Goltzius And The Pelican Company, film review: Peter Greenaway's work remains as original and as exasperating as ever

(18) Peter Greenaway, 128 mins Starring: Ramsey Nasr, F Murray Abraham
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The Independent Culture

It's strange how far Peter Greenaway, one of the towering figures in contemporary British cinema, has fallen out of fashion. His Tulse Luper project alienated even some of his most devoted followers and British public funders have, shamefully, ignored him for years. Greenaway's work remains as original and as exasperating as ever.

His new feature starts from the premise that "every new visual technology, sooner or later, gets into bed with lechery."

The main character, Goltzius (engagingly played in sub-Monty Python fashion by the Dutch author and actor Ramsey Nasr), is a printer and engraver who stages erotic versions of six biblical tales in a bid to win backing from a wealthy patron, Margrave of Alsace (F Murray Abraham).

In its lesser moments, Goltzius plays like a slightly more cerebral version of Tinto Brass's Caligula with art- historical references thrown in to the mix for good measure to accompany frequent scenes of characters copulating.

Greenaway's visual ingenuity is undiminished. His tableau-like set-pieces pay meticulous attention to costume and production design. Much of the writing is witty and erudite, and as flamboyant as the visuals. It's just a pity that the film droops markedly as it goes on.