Screened as part of NZIFF 2007
In his latest fever-dream, Guy Maddin tunnels deeper than ever before into the slagheap of 20s and 30s cinema he has made his home. He delights in piling invention upon invention, and the film’s visuals are as splendidly overloaded as its narrative. The plot is more convoluted than a Feuillade serial, racing breathlessly between such non sequiturs as a celebrity kid detective and her brother (actually the same character in drag), the Gloves of Chastity, satanic orphans, a lighthouse-as-surveillance-instrument, a masked lesbian wedding, turpentine baths and – lest we forget – secrets, secrets, secrets! The film feels like Maddin’s hyper-compressed six minute classic The Heart of the World extended (rather than expanded) to feature length, and it can be overwhelmingly dense, with flash-cut visual storytelling, intertitles and Isabella Rossellini’s arch voice-over narration simultaneously bombarding us with parallel, but not identical, information. The film may best be viewed high on caffeine – or stronger stimulants.