"The best short is Wong Kar Wai's The Hand, but only because of Doyle's trademark cinematography and Wong Kar Wai's adept use of older Chinese melodies."
AKA: The Hand; Equilibrium; The Dangerous Thread Of Things; Il Filo Pericoloso Delle Cose [Original Title Of Italian Segment]
Director: Michelangelo Antonioni, Steven Soderbergh, Wong Kar-Wai
Cast: Gong Li, Chang Chen, Tin Fung, Auntie Luk, Zhou Jian-Jun, Robert Downey Jr., Alan Arkin, Ele Keats, Christopher Buchholz, Regina Nemni, Luisa Ranieri
Running Time: 108 min.
Plot: An anthology of three medium-length films on the subject of eroticism and desire, from acclaimed directors Wong Kar-Wai, Steven Soderbergh, and Michelangelo Antonioni.
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
NINGEN'S REVIEW: The title of this anthology is a bit of a misnomer, as it's not really very erotic, with the possible exception of transitional storyboards featuring softcore drawings of people coupling. But then if I wanted to see drawings have sex, I'd rent some hentai instead of wasting cash on this misfire of a movie. Still, there's plenty of jerking off when it comes to the actual writing. All ranting aside, the problem with Eros is that the directors of each short are trying to have it both ways by attempting to combine the traditional art film with the traditional date movie, thus failing to appeal to fans of either genre. (Seriously, if you're a guy, do not take a chick to see Eros if you're hoping to get some action, because you two will be too tired from the boredom to make out.)
The best short is Wong Kar Wai's The Hand, but only because of Doyle's trademark cinematography and Wong Kar Wai's adept use of older Chinese melodies. Other than that, it's too depressing, and yet too underdeveloped to be satisfying. It features Gong Li as a gold-digger who hits on a tailor. Li's character runs out of money, and resorts to prostituting herself, while her lover is forced to make excuses to his boss over why she hasn't paid up for the clothing. While the woman and her tailor have great chemistry, they can never fulfill their emotional needs with each other, and thus the two part on a negative note. I got exactly what I expected out of The Hand, but it just didn't add up to a great short, because there's no time to get to know or relate to the characters. Plus the sexual encounters are depicted in a melodramatic fashion which makes it a challenge to get turned on by them.
On the other hand, at least there are sexual encounters in The Hand, while Soderbergh's Equilibrium features a bland Robert Downey Jr. talking to his uninterested shrink about the discomfort he has over a dream in which a woman takes a bath nude(*gasp*) and then dresses when she's done. Note that I have not seen any of Sodenbergh's other "indie" flicks and even Ocean's 11, so I can't really comment about his work in general, but I don't really see the point of Equilibrium. Is it a commentary about isolation in a modern society? By connecting the dream to the lead's desire to sleep a little longer after the alarm,is it trying to equate repression of sexual urges with automation? Whatever it is, it's definitely not titilating or even riveting. And on a side note, the color sequences are garish and tacky, while the black and white sequences are bland and lifeless.
The only short which gets the scenery-but nothing else-right is Antonioni's The Dangerous Thread of Things. Shot on location in the Mediterranean, the film has wonderful views of the countryside.
The valleys where this film takes place are full of dreamlike beaches, fields and majestic mountains. Speaking of majestic mountains, 'Thread features a very attractive woman who encounters a bickering couple on the verge of splitting up. The man takes a liking to this new paramour, and has his way with her in a rebound encounter. Unfortunately, you only see her totally nude when she's not having sex. In the meantime, she's just plays around-partly with herself-to some hideous Europop music in the background. It's a cop-out, since the emphasis is placed on the relationship of the first couple, rather than the affair of the second couple. So instead of steamy sex, you get stuck with a bitter break-up. And why would I want to pay to see that, when I have enough of those in my personal life?
NINGEN21'S RATING: In conclusion, I give Wong Kar Wai's short a 6, Soderbergh's Short a 4, and Antonioni's short a 5, with an optional +2 for the nudity. The average for the film as a whole would be about 5.5/10