Brothers Quay    

American twin brothers that studied and work in Europe, now well known for their unique stop-motion short animations with puppets and clay. Admirers of Svankmajer, admired by Gilliam and many others, but comparable to none, their shorts and features employ very little or no dialogue, dream-logic, poetic gibberish and literary obscurantism, and a bizarre, nightmarish, and gloomy, highly visual atmosphere. Also had a stint making commercials and music videos, but are often mistakenly credited for Tool videos.

Of Some Interest

Institute Benjamenta  
A first feature from the Brothers Quay is comparable to Guy Maddin with its surreal B&W atmosphere and bizarre, deadpan amusing rituals and games. Even the topic of a strict butler school that offers happiness in slavery has been covered by Maddin in Careful, only here the Brothers eschew the humor, replacing it with their trademarked dream-like gloom and poetic obscurantism, which effectively wash-out the Kafka-esque irony in the book this movie is based on. Jakob joins the Institute for servants, run by the austere and mysterious Johannes, and his strict sister Lisa who barely manages to hide deep emotional and sexual undercurrents. The multi-national students learn servility, insignificance and humility, partaking in repetitive meaningless rituals, practicing strange moves and words, chanting meaningless aphorisms, and taking part in synchronized swaying and games. The Institute consists of strange rooms that become smaller or lead back into themselves, and contain many bizarre details and crooked, texture-rich objects, with references to stags, including powdered stag sperm and a man covered in foam and antlers. Mentally very tedious and unrewarding, lacking in plot, but visually and atmospherically rich and unique.

PianoTuner of EarthQuakes, The  
A bizarre fantasy world by the Brothers Quay that presumably takes place in the world of 19th century opera but is as timeless as a Jeunet/Caro movie. A wicked inventor plots against two lovers, somehow killing, then resurrecting a female opera singer, then building some kind of metaphysical revenge on the opera world using seven 'automata' and the voice of the resurrected singer. To this goal, he invites a piano tuner to his island to tune the automata. Strange dreams and events on the island lead the tuner to try to alter his destiny. The movie is as incomprehensible and poetic as it sounds, but, unfortunately, it is also pretentious and lacking meat, featuring the Quay Brothers in an untethered flight of fancy and in love with their romantic whims, obscure allusions, and dark visual imagination, resulting in a movie that never feels in control. This is a world where, when lovers meet, they say to each other things like 'I can hear the rocks at night', and a crisis is brought about by an 'automata swallowing my whistle and reflection'. Visually very striking with some effective nightmarish and bizarre sequences and the occasional stop-motion animation, but mostly drearily pretentious and slow.

1999- by The Worldwide Celluloid Massacre Table of Contents