Tuesday Editor’s Pick: Keyhole (2011)

by on March 13, 2012Posted in: Editor's Pick

Playing Tue March 20 at 8:30 at Film Society of Lincoln Center [Program & Tix]
*Dir. Guy Maddin in-person

Last month’s invauable “Film Comment Selects” series returns with one last delicacy, the latest feature from Alt Screen fave Guy Maddin. Maddin’s first foray into digital, which premiered last year at TIFF and recently screened at SXSW, has been labeled “stubbornly cryptic” by detractors but was included in FC Editor Gavin Smith’s Top 10 of 2011. Maddin will be there, with his usual perceptiveness and unique articulations, to guide us through his dream logic.

Smith in Film Comment (Nov/Dec 2011):

Toronto’s other world-premiere triumph came from another artist who finds his aesthetic impetus in film history’s distant past, although his formally promiscuous and madcap approach couldn’t be more different. I’m talking, of course, about the inimitable Canadian National Treasure known as Guy Maddin, who unveiled Keyhole, by far his most ambitious film to date. Coming on like a Forties gangster film, and then turning progressively more deranged and hallucinatory as it unfolds, Keyhole might be described as a hardboiled trance film. Pursued by cops, a crew of mobsters hole up in a haunted house. Although mob boss Ulysses Pick (Jason Patrie) reveals that the house is his former family home, in reality it suggests nothing so much as the interior of his fraught psyche-and the spooks that haunt it are the refracted memories, unfinished business, and unexorcised demons. Ulysses quests deep into this labyrinthine space, accompanied by a drowned, blind girl returned to life and a bound and gagged hostage, soon revealed to be his son-did I forget to mention that Keyhole is also a free adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey in the form of a family psychodrama? (Maddin professes never to have read Homer.) The dramatis personae also include Ulysses’s (dead) wife Hyacinth (Isabella Rossellini), Hyacinth’s naked and chained father (Louis Negin), and a doctor (Udo Kier) making a house call.
A heady cocktail of high-contrast blackand-white photography, endlessly shifting light, proliferating superimpositions, staccato edit clusters, and a remarkable score by Jason Staczek, the film is brooding, febrile, and overpoweringly oneiric in tone. Those who see Maddin as a purveyor of delirious camp will be in for a surprise-this time he isn’t necessarily looking for laughs. The pastiche of Forties Hollywood dialogue and performance is played straight, and the casting of Patrie, improbable as it sounds, is a masterstroke: he combines the air and looks of a midlevel movie actor of yesteryear with a completely contemporary interiority. At times as creepy as The Shining, this adventure in manifesting consciousness on screen, complete with twist ending, takes Maddin and his perennial screenwriting collaborator George Toles up to a whole new level of ambition, and sets them down somewhere on the far side of David Lynch territory.

  Read More

Friday Editor’s Pick: Tales from the Gimli Hospital: Reframed (2011)

by on November 12, 2011Posted in: Editor's Pick

Playing Fri Nov 18 and Sat Nov 19 at 7:00 & 9:00 at Film Society of Lincoln Center [Program & Tix]


From the Film Society of Lincoln Center Program notes:

A unique live cinematic and musical event, Tales from the Gimli Hospital: Reframed pairs acclaimed filmmaker Guy Maddin’s classic first feature film with a live performance—directed by Maddin himself—of a new score created by composer Matthew Patton, a superstar group of Icelandic musicians, acclaimed Seattle-based musical collective Aono Jikken Ensemble, and live electronics engineer Paul Corley. A cult sensation when it was released theatrically in 1988, the original Tales from the Gimli Hospital tells the dreamlike, elliptical story of the jealousy and madness instilled in two men sharing a hospital room in a remote Canadian village. The film first propelled Maddin to international prominence, becoming a success on the midnight movie circuit, and is now being completely transformed by this brand new performance.


With dramatic new narration written by Maddin and performed in a mixture of singing and speaking by the bewitching Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir (formerly of múm, and also known as Kria Brekkan), a hauntingly gorgeous string and vocals score performed by acclaimed Icelandic musicians Gyda Valtýsdóttir (cello), Borgar Magnason (double bass), and Maria Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir (violin), and ingenious live “Foley” sound effects plus additional musical atmosphere created by the Aono Jikken Ensemble (Willliam Satake Blauvelt, Dean Moore, and Naho Shioya), the new score takes the original Gimli in an entirely new direction, with layers upon layers of music drawn from different sources reflecting the story-within-a-story structure of the film, and an ethereal tone that draws out the darkest and most haunting elements of the film, bringing Maddin’s original artwork to life in a sublime and unexpected new way.

  Read More

Thursday & Friday Editor’s Picks: Vertov’s Kino-Eye Films at MoMA, with Guy Maddin in-person!

by on April 21, 2011Posted in: Editor's Pick

6:15 at Museum of Modern Art [Program & Tix]

Dennis Lim
for the New York Times:

It can be startling to realize just how many roads lead back to Vertov, who straddled the expressive peak of silent cinema and the inchoate excitement of the early sound era. His genius for rhythmic montage and his interest in perceptual processes mark him as a founding father of experimental film. His fantasy of the camera as an all-seeing panoptic tool anticipates our age of total surveillance. His self-reflexive bent — Man With a Movie Camera is ultimately a film about its own making — foreshadows the postmodern tendencies of what we now call meta-cinema.
Read More

Friday Editor’s Pick: “Normal Love” (1965-ongoing) and Underground Opulence

by on April 15, 2011Posted in: Editor's Pick

7:00 at the Museum of the Moving Image [Program & Tix]
The third installation of the fabulous, globe-trotting biennial Fashion in Film Festival makes its stateside debut in the borough of (you guessed it!) Queens. Co-presented by the Museum of the Moving Image, the two-weekend festival kicks off it heels with a program of shorts climaxing in Normal Love, a 1963 work by the experimental underground’s anti-auteur, Jack Smith. J.S. is joined by artfag-in-arms Kenneth Anger–repped by his glorious film fragment Puce Moment–and three 1906-07 Pathe-studio shorts. (They called it the “French vice” for a reason, kids.)
Per the official program notes:

Bursting with color, this program reconnects the avant-garde queer sensibility of the underground with some genres in early film that—with their ornamental costumes and décor—anticipate some of the richness of the underground’s camp aestheticism.

Congratulations to the Museum of the Moving Image, now poised to take the 2011 prize for NYC’s most ovah cinematic event. Luxuriant in multi-hued taffetas and ostrich-feathered elegance, the Fashion in Film Festival is like a Heaven-themed counterpart to the Black Party’s leather-clad Hell. So get out your powderpuffs, girls, cuz we gon’ do our thang.

Read More

Wednesday Editor’s Pick: “Hauntings”

by on April 6, 2011Posted in: Editor's Pick


“The idea that these films were gone really tortured me, so I set out to create echoes from a future that was never allowed to happen.” – Guy Maddin

Read More

Recent Features

Gene Kelly retro at Film Society (thru Jul 26)

July 13, 2012

I'm happy again and like myself: 100 years of Gene.


Erich Von Stroheim retro at Film Forum (thru Jul 30)

May 28, 2012

The decadent realism of Hollywood's favorite sadist.


Migrating Forms Fest at Anthology (thru May 20)

May 11, 2012

Traveling through time and space at NYC's upstart experimental film fest.

View All →