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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended - but unfortunately incomplete.,
This review is from: The Quay Brothers - The Short Films 1979-2003 (Two Discs) [DVD] (DVD)About twenty years ago, I was captivated by a season of Quay Brothers films broadcast on Channel 4. My favourite of all was called "Intimate Excursions", where the Quays created extraordinary visuals to accompany excerpts from pretty much all of Leos Janacek's major works. I still have it on VHS, taped from the telly, and as a marriage of animation and classical music, it sure beats the hell out of "Fantasia"! Anyway, when this BFI release was announced I was particularly keen to see a pristine digital transfer of this film, but....it isn't included! I contacted the BFI, and their quick response was as follows:
"Unfortunately some titles have been impossible to put onto the DVD for a number of reasons. The reason for Intimate Excursions is that although the music is out of copyright, the recordings aren't. They were originally sourced from the Czech Supraphon label, which was state-owned until the Velvet Revolution (so relatively easy to clear for broadcast in the 1980s), but since then the catalogue has passed into private hands."
A great shame, but clearly the BFI are powerless. It's not a reason to not buy this excellent set, but I am only going to give it four stars because it isn't quite as comprehensive as its publicity would have you believe. Maybe one day we'll have a full retrospective of these great animators on DVD.
56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cannot Recommend the BFI's presentation of the Quays enough!!,
This review is from: The Quay Brothers - The Short Films 1979-2003 (Two Discs) [DVD] (DVD)I heard it said that when the Alaska Earthquake occurred the earth actually moved ever so slightly on its axis. Sounds a little over-dramatic but my viewing of the short films of the Quay Brothers was somewhat analogous in its effect on my perception of the visual arts.
I came into this a virgin. I'd heard much about them, was aware that they had a hand in the Sledgehammer video, but had never seen any of their films. But when I received my set yesterday and popped it in with the intent of watching one or two, I was so blown away that I had to go back and view it by way of Play All.
What caught me off guard was the total world that they created, as if the camera's POV was capturing only a small sliver of a grander enterprise. But where Tim Burton's work (and he's a clever creator by all means) comes off as somewhat concocted for purposes of entertainment and servile to narrative, the Quays seem to be documenting an actual nether region--and here Bruno Schulz's thirteenth month is appropriate--that already exists. The camera lurks about, always moving, cutting away quickly and at the very moment when a transformation or metamorphosis is occurring. The horizontal axis is no more favored than the vertical. And the speed of movement varies frighteningly; motion frequently ramped up to blur and obscure. The set designs are lavish and meticulous, yet they don't seem to be overly concerned with impressing us with their labors--and here I'm reminded of Dreyer's set for The Passion of Joan of Arc, meticulous and to scale though the camera captured so little of it.
Viewing these films one runs the risk of losing a little of their individual character and element, of blurring their margins; but the reward is seeing their steady development. My favorite aspects of one film were deftly carried forward into the next. And when I thought I hit what would be the high point, The Street of Crocodiles, of which I had heard so much, I was blown away by The Comb, where the otherwise banal presence of a girl sleeping reaches an almost dramatic poignancy when introduced into a world ruled by Old World puppets. She stands (or I should say `lies') between `their' world and `ours', a metamorphosis rendered in black and white, grainy. And after more than an hour of being bombarded with images from an Old World Eastern European dreamscape it was the shot of her thumb running along the tines of a comb that made me gasp. For a moment I was watching a puppet's movement; she had become a member of that world, as in one of those nightmares of being pulled in through the screen into a TV-horrorland.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunters,
This review is from: The Quay Brothers - The Short Films 1979-2003 (Two Discs) [DVD] (DVD)There may well just be two camps regarding Quay brothers films. Not unlike those who either like licking marmite off penguins, and those who don't. Either this is your bag or it is something that should remain inexplicable.
The range of flavours here are toward their usual shadowy, hinting of a nightmare hinterland, even in the colour shorts that are not pure monochrome. A persistent tone of catching these worlds in the act. A persuasive entry ticket into the realm of someone's psyche. Many arty phrases could i engineer.
However, add to the precision involved, their insightful & entertaining commentary on these pieces, and even more interest is aroused. The addition of details, of phantasmic allusions to authors, artists and particularly outsiders of every stripe, is what appeals. The uncanny seems almost natural, the necessary measure for the haunting sounds & discordant melody of the image.
If there's any flaw in this excellent rendering & restoration it is that someday a box-set of Quay Brothers complete works, after much license stamping in the mode of Kafka, would mean this exquisite series of overtly engothed artifices will be on a shelf, quivering with envy.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars animated surrealism,
This review is from: The Quay Brothers - The Short Films 1979-2003 (Two Discs) [DVD] (DVD)A real cabinet of curiosities, entertaining and as fresh as when first seen on channel 4. Full of foreboding and hinting at darker things, these shorts are amongst my favourite animations. The Quay brothers have breathed life into their creatures the most entertaining stuff of nightmares you can find. A favourite.
5.0 out of 5 stars Be aware, these are artistic miniatures and not mere bagatelles!,
This review is from: The Quay Brothers - The Short Films 1979-2003 (Two Discs) [DVD] (DVD)Following the exhibition in the Museum Of Modern Art in New York recently I was re-inspired by their work. I was familiar with the Piano Tuner of Earthquakes and the Institute Benjamenta, but until my visit to the gallery was not acquainted with their short films.
The Quay brothers hail from Philadelphia, but much of the work on these discs emanate from work completed in their London Studio. Their obsession with detail and minutiae is part of the hook which draws the viewer in. The viewer is no longer the fisher but the fish in the surreal nightmares which unfold on the screen.
The Quay Brothers might be unfamiliar, but perhaps their commercial work is not . An example of this is their pop video for Peter Gabriel `Sledge Hammer' (not on this DVD). In the world of pop videos and tv advertisements they are very influential and have spawned many imitators and others who have stolen their ideas wholesale. Some of you might be familiar with Fred Stuhr's video for Tool's video of their song `Sober'.
By using broken dolls, dust and dirt, rusting screws, machines exposing fleshy insides- using stop-start animation techniques; places the observer in an uncomfortable but compelled position.
Not all their films are on these discs however and are ones commissioned by Channel 4 tv in the UK
And include the marvellously dark and incomprehensible Street of Crocodiles when a voyeur unleashes a scenario within a encaged world, with little light and controlled by wires. The story is about curiosity, decay and detritus within which some life lurks within every shadow. But enough of my construct of what it might be about. I urge you to watch the film yourself.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eerie and disturbing,
This review is from: The Quay Brothers - The Short Films 1979-2003 (Two Discs) [DVD] (DVD)I love this style of stop motion/live action movie making. Beware of these films if you get freaked about by dolls heads and the like! best not to search for too much meaning - just enjoy the atmospherics, paranoia and bizarre narratives - reminds me of David Lynch. All are redolent of the type of films coming out of eastern Europe in the 60s and 70s. If you enjoy creative, thought provoking cinema you will love this pack. Special mention for the soundtrack(s) - hugely enjoyable and clever - look out for Stockhausen!
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