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Wednesday 15 January 2020

Burl reviews Careful! (1992)

Ha ha, and don’t put too much pepper on it! Yes, it’s Burl, here to review a movie I’ve liked for many years: Guy Maddin’s mountain picture Careful! This was Maddin’s third picture, I believe, and they say it was filmed on the great, flat plains of Manitoba, Canada! But I can’t believe that, because the movie patently takes place in the mountains! Ha ha!
It’s an odd movie, and delightfully so! We’re in the town of Tolzbad, a mountain town whose inhabitants are constantly, morbidly, appropriately, afraid of being swept away by an avalanche! Of course they also fear falling off of cliffs, and so everybody at all times behaves with the greatest restraint and propriety! In a word, they are careful!
Two brothers, Johann and Grigorss, are our heroes, sort of! Johann has a bit of a crush on his mother, sorry to say, and in such a repressed society as this, such feelings can only lead to a mouth-searing and some chocolate-sauce gore! A pair of sisters are also having trouble with incest, and this family too must lose a few members before things can be set aright on the mountain once again! In fact I’m not really sure things ever are set aright, but that’s the upper regions for you, ha ha! The thin air and tendency toward inbreeding makes the people a little bit stupid! Just have a look at Cliffhanger and you’ll see what I mean!
I don’t want to tell you how it ends, but practically everybody dies, ha ha! So it’s a tragedy, but it’s a very funny one, with deliberately crude special effects and wildly coloured cinematography! A few scenes are so overexposed that they hurt the eye, and I’m not one hundred percent sure that was the effect Maddin was going for, but who knows! And a few performances are a little flatter than I’m sure was intended; but on the other hand most of the actors are right on the mark! Vic Cowie, in the role of Herr Trotta, the libidinous papa, was especially strong!
I’ve not seen many of the mountain pictures that inspired this movie - things like Leni Riefenstahl’s The Blue Light, for instance, or the work of Dr. Arnold Fanck - but I can imagine them, and Careful appears to be a sincere and loving tribute to those great eruptions of Teutonic repress-o-passion! It’s packed with imaginative details and vivid sequences of high melodrama! Literally high, ha ha, because it’s mountains, and perhaps the makers of the picture were a little bit high too! It’s a florid work, and one I can cheerfully recommend! I give Careful three and a half condor eggs!

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