This review is provided by Madeline Bogoch from our Open Call for Film Critics & Writers!
REVIEW: The Goose
dir. Mike Maryniuk
2018 | Manitoba | 68 mins | PG
*Filmmaker in attendance!
Director Mike Maryniuk’s new experimental feature The Goose opens with the visual of a hypnotically spiralling mosquito coil. This image sets the stage for the experimental feature, which is densely loaded with similar visual references. The coil conjures an allusion to the artist Marcel Duchamp’s Anemic Cinema (1926), a classic of the early avant-garde, while simultaneously giving a regional nod to the ubiquitous insect plague of the prairies. Although the film makes considerable use of these regional and cinematic references, it maintains an idiosyncratic style all its own, expressed through psychedelic animation, vintage set design, and eclectic use of technique.
The Goose, portrayed by Winnipeg actor Rob Crooks, is a young man burdened with the vocal honk of a Canadian goose. Hindered by this affliction, the film follows the exploits of the titular character as he pursues different means of expression while considering his options for the coming winter: to migrate or not to migrate. The Goose is aided by an eccentric travel agent (played by local performer Al Simmons), who reveals his plans to travel by fax machine, and outfits the Goose with a marquee display, haphazardly wired to display his thoughts. The fantastical elements of the film are paired alongside the relatable quotidian emotions of the Goose, which drive the narrative. Crooks does a remarkable job of conveying a sense of alienation and frustration from his surroundings without any dialogue. Supplementing this portrayal are a series of transitions depicting animated latch hook rugs, ventriloquist dummies, and passages down a neon-lit tracheal tube. The film incorporates a broad range of reference materials, borrowing from the silent era; title cards are used to great effect, brightly lit up in marquee-style lettering. These animated interludes contribute to the experimental structure and overall aura, which charges the film’s unwavering lo-fi aesthetic. Although the Goose is routinely disparaged by a series of coarse locals who seem persistently intent on his humiliation, he also encounters genuine kindness among several kindred oddballs. During one of these interactions with a chip-stand employee/reiki enthusiast, the seed is planted that he should migrate south. The avian motifs run deep as the character considers the lifestyle of the snowbird: the migratory pattern of choice for winter-weary Canadians who perennially flock south to escape the cold.
Much like the materials and props that generously furnish the film with its distinct atmosphere, obsolete technology is embedded with infinite potential. One of Maryniuk’s great skills as a filmmaker is a keen resourcefulness, a capacity to do more with less. This innovative quality comes across throughout the film as the modest vintage props are elevated to fantastical capacities. There is something about this quality that circles back to the meta-regional references scattered liberally throughout the film. Between the extreme temperatures and geographic isolation, prairie dwellers are especially prone to resourcefulness. Maryniuk’s work has been referred to as its own genre of “prairie surrealism,” in addition to the oneiric ambience that pervades the film, The Goose engages a surrealist interest in the depiction of interiority and ultimately reflects a truly prairie condition onto its vibrant surface. As a diner employee (played by filmmaker Daryl Nepaniuk) declares in reference to the eponymous character, “this one’s homegrown.”
Interested in seeing this film? Reserve your tickets to The Goose here!