Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Films of the Brothers Quay (1987)

Ineresting how the 'regular dude' looks frieked out my the hollow puppet parade...

Genre: Silent Experimental Animation Fantasy Shorts (USA, UK)

Starring: Strange puppets and dolls of all sorts

Directed By: Stephen & Timothy Quay (Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream People Call Human Life;

Overview: This compilation by the Bother Quay are a montage of several of their short stop-motion films.

Acting: The difficulty with silent stop-motion is, "How can I get my message across?" The faces are not animated in any real way (they tend to be mostly the static doll faces), the sounds are rare and the stories are vague. The trick, ideally, is to pick a human face and make the movements of the bodies telling to its audience. The Brothers did this wonderfully, and though is it more difficult to comprehend, when a character has something to say, it is well received.
Rating: 7

Cinematography: This is what you came here for. Mind though, it is high art and if you're looking for a story that easy to follow you won't find it. It's pretty and you have to be patient, but it's pleasing to the eye.
Rating: 8

Script: There is not much help to the story in the writing of these shorts, but when there is a moment of written or spoken narration, we at least understand what's going on a bit better. It didn't really help all that much, so I'll just giv'er this cause it would have been nice to have more...
Rating: 3

Plot: The stories are mixed in quality for plot: one is a story about a flesh tailor, one is a lesson in 16th century perspective studies, another is a bit of the Epic Tale of Gilgamesh, others are nonsensical. Overall though, you won't find all that much of a plot to follow. Like I said, "High Art."
Rating: 5

Mood: The mood is amazing. Especially the film about the tailor. If it weren't for the fact that a couple of these shorts has less than exciting stories this category would be sittin' at 10. See Alice and you'll know what I mean.
Rating: 8
It's good to know that in this day and age a hollow skull of a puppet head can still get a job.

Overall Rating: 62% (Hard to Gauge...)

Aftertaste: This really makes me want to see Jan Svankmeyer's Alice again, a stop motion version of Alice in Wonderland, which has as the most memorable character, a taxidermist's rabbit who has a hole in him, and whose sawdust spills out constantly, and said white rabbit is always looking to eat sawdust to fill up his belly. This is dark and surreal without being completely creepy. It's most certainly what I would call high art. Really fascinating stuff. This has two really neat stories, and if I were just reviewing those, the score would be much higher indeed, but there was a lot of so-so content in this too. As a series of shorts it was lacking a little in the "understandable" department. If that's your thing, enjoy.