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The Forbidden Room

Canada 2015
produced by
David Christensen, Phoebe Greenberg, Phyllis Laing, Guy Maddin, Penny Mancuso, François-Pierre Clavel (executive), Niv Fichman (executive), Jody Shapiro (executive), Jean Du Toit (supervising), Emmanuelle-Claude Heroux (supervising), Liz Jarvis (supervising) for Phi, Buffalo Gal Pictures, Kidam
directed by Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson (co)
starring Roy Dupuis, Clara Furey, Louis Negin, Udo Kier, Gregory Hlady, Mathieu Amalric, Noel Burton, Geraldine Chaplin, Paul Ahmarani, Caroline Dhavernas, Jacques Nolot, Slimane Dazi, Maria de Medeiros, Charlotte Rampling, Victor Andres Turgeon-Trelles, Andreas Apergis, Sophie Desmarais, Ariane Labed, Karine Vanasse, Romano Orzari, Alex Bisping, Kent McQuaid, Neil Napier, Kyle Gatehouse, André Wilms, Christophe Paou, Adèle Haenel, Céline Bonnier, Lewis Furey, Victoria Diamond, Mistaya Hemingway, Cynthia Ekoe, Sienna Mazzone, Vasco Bailly-Gentaud, Éric Robidoux, Amira Casar, Jean-François Stévenin, Graham Ashmore, Darcy Fehr, Kathia Rock, Luce Vigo, Judith Baribeau, Kim Morgan, Marie Brassard, Angela La Muse Senyshyn, Kimmi Melnychuk, Melissa Trainor, Pamela Iveta, Catherine Treskow, John Churchill, Matthew Comeau, Alexandre Skeret, Sherpa Macilu, Miguel Eduardo Cueva, Arthur Holden, Marie-Sophie Roy, Anthony Lemke, Victoire Du Bois, Elina Löwensohn, Russell Mael (voice)
written by Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, Robert Kotyk, additional material by John Ashbery, Kim Morgan, music by Galen Johnson, Jason Staczek, Guy Maddin, John Gurdebeke, visual effects by Evan Johnson

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Framed by a character called Marv (Louis Negin) explaining how to properly take a bath, a plethora of stories unfold about a woodsman (Roy Dupuis) mysteriously appearing on board a doomed submarine that has almost used up its air supply but can't go up to the surface because the pressure drop would explode its cargo. Thing is, the captain (Noel Burton) has gone mysteriously missing. But where did the woodsman come from? All he knows he was just up in the mountains trying to save lovely Margot (Clara Furey) from a gang of robbers called the Red Wolves. But she has somehow become their mascot and flees into dreamworlds where she is safe from them, including one where she's a nightclub singer and has a lover. However, her dream worlds get out of hand, and soon there are numerous subplots, from a murder mystery about a man (Mathieu Amalric) killing his butler (Udo Kier) to a horror story about a man changing into a monster thanks to the Janus-bust he bought and now going after his doppelganger, from exotica about a native tribe sacrificing people to their volcano to medical science fiction stories about weird brain surgery and the curing of broken bones ...

 

Above synopsis can't even begin to do The Forbidden Room justice, as probably none could, the film is actually totally erratic, with its stories bleeding into one another, sharing actors (sometimes in the same roles, sometimes in different ones), its stories interrupting one another and bringing them to a stop, stories starting (or ending) in their own middle and revolving around invariably intentional plotholes. All this though works totally in the film's favour, and is only heightened by Guy Maddin's trademark directorial style with many references to silent and early sound cinema, tons of intentionally crude special effects, visuals often reminiscent of pulp comics and pulp magazine covers, and less than convincing backdrops and matte shots - and all this makes up for one insane cinematic experience that's weird even by Maddin's own standards (and his body of work is riddled with weirdness). But what makes this movie really great - it's incredibly funny, doesn't take itself seriously for one minute, but stays away from being predictable or moronic but opts for a totally surreal kind of humour - and succeeds gloriously in this. Pretty much a must-see!

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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from the post-apocalyptic
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Tales to Chill
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
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out now on DVD