My Winnipeg

My Winnipeg

Mon Winnipeg

DVD - 2008
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My Winnipeg is a documentary (or docu-fantasia) about Guy Maddin's hometown. Equal parts mystical rumination and personal history, city chronicle and deranged fantasy, My Winnipeg blends local myth with childhood trauma.


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Apr 30, 2017

This is a 80-minute historical fantasy conceived and directed by Guy Maddin in 2008.
It combines the director's home movie and Winnipeg's patches of history as well as the director's personal dreams.
As a result it appears far from a documentary.
It would rather look like a metafictional dream or fantasy.
Thirty minutes into the film, I got totally bored and disappointed, and of course quit viewing.

Jan 31, 2015

Guy Maddin’s hallucinatory hodgepodge of half-formed ideas and vague recollections concerning his hometown of Winnipeg certainly challenges the concept of what a documentary should be. Presented as a highly visual stream of consciousness, it begins with the director nodding off on a train bound for Canada’s “coldest city”. As the rocking of the locomotive lulls him to sleep, the passing scenery transforms into a strange jumble of archival footage and personal memories; a waking dream which Maddin attempts to place in context using historical trivia and his own rather bad poetry. But unlike Sandburg’s unapologetic odes to big-shouldered Chicago, Maddin’s opus approaches its subject with a contradictory mixture of self-conscious pride, embarrassment, and repressed hostility. His Winnipeg is a pedestrian town of small dreams and “sleepwalkers”, where the past is constantly paved over and an epidemic of cultural amnesia seems to infect those unlucky enough to stay. Yet, conversely, there is also a grand history of pioneer toughness and civic activism which has been largely forgotten. Casting a woefully ineffectual group of amateurs to play his family in a series of fanciful flashbacks, we see how Maddin’s love-hate relationship with his hometown bears an uncanny resemblance to the ambivalent feelings he harbours towards his mother. It seems the tightly coiffed matriarch had the unnerving ability to read her children’s minds and often used what she found there to make their lives miserable; a talent Maddin dramatizes with humorous effect. From mock nazi invasions and mystical ice rinks to baffling ballet sequences and soviet-style propaganda films, My Winnipeg possesses a surreal charm that would have made a striking twenty or thirty minute short. Sadly, at eighty minutes it lacked both the kinetic energy and narrative cohesiveness to maintain my interest for the duration. In addition, the actors portrayed their characters with all the conviction of a really bad high school drama club. A deeply subjective and heartfelt little curiosity nonetheless.

Apr 26, 2011

Temporarily emerging from the noir gutter, I picked up My Winnipeg. It gets no stars, not because it's bad, but because I have no idea if people who count stars will like it. It's part retro-Euro-art film (Carl Dreyer, etc.), part earnest Can-con documentary, part SCTV-parody. This very Canadian film is surprisingly popular internationally, but I suppose everyone's home town is something like this. Starring Ann Savage, apparently THE Ann Savage from Detour, the toughest noir dame of them all. Thanks for throwing me a bone, Guy.


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