Monday, December 1, 2008

My Winnipeg (2007)

Movie quotes:
"Every day, the show runs at noon. The same over-sensitive man takes something said the wrong way, climbs out on a window ledge and threatens to jump. And every day, his mother appears at the nearest window and tells him to remember all the reasons for living. By the end of each episode, the son is convinced to come into safety. But the next day, he is back out there again."
- Narrator (Guy Maddin) describing the fictional Winnipeg television show ‘Ledge Man’

At a glance:
Guy Maddin’s semi-autobiographical documentary of his home town, Winnipeg, doesn’t always work, but there are some incredible gems of history and insight

Our review:
This documentary by writer/director/star Guy Maddin features archival and recreated footage of old Winnipeg, as Maddin documents his supposed attempt to leave his place of birth, despite the strong psychic ties that keep him from doing so.  In black and white, and combined with linking segments of a nodding-off man on a train ride, Maddin delivers the narration in a sleepwalking monotone. Some viewers may think he is trying to put them to sleep, too, but every time you start to nod off, there is a flash of outrageous history or modern wit to jar you back awake. Highlights include: Ledge Man, Sleepwalkers with keys, the Drowned Horses, Maddin’s ability to film in the style of old cinema, and the true (and somewhat true) history of Winnipeg. Meant to be seen not on home video, but in the darkened hollow of a theater, amid an open-minded film festival audience. Rating: 2.75 of 4

Other reviewers said:
"(1) Shot for shot, Maddin can be as surprising and delightful as any filmmaker has ever been, and (2) he is an acquired taste, but please, sir, may I have some more?"
- Roger Ebert

"Given its unusual blend of fact and fiction, the film is a real head-scratcher. Like most -- if not all -- of Maddin's films, it's as bewildering as it is visually arresting. And yes, that means it's an acquired taste."
- Jeff Vice (Deseret News, Salt Lake City)

"It's sometimes uneven, but it's glorious, too, with constantly churning invention and the guarantee that you have never seen anything like it before -- unless it came from Winnipeg and Guy Maddin."
- Shawn Levy (Oregonian)

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