Guy Maddins frozen reverie on Canadas Gateway to the West is barely defrosted by the warmth of the projector bulb. My Winnipeg opens with a bit of canned cheer in the form of the 50s booster ballad Wonderful Winnipeg. Soon, however, the filmmaker is conjuring up his own snowy, sleepy Winnipeg, a place of eternal winter and endless night. A movie of moody reflection, My Winnipeg is shot mainly in black and white, punctuated with near-subliminal intertitles, fake snow flurries, and the melancholy sounds of trains crossing the prairie. The filmmaker provides a turgid stream of consciousness, babbling on in an urgent, incantatory mock-travelogue stylewith recurring shots of his stand-in (Darcy Fehr) asleep as he rides the midnight special. Convinced that he must leave the city now!, Maddin instead finds himself back in childhood, living in a frame house fronted by his mothers beauty salon. Restaging his youth but making his own detours, Maddin transforms Winnipeg into a city of mystery. The worlds smallest park is a single tree; the sole respite from the citys flatness is the landfill mountain known as Garbage Hill. Most arcane are the hockey ritesand also the most personal: Maddin claims to have been born in the locker room of the Winnipeg Maroons now-demolished home. Who is alive anymore? he wonders as the movie wends toward closure. Its so hard to remember.
July 25-Aug. 7, 2008