June 13, 2008
My Winnipeg."My Winnipeg is [Guy] Maddin's best filmmaking since the not-dissimilar confessional bargain-basement phantasmagoria, Cowards Bend the Knee," writes J Hoberman in the Voice. "In the course of this clanging, spectral memoir, all of the artist's previous movies—from his underground mock epic Tales from the Gimli Hospital through his faux–Soviet silent The Heart of the World to his period spectacular The Saddest Music in the World - come to mind." "Much as he may dream of taking that one-way rail journey to somewhere else, Mr Maddin can no more spurn Winnipeg than it can disown him," writes AO Scott in the New York Times. "But his real point - and, for admirers of this brilliant and idiosyncratic artist, the true source of the movie's interest - is that Winnipeg explains him." Updated through 6/17. "[A]s with all Maddin (excluding, perhaps, the blessedly brief and rather exhilarating The Heart of the World), all declarations of extremity are cozily couched in quotation marks," argues Andrew Tracy in Reverse Shot. "Is the enthusiastic embrace of each new offering at least partially due to the fact that one need never risk being moved?... Maddin's cannibalized, half-imaginary evocations of the cinematic past - shreds of German Expressionism, film noir, and Soviet proletkult wrapped up with the arcana of the Canadian flatlands - renders his films blessedly harmless; indeed, their preciousness is their armor." Karina Longworth objects: "Yes, I've seen My Winnipeg three times since in premiered at Toronto last fall and consider myself an unabashed (though not uncritical) Guy Maddin fan. But I didn't care that the review was negative; I cared that it suggested that even contemplating My Winnipeg as something worth contemplating is a waste of time." "For someone who previously never fell under Maddin's spell, My Winnipeg is a work of converting hypnosis," writes Michael Tully at Hammer to Nail. "[I]t may be the year's stand-out achievement in alternate realities - it's a funny, accomplished look at how the geography of a life influences the topography of a mind," writes Bryant Frazer. "Truth is, the titular subject is entirely ostensible, which is both the film's charm and its greatest limitation," writes Mike D'Angelo at ScreenGrab. "[T]he movie is kind of a doodle — and yet, it's a magnificent doodle, with parts so individually flavorful that you don't so much care about pulling out your calculator and working out their sum." "At their best, [Maddin's films] are like psychosexual messages piped in from the collective unconscious of moviegoers; the medium itself becomes the ultimate fetish," writes David Edelstein in New York. "My Winnipeg is overloaded and digressive - it comes with the territory - but it's also grounded in a place, Maddin's Manitoban hometown, and it's painfully engrossing." "[E]ven though much of My Winnipeg is overtly ludicrous - from the corrupt judging of male beauty pageants in The Hudson's Bay Company's 'Paddle Room' to Maddin's memories of a locally produced TV series about an overly sensitive man who spends every episode out on a ledge, threatening to kill himself - the movie still touches on real feelings of loss and regret," writes Noel Murray at the AV Club. "Maddin talks at length about Winnipeg's hidden layers, but what makes My Winnipeg perhaps his best film to date is that so much of it is right out in the open." "Maddin has previously tapped autobiographical detail - and, most important, sensation - but he puts special heart into His Winnipeg, virtually busting out of his voiceover by the end," writes Nicolas Rapold in the L Magazine. "He maps a psychosexual geography and, for family as well as city, keys into a kinky welter of half-understood fantasy and entrapment." "As witty and entertaining as Brand Upon the Brain! was, it threatened to get bogged down in campy snickering," writes Steve Erickson in Gay City News. "The most surprising thing about My Winnipeg is that Maddin sounds passionate most of the time. In particular, he gets audibly riled up about hockey." "This is his mainstream-ready masterpiece, his Mulholland Drive," argues S James Snyder in the New York Sun. "Has he ever been psychoanalyzed?" wonders John Anderson in the New York Times. "'I never have,' he said. 'I almost feel it would ruin everything. I kind of like poking around in my own little cesspool and every now and then making a film. It's therapeutic enough for me.'" Steve Erickson talks with Maddin for Film & Video. More from Bilge Ebiri at the Vulture. Brandon Harris talks with Maddin for Beet.tv. More from the IFC's Matt Singer and Alison Willmore. Earlier: Nicolas Rapold's talk with Maddin in the New York Sun; and reviews from Toronto. Update, 6/17: "I may be getting a bit frustrated with Guy Maddin's more blatantly autobiographical progression away from the exquisite fiction of films like Careful and Archangel to the autobio trilogy of Cowards Bend the Knee, Brand Upon the Brain! and the new My Winnipeg," writes Daniel Kasman in the Auteurs' Notebook. "But while the return to more mother-based melodrama and hockey references definitely wears thin, there is no denying that Maddin is pushing not only himself as an artist, but also pushing the expanses of his unique form of early-talkie pastiche with each one of these films."
Posted by dwhudson at June 13, 2008 2:56 PM