For Reel

The Forbidden Room (2015)
February 29, 2016, 11:55 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , ,

Director(s): Guy Maddin & Evan Johnson
4.5 Stars
The Forbidden RoomThe strapping woodsman hero that appears often in The Forbidden Room is named Cesare (Roy Dupuis), beckoning one to recall the somnambulist of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Indeed, to watch a film by Guy Maddin is to feel as though one is sleepwalking. Their free associative form–connecting fragments together with Freudian dream logic–lulls one into a sort of spell, as if the film itself was a living entity that was interacting directly with the viewer’s mind. For Maddin’s latest effort, he bases a series of stories on the titles of forgotten films, serving as a resurrection of collected memories lost to time. These episodes, interwoven within one another in a structure that employs flashbacks upon flashbacks, feel like single episodes of lost serials, with strange occurrences such as a “squid thief” appearing out-of-context and left for the audience to parse through. Maddin’s great genius is in relating the styles of silent European cinema to the processes of the mind–in My Winnipeg, he used archaic filmic techniques like irises and intertitles as a means of evoking memories and dreams. The Forbidden Room might just be his most chaotic film in that it utilizes early film techniques as a means of reflecting on the shared forgotten tales of a century ago. Like Cesare’s beloved Margot (Clara Furey), watching the film evokes the feeling of amnesia, with one’s very participation in the film seeming to come and go, allowing thoughts to drift back and forth as story threads are offered and then promptly taken away. If it isn’t as touchingly personal as My Winnipeg, nor does it have the same sense of focused narrative momentum as Brand Upon the Brain!, The Forbidden Room is perhaps Maddin’s magnum opus, a collection of the director’s obsessions laid out in the most uncompromising use of his form to date.

Keyhole (2011)
June 20, 2012, 12:03 am
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Director: Guy Maddin

A naked old man chained in the attic watches over his daughter. Mobsters hole themselves downstairs as the police form a perimeter around the mansion. The recently drowned girl among them is suspiciously cognizant. Such is the world of Guy Maddin’s Keyhole, and to anyone who has previously acquainted themselves with the Canadian auteur’s phantasmagorias, little comes as a surprise. Long before The Artist, Maddin has painstakingly attempted to recreate the look of silent and early sound cinema, drawing much from the likes of F.W. Murnau and Robert Wiene. Keyhole might be his easiest to pigeonhole into any sort of genre – it is roughly a film noir, with a melodramatic narrative as seen through the eyes of a haunted, Humphrey Bogart-like protagonist. Yet other touches are otherworldly sensationalist, such as the appearances of Kids in the Hall veteran Kevin McDonald, who spends much of the film having sex with a ghost in a sort of permanent trance. Although Maddin’s ideas are largely recycled from his previous, better films – voyeurism and other fetishisms, the relationships between overbearing parents and their children, memories from the past resurfacing and further disorienting the sense of narrative – the director has certainly not lost his ability to enchant, fascinate, and confound.