Combustible Celluloid
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With: Darcy Fehr, Ann Savage, Amy Stewart, Louis Negin, Brendan Cade, Wesley Cade, Lou Profeta, Fred Dunsmore, Kate Yacula, Jacelyn Lobay, Eric Nipp, Jennifer Palichuk
Written by: Guy Maddin, George Toles
Directed by: Guy Maddin
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 81
Date: 09/07/2007

My Winnipeg (2008)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Home, Built in a Day

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Guy Maddin's weird, beautiful, funny and entertaining look at his hometown is probably about as personal and revealing as he's ever likely to get. It's filled with numerous, seemingly tossed-off ideas, but at its heart, it's a re-creation of Maddin's childhood with actors playing his family, including the legendary Ann Savage (Detour) as his mom! But Maddin -- who narrates -- also provides documentary-like background material on Winnipeg and its history, with odd-sounding facts and places of interest (including a beloved hockey stadium, described in most reverential terms). Most of these details sound fake but a few may be plausible. It would take a whole new movie to disentangle fact from fiction; for example, Maddin informs us that actors are playing his siblings, but claims Savage as his "real" mom. In a wraparound sequence, a Maddin stand-in rides a train and tries to stay awake long enough to get out of town. (One of the movie's recurring themes is "sleepwalking"). Much of the movie is filmed in Maddin's usual style, like a jerky silent film with intertitles, but with a smoky, shadowy, more fluid quality. We even get animated silhouette sequences, right out of Lotte Reiniger (The Adventures of Prince Achmed). Maddin's devoted, passionate cult following will love it, but it falls short of being a masterpiece. The jokey, slippery nature of the film keeps one from getting totally absorbed in it. There's no way to tell whether Maddin is opening up or just putting us on, or both.

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