“Squid Theft!” “Bones! Bones! Bones!” “Forced to wear a leotard!”
If you want to make a film critic smile, drop one of the intertitles to Guy Maddin’s phantasmagoric last film “The Forbidden Room” in the middle of a conversation. Maddin’s film, now out on DVD and Blu-ray from Kino Lorber is a cinephiliac’s dream and nightmare, as Maddin and co-director Evan Johnson took a treasure trove of plots from lost and never-made films and created giddy, eerie Russian nesting dolls of stories out of them.
At the Sundance Film Festival last month, I marvelled at the daffy brilliance of Guy Maddin’s “The Forbidden Room,” a cavalcade of interlocking stories based on supposedly lost films where banana vampires terrified damsels, trapped submariners ate flapjacks so they could suck on the air bubbles in the batter, and there was no situation so dire that it couldn’t be solved by a nice hot bath.
And yet, while “Forbidden Room” is wonderful, I think I’ll always consider his “docufantasia” “My Winnipeg” to be my favorite. Maddin’s delightful weird and achingly personal ode to his Canadian hometown mixes truth and fiction like no other film I’ve seen. The Criterion Collection just released the film on DVD and Blu-ray last month, loaded with great features.
You haven’t seen anything like a Guy Maddin film, unless you’ve seen another Guy Maddin film. At the simplest level, the Canadian filmmaker makes elliptical experimental films using the language and iconography of Golden Age Cinema. His last film, “Keyhole,” was a cryptic take on gangster noir, while his most famous, 2004’s “The Saddest Music in the World,” was a parody of the musicals of yesteryear.