“We wanted viewers to feel like they were washed up, panting on another shore somewhere having just had a brush with drowning in a tempest of narrative,” is how Canadian director Guy Maddin described his latest feature (co-directed with Evan Johnson), The Forbidden Room, which played this year’s New York Film Festival. And indeed, Maddin’s 11th feature is exhausting. Essentially an anthology film with a Russian nesting-doll structure, The Forbidden Room sprouts narratives out of narratives, flowing from one seeming tangent to the next with Maddin’s familiar silent-movie aesthetic (the narratives were generally based on titles and synopses “lost” movies often dating back to the ‘20s). A crew in a submarine that’s running out of oxygen attempts to extend their collective lives using the air pockets in flapjacks. A lumberjack attempts to rescue a woman from a cave-dwelling tribe called the Red Wolves. A man’s ghost attempts to teach his son how to trick his mother into believing that the man never died. There is a vampire banana, a virgin sacrifice, a character known as “Squid Thief.” It blends together deliriously in transitions that emulate the decay and melting of celluloid.
The story about the events surrounding Kitty Genovese’s death, as most people know it, is a myth. It’s been over 50 years since her March 13, 1964, slaying, and so much has been written (often in attempt of correction) in the time since. Yet in many people’s heads, the story remains as it did in the opening paragraphs of Martin Gansberg’s March 27, 1964, New York Times story, “37 Who Saw Murder Didn’t Call the Police”: