CUFF 2020: Our Review of ‘The Last Matinee’

CUFF 2020: Our Review of ‘The Last Matinee’

Maximillano Contenti’s latest feature The Last Matinee boldly asks the question “what if Goodbye, Dragon Inn was a giallo”? This is a question that I cannot say has plagued me. However, now that I know the answer to this question I must say that it’s a question I should’ve spent more time pondering.

What Tsai does for elegiac representations of the theatre space as a modernist icon, Contenti does for representations of that space as houses of exploitation cinema. This is less elegy than nostalgic remembrance; the fact that the film takes place in 1993 as opposed to a contemporaneous time provides ample evidence of these intentions. I have no doubts that The Last Matinee is meant to be part and parcel with Tsai’s magnum opus. Much of the film takes place in a rain storm. And the film itself follows a projectionist named Ana (Luciana Grasso) who’s hoping to make it to end of this very sparsely attended screening with little fanfare. The actual space of the theatre is gloriously brought forward, with ample emphasis placed upon the beautiful stairways and neon lights.

But also, this is part and parcel giallo too. And thus, The Last Matinee is just as much Goodbye, Dragon Inn as it is Your Vice is a Decrepit Projector. Multiple kills are cross cut with audience members watching the in-world screening, as if they were meant to be audience surrogates. They’re damn good kills, equal parts flashy and violent. A little boy named Tomás (Franco Duran) shields his eyes, but not fully. His fingers act as slits, because no matter how much we want to, we cannot look away. The theatre space just means too much.

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Thomas Wishloff is currently an MA student at York University. He is new to the Toronto Film Scene, but has periodically written and podcasted for several now defunct ventures, and has probably commented on a forum with you at some point. The ex-Edmontonian has been known to enjoy a good board game, and claims to know the secret to the best popcorn in the world.
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