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Guy Maddin - The Magicien de Winnipeg

Saddestradio Brendan Seibel writing for VINGT Paris. Photo netlexfrance.

Renowned Italian master Frederico Fellini isn't the only subject of a career retrospective in Paris right now. Although the sparsely decorated lobby outside one of the the intimate cinemas of Centre Pompidou could be easily missed the collected works of Canadian auteur Guy Maddin are being celebrated in an exhibition in association with the Festival d'Automne still playing until the end of this week.

Having made a stunning entrance into the world of cinema with his feature debut, Tales From the Gimli Hospital (1988), Maddin is known for his anachronistic style, heavily informed by silent films and
German expressionism; savagely dark humor; frenetic and primitive editing; and absurdly lavish set designs. Lacking any formal film education, often relying on antiquated equipment and meager budgets, Maddin has cultivated a startlingly original oeuvre of nine features and almost thirty shorts.

The closest Maddin has gotten to mainstream success was The Saddest Music in the World (2003), starring Isabella Rossellini as a legless beer-baroness and The Kids in the Hall's Mark McKinney as a
slick-talking self-centered opportunistic cad. In his most recent feature, the semi-autobiographical My Winnipeg (Winnipeg Mon Amour), Maddin crafts characters based on his family and top-bills Ann Savage, femme fatale from the noir-classic Detour. His adaptation Dracula: Pages From A Virgin's Diary (2002) was filmed in concert with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and based on their stage performance rather than Bram Stoker's novel. For his first color movie, Careful (1992), Maddin deliberately employed archaic technique by shooting with two-strip Technicolor film.

Le Magicien de Winnipeg opens each screening with a variety of shorts spanning the length of Maddin's career. Included are The Heart of the World (2000), the critically lauded piece created specifically for the 20th anniversary of  the Toronto Film Festival; My Dad is 100 Years Old (2005), Isabella Rossellini's mediation on her father with Roberto represented by a disassociated belly; and Maddin's most recent, the science-fiction freak out, Night Mayor.

The cycle is drawing to a close but there remain a couple screenings;

Wednesday 4th November 8pm Cowards Bend the Knee or The Blue Hands (2003) The psychosexual exploits of a hockey-playing Maddin alter-ego,complete with an illegal abortion clinic masquerading as a beauty salon. This film was originally intended as an art installation of short vignettes to be viewed through a series of peepholes. Starring Darcy and Melissa Dionisio.  Preceded by The Love Chaunt Workbooks, a half-hour collection of footage claimed by Maddin to be cuts from a lost movie, although they are said to be associated with Cowards Bend the Knee.

Friday 6th November 8pm Twilight of the Ice Nymphs (1997) Maddin's biggest budget feature stars Shelly Duvall and Frank Gorshin (The Riddler from the classic Batman series) in this tale of a released convict torn between two women.  Preceded by Odin's Shield Maiden

Saturday 7th November 5:30pm Guy Maddin: Waiting for Twilight (1997) This documentary by Maddin acolyte Noam Gonick takes place behind the scenes of Twilight of the Ice Nymphs, a project which frustrated Maddin to the point of considering retirement. Narrated by Tom Waits.  Preceded by Manuelle Labor (directed by Marie Losier in collaboration with Guy Maddin), A Trip to the Orphanage, Sombra Dolorosa, Sissy-Boy-Slap-Party, Nude Caboose, It's My Mother's Birthday Today, Berlin.

Saturday 7th November 8pm
Careful (1992) In a remote mountain community so imperiled by the threat of avalanche the citizens can only whisper, two brothers attend butler school. One is driven to extremes by his incestuous desires towards his mother, the other tormented by the one-eyed ghost of his father. Preceded by Odilon Redon or The Eye Like a Strange Balloon Mounts, Towards Infinity, Glorious.

Admission is 6 €, Reduction 4 €

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    Copyright © Susie Hollands.