My Winnipeg Reviews
I had the pleasure of seeing "My Winnipeg" before it was released to the film festival circuit and it's all too-limited US release. While "Brand Upon the Brain" was a fascinating experiment, "My Winnipeg" takes the "form" of a documentary. This "formation" features re-enactments of Maddin's "personal memory" and of Winnipeg's eccentric "history." Utilizing his standard devices of long ago abandoned cinematic tricks. This is not a documentary that can be accepted as "truth" -- this is an artist's re-invented collection of memories that he has bent, twisted and often self-created or imagined.
The late Roger Ebert wrote an incredible review of "My Winnipeg" that captured my own viewpoints far better than I could ever articulate. I still remember a very key comment Ebert gave in his review. I don't remember it well enough to quote, but it was very easy to find it on-line. I highly encourage you seek Ebert's review of this odd but effective film prior to seeing it.
Roger Ebert wrote, that Winnipeg's "city fathers commissioned it [the film] as a documentary, to be made by "the mad poet of Manitoba," as a Canadian magazine termed him. Maddin has never left his hometown, although judging by this film, it has left him."
That one sentence frames Maddin's incredible film perfectly. We never doubt that Maddin loves and his proud of "his" Winnipeg, but he rejects the idea of creating the "documentary" for which he was commissioned in favor of a surreal glimpse back into what might be a collective feeling of a city long gone. And he is without question is examining an idea of himself via what are very likely "false memories" of his own childhood. I call these memories "false" because they are so absurd it is hard to take them literally.
In many ways it feels is if his "mom" is more a symbol of Winnipeg than a maternal relation. Maddin has also never shied away from a conflicted view of repressed homosexuality. I do not mean to imply anything regarding Maddin's real sexuality, but his work continually pulls his audience to the attention of a vague interest in "latent homosexuality" --- it appears to be a source of conflict and humor. This is not a politically offensive "conflict" or "humor." It is expressed as both a sort of longing and curiosity.
The role of women in Maddin's work is also a sort of riddle. The female characters tend to share maternal instincts as much as they offer sexual pleasure and danger. Once again, this is not misogyny. The idea of women is a source of conflict within Maddlin's cinematic world.
"My Winnipeg" offers the perfect formation of Guy Maddin's eccentric, dark, disturbing and often funny ideas and style. This is a fully formed world in which we are placed. And it is a rewarding experience.
After the film ends, I feel as if I need to re-adjust my vision. And the lonesome laments of Maddin's brilliant film lingers forever in my memory.
Cinematic magic. And a true Cinematic Masterpiece that defies "genre" -- Criterion has done an outstanding job at transferring this film. Finger-crossed that they are soon able to do the same with "Brand Upon The Brain!" -- a magical film that Criterion has released to DVD offering alternate audio versions of a re-imaginning of the silent film.
Just as he is when you talk with him, his film's are bizarre -- but somehow grounded in a reality that is uniquely his own. While they might offers horror, there is a sense that he loves every character and every shot.