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Movie Natters: June 27, 2008 Archive

My Winnipeg: Guy Maddin's muse bites hard

Posted at 8:28 AM on June 27, 2008 by Euan Kerr

Guy Maddin loves and hates Winnipeg. His whimsical meditation on his hometown "My Winnipeg" is part historical documentary, part fantasy, and part child's recollection of our neighbor city just to the north.

Maddin, made the feature "The Saddest Music in the World," but his specialty is making shorts and you could see "My Winnipeg" as a series of shorts in a way, complete with titles which interject all through the film. Madden used a similar approach to memoir making the fascinating "My Dad is 100 years old" with Isabella Rosselini, but in "My Winnipeg" his muse takes him to new strangeness.

Maddin's Winnipeg is filled with sleepwalkers lulled by the never-ending winter. It stands at the Forks the confluence of the Red and the Assiniboine rivers, although Maddin tells of legends of underground rivers which come together at the same spot, creating mystical possibilities. In the film we meet spiritualists, male beauty contest winners, and hockey legends. There's archive film, Maddin home movies, and material Madden shot for the film, but it's often hard to tell what is what.

We meet Maddin's mother, who plays herself in re-enactments of significant family episodes with actors who plays Madden's siblings. It all takes place in what Maddin says was the house where he grew up.

The city of Winnipeg commissioned the film, and gave Maddin free rein to explore with his cameras. The city fathers and mothers might not have anticipated his rant about the city's hockey arenas, (he hates the new one, and is in mourning at the loss of the old one,) and his resulting venom towards the NHL, but it certainly is entertaining.

It's a wondrous strange melange of stuff. Don't go in expecting a narrative. But if you are up for being swept away on a wave of words and black and white images, "My Winnipeg" could be your Winnipeg

Wall*E: the joys of love and garbage

Posted at 8:42 AM on June 27, 2008 by Euan Kerr

The new Pixar movie "Wall*E" is filled with magnificent garbage. Piles and piles of it, some loose and blowing in the wind, and some compressed into tidy little cubes by the garbage robot Wall*E.

He's been doing it for so long he has build huge ziggurats that dwarf the skyscrapers which used to house the people who produced the trash in the first place. They have all left because the garbage has poisoned the earth, and Wall*E is the last of the robots left to clean up which is still running centuries after the last humans dumped and ran.

And he's lonely. He has one pal, a cockroach. He doesn't have a name in the film but it seems likely it's Jiminy.

But, inspired by an aged VHS tape of "Hello Dolly" what Wall*E really wants is someone/thing which a hand it can hold.

At it's most basic this is a story about a cute little robot looking for company. But Pixar has also once again done a great job of working a plot on several levels and for all age groups. When a probe turns up from elsewhere he launches on a desperate, but good-hearted effort to make friends.

It's visually stunning, there are great action scenes, and there's a none-too-subtle poke at the possible consequences of our consumer culture. While some of you may end up seeing this again and again with the kids on DVD, you should make sure you see it at least once on the big screen just to revel in all that garbage.

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