‘Keyhole’ currently playing at the IFC Center


“Keyhole,” Canadian director Guy Maddin’s latest homage to the expressionist melodrama of early cinema, follows the gangster Ulysses as he navigates a home of memory and ghosts to reconcile with his wife Hyacinth after a long absence.

His recollections having dimmed while away, he uses a drowning girl who has acquired his memories to regain the past while slowly making his way to his wife’s bedroom, as the ghost of his father, chained naked to Hyacinth’s bed when he’s not busy whipping spectrophiliacs, repeatedly intones “Remember Ulysses.” Employing mood as narrative, Maddin explores how the intentions behind sexual and psychological intercourse with specters of desire and regret determine their outcome, namely death or redemption for those who sleep with phantoms of the unreal.

Ghosts being memory congealed in time and space, Maddin brings the metaphor to life to show how the past forever haunts the present, how what is absent never truly vanishes. “Keyhole” is less a direct adaptation of “The Odyssey” than was “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” Rather, it uses the look and template of Pre-Code Hollywood and Weimar Republic gangster films to imagine how the couple (wonderfully played by Jason Patric and Isabella Rossellini) felt during the first moments of their reunion. Ulysses, uncertain about his welcome upon returning to Ithaca after decades of triumph of sorrow; Penelope, excited yet weary and mistrustful to see the man who was her husband so long ago.

The film gets at what is lost in voyage and adventure, namely innocence and love, which once squandered must atrophy and die. In Alfred Tennyson’s poem “Ulysses,” the eponymous “idle king . . . with an aged wife” says, “I am a part of all that I have met; / Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’ / Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades / For ever and forever when I move.” For Maddin this arch is a keyhole through which we view another life, the one that we have lived, as it glimmers and fades away.

The forgotten memories that Ulysses uncovers along the way are a combination of the beautiful and ridiculous, both devastating and absurd. He comes to realize that his naked hostage is really his son, the drowning girl’s ex-boyfriend and tragic cause of her fate, whom he remembers as a carefree child playing with Hyacinth when she too was young and happy. A different, seemingly deranged son is constantly seen furiously masturbating behind closed doors; the narrator at one point even shouts “Double Yahtzee!” when the boy is discovered. In this ghost play whose characters are literally chained to their memories, freedom can only come from the expiation of reconciling oneself to one’s guilt and that of those one loves. Though the lovers have betrayed one another, there is perhaps another faith that cannot be shattered. As W.S. Merwin writes in his poem “Odysseus,” “And what wonder / If sometimes he could not remember / Which was the one who wished on his departure / Perils that he could never sail through, / And which, improbable, remote, and true, / Was the one he kept sailing home to?”


New Apple devices include default kill switch

By Marina LopesWASHINGTON (Reuters) - New Apple Inc phones include a theft deterrent system that enables users to lock their devices and wipe them clean…


PHOTO: Photographer comes face-to-face with deadly crocodile

A deadly crocodile comes face-to-face with a courageous photographer, who manages to take a set of jaw-dropping pictures of the teeth-baring reptile.


Brooklyn packed for annual West Indian Day Parade

Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway was packed Monday with an estimated one million people showing up on Labor Day to celebrate West Indian culture.


James Michael Tyler on Gunther, Central Perk and…

We spoke with Gunther (James Michael Tyler) at the preview for new pop-up Central Perk, based on the cafe in "Friends."


Rita Wilson joins the fall lineup at Cafe…

As a ticket-taker at the Universal Amphitheater in Orlando in the mid-'70s, actress, producer and singer Rita Wilson found musical inspiration in good supply, including…


Review: Kevin Smith's 'Tusk' is insane even for…

Kevin Smith returns to the horror genre, only with more jokes this time, with "Tusk," in which Michael Parks wants to turn Justin Long into a walrus.


Fall Arts Guide: NYC's repertory film scene boasts…

Among the best repertory film series in NYC this fall include old subway movies at BAM, Capra at Film Forum and actual celluloid at the IFC Center.


Needtobreathe's revival: From broken up to resurrected

Needtobreathe talks about breaking up and reuniting while recording their latest album, "Rivers in the Wastelands."


Eric Decker 'unlikely to play' against Bears: Source

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker's status for Monday night’s game against the Bears is in doubt after he missed practice again Wednesday.


Preston Parker, not Odell Beckham, will replace Jerrel…

Tom Coughlin noted the next man up will be unheralded veteran Preston Parker.


NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)


Fantasy football: Run with Knile Davis, Khiry Robinson,…

Fantasy football: Run with Knile Davis, Khiry Robinson, Donald Brown


Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…


Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…


Here's why the newly-crowned Miss America deleted her…

Miss America pageant winner Kira Kazantsev quietly deleted her LinkedIn profile this week after her work history came under attack by conservative critics. Many of the…


Zosia Mamet explains why leaning in is not…

Zosia Mamet is living proof that even if you don't think you can get a job you're going for, you should still try. Along with…