THE FORBIDDEN ROOM, Guy Maddin’s latest film, is a comedy constructed from a series of scenes each of which is based on reviews and summaries of films from the first half of the 20th century which were destroyed either intentionally or by natural degredation of the original film stock, and will likely never again be seen. Among the many notables in the cast are Roy Dupuis (Michael in LA FEMME NIKITA), and Louis Negin (GERONTOPHILIA). Dupuis is very good as the guy in the coonskin cap, but the best performance is that of Clara Furey as Margot, the damsel who is really not in much distress. Watching FORBIDDEN ROOM stoned might enhance the experience, but the film will be visually impressive even to the sober. The bits of old movie plots are strung together in a way that sometimes brings to mind Firesign Theater and/or Monte Python. The length (2 hours and 10 minutes) is daunting, but one does not need to watch it all at once. (It does get bogged down a bit in the middle with a medical narrative involving skeleton women, but perks right up again with the tale of Eve and the Volcano.) Though it might take a couple of sittings to finish, it is quite worth the time and effort. Look for Anthony Lemke (DARK MATTER’s Three) as Bud. THE FORBIDDEN ROOM can be streamed on Netflix (US), and is available on Blu-Ray and DVD.
RELATIVE HAPPINESS is a romantic comedy starring Australian actor Melissa Bergland, who turns in an exceptional performance as Lexie Ivy, a B&B owner in the process of learning (with difficulty) to accept other people for who they are. Her best friend Susie is played by one of the funniest people on television, Susan Kent (of 22 MINUTES), and Aaron Poole (Captain John Slotter of STRANGE EMPIRE) is Joss the handyman. Based on the novel by Leslie Crewe, and set in beautiful Cape Breton, RELATIVE HAPPINESS is the most enjoyable film I’ve seen in years. A caution to those who have read the book. As Elissa Barnard pointed out in her review for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald: “Unlike the book, Lexie doesn’t have a cat, doesn’t change size and experiences less tragedy and complexity. Director Deanne Foley creates a joyful romantic comedy, with a peppy East Coast soundtrack, about flawed, everyday people struggling to find themselves and happiness.” RELATIVE HAPPINESS is available on iTunes, Amazon Video, and on DVD.
Directed by April Mullen, 88 stars Katherine Isabelle as a woman on a quest to find her lover’s killer. She turns up at a roadside diner with no memory of how she got there, and a violent journey ensues. This is a psycoloogical thriller bordering on horror. Katherine Isabelle is perfectly cast in the lead role of Gwen , and Christopher Lloyd‘s performance is notable and intense. It is sometimes unclear from whose perspective one is viewing events, but this only adds to the film’s mystique. HorrorNews.net had many good things to say, including this: “Each of the cast does an exceptional job of innuendo, suggestion and clue without divulging the eerie conclusion that will provoke countless audiences to discuss long after the final credits. 88 is a picture that resonates.” 88 can be streamed on Netflix (US), and is available on Blu-ray and DVD. ABOUT THE TITLE: Christopher Lloyd was Dr. Emmett Brown in BACK TO THE FUTURE, and his Delorean needed to reach 88 miles per hour to travel in time. Also, the film’s runtime is 88 minutes.