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.
A magnet moves on a floor. A moth beats against a window. A doll child watches the magnet; threads of metal filings gather around the magnet. The doll, who's sitting at a table, looks in a ... See full summary »
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 »
In the Renaissance castle of the Polish count - Jan Potocki - in Lancut, the modern traces of a past glory persevere and become visible again at the tones of Krzysztof Penderecki's music and Brothers Quay's imaginary animation.
Working in the stop-motion puppet animation technique, for which they are best known, this short film by the Quay Brothers revolves around the work and life of Uruguyan writer Felisberto ... See full summary »
An enigmatic story told in seven chapters, each introduced by an elliptical sentence on a title card. A man is in an apartment. He goes outside where a red tram runs beside a cathedral. He ... See full summary »
Felisberto Fernandez is a piano tuner of exceptional skill, hired by Dr. Emmanuel Droz to come to a remote clinic to clean and refurbish Droz's seven automatons, elaborate mechanical constructs. Droz wants the work done quickly, in time for an opera he's staging for himself. Fernandez's attentions are captured by two women at the clinic, Assumpta, the clinic's manager, and Malvina van Stille, a patient who is also a superb singer. Fernandez works on the machines and is drawn to the women while Droz may be manipulating more than the automatons. Do emotions and choice play any part, or it is all opera? Written by
A truly fantastical experiment, more than a typical film
That the final result of the Piano Tuner of Earthquakes is not really a great movie is a given when taking into account that the style of which the Quay Brothers have gone to almost perfectionist lengths to attain is always leaping ahead in strength when compared to the dialog or the performances. The story itself is meant as a pin-point line for the Quays to relay their staggering mix of mediums. After an opera singer, Malvina, dies during a performance (though not really 'dead' but captured by Doctor Droz, the not-quite-Phantom of the Opera of the story), a mild-mannered piano tuner who is sent out to Droz's estate, but not to fix pianos. Rather, he's sent to fix an automaton, and soon discovers what is going to really happen- the staging of a crazy, other-wordily 'opera' with Malvina, and decides he has to save her. The Quays' choices in actors- Cesar Saracho as Felisberto; Gottfried John as Doctor Droz; Amira Casar as the helpless lady of the film, Malvina; and Assumpta Sera as Droz's caretaker/sometimes seducer of Felisberto- are more based on their appearances and movements in scenes than really for ability in speech and emotion. Not that they don't have a moment or two when they get to connect with the poetic dialog (John gets a good deal of this at times, like when he is shown plotting away with his own agenda at hand). But it's really seeing them, with their distinctive looks, Saracho with his bony figure cast alongside the beautiful Casar, in relation to what comes forward on screen.
To say it's a feast for the eyes is an understatement, and to try and describe much of what comes out in the Quay's design could make this too revealing and long a review. Yet it's the abandon of the usual logic and going head-on into this world that earns their comparison to the likes of Cocteau: we're given a look, quite often, at the automaton and its movements, the gears and wheels churning in titled compositions, and cut against the other seamlessly stop-motion movements. But more importantly, this is set against the actors, and then with other visuals such as inexplicable stop-motion creatures like a woodcutter, or figures in the opera scenes, and if one were to watch it with the sound turned off at home it wouldn't make much of a difference with the visceral impact of it all. Their design attempts to keep the audience in this world from the moment we see Dr. Droz's castle, which is a computer-generated creation, but a much more intricate and detailed kind of set-piece, cut and chiseled in rock and steel. With many of these scenes, set against the music of Duncan and Slaski, which is as a given atmospheric and creepy, and a very unsentimental and moving ending, The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes knocks it out of the parts on technical terms, and should not disappoint the die-hard fans of the Quay brothers' previous works. It's also of no surprise now seeing it why it's the only film that Gilliam has ever had a producer credit on that has not been one of his own directorial efforts- for the kind of mind that loves what can come about through in holding on to an idea and seeing it through in a fantastic manner, it's a marvel. Just don't try and make sense of it all though. 7.5/10
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