Guy Maddin will screen his latest film, Keyhole, which he shot with the Canon 5D, at the Toronto International Film Festival next month. This being Maddin, expect a dream-like visual palette, black-and-white principal photography and plenty of quirky characters, including a ghostly teenage daughter and a son named Manners (he’s bound in a chair and gagged at the start of the film). Jason Patric stars as Ulysses Pick, a gangster straight out of classic noir, but as the film’s title suggests, the action will be as much of a trip between Maddin’s familiarly eerie interior provinces and the tropes and styles of movies past. To wit: This Ulysses is not making his way out in the world and must navigate some of the most treacherous waters known to man: inside the family home. Maddin’s muse Isabella Rossellini (The Saddest Music in the World) heads up house as Hyacinth, Ulysses’ wife.
“I’m remaking a lot of lost movies,” the Winnipeg native told a local newspaper last year. “All those directors from the first generation that straddled the silents and talkie period have one and sometimes 10 lost films.”
Maddin said last year he plans to make more than a thousand of these lost films, some just a matter of minutes and others up to 15 minutes long, which will mirror the story in his feature. Shot on the same sets with the same actors, these parallel films, he said, are “like the ghost narratives of the lost films and are sort of possessing the characters of the feature and forcing them to act out lost movie narratives,” he added. Much of this material will appear online.
How utterly awesome.
But until the movie and its alter images appear on the large and small screen you can step inside the mind of Maddin’s Post Supervisor Matt Cahill, whose online diary contains a wonderful collection of Maddin marginalia and thoughts on each stage of the process through post.
Cahill got his hands dirty — really dirty — in horror films, working on the last several films in the Saw franchise. But he has a great ear for dialogue and quotes Maddin and others, like colorist Jim Fleming at Technicolor and Sound Editor Dave Rose, liberally on his blog. We find the same artistically elliptical Maddin here as well, yet through Cahill’s lens we watch him not just discovering the twists in his own narrative but also marveling at newer technology. “There’s so much detail,” Maddin says of the images out of the 5D. “Twenty years of smearing nose grease on camera lenses, I’ve never shot something so clear.”
It turns out Cahill also teaches a weekly class at Toronto’s Humber College and writes fiction. Some of the posts on his blog may strike another filmmaker as too reductive, but when you realize he’s reaching out to his students and any others outside this business with an interest in storytelling and art, it all makes perfect sense. This guy, like Maddin, just adores the process.
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