Author Topic: Strawberry Mansion (2021, Pretty Goddamn Special)  (Read 1319 times)

Strawberry Mansion (2021, Pretty Goddamn Special)
« on: August 29, 2021, 08:09:37 PM »
Written and directed by Kentucker Audley and Albert Birney (and co-starring his father Reed "Sam Raimi's Crimewave" Birney, a film I love an enormous amount as it goes), it's 2035 and the technology exists to record dreams, but you have to pay a tax on everything you dream about, be it a hot air balloon or a daffodil. Prebble (Audley) is a tax auditor who visits the home of Bella (Penny Fuller) as she hasn't declared her dreams in years, and has to view them to see how much she owes, and soon becomes involved with the dream version of her younger self (Grace Glowicki). I absolutely adored this, I think it's something really quite special, perhaps some of what it has to say isn't very subtle but I don't care because it's such a joyously crazy but lovable movie, sometimes when watching something if there's a very strange or unusual image I take a screengrab but with this I took about ten, and had to stop myself from taking more and just sit back and enjoy the madness instead. A very rare 9.3/10

Re: Strawberry Mansion (2021, Pretty Goddamn Special)
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2021, 08:44:30 PM »
Sounds great! I'll have to check it out.

zomgmouse

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Re: Strawberry Mansion (2021, Pretty Goddamn Special)
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2021, 12:42:08 AM »
Been on my list - will get to it soon I am sure!

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Re: Strawberry Mansion (2021, Pretty Goddamn Special)
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2021, 08:52:23 AM »
Has this been released in UK yet?

Shaky

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Re: Strawberry Mansion (2021, Pretty Goddamn Special)
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2021, 09:59:58 AM »
It's "available", so after SMBH's recommendation think I'll give it a watch this week. Sounds interesting.

Re: Strawberry Mansion (2021, Pretty Goddamn Special)
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2021, 11:35:59 AM »
Sounds good, but can it match this (searching title):

Lost Oliver

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Re: Strawberry Mansion (2021, Pretty Goddamn Special)
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2021, 10:24:05 PM »
Thanks for the rec SMBH. Saw this tonight and was equally impressed. Joyous wonder. Great idea, great execution. Bella!

Not heard of the director, have they done any other stuff?

Re: Strawberry Mansion (2021, Pretty Goddamn Special)
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2021, 10:26:37 AM »
I'm really glad you enjoyed it so much, and apparently they've both done a few other films, but only one other together, I've not seen any yet but have just obtained their previous movie, Sylvio, and plan to give that a shot later on today.

Re: Strawberry Mansion (2021, Pretty Goddamn Special)
« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2021, 07:43:22 PM »
And I did, and it was all rather lovely too.

Sylvio (2017) - From the directors of the sublime Strawberry Mansions, Sylvio is a gorilla who works in a debt collection call centre, he can't speak but he has a computer who'll do that for him, and in his spare time he makes short episodes of a series called The Quiet Times With Herbert Herpels. When he meets the host of a local cable chat show the two bond and potential fame beckons, but not in the way that Sylvio might wish. It clearly has a low budget but it's still beautifully shot, the humour is very gentle but it's a captivating piece, and while I didn't love it quite as much as Strawberry Mansions it's a film I'm definitely rather enamoured with. 8.3/10

neveragain

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Re: Strawberry Mansion (2021, Pretty Goddamn Special)
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2021, 02:13:29 PM »
Wonderful film, thanks for the rec.

Re: Strawberry Mansion (2021, Pretty Goddamn Special)
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2021, 08:11:37 PM »
Wonderful film, thanks for the rec.

Really glad you liked it, and I hope it's a hit for them (at least indie cinema wise) as I'm becoming increasingly enamoured with Birney, especially after today when I watched the following:

The Beast Pageant (2010) - Early low budget black and white film from Albert "Strawberry Mansion / Sylvio" Birney and musician Jon Moses. It's set in one of those Orwellian nightmarish futures you get these days, where Abe lives in a tiny apartment where a bearded weirdo in his tv attempts to persuade him to buy things all day, and he works in a unusual company which is strangely fish related. When he finds a growth in his side he heads to a doctor but is told that nothing is wrong with him, which clearly isn't the case when the growth grows in to a guitar playing little man called Zeke, and from then on in things become odder. Despite being made for a very small amount it's visually imaginative and inventive, the soundtrack's rather lovely, and it's gloriously outlandish in all the best kind of ways. 8.3/10

Birney himself has uploaded it to Vimeo, though it's NSFW due to some non-sexual nudity: https://vimeo.com/groups/awardeo/videos/108922277

The Mollusk

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Re: Strawberry Mansion (2021, Pretty Goddamn Special)
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2021, 09:21:43 AM »
I watched this last night based on the hype in this thread. Visually it’s gorgeous, its aesthetic and the obvious plot parallels are super similar to Michel Gondry (specifically Eternal Sunshine) but it’s also quite Lynchian in its creepier moments and I adored how much it played to the strengths of its low budget restraints. Dan Deacon’s soundtrack is wonderful too, I’m a huge fan of these sorts of retrowave synth soundtracks from artists like him, Oneohtrix and Disasterpiece and I thought the music helped to escalate the film to the heart-swelling head-spinning peaks it deserved to reach in its most enchanting or intense scenes. Very well put together, I found myself utterly captivated for the majority of the film.

I do have some issues with the pacing, however. The first half of the film succeeds greatly in not explaining anything to the viewer but keeping you nicely swept along in the scenes as they tumble satisfyingly from one to the next in that dreamlike fashion, where you simply accept what you’re seeing and go along with the ride. But in the second half the handling of this became quite clunky, starting with when James accosts Peter’s family for destroying Bella’s tapes, then just wanders off to watch the special tape again, leaving himself completely vulnerable to Peter’s attack. I know it’s a surrealist film and things aren’t always going to happen in a way that makes sense but James had been a cautious person from the start and this made no sense to me.

From there, the extended dream-weaving while the house is on fire was kind of a drag at times. I don’t think it fully succeeded in nailing the infatuation between James and Bella and it could have pulled a lot harder on the heartstrings here. As such, the end result of his escaping the house (which, incidentally, was one part of the film where the low budget let it down as it just felt flat and underwhelming) when he gets home and watches the special tape again (repeating what we’d already seen and not adding a great deal more to it) didn’t feel like a satisfying enough conclusion. They could have done more here!

These aren’t major gripes, however. I didn’t find these bits so frustrating that the spell was broken and for almost the duration of the film I was totally enthralled in the magic of it. It’s a brilliant artistic vision and it shows huge promise for the future of the two writer/directors. Part of me hopes they stay making films on a low budget forever but I feel like if they had the bigger budget they’d use it smartly and they wouldn’t compromise their style, and they certainly deserve success, so fingers crossed for them!

I reckon I’d personally give this a 7.5, maybe an 8 at a push!

Re: Strawberry Mansion (2021, Pretty Goddamn Special)
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2021, 08:55:20 PM »
I can completely understand your criticisms, and the fire bit felt a bit dragged out to me and at one point as I was wondering how the hell he hadn't died, but I loved the film so much as a whole that I was able to ignore the minor issues I had with it. I'm with you on the low budget front too, that's even more the case with The Beast Pageant and I love the fact that having very little money doesn't prevent him / them from being crazily inventive.

I've also now tracked down Birney's 2019 animated film Tux And Fanny, with the whole film looking like an old 8 bit computer game, and I'm going to watch it one night this week to see if it's as good as his other movies: https://vimeo.com/277091857

neveragain

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Re: Strawberry Mansion (2021, Pretty Goddamn Special)
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2021, 11:59:02 PM »
I also agree with the criticisms so far, except for the fire dream sequence, which gripped me despite being quite long. The ending, as pointed out, was a bit limp. The last image should have been heartwarming but it didn't quite get there.

The music was amazing. Pure Lynch.

Re: Strawberry Mansion (2021, Pretty Goddamn Special)
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2021, 09:06:39 PM »
I also agree with the criticisms so far, except for the fire dream sequence, which gripped me despite being quite long. The ending, as pointed out, was a bit limp. The last image should have been heartwarming but it didn't quite get there.

The music was amazing. Pure Lynch.

I loved it too, and the music in The Beast Pageant is as impressive as well.

I can't remember the last time I've discovered a new director whose work I love quite as much as this, and am perhaps a little overly excited, but Birney's producing exactly the kind of cinema that I really love. I've not checked out Kentucker Audley's solo projects yet but will definitely do so soon, they sound less bizarre / absurd than his films with Birney but it'll be interesting to see if they have the same sense of humour.

Tux and Fanny (2019) - Birney's only solo effort, and undoubtedly an acquired taste, I loved this absolutely mad animated film. The majority of it has a very 8-Bit, Commodore 64 look to it (though there are several sequences which deviate from this, especially towards the end of the film) and the dialogue is in Russian, as it follows two sort of humanoid looking creatures and the various adventures they have, some of which are gentle and sweet, and some of which are all kinds of strange and odd. It's amazing how much I ended up caring for these two characters given the nature of the film, and how strangely beautiful certain moments are, and it is one of the most unique films I've seen in a long while. 8.9/10

As with The Beast Pageant Birney has uploaded it to Vimeo for free here: https://vimeo.com/277091857

Also, somewhat bizarrely, Birney has made a video game featuring the characters which is available for both the PC - https://ghosttime.itch.io/tux-and-fanny and the Nintendo Switch https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/tux-and-fanny-switch/

Edit: Thought I'd put up an image so people can see what it looks like:


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