By Ryan Lattanzio | TOH! September 10, 2013 at 11:24AM
Also streaming on Fandor are many works by Canadian iconoclast Guy Maddin, whose precious oeuvre of often silent, black-and-white and totally whacked-out films brandish one of the most brazenly unconventional talents working today.
You can catch a ton of Maddin films on Fandor, from his early morbid fantasies "Tales from the Gimli Hospital" (1988) and "Careful" (1992) to the later, just as experimental but perhaps more accessible films "Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary" (2002), "Coward Bends the Knee" (2003) and "Keyhole" (2011). Both "Coward" and "Dracula" are pure genius, giddily defiling the rules of cinema -- "Dracula" is a ballet! -- while also riffing on its roots. Maddin has sure seen a hell of a lot of German expressionist cinema because its severe arches, Escher-like distortion of visual space and painterly lighting run rampant in these films.
Maddin's 2007 pseudo-documentary "My Winnipeg" -- my favorite film that year -- used to be available on Netflix, but now you have to shell out $2.99 to catch it on Amazon. It's sort of like "Stories We Tell" in that Madden examines his own childhood and family through a very personal lens. But "Winnipeg" is, also, nothing like that film or anything else you've seen for that matter.
A must-see is 2012 minimalist verite drama "Francine," up on Fandor, directed by American documentary filmmaker Brian M. Cassidy and Canadian Melanie Shatzky. Cementing her status as the premier portrayer of working-class, salt-of-the-earth broads, Melissa Leo plays an ex-con whose introverted behavior and almost pathological loneliness lead to animal hoarding and a string of empty encounters. I'm not really selling it here, but this bizarre and beautiful film brings to mind Kelly Reichardt's rural portraits of blue-collar despair and even Errol Morris' funny-sad pet cemetery doc "Gates of Heaven."
Finally, just to pack in some of those derogatory Canadian remarks right here, head over to SnagFilms to watch Albert Nerenberg and Rob Spence's satirical documentary "Let's All Hate Toronto" (2007). The filmmakers explore the nation's animosity toward the city of Toronto -- something like the way Manhattanites, say, shit on Times Square and Brooklyn or how Parisians scoff at the mere mention of the Eiffel Tower -- along the way meeting "recovering Torontonians" as well as denizens who've vowed never to set foot in the city.
Go North, young cinephiles!