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EROS (runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: R; Warner Independent Pictures; 2004)

“THE HAND” (director/writer: Wong Kar-Wai; cinematographer: Christopher Doyle; editor: William Chang Suk Ping; music: Peer Raben; cast: (Chang Chen (Zhang), Gong Li (Miss Hua), Fung Tin (Master Jin); runtime: 45; producers: Mr. Wong /Jacky Pang Yee Wah; in Mandarin, with English subtitles.

“EQUILIBRIUM” (director/writer: Steven Soderbergh; cinematographer: Peter Andrews; editor: Mary Ann Bernard; cast: Robert Downey Jr. (Nick Penrose), Alan Arkin (Dr. Pearl), Ele Keats (Woman); runtime: 26; producer: Gregory Jacobs.

“THE DANGEROUS THREAD OF THINGS” (director: Michelangelo Antonioni; screenwriters: Tonino Guerra/based on stories by Mr. Antonioni; cinematographer: Marco Pontecorvo; editor: Claudio di Mauro; music: Enrica Antonioni/Vinicio Milani; cast: Christopher Buchholz (Christopher), Regina Nemni (Cloe), Luisa Ranieri (The Girl/Linda); runtime: 31; producers: Stephane Tchal Gadjieff/Raphael Berdugo/Jacques Bar/Domenico Procacci; in English and Italian, with English subtitles.

“All three short films were minor works.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The project was conceived as an homage to the ailing Michelangelo Antonioni. These type of anthology projects–getting noted filmmakers to make a short film on a shared theme– rarely work, and this one certainly doesn’t. Though of the three short films that explore Eros, the one of unrequited love by Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai is a good one; American filmmaker Steven Soderbergh’s droll humored dream sequence is trite, not erotic and irritating, and it’s easily the worst of the three; while the legendary, in his 90’s and partially paralyzed and speechless since a stroke twenty years ago, Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni’s take on the female body and sexual desire is empty at least it’s good to look at the hot brunettes parading around in the nude in a scenic beach scene. All three short films were minor works and failed to add much in the exploration of passion. In baseball a batter who goes one for three would hit over 300 and if he did that for a career would probably make the Hall of Fame, but such stats for a film are not that acceptable.

Wong’s film entitled “The Hand” set in the 1960s is most substantial and most sensual. An earnest young apprentice tailor (Chang Chen) delivers dresses at a renowned call girl’s (Gong Li) apartment. She notices his shyness and inexperience with women, and gives him a hand job he never will forget. The call girl tells the young man that if he remembers the joy she gave him, he will always make beautiful clothes for her. As the years roll by the call girl undergoes changing fortunes but his love for her never wavers.

Soderbergh’s “Equilibrium” has a 1950s harried electronics advertising executive (Robert Downey Jr.) telling a disinterested shrink (Alan Arkin), who is actually a workplace colleague, about his anxieties at the workplace, over his marriage and a mysterious woman in his dreams who wears a blue dress.

Antonioni’s “The Dangerous Thread of Things” was written by longtime collaborator Tonino Guerra (“Blowup,” “L’Avventura”) and based on some Antonioni stories in his book That Bowling Alley on the Tiber. The slight story has hunky hubby Christopher Buchholz arguing with his bored wife (Regina Nemniare) over some triviality at their luxurious home near a lake in Tuscany and then driving off to a restaurant in his blue Maserati, which he caresses, and then leaving wifey to hook up with a flirtatious voluptuous brunette (Luisa Ranieri) who is passing by on horseback and having a fling in the sack with her. Later the two brunettes will meet at the beach and frolic around in the nude. It had about as deep a meaning as a dirty old man ogling a Playboy centerfold.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”