Glorious (2008, Guy Maddin)
Far more guns, gangsters and cocksucking than has ever been in a Maddin film before. Features Louis Negin as a single-frame apparition turned fellatio-ghost. Must pay more attention to the music next time. In other news, when I looked up Louis Negin on IMDB, it says he played a zombie in Pontypool.
image

image

image

image

Yay, got me a 2007 disc of cartoons based on the work of Jim Woodring. Jim himself kicks off the collection with the one-minute Whim Grinder: A Frank Adventure, in which Frank and his pet… box? intercept a transmogrifying eggbeater from a mischievous devil.
image

Frank (Pushpow) (Taruto Fuyama)
I dig the use of the “meet george jetson” music cue. Watched twice because there’s a second audio track with elektronischy music by James McNew. Black and white and very stripey. Done in Flash, maybe? then transferred off a videotape from the looks of the credits. One of the greatest things ever.
image

Frank (Eri Yoshimura)
Next one, done in a puppet cutout style, is very different. Frank seems to be having a picnic with his buds until a rampaging pig beast tears them all apart. Seems about two minutes of animation edited into four. The closing credits are pretty nice – not so much the rest.
image

I’ve Been Twelve Forever (Michel Gondry)
Gondry talks with his mom, storyboards his dreams, builds a spinning camera-spirograph triggered by strings tied to Bjork’s fingers, makes cartoon farts with cotton balls, invents new animation methods, films himself in stop-motion, and discusses his best music videos. This turned out not to be a short at all, though I thought it would be when I started watching it, and much more elaborate and creative than its status as a DVD-extra on a music videos disc would suggest. I’m pretty sure I like this better than Be Kind Rewind. Co-directed with four people including Lance Bangs.

Wet Chicken (2003, Myznikova & Provorov)
A woman’s hair blows in the breeze, then she shakes her head, then she’s shot with a stream of water. Seems like the kind of rough materials that Shinya Tsukamoto would make something interesting from, but these guys forgot to make something interesting and accidentally released it like this. Too late to re-edit now that it’s on the internet.
image

The Marker Variations (2007, Isaki Lacuesta)
One ruler of Dijon uses photographs to rule, and the next uses them as execution aids. 12th century monks composed Bach concertos 900 years before Bach did, inscribing the notes into their stone architecture. Buenos Aires is “the divided city” so a story of two mirroring authors is told using split-screen images.

Opening with these unbelievable stories reminded me more of Magnolia than Chris Marker, but an exploration of the images and possible existence of Marker is what follows. He goes over Marker’s references, he asks his own Japanese friend the questions asked of Koumiko, and eventually he gets caught up in his own essay, his own connections, but accompanied by so many images from Marker’s films (not to mention the music) that none of it escapes, sticks in my mind. To a Marker-phile such as myself it’s just too much.
image

Another Maddin masterpiece… I loved it. Slow start as he dreamily navigates his home town, telling stories, showing off landmarks, talking of snow and sleepwalkers. Trying to escape, he decides to film his way out, rents his old house and hires actors to play his family, except for his real mother (ha, “really” 1940’s noir queen Ann Savage) and of course, Maddin himself (ha again, really Darcy Fehr of Cowards Bend the Knee). So the premise is a lie, and the real-life actors are a lie, and yet he got this to be classified a documentary – I love it!

The parts about Maddin’s childhood are as veiled as usual – there’s the hair salon and siblings and pet dog, and some could-be-true anecdotes about straightening the hall rug and a fear of birds, but we also get his mother’s unlikely starring role in long-running TV drama “Ledge Man”. And there’s the traditional dead father, this time represented by a mound of earth under the living room rug, which the brothers use as a sort of beanbag headrest when watching TV. When Guy leaves home, things become sadder and more personal, showing city landmarks destroyed to build corporate malls, discussing the demise of the local hockey team and eventually the stadium. Very wonderful final segment imagines a character called Citizen Girl, representing the proud past of Winnipeg, who turns back time and resurrects the city’s history – as moving as anything in Guy’s filmography so far.

This is being called Maddin’s most accessible work. I guess the plot is more straightforward than most, and there’s less incest and horror than in my own starter pic Careful, but I’d still give that title to Saddest Music… it’s got stars and songs and an engrossing story and it’s right hilarious.

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!
image

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:
image

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:
image

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.

image

image

image

Thought I’d watch some shorts tonight, starting with the Guy Maddin shorts listed in the previous post. Unintentional theme: none of them had any spoken dialogue!

Film (Emend) by Deco Dawson
Crazily-edited scratched, grainy black-and-white silent footage of hands? If I hadn’t already known that Dawson was involved with Guy Maddin (as editor and camera op on Dracula and Heart of the World), I easily would’ve been able to tell.

Film (Luster) by Deco Dawson
image
Same thing, except now it’s a boy shining shoes instead of a woman sewing. Some peephole photography and scary closeups of the bootblack-mascaraed boy. As far as falsely-aged avant-garde films go, this is thankfully closer to Maddin than Merhige, although it’s less captivating than it means to be. Good music.

Din of Celestial Birds by E. Elias Merhige
image
Some Begotten image manipulation meets the time tunnel from 2001: A Space Odyssey accompanied by minimalist music and too much MPEG artifacting. Merhige fans may ask “HOW does he do it?” but I’d like to know “WHY does he do it?” Did jobs dry up after Suspect Zero? Some cool time-lapse of plant life for a second there. Made in collaboration with Haskell Wexler’s grandson. There was a “visual philosopher” involved, ha! The actor who played “son of earth” in Begotten (the dude who gets dragged around by druids through the second half) played “son of light” in this (seen above).

Begone Dull Care by Norman McLaren
image
Handpainted film cut to jazz music, excellent in every way. I could watch this all day. First half is full explosive color, multiple layers, second half starts out all slow white scratch lines and finally gets crazy after a couple minutes.

Bread and Alley by Abbas Kiarostami (his first short)
image
Opens with a prolonged shot of a boy kicking a can down an alley to the Beatles “ob-la-di, ob-la-da”. Boy can’t figure out how to get down the alley without being chased by a dog. Puzzles it out for a long while, follows an old man but he only goes halfway. Finally braves it by himself and accidentally makes friends with the dog by feeding it. No dialogue. A very happy little movie.

The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film by Richard Lester & Peter Sellers
image
A jolly bit of madness out in a field. Not the funniest ten minutes of cinema I’ve ever seen, but worth watching. Some of these guys had a radio program called The Goon Show, which I’ve heard somehow led to this film which somehow led to Petulia and Strangelove and Steve Martin’s Pink Panther remake.

Guy Maddin: “My editor John Gurdebeke and I, hoping to release the powerful nectars of remembrance, have attempted to cut the film using a facsimile of the way we visit memories: We skip past the drab routines and the overly familiar events of yesteryear in our haste to arrive at our favorite and still potent recollections; once there, we rock back and forth over the cherished imagery, penetrating its pleasures, like a DJ scratching back and forth over the same sample of music, until we’ve used up what we need from that episode; then we race on to the next greedily consumed tableau of the distant past.” Glad to hear Maddin mention Martin Arnold in the commentary… the above sounds like something Arnold could have written.

The same editor worked on Brand, Dad, Caboose, Winnipeg, but not The Heart of the World, done by Deco Dawson, whose short-films dvd I will have to check out soon.

More bits from Maddin’s commentary below – all quotes are his.

“It’s the only one of my movies that I can actually re-watch with any degree of comfort.”

Louis Negin as Dr. Fusi [below] – cast because he reminded Guy of certain silent actors, particularly a guy who was cut from Greed. Also because of his hands, of course. Appeared in Rabid, played Truman Capote in 54, and returned as the blind seer at the intro/outro of Saddest Music.
image

Amy Stewart as Veronica/The Ghost [bottom screenshot] – “the ultimate child brunette.” She returns in My Winnipeg as a Maddin.

Tara Birtwhistle, replacing Alice Krige who got sick at the last-minute. Wearing “the same cheap wig I had Isabella Rossellini wear a few weeks later”. Tara played Lucy in Dracula, here portraying Guy’s aunt Lil and renamed Liliom, “a name I obviously borrowed from Fritz Lang’s Liliom, not even knowing that Liliom was a male name until I watched the movie after filming this.” On aunt Lil: “I thought I would give her a character in this movie that she never got a chance to be… In real life she’s just a sweet, bridge playing, tea-sipping spinster.”

Melissa Dionisio as Meta [below], “the result of some kinda local star search here”
image

“Sorry for all the blurry intertitles. I forgot to focus the camera. … I usually use intertitles to clarify the plot, but here they seem to be just giving everyone an eye-ache.”

Darcy Fehr, playing “Guy Maddin” [below], appeared in Hospital Fragment.
image

Chas, the impotent patriarch. “I’d been reading a lot of Euripydes, which I devoured like Mexican comic books”.

“That’s my mom, by the way.” [below] She was made to wear blacked-out glasses so she couldn’t see the autobiographical shame on display. “We filmed this scene without my mom really knowing. I have yet to explain it to her”.
image

David Stuart Evans, as semi-evil police/hockey captain Shaky, also appeared in Clive Barker’s The Plague.

Mike Bell as Mo Mott, of course played the engineer in Nude Caboose. Mo Mott is the name of an actual Winnipeg hockey player.

Victor Cowie as Maddin Sr. [below], appeared in Careful and Archangel. “The first actor I ever hired.”
image

Premature Maddin biographer Caelum Vatnsdal (the awesome fake Jesus in Heart) has a bit part somewhere.

“I like it when stories artificially tie up loose ends.”

The DVD also has a behind-the-scenes bit on Brand Upon The Brain! and a bunch of new shorts. FuseBoy, a 2005 short set at a fuse box starring Guy, Shaky, Mo and Dr. Fusi from Cowards. Dr. Fusi’s performance is actually edited in from his audition tape, also included here. Rooster Workbook (aka The Cock Crew), a mental blend of female nudity and roosters, the closest thing spastic Maddin has done to porno (closer than both Sissy Boy Slap Party and Nude Caboose). I don’t know who played the nude girl because he lists 13 actors in the credits. Zookeeper Workbook (aka Maldoror: Tygers) involves a man getting eaten by a tiger and a woman juxtaposed with a dog. Chimney Workbook has a girl welding, bunch of birth metaphors and I couldn’t tell you what else. Somehow related to Rooster Workbook.

About what I’d expected, really. Maddin slowed down the pace of his editing to accomodate Isabella’s writing style I guess. Not much to it – She plays herself, her mom (Ingrid Bergman), David Selznick, Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin. Talks to her dad’s giant belly. Short, good. “My dad was a genius. I think.”