I have 498 movies in my Netflix Instant queue. I tend to watch one thing for every five that I add, but now my library is close to being full and I have to make room. So, every Monday I’m going to pick a random movie out of my queue and review the shit out of it. But (like Jesus), I’m also thinking of you and your unwieldy queue and all the movies in it you want to watch but no longer have the time to now that you’ve become so awesome and popular. Let me know what has been gathering digital dust in your Netflix Instant library and I’ll watch that, too. One Monday for you and the next for me and so on. Let’s get to it.
What’s the movie? Keyhole (2011)
What’s it rated? Rated R for constant flaccid senior penis, nightmare logic and a casually disturbing overall demeanor.
Did people make it? Written by Guy Maddin and George Toles. Directed by Guy Maddin. Acted by Jason Patric, Isabella Rossellini, Brooke Palsson, David Wontner, Louis Negin and Udo Kier.
What’s it like in one sentence? A Greek mythology film noir ghost story that David Lynch wrote in his own blood after being stabbed by feral children.
Why did you watch it? Louis Pantelakos Jr. made me do it.
What’s it about in one paragraph? Ulysses Pick and his gang of bad guys escape from the cops and hide out in Pick’s old giant manor house that he hasn’t been home to in many years. The house is filled with ghosts (including a graphically naked old man in chains and a guy furiously masturbating in a closet!), which no one has any problem with…whatsoever. As the gang gets sucked into the orbit of the ghost’s misery and repetition, Ulysses goes on an Odyssey (heh) to search for his wife, sons and daughters in the labyrinth of rooms. But that might not be as easy as it sounds(?) because everything is shifting in time and space and Pick’s memory is a little foggy as of late.
Play or remove from my queue? That…is a damn good question. I finished watching this movie five minutes ago and I’m having trouble truly describing the film in any helpful way. I’m a newbie to Guy Maddin and I can definitely say that after Keyhole I’m a fan, but I have no idea if this is indicative of his work as a whole. The film kept me absolutely enthralled for all of its running time, but as the closing credits hit I also felt an emptiness and detachment from the work that I wasn’t expecting. The story and characters are all very tragic, but I never became emotionally invested in anyone, because all of the motivations and subtext are buried under so many damned layers of weird that I always felt at football field’s length. If I had connected to the characters,then I really would be championing this film up and down my apartment complex. They call the cops on me a lot.
Jason Patric is great in this, but he’s also one of the reasons I’m a little confused about the intention of Keyhole. Patric is at turns frightening and hilarious, but he’s always charismatic and fun to watch. The rest of the cast is consistently stone-faced and dour, acting like they’re in a Hal Hartley student film. Everyone (including Kier and Rossellini) is so self serious and Jason Patric is so goddamned dashing that it at times feels like Maddin is commenting on the nature of his own film by mocking the “experimental” tropes he’s employing. Not to say Keyhole isn’t funny, as it’s often pretty hilarious, but only when Patric is around. Is he supposed to be the critic, laughing at all the serious, pretentious thematic material, content to let a dick joke fly without regret, or is the film just a tonal mess? I can’t answer that without another viewing or until I go to college.
The film also looks amazing. This is Maddin’s first film shot on digital, but with the sumptuous black and white photography combined with a brilliant use of shadows and light, the film has the texture of Eraserhead shot by Roger Deakins. Keyhole could have been boring in lesser hands (or even in larger ones), but every single frame has something interesting to look at, even when what the characters are saying is pure shithouse rat. There are shots that simultaneously feel classic and ahead of their time about every ten minutes in the film and, even if I’m not smart enough to understand it yet, that’s enough to get a recommendation out of me.
Do you have a favorite line? When Jason Patric sees a giant, dirty wang sticking through a hole in his house, he walks by it and with a slight smile he says “looks like the penis needs a dusting” like he was talking about a silverware drawer. See, you show me a profound movie and I’ll show you the dick joke.
Do you have an interesting fun-fact? It was made for around $22,000, which seems ridiculously low, yet also just about right.
What does Netflix say I’d like if I like this? The Tall Man (why yes Netflix, I liked it very much thank you), Columbus Circle (Jason Lee, Kevin Pollack and Giovanni Ribisi in a movie together equals my 90 minutes of time), Below Zero (a meat cleaver-wielding Michael Berryman on the cover equals my 90 minutes of time), The Innkeepers (I said last week that I liked 90% of it but thought Ti West shit the bed with the ending and I feel the same way this week) and Entrance (will be watching this one very soon).
What does Jared say I’d like if I like this? Early David Lynch, Homer, House of Leaves and my dream journal. But no one reads my dream journal. Not even me.
What is Netflix’s best guess for Jared? 2.6
What is Jared’s best guess for Jared? 3.3
Can you link to the movie? That seems fair.
Any last thoughts? I know this film has lots of interesting things to say about fragmented memory, the sedentary nature of time, the endless struggle to keep family together and what an old man’s balls look like in a close-up but, aside from the balls, I think a lot of it blew past me. Maybe I should just stick to Larry the Cable Guy and those Friedberg\Seltzer abortions instead of trying to use my brain good.
Did you watch anything else this week? I watched some TV and that’s about it. About to sit down and watch Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, though.
Any spoilerish thoughts about last week’s film, Lovely Molly? What did you guy think? Is she crazy or is her dead dad now an evil voodoo horse god?
Next Week? Headhunters and then Klown!