Monday, June 26, 2006


From the Archive: 2/28/2005
Strangest damn movie of the week.

When I was a teenager, there was a theater in my town that on weekends, would show movies that started at midnight. These would usually be what would now be called "indie films". Strange freakin' movies that would appeal only to those bleary-eyed denizens of the night that were still out and about after midnight. Quite often, the experience could be enhanced by an "altered state of mind". I think that the theater manger counted on this effect to pack the house. And packed it was, almost every Friday and Saturday for the midnight freak fest. If THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD had been around at that time, it would definitely have been shown there.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this is the strangest damn movie of all time, and for me, that's saying a lot!

"OK, so what's so strange about it? ", you may ask. First, it's the look. It's grainy faded look is reminiscent of the silent movie era (so is the dramatic overacting). Second, it's the complete absurdity of it. "Absurd!", you say. "How so?" Let's see if I can summarize. It's set in Winnipeg during the great depression. Winnipeg has been declared the "Sorrow Capitol of the World". The local beer baroness holds a competition to find the saddest music in the world and offers a $25,000 prize. Musicians from every country descend on the town to compete in a series of musical performances that are about as insane as they come. Contestants are paired off against each other and the winner of each round get to slide down a big chute into a vat of beer.

Third, it's the characters. There's the beer baroness, Lady Port-Huntly, who has no legs. How she lost her legs is one of the funniest revelations in the movie (did I mention that it's a comedy), and how she gets them back is one of the funniest sight gags in recent cinema. There are the Kents. Three contestants from three different countries, but they're all in the same family. And then there's the mysterious Narcissa, an amnesiac-phychic-nympho-maniac. She makes predictions based on advice from her telepathic tapeworm.

As a bonus, there's an extra short film on the DVD called "Sissy Boy Slap Party" that's priceless.

So here we go. Top 10 reasons to rent and watch THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD.

  1. You don't so much watch it as "experience" it
  2. If you're looking for something different, this is about as different as they come. Of course, if you're not looking for something different, you probably wouldn't be reading this.
  3. It's un-freakin-believable.
  4. If you explain the plot to strangers, they'll think that you've flipped and gone insane. You may indeed get out of military service this way.
  5. If you normally rent your movies at Blockbuster, they may not have it. Insist that they get it. Speak to the manager. Make a big fuss in front of the other customers. Go back every day and insist that they get it. They may eventually tire of you asking and get the movie in. Then go borrow it from the library (yes! the library).
  6. Sissy Boy Slap Party.
  7. There are generally two types of people. There are the people who will laugh throughout this movie, and then there are the people who will just stare and shake their heads and say, "What the hell just happened?". Take bets before the movie as to which type you are. This gives an added dimension of risk to the movie experience.
  8. You were just going to waste those 2 hours watching mindless TV anyway.
  9. If you don't watch TV, and #8 doesn't apply to you, then ......... You were just going to waste those two hours on self improvement and personal growth. Did I mention "Sissy Boy Slap Party"?
  10. This is where I quote statistics as to how many people I've recommended this to have absolutely loved this movie. But the truth is that I've never been able to convince anyone to watch it. So here's your chance to be the first. Run now, I'll wait.


At 4:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh come on now! Stranger than Eraserhead? How about any of those damn freaky Japanese cartoons that Joel keeps showing my kids?

At 5:31 PM, Anonymous joeC said...

Ok, I watched the whole movie, although it was work to do so. I got it, but of course it had the predictable ending of tears. Many great scenes, but as a whole not strange enough. You knew what would happen to the new legs, and even when someone would get stabbed. Overall, a waste of two hours of my time. Luckily I watched it at work on my computer DVD player, so didn't miss out on anything.

LAST WORD, I would have been angry to have watched this at all, but Sissy Boy Slap Party was a riot. Disturbing that YOU liked it so much, and revealing of a side of you for which I was unaware. Remind me to stay out of the sauna when you are around.

Really, it tried too hard to be an independent film.

At 9:52 PM, Blogger FranksFilms said...

I think that perhaps Guy Maddin and David Lynch may have skipped the same film classes. This is a different species of strange from the Japanese anime your kids are made to watch.

At 10:57 AM, Anonymous mla said...

As far I was concerned, it was a four motrin movie. The pain started way before the movie ended. I am charging you ALL for my time.


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