The Twentieth Century Review

The biopic genre is one of the more predictable out there. Even outside the musical-biopic subgenre, now so heavily coded that films functionally identical to parodies still get nominated for Academy Awards, there are expectations, and most of them are filled most of the time. Chief among them is fanatical reverence for their subjects, painting them as the most important figures in their respective fields through slick, gauzy, prestige-project filmmaking.

Matthew Rankin’s The Twentieth Century, a biopic of legendary Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, doesn’t do any of that. It’s among the least-conventional biopics in existence – and it’s all the better for it. If you didn’t know the backstory, you’d never guess it’s even based on a true story, and if you do know the backstory, you might be furious at the liberal treatment of the subject. But The Twentieth Century being a biopic is merely the icing on the cake of Rankin’s incredible artistry, craft, and utterly bonkers comic and visual sensibility.

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The Twentieth Century Interview

Matthew Raskin’s film The Twentieth Century is a fever dream of a biopic, using geometric sets and oblique references to historical facts to tell a curiously dehistorical tale about William Lyon Mackenzie, first Prime Minister of Canada. Joining a long list of weird and wonderful films to emerge from Winnipeg, Raskin’s film is an audacious and unapologetically odd film. His feature debut follows on a number of shorts that also displayed an oblique view of the past, making for a surreal and engaging work that will likely enthrall and confound in equal measure. 

/Film spoke to Matthew prior to the film’s World Premiere as part of the Midnight Madness slate at TIFF 2019.

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