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Quay Brothers’ Mutter movie misses


by Dennis D’Alesandro

Upstairs in a large, fancy chamber of the storied Mutter Museum, the sold out crowd eagerly buzzed in anticipation of the world premier of the Quay Brothers‘ latest film, titled Through the Weeping Glass: On the Consolations of Life Everlasting (Limbos and Afterbreezes in the Mutter Museum). Billed as the greatest coupling of subject matter and filmmaker that has ever been proposed in the history of art, surely the Quay’s dark-macabre style would present the strange and gruesome collections of the museum in a perfect mysterious pitch!

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It’s taken me four days to conclude that the Quay Brothers’ commercial for the Mutter Museum is not art. It’s a 31-minute, boring, underwhelming money-grab by the Brothers Quay. (Did I read they got $273,000 to do this???) The only mysterious thing I detected the entire time was when the closing credits came up and not one person in the entire place clapped (after 20 agonizing seconds, some kind soul broke the ice and helped rouse up some applause). The other mystery is how or why MOMA is somehow involved with this, it being so brutally insignificant in the Quays’ career. It is a corporate commercial highlighting a few of the specimens in the museum and nothing more. The soundtrack, by Timothy Nelson, is cold and corporate sounding. There is no theme, narrative, or flow to the film. The other mystery is that the Quays, known for their awesome stop-motion animation, barely included any animated sequences in this movie!

Perhaps the most visually complex aspect is the rampant use of the Ken Burns Effect (an easy, automatic button in iMovie). During the question and answer session after the film, you could almost feel the brothers’ embarrassment when they actually admitted to the audience that the guy who did the voice over/narration didn’t even look at the images and only took 20 minutes to do the whole thing.

When one of the moderators made a joking remark regarding the Quays’ insistence on having ample amounts of Belgian beer on hand throughout the making of the film, I think the first thought on everyone’s minds was that maybe they should have laid off the sauce a little! This is not a proper Quay Brothers production, as it seems like they really didn’t even try. Check out films like Nocturna Artificilia or Street of Crocodiles to experience the dark, precise genius that the brothers are most widely known for.