Archive for Mark McKinney

THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD (2003) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in Canada, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2013 by goregirl


Guy Maddin is a true original; not just in Canada but in the world of cinema period. Maddin’s unclassifiable, imaginative and beautiful films are presented in a non-linear format that harnesses a by gone era of filmmaking. Provocative, strange, sexy, thoughtful, violent, audacious, melodramatic and always humorous; no one makes films quite like my man Maddin. Maddin is a director, cinematographer, writer and artist. In fact some of his films and many of his ideas come from his art installation projects. Maddin definitely has a unique style but each one of his films stands as its own distinct entity. Maddin is a native of Winnipeg Manitoba. During Winnipeg’s long winters there are days you can not be outside for more than a few minutes due to fear of frostbite. There is no amount of money one could offer me to live in Winnipeg; I hate the winter. Maddin embraces his hometown and sets his films there. He includes countless amounts of Canadiana, especially hockey. In The Saddest Music in the World he uses a hockey buzzer to represent the beginning of each match in the saddest music competition. When I think of Canadian filmmakers there are no two that are nearer or dearer to my heart than David Cronenberg and Guy Maddin. I was torn as to which Maddin film I wanted to write about; I’ve seen all of his feature-length films and have enjoyed them all. Cowards Bend the Knee was my first choice as I have seen it multiple times and it remains my number one favourite from Maddin. I was anxious however to re-watch one of the Maddin films I had not seen multiple times so I chose The Saddest Music in the World. It had slipped my mind that The Kid’s in the Hall’s Mark McKinney was featured in The Saddest Music in the World until I looked at his IMDB credits while I was working on last week’s Brain Candy review. I had not seen The Saddest Music in the World since my theatre viewing; but I watched it three times from beginning to end over the last few days and this thing is a tasty treat! A contest to determine which nation’s music deserves to be called the saddest in the world that features a dysfunctional family, a glamorous, legless beer baroness, multiple love triangles and a giant tub of beer. What’s not to like? Oh Guy Maddin, I stand on guard for thee!


The Saddest Music in the World takes place in Winnipeg in 1933 in the depths of the great depression.

“We at Muskeg beer are proud that Winnipeg has been chosen four years in a row by the London Times as the world capital of sorrow in the great depression. In recognition of this honor we will be hosting a world-wide contest to determine which nation’s music truly deserves to be called The saddest in the world. Aspiring virtuosos of tearful melody are welcome to travel here and lay claim to the jewel-studded crown of frozen tears and twenty-five thousand dollars in prize money. That’s right. Twenty-five thousand depression era dollars.”


The saddest music contest is at the sudsy center of the story’s brewing melodrama. The film opens with Chester Kent visiting a fortune-teller with his girl Narcissa. We get a blue-tinted flashback to Chester’s childhood; the day his mother died. The grown up Chester is stuck in Winnipeg with no return ticket to New York. After learning of Lady Helen Port-Huntley’s contest he decides to pay her a visit. Helen and Chester have history; the two were formerly lovers. Chester’s father Fyodor Kent was in love with Helen but Helen was in love with Chester. Chester and Helen were having an affair much to Fyodor’s chagrin and the man took to drinking. One drunken night Fyodor wandered out into the road as Chester and Helen were driving by. Chester swerved to miss his father and in the process Helen was left badly injured with one of her legs pinned. Drunk and in no condition to be performing impromptu surgeries; Fyodor removed the wrong leg leaving Helen crippled for life. Present day Fyodor is still madly in love with Helen and has shown up in hopes of winning the saddest music contest. Canada Vs. U.S.A. Father against son. To complicate things further Roderick Kent has just returned from war in Serbia. Roderick is a hypochondriac who lost his son and is estranged from his wife. He despises his brother Chester and everything he stands for. Although born and raised in Canada Roderick is representing Serbia under the guise of Gravillo the Great who stays covered with a large black veil at all times. The dramatic Roderick carries his son’s heart in a jar preserved with his own tears. Roderick normally a quiet and reserved man looks forward to burying his brother with his sad cello music. What Roderick does not yet know is that Chester’s girl Narcissa is his estranged wife. The drama unfolds as the contest continues and countries are eliminated. Who will be left standing?


One image from The Saddest Music in the World that has stuck with me since that original viewing were those beer-filled glass legs. Fyodor spent years making a set of prosthetic legs for his lady-love Helen. She is allergic to the normal materials used in prosthetics and breaks out in welts and rashes. Helen loves glass and collects glass figurines and glass dolls that she keeps in a stained-glass room. It occurred to Fyodor as he sat among all the bottles he emptied that glass would be the perfect material for her legs. He even filled them with golden Muskeg beer! Oh how they sparkle and bubble! How did we become known as a beer loving nation? Certainly we love our beer, but I doubt we are any more enthusiastic about our beer than Germany or the UK. On the other hand, when we have a contest to celebrate the saddest music in the world we do provide a massive tub of beer for the winners to slide into! Beer clearly plays a major role in The Saddest Music in the World thanks to Beer Baroness Lady Port-Huntley’s Muskeg Beer (however Lady P prefers champagne and milk when bathing).


Esthetically Maddin seems to use every technique he has ever experimented with in The Saddest Music in the World. Maddin’s film is mainly black and white but also includes scenes using color filters as well as full spectrum color, The flashback scenes utilize the filtering while he chooses to use vibrant color when highlighting two funerals and the contest finale. Overlapping, quick cuts and grainy photography adorn the art deco esthetics with their bold geometric shapes. Visually The Saddest Music in the World is a real stunner.


If you are not familiar with Maddin’s work, his film style mimics those of the silent era and early talkies. In the case of The Saddest Music in the World there is spoken dialog. The subject matter however is considerably racier than those made in the 20s and 30s. There is sex in one form or another in every last one of Maddin’s films. In the opening scene Narcissa gives Chester a hand job while he is having his fortune told. Narcissa is also a nymphomaniac. Lady Port-Huntley has a man-servant named Teddy who satisfies her every need from bathing her to fucking her. Apparently that is one way to square up your debts with Lady P as Chester soon finds out. Despite the sex there is no nudity in the film.


I have never seen Mark McKinney in a serious role and to be honest he is not exactly a character you take seriously in The Saddest Music in the World. He is as genuine as a Snake Oil Salesmen and is as slippery as his hair. Chester is an arrogant, unemotional and failed Broadway producer looking for a train ticket back to New York. Chester always has an angle. Chester Kent is told by the fortune-teller at the beginning of the film that his story will end tragically. Chester Kent is not exactly a likable character and despite anticipating his fall you never really root for him. I enjoyed McKinney and thought he was well suited for the role. Isabella Rossellini is absolutely magnificent in The Saddest Music in the World. Besides Blue Velvet I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a performance from Rossellini more. She also looks fantastic in that 30s era costuming! Lady Helen Port-Huntley is a powerful, shrewd and intelligent business woman. Her exterior is glamorous and elegant but she is full of self-loathing and anger on account of her missing legs and inability to find a prosthetic that doesn’t cause her to break out in a rash. She is also a touch eccentric and kinky. Rossellini steals every scene she is in. Roderick Kent is a hypochondriac with particularly sensitive skin. When his father sees him again for the first time he hugs him and Roderick shouts in pain. There is no love loss between Roderick and his brother Chester, the two could not possibly be more unalike. When it comes to Chester, Roderick lacks pity completely. Roderick is as honest as the day is long and wears his sadness like a medal of honor. He carries with him his young son’s heart preserved in a jar of his tears. His sadness is so over the top that it is actually humorous at times. Ross McMillan is great as the humorless Roderick and never strays from the serious as cancer vibe of the character for a second. Fyodor Kent is a new man since giving up alcohol in order to obsess over legs. For years, Fyodor has been working on a pair of legs for Helen. He is a proud Canadian who dons the uniform he wore during the great war. His finale is one of the film’s finest moments. David Fox has a strong face and a great presence as Fyodor Kent. Last but not least is the quirky Narcissa; girlfriend to Chester and former wife of Roderick. Narcissa is a nymphomaniac who is suffering from amnesia. She has no recollection of her marriage to Roderick or their dead child. She does however have a tape worm that tells her what to do. Her tape worm is allegedly never wrong. She is a likable, sweet character and definitely the most empathetic of the lot. Big old Doe-eyed Maria de Medeiros is delightful in the role of Narcissa.


The Saddest Music in the World is a treasure. I think this is Maddin’s most consistently humorous effort. I chuckled regularly throughout. An outrageous premise, great characters, strong performances, inventively filmed and melodrama that kept me invested and entertained. It also features some magnificent music. The contest that motivates our story features music from around the world and some of it is really breath-taking! Each time I re-watch a Guy Maddin film I hunger for another. I loved The Saddest Music in the World and give it my highest of recommendations; a perfect score.


Contest commentators Duncan Elksworth (Claude Dorge) and Mary (Talia Pura).


Contestants in The Saddest Music in the World contest.


Roderick Kent played by Ross McMillan.



Colored funeral shots.




Fyodor shows Roderick the project he has been working on; a pair of legs for Lady Helen Port-Huntley. Previous to the unveiling of the beautiful glass legs is a cool gallery of leg imagery.



Canada Vs. Africa. Fyodor Kent sings Red Maple Leaves on his knees and has his ass handed to him by Africa.


Narcissa sings Swing Low Sweet Chariot while swinging above the enthusiastic beer-drinking audience.

“Maybe you should keep it simple.”

“America goes simple? That’s a hot one. No. It’s gotta be vulgar, obvious, full of gimmicks. You know, sadness but with sass and pizzazz. They’ll eat it up.”


Lady Helen Port-Huntley played by Isabella Rossellini; enjoying her new legs.


Narcissa played by Maria de Medeiros.


Another funeral “in color”.


Chester and Narcissa.



The U.S.A.’s spectacular finale featuring Lady Port-Huntley.


Roderick performing for Serbia as Gravillo the Great.


David Fox as Fyodor Kent.


Narcissa and Roderick reunited.


Mark McKinney as Chester Kent.


The film ends where it started with a fortune-teller.

Dungeon Review: 5/5

Directed By: Guy Maddin

Starring: Isabella Rossellini, Mark McKinney, Maria de Medeiros, David Fox, Ross McMillan, Louis Negin, Darcy Fehr, Claude Dorge, Talia Pura

KIDS IN THE HALL: BRAIN CANDY (1996) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in Canada, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2013 by goregirl






Dave Foley plays four characters in Brain Candy; Marv, Psychiatrist, New guy and Raymond Hurdicure. The top picture is Foley as Marv; assistant to Don Roritor president of Roritor Pharmaceuticals. Marv is a sly grinning, ass-kissing yes man.

“So where are we with that Marv?”
“With what Don?”
“Our restructuring plan.”
“You mean the thing you just mentioned just now?”
“Oh. We’re on top of that Don.”

The bottom picture is Foley as Raymond Hurdicure; the jackass son of Gleemonex’s first human test subject Patient 957; Mrs. Hurdicure.




Bruce McCulloch plays seven characters in Brain Candy; Alice, Cisco, Grivo, Worm pill scientist, Cop #2, Cancer boy and White-trash man. The top picture is McCulloch as Grivo; a rock star infamous for his bleak lyrics. After taking Gleemonex Grivo only wants to write bubbly pop songs; here he is accepting an MTV Video Award. The lower picture is McCulloch as Sisco; head of marketing at Roritor Pharmaceuticals. Sisco is rude, brash and bombastic. Sisco came up with the name Gleemonex after a bird hit the windshield of his $62,000 car and he had to cleanup its gleaming guts. Here he announces Gleemonex’s slogan “It feels like it’s 72 degrees in your head all the time.”




Kevin McDonald plays four characters in Brain Candy; Dr. Chris Cooper, Doreen, Chris’ dad and Lacey. The top picture is McDonald as Dr. Chris Cooper the creator of Gleemonex; a drug created for the chronically depressed. After threat of his department being shut down Dr. Cooper tells the Roritor board that the drug is ready despite knowing it needs more testing. In the lower picture McDonald plays Dr. Chris Cooper’s father in a hilarious flashback sequence.




Mark McKinney plays nine characters in Brain Candy; Simon, Don Roritor, Cabbie, Gunther, Cop #1, Nina Bedford, Melanie, Drill sergeant and White-trash woman. The top picture is McKinney as Don Roritor; President of Roritor Pharmaceuticals. The company is riding on the success of one product; Stummies and the company is losing money. The shareholders want Don to cut 60% of the testing and come up with a new drug post-haste. In the lower picture McKinney plays the cabbie that narrates our story. Really he just gives us a prologue and an epilogue but he shows up randomly throughout the story.




Scott Thompson plays eight characters in Brain Candy; Baxter, Mrs. Hurdicure, Wally Terzinsky, Malek, Big Stummies Scientist, The Queen, Raj and Clemptor. The top picture is Thompson as Wally Terzinsky. Husband and father Wally Terzinsky is in some serious denial about his homosexuality.

“Hi kids. Where’s your father?”
“He’s upstairs masturbating to gay porn.”

Wally’s frustrated psychiatrist prescribes Gleemonex.

The lower picture is Thompson as Mrs. Hurdicure; aka patient 957. Mrs. Hurdicure’s happiest moment was when her rude ass of a son and his rotten family came to visit at Christmas for five minutes.

“I feel like God is rubbing my tummy.”

The pill works!





A Cabbie tells us a story about some people who found happiness. But it is not a happy story.

“Life is short. Life is shit. Soon it will be over.” A little song the cabbie’s mother sang to him as a child.


The story begins at Roritor Pharmaceuticals.


Scientists are busy at work in the Roritor Pharmaceutical labs.


Brendan Fraser has a cameo as a very unhappy test subject with bad acne.


Dr. Chris Cooper discovers a cure for depression. Dr. Cooper and fellow scientist Alice administer the first pill to Patient 957. The pill takes her back to her happiest moment and she feels renewed. The initial results are positive!

Brain Candy1

Don Roritor is told by the shareholders to cut 60% of the companies testing and come up with a new drug. Don has each of their scientist sit in front of himself and the board to discuss what they are working on. Dr. Cooper tells the Roritor board that he is working on a drug that will cure depression. He also tells them the drug is ready despite knowing it needs more testing. The drug they call Gleemonex is quickly approved.


Gleemonex is a huge success. Dr. Cooper is asked to be a guest on the Nina Bedford Show. The show opens with a Gleemonex testimonial from a homeless man who is now a security guard thanks to the drug.



Nina Bedford takes several inane and ridiculous questions from her studio audience before asking Dr. Cooper to get up and shake his hips for the audience.


A severely depressed German patient confides his dark thoughts to his psychiatrist who tells him he does not understand German. The world is full of people who need Gleemonex.


Grivo is a rock star, beloved by his fans for his bleak outlook on life. “Fuck Happy!” Grivo goes pop happy after taking Gleemonex and even wins an MTV Video Award.



MTV Video Award Presenters Clemptor and Dr. Chris Cooper announce Best Rap, Hip Hop or Folk act. Dr. Cooper is greeted like a rockstar by screaming fans as he vacates the award show. The future has never looked brighter for Dr. Chris Cooper and Roritor Pharmaceuticals.


Drill Sergeant in Wally Terzinsky’s happiest moment.


Dr. Cooper meets Cancer Boy who wants to thank him for Gleemonex. Not for himself as there is no hope for him, but for his parents who are both on it. His parents have a second son who was born with his heart on the outside of his body. Cancer Boy is nominated for an MTV Video Award for his song Whistle When You’re Low.


Don has applied to make Gleemonex non-prescription. 3 months later they are making Gleemonex for Pets. The fame and power have gone to Dr. Cooper’s head, but he is about to get a rude awakening.


Alice goes to Chris to show him the first test subject; a mouse named Signund who appears to be in a coma. It appears that Signund has become locked in his happiest moment. Will people follow suit? Dr. Cooper goes to the home of patient 957 to find out.


There are cats all over the place, including the ceiling! Where is patient 957?


Dr. Chris Cooper stands in front of a giant billboard of himself and contemplates the monster he has created.


Don Roritor getting his nuts squeezed.


The Cabbie concludes his story; “I don’t like the world now. I mean before I always knew I was a son of a bitch and now I am the only son of a bitch I know.”



brain candy1

The Kids in the Hall formed as a sketch comedy act in 1984. While Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald were performing their comedy in Toronto under The Kids in the Hall moniker Bruce McCulloch and Mark McKinney were performing with Theatresports in Calgary. The pairs met and became a quartet. Scott Thompson joined a short time later and The Kids were born. The group got the attention of Lorne Michaels and in 1988 made their television debut on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). I was lucky enough to see The Kids in the Hall perform live at a club in Toronto in the late 80s. I want to say; at The Rivoli? My boyfriend at the time was taking Media Arts at Sheridan College and a teacher with connections invited several students to the show. To be honest, I wasn’t terribly excited; I had never heard of The Kids in the Hall at the time. It goes without saying that I came to have a massive appreciation for the group. Comedy really only needs a single element to work; it has to make me laugh. The Kids in the Hall made me laugh until my gut hurt! It was a sad day in 1995 when the show aired for the last time. The final show had The Kids being buried alive; their headstone read The Kids in the Hall TV Show 1989–1995 and reoccuring character Bellini (Paul Bellini was also a writer for the show) danced on their grave. I was beside myself with excitement when I read that The Kids in the Hall were going to do a movie. If Saturday Night Live is any indication Sketch comedy failed as a feature length film more times than not. Could The Kids pull it off? You bet your ass they could; and they did! The Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy so beautifully embraces the troupe’s sketch comedy. The quintet play all the story’s characters both female and male with only a few exceptions. The Big-Pharma plot utilizes The Kids sense of humour extremely well. The laughs are enhanced by some very fun and kitchy costumes and sets. It would have been so easy to fill Brain Candy with the shows popular characters; Chicken Lady, Buddy Cole, Mr. Tyzik (Headcrusher) or Cabbage Head. Personally I love that they created original characters. The vibe of the show is preserved but what is created is a unique entity unto itself. Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy makes me laugh from beginning to end and gets my highest of recommendations; a perfect score.

Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet’s Having an Average Weekend became The Kids in the Hall theme song…

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Kelly Makin

Starring: Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, Scott Thompson, Jackie Harris, Kathryn Greenwood, Nicole de Boer, Krista Bridges, Christopher Redman, Erica Fairfield

Fun with GIFs: Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy

Posted in Canada, Fun with GIFs, movies with tags , , , , , , on September 11, 2013 by goregirl

This week’s Fun with GIFs is also the subject of my next review; Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy (1996). A review So massive! So Epic! it is going to take me from now to the end of the weekend to finish it! No new post tomorrow night but I have a quintet of GIFs for you…

The Pill

“What it does is reaches into your brain…chemically. And locates your happiest moment…chemically. And than locks onto that emotion and keeps your happy happy.” Kevin McDonald plays Dr. Chris Cooper and Bruce McCulloch plays Alice.

The Queen Approves

“The drug is approved! Next?” Scott Thompson as The Queen.

Im Gay

“I’m Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!” Scott Thompson plays Wally Terzinsky.


“Sadness is a barnacle clinging to your bright boat. You won’t let it sink your spirits if you only learn to float.” Bruce McCulloch as Grivo.

Comas are Fun

“And thanks to Dr. Cooper we’re pleased to announce that we are breaking ground on the first of ten new Comatoriums. And now I’d like to introduce you to our first lucky resident.” Mark McKinney as Don Roritor.