Eisenstein in Guanajuato Dir. Peter Greenaway

[Strand Releasing; 2015]

Styles: art house, biopic
Others: The Pillow Book, 8 1/2 Women

Welsh film director Peter Greenaway wants to direct the film of your life story. You consent, but your face is burning with shame. “He hasn’t directed anything good since 1989,” you remember. Your brother, a professional film critic for a Canadian newspaper, gave his last film a crushing no star review. And your brother is a generous reviewer.

Unable to sleep, you scour Netflix for that film, Einstein in Gujarati, but they don’t have it. The only place you can watch it is Greenaway’s personal website, on which he seems to have amassed the copyright for all his minor works. “Nobody else wanted them,” you realize. Not even some boutique distribution company like the one your ex-girlfriend used to work for.

“I know how rejection feels, buddy” you say, to a winking .gif of Greenaway’s face.

The first thing that strikes you is that this film isn’t Einstein in Gujarati. It’s actually called Eisenstein in Guanajuato, and it’s about some Russian film guy from the 1800s hanging out in Mexico. An old man’s voice — Greenaway’s — informs the viewer that these are the “ten days that shook Eisenstein.” You wonder what you signed up for here. Is this a film, or a guided tour of the Museum of Ancient Crud?

You’ve been watching for five minutes and already it’s like the time your ex dragged you to that modern art gallery in Rotterdam. Randomly it goes from black and white to color, there are close ups of flies, and the locations look like they were filmed in an old copy of Encarta for the Mac. And this Eisenstein, wasn’t he meant to be the greatest director of all time? Guy spends most of the film waggling his dick at the screen, or mouthing off about all these movie stars he met. Literally, one of the longest scenes in the film is him repeating all these names to some Mexican guy before mooning the camera. It’s like that French kid’s show you stumbled across on YouTube, the one where the clown did vulgar mimes. Is this the sort of thing that Hannah enjoys?

Still, Einstein gets a namecheck — so maybe you’re not so stupid after all!

You don’t know when you wake up, you don’t even know when you fell asleep, but whatever, Eisenstein is now lying on a bed, totally naked, talking about being a virgin. You figured he was going to have sex with the Mexican guy — as lame and conceptual as you think the movie is, you’ve at least caught the general drift of it. But then, instead of the Mexican guy, it looks like your brother thrusting tenderly into Eisenstein. Huh? You thought Kyle was into chicks. Didn’t he marry some girl a few months back?

Can you rewind this?

Is your… is your ex in this film? You try to think of all the women who appeared in it. None of any real note. Just some token señoritas. Didn’t you read something about Greenaway “exhibiting the attitude of a permanent adolescent towards women, reducing them to nothing more than highly sexualized art objects upon which the (grotesque, white) male characters enact their warped lusts”? Or was that Hannah’s last text? Ah, you don’t want to tempt fate. Put the film off.

“I told you I wanted to direct a film of your life story. Don’t you like it?”

You can see the .gif of Greenaway is disappointed.

“I thought this was Eisenstein in Guaja…Guana…Gujarati?”

“It is.”

That’s when you remember that, oh yeah, you are Sergei Eisenstein, and you have been all along. You’re the guy who’s been waggling his dick about and namedropping all those movie stars like you knew them. You’re the clown doing the vulgar mimes. And you’ve allowed Peter Greenaway to make a terrible art film about your vacation in Mexico. All the people in your life think you’ve made a big mistake, and for once they’re totally right. You go sit on the stairs and you weep.

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