For any film, it's an undeniable accomplishment to ensnare a viewer and have them ride every high and low, anxiously reacting to the pace and feel of each scene. Everything from the lighting to the sound has to be right on cue and woven together with an intriguing story. With every piece that's off, it's another exit door offered to the viewer. Furthermore, when a film is silent, it is even more imperative to lure the audience in. Guy Maddin's Brand Upon the Brain! is the perfect blending of modern quirk and classic techniques of black and white storytelling and silence. However, to truly experience it is not to throw a DVD on your television, but to go out and feel it for yourself.

In September, I had the most memorable moviegoing experience of my life when TIFF did a one-night-only life performance of Brand. As James Rocchi described in September, the welcome false-start showed just how important the music and accompaniment are to the piece. In complete silence the film was jarring and beyond-Maddin strange, but with the music, it began to flow like a sweet, monochrome dream. Every sound was re-created from that moment, from narration to sound effects. It made it immediate and real, fun and exciting.

I, therefore, strongly urge anyone with the means to head to Berlin and watch the live performance of the film, which has already sparkled in Toronto and New York City. I have no idea if another screening like this will happen, and it's with Isabella Rossellini,* oft-collaborator of Maddin. It's sure to be an amazing one-time experience and a great reason to take a few days off and travel in the New Year. Better yet, it'd be the perfect cherry to an international Valentine's Day, since the performance will start at 9:30 PM on February 15.

*Unfortunately, Rossellini wasn't the narrator for the Toronto performance, so I'd love to hear from any of you who might have seen her rendition in New York City. ...