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  • It's so hard to write about a Guy Maddin film. What exactly do I describe, what do I say about the film? His films defy convention in every way imaginable. I can guarantee that there is no film out there that's even especially similar to "My Winnipeg" in style or content, even if Maddin's current style is essentially a pastiche of a particular sort of silent film, there are none that are edited in the same way or used to quite the same effect as Maddin's films are. At least none that I have seen, as Maddin is not imitating anyone, but making films in a style that is not used anymore, and had he been making films in the 1920's he might have been considered an innovator. "My Winnipeg" is a film I wish I was clever enough to make about any of the cities I've lived in and fallen in love with, and is original enough to captivating, but is also astonishingly clever and witty and funny and entertaining.

    I was actually not a big fan of Maddin's last film, "Brand Upon the Brain!", a pleasant enough film but ultimately of no real worth or substance, merely a visually interesting retread of themes Maddin fans are familiar with. It was certainly a far cry from some of his better work- "Archangel" and "Careful" being my favorites. Maddin is certainly one of my favorite Canadian directors, and one of our few genuine auteurs whose work is actually accessible and available relatively easily, but there's always been an issue with his films, even his better work, the issue being that his films often feel rather insubstantial. Like the bizarre and amusing experiments of an eccentric than anything of real value (although obviously that is debatable). I always enjoy a Guy Maddin film, but I think "My Winnipeg" is the first of his which struck me as truly passionate or exceptional with regard to its content.

    "My Winnipeg" tells you everything you need to know about it in the title. This is Guy Maddin's love/hate letter to his home town of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and it's really about HIS Winnipeg, and it's the sort of personal thing that could have so easily been a bore, but Guy Maddin is so interesting that his own perception of Winnipeg is enough to sustain this 80 minute film. It flies by, leaving the viewer in an appreciative daze by the end, appreciative of the remarkable sense of humor in the film, the wit, the cleverness of the narrative, and a real sense of Maddin's love and passion for Winnipeg. This film has everything that is appealing about Maddin's work as well as a new richness that he'd never quite found before. It's an oddly inspiring film, gorgeous to look at and rather unexpectedly the funniest film I've seen from 2008 as well.
  • Wittgenstein once observed, "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent". It should follow on from this wearied maxim that all true art is destined to be personal. Such a truth is evident when watching Guy Maddin's "My Winnipeg". Apparently inspired by the film he shot of Isabella Rossellini remembering her father, "My Dad Is 100 Years Old" (2005) (a documentary of memories - a hyper-documentary? - rather than realities), with "My Winnipeg" Maddin cine-alchemically recreates the patchwork quilt of his life and history of his city, indelibly stained with Winnipegian fluids and woven with Manitoban heart-fibres.

    Influences become clear as never before, Maddin's ambisexuality is on display (1995s Sissy Slap Boy Party now makes sense), "La Roue" (1923/Abel Gance) is revealed as his cinematic touchstone (following on from the quotation in "Odilon Redon - or The Eye Like a Strange Balloon Mounts Toward Infinity", also 1995). The movie is almost like a coming out, a cry of freedom, a love letter to all he holds dear, ice hockey, Winnipeg, silent cinema, sexuality, proletarian utopias, family memories. It reminded me of the words of a Portugese man on TV when describing the Carnation Revolution of 1974, where armed forces were conquered by ordinary people wielding carnations, he called it a "giant national orgasm". "My Winnipeg" is Guy Maddin's heart nailed to the screen, as fiercely courageous a movie as you will ever see.

    There are blue truths in the film, we're not spared his mother's genitalia or fever dreams of childhood sexuality. Here are some quotations from interviews Maddin gave for this film just so you know what you will be seeing:

    "Children are sexual beings, just think of your own childhood. In my case, I was far more sexual as a child than I am now"

    "Nothing bothers me more than a movie about the innocence of children! What are they innocent of? They might be innocent of murder, but that's about it! Children haven't learned to repress yet or anything like that. They're just teeming with wonderful luridity, from very early on!"

    There is something universal about the film, Maddin incants a litany of opprobrium and indignity that the city of Winnipeg has suffered, from the demolition of an iconic department store, to the closure of two underground swimming pools and the hockey stadia. Modern history is written in the rictus of the agonised city exposed to modernity. Many cities have undergone such outrages, my own city lost it's old centre to Nazi bombing, a fragile heart torn out.

    The swimming pools of Maddin's memories are lustful pits, at street level families swim, down one tier the girl's practice mouth to mouth resuscitation on one another, and on the bottom level the boys cavort naked in the changing rooms.

    The film transcends documentary, even fantastical documentary into mysticism. Maddin uses the imagery of horses, as have many great artists from Raphael, to Gericault, to Marc, to Parajanov. We see Golden Boy parades, a Masonic town hall, and the two forks under the forks, the mysterious underground rivers that feed the mons veneris on which Winnipeg nestles.

    My personal favourite scene was Lorette Avenue where we are show a "hermaphrodite" street where on one side the street has houses facing front, and on the other side the backs of houses. No-one talks about Lorette Avenue… (Previously Maddin had made distinctions between alleys where the backs of houses only can be scene, and streets where we only see the fronts of houses).

    I won't spoil the ending for you, you have yet to see the wonder of Citizen Girl! Do not waver or hesitate, make ye to the cinema! Maddin has now taken the step from being a beloved cult director, to being a great auteur. Vive le Cinema! Vive la Résistance Culturelle!
  • Winnipeg is to Guy Maddin as Baltimore is to John Waters. It's very unfashionability is its inspiration. But where Waters dwells on hairspray and bouffant dresses and twisted vowels, Maddin describes Winnipeg as a place of perpetual snow, destroyed hockey rinks, and sleepwalkers. "Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Winnipeg...." he begins his incessant voice-over as the first of his typically distressed, nostalgic black and white images in square format appear showing long-ago men and women walking in snow-covered streets and a man dozing in a train car whose big window is like a movie screen showing figures and the big face of his mother. Sometimes blurry phrases flicker onto the screen echoing his words, like a refrain.

    The man (Darcy Fehr) is meant to be himself, getting out of town. "I've got to leave it, I've got to leave it," he chants, and then speculates that maybe he can film his way out of Winnipeg, putting all his past on celluloid and thereby ridding himself of its fascination so he can move elsewhere.

    For this poem and rant about his native city, which he says he wants to leave and can't, Maddin hired actors to play his mother and some of his siblings and borrowed his girlfriend's pug to stand in for the childhood chihuahua. He leased their old house and moved the old furniture (or facsimiles) into it, distributing a runner carpet and shabby couches in the living room and an old TV. His mother is played by veteran B-picture vixen Ann Savage. Black and white images of what purports to be his real family back in the Fifties flash on the screen alternating with their hired look-alikes as Maddin spins arcane anecdotes about his childhood and drops in the occasional fact. An old department store and a restaurant that served orange jello figure prominently, as does the dynamiting of a treasured tree and a hockey arena. If there is a logic to this quirky ramble, it's as sui generis as you can get.

    We don't come away with a sense of Maddin's actual past, because all his anecdotes seem highly embroidered, like his mother's grabbing some friends' 75-year-old myna bird--which ran free in the house and had "a large vocabulary"--and smashing it to the floor because she was afraid of birds. Or the family threatening their mother with a parakeet to make her get out of bed and cook them a meatloaf. Or the team of ancient hockey stars, all suited up, one known to be dead his face all covered in bandages, playing in a half-destroyed arena, while Maddin sings their praises and curses the establishment of the NHL, which he regards as the beginning of the end. He says his father was a hockey executive, and he grew up in the locker room--was even born in the dressing room of the Winnipeg Maroons. According to him, Winnipeg has a secret network of back streets that parallels the main ones, and to pacify two rival taxi companies one was allowed to ride only on the main streets and the other only on the back alleys, where the ride over the snow is cushiony. The city he invents has an annual "If Day" when the town is invaded by mock Nazis who rename it "Himmlerstadt." A racetrack fire disaster caused a dozen horses to become buried in the earth with just their giant heads out of the snow in attitudes of agony. People come later to visit and picnic. In the family living room they watch a show called "Ledge Man" every day (it's run "for fifty years") in every episode of which the actress playing Maddin's mother talks the actor playing Maddin out of jumping from a ledge to his death.

    Maddin calls this film, done for the "Documentary Channel," a "docu-fantasia," and that's what it is--sort of. It's hard to pin a genre to his film-making and this one is also an imaginary autobiography. He depicts himself living in an insular snow-globe parallel universe (sometimes fake slant lines of white snow are superimposed on scenes)--like the parallel system of back streets. The voice-over is a kind of crotchety incantation; Maddin has said this could be called "A Self-Destructive Sulk." What entertains, in its fey and offbeat way, is the man's humorous detachment; what appeals is the sense of a cozy far-off snowed-in world whose present is so remote it's like its past, a town that isn't very old but seems as if it is. For all the detail about growing up in a hairdressing establishment, lying in the living room with the family watching TV, being trapped in an indoor swimming pool complex on three levels among naked boys with "hairless boners" who refuse to swim, there's no sense of personal revelation at all, any more than in Dylan Thomas' "A Child's Christmas in Wales." And in his interweaving of the invented and the real, the contemporary and the archival in flickering dreamlike images, this movie has the power to enchant.

    But also to numb. If Winnipeggers are sleepwalkers, the viewers of 'My Winnipeg' may at moments become sleep-sitters. And yet for a filmmaker so obviously withdrawn and secretive, this is his most autobiographical and perhaps most accessible and appealing work so far. "Amusing, elegant, inconsequential and it doesn't overstay its limited welcome," a London critic writes. I guess that's fair.
  • A tribute, kind of, to the great city of Winnipeg, Manitoba (I'm not being facetious-I've been there), this is an 80 minute documentary about the place. It accentuates the winter's bitter cold, the days gone by (some of the images are amazing) and what the city meant and means to Mr. Maddin. This film is not for everyone. It is in black and white and grainy. At first, I wasn't sure if this was a mockumentary, but even though the narrator laments the passing of people and places, I was wondering if the whole point was to explain why people don't leave. Sure, its no Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver (you get the idea), but its a medium size city that thrives. I have seen Mr. Maddin's "Saddest Music In The World", so I know I was expecting something different. Maybe you have no interest in Winnipeg (or can even find it on a map!), but that doesn't detract from the narrative. An added bonus is Ann Savage playing the narrator's mother. Wow, she is in her mid 80's and she agreed to do this role. I don't expect mass agreement here, but if you were commissioned to do a film about your hometown, I'm not sure how different your film would be than this, especially if you life in a city thats cold in the winter. I'm waiting for "My Buffalo" or "My Fargo". For now, I'm quite content with this film that moved me and even taught me about the city. A great left of center cinematic achievement.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie is just about as un-describable as Guy Maddin is. If you're familiar with who Guy Maddin is, then you're probably aware of this movie and how it fits into his general approach to film-making. If you're not, well, this would be a great way to be introduced.

    "My Winnipeg" is fairly straight-forward in concept, it's just different in execution. Guy Maddin mixes fact and fiction (as he's wont to do) to make a sort-of documentary about Winnipeg, his home and geographical Oedipal complex. As usual, his approach involves some of the most strange, surreal analogies (strange because they come out of nowhere; surreal because they actually make sense and work for what he's going for); dark humor; silent era montage editing; and dark, dry humor. He narrates it himself with an angry, purposefully whiny voice, both intoning with audio the frustration he feels with the world he's trying to escape and the underlying love and passion for it. The "plot", if you'd call it that, is technically about him trying to leave Winnipeg, but by the time the end comes, you'll be convinced he doesn't really want to leave--even though he never says as much and the "plot" doesn't head in that direction.

    Beware: here be demons. There's sleepwalkers, frozen horses, smashed deer, and sexual undertones to almost everything. There's re-enactments, found footage, animation, digital effects, and back-projection. There's montage editing, snow falling constantly, layered images, and repeated ostensibly failed takes. It's a whirlwind of paranoia, anxiety, hysterics, and humor, all with the usual black-and-white enclosed feeling that's inherent in many of Maddin's works, the type of imagery that feels like you barely perceive it at the back of your mind and yet it's right in front of your eyes (even when it is in color). And you will laugh. There's not much else that can be said definitively about how to react to this movie, but laughter is a pretty good prediction.

    But rest assured (and most amazingly): It's accessible! Maddin's commentary, intertitles, and playfulness is contagious, and even though his stream of thought seems awkward and even at times repetitive, it's easy to follow and summarily follows through to a good conclusion. This is the type of movie that proves that a movie can be "weird" and still abruptly entertaining. There's just not enough of that out there...

  • You could say that Guy Maddin makes films for the dreamers.

    No other filmmaker alive puts so much effort into chipping away at the audience's sense of logic and running them through a grinder of their own twisted subconscious.

    Beginning with his feature debut Tales from the Gimli Hospital in 1988, Maddin has remained furiously independent, the closest he's ever come to mainstream success being 2003's The Saddest Music in the World, which acted as a kind-of holy grail for film buffs and those obsessed with the days of cinema past. My Winnipeg may be the purest distillation of his unique aesthetic vision to date, almost surely because it's paradoxically the most personal and fantastical.

    In essence, the film is a love-letter to Maddin's hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba. It's a rueful love-letter though, because the film opens with the director hurriedly explaining that he needs to, has to leave forever. But he can't bring himself to do it. The solution? He'll hire actors to recreate scenes from his childhood, in a desperate attempt to attain some obscure kind of closure. In a fabulously inventive instance of casting, B-movie veteran Ann Savage (Edward G. Ulmer's Detour) plays his "real" mom playing herself.

    Maddin augments the often hilarious film-within-a-film with bizarre "facts" about Winnipeg, like how it has the 10 times the sleepwalking rate of any other city or that Maddin himself was born in the locker room of the local hockey arena only to return three days later as a newborn to attend his first game. These half-truths attain a kind-of mythic status when combined with Maddin's haunting visuals that, like most of his filmography, harken back to the choppy, rapid-fire pace of German expressionism and the heart-on-sleeve emotion of '40s and '50s melodrama.

    It shouldn't be surprising how funny My Winnipeg is, considering that Maddin might be the most unpretentious avant-garde filmmaker of all-time. His casual, matter-of-fact narration blends perfectly with the film's stark poetic images, making the many leaps of fancy that much more potent. When he describes a "secret" taxi company that operates only on Winnipeg's darkened back streets or ruminates on the beauty of "snow fossils" caused by plodding winter footsteps, it's downright impossible not to be overcome with feelings of deep nostalgia and wonder.

    Maddin has made faux-biographical films before, 2006's Brand Upon the Brain the most notorious example, but with My Winnipeg, it feels like he's finally letting us in. Of course, it's just as likely that he's putting us on, and if he is, it's one of the most staggeringly beautiful con games ever committed to celluloid.
  • Guy Maddin described My Winnipeg as 'docutasia' and that's probably more accurate than any other description I could give of it. The film is a very personal, light-hearted, but informative, look at Winnipeg through the eyes of her native son Guy Maddin. The film is shot in black and white, combining stock archival footage (including private home videos) with some new freshly shot material. The film follows a young Guy Maddin (played by Darcy Fehr) on a train trying to escape from 'sleepy, snowing, Winnipeg' and its mystic pull. To affect his escape Maddin must, through the course of the film, come to terms with everything that binds him to the city (family, home, community, and history). Held together by the barest narrative thread, the film is most like Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, though being Canadian it's much funnier and self-deprecating. The film is narrated by Guy Maddin himself, and despite the fact that he seemed to have many reservations about using his own voice, he does a great job (ranging from the fiery sermon of charged propagandist to the soft relaxing repetition of an experienced hypnotist). Made for the documentary channel, with a TV audience in mind, the film is accessible enough for anyone and funny enough to make even Winnipeg charming. While I don't know if it's feature film material, definitely watch if you can catch it on the tube.
  • zetes29 June 2008
    Guy Maddin's ninth feature is a pseudo-documentary about the director's hometown of Winnipeg. It mostly focuses on his relationship with the city, but it also includes re-enactments of his family life and famous weird things that happened in the city's past. It's a bit of a mess, but, as I've said before regarding Maddin, his films play out like dreams. A mess makes sense a lot of the time. I do think the film lacks the focus of his best work, and is, in fact, my least favorite of his features. Also contributing to my relatively low opinion of it (i.e., I don't think it's one of the best movies ever) is Maddin's own narration. I loved his previous film, The Brand Upon the Brain!, but objected to the narration. It's even worse here, taking a lot of the mystique out of the silent film pastiche Maddin has been perfecting since The Heart of the World (I'm kind of hoping that he'll some day return to the stuff of his earlier works, which felt more like the films of the '30s than those of the '20s). My favorite sequences were the occult ceremony in the Masonic temple and the hockey legends game, where septuagenarians play one last game as their stadium is demolished by wrecking balls. Darcy Fehr of Cowards Bend the Knee returns as Guy Maddin, who, in the movie, is as desperate to leave his depressing hometown as he is to stay (throughout the movie, Fehr appears dozing in a train car that never seems to get out of Winnipeg). And Maddin dug up Detour's Ann Savage, possibly literally, to play his mom.
  • cashiersducinemart13 September 2007
    A love poem to Canadian auteur Guy Maddin's soon-to-be-former home, MY WINNIPEG feels like a fever dream that brings together past, present, and future. Repeated words and phrases form a hypnotic cadence as Maddin's cinematic stand-in (Darcy Fehr) chugs through the snowy darkness. "Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Winnipeg," is the chant, rising and falling like the locomotive drone of the night train carrying its somnambulistic fares through Manitoba's premiere city.

    Winnipeg; heart of the heart of Canada, the place that raised Maddin. With a hockey arena for a father and a hair salon for a mother (for more hockey and hairdressing see Maddin's earlier COWARD BENDS THE KNEE), Madding explores the structural arteries of his home town and revisits the history of himself and his city. Narrated by the filmmaker, the prose of the film (courtesy of long-time Maddin crony George Toles) is an overwrought poem of maniacal hyperbole and enthusiastic linguistic gymnastics; a perfect pitch for the fractured visuals of Maddin's multimedia pastiche. Looking like a daguerreotype picture postcard of this snowbound wonderland, MY WINNIPEG typifies Maddin's mad genius and captures his sordid relationship with his home.
  • Screened with live director-narration at the Sydney Film Festival, My Winnepeg was not always easy to engage with but was, ultimately, one of the most satisfying filmic experiences of the Festival fortnight to-date.

    Mixing surreal, dreamlike images with heartfelt reminiscents, Guy Maddin created extraordinary cinema that will linger long in the memory of all that witnessed it.

    The first 20 minutes are the toughest slog - it takes a little while to comprehend exactly the direction this loving-yet-satirical homage to Maddin's home town is trying to accomplish. And I also have reservations as to how this is going to play to audiences without the immediate, personal engagement the live-narration provides - the connection the on-stage presence provided made for an intimacy that may not be otherwise available.

    But, with no reservation, the dreamlike images, coupled with the heartfelt words of the creator, made for a unique, beautiful, hilarious, moving experience. This is a major work from an extraordinary talent; a must-see for those that crave films that engage the head and the heart.
  • Meh. Whimsical/bitter reminiscing with lots of made up facts and anecdotes which you can imagine some audiences rocking with mirth to but which aren't all that clever or witty - they're just very whimsical.

    eg (my spoof)

    Grainy b/w shots of someone in a living room being offered a cup of tea and drinking it with a smile

    Narrator: A cup of tea. A cup of tea. My mother would always offer visitors a cup of tea. What is this drink? This tea, cupped in porcelain, porcelain as white as the snow which falls outside onto our Winnipeg sidewalks? My mother served tea in a cup from a set her grandmother gave her, a cup which had come from the mayor's wife, who murdered her own sister, drowning her in a bath of Earl Grey. A drink of death. The cup of life. A cup of tea.

    It's sort of like that, with a quick shot thrown in of the sister drowned in the bath of tea. 80 mins of that. Doesn't really have anything to say.
  • I don't "get" Guy Maddin's films. Actually that should read I don't like them. They are for the most part neo-silent films pretentiously melded with an artistic bent with a sense that Dwain Esper suddenly was crossed with Andy Warhol (thats not quite right but it'll serve as a place holder). They tend to be too knowing as well.

    It was with some trepidation that I plopped down to watch his My Winnipeg on IFC in Theaters on Cable.

    Essentially an autobiography of Maddin crossed with a history of the city where he lives this is film that has some of the most wonderful moments I've seen all year. Its not a perfect film, there is too much talk of trains and sleep and roads out at the start that I was ready to bail early on.The endless shots of the snow covered streets will make you want to move to Florida. There are other touches that may make you scream or want to hit the fast forward, and yet there are other times when the film spins such wonderful tales (the séance in the municipal building) that the film redeems its dull spots. Its also hauntingly filmed at times with a nice other worldly effect.

    I don't know what else to say. Its worth a shot on cable or DVD where you can control the flow of the dull bits. Probably the most accessible of all of Maddin's films.

    6.5 out of 10
  • Stanlkey Kubrick once said that Bergman, Fellini and De Sica were the only filmmakers who he thought weren't "artistic opportunists", meaning that whatever they made they had to make, not for any real financial consideration and that either they wrote or had other people write films for them. While I might not yet put Maddin quite as high in the ranks of masters as those Kubrick mention (albeit I've yet to see some of Maddin's obscurer efforts like Careful), I would add Maddin to that list of those in terms of never making a film to sell out or go for commercial pursuits. He has to make films like My Winnipeg just as Allen Ginsberg would have to pick up a pen and write about the city. And every time he makes a film it's about film-making, about himself, about life and history and family and finding oneself over and over. Maddin is more accurately like Fellini in that if one were to ask "are you self-indulgent" they would say (maybe deadpan maybe not) "Yeah... And?"

    In the case of My Winnipeg he takes a character on a train as the centerpiece (very loosely one at that) and transposes on him going through history - of the city of Winnipeg, of childhood, of and of his own sort of mental state connected to both. This "character" of sorts, if he even is one, is making a film about his family (because nothing says self-portrait like that) casting actors in the roles of his brothers and sister (even if one of them has been deceased for decades) and Ann Savage as his "mother" who in the film within My Winnipeg is a slightly loopy actress who can't always remember her lines. But for Maddin this isn't enough, of course, so he puts in folklore, the lineage of hockey in the city, of the tragedy of the hockey arenas (one being demolished the other sprouting up like a corporate weed), of what the city is like in January, what it's like to go to the local three-tier swimming pool, or the mystical power of forks - not silverware, like forks in the road.

    As with other Maddin works like Brand Upon the Brain, one cannot really see My Winnipeg as classifiable. You just have to see it for yourself. I'm not sure if this is the best place to start with My Winnipeg, but it couldn't hurt. The only very slight thing, not exactly a downside, is that the completely and wonderfully cracked sense of humor Maddin has is not quite as in full force as in his masterpiece Brand Upon the Brain. And while the scenes with Ann Savage are rather incredible just for their 'is-it-or-is-it' sense of autobiography (maybe the deer scene is based on a real thing and the 'give-us-dinner-or-parakeet' isn't is a juicy question), they don't quite strike the same person chord as when Maddin goes into, oddly enough, documentarian mode with the city.

    In part this is through him talking, as if in a mode not too unlike Michael Moore in Roger & Me on Flynt, to begrudge something like the old department store being demolished into a gaudy hockey arena that barely even counts as anything, in his eyes. It's moving to see him, as narrator, describe what happened to the hockey teams, those arenas, and then how one level didn't demolish since it was added on by the NHL in the 70s. Even better still is to see him insert "footage" of an senior-citizen hockey team that continues to play even as demolishing is taking place in the old Winnipeg arena. It all gets capped with a reminiscing of his father, who he says died a slow death, "shrinking in smoke until he was gone" once he lost his job at the hockey arena.

    My Winnipeg is loaded with visual wonders that include the three "symbols" that seem to overlap the dreamer on the train (one of these might be a woman's crotch, I still can't be sure), the images of Ann Savage as a super-omniscient Mother of Winnipeg, and that pug, apparently a girlfriend of the director's, wandering around in the snowy January nights. My Winnipeg is epic poetry and epic film-making, but compact and made personal and warped, like digging through a wizard's scrapbook. 9.5/10
  • bandw26 July 2011
    Warning: Spoilers
    I give this credit for being unusual, but that did not make it interesting for me. It is in grainy black and white and is a montage of Winnipeg scenes inter-cut with scenes of some half-asleep guy on a train spouting barely coherent sentences. This Kerouac wannabe got on my nerves. The train keeps moving and the guy keeps saying how he wants to leave Winnipeg, but the train never escapes the city. Maybe that is the message? The guy wants to leave, but he is so attached, or trapped by his past, that he can't get himself out?

    I was fine with the general theme of having a love-hate relationship with your home town and regretting that many of the things you were fond of are paved over, torn down, or moribund. However, I had a hard time identifying with the tale told here. For example, there is an extended sequence that pays homage to hockey stars of the past that, if you have no interest in hockey as I, is less than interesting. I missed the point of having words intermittently flashed on the screen for a split second that simply echoed some of the narrated words.

    I used to attend a series called "Experimental Cinema." I found most of the movies I saw in that series as failed attempts at art films. I would put this movie in that category. Not to say that it's a complete loss--the horses frozen in the river with their heads protruding above the ice is a scene one is not likely to forget. You don't know whether to laugh, cry, or wonder if it is even for real.

    I think this movie gets a high rating since most of those who are inclined to see it are probably inclined to like it.
  • wavecat1312 October 2020
    God bless Guy Maddin. There is nobody else like him. He takes material from the cinematic past and reshapes it in his own completely unique way. He does all this from his own studio in the artistic backwater of Winnipeg. The results are funny, poignant, absurd, and magical. In this he draws on memories of his childhood, family, and community.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "My Winnipeg" is my initiation to the work of Guy Maddin, and I like it immediately. Filmed essentially in black and white at 33 mm, this 80-minute "surreal documentary" (my own coining) is an exquisite piece of art work. Director Maddin's personal attribute to his home town is a tapestry with three themes developing in parallel, and interwoven.

    The first is Maddin's surreal dreamy visions while reclining in his seat on a train leaving Winnipeg. The second is a kaleidescope on the history of Winnipeg – endearing, joyful, absurd, exasperating, among other things. Finally, there is a re-enactment of scenes from Maddin's own intriguing childhood. All three are sprinkled with a wonderful sense of humour.

    Emerging from the cinema with a feeling of elation akin to what one experiences after attending a superb classical concert, I wanted to explore more of director Maddin's work.
  • It has been a few years since I had a binge on Guy Maddin films. I think I heard of him around the time he did Dracula and then I made an effort to catch his short films at festivals etc. I knew for some time that he had made several films since the last time I watched his work but it took me a while to get around to them. This film was my starting point to catch up a little and it seemed to be a good choice as it mixes humor with tragedy, words with images and truth with complete fiction. The film sees Maddin traveling back to his hometown on Winnipeg on the train, lost in a dream state of memory and commentary.

    The film presents itself as a documentary and indeed there are some facts in there if you look (and with some stories you will go online afterwards to check if they are real or not) but mostly this is one flight of fancy where nuggets of personal and town history are expanded and exaggerated to create a world much more interesting than it would have been. The presentation of it though suggests no such thing and there is never the suggestion that it is done as a mockumentary or as a joke, it keeps a genuineness about it throughout that is engaging and charming. Maddin narrates the film and sounds a little like the calm presence that Michael Moore used to be in his film; his presence is welcome because it reminds us that under everything is that core of truth, whether it be in the family recollections or the actual history of the town. The lines are blurred constantly though but this is part of the film's appeal – it is a fantasy and it is really fun to go with it and believe it while it is being told.

    The scenes recreating scenes from his childhood are good but the tales of the wider town are much more fun – tales of a dark network of streets, of lovers visiting the frozen horse heads after a local tragedy etc, they have real color and vividness to the words that it is almost cruel to find they are mostly only true in the smallest detail. Maddin's visual style helps because you can never be sure what is stock footage and what is not, and the imagination in the visuals match the flights of the words themselves. As always it is not the most accessible of films and some might be annoyed by its lack of facts, but fans will enjoy it a lot because it is another great visual and imaginative feast from Maddin.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, all those places has taken on life on the screen through this nostalgic mix of old silent films and documentaries, videos, photos and animations, most black and white, supported by the beautiful narration of the director Guy Maddin. The surrealist style of this movie works incredibly well, moving between the dreams, the memories and the reality, resulting in something incredibly beautiful and unique.

    "My Winnipeg" is one of the most fascinating film experiences ever made. Even when it is certainly one of those movies that one either does hate or love, I consider "My Winnipeg" one of the most extraordinary works of love ever done in the history of cinema, being able to make all the places described or just mentioned in this movie a part of our memories and souls as viewers.
  • Fact, fantasy and memory are woven seamlessly together in this portrait of film-maker Guy Maddin's home town of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

    The New York Times wrote that the film "skates along an icy edge between dreams and lucidity, fact and fiction, cinema and psychotherapy." Ebert wrote, "If you love movies in the very sinews of your imagination, you should experience the work of Guy Maddin." He is so right. The first Maddin I saw was "The Heart of the World" and I was hooked by his eye, making the new look old and the old look new.

    With this film, I wish I had been there (Winnipeg) to fully understand it. Maddin added a combination of poetry and "Christmas Story"-style narrative to give us the lowdown on a place that is always sleepy, always winter. (Being from Wisconsin, I can understand... at least to a point, as it is still almost 700 miles northwest of here. Those in Fargo probably understand better.)
  • My Winnipeg

    When holding a mirror up to your hometown it's important to do it from far, far away.

    The raconteur of this mockumentary, however, cannot escape his birthplace.

    Guy Maddin (Darcy Fehr) hopes recounting his childhood in Winnipeg will free him from its magnetic pull.

    From the underground confluence beneath the Forks, to the secondary roadways running through the back lanes of the West End, the narrator (Guy Maddin) draws comparisons to his overbearing mother (Ann Savage).

    His revelry for séance's at the Legislative building and roaming sleepwalkers is revealed only by his dismay over losing the local hockey team, and the herd of racehorses frozen in the Red River.

    Sometimes factual, most often fictional, surrealist filmmaker Guy Madden forgoes the snowscape stereotype, instead using his abstract black and white style to enhance the city's inexplicable allure.

    Incidentally that murky quality to the cityscape is a result of fogging for mosquitoes.

    Green Light
  • BandofInsiders9 December 2008
    In My Winnipeg Guy Maddin takes up the task of vicariously reliving his childhood though making a movie re-creating his childhood. Maddin's pseudo documentary is constantly unpredictable film about a constantly predictable city. Maddin's unconventional travelogue absurdly examines the local history and folklore of Winnipeg while investigating Maddin's personal choice to never leave this sleepy snow drenched city.

    Maddin decides to begin the process of documenting his time spent in Winnipeg by subletting his childhood home and hiring a group of actors to play the roles of his family members. Ann Savage takes on the role of Maddin's mother and the wheels begin turning on our Freudian nightmare. Winnipeg has the same strange magnetic pull on Maddin as his mother does and he intends to find out why. Maddin leaves no stone unturned and investigates multiple aspects of life in Winnipeg no matter how strange or preposterous. In his quest to find himself and find what lies at the heart of "his" city Maddin paints a portrait of Winnipeg that is at one point full of contempt for his hometown and at another filled with enchantment for it.

    An aspect of this film that makes it so interesting is the fact that Maddin decision to not change his longtime visual style actually works out for him even while working in a new "genre" for him. I use the word "genre" loosely. The characters and local oddities we encounter are constantly alluring and intriguing. While at times it may be confusing why Maddin decides to set his camera on certain subjects by the end of the film everything fits into place. At its best My Winnipeg is an oddly heartfelt tribute to a city that has burdened yet inspired Maddin for his entire life. At the least My Winnipeg is a testament to Maddin as a producer who by some miracle convinced the Documentary Channel to fully commission a film so unique and so unmarketable.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    First, thank you to all the people who, gave this a great review. I'm sure you have a great relationship with the director. I'm sure you did him a great favor. However, the $7 I paid for watching this on PPV will never come back.

    So here I am, a Winnipeg raised, U of W educated California transplant, hoping to watch a funny movie, or even mildly entertaining movie about Winnipeg. I am sooooooo…. Disappointed.

    Why?!?!? Some movies are stylish or eclectic for artistic reasons. "300", Cashern, "Island of lost children", "Sin City" are good mainstream examples. Show a story from a different perspective. This move was simply "odd" for the sake of being odd. It had no entertainment value. I just kept asking myself..why??? what is the point of this scene!?!? Guy, come on… at least write something witty for us. Winnipeg is an entire city with plenty of things to poke fun at. The Simpsons did a better job of poking fun at Winnipeg then you.
  • I have a very odd relationship to this film. Like Maddin, I live in Winnipeg. I have lived in Winnipeg for just short of 50 years, minus 5 years lived in the US. This is very much my mother's city (she was born and raised in Manitoba), and both my father and I wanted to leave here and never really did. I have sort of quietly resigned to staying here (I made a deliberate choice to do so about 20 years ago), and much like Maddin, my personal mythology is mostly tied to this place.

    I know the house that Maddin was raised in (I used to drive by it all the time). I know St. Mary's Academy. I used to walk past it to get home when I was a young man, and it occupied a mysterious place in my mental life. I know the Paddlewheel Restaurant and the Sherbrook Pool (I grew up near it).

    I could go on, but I won't. I think the appeal of this film is really quite outside anything specific to Winnipeg. We all have love/hate relationships with our home town, especially if we've stayed there, and it's all wrapped up in the way our childhood is hazy and kind of lost in personal myth. Even if we physically leave, we can't really leave it mentally.

    It's really fitting that Maddin's version of Winnipeg gets blended with and somewhat lost in my own. The way he depicts the hazy, dreamy nature of snowy winter streets at night is so dead on.
  • Ledge Man!...Man-Pageants...Horses Heads Frozen In A Lovers Lake...The Two Rivers beneath the Two Rivers...The Sleepwalkers Laws...The Re-Enactments Of Family Arguments And Confusing Memories Of Yesteryear...Ghost Hockey Teams...and buildings which refuse to fall when man must face all of this on a train, heading out of town. Before he can leave the place of his birth, he must pass through all those places which have become monoliths in his memory. Through the trains windows he sees these scenes play themselves out, or can dream them with his head pressed against the window. I've tried to watch Guy Maddins completely silent films in the past, and they've always felt excessive and thin in all the wrong places. "My Winnipeg" is a perfect marriage of auto-biography, fantasy, documentary, silent film, German expressionism, and surreal cabaret, basically all those things which Maddin draws his palate from. Manages to make Winnipeg, Canada, into a dreamy, personal, mythic place, the incommunicable way a place feels after you've lived at it all your life, the love/hate where all dreams come from, and where they all seek to escape. Oh, but there is a point about 10 minutes in, when the words "the lap...the fur...the forks..." will be repeated so many times, it will make you want to turn it off, if you don't you will have one of the most unique and even enjoyable experiences you can have with a movie. I looked forward to watching it again before it was over. Better every time I watch it!
  • My Winnipeg (2008) ****

    Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Winnipeg. Everything in Winnipeg is a euphemism. Sleep walkers hold the keys to their old homes! By law! Nazi Fascists invaded Winnipeg! The coldest city in the world! Home of the Ultravixens! Forks and the Forks under the Forks, and the horsehead picnic tables! Hermaphrodite streets - half front street, half back lane! Masons, ghosts, spirits and sad buildings! Citizen Girl! Yes, you can find these things in Winnipeg, Winnipeg, wonderful Winnipeg!

    If you've ever seen a film like My Winnipeg before, it was likely only in your dreams, or the dreams of the mad poet of Winnipeg, Guy Maddin. Maddin's love of the silent film era has shaped his own visual style, shot usually on old grainy film stock, appearing as it his films were perhaps well preserved 1920s avant garde. He's built a career on making films so outrageously insane by modern film-making standards. His films are usually either bizarre horrors or totally unique comedies, or both. My Winnipeg is a film of sinisterly off the wall humor, conveyed through Guy Maddin's narration (played by Darcy Fehr). One gem: "My father died, with nothing left to do, he died. I'd like to say he spontaneously combusted on the ice at the area, that would have been great."

    The narration often doubles back on itself, repeating itself in different forms, or entirely contradicting itself in single sentences. All the while the images (usually grainy black and white, but also occasionally in color or animation) are punctuated with flash cards, usually in single or short phrases (Tragedy! Dead Man walking! Dance of the Hairless Boners, Naked! Hairless! Dance! Swollen Pride! Why?!) They flash only for a fraction of a sentence, making them difficult to read.

    I guess if My Winnipeg could be placed in a genre, they would have to call it a slapstick documentary. Maddin uses archive footage mixed with Maddin's own. The central thesis of the film is Maddin's memories and the city's as well. To begin, he rides a train, sleeping, while it rolls around the Winnipeg streets, seemingly unable to ever leave town. To come to terms with his inability to ever leave the city. He rents his old home for a month, to recreate his childhood memories. He recruits actors to play his siblings, and takes his mother (Ann Savage) to the home, then recreates memories and incidents from childhood. Maddin always seems to have a fascination with mothers, his mother. Elsewhere, he details the Masonic undercurrents of the city, the occult, man pageants, Nazi takeovers, and the rape of the city's beloved Winnipeg Jets by that corrupt National Hockey League!

    So, the question that many ask then, "is it true?" Being Canadian, I know some things are true, some things are not. Would you want to really know the answer anyway? Its law that everyone gets to keep the keys to their old homes. Why? Because the town has the highest sleepwalking rate in the world! They leave their homes and wander to their old houses in the dark, in the cold, in the snow! You must let them in until they wake! Is that true? I don't care to know. If I knew then I would have to have come back to reality. Unless of course Maddin's Winnipeg is reality. In which case, Winnipeg! Wonderful Winnipeg!
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