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Mapping and Fashioning Space

This series concludes its look at the ways in which cinema is involved in the production of space, the architectonics of visuality, and the “fashioning” of the body.

May 2 (Tuesday) 6:30 pm

The Pillow Book

Directed by Peter Greenaway
France/GB/Netherlands 1996, 35mm, b/w and color, 126 min.
With Vivian Wu, Ewan McGregor, Yoshi Oida
Cantonese/English/Japanese/Mandarin with English subtitles

Greenaway (The Draughtsman’s Contract; The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover) deploys a broad arsenal of formal effects (varying screen widths, multiple imagery, textual inscription) to impart the complex story of a beautiful fashion model-turned-writer who is obsessed with calligraphy and the flesh. Based on the classic tenth-century text by Sei Shonagon of the same title, radically transposed by Greenaway to modern day Japan and the information age, The Pillow Book melds a timeless erotics and a fascination with language that is at once erudite and libidinal into a dreamlike, startlingly beautiful, and sometimes shocking narrative.

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May 3 (Wednesday) 6:30 pm

Death of a Neapolitan Mathematician (Morte di un matematico napoletano)

Directed by Mario Martone
Italy 1992, 35mm, color, 104 min.
With Carlo Cecchi, Anna Bonaiuto, Renato Carpentiere
Italian with English subtitles

Martone belongs to a new generation of directors who have put Naples at the forefront of Italian filmmaking. His intelligent first feature (now succeeded by Wounded Love and others) provides a fictionalized account of the days leading to the suicide of the well-known intellectual and political radical Renato Caccioppoli (Cecchi) in 1959. The camera follows him as he moves, unkempt and depressed, through a variety of settings and social situations, revealing the vicissitudes of this complex Italian city through his distanced interactions. The film changes mood decisively with the scene of Renato’s funeral, a carnivalesque series of encounters with ironic and self-interested friends and acquaintances.

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