Monday, April 2, 2012


Guy Maddin is one of the few active directors that serves as a bridge between the past (his exploration in to silent film) and the future of cinema (the various chaotic editing & cinematography techniques). 
His work draws upon the spirit of everything from Sergei Eisenstein to David Lynch's 'Eraserhead' but at the same time he has an originality that cant be found in anyone else's work (along with a Canadian pride that you don't see anywhere else either). The timing on this interview is perfect. Not only does Guy Maddin have a new film ('Keyhole') opening at The IFC Center very soon, but all the recent acclaim, awards and attention that 'The Artist' has been getting for its "throwback" style and homage to silent films has many modern day film enthusiasts (like myself) looking in Guy Maddin's direction for his opinion.

I'm more than pleased that a director of Maddin's caliber would take the time out of his busy schedule to participate in this...


1. What are the last 3 movies you saw? (feel free to elaborate on any of them)

Guy Maddin: I just caught 'The Eyes of Laura Mars' for the first time in Chelsea in NY. Luckily I caught the second screening of the night, the one NOT featuring running commentary from local benshi phenomenon Hedda Lettuce, a wonderful entertainer for sure, but I wanted to watch this film straight up. I enjoyed it, though I wonder how much screenwriter John Carpenter derived his ideas from the unrealized Hitchcock film The Blind Man.
I've been on a bit of a spree lately, having spent the last two months in Paris, where they have so many great rep houses. There I saw the masterful Sam Fuller 'Pick-up on South Street', a film that looks so much better -- truly GREAT! -- on the big screen! Wow, and what a perfectly controlled and cockeyed tone, and the most brutally choreographed fight scenes, such long takes. Just before that I finally caught up with 'The Fugitive Kind', something i should have watched decades ago. So strange, elliptical, dreamy. I can see why so many filmmakers pay it homage, but their homages are meaningless in the face of the original item. Megatonnage!

2. Who, in your opinion, is the best active filmmaker working right now?

GM: Without a doubt, Sokurov. Then Malick, for those of us, like all Canadians, interested in second place finishers.

3. This is kind of a repeat of something I already asked you, but what is your opinion on 'The Artist'? Obviously I ask YOU this question specifically because many people (including myself) feel that the film borrows heavily from your style of film making. Not saying anyone is copying or stealing from you or anything like that, but there is a valid comparison between 'The Artist' and your work. So I ask again; what is your opinion on 'The Artist'?

GM: Haven't seen it, want to hate it, scared I'll love it.

4. 'Keyhole', you're latest film, is opening in the U.S. very soon. Can you briefly tell the readers what its about and what to expect from it?

GM: It's a ghosts meets gangsters genre mash-up, much like Cowboys and Aliens, except that I used the genres to explore a melancholy obsession I have with how we all relate to homes we once lived in, and people we once loved and continue to love in spite of the fact they are dead. The movie starts out with conventional, almost textbook, screenplay structural story-telling, but by halfway through, many of the haunted plotlines are talking to each other instead of to the audience and everything sinks into a morass of dreamily sad memories we can't quite place. I love the atmospheres, and regret the film will be so hard on my distributors. Oh well, I made it the way I wanted.

5. The criterion video where you pick out your favorite films in the collection is easily one of the best ones they've done. Its clear from the video that you're a fan of the Criterion Collection. Realistically speaking; what films would you like to see added to the collection?

GM: Like everyone else who visits the Criterion offices in NY I beleaguer president Peter Becker with suggestions. I really want to see Bunuel's 'Los Olvidados' or 'El, This Strange Passion' get the Criterion treatment. 'Letter from an Unknown Woman' deserves one of their releases, and so does Arthur Ripley's 'The Chase' -- an incredible picture, though it might actually be best for everyone if it remained submerged in the murk of decasia to which it has long been consigned. I learned to love it in that condition, why mess with perfect love!

'Los Olvidados' (Bunuel)


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