Friday, March 1, 2024

MY WINNIPEG



Last month we looked at Cowards Bend The Knee - Guy Maddin’s semi-autobiographical love letter to both Canada and some of his personal favorite filmmakers (click here to read). To me - this film serves as a buffer for My Winnipeg. Like Cowards, My Winnipeg is also an autobiographical love letter to his home country but this time, instead of Bunuel & Lynch, he pays homage to the likes of Abel Gance, Fritz Lang, The Lumiere Brothers and Dziga Vertov…


I was totally inspired by just how far [Abel] Gance was willing to go - Guy Maddin, cineaste magazine

J'accuse / My Winnipeg

I read about Abel Gance’s La Roue and thought I’d never be able to see it, so I decided to make my own version - Guy Maddin, Art Forum

La Roue / My Winnipeg

The early German silents seemed to work in ways similar to the best fairy tales, though with an external hipness that helped me see just how modern, cruel and eternally true these fairy tales are - Guy Maddin, The Globe and Mail

Dr. Mabuse The Gambler /
My Winnipeg


I loved THREE SONGS ABOUT LENIN and MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA - Guy Maddin, UAlberta 

Man With A Movie Camera / Three Songs About Lenin / My Winnipeg

Man With A Movie Camera / Three Songs About Lenin / My Winnipeg

Man With A Movie Camera / Three Songs About Lenin / My Winnipeg


I haven't seen a Lumière Brothers movie I haven't adored. And gosh I do wish I'd been one of the filmmakers who was invited to participate in that centennial project Lumière & Company - Guy Maddin, Offscreen

The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station /
My Winnipeg



Maddin still does manage to sneak in a few Bunuel references…

One thing I do often - I watch a movie and I pretend Luis Bunuel is sitting beside me - Guy Maddin, Av Club

L'Age d'Or /
My Winnipeg

Mexican Bus Ride /
My Winnipeg


Comparisons & homages are just one layer to this film. Maddin takes us deep in to his Canadian hometown...

Coward Bend The Knee doesn’t shy away from the sometimes negative reputation that precedes Winnipeg. While there are plenty of funny and/or quirky moments - this is a very cold & depressing story. Cold and depressing are sometimes common descriptors of Winnipeg.

Now...I’ve never been there so I wouldn’t know. This is why I’m choosing my words carefully because no matter how cold & depressing it might be - I have an immense sense of hometown pride myself and I wouldn’t want someone badmouthing where I come from (I wouldn’t compare the cold of western Massachusetts to the cold of Canada, but I know what it’s like to come from a cold place that often gets overlooked and/or misrepresented). But…I’ve had folks from Winnipeg tell me how cold & isolating it can sometimes be and Maddin’s film pretty much aligns with what I’ve heard firsthand.

I call Cowards a “buffer film” because My Winnipeg is an incredibly dense film that you don’t just blindly dive in to. It’s chaotic & funny and also depressing and informative in a dry textbook kind of way). I know that isn’t the greatest sell of a movie but if you like Guy Maddin or the aforementioned reference points - this is right up your alley (to be fair - I don't really consider what you're reading a "review" or an attempt to sell the movie. These are just my personal thoughts). In the film Guy Maddin mixes his personal relationship with his mother alongside the history of Winnipeg. He even goes so far as to cast his actual family members to act out scenes from his past in his former childhood home (Maddin really rented his Parent's old home from the present owners to shoot scenes in).

Imagine a tattered schizophrenic cinematic journal found 30 years in to the future. My Winnipeg is an honest attempt at originality but is also intentionally alienating. I mean, for those of you reading this right now that aren’t familiar with Maddin’s work - does this sound like something you’d just blindly watch? Probably not. I’m sure a handful of you would, but between the very specific Canadian history and not-so obvious cinematic references, I’m sure a lot of you would pass or get more familiar with Maddin’s filmography first. Either way, this is a personal favorite of mine but I recommend it with caution. 


Tuesday, February 20, 2024

VISUAL REFERNCES IN TRUE DETECTIVE: NIGHT COUNTRY


This entry isn't anything significant. I just felt like highlighting some of the standout references and homages from the latest season of True Detective. I've shared these on my twitter account but since I'm still shadowbanned, no one really sees them except for the bigger accounts that steal my tweets and passed them off as their own (none of these homages were hard to miss so I'm not that bent out of the shape about people stealing from me). The folks responsible for this season were quite open about their inspirations. All I did was make the comparisons based off of their own words (with a few speculations of my own at the end).

Enjoy...


One of the biggest influences that I ever will have in this genre, and honestly in cinema in general, is SE7EN - Issa Lopez, Deadline.com
Se7en / True Detective: Night Country

Se7en / True Detective: Night Country

Se7en /
True Detective: Night Country

Se7en / True Detective: Night Country

Se7en / True Detective: Night Country



one of the biggest references for it is Carpenter's The Thing, no doubt - Issa Lopez, The AVClub.com
The Thing / True Detective: Night Country

The Thing / True Detective: Night Country


Tsalal [the research station in Night Country] has undertones, the way we shot it, to Kubrik’s the Overlook - Issa Lopez, The AVClub.com
The Shining / True Detective: Night Country

The Shining / True Detective: Night Country

The Shining / True Detective: Night Country

The Shining / True Detective: Night Country

The Shining / True Detective: Night Country

The Shining / True Detective: Night Country


Oh, this reminds me of The Silence Of The Lambs - Issa Lopez, The AVClub

The Silence Of The Lambs / True Detective: Night Country


None of these have been confirmed but here a re few more scenes that I felt were homages...

Aliens
/ True Detective: Night Country

The Blair Witch Project / True Detective: Night Country


The Exorcist / True Detective: Night Country

Friday, February 9, 2024

COWARDS BEND THE KNEE



Guy Maddin is a unique mixture of a wholesome amount of Canadian pride and immense self-depreciation due to what he feels is always being in perpetual second place to the Americans (his words, not mine). Maddin’s films are sometimes so specifically Canadian that I often need someone from there to explain some of the humor or references I felt like I didn’t catch at first. That isn't a complaint. The relationship between Americans and English-speaking Canadians has always been fascinating to me. We're essentially like bickering first cousins always taking jabs at each other.

Over a decade ago I interviewed Guy Maddin and his self-depreciation crept it's way out of nowhere when answering a question that had nothing even do with Canada or the Canadian/American relationship:

PINNLAND EMPIRE: Who, in your opinion, is the best active filmmaker working right now?

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


Most Guy Maddin interviews are full of half comical self-hate like the exchange above. When asked about Fritz Lang’s influence on his work he had this to say:

Fritz Lang had his own voice; sometimes it’s too cynical. I have mine, all lugubrious self-pity interlarded with a weird species of self-loathing narcissism - Guy Maddin, Vice


Knowing this about Maddin adds a whole other layer to this films. A lot of his self-deprecation manifests itself through a lot of the weird kinks & kink-shaming found in his work. Often times when we see something sexual in his movies it borders on a cuckold fantasy or some weird obsession with parts of the female body that isn't as openly accepted. Russ Meyer was a boob guy. Tarantino is a foot guy and Maddin appears to be very obsessed with the legs & thighs of his actors (both men and women) in a an almost masochistic kind of way...

The Saddest Music In The World / Keyhole
The Forbbidden Room / Cowards Bend The Knee


Maddin himself has name dropped Busby Berkeley as an early influence on his work so perhaps that explains some of the leg obsession?

I wanted to be Busby Berkeley, for crying out loud! I wanted to have chorus girls stomping their heels in my casting office - Guy Maddin, Quietus

Gold Diggers / The Saddest Music In The World


He also had this to say about Berkeley’s films:

I used to get really turned on watching Busby Berkeley movies, maybe because the configurations of females in them reminded me of my own bowels, I’m not too sure. But I think it was because I was always viewing them through a keyhole drilled through a door that was seven or eight decades thick. It wasn’t until I shot Cowards Bend the Knee in 2002 that I had really explicit nudity, big flapping penises and breasts that the camera held on for a long time - Guy Maddin, TheBeliever.net


It’s also important to note that Guy Maddin is also heavily influenced by Luis Bunuel. Long before Tarantino was even born, Luis Bunuel was the original foot (and leg/thigh) worship director and that stuff is all throughout Maddin’s films...

The Young One / Cowards Bend The Knee


This one scene alone on the right from his feature debut paid homage to multiple Bunuel moments in one shot...

L'Age d'Or / Tales From The Gimli Hospital

El / Tales From The Gimli Hospital

Simon Of The Desert / Tales From The Gimli Hospital


Guy Maddin is one of those filmmakers that’s difficult to pin down with just one movie but if I had to suggest a definitive film - it would be between My Winnipeg and Cowards Bend The Knee. I’d give the edge to Cowards because My Winnipeg is not only very autobiographical (much like Cowards) but it's incredibly specific to a certain region of Canada. If you watch that movie cold without knowing much about his fimlography - it almost feels like doing homework. You almost have to do some research on Winnipeg, Canada before and after watching it. Normally that sounds like the kind of thing you’d watch to get to know someone and where they come from but it’s so personal and sometimes so uncomfortable that you need a buffer film before diving all the way in. 
This is where Cowards Bend The Knee comes in. It highlights everything that makes a Guy Maddin film what it is - kinks, shame, regret, grief, dark humor, fast-paced chaotic editing, hockey and lots of Bunuel homages.

And not just homages that highlight the legs, thighs & feet I mentioned earlier. Maddin tips his hat to Bunuel in so many ways in Cowards...

Un Chien Andalou /
Cowards Bend The Knee

L'Age d'Or / Cowards Bend The Knee

The Exterminating Angel / Cowards Bend The Knee

The Exterminating Angel / Cowards Bend The Knee

Un Chien Andalou / Cowards Bend The Knee

L'Age d'OR /
Cowards Bend The Knee


In the film, a star hockey player (“Guy”) has to deal with his ailing mother and the disappointing news that he’ll be a father. 
Cowards The Bend Knee also taps in to Maddin’s obsession with David Lynch’s Eraserhead. I mean - the autobiographical reluctant fatherhood angle in Cowards comes right out of Eraserhead

ERASERHEAD really hit me hard. I was really impressed. It was a big influence - Guy Maddin, Fandor

Eraserhead /
Cowards Bend The Knee

There’s something I’ve learned about myself, and it goes back to when I first saw ERASERHEAD - Guy Maddin, criterion

Eraserhead /
Cowards Bend The Knee

It goes back to when I first saw Eraserhead and started looking up every interview possible with David Lynch - Guy Maddin, criterion



This is a chaotic yet beautiful look in to the mind of a talented yet self-loathing Canadian with a twisted sense of humor that I can’t recommend enough. Make sure to follow it up with what I consider to be the unofficial sequel: My Winnipeg (which we’ll delve into to later this year).

Thursday, February 1, 2024

A FEW WORDS ON THE CINEMATIC INFLUENCES ON SALTBURN

The Shining / Saltburn


The biggest praise I have for Saltburn is that Rosemund Pike was finally given a role worthy of her talents. I don’t care if you like Saltburn or not (I thought it was “fine” overall). But I don’t think it can be denied that once she appears in the film around the 30-something minute mark - the tone completely changes. I mean that in the best way possible. The movie just instantly becomes better. It’s a testament to her aura. Richard Grant’s performance shouldn’t go unnoticed nor should Barry Keoghan’s (this is yet another example of how he shines best when he plays a deceptive little freak like in The Killing Of A Sacred Deer).


But this isn’t a review of Saltburn. Enough has already been said about the movie. We don’t need another opinion on it floating around. I also get that some folks don’t like Emerald Fennell or her films because she’s a privileged white person that has said some weird things in interviews but we’re not here for that. I don’t care. Please save those think-piece criticisms for Letterboxd, tik tok or an extra long Twitter/X thread that I will be sure to scroll past.

What I’m most fascinated with are the film’s influences and how open Fennell has been about her cinematic reference points (while not every film referenced in Saltburn is easily recognizable - the amount of reference points are almost on the same level as something like Pulp Fiction). 

I found it strange that there were so many video packages of her talking about her influences with almost no actual side-by-side comparisons in said video packages so I went ahead and complied some. I’m sure I missed a few so please make sure to share some you feel I may have left out (again - this is just about references. I don’t care if you hated Saltburn or not).


Kubrick’s dedication to building a world to making a film is something that I have always kind of looked to - Emerald Fennell, IGV Presents 


The Shining / Saltburn


Even without these quotes it’s pretty obvious that just about any modern thriller that takes place inside of a big mansion is going to get some comparison Kubrick’s The Shining… 


The Shining / Saltburn


The Shining / Saltburn


Fennell is also just big fan of Kubrick all together:


We can thrill to the transgressive behaviour of [violent gang] the droogs in the way we can thrill to the transgressive behaviour of Saltburn's utterly entitled snobs - Ermerald Fennell, The Face Magazine 


A Clockwork Orange / Saltburn


A Clockwork Orange / Saltburn

But putting the obvious Kubrick/Shining influence aside, Fennell pulls from other classic psychological thrillers that take place primarily within a home/mansion like The Servant and The Innocents


  

I think it [The Servant]’s one of the all-time great movies - Emerald Fennell, IGV Presents 


The Servant / Saltburn

The Servant / Saltburn

If you're familiar with both films then you might notice that Fennell essentially splits up the Hugo Barrett Servant character in to both Oliver and Duncan from Saltburn
The Servant / Saltburn


The use of space in the house itself is kind of unbelievably well used and is very much like a character in its own which is kind of very important to me when thinking about something like Saltburn - Emerald Fennell, IGV Presents


The Innocents / Saltburn

The Innocents / Saltburn

The Innocents / Saltburn


there's a very famous shot across a pond with a woman across a pond with a woman just sitting in some reads that I think it is one of the most brilliant horror shots ever made - Emerald Fennell, IGV Presents


The Innocents / Saltburn


She also pulls from older British films like Kind Hearts and Coronets


I think it’s really sort of perceptive about the British class system and kind of quite a dangerous satire - Emerald Fennell, IGV Presents


Kind Hearts and Coronets / Saltburn

Kind Hearts and Coronets / Saltburn

Kind Hearts and Coronets / Saltburn

Kind Hearts and Coronets / Saltburn

Fennell does draw inspiration from more modern filmmakers like Sofia Coppola...


Sofia Coppola is a great example of the modern American Gothic - Emrald Fennell, Glamour Magazine


The Virgin Suicides / Saltburn

Marie Antoinette / Saltburn

Marie Antoinette / Saltburn


To my surprise Fennell was also influenced by a personal favorite of mine: Peter Greenaway…


The cook the thief, the Wife, and his Lover and The Draftsman's Contract were huge - Emerald Fennell, Tumblr


The Draughtsman's Contracts / Saltburn

The Draughtsman's Contracts / Saltburn


Hitchcock can also be found all over her latest film… 


That's the thing I love so much about Hitchcock, obviously bar the slightly unsavory elements of his character, but as a filmmaker, he loved doing it. He had such a fun time. We did too with this movie. I mean, it was hard going, but we had the best time making it - Emerald Fennell, Forbes


Psycho /
Saltburn


Vertigo / Saltburn


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