Guy Maddin’s frozen reverie on Canada’s “Gateway to the West” is barely defrosted by the warmth of the projector bulb. My Winnipeg opens with a bit of canned cheer in the form of the ’50s booster ballad “Wonderful Winnipeg.” Soon, however, the filmmaker is conjuring up his own “snowy, sleepy Winnipeg,” a place of eternal winter and endless night. A movie of moody reflection, My Winnipeg is shot mainly in black and white, punctuated with near-subliminal intertitles, fake snow flurries and the melancholy sounds of trains crossing the prairie. The filmmaker provides a turgid stream of consciousness, babbling on in an urgent, incantatory mock-travelogue style — with recurring shots of his stand-in (Darcy Fehr) asleep as he rides the midnight special. Maddin is convinced that he must leave the city “now!” Instead, he finds himself back in childhood, living in a frame house fronted by his mother’s beauty salon. Restaging his youth but making his own detours, Maddin transforms Winnipeg into a city of mystery. The world’s smallest park is a single tree; the sole respite from the city’s flatness is the landfill mountain known as Garbage Hill. Most arcane are the hockey rites — and also the most personal: Maddin claims to have been born in the locker room of the Winnipeg Maroons’ now-demolished home. “Who is alive anymore?” he wonders, as the movie wends toward closure. “It’s so hard to remember.” (Nuart)—J. Hoberman
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