Tag Archives: memory



Format: Cinema

Dates: 14 September 2012

Venues: Key cities

Distributor: Soda Pictures

Director: Guy Maddin

Writer: George Toles, Guy Maddin

Cast: Jason Patric, Isabella Rossellini, Udo Kier, Kevin McDonald

Canada 2011

94 mins

Full disclosure: I produced Guy Maddin’s first three feature films, lived with him as a roommate (I was Oscar Madison to his Felix Unger - Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple sprang miraculously to life on the top two floors of a ramshackle old house on Winnipeg’s McMillan Avenue), continue to love him as one of my dearest friends and consider his brilliant screenwriting partner George Toles to be nothing less than my surrogate big brother.

Most importantly, I am one of Maddin’s biggest fans and refuse to believe I am not able to objectively review his work. Objectively, then, allow me to declare that I loved Keyhole.

What’s not to love?

Blending Warner Brothers gangster styling of the 30s, film noir of the 40s and 50s, Greek tragedy, Sirk-like melodrama and odd dapplings of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame and Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit, it is, like all Maddin’s work, best designed to experience as a dream on film. Like Terence Davies, Maddin is one of the few living filmmakers who understands the poetic properties of cinema, and this, frankly, is to be cherished as much as any perfectly wrought narrative.

This is not to say narrative does NOT exist in Maddin’s work. If you really must, dig deep and you will find it. That, however, wouldn’t be very much fun. One has a better time with Maddin’s pictures just letting them HAPPEN to you.

The elements concocted in Keyhole to allow for full experiential mind-fucking involve the insanely named gangster Ulysses Pick (Jason Patric as you’ve never seen him before - playing straight, yet feeling like he belongs to another cinematic era), who drags his kids (one dead, but miraculously sprung to life, the other seemingly alive, but not remembered by his dad) into a haunted house surrounded by guns-a-blazing.

Populated with a variety of tough guys and babe-o-licious molls, Ulysses is faced with ghosts of both the living and the dead, including his wife Hyacinth (Isabella Rossellini - gorgeous as always and imbued with all the necessary qualities to render melodrama with joy and humanity), her frequently nude father (the brilliant Louis Negin - perhaps one of the world’s greatest living character actors, who frankly should be cast in every movie ever made), chained to his bed, uttering the richly ripe George Toles dialogue, and Udo Kier (the greatest fucking actor in the world), whose appearance in this movie is so inspired I’ll let you discover for yourself the greatness of both the role and Udo himself.

Keyhole is, without a doubt, one of the most perversely funny movies I’ve seen in ages and includes Maddin’s trademark visual tapestry of the most alternately gorgeous and insanely inspired kind. For movie geeks, literary freaks and Greek tragedy-o-philes, the movie is blessed with added treats to gobble down voraciously.

Like all of Maddin’s work, it’s not all fun and games. Beneath the surface of its mad inspiration lurks a melancholy and thematic richness. For me, what’s so important and moving about the film is its literal and thematic exploration of a space. Strongly evoking that sense of how our lives are inextricably linked to so many places (or a place) and how they in turn are populated with things - inanimate objects that become more animate once we project our memories upon them - or how said places inspire reminiscence of said objects which, in turn, inspire further memories, Keyhole is as profound and sad as it’s a crazed laugh riot.

Of all the reviews about the movie that I bothered to read, I was shocked that NOBODY - NOT ONE FUCKING CRITIC - picked up on the overwhelming theme of PLACE and the SPIRIT of all those THINGS that live and breathe in our minds. It was the first thing to weigh heavily upon me when I first saw the movie. It has seldom been approached in the movies - and, for my money - NO MORE POIGNANTLY AND BRILLIANTLY than rendered by Maddin, Toles and their visionary young producer Jody Shapiro.

All the ghosts of the living and the dead (to paraphrase Joyce), the animate and inanimate, the real and the imagined, these are the things that haunt us to our graves, and perhaps beyond. And they all populate the strange, magical and haunting world of Keyhole - a world most of us, whether we want to acknowledge it or not, live in.

We are all ghosts and are, in turn, haunted by them.

Greg Klymkiw



Format: Cinema

Release date: 7 September 2012

Venues: Key cities

Distributor: New Wave Films

Director: Miguel Gomes

Writers: Miguel Gomes, Mariana Ricardo

Cast: Teresa Madruga, Laura Soveral, Ana Moreira

Portugal/Germany/Brazil/France 2012

118 mins

Breaking classic genre conventions in the most apt and eloquent way, while consistently subverting them with bold narrative choices and a beautifully dreamlike style, Miguel Gomes’s Tabu combines the story of an impossible love affair with a quirkily surreal, poetic view of colonial history. The film is formally divided into two narrative parts - one set in contemporary Lisbon (‘A Lost Paradise’), the other in Mozambique in the 1960s (‘Paradise’) - but revolves around one central heroine: the elderly Aurora (Laura Soveral), a compulsive gambler with a mysterious past.

Before we are introduced to Aurora, however, Tabu starts with an enigmatic prologue, which in itself offers a superb small film within a film that follows an intrepid explorer, still haunted by the death of his beloved wife some time ago, roaming the harsh planes of Southern Africa. As the camera follows his every step, the gentle voice of a narrator informs us about the true meaning of the explorer’s expedition, and the destiny he is hoping to fulfil. In the end, the image of a sad, melancholic crocodile with a woman from the past - who form, as we are told, an inseparable pair united by a mysterious pact - creates the perfect transition into the ingenious, poetic, grotesque and often brilliantly witty world that makes Tabu such a unique and compelling cinematic experience.

As the film enters its first chapter, ‘A Lost Paradise’, Aurora is about to pass from this life. Apart from her next-door-neighbour Pilar (Teresa Madruga), who spends most of her day doing good deeds, and Santa (Isabel Cardoso), a black woman whom Aurora treats like a housemaid when she is not accusing her of witchcraft or tyranny, there is no one else left to visit her or come to the rescue whenever the elderly lady - incited by the hairy monkeys and other creatures that frequently populate her dreams - feels the urge to gamble her belongings in the local casino. Aurora is a woman tormented by mysterious memories of her past, and it is only after she is rushed into hospital that she quietly agrees to disclose the secret of the tragic love story in her life. She asks Pilar to find a man called Mr Ventura, who, at Aurora’s funeral, sheds light on the events that took place 50 years earlier on the ostrich farm that she used to own in Africa, at the foot of a certain Mount Tabu.

To say more would be giving away the magic that suffuses the wonderfully scripted and staged second half of the film, ‘Paradise’. With a lighter, but perhaps more darkly cynical touch, Gomes here creates not only a visually stunning, tragic tale of love and loss, but also an enduringly fascinating tribute to silent cinema.

Taken as the sum of its equally dazzling and perplexing parts, Tabu is a bold, impressive film that attempts to break away from the narrow scope that has characterised much of recent art-house filmmaking. Elegantly weaving together colonial history, past cinema and personal memories, it unashamedly touches the heart – as we learn in the film, the most ‘insolent’ muscle of the human anatomy.

Pamela Jahn



Format: Cinema

Screening date: 2 + 4 May 2012

Venue: Apollo, London


1-7 May 2012

Director: Nir Paniry

Writers: Nir Paniry, Gabriel Cowan, John Suits

Cast: Sasha Roiz, Jenny Mollen, Dominic Bogart

USA 2012

90 mins

An excellent science-fiction thriller that, while reminiscent of a number of other films, including The Cell (2000), Identity (2003), Timecrimes (2007) and Inception (2010), improves on all its predecessors by having tight direction, characters the viewer can relate to and a brisk running time that doesn’t overstay its welcome.

US genre TV star Sasha Roiz, reminiscent of a laid-back young Jeff Goldblum, plays an inventor whose device allows a person to experience their own or other people’s memories as an interactive virtual reality environment. To get funding for this, he unwittingly does a deal with a law enforcement agency, who want to use it to investigate whether a supposed killer has committed a murder he claims no memory of. Roiz rushes to get the prototype finished for this initial demonstration. It works well enough in letting him enter the killer’s mind but malfunctions when he attempts to leave, putting his own body into a coma and trapping his consciousness in the killer’s mind for the next four years.

The script explores the morality of the device and the truths and fictions we tell ourselves. While tense and gripping when needs be, the film refreshingly doesn’t feel the audience has to be kept on the edge of their seats throughout, giving the human drama space to breathe. Since the budget doesn’t allow for the eye-boggling visuals of The Cell or Inception, it also avoids the over-familiarity of blockbuster set pieces that its predecessors got bogged down in. And despite the potentially labyrinthine possibilities of the scenario, it tells the tale in a straightforward manner that doesn’t require a scientist with a blackboard to explain the narrative to viewers without a Ph.D.

Indie actor Dominic Bogart portrays a sympathetic junkie and potential killer very well, experiencing his own incarceration in jail while he has another person trapped inside his head, and through the recreation and repetition of his memories, we learn how he has been betrayed and manipulated by the people he loves, throughout his life.

The story includes a twist that makes us doubt the central premise and leaves the plot open for a welcome sequel. This leads to some minor problems I have with the script, in particular: for a film that relies on a certain amount of real-life science, it seems strange that the filmmakers don’t acknowledge until the very end the well-established fact that each time a person remembers something, the memory changes slightly - a fact Roiz’s character seems incredulously unaware of.

Overall, though, a top-notch indie thriller and one that will hopefully find a distributor and a larger audience as soon as possible. Extracted is certainly the best film I’ve seen so far at this year’s SCI-FI-LONDON and its second screening on May 4 deserves to be sold out.

SCI-FI-LONDON runs from May 1 to 7 at various venues across London.

Alex Fitch