Something hidden -- go and find it;
Go and look beyond the Ranges
Something lost behind the ranges:
Lost and waiting for you. Go!

-- from Guy Maddin's CAREFUL

Being a periodic meditation on some of the more obscure outlying regions of cinema;
regarding movies that are inadequately publicized and hence, easily overlooked --
and by cinema, it is meant in the larger sense of films/tv/DVD/internet --
that might be worthy of your interest, but perhaps has escaped your notice.


Thursday, June 14, 2007


      It only seems appropriate that the first entry in this blog should be regarding a film by Guy Maddin: this forum's title -- the poem that heads it -- even my own choice of nom de plume -- all are derived from one of Maddin's films. Also, Maddin's entire filmography fits neatly into the province of "Beyond the Ranges": his idiosyncratic filmmaking style is as far from the mainstream of Hollywood, or even conventional arthouse filmmaking as you can get; deeply, almost embarrassingly personal movies, made using the tropes of silent era films, which blend autobiography with plot elements lifted from bygone genres, all whipped together using the contemporary tools of modern, digital post-production. INLAND EMPIRE notwithstanding, no other filmmaker working today is pushing the envelope as far -- or is as successful at doing it -- as Maddin is. And even Lynch (who's certainly done his share of experimental/avant garde projects) has yet to mount as daring a combination of live performance and cinema as Brand Upon the Brain!.

      This latest feature from Maddin starts its theatrical run as a kind of live event; the film plays in the background as a 13 piece orchestra, a team of three foley artists (that’s sound effects, for those not in the know), and a lone ‘interlocutor’ (who provides occasional narrative insight into the proceedings) provide everything you hear for the next ninety minutes or so. The experience of seeing the live show really does give insight into the significance of sound in film -- the fact that the medium itself is, at its core, silent -- and from there, acknowledges the inventiveness required to fill the noiseless moments; not to mention the difficult process of manufacturing the sound to accompany the visuals -- especially when you have to do it all live and in sync with the picture running somewhere over your head! 

      The plot, such as it is, is another faux-autobiography (as was Cowards Bend the Knee) of Maddin himself. Middle-aged house-painter, Guy Maddin, returns to his childhood home to do some much needed refurbishing on the family lighthouse. Once there, he is overwhelmed by memories of his past -- which include such elements as an orphanage whose wards are used for sinister medical experiments, a mother who seems to be aging in reverse, and the occasional zombie resurrection or two. If it all seems ridiculous and overly melodramatic, let me assure you that it is! But the sensationalized plot aside, it somehow comes across as a very personal work.   Anyone familiar with Maddin’s writings will find the parallels to his own family life many and deep; a mixed bag of actual events from his childhood, seen through the filter of a kind of Carl Theodor Dreyer-ish family melodrama; with some Hardy Boy style kid detectives and German expressionistic horror movie antics thrown in for good measure. All of it then kidnapped by Maddin’s muse and refashioned for his own nefarious -- but entirely entertaining -- purposes.

      This is what Maddin does best -- blending personal recollection with cinematic artifice -- reminiscing through film, ...but really re-imagining his own life (and by proxy, ours) through the filter of a vaseline-smeared lens and a wittily written inter-title. If it’s all a bit more melodramatic for the reinvention, ...well, who wouldn’t spice up the source of all their childhood neuroses with a bit of Hollywood glamour? If only to make the telling that much more entertaining...

      Brand Upon the Brain! starts its roll-out as a feature with pre-recorded soundtrack this week, in major markets such as NYC, LA and San Francisco. From there, it’ll flit from art-house venue to the occasional mutliplex throughout the remainder of the summer. Check the website for details.

Some links:

Guy Maddin on the IMDb.

The Brand Upon the Brain! Myspace page.

An interesting article regarding some of Mr. Maddin’s films.

An interview with Guy Maddin.

Next post -- 06/22/07


Paula said...

It's about time, Grigorss

Kalibhakta said...

you are now...




(it's stupid comment payback time)


Van Choojitarom said...

Many are those who see in the dark and watch; for many are the creatures of the deep. But for mankind's shame and relative insignificance, there is only one Nemo, who has seen such as men have never guessed and mermaids only dream.

Be ever wary, however, of the rapt enchantment by which you sit by the porthole watching such things as he chooses to show you, whether wrecks of old, or cities glowing like the borealis whose founders never walked nor breathed air. Your view is lucid and clear, the glass unfogged, for you have held your breath -or has it simply stopped and is this the mirror held to the face of a dead man?

grigorss said...

Umm... the former I think,

...well, I hope so anyway.

jeronomije said...

here, dear fans