Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Winnipeg

Writes Roger Ebert: If you love movies in the very sinews of your imagination, you should experience the work of Guy Maddin. If you have never heard of him, I am not surprised. Now you have. A new Maddin movie doesn't play in every multiplex, city or state. If you hear of one opening, seize the day. Or search where obscure films can be found. You will be plunged into the mind of a man who thinks in the images of old silent films, disreputable documentaries, movies that never were, from eras beyond comprehension. His imagination frees the lurid possibilities of the banal. He rewrites history; when that fails, he creates it.

First, a paragraph of dry fact. Maddin makes films that use the dated editing devices of old movies: iris shots, breathless titles, shock cutting, staged poses, melodramatic acting, recycled footage, camera angles not merely dramatic but startling. He uses these devices to tell stories that begin with the improbable and march boldly into the inconceivable. My paragraph is ending now, and you have seen how difficult it is to describe his work. I will end with two more statements: (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?

Consider his film "My Winnipeg." The city fathers commissioned it 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. It has abandoned its retail landmarks, its sports traditions, and even the daily local soap opera, "Ledge Man," which ran for 50 years and starred Maddin's mother. As every episode opened, a man was found standing on a ledge and threatening to jump, and Maddin's mother talked him out of it.

The Complete Review Here.

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