starts to suffer excruciating stomach pains and vomits each time he eats. He even thinks that his wife is poisoning him. His wife then falls pregnant and has an affair with Kracklite's rival architect, Caspasian Speckler (Lambert Wilson). Kracklite then sleeps with Speckler's sister, to get some sort of satisfaction. Speckler intrudes while they are having sex, and announces, "having sex with your pregnant wife is perfect, because I don't need to use contraception". Kracklite then punches him on the nose. Speckler's sister then says, "Don't put your blood on my white towel."
The film follows the parallels of these two unappreciated architects from different eras. The film is memorable for Dennehy's (an actor who is also unappreciated) remarkable performance. Also, the beautiful cinematography by Greenaway's trusty DOP Sacha Vierny makes the film very easy to look at. From the ancient architecture of Rome, to a painting-like bowl of figs, it is pristine-looking. Michael Nyman is absent, but the music by Wim Mertens is splendid. This film was made in between A Zed & Two Noughts and Drowning by Numbers, and it is quite unlike those two films, which, I think, are superior to this in the way they offer us a much more enigmatic, abstract concept. But even a ever so slightly lesser Greenaway film is a thing to behold.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dennehy fans don't have permission to miss this July 27 2000
By linus
Format:VHS Tape
This was made a few years before "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover," which remains Peter Greenaway's best-known film. Not as many people know about this one. Brian Dennehy, that hardworking character actor and veteran of many thrillers, finally got a shot at art-house cred in this stubbornly interiorized drama. Dennehy is Stourley Kracklite, an American architect in Rome supervising the exhibition of the classical architect he idolizes. When he learns that his idol had stomach ailments much like his own, he becomes convinced that his straying, younger wife (Chloe Webb) is poisoning him. Stomachs become a fixation for him (and for us; after a while, our eyes automatically travel to characters' tummies), and he gets sicker and more paranoid as his wife, unborn child and career slip away from him. Even in the shallowest roles, Dennehy has been a burly force of nature; here, in a showboat artist role Hemingway could've written, Dennehy, with his white beard and Homeric shoulders, is about the only actor who could be posed between classical Roman statues (as cinematographer Sacha Vierny often frames him) without looking like a nerd. You knew he was physically powerful, but in this movie Dennehy achieves Brando-esque emotional power. The film itself is another Peter Greenaway number, full of art-major allusions, but that great bull Dennehy takes the snob curse off it. Greenaway wisely puts him in almost every frame - the better, perhaps, to appreciate him as art.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A bellyful of Belly of an Architect March 21 2000
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I hope it is okay to review this movie, since I have only seen about a half hour of it, but I started watching it two times, and just couldn't sit through it. I will try to finish it, and maybe the movie will get better; I want to give it a fair chance. However, my opinions so far are not the same as a positive review I read about it. It's called avant-garde, well if that's avant-garde, give me "Hollywood" any day.
First of all, I felt I needed binoculars to watch the movie. I could not understand why the camera was so far away from the actors. This made for very uncomfortable scenes and made me very impatient. I don't mind long shots, but this is ridiculus.
Also, I could not understand why Dennehy's caracter was even jealous of his wife; she gave him no need to be jealous; she was very sweet to him. I know I must be missing something, but, then again, I could hardly understand what they were saying because they were all so very far away from me, the viewer!
I think Brian Dennehy is a very good actor, but I think the director of this movie did a horrible job directing Brian and all the other actors. I think this director was having a bad day.
When I do finish watching this movie, I will give another review.
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