on 1 February 2016
This is a remarkable film. So utterly unique and captivating, I find it astonishing that some reviews have damned it so! There is humour, warmth and whimsy throughout, alongside a more understated sense of unease. I adore the use of 'trying to stay awake/trying not to sleep' as a metaphor for the ties that bind within your hometown. The inter-cutting of contemporary footage with archival material is artfully done and adds to the atmosphere with considerable effect. At 80 minutes, this film has a breezy running time which should therefore make its experimental structure and coda far more accessible.
Treat yourself to a walk on the cinematic Wild Side folks...
on 22 August 2009
This engaging, very personal tribute from weird Canadian director Guy Maddin to his hometown of Winnipeg is very well done. Shot in black and white with his familiar style that reminds one of both silent cinema and the films of David Lynch, the plot has an alter ego of the director hire his elderly, domineering mother (actually b-movie starlet from the 1940s Ann Savage) and actors playing his siblings in order to relive his teenage years in the sixties, and sort of understand what makes him tick. The movie includes a lot of lore about Winnipeg that may be true in some cases and is almost certainly not true in other cases (the story about the frozen horses' heads in the river, for example, is hard for me to believe). This deadpan, funny tribute is most of all a nostalgic paean to his childhood, and a denunciation of modern capitalism mindless drive to change all things (Maddin recounts in a heartfelt way how they demolished a popular department store as well as his beloved ice hockey arena, for example). And because nostalgia of our childhood is something that most people can relate to, this makes this movie more accessible than other films of him. The film explains also the reason he never leave Winnipeg (in order to defend it, and not let others completely ruin it) as well as a lot of the obsessions in his other movies (for instance, his fascination with communist aesthetics seems rooted in the strong labor movement in his hometown).
My Winnipeg,Guy Maddin's docu-fantasia of his hometown Winnipeg is an autobiographical take on his childhood growing up in Winnipeg.Fascinating,it conjured up images of icy streets,the fur of the buffalo,the confluence of rivers,suggesting female thighs of an Amazonian mother figure,who also peers through the windows of a never-ending train journey,you need to take to get out of Winnipeg,but are in danger of doubling back on.Maddin's voice-over commentary ties all the images together,sometimes repeating phrases.There is a wild surrealistic anarchy of young Maddin and his two brothers ,sister,mother ,father and dog in still photos,home movies or re-enactments, centred on the family hairdressers,going to school with the smells of pomade,perfumes and hair-sprays,the vices of female vanities.On this base through archive,animation,still photos,B&W cinematography,a lively soundtrack,we go out into images of Winnipeg's past,ceremonies,sports like ice-skating, male beauty contests,the 3-tiered swimming baths,myths of Red Indians,horses frozen in ice,so their heads stick up permanently for lovers to sit and lean on.We get pedestrians rather using back lanes than front streets,where the homeless hide en masse on the roofs of abandoned skyscrapers.What is especially noticeable is the enticement to sleep-walk,to dream,not to wake up,because if you do you need to get out.
The film works because at 80 minutes long it doesn't overstay its welcome.It evokes mesmeric impressions recalling other film makers like Cocteau(La Belle et La Bete),Lars Von Trier(Europa), Bunuel/Dali,who work in dream imagery and draw on the unconscious.The dominant and fearsome Mrs Maddin(played by the original femme fatale,Ann Savage) is the pole of Maddin's childhood traumas and his inability to escape.There's enough material here for a dozen autobiographies,poems,novels.It's also very funny.Maddin has a phenomenal talent.Brilliant extras:career interview with Guy Maddin,'Winnipeg' animated short,My Winnipeg live in Toronto featurette,'Your Winnipeg' short film competition winner.
on 4 June 2011
I didn't particularly enjoy this film although it was well thought of by the critics, finding it through the various rapid flashbacks a little disjointed and lacking in an aim or thrust. I have lived in Winnipeg in the 70's and recognised many of the streets and institutions, but unfortunately didn't get much of the affectionate atmosphere that the Winnipeg-born director of the film obviously felt for his native city.May be it was because my stay there wasn't filled with joy there, but on the other hand I always found the 'Winnipeg-ians' were friendly, helpful and open to incomers.