The Pleasures of the Glove
The Pleasures of the Glove is a 5 minute short by photographer Duane Michals, whose work has exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art and the Odakyu Museum, Tokyo. Michals' philosophical and art background is evident in this piece, which feels like an artistic contemplation on obsession, rather than a piece of traditional fictional cinema.
The film opens with a wavering a capella version of ‘You do something to me’ as a man (Vilhelmsson) stares longingly at a pair of gloves in a shop window. Cut to the man driving a taxi, which is hailed by a woman (Bogen) wearing a single glove. The woman then begins caressing herself, and the man is subsequently chased down the street by a giant, person-sized glove (Vitale) – after which events take an even more bizarre turn.
This was a rather odd film; and clearly it is intended to be surreal - but tonally it isn't quite clear whether it's supposed to be funny - and thus watching it feels a little strange and unsettling, which could well be Michals' intention, given the subject matter deals with the idea of dreams and desires turning into nightmares.
The film does appear to have been made on a very low budget and unfortunately the cinematography leaves a little to be desired, with overexposed highlights and relatively low production values - although the giant glove was a fun feature. When the woman is in the taxi, the single glove she is wearing keeps swapping hands - initially it appeared that this might be a continuity error - but on reflection, it could well be deliberate, implying the events are a fiction dreamed up by the glove-obsessed protagonist.
This film – which contains full-frontal nudity in a scene in which the man imagines an encounter with the woman, wearing nothing but a glove - is evidently an exploration of obsession and desire, and the potential dangers of such emotions going unchecked. This particular scene, albeit a little visually uncomfortable, successfully portrayed the idea that the woman's presence was merely part of the man's imagination by cross-fading her across the image of him in bed; thus creating the appearance of her not quite being there.
This was an interesting and memorable piece, and at 5 minutes is a nice succinct length; but due to the reasonably low production values and the focus on a slightly odd item to have an obsession with - the piece as a whole feels more quirky and eccentric than truly disturbing or nightmarish.
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Written & Directed by: Duane Michals
STARRING: Patrik Vilhelmsson, Maya Swann Vitale, Ellen Bogen