Institute Benjamenta | Chicago Reader

Institute Benjamenta

105 minutes 1995

I've only sampled this black-and-white 1995 fantasy—the first live-action feature by the Brothers Quay, the London-based American twins best known for their music videos and Prague-influenced puppet animation—and I wasn't terribly engaged, though if you're looking for something more recent in the Eraserhead/Guy Maddin school of creepiness, this may be the only noteworthy candidate. Inspired by the novella "Jakob von Gunten" and other works by Swiss writer Robert Walser and cowritten by Alan Passes, this dark, obscure parable about a moldering absurdist boarding school for the training of servants, seen from the vantage point of a recently enrolled student, may strike you as vaguely Kafkaesque, but only if you haven't read much Kafka. With Mark Rylance, Gottfried John, Daniel Smith, and Alice Krige.

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