July 24, 2009

why My Winnipeg is not satisfying

This is an open discussion with DG. He mentioned that he was disappointed with My Winnipeg.

I think what I dislike most about My Winnipeg is its narration. There's a strong Maddin poetry to it that, though it works for Maddin, does not work for me. I think the strength of his images and subject is weakened by his poetry. My favorite part, for instance, is the seance-dance recreation, a solid bit of visual delirium without narration. The narration is certainly important in establishing the many strange facts the film presents, but there are many times when I wish Maddin restrained himself and let the images make their own insane arguments.

Another weak point -- and this belongs with the narration, I think -- is Maddin's persistent treatment of his childhood. Though he looks to his past with the same mad method as his previous films (which is what makes them wonderful), here the treatment is in opposition to the odd stories he is unearthing about his city. However wound up his childhood is with his broader subject, they don't compliment each other as well as they ought to. Maddin's typical perversity (especially the Oedipal and homoerotic) adds a lot to the stories, yet distracts from them. I think Maddin could have integrated the two better; although because he has more experience with the personal and perverse, it would make sense that those aspects overwhelm the docu-fantasy.

Above all, what is a disappointing is to see that Maddin's technique does not quite express its full potential. He is nearly alone out here, using personal hyperbole to fantasize fact; few filmmakers are as bold as he, and I worry that no one else will attempt something like this. Maddin's style might have made this an unbelievably satisfying experience for me. But it isn't that satisfying. That's the ultimate disappointment.

DG has a similar interest in exploring his city as Maddin does. DG: What do you find disappointing about My Winnipeg and what would you like to see done differently?

July 02, 2009