A Midnight Film from Man Maddin – IndieWire

On Friday nights, IndieWire After Darkish takes a feature-length beat to honor fringe cinema within the streaming age. 

First, the spoiler-free pitch for one editor’s midnight film decide — one thing strange from any age of movie that deserves our memorializing. 

Then, the spoiler-filled aftermath as skilled by the unwitting editor attacked by this week’s suggestion.

The Pitch: Can You Spoil One thing This Surreal?

Few experiences surpass stumbling onto a jaw-dropping second in movie completely unspoiled. The large twist in “One Lower of the Useless.” The Fern Mayo reveal in “Jawbreaker.” Prime to backside, each second of “Titane.” These are scenes throughout various genres and eras that dwell in my bones as electrical moments I didn’t count on to see, however that jogged my memory why I whole-heartedly love the flicks once I did. Therefore, this column’s spoiler-free/spoiler-filled bifurcation.

(L-R): Brie Larson as Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers and Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan in Marvel Studios' THE MARVELS. Photo by Laura Radford. © 2023 MARVEL.
"It's a Wonderful Knife"

Man Maddin‘s “The Saddest Music within the World” comprises one such second, and although I’m remiss to rob you of your probability to expertise it sans informational primer, you may not see the hidden gem arthouse joint in any other case. Plus, it happens solely quarter-hour into the working time, seems plainly on at the least one model of the poster, and is definitely the principle factor this film is understood for. So, that’s advantageous. Towards my higher judgment, I’ll simply come out and say it. One… two… Isabella Rossellini has beers for legs.

Sure, the Muskeg Beer Baroness of Melancholy-era Winnipeg, Girl Helen Port-Huntley, is a double-amputee and he or she’s acquired two stunning, tall glasses of beer for legs. They’re golden, statuesque, with room for foam, and connected to the Italian magnificence who ran away with “Blue Velvet.”

This 2003 low-budget oddity from the beloved Canadian filmmaker behind the marginally later “My Winnipeg” has a slew of limitations standing between it and up to date streaming audiences. Set within the “world capital of sorrow” in a fabulously fabricated model of 1933, the fantastical movie is black-and-white with the identical surreal fashion that makes some motion pictures of the early twentieth century really feel transported from one other planet. It’s additionally filled with baffling homages to the German expressionist motion that require nearly complete buy-in to understand, and a self-propelling logic that makes acutely breakable, alcoholic prosthetics appear subsequent to regular.

THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD, Maria De Medeiros, Mark McKinney, 2003, (c) IFC Films/courtesy Everett Collection
“The Saddest Music within the World” ©IFC Movies/Courtesy Everett Assortment

We open on a greasy-haired New Yorker named Chester Kent (Mark McKinney), glibly poking enjoyable at a fortune teller whereas his tapeworm-ridden, nymphomaniac girlfriend Narcissa (Maria de Medeiros) jerks him off by way of a cut-out pocket in his slacks. At first blush, they’re simply two fat-cats touring and covertly masturbating throughout the Nice White North. However when Girl Port-Huntley declares she’s holding a worldwide music competitors to advertise her beer, and providing $25,000 prize cash to whoever produces the saddest music on the earth, Chester is as keen as anybody to compete.

His arrival within the baroness’s workplace, introduced by her sublimely nonplussed assistant because the “American Ambassador to Unhappiness,” quickly reveals a sordid previous explaining simply what occurred to the Girl’s legs — and the way precisely Chester was concerned. What follows is a wealthy pour of interval homage and campy spectacle that’s intoxicatingly self-serious however humorous the entire approach by way of, from the antics of the sensitively skinned Serbian soloist Roderick (Ross McMillan) to a human-sized beer pool that’s acquired to be swimming in micro organism.

If simply that tiny style moist your midnight film whistle, “The Saddest Music within the World” will fulfill even with that vital spoiler. Cowritten by Maddin and George Toles, primarily based on a narrative by Kazuo Ishiguro, this hidden gem is a ridiculous idea explored to its most pleasant extremes and price recommending each time and wherever it’s on faucet. —AF

The Aftermath: “Bloodsport: The Musical” Has Lastly Arrived

The widespread reputation of melodramas that swept over American theatre on the tail finish of the nineteenth century was a definite product of its time that would by no means be totally replicated. Audiences’ curiosity in feature-length narrative storytelling was rising on the precise second that artists and technicians had been determining methods to raise stagecraft into one thing really extraordinary. Lavish, lifelike units and ornate costumes created backdrops for twisty tales about heroes falling in love regardless of the most effective efforts of scheming villains. It represented one thing of a sneak preview of the Hollywood movies that will start to thrill audiences in subsequent a long time, whereas making playwrights like David Belasco very wealthy.

The pattern ultimately collapsed when psychology grew to become extra widespread, as playwrights started utilizing the stage to probe the depths of particular person characters’ psyches as a substitute of portray epic tableaus of proper and incorrect. Like all widespread shifts in client tastes, it was most likely inevitable. However perhaps it wasn’t. Perhaps beer legs may have saved the American melodrama.

I went into “The Saddest Music within the World” fully blind, save for the truth that Foreman informed me one thing insane occurs across the 15 minute mark. Pricey readers, she was not incorrect. As you already know by now, Man Maddin’s satirical melodrama really kicks into excessive gear upon the reveal that Isabella Rosselini’s conniving beer heiress Girl Helen Port-Huntley is a double amputee who walks on glass legs made solely of beer.

THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD, Ross McMillan, 2003, (c) IFC Films/courtesy Everett Collection
“The Saddest Music within the World”©IFC Movies/Courtesy Everett Assortment

It’s the form of spectacle that would have solely emerged out of latest midnight film tradition, however I may solely consider what a paying viewers of Nineties theatergoers would have thought. The complete twentieth century of American narrative drama as we all know it may have taken a wildly completely different time period if we had uncovered followers of 1800s Romanticism to the concept that any limb can theoretically be stuffed with any beverage.

However I’m finally relieved that this movie got here out after 1988, as a result of it was in a position to fulfill my lifelong dream of watching a musical equal of “Bloodsport.” Seeing all of those international locations ship their most melancholy balladeers to make the world cry felt eerily just like the Kumite, the underground combating event that Jean-Claude Van Damme enters within the notorious motion flick. However whereas the artwork of beating the shit out of individuals hasn’t modified that a lot, unhappy music positive has. As somebody who grew up with the flexibility to stream Phoebe Bridgers’ discography at any given second, the concept that a really sluggish model of “Skip to My Lou” was ever thought of one of many saddest tunes on the planet is uproariously humorous to me.

Beer legs and aggressive dirges apart, “The Saddest Music within the World” jogged my memory a number of “Twin Peaks,” each when it comes to their bizarre subversions of outdated genres (theatrical melodramas and TV cleaning soap operas), their folksy humor (I’ll be saying “I’ve acquired schmaltz routines that would wring sobs from a moose” for years to come back!), and their advanced internet of subplots. Whereas the love triangle between the Girl and the Kents will at all times take middle stage, all the Prohibition-induced scheming and the hilarious worldwide entries on the earth’s saddest music contest make it the form of movie that’s price revisiting a number of occasions. If you happen to’re nonetheless uncertain about what to do with the final 60 seconds of your Friday evening, crack open a chilly Muskeg Beer and put together to get bizarre — whereas being grateful that you just’re not actually standing on six gallons of it. —CZ

These courageous sufficient to hitch in on the enjoyable can stream “The Saddest Music within the World” on AMC+. IndieWire After Darkish publishes midnight film suggestions at 11:59 p.m. ET each Friday. Learn extra of our deranged recommendations…

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