A total trip, better than I’d dared hope it would be. Would’ve been soooo nice to see in theaters, but I’ll settle for the multi-narrated DVD. Even more family-focused than Cowards, it also goes further inside the psyche of the Maddin character than that one did, with his flashbacks and memories and fantasies splayed out on the screen, cutting and fading into whatever “reality” he’s seeing at the time. Black and white, great-looking photography with subliminal flashes of color. Attractive and expressive actors do a great job with the gonzo plot before the editing rips it to pieces. More obsessions on dead fathers, hands (gloves), infidelity, sexual transgression, betrayal, and memory oh the memories!!
Shotput of butter!
Briefly: Adult Guy Maddin returns to his childhood home, an island lighthouse orphanage, by request of his dying mother. As he paints the place he remembers his life there with older sister Sis, forbidding faux-suicidal Mom, mysteriously hard-working Dad, twitchy traumatized friend Neddie, and leader of the orphans Savage Tom. One day teen detective Wendy Hale comes to the island, but after she falls for Sis (and Guy falls for Wendy), she disguises herself as brother Chance Hale, leading to much sexual confusion for poor Guy. With the kids, Wendy finds out the terrible secret, that Dad is stealing brain nectar from the orphans (and from Sis) and selling it. Sis awakens one night and kills Dad with a knife, Guy is adopted off the island, Dad is resurrected then both parents are exiled and, after Wendy leaves, Sis burns herself up like a moth in the lighthouse lamp. Back in the present, Guy is still obsessed with Wendy, tries to get to know his mother better, and there’s almost a semi-happy ending before the melancholy memories take over once more.
Conspirators! Guy in center, Sis on left, The Lightbulb Kid whispering:
New cinematographer (sorry, but you can’t tell), same editor as Cowards Bend The Knee (you can kinda tell), and music that I’d swear was influenced by the 60’s Russian song used in Heart of the World. Features no actors from anything else I’ve ever heard of (well, Guy’s mother was 33rd-billed in Henry Fool).
A rare glimpse of color:
The shorts on the disc are cool, too. It’s My Mother’s Birthday Today is a “biopic” (heh) of the “castrato” who sang with the live show – a few minutes of abstract business, with the vaguely Scott Thompson-looking guy making hard-boiled eggs and singing with a caged bird. Footsteps juxtaposes scenes from the movie with the sound crew in their lab doing foley effects, including some questionable techniques of bare-butt-slapping and horse’s-ass-kissing. Slower-cut than My Mother’s Birthday but even more fun to watch.