Opens Fri July 8
Eros is a trio of short films by directors with disparate points of view, coming from diverse backgrounds. Wong Kar-Wai ("The Hand"), Steven Soderbergh ("Equilibrium"), and Michelangelo Antonioni ("The Dangerous Thread of Things") make up the directorial team, which sets out to explore the title's stated theme of love and sex. But Eros' results are so varied that they simply cannot be assessed as a whole, other than that they are presented in descending order of quality. (If you have to pee, do it during Antonioni's segment. In fact, go ahead and take a long shit.)
Wong's "The Hand" is a fetchingly muted, dimly shot story of unrequited love between a high-class call girl and her tailor. Sexual tension permeates every frame, yet is withheld from actualization, relishing the sensuous details of fantasy and lusting. The story has something of an oft-told tale feeling to it, but if anything, that only adds to its depressed fairy tale atmosphere.
Soderbergh's "Equilibrium" has an almost athletic strength, as though all parties involved are flexing their filmic muscles. The actors (Alan Arkin, as a psychoanalyst, and Robert Downey Jr., as a man with a tangentially sexual dream) are on point and play against each other well, and the mostly black and white film is interrupted by blue-hued dream sequences that are rather stunning. Otherwise, the film feels a little off task, more concerned with showing off its comedy of manners-type bantering than contributing to the subject theoretically at hand.
The worst is Antonioni's, which immediately inflicts the audience with horrible Eurotrash music and despicable characters. A husband and wife engage in a torturous meta-speak bitch-fest about their relationship amid picturesque Tuscan settings. Enter another young woman, who's practically identical to the wife, except for the woman's fake-looking tits (which you get to see while she fucks the husband). Exhaustively pretentious and obtusely symbolic (aka brimming with bullshit), Antonioni's contribution to Eros is exactly the sort of film that makes people say they hate foreign films.