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.
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.
But speaking of puffin puppets -- and what deranged mind wouldn't want to speak of puffin puppets when given the puffin puppet opportunity? -- TTC ain't just words, it's a bag of madly inspired and queer visual tics, all piled high into a beautiful squawking symphony of mad bird song, somehow terrifyingly beautiful in spite of its cacophony. I fell in love fast and hard, and it was one of those ones where you're worried the rickety nailed-together stairs the film's built for itself will topple, could easily topple, at any turn -- you're holding your breath at its daredevilry, and then with a swan's grace it shrieks, it snaps, and it lands a perfect ten.