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Careful Reviews

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366weirdmovies
366weirdmovies

Super Reviewer

May 10, 2012
Repressed emotions erupt into suicide, betrayals and duels in a fairy tale Alpine village where everyone must whisper and watch their every move closely for fear of avalanches. This is Guy Maddin, so if features gorgeous stylized visuals based on German Expressionists (here, bizarre hand-tinting choices which lead to scenes performed in brilliant yellow and pink or extreme orange); but, although the setting here is pure fantastic Maddin, the quiet, melodrama-based plot takes too long to engage, making CAREFUL a movie that's more for established fans of this auteur than to newcomers.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

March 6, 2010
"Careful" is set in a mountain valley where the villagers are worried that the slightest sound could set off an avalanche, and are on guard constantly against any action no matter how small that can spell their doom. Living in such a place, brothers Johann(Brent Neale) and Grigorss(Kyle McCulloch) enter into training for the perfect occupation at the butler school.(Not affiliated with Butler University in any way.) This way, Johann will have an occupation once he and Klara(Sarah Neville) get married. But then he starts having these weird dreams about his mother(Gosia Dobrowolska).

"Careful" is another entertaining pastiche from Guy Maddin that tells its story in delirious fashion with tinted images. Madness along with incest are the central topics of discussion as the events, like an avalanche, are set off from the preceding one, each forming a worse catastrophe. This can only be expected in a village so repressed that any sounds of joy, anger or sadness must be contained. Or maybe the altitude finally got to everyone.
whosinthenews
whosinthenews

Super Reviewer

March 28, 2009
The cinematography and art direction are superb. However, the action stays in a less than interesting middle ground that isn't quite comedy and never pushes hard enough to delve into a meaningful exploration of the Freudian issues it seems to be hinting at.
Anthony V

Super Reviewer

July 3, 2008
Very strange. Very different. Makes a lasting impression.
PumpkinGetsASnakeBite
August 29, 2009
Repressed sexuality and entangled incestuous relationships unfold in a Alpine village where the residents must speak softly and tread lightly as to not cause an avalanche. Guy Maddin is a serious fucking dude and his films are nothing short of brilliant, beautiful, and bizarre.
kingfargo
June 27, 2008
I hated this movie the first two times I saw it. I thought it was pretentious garbage on top of amazing cinematography and set decoration, but I wanted to see it again, and then I just fell in love with it and all the weirdness that goes along with it. It's completely unlike any movie you've ever seen, and it grows on you.
Andy Smiles At Me
May 25, 2011
A weird, incestuous film that plays with color, Freud, and goofy characters who are so ridiculous that they're funny. It's an interesting plot with an interesting set that is (intentionally) reminiscent of black and white and silent movies. It's hard to rate or review a movie like this because it is so strange, unique, and not the sort of movie that everyone will like or want to like.

I mean some folks might not want to see characters who lust after their parents. I have no idea who these people are, but they're out there. *Sigh*

This is one that I'll have to watch again. This is the first Guy Maddin movie I've seen. Not sure how I feel about watching any others...

Oh, and one of the actors reminds me of Cary Elwes. In looks, I mean. Hehe.
David H.
February 10, 2011
Pure Madness!!! I feel like brought back to the 20s!!! A Grandious Hommage on my beloved German Expressionist Film!!! Also a Very Intelligent 6 Grotueske on that Genre!!! And a Greek Tragedy of Freudian Kind with Surreal Dreams!!!
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

March 6, 2010
"Careful" is set in a mountain valley where the villagers are worried that the slightest sound could set off an avalanche, and are on guard constantly against any action no matter how small that can spell their doom. Living in such a place, brothers Johann(Brent Neale) and Grigorss(Kyle McCulloch) enter into training for the perfect occupation at the butler school.(Not affiliated with Butler University in any way.) This way, Johann will have an occupation once he and Klara(Sarah Neville) get married. But then he starts having these weird dreams about his mother(Gosia Dobrowolska).

"Careful" is another entertaining pastiche from Guy Maddin that tells its story in delirious fashion with tinted images. Madness along with incest are the central topics of discussion as the events, like an avalanche, are set off from the preceding one, each forming a worse catastrophe. This can only be expected in a village so repressed that any sounds of joy, anger or sadness must be contained. Or maybe the altitude finally got to everyone.
vitajex
March 8, 2008
This film is an exquisite work of art. Every frame of film seems to have been composed with as much attention to detail as any painting hanging in your local art museum. The story is admittedly bizarre, and the presentment may be even more bizarre, but there is no doubt that this film is a masterpiece. The colors, the colors! They seem to be attuned to the mood of the scene, very subtly but very effectively. If you're reading this review, you NEED to see this film... if you can find it! It has recently been re-issued on DVD, however.
Academock
February 23, 2005
[b]DVD[/b] First Viewing, 4 Maddin films & 4 shorts seen

I wasn't as blown away by Guy Maddin's [i]Careful [/i]as I was during any of his other films. It had a great look and feel, but I think it was a little too long. Yet the opening sequence did tickle my fancy like nothing else. I still can't wait to see more of his released features and shorts as well as some upcoming ones too.
robo
December 30, 2004
Great story and great visuals!
fyodor_fish
June 7, 2004
In 1992's [i]Careful[/i], Guy Maddin's stylish exuberance, which borrows heavily from the late 1920s and early 1930s German cinema, is in full effect: the vaselined lenses, color-tinted scenes (he even employs garish two-strip Technicolor in several shots), gliding camerawork, expressionistic, purposely artificial production design and lighting (including an iconic shot of characters in silhouette climbing a jagged, vertiginous mountain), intertitles to divide different segments of the film and provide minor exposition, stilted, arch, portentous (and pretentious) dialogue, delivered in a flat, detached style, performances that reference silent-era pantomime in their stiff, formal poses, and an idiosyncratic, crackling sound design. Maddin's anti-naturalist approach is perfectly attuned (for once) with the subject matter, a fever dream plot that turns on suicide, murder, suicide, murder/suicide, and suicide. The melodramatic plot depends on misunderstandings, repressed (and perverse) sexual desires, family secrets, visitations from the dead, necrophilia, unhealthy mother (and father) fixations, hallucinatory fever dreams, and violent retribution (always stylized, mostly offscreen).

Set in a 19th-century Nordic village prone to avalanches (thus the admonition by the narrator to be "careful"), Tolzbad, [i]Careful's[/i] main story line is divided between two protagonists, brothers (Johann and Grigorss) and their mother, Zenaida. A third brother, Franz, lives, isolated, in the attic. Johann and Grigorss attend a butler's school, where the highest honor is to serve Count Knotkers, who lives alone in his mountaintop castle. Johann, betrothed to Klara, finds his repressed sexual desire expressed in a series of dreams, all involving his mother. From there, the plot unravels into an attempted consummation of that desire via love potion, self-mutilation and suicide, and a shift in focus from Johann to Grigorss as the protagonist for the second half of the film.

The hallucinatory fantasies and twisted dreams that haunted Johann apparently contaminate Grigorss and Klara, who, in turn become increasingly irrational and obsessive. Grigorss is elevated to a butler in the count's castle. The castle's design, perhaps mirroring its owner's own neuroses, is shrouded in shadow, its doors constructed at odd, converging angles. The count too seems to be locked in the fever dream of mother obsession, but his freedom has apparently come with her death. But Grigorss' obsession turns on filial duty (to his dead father) and his inability to look beyond his idealized mother and accept her sexuality. Conflicting desires and duties ultimately lead to a knife duel on top of a snow-covered mountain. In probably the best moment in the film, the knife duel is filmed with angular, staccato cross-cuts reminiscent of silent film, but any seriousness associated with the life-or-death duel is quickly undercut by the circumstances shaping the duel: the two men must furiously unbutton each another's greatcoats to get at each other's knives.

With such a convoluted, excessively melodramatic double plot line and eccentric approach to film style, interpretation, and viewing enjoyment comes in two forms: through style alone (and the obvious postmodern homage to a particular era in film history), and/or as almost pure (and delicious) camp. The former makes for limited audience involvement and pleasure, the latter for a great deal more. The stylized sets, the portentous (and pretentious) dialogue, the cod-Freudian symbolism and obsessions all, however, contribute to a sense of ironic detachment.

Of course, that ironic detachment and heightened artificiality means minimal audience participation in the narrative or any kind of emotional connection to the central characters or their objectives. By the end of the film, the audience has become aware that humor dependent on irony and artificiality alone, without audience identification, leads to tedium and disinterest. In essence, Maddin's approach to film style and storytelling has its limits. [i]Careful[/i] then is proof positive that an anti-naturalistic style and ironic detachment can only take the audience so far.
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