“I’m only a ghost, but a ghost isn’t nothing.”

Always great to see a new Maddin work, and this exceeded expectations. Exciting yet familiar, new with firmly recognizable bits of the old, and filmed in a different medium than usual (digital!), like Maddin’s Moonrise Kingdom. “I know a lot of people who follow me probably figured I’d be the last person in the world to switch to digital, and that I also sort of ride a penny-farthing with a bowler hat, but I don’t. I want to be a normal guy. I’m just an artist trying to make stuff that matters to me.” (AV Club)

In this post I quoted Maddin saying that his next feature would have footage from his shorts, “a Frankenstein feature film built together from a bunch of dead short commissions,” and there are two shorts since My Winnipeg that resurface in Keyhole: Glorious (Louis Negin as a ghost, penises growing through walls) and Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair (Isabella and a homemade electric chair).

Nice, clear images, with relatively restrained editing, apparently because Guy could afford an art department so didn’t have to hide the cheapness of his sets. Great, unusual, moody music, and crazy amounts of lightning flashing from outside. But it’s not Maddin Lite by any means – he hasn’t grown up and made a normal movie. He and George Toles have come up with a haunted-house gangster flick/family psychodrama (it’s like The Six Hundredth Sense) full of enough insane details to rival any previous Maddin feature.

Ulysses (Jason Patric of Sleepers, The Lost Boys) appears late to the party, after his men have shot their way into a house surrounded by the cops. The movie pronounces its disdain for reality from the start, when he lines all the men against the wall, telling the still-living ones to face him, then sends the others outside. “Cops’ll make sure you get to the morgue.” There’s no glowing aura or translucency – the dead look and behave like the rest of us.

B/W Rossellini behind a colored curtain:

Ulysses seeks his wife Hyacinth (Isabella Rossellini), who is locked in her bedroom at the top of the house with a lover named Chang, while her father Louis Negin is chained to her bed. Negin also acts as part-time narrator: “I am a part of the house you’re looking at. It would be misleading to say I LIVE here.” As Ulysses stalks the house, he gradually unlocks doors and begins to regain his memories.

“Something’s wrong. I can’t hear my own thoughts.”

The Men: Big Ed was in charge of the group before Ulysses arrives, wants to be in charge again, Heatly is Ulysses’ adopted son, sometimes-nude Rochelle (Ulysses’ mistress) only speaks French, Denton (Brent Neale, Renfield in Maddin’s Dracula) wears a hat, Milo has a scarf, Belview (Claude Dorge of The Saddest Music) is a deliciously overacting dapper dude in a tie, Denny is a wet drowned girl, and Ogilbe is Kevin McDonald.

Ulysses, who keeps changing the clocks in the house, warns everyone to stay away from the ghosts, but Kevin McDonald attempts sex with a floor-scrubbing woman in the hallway, sparks fly, and he continues riding her in death, whipped by Negin from behind, as she appears not to notice him.

Ulysses gathers all the guns and drops ’em down the trash chute, but when they’re heated by the furnace, one shoots Heatly dead. Someone drowns in the house’s indoor bottomless bog, and Big Ed fries in the makeshift bicycle-powered electric chair he built to trap Ulysses. “You can’t electrocute a man twice,” says Ulysses as he turns the tables, so perhaps he’s returned from death row. Meanwhile, the cops are still outside…

Big Ed strapped into his own invention:

Ulysses attends to Heatly:

Ulysses is sad when Heatly dies, but doesn’t seem to recognize that the hostage he drags all around the house is his real son Manners, supposedly his only surviving child, though we see the others in the house, Ulysses not recognizing any of them at first. Ned (Darcy Fehr, star of Cowards Bend the Knee) is drinking milk, the head of daughter Lota is in a flowerpot, and youngest son Brucie is masturbating (“playing Yahtzee”) under the stairs.


Also, Udo Kier gets one scene (not enough!) as a doctor paying a housecall to examine the drowned Denny, despite the fact that his own child died that night in the hospital. Lots of family death in this movie.

More details of the house: furniture placement is important (Ulysses makes his men undo their arrangement alterations), and there’s a stuffed wolverine named Crispy and a pneumatic tube delivery system in the walls. Manners, who has fallen for Denny, is finally released, as is Louis Negin. Ulysses makes it to his wife’s chambers and shoots Chang, and at dawn all ghosts and signs of the police shootout quietly vanish.

Young lovers, one of them dead:


Like his Homeric namesake Ulysses is seeking a way back to his wife, though there is not much evidence of love or loyalty between them. Nor is Keyhole, narratively speaking, a reimagined Odyssey any more than it is a ’30s crime drama. It’s more like a dusty attic full of battered, evocative cultural references.

Maddin again:

We just live in a space that’s just thronged with ghosts and I honestly think I’m even a ghost sometimes. I often wonder if when I die, and I don’t believe in ghosts, but if I’m going to haunt any place, it’s that childhood home that I keep falsely remembering. In my dreams now I very rarely dream of people. I just dream of that space. I’m walking around and I’m the only person in it. I’m actually haunting in the future, in my dreams anyway.

The dialogue George [Toles] and I write isn’t naturalism, but [Patric] knows how to give it a reading that makes it adhere to a character. If no one likes the movie, they should at least watch Jason, just to see how he’s taken lines that would be impossible to read naturalistically and how he puts them into his processor and spews them out. It’s kind of amazing.

Falkenau, The Impossible (1988, Emil Weiss)

Weiss seems to love Sam Fuller, but he’s not on Fuller’s wavelength, unable to have much of a conversation with the man. So this doc (which is an hour long, but I crammed it in the shorts section anyway) admirably fulfills its purpose by screening all of Fuller’s WWII concentration camp cleanup footage while Sam narrates, taking him to the site of the camp in present-day and asking for his thoughts. That would’ve been more than enough, but Weiss leaves us with a one-sided (Sam likes to talk) silly-ass conversation about fictional representation of war, which would’ve been better left out. I’m most of the way through Sam’s autobiography, one of the greatest books I’ll ever read, where Fuller says this doc screened at Cannes and was praised for its straightforwardness.

Cry For Bobo (2001, David Cairns)

Poor and desperate, a man resorts to thievery to get by. He’s caught and imprisoned, then shot to death after escaping, as his wife and kid leave town, trying to start a new life without him. It’d be a miserable little story if the main characters weren’t clowns. Hilarious, reference-heavy, and better than I’d expected – and I had expected greatness. Already watched twice and trying to get Katy to see it (she hates clowns).

The Possibility of Hope (2007, Alfonso Cuarón)

“We no longer live in a world. ‘World’ means when you have a meaningful experience of what reality is which is rooted in your community, in its language, and it is clear that the true most radical impact of global capitalism is that we lack this basic literally ‘world view,’ a meaningful experience of totality. Because of this, today the main mode of politics is fear.”

Naomi Klein:
“More and more we see the progression of this economic model through disasters. So we’re now in a cycle where the economic model itself is so destructive to the planet that the number of disasters is increasing, both financial disasters and natural disasters.”

James Lovelock:
“If you live in the middle of Europe or here in America, things are going to get very bad indeed.”

Of course the “hope” part comes at the very end, as it does with all recent doom-gloom climate-change global-meltdown documentaries, and the hope in this one, despite the film’s title, isn’t all that hopeful. Start preparing now for how badly the future will suck – and it will suck. An Inconvenient Truth supposedly has a credit-time list of ways you can help the planet, Home encourages us to build windmills and go vegan, Wake Up Freak Out says we must act politically, and there’s always the hope during Collapse that the subject is just wrong, or that he’s a crackpot. Not so much here. If I’ve avoided talking about the filmmaking, well it’s basically a radio show with distracting visuals, much of it b-roll from Children of Men.

Night Mayor (2009, Guy Maddin)

Pronounce it similarly to “nightmare.” An inventor, a Bosnian immigrant, harnesses the “music” of the Aurora Borealis and converts it into dreamlike images which are sent across phone lines to his fellow Canadians using his Telemelodium. Even more/cooler junkpile inventions than in the electric chair short, some nudity (not as much as in Glorious or The Little White Cloud That Cried) and some delicious nonsequiturs. Clean narration by the accented inventor and two of his kids, along with excellent string music. At the end, the government shuts down his project, so he turns his attention from the skies to the seas, considers visualising whale songs.

One Minute Racist (2007, Caveh Zahedi)

Sweet three-minute cartoon story about the slippery slope of racism narrated by CZ, who codirected with a couple animators. Story of a student who doesn’t like asians because they’re too uptight and a paranoid library security guard who threatens to confirm the stereotype.

Talking Heads (1980, Krzysztof Kieslowski)
“What is your year of birth?”
“Who are you?”
“What do you most wish for?”
These three questions are asked to a one-year-old, then a two-year-old, and so on. The final answer: “I’m one hundred years old. What do I want? To live longer. Much longer.”

Most people seem to have thought about the questions for a while – possibly while the camera and lighting crew buzzed about their head, since the film looks like a lesson in how to effectively shoot subjects, professional but no-frills, by cinematographers Jacek Petrycki (No End, Camera Buff) and Piotr Kwiatkowski (second camera on the Three Colors). As a result, the answers come out seeming like a beauty pageant. Everyone wants more honesty and fairness, for everybody to just get along. The answers from kids under ten and adults over seventy are the best.

Born Free (2010, Romain Gavras)

I don’t count music videos as “shorts” or things would get too complicated, but then, I don’t really count this as a music video. M.I.A.’s music isn’t far enough up front, and the video (by Costa-Gavras’s son) is twice as long as the song. It’s a little piece wherein red-headed kids are rounded up by violent cops, beaten, shot and made to run through a minefield. Probably trying to make a point about tolerance and freedom, but for messages of tolerance I preferred the climactic speech in Cry For Bobo, also featuring overzealous cops: “First they came for the mimes, then the jugglers, then the bearded ladies. Next time, it were you.”

Hotel Torgo (2004, buncha dudes)

Buncha dudes head for El Paso and interview the last guy who remembers working on Manos: The Hands of Fate. There’s no real point to this, but the guy is very good-natured about it. Learned that Torgo was high all the time, which shouldn’t come as a surprise but somehow still does.

A Letter to Uncle Boonmee (2009, Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

Slow-panning shots outside looking in, but mostly inside looking out. Unique location (Nabua village in Thailand) but also unique photography style. I wonder if another filmmaker could’ve found images half as strong as these. As for the story, well, as usual with A.W. I don’t really get it. The village has a history of violence and repression, and this (fictional?) uncle is unseen, addressed by a narrator. Actually it’s more than one narrator, reading the same script, which is later critiqued for accuracy of dialect as we continue roaming the houses, looking slowly up at the trees. Makes me want to catch up with A.W.’s features that I’ve missed. Later: So I have, with Syndromes and a Century. Its dialogue repetition and shots of trees from inside buildings reminded me of this short.

Academic Hack:

In a stunning act of political avant-gardism, Joe has adapted Thai Buddhist tenets regarding reincarnation as a means for excavating the hidden history of a troubled landscape. As his camera slowly creeps and pans through darkened, abandoned homes, Apichatpong is displaying the remnants of a repressed past, in an assertion of ghostly, vertical time. … Joe’s dominant visual cue throughout Boonmee is the depiction of dark, illegible interiors whose porous walls and broken-out windows allow the bright green of the jungle to puncture the once-domestic space with light and texture. As beautiful as the effect may be, it is also chilling, since it represents the breakdown of human effort’s separation from natural encroachment, the dissolution of basic boundaries.

We Work Again (1937)

A newsreel short about how “we” (meaning black americans, though it sounds like the regular white studio voiceover guy saying “we”) are finding jobs after the depression – mostly jobs in the arts, thanks to the federal works agency. Contains rare footage of Orson Welles’ “Voodoo Macbeth,” which used all black actors and looks like it could’ve used a higher prop budget.


The Little White Cloud That Cried (2009, Guy Maddin)

Commissioned for a Jack Smith program. It reminded me of Kenneth Anger, with the classic pop songs strung together, the soft-focus closeups, but that’s probably because I barely know anything about Jack Smith. Lots (lots!) of nudity, largely (maybe entirely) transsexuals. Typical Maddin editing (which is to say: exhilarating). It’s either art or the best porno I’ve ever seen.


Someone got the filmmaker by accident. He looks so intense!

Send Me To The ‘Lectric Chair (2009, Guy Maddin)

No credits. Need to get a copy someday without interlacing. Made for the Rotterdam festival for an outdoor exhibit. Isabella is in the ‘lectric chair. A man rushes to save her, too late, embraces her as the switch is pulled. Charming homemade effects: tin foil, sparklers and exercise equipment. Louis Negin (reused footage from Glorious?) dances shirtless in celebration!

Maddin: “Now, I was immediately told no nudity, I was immediately told no strobing, so strobing became the new taboo. It would throw the citizens of Rotterdam into epileptic fits flipping on the sidewalks.”


More, from a simply fantastic interview with Maddin: “My condition for doing it was that I got permission to re-use the footage in my next feature. Whenever I accept a short film commission, I get permission to use the footage from it and so I’m slowly assembling clips… and in this financially depressed time, you need to. It’s a Frankenstein feature film built together from a bunch of dead short commissions.”


Zoo (1962, Bert Haanstra)

One of the greatest short films ever. He must have shot for days and days to get so many great shots of animals and spectators, then associatively edited them together into a docu-comedy. I learned from the ravingly positive writeup on the official Bert site that it was all filmed with a hidden camera.


Contact (2009, Jeremiah Kipp)

Boy and girl visit dealer, get bottled drug and take it together naked. Bad trip ensues. Girl’s concerned parents wait at home, until she shows up late, hugs daddy. Very little spoken dialogue – for artistic sake, or with international film fest distribution in mind? Heavy-handed sound design with echoey shock-horror effects with a sidetrack into 8-bit glitch noise.


The Bookworm (1939, Hugh Harman)

The crappiest little time-filler of an MGM cartoon. Can’t imagine anyone wanting to buy these as a set, so may as well parcel ’em out as bonus content on other discs. Poe’s raven wants to catch a bookworm (that’s a worm who eats books) to put in the Macbeth witches’ cauldron, but the worm is saved by characters from other books, with a complete lack of imagination, not even the har-har caricature value of those not-great Tashlin library shorts. Why would the books want to save a bookworm anyway? This seems an important part of the story, and it’s just ignored. Ted on IMDB overthinks the movie, says it’s “amazingly sophisticated in its abstraction,” no kidding. A Tashlin movie would just blow Ted’s head right off. Harman put more effort into the same year’s classic short Peace On Earth.

Love On Tap (1939, George Sidney)

At least with The Bookworm you can tune out the story and watch the animation, but there’s no joy in this one. Well, it’s a musical short so I guess you’ve got dancing, but that’s not much of an attraction. Story goes this dude is trying to marry a gal who leads a dance troupe, but her dancers are whiny dependent brats and she caters to their every whim, putting off the guy until he threatens to leave instead of marrying her. He should’ve. Sidney later directed celebrated musicals like Annie Get Your Gun and Kiss Me Kate… guess you gotta start somewhere.

Michelangelo Eye to Eye (2004, Michelangelo Antonioni)

Antonioni silently contemplates the work of another Michelangelo. 15 minutes of static or slowly tracking shots, with just room noise until an ethereal choir sings us out into the credits. Nice to see that after all these years, M.A. is still filming people dwarfed by giant structures and pillars.


Wake Up, Freak Out, Then Get a Grip (2008, Leo Murray)

A cute cartoon illustrating how we’re all going to die from global warming. Only Leo doesn’t say we’ll all die, he says all the good species of animals will die, leaving rats and roaches, and since there won’t be enough resources left for all of us, those with the most guns and lowest morals will survive to slaughter the rest. Then he says we can’t stop things by being jolly good consumers and buying fluorescent bulbs, we must rather campaign our governments and friendly local corporations to smarten up. Not likely! Move inland.

Glorious (2008, Guy Maddin)
Far more guns, gangsters and cocksucking than has ever been in a Maddin film before. Features Louis Negin as a single-frame apparition turned fellatio-ghost. Must pay more attention to the music next time. In other news, when I looked up Louis Negin on IMDB, it says he played a zombie in Pontypool.




Yay, got me a 2007 disc of cartoons based on the work of Jim Woodring. Jim himself kicks off the collection with the one-minute Whim Grinder: A Frank Adventure, in which Frank and his pet… box? intercept a transmogrifying eggbeater from a mischievous devil.

Frank (Pushpow) (Taruto Fuyama)
I dig the use of the “meet george jetson” music cue. Watched twice because there’s a second audio track with elektronischy music by James McNew. Black and white and very stripey. Done in Flash, maybe? then transferred off a videotape from the looks of the credits. One of the greatest things ever.

Frank (Eri Yoshimura)
Next one, done in a puppet cutout style, is very different. Frank seems to be having a picnic with his buds until a rampaging pig beast tears them all apart. Seems about two minutes of animation edited into four. The closing credits are pretty nice – not so much the rest.

I’ve Been Twelve Forever (Michel Gondry)
Gondry talks with his mom, storyboards his dreams, builds a spinning camera-spirograph triggered by strings tied to Bjork’s fingers, makes cartoon farts with cotton balls, invents new animation methods, films himself in stop-motion, and discusses his best music videos. This turned out not to be a short at all, though I thought it would be when I started watching it, and much more elaborate and creative than its status as a DVD-extra on a music videos disc would suggest. I’m pretty sure I like this better than Be Kind Rewind. Co-directed with four people including Lance Bangs.

Wet Chicken (2003, Myznikova & Provorov)
A woman’s hair blows in the breeze, then she shakes her head, then she’s shot with a stream of water. Seems like the kind of rough materials that Shinya Tsukamoto would make something interesting from, but these guys forgot to make something interesting and accidentally released it like this. Too late to re-edit now that it’s on the internet.

The Marker Variations (2007, Isaki Lacuesta)
One ruler of Dijon uses photographs to rule, and the next uses them as execution aids. 12th century monks composed Bach concertos 900 years before Bach did, inscribing the notes into their stone architecture. Buenos Aires is “the divided city” so a story of two mirroring authors is told using split-screen images.

Opening with these unbelievable stories reminded me more of Magnolia than Chris Marker, but an exploration of the images and possible existence of Marker is what follows. He goes over Marker’s references, he asks his own Japanese friend the questions asked of Koumiko, and eventually he gets caught up in his own essay, his own connections, but accompanied by so many images from Marker’s films (not to mention the music) that none of it escapes, sticks in my mind. To a Marker-phile such as myself it’s just too much.

Another Maddin masterpiece… I loved it. Slow start as he dreamily navigates his home town, telling stories, showing off landmarks, talking of snow and sleepwalkers. Trying to escape, he decides to film his way out, rents his old house and hires actors to play his family, except for his real mother (ha, “really” 1940’s noir queen Ann Savage) and of course, Maddin himself (ha again, really Darcy Fehr of Cowards Bend the Knee). So the premise is a lie, and the real-life actors are a lie, and yet he got this to be classified a documentary – I love it!

The parts about Maddin’s childhood are as veiled as usual – there’s the hair salon and siblings and pet dog, and some could-be-true anecdotes about straightening the hall rug and a fear of birds, but we also get his mother’s unlikely starring role in long-running TV drama “Ledge Man”. And there’s the traditional dead father, this time represented by a mound of earth under the living room rug, which the brothers use as a sort of beanbag headrest when watching TV. When Guy leaves home, things become sadder and more personal, showing city landmarks destroyed to build corporate malls, discussing the demise of the local hockey team and eventually the stadium. Very wonderful final segment imagines a character called Citizen Girl, representing the proud past of Winnipeg, who turns back time and resurrects the city’s history – as moving as anything in Guy’s filmography so far.

This is being called Maddin’s most accessible work. I guess the plot is more straightforward than most, and there’s less incest and horror than in my own starter pic Careful, but I’d still give that title to Saddest Music… it’s got stars and songs and an engrossing story and it’s right hilarious.

A total trip, better than I’d dared hope it would be. Would’ve been soooo nice to see in theaters, but I’ll settle for the multi-narrated DVD. Even more family-focused than Cowards, it also goes further inside the psyche of the Maddin character than that one did, with his flashbacks and memories and fantasies splayed out on the screen, cutting and fading into whatever “reality” he’s seeing at the time. Black and white, great-looking photography with subliminal flashes of color. Attractive and expressive actors do a great job with the gonzo plot before the editing rips it to pieces. More obsessions on dead fathers, hands (gloves), infidelity, sexual transgression, betrayal, and memory oh the memories!!

Shotput of butter!

Briefly: Adult Guy Maddin returns to his childhood home, an island lighthouse orphanage, by request of his dying mother. As he paints the place he remembers his life there with older sister Sis, forbidding faux-suicidal Mom, mysteriously hard-working Dad, twitchy traumatized friend Neddie, and leader of the orphans Savage Tom. One day teen detective Wendy Hale comes to the island, but after she falls for Sis (and Guy falls for Wendy), she disguises herself as brother Chance Hale, leading to much sexual confusion for poor Guy. With the kids, Wendy finds out the terrible secret, that Dad is stealing brain nectar from the orphans (and from Sis) and selling it. Sis awakens one night and kills Dad with a knife, Guy is adopted off the island, Dad is resurrected then both parents are exiled and, after Wendy leaves, Sis burns herself up like a moth in the lighthouse lamp. Back in the present, Guy is still obsessed with Wendy, tries to get to know his mother better, and there’s almost a semi-happy ending before the melancholy memories take over once more.

Conspirators! Guy in center, Sis on left, The Lightbulb Kid whispering:

New cinematographer (sorry, but you can’t tell), same editor as Cowards Bend The Knee (you can kinda tell), and music that I’d swear was influenced by the 60’s Russian song used in Heart of the World. Features no actors from anything else I’ve ever heard of (well, Guy’s mother was 33rd-billed in Henry Fool).

A rare glimpse of color:

The shorts on the disc are cool, too. It’s My Mother’s Birthday Today is a “biopic” (heh) of the “castrato” who sang with the live show – a few minutes of abstract business, with the vaguely Scott Thompson-looking guy making hard-boiled eggs and singing with a caged bird. Footsteps juxtaposes scenes from the movie with the sound crew in their lab doing foley effects, including some questionable techniques of bare-butt-slapping and horse’s-ass-kissing. Slower-cut than My Mother’s Birthday but even more fun to watch.




Thought I’d watch some shorts tonight, starting with the Guy Maddin shorts listed in the previous post. Unintentional theme: none of them had any spoken dialogue!

Film (Emend) by Deco Dawson
Crazily-edited scratched, grainy black-and-white silent footage of hands? If I hadn’t already known that Dawson was involved with Guy Maddin (as editor and camera op on Dracula and Heart of the World), I easily would’ve been able to tell.

Film (Luster) by Deco Dawson
Same thing, except now it’s a boy shining shoes instead of a woman sewing. Some peephole photography and scary closeups of the bootblack-mascaraed boy. As far as falsely-aged avant-garde films go, this is thankfully closer to Maddin than Merhige, although it’s less captivating than it means to be. Good music.

Din of Celestial Birds by E. Elias Merhige
Some Begotten image manipulation meets the time tunnel from 2001: A Space Odyssey accompanied by minimalist music and too much MPEG artifacting. Merhige fans may ask “HOW does he do it?” but I’d like to know “WHY does he do it?” Did jobs dry up after Suspect Zero? Some cool time-lapse of plant life for a second there. Made in collaboration with Haskell Wexler’s grandson. There was a “visual philosopher” involved, ha! The actor who played “son of earth” in Begotten (the dude who gets dragged around by druids through the second half) played “son of light” in this (seen above).

Begone Dull Care by Norman McLaren
Handpainted film cut to jazz music, excellent in every way. I could watch this all day. First half is full explosive color, multiple layers, second half starts out all slow white scratch lines and finally gets crazy after a couple minutes.

Bread and Alley by Abbas Kiarostami (his first short)
Opens with a prolonged shot of a boy kicking a can down an alley to the Beatles “ob-la-di, ob-la-da”. Boy can’t figure out how to get down the alley without being chased by a dog. Puzzles it out for a long while, follows an old man but he only goes halfway. Finally braves it by himself and accidentally makes friends with the dog by feeding it. No dialogue. A very happy little movie.

The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film by Richard Lester & Peter Sellers
A jolly bit of madness out in a field. Not the funniest ten minutes of cinema I’ve ever seen, but worth watching. Some of these guys had a radio program called The Goon Show, which I’ve heard somehow led to this film which somehow led to Petulia and Strangelove and Steve Martin’s Pink Panther remake.

EDIT 2021: Watched The Running Jumping Etc. again in slightly improved picture quality, which didn’t elevate the comedy any – nothing new to report.

Guy Maddin: “My editor John Gurdebeke and I, hoping to release the powerful nectars of remembrance, have attempted to cut the film using a facsimile of the way we visit memories: We skip past the drab routines and the overly familiar events of yesteryear in our haste to arrive at our favorite and still potent recollections; once there, we rock back and forth over the cherished imagery, penetrating its pleasures, like a DJ scratching back and forth over the same sample of music, until we’ve used up what we need from that episode; then we race on to the next greedily consumed tableau of the distant past.” Glad to hear Maddin mention Martin Arnold in the commentary… the above sounds like something Arnold could have written.

The same editor worked on Brand, Dad, Caboose, Winnipeg, but not The Heart of the World, done by Deco Dawson, whose short-films dvd I will have to check out soon.

More bits from Maddin’s commentary below – all quotes are his.

“It’s the only one of my movies that I can actually re-watch with any degree of comfort.”

Louis Negin as Dr. Fusi [below] – cast because he reminded Guy of certain silent actors, particularly a guy who was cut from Greed. Also because of his hands, of course. Appeared in Rabid, played Truman Capote in 54, and returned as the blind seer at the intro/outro of Saddest Music.

Amy Stewart as Veronica/The Ghost [bottom screenshot] – “the ultimate child brunette.” She returns in My Winnipeg as a Maddin.

Tara Birtwhistle, replacing Alice Krige who got sick at the last-minute. Wearing “the same cheap wig I had Isabella Rossellini wear a few weeks later”. Tara played Lucy in Dracula, here portraying Guy’s aunt Lil and renamed Liliom, “a name I obviously borrowed from Fritz Lang’s Liliom, not even knowing that Liliom was a male name until I watched the movie after filming this.” On aunt Lil: “I thought I would give her a character in this movie that she never got a chance to be… In real life she’s just a sweet, bridge playing, tea-sipping spinster.”

Melissa Dionisio as Meta [below], “the result of some kinda local star search here”

“Sorry for all the blurry intertitles. I forgot to focus the camera. … I usually use intertitles to clarify the plot, but here they seem to be just giving everyone an eye-ache.”

Darcy Fehr, playing “Guy Maddin” [below], appeared in Hospital Fragment.

Chas, the impotent patriarch. “I’d been reading a lot of Euripydes, which I devoured like Mexican comic books”.

“That’s my mom, by the way.” [below] She was made to wear blacked-out glasses so she couldn’t see the autobiographical shame on display. “We filmed this scene without my mom really knowing. I have yet to explain it to her”.

David Stuart Evans, as semi-evil police/hockey captain Shaky, also appeared in Clive Barker’s The Plague.

Mike Bell as Mo Mott, of course played the engineer in Nude Caboose. Mo Mott is the name of an actual Winnipeg hockey player.

Victor Cowie as Maddin Sr. [below], appeared in Careful and Archangel. “The first actor I ever hired.”

Premature Maddin biographer Caelum Vatnsdal (the awesome fake Jesus in Heart) has a bit part somewhere.

“I like it when stories artificially tie up loose ends.”

The DVD also has a behind-the-scenes bit on Brand Upon The Brain! and a bunch of new shorts. FuseBoy, a 2005 short set at a fuse box starring Guy, Shaky, Mo and Dr. Fusi from Cowards. Dr. Fusi’s performance is actually edited in from his audition tape, also included here. Rooster Workbook (aka The Cock Crew), a mental blend of female nudity and roosters, the closest thing spastic Maddin has done to porno (closer than both Sissy Boy Slap Party and Nude Caboose). I don’t know who played the nude girl because he lists 13 actors in the credits. Zookeeper Workbook (aka Maldoror: Tygers) involves a man getting eaten by a tiger and a woman juxtaposed with a dog. Chimney Workbook has a girl welding, bunch of birth metaphors and I couldn’t tell you what else. Somehow related to Rooster Workbook.

About what I’d expected, really. Maddin slowed down the pace of his editing to accomodate Isabella’s writing style I guess. Not much to it – She plays herself, her mom (Ingrid Bergman), David Selznick, Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin. Talks to her dad’s giant belly. Short, good. “My dad was a genius. I think.”