Movies that are slightly off.
I'm only a ghost...but a ghost isn't nothing
Gangster and deadbeat dad, Ulysses Pick, embarks on an unusual journey through his home.
Film #4 in The June Challenge
Guy Maddin's Keyhole is an amalgam of the gangster and horror genres, blended together into an absurdist and expressionistic portrayal of memory and guilt. The film is incredibly strange, focusing on the main character's odyssey through his home as he works to recover his memories and receive forgiveness from his wife.
The entirety of the film takes place in Ulysses' home, with a mingling of the past and present through the spectral manifestations of the characters' memories. The gangster scenes of the film are darkly comic, with a lot of humourous dialogue, which stands in stark contrast to the eerie atmosphere of the film. Even a few of the ghosts are presented in comedic…
"Never trust your eyes" our hero is told - and Maddin's delirious trompe-l'oeil style is uniquely suited to a world (as in My Winnipeg) where fantasy is indistinguishable from reality, ghosts from the living, and a tragic twist from a bad memory. He cuts almost as often as Michael Bay, and this isn't one of his funnier films (despite "milk-drinking Ned" and yahtzee-playing Brucie), but it's a triumphant meld of genres, mostly film noir and hothouse family drama, and the melancholy ambience - "sorrow lingers"; nothing can be fixed; you can put furniture back the way it was, but you can't replace a life - keeps the dazzling style grounded. Maddin may seem a little samey now, and not always deep or substantial (though students of pernicious patriarchy - a disembodied penis! - may beg to differ), but posterity will cherish his single-mindedness as it does Cocteau's and Von Sternberg's.
Intoxicating! Maddin's films always feel like a hallucinatory drug to me. A trip into altered states of mind. I thought Keyhole was brilliant and still very true to Maddin's unique style of film making. But what is ironic here in Keyhole is it is not Maddin's trademark superimposing lightning speed editing and psychotic visuals that overpowers the film, it is actually an acting performance. One done by Jason Patric who seizes his role with an almighty forcefulness. Maddin continues to do what he does best, twist the medium into something strange, demented and above all original. Keep doing what you are doing Guy. 8/10
Ya got Kevin McDonald enthusiastically humping a ghost.
Ya got framed penises gettin' dusty.
Ya got frantic solo-yahtzeeing.
Ya got frantic solo-double-yahtzeeing.
and Ya got Udo Kier appreciating some good wallpaper.
Editing from John Gurdebeke is the high point, perhaps...along with the lighting and cinematography. Maddin's amalgamation of numerous genres and approaches works well even when he isn't busy undercutting it all with poorly-executed voiceover, redundant utterances of "ghosts" and moans/screams, and the glaring gulf found between the quality of the performances. Jason Patric is fantastic, reveling in the playfulness of his character while everyone else appears to be phoning it in ((except for Big Ed (Daniel Enright), he's just trying too hard).
Las obra de Guy Maddin me fascina. Me fascina su hondura hauntológica, su enrevesada sexualidad, sus árboles genealógicos torturados..
Keyhole tiene todo esto y además es una peli de fantasmas como ninguna otra. Compro (otra vez).
Hodgepodge of genre iconography and themes of family trauma strained through Maddin's typically rigorous aesthetic sifter. To what end? I have no clue.
"Everyone who's dead, line up against that wall"
It's this sentence that starts this haunted funhouse of a film.
I loved this one. It's three films in one. The first is a noir deconstruction that takes the all too familiar tropes and blows them up to super-sized caricatures of the genre and then straps them to a chair and lets them ride the lightning.
The next is a surreal ghost story that serves as an allegory for a ruined marriage and things left unsaid.
The final piece is a reversal of A Christmas Carol, with Marley being the primary spirit through which we take our journey through the life of a man who's empire was built on dust. Jason Patric…
Link to a review of mine here - cinemaoftheabstract.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/keyhole-2011.html
Incredible filmmaking makes this experimental movie very entertaining to watch.
The first time Maddin has disappointed me. A brilliant opening gives way to a cluttered (even for Maddin) vortex of entropy that plays on some interesting noir genre cliches/themes but simply doesn't amount to much in the end. I also just didn't find it as visually captivating as his other works. Maybe a revisit down the road will help but for now this is my least favorite from the director.
Maddin's cockeyed take on Last Year at Marienbad.
Keyhole is a wonder of a film from Guy Maddin - a gleefully psychedelic head trip that tells the tale of a man named Ulysses, who comes home one night after attempting to rescue a young woman from drowning. He walks into the house, carrying her over his shoulder. She's still alive - barely so - but we will soon find out that no one in this house is truly alive. Ulysses, a mob boss of some sort, has returned to a haunted abode - and there are many ghosts in this house, consisting mostly of gangsters and mistresses from Ulysses' past. However, out of all of the spirits that remain in this house, the discontent spirits of his wife…
My least favorite Guy Maddin so far (having seen My Winnipeg, Brand Upon the Brain, and Tales From the Gimli Hospital). The only one that ever felt pretentious at times. It doesn't really hit its groove until the last third although there are good moments throughout and always good imagery. I loved the electric chair sequence. Also the only Guy Maddin movie that ever felt Lynchian at times. I don't say this as a compliment. Guy Maddin has his own distinct style and it didn't always click in this movie like it did in his best work My Winnipeg.
Of the nine Guy Maddin feature films that I have seen, this is the first that I have actively disliked. Though the idea of the mingling of the living and the dead in a haunted house of the mind is an interesting one, the concept does not play out extremely well, with shock elements seeming quite out of place in a filmography that has always found a method in the weirdness. It certainly seems to represent a sort of new departure for Maddin, as the surrealism here is a pretty far cry from the simple quasi-silent fantasies that he is known for, and fortunately it was short-lived, as The Forbidden Room was not only a return to form and Maddin's…
A subsequent viewing will help me to write out my thoughts in full, but until then, my general thoughts are this: Keyhole, while perhaps being Maddin's most formally subdued work, still manages to be one of his best. Absent here is some of the more abstract qualities that make several of his films more abrasive for audiences. Despite this, it retains many of the best qualities of his work: the experimentation, the hypnotic narration, the psychosexual undertones, and so on and so forth. From Cowards Bend the Knee onward, Maddin has constantly delved into the past, seemingly for the purpose of dealing with his own personal demons. Keyhole renders that journey very literally, with its protagonist attempting to exorcise the ghosts of his past that haunt his house. It's one of Maddin's most enjoyable attempts yet, but until I return to it in the future, I'm afraid my writing can't do this film justice.
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