A woman sits alone on a chair at a table in a room on one of the top floors of an asylum. Bright spot lights dot the night, sometimes shining on her window. She sharpens pencils and writes ...
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A man closes up a lecture hall; he reaches into a box and snips the string holding a gaunt puppet. Released, the puppet warily explores the darkened rooms about him. Screws twist out of ... See full summary »
In Prague, a professorial puppet, with metal pincers for hands and an open book for a hat, takes a boy as a pupil. First, the professor empties fluff and toys from the child's head, leaving... See full summary »
A tear falls from the eyes of a veiled face. A white ball whips around a heart-shaped paddle. A mournful voice sings, "Are we still married?" A child's stuffed rabbit watches, sees ... See full summary »
Loosely based on the Mesopotamian "Epic of Gilgamesh", here Gilgamesh is portrayed as a grotesque, Picasso-esque being who uses a tricycle to patrol his box-shaped kingdom that hovers above a dark abyss.
Near an extraordinary chair with many legs, a hand is visible gripping an edge. The hand is weathered, the fingers cracked and scarred. The end of a rifle appears and a shot fires. The ... See full summary »
A woman sits alone on a chair at a table in a room on one of the top floors of an asylum. Bright spot lights dot the night, sometimes shining on her window. She sharpens pencils and writes on a page in a copy book. The pencil point often breaks under her fingers' force. She places broken points outside the window on the sill. A satanic figure is somewhere nearby, animated but of straw or clay, not flesh. She finishes her writing, tears the paper from the pad, folds it, places it in an envelope, and slips it through a slot. Is she writing to her husband? "Sweetheart, come." Written by
Most of the Quay Brothers films are incoherent. I hope that even their fans would acknowledge this. Telling a clear and compelling story is not what they are good at.
Their films are also quite crude relative to other stop motion animation. I've always been okay with the roughness of their technique, which they say is intentional, though some of it is clearly the result of the lack of resources, staff and time needed to create less choppy animation. Their willful refusal to provide structure or narrative, however, makes their films seem incomplete. They seem more like demonstrations of effects that could be used in a movie.
This film is a depiction of insanity. It is as confused, senseless and repetitive as a crazy, ranting homeless person on a city bus. Many of the visuals are just close-ups -- pencil shavings, pencil leads, dirty fingernails etc. Some are still images. The synthesized music works with the images, but it still feels like student work. It would be fine as an installation in a museum exhibit -- you could look at it for a minute or two and move on -- but seeing it in a theater as I did is not a good investment of time or money. If you like jarring atonal music that goes nowhere and finally ends, you will love this film.
I suppose what the Quays are good at is making old, creepy dolls move around a bit, even if in a clunky way, with narrators growling random phrases in Russian or Polish. This film doesn't even meet that low bar.
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