Being teleported into another reality, warped or nay, is or should be high on everybody’s wish-lists in the year that’s been twenty-twenty, and have I ever got a Brundle-machine for your tired and needy and wanting brains today — The Twentieth Century, out on demand this Friday, is Gold Diggers of 1933 meets Eraserhead, and it’s a fucking trip, man. Guy Maddin, the old-timey gauntlet’s been tossed in your general way!
TTC is the first feature from Winnipegger Matthew Rankin, but its awesomely deranged accomplishments feel anything but first — and I suppose with fifteen years of short films under his belt it isn’t, not technically. Granted the film’s multi-chaptered structure often gives the film the feel of several single-reeler adventures stuck together, but that turns out an appropriate aura to give off given its turn-of-the-century (the last last century, of course) positioning.
Familiar That-Guy face Dan Beirne plays actual one-time human being Mackenzie King, the haughty and mother-laden Prime-Minister wannabe at the center of our most strange and surreal tale. The city is Toronto, or a Toronto as imagined by Karel Zeman on poppers anyway, and the year is 1899 — lurching at the precipice of modernity, a future as far as the antiquated steampunk robot eyeball can see, King sees himself as a banner man for tradition. He parts his hair like he means it.
Mackenzie’s on the path to the big time, and from her curtained black bed-frame Mackenzie’s mother (a hysterical Louis Negin, teeth first always) whispers deranged proclamations in his ear, preconceptions of high fortune and valiant romance that will be his, forever his, if he can be… well, just a little damn better. Their relationship, off-kilter as everything in this place, is awash in perversion, and that’s before we even get to the boot-sniffing and enthusiastic cacti.
The Twentieth Century will be available VOD on November 20. Find places to watch the film right here.