A Few Notes on My Winnipeg
1) From the moment the film starts, you know that you are watching a Guy Maddin - the silent movie expressionism, the strange old ladies, the cod-noir cinematography, incest, great intertitles (“Passive Aggression!” being a favourite). He progresses by means of minimal difference (cf Tim Hecker post from last year). It seems that a lot of my favourite artists in just about all mediums do this - maybe is a comfort level factor, I don’t know. The trick for Maddin will be to avoid the Wes Anderson trap, when stylistic signature becomes stereotyped gesture. This trap seems to snare almost everybody eventually, but we can always keep our fingers crossed. Anyways, I think we have a lot of time left on that one anyways; Maddin’s material is so idiosyncratic and personal (sometimes watching his movies is a bit like eavesdropping on someone else’s psychoanalytic sessions, which as it turns out, are that of the Winnipeg’s collective unconscious) that he has a vast seam of material to mine.
2) Compare My Winnipeg to Noam Gonnick’s Stryker: different ideas of history. Maddin’s historical view of history is mythopoetic - a mixture of allegedly Aboriginal ideas about secret rivers converging under the Red and Assiniboine juncture; sommambulance through time and dream, time as dream, history the nightmare that we are trying to recapture. The “present day” shots of the MTS Centre, the Winnipeg Arena jar because they seem undigested detritus is the fluidly oneiric images that surround them. Even actual historical events and personages (the 1919 Strike, Steven Juba) semi-dissolve into the ghosts that keep the narrator trapped in Winnipeg, despite his repeated protests about his need to leave, to wake up from the dream. Even if Revolution Girl at the end of the movie (great, by the way) were to succeed in reversing the wound sustained by Maddin’s Winnipeg, the narrator seems to feel bereft: what is a place without ghosts. (More on Stryker at a later date)
3) I was initially going to end these brief notes by stating that this film wouldn’t make much sense to anyone not from Winnipeg. But the more I think about it, this film is as hauntological as you can get. Take note K-Punk!