Watching Guy Maddin's Careful is like stepping into a mutating time warp of cinema history, where German alpine dramas of the 1920s are gene-spliced with Daliesque surrealism, Murnau's silent melodrama, and--in an uncannil... more »y precise act of stylistic homage--the hypnotically skewed universe of German Expressionism. Filmed in gloriously filtered colors that cross Maxfield Parrish with Peter Max, this stylistic hybrid virtually defies description and must be seen to be truly appreciated. Suffice it to say, the fictional mountain village of Tolzbad--where silence is golden, and extreme measures are taken to avoid a sound-induced avalanche--is one of the strangest and most outrageously amusing locations in the history of film. You think that's an exaggeration? If anything, it's an understatement. The villagers of Tolzbad have developed repression into an art form: nearly every sentence begins with "Don't," and they slavishly follow a litany of safety guidelines. Desires are equally suppressed, and this precarious equilibrium is fractured when a young villager's Oedipal dreams collide with his dysfunctional family reality. Pandora's box is opened, Tolzbad-style, and Careful turns into a fever-dream of sibling rivalry, forbidden romance, suicide, murder, and delirious cinematic ecstasy. This is Maddin's best and most coherent film, but even so it's hardly for everyone; only the truly adventurous film lover will eagerly follow Maddin on this demented journey, but the rewards are plentiful for those who dare. Many films strive for enduring uniqueness, but few can make that claim as triumphantly as Careful. This is filmmaking on another plane of consciousness--quite simply, a work of art like nothing you've ever seen. --Jeff Shannon« less
"I'll never forget the first time I saw a Guy Maddin film--it was "Tales from Gimli Hospital." When it ended I sat quietly for a few moments and just muttered "Holy Cow" over and over. "Gimli" is an early and very low budget effort. "Careful" shows Guy nearing a peak that hopefully will go on for a few more decades.Guy somehow (and miraculously) manages to sum up the entire history of cinema in his work. While there's much chatter about his obvious retro style, few have noticed his nods to Godard and more recent filmmakers. He may seem to mimic early films with missing frames and soundtrack problems but these "affectations" are ultimately as expressive as the equivalent jump cuts and soundtrack dropouts in Godard's "Alphaville." They're richer too because of the inevitable multiple associations. His amazing short, "Heart of the World" (one of the best shorts I've ever seen) owes as much to modern MTV editing styles as it does to early Soviet cinema (and creates a bridge and dialogue between two seemingly unrelated creative eras). Guy's not an artsy filmmaker, he's just a "guy" who loves movies passionately and works, unselfconsciously, with film's full lexicon.
"Careful" is a beautiful (often breathtakingly gorgeous), complex, unique, and very funny film. He's made a disturbing comedy about tragic and sensitive issues or maybe a tragedy about comic issues--there's something almost Shakespearean about his output. He also has a knack for getting memorable performances from his actors.
No this film isn't for everyone--right now at least--but I'm convinced we are currently witnessing the appearance of one of film's truly great creative geniuses. His films make one realize how stunningly shallow so many modern movies are, overburdened with flashy technologies like CGI, mandatory pop-cultural references, pretty people, and consumerism. His output is also a challenge to the equally bankrupt "underground" or "counter-culture." By avoiding every modern cliché, trend, anti-trend, technology, anti-technology, and pretense in his work he's giving us, in this film and others, timeless and (a rare thing these days) sublime works that are, even after all this lofty commentary, still pretty damned funny!"
One of Maddin's best
Valentina Chimino | California | 03/27/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was the movie that introduced me to Guy Maddin. Guy Maddin is an acquired taste, like David Lynch or Alejandro Jodorowsky. I feel I have to defend the director from anyone who watches a film of his and can't be it because it is "weird". It is supposed to be that way. He makes movies in a futuristic Victorian way. I don't think he will ever have a large audience because of this. But I love his work, like I love Lynch or Jodorowsky. It's surreal, it's filmed like it's a film from the early 1900's, either in sepia, black and white or colored in sort of color.
Careful, is a pseudo-Victorian tale about, well, being careful, which means being repressed. Maddin takes the modern way of looking at things and adds them into this sort of moral tale. It's well acted, the colors are beautiful, I remember the color in the scene where they are riding across the sky very well done.
I would say if you only like normal films, like action and typical romantic comedies, you should probably steer clear of anything Maddin does. But if you like challenging film, you should watch this at least a few times. LEt it sink in. I feel Guy Maddin is a genius and one of my favorite directors, but I also love Rasputina and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which have the same steampunk sensibilities."
Not for everyone
Geo. Stewart | Wilmington, DE | 03/25/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you love early George Arliss films (EARLY George Arliss films), you'll love Guy Maddin's works. He revels in chemical fades, Vitaphone surface noise and the limits of Orthochrome - even though his films are in a sort-of hand-tinted-postcard-color. His is a dry wit-like nitrate stock turning to powder..."
Fine DVD of a rare treat
R. Scharba | Chicago, IL USA | 10/23/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Will wonders never cease? Here is a DVD that I never thought I'd see. Guy Maddin's brilliant and hilarious (particularly for early film buffs) `Careful.' The plot and style of this film have been well explained by other commentaries on this page and elsewhere, so there's no need to go over it again. My favorite comment about it is that it is like a Ricola ad gone horribly, horribly wrong. Suffice it to say that the DVD is an improvement in image quality. While many of the images are intentionally vague, grainy or indistinct by the choice of the filmmakers, I get the impression that these effects are more clearly conveyed in the DVD. In a spoken commentary track with Maddin and screenwriter George Toles (new to this DVD, and obviously not possible on the VHS edition), Maddin admits that he wanted to add an effect through use of the color controls during the digital transfer, but resisted that temptation in order to let this DVD stand as a faithful representation of the film. While the effect he had in mind might have been interesting, I'm still grateful to him for his restraint.Maddin claims in his commentary that people often obliquely criticize the performances of the actors in this film while, at the same time, telling him how much they like it, placing him in the position of defending those performances. Maddin states that he absolutely stands by the performances in this film, and that the actors gave him precisely what he asked for. This should dispel any doubts among people who see this film about the unusual, stiff delivery of lines, which might lead people who know nothing about the cast to suspect they are amateurs, which they are definitely not. This sort of line reading can be seen in some of the very earliest talkies. The antiquated sound of this film, along with its look, is all of a piece, and completely intentional, right down to the fake patina of noise added to the mono soundtrack. Maddin does regret some of the props and effects which had to be done on the cheap, due to budget restraints. Who knows how much more bizarre and fantastic it might have looked with a larger budget? On the other hand, it might have lost some of its unique charm. As it is, it's a wonderful piece of work that I find unforgettable, and that has remained vivid in my memory years after first seeing it. Copies of this DVD aren't to be found in abundance, and I don't know how long it will stay in print. If you like this film, do get this DVD now, and tell anyone you know who likes unusual films about it.Near the end of the film, which hints at a continuation of the story, Maddin says that he may make that sequel some day. I don't know if he was serious about it or not, but I'd sure love to see it."
Like a very funny and beautiful dream...
Jay Dickson | Portland, OR | 02/25/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When I first saw this film at a special screening at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the host described Guy Maddin as "Winnipeg's answer to David Lynch... that is, if David Lynch were as good as Guy Maddin." The praise might be just: there are lovely dreamlike effects in Maddin's film (especially this, one of his best) which are like nothing David Lynch ever achieved.CAREFUL is a tribute to the great bergenfilms of the Weimar Republic, and is filmed with the same kinds of filmic effects and film stock as those lovely little hallucinations of the silent era. The film is largely about the joys of repression, and what disasters can be brought about without it. If you think I'm being facetious, you're wrong: in Maddin's deliriously offkilter Expressionist universe, every act of curiosity is sure to kill a cat, and everyone else besides.(the film's prologue, which explains all this, is one of the funniest things I've ever seen: "Careful, don't touch that pot!") Maddin's muse, the very gifted Kyle McCulloch, is on-hand as usual. This film can't be explained, but it also shouldn't be missed."