Customer Reviews


13 Reviews
5 star:
 (7)
4 star:
 (1)
3 star:
 (4)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars and you thought "eraserhead" was weird!
this is a beautifully conceived and truly original surrealist comedy drama, filled with romance and terror, pathos and parody, a half painted lighthouse and a staircase of orphans, a claustrophobic island and the eternal cycles of memory, the bald head and the baby, a tushy crazed mommy and a workaholic father, vampyrism of brain nectar and lesbianism of sex, turpentine...
Published on March 4, 2009 by drollere

versus
12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Why is this an overpriced Criterion release?
I'm a longtime fan of Guy Maddin - I own every one of his feature films on DVD from "Gimli Hospital" up to "Brand Upon the Brain". I anxiously await the video release of "My Winnipeg" since there is no arthouse theater around here where I could have seen it. I have long felt that Maddin's movies deserve to be honored with the prestigious, pretentious, pricey Criterion...
Published on November 12, 2008 by J. W. Kennedy


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars and you thought "eraserhead" was weird!, March 4, 2009
By 
drollere (Sebastopol, CA United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Brand Upon the Brain! (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
this is a beautifully conceived and truly original surrealist comedy drama, filled with romance and terror, pathos and parody, a half painted lighthouse and a staircase of orphans, a claustrophobic island and the eternal cycles of memory, the bald head and the baby, a tushy crazed mommy and a workaholic father, vampyrism of brain nectar and lesbianism of sex, turpentine baths and butter on the wall, the maternal searchlight of anger and the paternal foghorn of purity -- and raging aging! and rumania! oh don't forget rumania!

everything is told in black and white, grainy and misprinted film, wobbly and erratically vignetted images, and a campy imitation of the silent film conventions of motion pantomine and text slides (but with punctuating sound effects, deliriously incoherent music, and a fiendishly arch narration by isabella rossellini thrown in).

i wasn't sure what to expect and now, well ... i'm not sure what to tell you to expect. you won't forget it, you won't always enjoy it (i found it dragged in places), but you will find it not quite like anything you've ever seen before -- unless it was by guy maddin.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Branded Upon My Brain!, August 19, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Brand Upon the Brain! (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
Brand Upon the Brain! is Guy Maddin's 2nd film in an autobiographical trilogy, which started with "Cowards Bend the Knee" (2003) and ended with "My Winnipeg" (2007).

I have been a fan of Maddin for a long time and absolutely loved The Saddest Music in the World (2003) but Brand Upon the Brain! is by far the best film I have seen by him (I have yet to see My Winnipeg which also got rave reviews).

Maddin is one of the few directors who still makes silent films. This film is in fact only partly silent. There was a short time when silent films had soundtracks (music and sound effects), and Maddin does the same thing here. He also uses a narrator, but they where sometimes used at the time of the silent films (then live), especially in Japan.

The film is pure surrealism. It is autobiographical in the same way as Kafka was is his books. It has the humor of Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet and the horror of David Lynch. It is, in a nutshell insane and amazing. Strongly recommended to anyone interested in Avant-Garde cinema.

About the DVD. The Transfer is very good. It offers multi narration track, which is much appreciated. The documentary about the film was really good and informative. The same goes for the essay on Maddin, by film critic Dennis Lim. The two new short films are far from being the best I have seen from Maddin. "It's My Mother's Birthday Today" is some kind of music video and "Footsteps" is in fact just a documentary about the foley artists which worked on the film.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Silent Film as Performance Art, November 26, 2008
By 
Alric the Red (in modern times) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Brand Upon the Brain! (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
Guy Maddin's BRAND ON THE BRAIN! is art first, film second, and stands like a puzzling and intriguing piece you'd see in a museum. A description in one of extra features on the disc explains that BRAND ON THE BRAIN! "toured as a live event to many cities around the world, featuring an eleven-piece orchestra, a Foley team, a celebrity narrator, and a castrato." So, really, this film is basically a silent movie presented like a concert, with the celebrity narrator and Foley team becoming an essential part of the act itself. Some of the narrators were Isabella Rossilini, Guy Madden himself, Laurie Anderson, Crispin Glover and -- and this was a big surprise -- Eli Wallach. The disc supplies a couple of those performances from the 2007 New York presentations as alternative tracks. Whichever one you choose, in an ingenious display of melding style and meaning, Maddin utilized the limitations inherent in the silent film era to conjure the sense of distant memory. It incorporates not only the dropped frames, which exaggerates the spliced editing, but his minimal use of sound and distortion creates a sense of dreaming and semi-consciousness. It suggests the sense of a memory deteriorated by time, yet one that has lost none of its power. His recollections flicker on the screen not so much as what they were in reality, but how they settled into his subconscious. Therefore his mother is depicted as a possessive harridan enthroned in a turret atop a lighthouse, scouring the beachhead with a searchlight, searching for escapees from her dysfunctional authority. Sometimes her voice is rendered as just a harsh squawk by the Foley team. It's worth noting that no actual dialogue of the actors is ever heard, but is instead conveyed through the mellifluous narration supplied on the default track by Rossillini. Sometimes her voice was synced with the actors lips, most of the time not, as she simply tells you what is being said, and sometimes conveying just the gist of what was going on. So like a dream, you're there and not there; and the most bizarre events are paradoxically eerie and mundane.

There is a story here really, too, if you're inclined to look at it. But it's all symbolic and surreal. I found it so intriguing as it was, with his dark shadows and blanched lights, I really didn't care to analyze the archetypes to delve into their deeper meaning. It was fun watching his imagination at work. The end product exists somewhere between dadaism and science fiction, embellishing an archaic medium with a darkly humorous panache.

I can't say, as some others have, how this fits into the Maddin canon. I've only seen one other of his films, and it didn't strike me the way this one did. I highly recommend this if you're interested to see what a film can be in the hands of an artist, of a man who treats the medium with no regard for the mainstream. And if you're not impressed the first time out, watch it a time or two more. It's something you really shouldn't miss. Then you can go back to normal life.
___________________________________________
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Infinite possibilities of soundtrack and Maddin's genius, November 29, 2008
By 
Ulalume Jones "Creative Gal" (Between Nothing and Nowhere) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Brand Upon the Brain! (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
This is one of Maddin's best, though my favorite is still his Dracula one. I like the DVD because there are several audio tracks so you can make you own art via messing with the narration soundtrack. I started out first with Isabella Rosellini, then moved to the next, which was Maddin himself. It was a joy to find Laurie Anderson on one of the tracks, also Crispin Glover. My favorites were Maddin and Glover, though there was another actor on there who also wrote the script, Louie... can't seem to find him in the credits online.

But if you have a DVD controller like mine, you can make a game of pushing the audio button and going through the 8 or so narrator audio tracks and hear different interpretations of the movie. You can also do it via the menu, there is a section to pick narrators, but I would rather change it on the fly.

The extras are wonderful too. Footsteps is a Maddin filmed look at the foley artists, there is a film based on a singer called the Manitoba Meadowlark. I am not sure if it is worth the $35 or so, but if you found a copy used, I would say go for it. I could watch this movie many times. I like how the actors look, the storyline which is a little lesbian and secretive, a little bit of a Victorian zombie fairytale and steampunk fantasy (the aerophone is one of the best steampunk tools ever if you ask me).

Sweet nectar! Romania! Romania Romania!

(You'll have to watch it to get that.)

I wonder why Maddin hasn't done some film with the girls from Rasputina yet. They seem evenly matched, but maybe that exists only in my dreams.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A movie that will brand itself upon YOUR brain, February 18, 2009
By 
This review is from: Brand Upon the Brain! (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
Really neat. "Brand Upon The Brain!" is a gothic horror film, rich with psychoanalytical elements, told mostly in the style of an old silent film. I say "mostly" because director Guy Maddin has also included modern, stylish editing techniques, as well as creepy, effective voiceover narration by Isabella Rossellini. I wish the move was a shade more literal and less open to interpretation (especially during its final minutes), but that's definitely not a deal-breaker. This is a striking film worth at least a viewing.

The extras on the Criterion disc of "Brand Upon The Brain!" are very good, too, especially two short films, including one- "Footsteps"- that ties in strongly with the main feature. A 50-minute documentary, produced by Criterion for this disc, helpfully illuminates many aspects of Mr. Maddin's film.

This movie is memorable in its own right, and is especially welcome as an antidote/respite from more typical DVD fare.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Guy Maddin's universe, September 7, 2008
By 
MarkusG "Markus" (Stockholm, Sweden) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Brand Upon the Brain! (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
Brand Upon the Brain at first looks like a film from the silent era, black and white with scratches and so on. But in this case it is intended, and unlike the most silent films this explodes with images in a high tempo and in an almost dreamlike way. The result, I think, is very watchable and very well made. The basic story is a mix of childhood memories and horror story: tha adult Maddin returns to the island where he grew up and remembers macabre things involving orphans whose brains are used to make longevity nectar, and this is controlled by the dictator mother and mad scientist father... It is of course possible to read in a lot of interpretations from psychoanalysis or whatever. But I don't even try - the film is entirely watchable without this, and presents to us a slice of Guy Maddins personal universe. Even if you don't like this universe, the film is still worth watching because of it's unique style.
The DVD contains different narrator tracks, a documentary and two short films by Maddin. Highly recommended!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Fine Maddin Flick, August 20, 2008
By 
This review is from: Brand Upon the Brain! (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
Similar in structure to Maddin's Cowards Bend the Knee, Brand upon the Brain is "a remembrance in twelve chapters" featuring Guy Maddin (Erik Steffen Maahs) returning to his childhood home--an orphanage his parents ran on a remote island; a gothic setting if ever there was one. Much of the tale is told in flashback, recalling the early days of young Guy (Sullivan Brown) and his Sis (Maya Lawson) who both experience crushes on teen detectives Chance and Wendy Hale (Katherine E. Scharhon). They're embroiled in a mystery surrounding Guy and Sis's parents and the immoral experiments being performed on the orphans.

This brooding tale of misbegotten love and overbearing parents is told in split second edits, cutting in the occasional flash of color into the beautiful black & white. The action on screen lives in a world of its own though it's placed into another realm when screened. At various times and locations, Brand upon the Brain has been narrated by the likes of Isabella Rosselini, Crispin Glover, Eli Wallach, and more. Scored with live music and foley, the film becomes a cinematic event that will morph into something quite different for home viewers.

Playing like an O'Henry version of Lord of the Flies, Brand upon the Brain exemplifies Maddin's brilliant cinema.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Why is this an overpriced Criterion release?, November 12, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Brand Upon the Brain! (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
I'm a longtime fan of Guy Maddin - I own every one of his feature films on DVD from "Gimli Hospital" up to "Brand Upon the Brain". I anxiously await the video release of "My Winnipeg" since there is no arthouse theater around here where I could have seen it. I have long felt that Maddin's movies deserve to be honored with the prestigious, pretentious, pricey Criterion label ...

But not this one.

I hate to say it, but Guy is slipping. He's starting to repeat himself, and the spastic editing style does not help to conceal that fact. It actually makes the movie LESS watchable. I appreciate the effort that went into chopping up the movie so it looks like a deranged chimpanzee had a seizure whilst gripping the jog-wheel of a DVC deck .. but after about 15 minutes the edit pace stops meaning anything, and the flickering images blur into a sleepy incoherence. We've fallen a long way from "Saddest Music in the World," in which the pace of the editing varied to match and magnify the emotional intensity of the scene. Here it is ridiculously fast & choppy throughout, and it just seems to be style for style's sake, nothing more. I was disappointed.

Of all Guy Maddin's films, this one least deserves to be released on Criterion. It is worth seeing, but not at this price.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overrated and a bit pretentious., June 11, 2010
This review is from: Brand Upon the Brain! (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
Criterion gave this its standard excellent treatment including a choice of eight narrations(!) none of which are all that interesting except for namedropping. I can think of a hundred other films off the top of my head that deserve Criterion's attention before this. I wasn't familiar with Maddin's work (except for titles) prior but took a chance from these raving reviews and was quite disappointed. Holy Mountain, Eraserhead, Santa Sangre, Kenneth Anger, classic silent cinema... sorry, this ain't it. The director is obviously a huge fan of all the stuff and more but there's an edge missing here of authenticity. If your into Maddin's work this is probably for you but if your a fan of Bunuel, early Lynch, Murnau, Jodorowsky... I doubt you'll be impressed. Four stars for the packaging, two for the content equals out at three for the total.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Indelible Impressions, August 23, 2008
This review is from: Brand Upon the Brain! (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
In the "Special Features" section of `Brand Upon the Brain,' Director/co-writer, Guy Maddin explains that his black and white silent film is "97 Percent True". A Freudian "memoir" in "12 Chapters," only the names and location have been changed to protect the innocent--and well, probably the guilty, too.

The erratic black and white scenes tell a tragic tale of incest and transgender situations. Everything takes place on an island with a lighthouse. The indomitably manipulative mother (Gretschen Krisch) sits in her egg-shaped throne as she watches her children like a hawk. She makes butter tarts for Guy (Sullivan Brown/Erik Steffen Maahs [the elder]), the apple of her eye. Guy's father (Todd Jefferson Moor) is an inventor trying to tap into (sorry, pun intended for those who have seen it) the fountain of youth. He's already invented an aerophone, a device meant for mother to relay messages to summon her children and shake their emotional foundations. Sis (Maya Lawson) is a siren girl whom mother guards from any romantic adventures. (In the special features Guy's details are more horrible than the ones presented in the film.)

Orphans are staying in the dormitories, and mother's strictness made me wish I were watching `Annie' instead. John Savage is the leader of the orphans. He's a dead ringer for Jack in `Lord of the Flies' and their lot isn't that much different than the boys in the book. Teenage super sleuth Wendy Hale arrives on the island to spy on the parents and make her case to the authorities. Guy falls smitten for Wendy, but Sis falls in love with Chance, her incognito alter ego, creating a transgender element to the firmament.

"Everything happens twice," the narrator warns at the beginning and the screen reminds us throughout. It is irritating at times, and watching the film, I longed to watch the Spanish film 'Unconscious' again for comic relief or even revisit, `The Science of Sleep,' which I didn't even like. Seattle patron, Greg Lacouche, provided strictures which make elements of the movie mostly cohesive, at others haphazard with time restrictions requiring merely a week and a half to produce the script. Guy's old professor, George Toles, is a reassuring presence, though, and a collaborator who gets first credit for the screenplay.

It's not all silent really. Jason Staczek's score is eerily present with short, choppy string notes that draw upon `Psycho' and classical music in a way that won't draw complaints of copying. The narration, some singing, and sound effects are influenced by Japanese silent films as they transitioned to "talkies". The dialogue still flashes across the screen in vintage 1920's black and white while John Gurdebeke's editing employs a scrolling technique making images fast-forward in a way like "skipping stones over water".

In the end, `Brand Upon the Brain' does to the audience what the movie unfolds in its characters. I found this silent odyssey often unpleasant, but how could I have expected it to be anything else? It's a Freudian textbook take on an authentic story. What's treated as whimsy, often leaves a bitter aftertaste. Some deliberations will appeal more to the moviemakers than the audience, but I couldn't help but notice the images left an indelible impression upon my own brain hours after viewing, so I have to give them credit for a mission accomplished.

A J.P.'s ambivalent Pick 3*'s = Good on balance.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Brand Upon the Brain! (The Criterion Collection)
$39.95 $23.99
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.