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Haven't Seen It? It's on Netflix: My Winnipeg

Updated on May 1, 2012

My Winnipeg (2007)

Director: Guy Maddin

Starring: Ann Savage, Darcy Fehr

Runtime: 80 min

The past is a world of disparate and fractured memories, a place that seems behind us, yet is permanently inescapable. Such a place is Guy Maddin's Winnipeg, a city of sleepwalkers and ghosts, of demolished buildings, deserting hockey teams, and a strong-willed matriarch that haunt the filmmaker's dreams. My Winnipeg is Maddin's attempt to re-enact the past to see if, by looking at his formative events in a different light, he can finally escape the city, to see if he can "film [his] way out of [Winnipeg]". Through a series of loosely connected segments, Maddin's hometown and past come to life in this wonderfully bizarre and experimental pseudo-documentary.

Presented in postmodern trappings with a sincere love for silent movie and German Expressionist aesthetics, My Winnipeg is as close to a filmed dream as they come. From its collection of family photos and home movies, to its staged reenactments of Winnipeg's past and the house that Maddin grew up in, My Winnipeg moves along in a disjointed way, and each scene makes you forget the one that preceded it. But, like a dream, it has it's own internal logic. For some reason, it makes sense that in one moment we are witnessing the destruction of Maddin's childhood temple, the old hockey arena, and in the next we are given an hilarious side note in which Maddin's mother slaps a 75-year-old myna bird dead because she doesn't want it near her hair. Throughout it all, Maddin's poetic, sometimes defiant narration carries on and ties all the segments together.

With all of its exploration of the city's mythos and personal revelations of the filmmaker, My Winnipeg is a film that prompts us to recollect our own pasts, to tear down and put back together childhood memories in order to gain a new perspective. From the haunting, yet beautiful "Wonderful Winnipeg" that accompanies the films opening credits, to the fond remembrance of the family spending their days together on couches in their living room, Maddin's film calls on us to find home and rediscover what it means to us.

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