Risultati immagini per The Brothers Quay Collection

Made by identical twins who possess a single, and singular, vision, the stop-motion animation of the Quay brothers deserves the “astonishing” tag attached to the title of a new collection of their short films. Though born in Pennsylvania, Timothy and Stephen Quay are best known for the quintessentially European films they created in England. Inspired by Czech surrealist animator Jan Svankmajer, the brothers wear their influences on their sleeves in one of their earliest films, The Cabinet Of Jan Svankmajer, but from there they didn’t take long to refine their style. Street Of Crocodiles (1987) is an early Quay masterpiece, creating a nightmarish dystopia using actors made from found objects, wonderfully evocative miniature sets, and graceful camera techniques. (Consider the implications of performing a tracking shot with stop-motion animation and you have a sense of the craft that goes into the Quays’ work.) When these films work, as in an inexplicably moving video for the His Name Is Alive song “Are We Still Married?” (starring a melancholy, high-strung toy bunny), they work on an almost dreamlike level; trying to figure out a literal interpretation is not only difficult but distracting.

This works against the Quays’ feature-length, live-action debut, the torturously slow, willfully frustrating Institute Benjamenta. Released elsewhere in 1995 but only now receiving an American video release, Institute follows the educational progress of a man who enrolls at the titular establishment, a school to train servants. Inspired by the work of Swiss author Robert Walser, especially his novel Jakob Van GuntenInstitutemight work better for an audience familiar with the relatively obscure early-20th-century writer’s work. As it is, the film comes off as an intentionally obtuse, sub-Kafka look at alienation and bureaucracy. Visually, it’s a stunner, but in the field of live-action, the Quay brothers have yet to learn the dividing line between dreamlike and somnambulistic. Those interested in their truly astonishing work will be better off sticking to the shorts.

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