Negativipeg (Matthew Rankin, 2010)

Welcome to 2020!

MMC! kicks off a new year of imagined releases of favourite movies (and various other miscellany) with one of 2019’s favourite short film discoveries — Matthew Rankin’s Negativipeg (2010). Rankin’s The Twentieth Century (2019) was a favourite of the 2019 Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival and MMC! happily gorged itself on Rankin’s various short works as well. Both the shorts and Rankin’s first feature are typified with DIY inventiveness, satirical humour, and spectacular visuals that easily inherits the prairie postmodern tradition of filmmakers like Guy Maddin and John Paizs, however this post celebrates an outlier in Rankin’s filmography.

Negativipeg is a fascinating documentary on Rory Lepine’s 1985 encounter in a 7-Eleven with Winnipeg rock legend, Burton Cummings of The Guess Who. Lepine, who was 19 when he put the boots to Burt in that North End Sev’, served 4 months in prison for the beating given to Cummings and the incident became emblematic of the longstanding tension between the musician and his former hometown, neither of whom felt loved enough in the eyes of the other. While lacking the visual wonder of Rankin’s later work, the short is captivating and easily stands as the most Winnipeg-like thing I’ve ever seen on screen – the shuttered homes, the bleakness of winter, Lepine’s particular accent and his code for life in the North End, the love-hate relationship toward Cummings and the ongoing question of his local credentials after getting big, and the Pizza Pops. Rankin dresses Negativipeg in droll Errol Morris-like eccentricity and incisiveness, creating something that is equal parts hilarious, tragic, and perplexing and all conveyed in an exceptionally local vernacular. As wonderful as Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg (2007) may be, Rankin’s Negativipeg may cut even closer to the bone in revealing the city’s essence.

The Criteria

The Criterion Collection has obvious standards for what gets “the treatment,” and so should we when proposing potential titles for admission.  Here are some bend-but-don’t-break rules for how Make Mine Criterion! will select and approach these examples of great cinema waiting for a wacky “C.”

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Our Mission

If you’re like me, the 15th of each month is partly spent refreshing the Criterion Collection’s web page in eager anticipation of new forthcoming releases, hoping to make new discoveries or see old favourites receive “the treatment” I’ve long wished for.  Sometimes the wait can be painfully long – just ask those fans waiting for Criterion’s edition of the The Game (David Fincher, 1997).  Make Mine Criterion! wear the hat of a producer for the Collection, proposing a deserving title for the wacky “C” and imagining what a complete package would involve, including special features, booklet contents and even box art.  It’s like fan-fiction; call it fan-production.  Naturally, Criterion is a discerning company committed “to publishing the defining moments of cinema for a wider and wider audience,” and so some standards will be necessary for this project’s credibility.  More on those rules in our next post.

PS – If this project sounds familiar to anyone, Make Mine Criterion! posts sometimes appeared on my last blog and some of those previous titles will find their way here in revised form.  I’m now trying out WordPress, so please bear with me for any glitchiness along the way.