Virtual Screening Room: The Twentieth Century



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2019 • dir Matthew Rankin w/Dan Beirne, Sarianne Cormier, Catherine St-Laurent, Mikhaïl Ahooja, Brent Skagford, Kee Chan, Louis Negin • 90 min

Are you ready for a Technicolor riff on the Canadian absurdity – and absurdly Canadian – filmmaker Guy Maddin? If so, strap in for this gorgeously designed, surreal odyssey from the mind of Matthew Rankin. THE TWENTIETH CENTURY embarks on a bizarre alternate history of Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King (Beirne). In this version, shot through with extravagant art deco design flourishes and sets inspired by silent films, Rankin portrays King as a shoe-huffing, foot-fetishist momma’s boy who has been groomed his whole life to take the position of Prime Minister of Canada. When the time comes for the strange contest – involving a skating race through an ice labyrinth in Quebec City – that will win him his birthright, King is unexpectedly challenged by both a ruthless cad and a noble war hero. Complicating matters, he finds himself caught in a romantic triangle between a sympathetic Francophone nurse (Cormier) and the Royal Governor’s daughter (St-Laurent) whom he considers to be his destined partner. Occasionally lewd, consistently weird, and always hilarious, THE TWENTIETH CENTURY certainly owes a great debt to Guy Maddin – whose own meticulously designed, early cinema homages have delighted Brattle audiences since the start of his career – but it forges its own path with a similarly off-kilter but altogether different flavor. Strictly for the weird at heart!

“You will never see another film like it.”
– Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film

“If Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Anna Biller, Guy Maddin and Bette Davis’s Baby Jane wig raised a child together, it would be this movie.”
– Kevin Ritchie, NOW Toronto

“Possibly the craziest and most unique biopic ever made.”
– Andrew Todd, Slashfilm