My Winnipeg


“Why did he have to say everything three times?” someone complained after a recent critics’ screening of My Winnipeg, the latest in Guy Maddin’s oeuvre of old-school cinema pastiche. In the film’s opening scenes, our protagonist — an actor playing the part of Guy Maddin, or at least Guy Maddin’s alter ego — fights to stay awake in the passenger car of a train as rear-projected scenes of snowy Winnipeg pass by his window. (It’s a trademark effect — the visual effects are just far enough out of whack to amplify Maddin’s imagination by underscoring the artifice of the world he creates.) He fears he will be unable to leave town. His spoken-word monologue is part Tony Leung in 2046, part Donald Sutherland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers: “It must be the sleepiness which keeps Winnipegers here,” he surmises. “If only I could stay awake — pay attention to where I’m going, where I’ve been, and get out of here. Stay awake. Stay awake. Stay awake.”

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