2.8 stars. The video editing is used more tastefully than in 'Prospero's Books' - tho tasteful is a relative term when sampling Greenaway's palette! For a filmmaker who loves to stress the image > the word there is a lot of writing in this film... tho I can see that what appeals to Greenaway about calligraphy is that it expresses the beauty of language visually. He is a perverse semiotician. Boo to U2 > Nyman!
An experiment in form. Greenaway has always had an interest in cinema as the marriage of many arts: music, literature, visual arts, and theatre especially. Here he conducts his continuing experiment in melding the arts together, this time with a focus on literature. The result is hypnotic.
The film definitely falls within Greenaway's particular genre of sexualized satire. Unlike some of his more successful films, the Pillow Book calls attention too much to its style, feeling more affected than other projects. Delving into cyclical narratives before establishing a firm base. The conceit of also teaching a young child of the pillow book is also painfully distracting and destroyed any chance to engage.
Weeping, weeping, weeping good editing. The frame-in-frame decoupage succeeds beyond expectations for a technique that would be hackneyed in other hands. It enriches the film with textual density, enacting the film's literary relish. "The Pillow Book" has the empathic grip that Greenaway typically lacks, yet it sacrifices nothing: Greenaway is as carnally, numerically, and formally obsessed as ever.
"Most new American movies have a limited shelf life. They're put in the theaters to sink or swim. If they haven't sold in a week or two, they're yanked like stale bread. Greenaway's notion is that his movies stand outside the ordinary distribution channels. You may see them today or in 10 years, as you choose. And when you are ready." - Roger Ebert