A Guy Maddin movie, obviously.

A Guy Maddin movie, obviously.

The cellphone situation is getting out of hand, even at press and industry screenings. It seems like the notion of cinema as an immerse experience is lost in quite a few people.

Here are some common sense rules to follow if you don’t want me to tap your shoulder and gently tell you to TURN OFF YOUR EFFING PHONE.

  1. If you are waiting for a text or e-mail, maybe you shouldn’t be at the movies.
  2. Trying to cover the screen often makes no difference. Neither does dimming the screen.
  3. One person alone cannot make a difference. If someone is using a cellphone during a movie and you are nearby, it’s your civic responsibility to shame the culprit.

The Forbidden Room (Canada, 2015): Trying to explain the plot of a Guy Maddin movie is a thankless task. One of the few directors to explore surrealism in film -and certainly the most prolific- Maddin’s fame precedes him: A number of recognizable faces pop up in The Forbidden Room, even in tiny roles (Charlotte Rampling, Geraldine Chaplin, Udo Kier, Mathieu Almaric), just to work with the Manitoba native.

In a weird way, The Forbidden Room is Maddin’s most accessible film to date, mainly because it’s comprised of a number of loosely related short films, each one crazier than the next. The framing is provided by a submarine on the verge of exploding. The crew rescues a man (Roy Dupuis) whose origin story involves a bloodthirsty group of aboriginals who have kidnapped his beloved, yet she seems more in control than any of her captors.

From that point on, Maddin takes us down the rabbit hole. Via flashbacks, newspapers clippings, and every narrative device in his toolbox, the filmmaker builds a jigsaw puzzle without a solution. By using faux old celluloid, silent cinema title cards and old-fashioned special effects, Maddin creates a unique reality. There is undeniable artistry to The Forbidden Room, but I have doubts it amounts to something. Three prairie dogs dancing with the devil in the pale moonlight.

Room (USA, 2015): Every so often we hear about women who have been living under lock and key, at the mercy of perverts who use them as sexual slaves. Room digs into the psychological and physical consequences of such abuse. It does it through the eyes of Jack, a vivacious five year old that has lived his entire existence in captivity along with his mother (a terrific Brie Larson).

Jack doesn’t know anything about the world outside. The only other human he is aware of is Old Nick, the man who kidnapped his mother when she was a teenager. Ma does as much as possible to give Jack a normal childhood under such extreme circumstances, but at five, the walls around Jack seem unable to contain him.

Filmmaker Lenny Abrahamson (Frank) does a remarkable work portraying Jack’s changing perception of reality. He also makes the most of a scenario full of constrains. Abrahamson is revealing himself as a superb actors’ director: The performance he obtains from young Jacob Tremblay as Jack is nothing short of amazing. The quality of Room declines during the more traditional denouement, but at least the top half is a high wire act. Three and half holed up prairie dogs.

Tomorrow, it’s the end of the world as you know it and Ellen Page feels fine.