For those who already know the short films of the Brothers Quay, Phantom Museums is a welcome, thorough investigation of a lifelong dedication to stop-motion animation and dream sequence narratives. For those just discovering this identical twin team of Stephen and Timothy Quay, Phantom Museums is the place to start. This two-disc set includes roughly twenty of their projects, chronologically spanning thirty years. Inspired by the old-fashioned look of early animated features such as The Adventures of Prince Achmed, as well as Jan Svankmajer and Jiri Barta''s films, The Brothers Quay built their reputation on combining the quaintness and delicacy of early animation with present day macabre. As miniaturists, they painstakingly hand assembled decadent sets, such as an ancient library, a shrunken head vault at the natural history museum, and spiral staircases. Homemade dolls with missing eyes, pins, needles, and screws, protractors, and other tiny metallic things, make characters and their environs grotesquely techno, framed by carnivalesque camerawork in which the viewer experiences scenes from every possible angle. Highly anatomical, they sometimes use steaks and livers to represent doll innards. Watching these films now, one appreciates their Goth quality, especially because of the romantic, classical musical accompaniment. Their influence on the music video industry is also apparent. Each film has a unique story and production design, so that although the overall Quay aesthetic is clear, variation avoids redundancy. Phantom Museums also includes director commentary, alternate versions, and a wonderful filmed interview with the pair, in which they discuss their father forcing them to choose between either becoming gym teachers or artists. Lucky for us. --Trinie Dalton
Two of the world’s most original filmmakers, identical twins Stephen and Timothy Quay have been creating their unique blend of puppetry and stop-motion animation for nearly 30 years and have spawned an enormous cult following. The Quays display a passion for detail, a breathtaking command of color and texture, and an uncanny use of focus and camera movement that make their films unique and instantly recognizable. Best known for their classic 1986 film STREET OF CROCODILES -- which filmmaker Terry Gilliam recently selected as one of the ten best animated films of all time -- they are masters of miniaturization and on their tiny sets have created an unforgettable world, suggestive of a landscape of long-repressed childhood dreams. This new two-disc set contains thirteen of their classic short films—some never-before-available on DVD—in brand-new, restored and remastered editions (personally supervised by the Quays), plus a collection of "footnotes" including new audio commentaries, extensive interviews, alternative versions, unrealized pilot projects and more. PHANTOM MUSEUMS: THE SHORT FILMS OF THE QUAY BROTHERS also features a 24-page, gorgeously illustrated booklet, including an extensive Quay Dictionary and a new essay by film critic Michael Atkinson.
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