My Winnipeg Guy Maddin

My Winnipeg Guy Maddin
Guy Maddin turns in his most entertaining movie in years — certainly his best since Heart of the World, the crazed short that revived his career at the dawn of this decade. It’s not nearly that level of a powder keg but in its genial way it’s deliciously acid in its observations on, and wilful distortions of, the director’s hometown.

As in Maddin’s last two films, he’s playing himself and he narrates the story of how he wants to escape the ’Peg but just plain can’t; it has something to do with the pull of his mother, and the family hairdresser shop, and primal forces in the land and the essential corruption of political life in the city. He’s bitter at the mangling of local hockey into a bargaining chip for the powerful and the vanishing of local landmarks but he’s careful to measure his spleen venting with fanciful revenge.

Wonderfully fetid "memories” of his favourite dank haunts jostle for room with living dead hockey teams, while local bylaws that seem more suited to a Lovecraft collection are administered by bureaucrats with one foot in something hypocritically seedy.

As always, the master’s early cinema fetish is put to droll and guilt-ridden use, as sexual regret gets impossibly confused with the political quagmire of the city. His fondly repulsed recollections of a three-level, gender-split swimming pool must be seen to be hilariously disbelieved.

Maddin is generally overrated as an artist, when he’s mostly a nutty entertainer — Tim Burton gone North, and with way better referents. But here it’s easy to see why he’d get such treatment. For sheer dislocating weirdness, Maddin has few equals, either in purity of intent or in fanatically detailed execution. (Maximum)