Saturday, September 26, 2015

Forbidden Room (2015) New York Film Festival 2015

Somewhere between Berlin and Bogata- on screen title referring to a train ride

Guy Maddin’s newest film and first in color is like falling asleep in while in bed with a fever with you face buried in a pillow and Turner Classic Movies on in the background. It is like David Lynch’s seminal Eraserhead a dream of dark and troubling things. Of course it’s also funny but in it’s way just as disturbing.

Dream the molten dream of justice

I’m not going to be able to give you a plot synopsis, it starts off with a crew of a submarine trapped in their ship under water while a cargo of jellied explosives begins to melt. This then leads off into endless digressions as a lumberjack appears, people tell stories and we see people’s dreams. Stories refer to themselves and oddly to other parts. There is a fascination with vampires with one character appearing as Renfield from Maurnau’s Nosferatu, Udo Keir dying in a similar fashion to his death in Andy Warhol’s Dracula and a whole section on aswangs. People have amnesia, there is a musical interlude about butts and the film opens with a short about taking baths.

Rational and reasoned it is not. Dreamlike and stream of consciousness it is.

An insurance office like no other

How is it?

A fascinating misfire.

The decaying visual palette and weird artificial sets are constantly fascinating. As a visual work of art it’s top shelf. It’s amazing. It’s like the decayed work of --- but of a modern film. Even when I was bored by some of the sections plotwise I was utterly enthralled visually. The visuals are so vital to the film that if you have any interest in seeing this you MUST see it as a big as possible- preferably in a theater.

The problem with the film is that the stories are all over the place. None of them work from start to finish. It’s not so much that any bit is bad it’s simply that the film is simply a never ending digression. We start with a film about bathing and that leads into the sub and that leads into the lumberjack and that leads into something else. Digression leads to digression and frequently we snap back to something four story lines back which is now uninteresting. And the process starts all over- sometimes things follow a progression sometimes not and sometimes things just run on and on and on (The dead butler piece) to the point you wonder if the editor fell asleep at his editing table.

However there are times when the film is rapturous. The musical number is just WOW. Some of the weird insurance office piece is cool. There are moments and lines that spring up in the midst of boredom that make you smile or laugh or go wow.

If the visual style wasn’t so strong the film would explode into nothingness as all of the parts escaped into their own world.

It’s a deeply flawed film but at the same time it’s one of the most fascinating films of 2015. It’s like picking through the mind of a genius who just sneezed his brain out on to a movie screen.

Mother's flapjacks were never so frightening

I honestly have no idea what the hell this film is or if you’ll like it. Its an utterly fascinating film that will piss off many with its formal nonsense and make others who love the strange and bizarre wet with anticipation of the upcoming mind fuck.

Its an absolute must for Guy Maddin fans and adventurous film fans. For all others you’re on your own.

The film plays at the New York Film Festival September 28 and 29 and(tickets here) and will be in theaters in mid October

Such is the noble dream degassed by the volcano

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