starring Daniel Beirne, Sarianne Cormier, Mikhaïl Ahooja, Catherine St-Laurent
written and directed by Matthew Rankin
by Angelo Muredda Matthew Rankin makes good on the promise of his singular shorts in his rambunctious and beguiling feature debut The Twentieth Century, a ten-part portrait of the famously uncharismatic but long-serving Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, played to milky-white, moony-eyed perfection by Dan Beirne. A wildly inventive dramatization of the formative pre-office days of the nation's only P.M. to host seances with his dead dogs (as most students of Canadian history will remember), the film makes bold use of the formal language of early cinema as well as the seemingly diametrically opposed Canadian penchants for shame and degeneracy.
It's tempting to draw a straight line from here back to the work of Rankin's fellow Winnipeg local Maddin, who has likewise used a throwback aesthetic of painted backgrounds, geometric sets, and the 1.33:1 aspect ratio to tell his historical epics in miniature. But the movie's can-do spirit, stylistic assurance, and riotous sense of humour here are all Rankin's own, from the startling use of puppets to depict his human characters' many avian friends to the psycho-sexual underpinnings of the film's antic statements on Canada as a passive-aggressive nation of "class 8 defectives" with unreasonable expectations and infinite longings. Programme: Midnight Madness