Combustible Celluloid
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With: Roy Dupuis, Clara Furey, Louis Negin, Celine Bonnier, Karine Vanasse, Caroline Dhavernas, Paul Ahmarani, Mathieu Amalric, Udo Kier, Maria de Medeiros, Charlotte Rampling, Geraldine Chaplin, Marie Brassard, Sophie Desmarais, Ariane Labed, Amira Casar, Kim Morgan, Elina Lowensohn
Written by: Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, Robert Kotyk
Directed by: Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 120
Date: 11/27/2015

The Forbidden Room (2015)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Sub Verse

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Guy Maddin's The Forbidden Room is one of his best-looking films, incorporating bold imitations of the old two-strip Technicolor, but it's also one of his most baffling. It includes more than a dozen storylines, some built within the confines of others, and some just little jokey asides. It has been described as a Russian nesting doll of a movie, except that it doesn't really have a center... it just wanders. It can be mesmerizing for short bursts, but the overall haul -- two full hours -- asks a lot of a viewer. Some of the stories include a submarine crew running out of air, a lumberjack hunting for a missing girl, vampires called "aswang," a mustache that has come back to life, and a man teaching us how to take a bath. As usual, Maddin carefully makes each frame look like a battered old silent film, with jumps and scratches; there is some dialogue, but there are more titles. Maddin assembles an impressive cast, however, with Mathieu Amalric, Geraldine Chaplin, Charlotte Rampling, Maria de Medeiros, Udo Kier, Caroline Dhavernas, and others showing up for a scene, a few shots, or just a single splash.

Kino Lorber's beautiful Blu-ray captures this movie's amazing color scheme for home viewing, and also gives Maddin fans the option to view it in smaller chunks. Extras include a commentary track by Maddin and co-director Evan Johnson, a liner notes booklet with essays by Maddin and film writer Hillary Weston, plus "endless ectoloops" (not really endless, but freaky morphing faces), "living posters" (just what it sounds like), a Maddin short film (Once Upon a Chicken), and a trailer.

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