"Twilight of the Ice Nymphs" (1997), a cockeyed "Midsummer Night's Dream" set on an Atlantis-like island and screening at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, represents Maddin at his most problematic. His stretches of deliberately arch or flat dialogue become tedious. In the film, a young political prisoner (Nigel Whitmey) returning on a ship to his native island of Mandragora encounters a goddess-like beauty (Pascale Brussieres) who unleashes in him a deathless passion. Once home, however, he is quickly drawn to a winsome widow (Alice Krige). His dippy spinster sister (Shelley Duvall) has the same intense feelings for a dashing mesmerist (R.H. Thomson), while her goofy handyman (Frank Gorshin) lusts for her and her ostrich farm. Also screening: "Waiting for Twilight" (1998), a documentary on Maddin.
The Maddin series concludes next Thursday at 7:30 p.m. with "They Won't Believe Me" (1947), which finds Robert Young caught up with Susan Hayward and Jane Greer. Following it is Maddin's most recent -- and costly -- movie, "The Saddest Music in the World" (2003), in which a Depression-era Canadian beer baroness (blond, bewigged Isabella Rossellini), who lost both legs in a darkly comic mishap, offers a $25,000 prize in a contest to discover the most sorrowful music ever. Rossellini is, however, caught up in a crazed family of two brothers, a slick would-be Broadway producer (Mark McKinney) who has latched on to an amnesiac beauty (Maria de Medeiros) and who has an epically morose brother (Ross McMillan) and a father (David Fox) mad for Rossellini.