My Winnipeg Blu-ray Review

     Actors: Ann Savage, Guy Maddin
  • Director: Guy Maddin
  • Format: Blu-ray, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection (Direct)
  • Release Date: January 20, 2015
  • Run Time: 80 minutes


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            Guy Maddin has called My Winnipeg a “docu-fantasia,” an invented term for a unique type of pseudo documentary. Although the style is still distinctly Madden, I would argue that there was a precedent for this type of film prior to My Winnipeg. It was set by another trailblazer in 1973, with Orson Welles’ F is for Fake. Both films use staged sequences within a film meant to be about facts. By the end of both films, however, it becomes clear that the lines between fact and fiction have become blurred along the way.

     

            In part, Maddin achieves this by making the construction of the documentary part of the film itself. Maddin narrates explanation of his decision to cast actors to play his family for the recreation sequences, including Darcy Fehr to play himself and classic B-Film star Ann Savage (Detour) as his mother. This footage is intermixed with real archival footage of Maddin and his family, along with a variety of other footage that could be archival and/or filmed for the filmmaker’s unique vision. If only stylistically, My Winnipeg shares a great deal with the rest of Maddin’s filmography.

     

            The storyline in My Winnipeg is virtually indecipherable, though that seems to be the point. Plot gets lost amidst the strange collection of footage cut together, all with Maddin rambling in what feels like a stream-of-consciousness recollection of childhood memories. The film literally becomes about Maddin’s Winnipeg, making it a title only completely accurate when said by him. That does not mean that there is no relevance to the viewer, however. Aside from the entertainment to be found in the oddly sexual undertones of the film’s narration, everyone should be able to relate to the mix of sentimental nostalgia and shameful disgust with which Maddin considers his past and hometown.

     

            The Blu-ray release includes a new high-definition digital film transfer, supervised and approved by Maddin and director of photography Jody Shapiro, with a 2.0 surround sound DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. All new in the special features is a conversation between Maddin and art critic Robert Enright. Also included are five Maddin short films which have been previously released, but three include new introductions from the Canadian filmmaker. The shorts included are Spanky: To the Pier and Back (2008), Sinclair (2010), Only Dream Things (2012), The Hall Runner (2014), and Louis Riel for Dinner (2014). There is also a 2008 featurette, and four cine-essays from 2014 by Maddin and Evan Johnson.

     

    Entertainment Value: 7/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 8.5/10

    Historical Significance:  8/10

    Special Features: 9/10

     

     

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