Guy Maddin's work plumbs the depths of his childhood fascinations. His newest, Brand Upon the Brain!, is an adolescent romance, orphan tragedy and teen detective story...

Brand Upon the Brain!

on September 08, 2006 by Sara Schieron
Print
Through the primitive aesthetic of early silent film, Guy Maddin's work plumbs the depths of his childhood fascinations. His newest, Brand Upon the Brain! , is an adolescent romance, orphan tragedy and teen detective story full of his now trademark absurd magic.

Protagonist Guy (Sullivan Brown) lives with his family in a lighthouse that doubles as the island's orphanage. A strange amalgam of Psycho 's Mother Bates, Double Indemnity 's Phyllis Dietrichsen and Kriemhild in Fritz Lang's Die Nibelungen: Siegfried , Guy's mother is an overprotective and creepily affectionate wigged blonde. His inventor father lives in their home laboratory and has invented an “aerophone” (imagine a cell phone that works like a gramophone) to further extend mother's umbilical cord to her son and her sinfully curious teenage daughter. Through these phones the mother can listen in on her children's exploits and seek them out wherever they roam from the navigation tower of her searchlight. With the help of a cross-dressing teen detective, Guy and Sis find out what their parents are really doing to terrorize the orphans in the lighthouse.

Evocative of Expressionism and Grand-Guignol theatre, this more-than-surreal feat is swimming in winks and nods to Maddin's influences. Moments of Bunuel, Hitchcock and Lang are everywhere—from Guy's foot-kissing, to Sis' automaton motions with a butcher knife, to the teen detective's worshipful role in the family. But beyond the uber-literate references, Maddin's opus—in its originally intended exhibition format—is an exercise in live cinema.

Since its premiere in Toronto with narrator, orchestra, castrato singer and foley artist chorus, the international film community has gone to lengths to acquire repeat performances in their festivities. The San Francisco International Film Festival housed such an event, which surprised many with a packed house of patrons popping their Maddin cherry. It takes only seconds to realize this is not the G-rated melodrama most audiences might expect of “silent” film. Maddin's primitivism is just as tawdry and uninhibited as the term “primitive” should lead you to believe.
Distributor: Vitagraph
Cast: Erik Steffen Maahs, Gretchen Krich, Sullivan Brown, Maya Lawson and Katherine E. Scharhon
Director: Guy Maddin
Screenwriters: Guy Maddin and George Toles
Producers: Amy E. Jacobson and Gregg Lachow
Genre: Drama
Rating: Unrated
Running time: 95 min.
Release date: May 9, 2007 NY, May 18 Chi, June 8 LA
Tags: No Tags

read all Reviews »


0 Comments

No comments were posted.

What do you think?