The Film (5/5)
The Brothers Quay are Stephen and Timothy Quay. They studied art in their home town of Philadelphia, before contenting their education, and beginning their film and art careers in the U.K. The Quays have directed 2 live action feature films (The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes and Institute Benjamenta), but are most well known in the worlds of art and film for their exquisite stop-motion short films.
Zeitgeist Films in 2005 unleashed a prior Quay Collection on DVD. This was a marvelous DVD set entitled Phantom Museum: Short Films of the Brothers Quay after the most recent film in that set. Phantom Museum showcased a nice selection of the Quay's films, and some earlier commercial material. It has been 10 years since that release, and Zeitgeist have one-upped themselves with a Blu-ray collection The Quay Brothers Collected Short Films. This new collection features 15 shorts by the Brothers, including 3 new ones made in recent years, and thus not included in the Phantom Museum Collection. Also included, as part of the main list of shorts is Christopher Nolan's (The Prestige, The Dark Knight) Quay. An 8 minute documentary on the Brothers Quays studio and the methods they use to bring their films to life.
For those that aren't familiar with the Brothers Quay their work is very much in a dark surrealist vein. There are certainly narratives present in the short works present in the collection, but they are told through almost strictly visual means, as only 2 of the films have any sort of dialogue. The films themselves are like excursions into the darkest dreamscapes. They feature puppets who appear broken and old, and backgrounds that fall between looking from an earlier time, and being out of step with reality. Their use of color is more relegated to darker tones such as blacks and grays, though other more autumnal colors can be spotted throughout the films. Since dialogue is at a minimum another important component is the selection of music used for the films which tends to help set the unhinged tone of the pieces.
One warning to viewers is to watch the collection in smaller chunks. Though the films are short, they offer a lot of depth, and should take some time to mentally unpack. It is suggested maybe watching 1-3 in a sitting.
The films present in the Quay Brothers: Collected Short Films are all presented in their original aspect ratios in 1080p transfers. When watching one most understand that the films have mistakes in the visuals sort of built into them by the approach used to produced them. Thus, there is moments of heavy grain, and flickering, but this is to expected from these stop-motion productions. Outside of that the package offers excellent fine detail, deep blacks, and excellent color reproduction.
The audio for the set is presented in a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track. There are 2 films with dialogue, and the rest of the set is contingent on the sound of the scores. Everything here sounds quite good with the sound coming through nicely, and the sparse dialogue being audible throughout.
Commentary tracks are included for six films in the set including the first 3 Still Nacht films, the Unmistakable Little Broom, Streets of Crocodile, and In Abstentia. There is also a booklet of liner notes.
Though I was more than satisfied with Zeitgeist DVD package of a decade ago, it is fantastic to finally have the Brothers Quay Shorts on Blu-ray. The transfers look and sound incredible, and the Quay short by Christopher Nolan is an interesting look at the pairs working methods. The extras are slim, but inform the package quite nicely. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.