is like Guy Maddin put his collection of vintage silent and early talky prints
through a blender and then screened the puree, except none of these films ever
existed before. Unlike his Séances
project inspired by lost films, these odd (odd is indeed the right term) film
fragments are entirely the product of Maddin, his co-writers: co-director Evan
Johnson, poet John Ashbery, and co-conspirators Robert Kotyk and Kim Morgan. Yet,
as is often true with Maddin’s work, they feel like they must be real on some
alternate plane of existence. Prepare for a trip when Maddin’s The Forbidden Room screens during the
2015 Sundance Film Festival.
is a tall order to summarize Room and
it would be impossible to do the many plot strands justice. Just so you know
you you’re in the right film (not that you couldn’t tell immediately), Room starts with a lesson on how to take
a bath. It then segues into a submarine disaster film, which is interrupted by
a woodsman, who has come to tell the suffocating crew his tale, as if he were
the Ancient Mariner. Like Thomas Pynchon on speed, Room thus proceeds on tangents to tangents, as each flashback and
incidental anecdote begets more of the same.
we will meet Mathieu Amalric playing a collector who lives in a swanky elevator
and the train psychiatrist working on the Berlin-Bogota Express. In one story
arc, a man meets his doppelganger, while Udo Keir continually pops up as
different characters in various sub-films, because he’s Udo Keir.
to track the film from point A to point B is a losing proposition. It could
almost play in a continual loop as an installation piece, except viewers would
miss the realization of the moment Maddin opens up the final “Russian doll” (to
use an apt term from the press notes) and begins to re-pack them again.
real point of Room is the
mind-blowing artistry of it all. Each constituent film begins with its own
credits sequences, which are graphically striking and perfectly representative of
their respective eras and genres. Likewise the work of cinematographers
Stephanie Weber-Biron and Ben Kasulke is never less than stunning, flawlessly
evoking the look of noir black-and-white as well as that early nitrate color.
It really is like walking through a cinematic dreamscape.
will baffle less adventurous viewers, even though it has an excess of
narrative coming out of its ears. This is truly Guy Maddin raised to the power
of Guy Maddin. Without question, it is the work of a genuine auteur who has no
close comparison. Highly recommended for fans of the unusual and the aesthetically
daring, The Forbidden Room screens
again tonight (10/29) and Saturday (1/31) in Park City, as part of this year’s
Sundance Film Festival.
Labels: Canadian Cinema, Guy Maddin, Mathieu Almaric, Sundance '15, Udo Kier