The ‘when it rains it pours’ kinda cycle happens occasionally, doesn’t it? It does to me at almost regular intervals, so here’s another movie – and one that turned me on to a director I had not heard of previously. Guy Maddin is a Canadian director who gets off on making films that have the feel of those silent, early sound era films charged with all manner of surreal, psychosexual images and tones, laced with dark humour and wit. I’m uncertain if the film is in any way autobiographical, as Guy Maddin co-authored the script, but it deals with the reminiscences of a boy named Guy. Coincidence?

The film was originally made in 2006 as a silent film, with live accompaniment and a narrator, one of who was Isabella Rosellini, who also figured in the film version with a soundtrack that was released in 2007. Not expecting a movie in this mode, I was at first taken aback but very quickly settled into being completely intrigued by just about everything about it. What I mean is that I have never been really knocked out by the old silent films and wondered how long my attention span would cope, but as I mentioned, in no time at all I was completely absorbed. The style and techniques used to convey the intricate psychological messages, combined with the theatrics, humour and surrealism was right up my street.

The story was of the memories of Guy when he returns to ‘his’ island with the lighthouse in which he lived as a child and where his mother (an overbearing, tyrannical monstress, of off-beat sexual bent) ran the orphanage. His father was some crazy scientist type who worked mostly underground and tapped the orphans for material that he used in the concoction of an amazing nectar that had all sorts of weird effects. I won’t get too much into the details. The other characters are Guy’s sister (Sis) and a sister and brother duo (Wendy and Chance), known as the ‘lightbulb kids” – teenage detectives who come to the island on an investigation initiated by adoptive parents who discovered strange head wounds on their children who came from the island orphanage.

Lots of weird shit takes place – all done in an exceptionally original manner and I couldn’t help but think that Tarantino and Rodriguez would freak if they see it – as I’m sure they must have, as the film was featured at many of the festivals that count.

So there it is – if you like weird, off-beat, surreal shit done with class and style, then check out Brand Upon The Brain – well worth a watch.

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