The Forbidden Room Screen 33 articles

The Forbidden Room

2015

The Forbidden Room Poster
  • Guy Maddin throws so much material into The Forbidden Room, and handles it all with so much surface exuberance, that it may take a while for one to realize how little of it resonates beyond admiration of the filmmakers' own cleverness... Nevertheless, even if Maddin's latest fever dream of the movies forsakes emotional depth for sheer multitude, there's still something to be said for a film as high on the many and varied possibilities of cinema as this one is.

  • For me, above all, besides for the wonderful, zany humor, what I liked best is that the film is not some fevered regurgitation of cinema's past but that it in fact suggests and indeed takes the form of an alternate history of the film: it poses a detour around 1927 that movies almost traveled down but never did. And like all movies that are successfully created around the idea of possibilities, you come out of the theatre not thinking "Ah it could have been..." but rather "What can it be?"

  • The Forbidden Room moves so swiftly from one idea to the next (most of which are, if not hilarious, highly amusing), and with such urgency and skill. Liquid, boiling images of film material create beautifully distorted impressions of the fragments of this fragile medium. The Forbidden Room is a psychosexual plunge into a hidden space, wherever it is that Maddin’s mind and movies meet, secret desires made manifest as spectral figures and images.

  • A few movies have attempted something like this before (most notably The Saragossa Manuscript, a Polish film from 1965), but not with this degree of deliberate insanity... For those attuned to Maddin’s goofy sense of humor, it’s easily the funniest movie he’s ever made—a series of several dozen comic shorts strung together on a ludicrous clothesline.

  • Despite all their interconnectedness, the multiple stories in The Forbidden Room still have to ramp up and work as separate units, and it's here that the film occasionally lags and lurches. But Maddin doesn't dawdle on any for long, not when there's a plum role for Udo Kier's mustache waiting just around the corner... Maddin accommodates his narrative embellishments with a broader, more arresting visual palette that brightens as the emotions intensify.

  • At first I thought this ripe-rot-suffused pastiche of serial, Expressionist, and Doris Wishman stylizations was on the drawn-out side, but on considering its spectacular climactic payoff and more, I think I’d like to see the three-hour version of which I’ve heard tell.

  • Moment to moment, the relentless cinephilic delirium of The Forbidden Room is every bit as intense as Guy Maddin‘s 6-minute short The Heart of the World (2000), but the miracle of the new two-hour-plus feature co-directed with Evan Johnson is that it’s persistently enthralling, often quite funny and never exhausting.

  • The film may feature movie stars like Charlotte Rampling, but it’s so unwieldy and inspired (and exhausting, but in the best possible way) it felt like a nuclear bomb vaporising all the infotainment in its blast zone. The Forbidden Room has more ideas in ten minutes than most filmmakers have in their entire oeuvres; Maddin jumps into the murky waters of lost styles of nutso movie storytelling and delivers back everything he finds, and the result is properly bonkers.

  • It’s impossible to stay safe amidst the explosive color, hypnotic super impositions, and lurid intertitles, and while Maddin neophytes may find the experience of The Forbidden Room akin to a brain aneurysm (in a good way), movie lovers with any sense of humor will gleefully lap up the overflowing bounty of cinephilic pleasures and polymorphous perversities.

  • There are physical challenges, mental challenges, and even the loss of some brain matter to follow. There are unrelenting dreams, visions, diversions – dreams within dreams, like Inception (2010), only without endless, condescending exposition – a necessary murder of a loyal employee; because letting a loved one down simply isn’t acceptable! Absence, presence, lost and found: it’s a veritable treasure trove, a flea market for the cinephiliac.

  • Hilarious, absurd, and lots of fun throughout its 130 minutes, The Forbidden Room is a cinephile’s wettest dream, employing a surrealist collage technique to mash-up reconstructions of lost D-movie would-be cult classics.

  • Maddin and Johnson are master conjurers, causing characters and scenarios to be whisked out of hats, only to be disappeared and usurped. Losing characters is disorientating but the pace is so madcap that po-faced critical analysis is spun into abeyance.

  • The Forbidden Room, Guy Maddin’s latest opus, is a joyful celebration of cinema, with a perverse twist. While they may be travelling all corners of the world experiencing a large repertory of situations... the multifarious characters are actually trapped within the visual and metaphorical tropes of silent cinema, with a touch of a baroque éternel retour as in Raúl Ruiz’s films.

  • Like being sloppily slapped by a wet salmon to the point of submission, such is the impact of Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson’s inventive, audacious, and outright hilarious tour de force whatzit.

  • Guy Maddin’s The Forbidden Room—covered more thoroughly elsewhere in this issue’s pages—is probably his crowning masterpiece, and is better than anything that played in Park City last year, in January or otherwise (yes, even Boyhood).

  • Guy Maddin’s latest creation begins with a bath—and continues as a bath, an immersive plunge into the roiling waters of cinema’s history and its unconscious. Note that I didn’t call The Forbidden Room Maddin’s “latest film,” for this isn’t so much a film as an encyclopedic compendium of cinematic possibilities, a cauldron bubbling over with highly spiced visual and narrative tropes.

  • New Horizons’ favourite Guy Maddin’s The Forbidden Room is a matryoshka of a film, where each oneiric vision of hapless submariners or amorous lumberjacks opens onto the next often absurd and surreally comic chapter.

  • Although this film inevitably calls to mind the meta-fictional orchestrations of Borges or Calvino, such a comparison severely misrepresents the utter anarchy of Maddin’s film. (Much of this due to the painterly style of Room, no doubt largely attributable to visual-effects whiz Johnson. This deepens Maddin’s customary chiaroscuro, providing an almost Turneresque quality.)

  • A hilariously demented, intellectually rigorous invocation of early cinema's esoteric tropes and aesthetics that seems to have been pulled through another dimension — a style the Canadian mainstay, here co-directing with Evan Johnson, is wont to work in.

  • The surface curiosities of Guy Maddin's cinema are such that the analytical mind can boggle at the thought that his work may in fact be deeply personal, and this misdirection applies doubly to The Forbidden Room, a colossal symphony of cascading oddity that features such indelible curveballs as a pair of malevolent “Aswang bananas.”

  • Maddin and the Johnsons create a buckling, shimmering, morass of images. They come and go at a spastic clip, a rhythm that hasn’t been felt in Maddin’s previous work except in shorts like Sissy-Boy Slap-Party, which makes sense since the film is a collection of them. Forbidden Room changes with every fragment, with every shot, textures shifting before your eyes.

  • The surrealist result plays to Maddin’s strengths as a master of densely aestheticized short films, as he crafts a lucid expression of his own feverish perspective on the movies that shaped his art. Having assembled plots for the various shorts from the AFI’s descriptions of lost films, Maddin and Johnson depict the death dream of cinema itself, and as such, a rich vein of history runs through the images.

  • The result is certainly full of "boggling puzzlements", but also of ideas and invention, of errant eros and unfathomable (if not strictly bottomless) hilarity... 'Cathartic' barely begins to cover this film's effect on the viewer, but Maddin and Evans have crafted an aqueous oddity that is also a pure, bubbly joy.

  • Picking up the frayed strands of silent-era films and shocking them back to life, The Forbidden Roomis a hallucinatory and perverse love letter to cinema history and an exploration of the medium’s boundless possibilities. With a cast featuring Mathieu Amalric, Udo Kier, Charlotte Rampling, and Geraldine Chaplin, the film unfolds in a string of explosive and hilarious stories woven together by dreams, sex, love, fantasy, and murder—Guy’s favorite obsessions.

  • [Maddin isn't] so much a filmmaker of themes as he is an artist who uses film as an outlet and a container for his restless, fevered imagination – like an abstract expressionist, only instead of dripping paintbrushes he has the collective dream of cinema, the memories, moods, and postures of silent movies and melodrama. He throws everything at you, and in The Forbidden Room, he throws it all faster than before, and for longer than before. You’re shellshocked by the time you get out.

  • The benefits of weathering Maddin and Johnson’s storm are considerable. Once acclimated to the notion that no established thread will ever satisfyingly be tied up in the end, you’re freed to exult in the momentary—and to register the gravity behind such a structural assertion, that all that’s lost can only be briefly summoned or glimpsed or guessed at before it fades back away.

  • Although the film was made digitally, Maddin and Johnson managed to imbue it with the lushness and texture of the Maddin’s work of old, the saturated colours and artificial exoticism reminiscent of Careful (1992) in particular... Once the physical discomfort of the [IMAX] screening was safely past, however, what remained branded upon the brain was The Forbidden Room’s ecstatic pleasures.

  • Shrinking, blotching, and clarifying on a dime, the protoplasmic nature of Johnson and Maddin’s digitally mediated imagery is of a piece with The Forbidden Room’s amnesiac framing device, allowing for the abrogated mini-narratives to crumble and dissolve into one another like novellas with pages ripped out.

  • ++

    Sight & Sound: Adam Nayman
    November 27, 2015 | January 2016 Issue (pp. 28-30)

    "There is a stirring in the balls of this movie," says Guy Maddin by way of describing The Forbidden Room, a deliriously brilliant comedy that's potentially readable – among many other things – as a metaphor for orgasm. After all, it begins in a damp submarine compartment crammed with male seamen yearning to breathe free, proceeds through a series of increasingly heightened dramatic interactions and ends with a literal series of 'climaxes', narratological money shots connoting euphoric release.

  • It’s very much the kind of mind-melting opus we’ve come to expect from Canadian director Guy Maddin, whose collaboration with Evan Johnson here deserves recognition as one of the most extravagantly bizarre films ever made.

  • As always in Maddin films, the presiding spirit is camp and crypto-gay, a colouring underlined by the presence of such actors as Udo Kier. The storylines, however, emphasise loss, bereavement, amnesia and injury, echoing the fate of the original lost films themselves. The melodramatic fragments here have little or no emotional kick, but the film as a whole delivers a febrile melancholia with gusto.

  • Whereas Cemetery of Splendour moves at a slow, fittingly oneiric pace, Guy Maddin’s The Forbidden Room wildly careens from one episodic fragment of its re-imagined film history to another. Co-directed with one of Maddin’s former students, Evan Johnson, The Forbidden Room was one of the most unique, lively, and experimental titles screened at the AFF.

  • Guy Maddin, dreaming his molten dreams like that wrathful old volcano. (But who's Evan Johnson?) Unmoored excitements of a stream-of-consciousness trailer reel, multiple-distilled into doublings, rituals, murders, obsessions. "A wife's water, saved for science." Baroque shards of cinephile sense-memories, suggestive colour-tones, half-remembered splinters of familiar narratives, obloquious irruptions of humour.

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