Sunday, April 26, 2009

Movie
of the
Month:
Part Five

A few
weeks a-
go, I re-
viewed
the fol-
lowing
DVD for
Video Librarian, and thought the results were worth sharing.

CAREFUL [***1/2]
(Guy Maddin, 1992, Canada, 100 mins.)

For his third fantastical feature, Winnipeg iconoclast Guy
Maddin added glorious color—in saturated shades of gold,
sky blue, and violet—to his palette. Co-written with collabor-
ator George Toles, this "remastered and repressed" version of
1992's Careful pivots on the imaginary turn-of-the-century
alpine town of Tolzbad, where any loud noise could cause an
avalanche, so the villagers live their lives in virtual silence.

For mother-obsessed butler brothers Johann (Brent Neale) and
Grigorss (Kyle McCulloch, Tales of the Gimli Hospital), physical
and emotional repression leads them down some dark and twist-
ed paths (entwined in cobwebs, a third brother lives in the at-
tic, where he receives visits from their blind father's ghost).

Since Maddin has also dir-
ected a few silent (or semi-
silent) movies, notably 20-
06's Brand upon the Brain!, the premise provides a per-
fect fit for his expressionist-meets-constructivist style, except his artificially-aged films are always funnier than their descriptions suggest, and Careful is no exception.

In their uninhibited commentary, Maddin and Toles cite Ger-
many's mountain melodramas and the literature of Robert Wal-
ser as two of their wide-ranging influences. Maddin also attribut-
es the hazy, dreamlike look of the picture to over-exposure, "wav-
ery apertures," and "dipping the film in some sort of colorful acid."

Other extras include his symbolist-inspired 1994 short Odilon
Redon: the Eye like a Strange Balloon Mounts Towards Infinity,
and Noam Gonick's Waiting for Twilight, a Tom Waits-narrated
documentary on Maddin's background and the making of 1997's
Twilight of the Ice Nymphs. At the time, he claimed it might be
"my last movie.” Fortunately, Maddin failed to follow through
on that threat and Careful comes highly recommended.

Click here for Movies of the Month, Part
Four: Summer Palace and Lost in Beijing



Endnote: Slightly revised from the original text.
Images from Kill the Snark and The Auteurs.

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