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.
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