This was a week for edgy Canadian film - starting with the big ticket, much anticipated and somewhat disappointing Norman, by 4-D Art, at the Grand Theatre and winding up with intimate free Canadian art films at the Agnes.
4-D Art’s Norman is a fascinating choice to launch the edgier new Grand Theatre Series, and it’s safe to say you’ve never seen anything so visually powerful on the Grand’s Stage before. Co-created by Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon and performed by dancer Peter Trosztmer about the extraordinary late Canadian (NFB) filmmaker Norman McLaren, Norman featured hypnotic and gigantic film clips from McLaren’s truly avant-garde films that were talked at, talked about, danced to, and danced about…with superimposed interviews (mostly in French, with surtitles) to help provide background on his uniqueness. Particularly brilliant were the dance between Trosztmer and McLaren in Chairy Tale; his playing with the Merles song (in which various bird parts come together and come apart) and a piece called Mosaic, where Trosztmer danced between the already-dancing dots of McLaren’s film. The show was a theatrical “McLaren 101”, a great introduction to the filmmaker – who more than deserves resurrecting and re-examining. My quibble, however, the script was weak (a throwback to the 50’s documentaries McLaren himself would have mocked) and more performers and varied choreography (with no - or far less -dialogue) would have made it a much stronger piece, and one befitting its subject.
At the Agnes Etherington, a devoted little group gathered for the second part of a free series put together by Frances Leeming. The theme of Thursday's (Oct. 28th)was Persistence or Vision, and each of the films certainly demonstrated persistence/endurance of both subject and viewer. My fave was Daniel Cockburn's 2002 Metronome, a brilliant "heart tapping" piece, as well as Our Marilyn, which genuinely immersed you into the world of swimmer Marilyn Bell.
Keep your eye out for more films and talks, www.aeac.ca. Oh, and there were at least 5 available parking spots right across the street...plus the gallery is free on Thursdays. What more do people want? Dunno.