Comments on watching and making films.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

DVD - Brand Upon The Brain!

How to even review Brand Upon The Brain... How to review any of Maddin's features after The Saddest Music In The World... From Cowards Bend The Knee, and on, Maddin has been getting increasingly more personal, but, paradoxically, more abstract. In a documentary about the making of the film on Criterion's DVD of Brand, Maddin say's the film is "97% True". Well, we know Guy Maddin didn't live on an island, he didn't have a mad scientist father who harvested vital fluids from young children in order to keep Guy's mother young. His sister's pseudo-lesbian experience could have truth to it, but, who knows... So what is truth, in the case of Maddin? How did we get from "A" which is whatever the truth is, to "Z" which is the "truth" that Maddin is serving us in Brand Upon The Brain?

The film, sponsored by Seattle's non-profit The Film Company, takes place on an island inhabited by "Guy" and his family, who run an orphanage. Guy's mother is an overbearing and needy woman who is always taking him away from what he wants to do, his sister is a bother to him, and his father is a recluse who is always doing some sort of strange scientific experimentation. One day, a young woman named Wendy, and her brother Chance, arrive on the island. They're "teen detectives" in the vein of The Hardy Boys, and their trying to find out the secrets of the Orphanage. Guy falls for Wendy, and Sis, Guy's sister, falls for Chance, but Wendy has her eye on Sis. When Chance leaves, unexpectedly, Wendy dresses up as Chance, and tries to gain Sis's affections, while Guy develops a man-crush on Chance, because he's so cool. I'm not really sure how to describe the film in a way that gives more clue to the plot.

Brand is a great film, if you are already a fan of Maddin. If your not, I would HIGHLY suggest that you watch something a little bit more accessible before you check out this one. Maddin uses his trademark silent film/soviet agit-prop style to bring the story to life, and his style is as strong as ever. The film is interesting, but, honestly, if you try and figure out the "auto-biographical" aspects of it, I think you might spend an hour and a half frustrating yourself. If its auto-biographical, it is obliquely so.

I've always liked Maddin, but I have to say that this film is for fan's only.

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