Movie Review: Brand Upon the Brain!

Brand Upon the Brain!

I’m not normally one for artsy films.  They usually bore me, and are rarely able to catch my MTV generation attention span.  I have to say, however, that I was extremely impressed by Guy Maddin’s experimental film “Brand Upon the Brain!”.

The last time I saw a film this bizarre and unexpected was at a midnight screening for Crispin Glover’s “What Is It” at the Sundance Film Festival a couple of years ago.  Even that, however, had been a bit too strange for my tastes.  “Brand Upon the Brain!”, however is surprisingly interesting, with complex characters, a fresh coherent storyline, and a unique 12-chapter format. 

The story follows main character Guy as he returns to his childhood home in a lighthouse on an island, to give the house a fresh coat of paint, as requested by his mother.  Upon returning, he is hit by the memories of his childhood, which include a gaggle of orphans, his angry and controlling mother, mad scientist father, and his sister’s lesbian love affair with a celebrity child detective.  The film is presented in silent black and white, with a soundtrack score, and voiceover narration, that in some screenings is meant to be performed by a live orchestra and celebrity speaker (in all the Chicago screenings of this film, interesting enough, Crispin Glover is booked as the live narrator).

“Brand Upon the Brain!” is artsy without trying too hard to be artsy.  It is a film for an open mind that offers perfectly innovative ideas in filmmaking, welded together with an intriguing story to present the audience with a whole new cinematic experience. 

/Film Rating: 9 out of 10

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