Robert here with the makeover of my Directors of the Decade series, henceforth known as Modern Maestros (because alliteration is always awesome). The mission statement will be simple: an ongoing series celebrating working directors who define the state contemporary cinema. Suggestions are always appreciated. That being said, let's start!
Known For: Modern purveyor of manic, kinky, autobiographical and sometimes silent films.
Influences: The expressionists… Eisenstein, Dovzhenko, Murnau, etc.
Masterpieces: His two most recent and most autobiographical. My Winnipeg and Brand Upon the Brain.
Better than you remember: Maddin has yet to make a bad movie, so if you dislike any of them give it another shot.
Awards: Best Canadian Film at TIFF is the highest award that’s thus-far been bestowed on one of cinema’s most creative directors.
Box Office: The Saddest Music in the World has grossed over 600 thousand dollars to date.
Favorite Actor: Guy teamed with Isabella Rossellini for the feature The Saddest Music in the World the short My Father is 100 Years Old and as one of many narrators of Brand Upon the Brain.
No one makes silent films anymore. Even Chaplin eventually relented and made talkies. To make a silent film in these our modern times would be nothing more than a gimmick, right? Except Guy Maddin has found a way to make it work. Mind you, Maddin doesn't only make silent films, but his cinema is always and inevitably influenced by the great silent expressionist masters. They never seem like an experiment or merely an intellectual exercise. Every one of Guy Maddin's films is a stylistic homage to films past and every one feels completely modern, exciting and new. Why? Because Maddin's best films act as a recreation of memories, whether they be his own bitter loves (Cowards Bend the Knee), controlling parents (Brand Upon the Brain), or legendary hometown (My Winnipeg). And memories do not exist in straightforward narrative form. They're jumbled up, over-exaggerated, and intensified by fantasy and fear... as are Guy Maddin movies. Even Maddin's non-biographical films exist in a world of fantasy where the expressionism becomes a necessity. After all, if you're going to make a ballet version of Dracula, how else but as a silent film? Although he may be best known as a silent filmmaker (even though he's technically made more talkies), Maddin's talents don't end when the speaking starts. Take this line of dialogue from The Saddest Music in the World when Marie de Medeiros has been asked if she's an American: "No I'm not an American. I'm a nymphomaniac."
Take his short The Heart of the World. The world is ending as a woman cruelly rejects our two protagonists. Yet there is not a depressing moment.
top 10 films of the past decade. So is Guy Maddin at the peak of his career? I hope not, as that would suggest an inevitable downturn. His next feature project is as of yet unannounced, though he continues to make short films in between. Whatever it is it will be wildly inventive and courtesy of one of the most creative filmmakers working today.