Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

from my kindle book, Parameters:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Parameters-Michael-Murray-ebook/dp/B07893LB8Z/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1513428648&sr=1-1&keywords=parameters

Canadian film maker Guy Maddin won the Tellutide Medal for Life Time Achievement in 1995.

He was 39.

GM3

In 2000 his 6 minute short THE HEART OF THE WORLD was best film, short and feature classes, at the Toronto International Film Festival, and Special Award winner with the National School of Film Critics; it also won Golden Gate Award from San Francisco Film Festival.

the-heart-of-the-world

Many film makers concentrate on narrative, storyline, character-sketching; setting and atmosphere often seem an afterthought.

Most films are basically illustrated novels, they have the structure of a novel(…)” : Isabella Rosellini, interviewed by Andrea Meyer.

Guy Maddin reverses this structure; with him we smell time, the mustiness of age. It started by accident. His first short THE DEAD FATHER (1986) would not come right until he set it in the past; then everything became possible. From dabbling cine-man, to film maker.

Although his concerns are very contemporary it seems he can best address them through an offsetting filter. Emotion, for Guy Madden, is a Canadian thing, that is, it is suppressed, yet apparent in everything.

He has a long fascination with 1920’s Silent Cinema, magic shows, fables, above all, with melodrama. His keyword is, yes, Atmosphere, and that deconstructs into, above all else mystery, drama, high play.

I always see myself going back along the road of film history and picking up all these great and abandoned technologies and film vocabularies (…).”

High play allows flexibility: boom shadows, film equipment in back shots, all signs of the out-and-out amateur, he incorporates, makes use of. This could become all so very postmodern, but his work has charm, a fascination, an earnestness that takes the chill off. And the finished product is always polished and professional.

He first became known through the misted and pastel colours, and ‘mountain fever,’ of his 1992 classic CAREFUL. His 3rd feature, CAREFULis “a moral tale”, “a tragedy told as if it was an absurdist comedy.” (Roberto Curti).

For Derek Hill it is “an operatic satire of characters so tightly wound by their repressed desires that even the thought of stepping outside (…) will set off (an) avalanche.

This is the main conceit of the film: CAREFUL is set high in avalanche country, where even a sneeze, we are told, could be disastrous;

C

we glimpse cattle with voice-boxes removed, tied as if for cartoon toothache with neckerchiefs around their necks,

Some see strong autobiographical elements in his work. He plays openly with Freudian symbols: the recurring image of the one-eyed father (whether blinded by a brooch pin in childhood, like his own father), who could easily become on one level an emasculated Odin figure. The key phrase is Play: he plays with his past, fictionalised images, as much as our present-day images: one-eyed cameraman, eye glued to viewfinder; the half-seen world we only allow ourselves to see ….

His Icelandic mother ran a hairdressing salon; he was ensconced there often as a child: how we fictionalise our lives.

He also has the enviable ability to attract the most stunning women actors, not only Isabella Rosellini as Lady Port-Huntly in SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD, but also the lovely Gosnia Dobrowolska, as Zenaida, in CAREFUL.

He throws this away as “accent”, that is, inbuilt atmosphere, bringing an intriguing visual element to the mix. It works wonderfully.

The film that really broke his name was 2003’s SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD.

Chatting to film goers who “just didn’t get it”, he asked:

Did you understand there was a music contest?

Yes.

… two brothers competing with each other?

Yes.

… a wife sleeping with one who should be with the other?

Yes.

Then you got it!

Disingenuous. Pure chance of course that one brother (Chester) was representing America, the other (Roderick), by adoption, Serbia. Both Canadian by birth. Already we have a satire on Canada’s inability to keep its talent at home. But also in the rapacious Chester, America’s economic and political foreign policies; on one level we have Europe (old world values and cultural legacies) pitted against brash young America. To complicate matters Canadian Lady Port-Huntly, brewery magnate, is just as rapacious and corrupting as Chester.

Set in Prohibition times, alcohol-dry American TVs show the Canadian competition, funded by a wealthy brewery to increase sales: all losers slide into a huge vat of beer.

Visually lapidary; legless Lady Port-Huntly is wooed and won by the brothers’ glassmaker father, with a gift of glass legs.

They are shapely, and filled with the light amber beer from her own brewery, complete with light fizz.

LadyPH

She wears them in triumph; the effect is stunning.

Repost from 2011

Canadian film maker Guy Maddin won the Telluride Medal for Life Time Achievement in 1995.

He was 39.

In 2000 his 6 minute short The Heart of the WorldTwas best film, short and feature classes, at the Toronto International Film Festival, and Special Award winner with the National School of Film Critics; it also won Golden Gate Award from San Francisco Film Festival.

Many film makers concentrate on narrative, storyline, character-sketching; setting and atmosphere often seem an afterthought.
“Most films are basically illustrated novels, they have the structure of a novel…” (Isabella Rosellini, interviewed by Andrea Meyer).

Guy Maddin reverses this structure; with him we smell time, the mustiness of age. It started by accident. His first short The Dead Father (1986) would not come right until he set it in the past; then everything became possible. From dabbling cine-man, to film maker.

Although his concerns are very contemporary it seems he can best address them through an offsetting filter. Emotion, for Guy Madden, is a Canadian thing, that is, it is suppressed, yet apparent in everything.

He has a long fascination with 1920’s Silent Cinema, magic shows, fables, above all, with melodrama. His keyword is, yes, Atmosphere, and that deconstructs into, above all else mystery, drama, high play.
“I always see myself going back along the road of film history and picking up all these great and abandoned technologies and film vocabularies…”
High play allows flexibility: boom shadows, film equipment in back shots, all signs of the out-and-out amateur, he incorporates, makes use of. This could become all so very postmodern, but his work has charm, a fascination, an earnestness that takes the chill off. And the finished product is always polished and professional.
He first became known through the misted and pastel colours, and ‘mountain fever,’ of his 1992 classic Careful. His 3rd feature, Careful is “a moral tale”, “a tragedy told as if it was an absurdist comedy.” (Roberto Curti).

For Derek Hill it is “an operatic satire of characters so tightly wound by their repressed desires that even the thought of stepping outside… will set off (an) avalanche.”
This is the main conceit of the film: Careful is set high in avalanche country, where even a sneeze, we are told, could be disastrous; we glimpse cattle with voice-boxes removed, tied as if for cartoon toothache with neckerchiefs around their necks,
Some see strong autobiographical elements in his work. He plays openly with Freudian symbols: the recurring image of the one-eyed father (whether blinded by a brooch pin in childhood, like his own father), who could easily become on one level an emasculated Odin figure. The key phrase is Play: he plays with his past, fictionalised images, as much as our present-day images: one-eyed cameraman, eye glued to viewfinder; the half-seen world we only allow ourselves to see….

His Icelandic mother ran a hairdressing salon; he was ensconced there often as a child: how we fictionalise our lives.
He also has the enviable ability to attract the most stunning women actors, not only Isabella Rosellini as Lady Port-Huntly in Saddest Music of the World, but also the lovely Gosnia Dobrowolska, as Zenaida, in Careful.
He throws this away as “accent”, that is, inbuilt atmosphere, bringing an intriguing visual element to the mix. It works wonderfully.

The film that really broke his name was 2003’s Saddest Music in the World.
Chatting to film goers who “just didn’t get it”, he asked:
Did you understand there was a music contest?
Yes.
… two brothers competing with each other?
Yes.
… a wife sleeping with one who should be with the other?
Yes.
Then you got it!
Disingenuous. Pure chance of course that one brother (Chester) was representing America, the other (Roderick), by adoption, Serbia. Both Canadian by birth. Already we have a satire on Canada’s inability to keep its talent at home. But also in the rapacious Chester, America’s economic and political foreign policies; on one level we have Europe (old world values and cultural legacies) pitted against brash young America. To complicate matters Canadian Lady Port-Huntly, brewery magnate, is just as rapacious and corrupting as Chester.

Set in Prohibition times, alcohol-dry American tvs show the Canadian competition, funded by a wealthy brewery to increase sales: all losers slide into a huge vat of beer.
Visually lapidary; legless Lady Port-Huntly is wooed and won by the brothers’ glassmaker father, with a gift of glass legs.
They are shapely, and filled with the light amber beer from her own brewery, complete with light fizz.

She wears them in triumph; the effect is stunning.

The Red Element by Catherine Graham
The Debaucher by Jason Camlot

Insomniac Press, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

The two poets reviewed complement each other in strange ways. Both books are the author’s third collections, and both are part of the education faculties of Canadian Universities.

Insomniac Press, based in Toronto, is a glorious publishing venture. The books are wonderfully presented, lovingly made and very attractively produced. Catherine Graham has gone for a simplified design of three-quarter length illustration, an evocative painting by Caryl Williamson, in rusty reds and worn-slate blues above simple, pared-back title and name.
Jason Camlot’s cover is very rich, a highly decorative border and scroll work in gold over a black background. The central image is very striking and wryly humorous: The Debaucher is exemplified by a clip from a painting: a hearty dose of cold water over a naked man crouched in a sauna setting.

The Red Element is a very pared-back book; all the poems are stripped to their essentials of subject matter and structure. So much so that some poems are a mere four lines in length; and yet they all work wonderfully.
Throughout the book we discern childhood and growth into womanhood, complete with responsibilities of parenthood, and its reflections back and forth to one’s own parents and onto one’s own children.
The poems on young girlhood are intricate yet robust vignettes. What especially strikes is how the stripped-back approach allows the writer to handle unsexualised, prepubertal experience: the little girl as a little girl: ‘The pigtailed girl plays in the middle of her long front yard,/ pale legs stilt under the cotton stickiness of her dress./She turns from her asphalt shadow and pulls the red ball/ from her pocket and peels the white price tag like a scab//Drop and catch/drop and catch.//Suddenly the ball rabbits up the slope./ It rolls back like a trick to the edge of the crescent./ She runs to the edge of the neck-high hedge/that she’s been told never to pass, and stops.//I want to be good at this/I want to be good.’ (Drop and Catch)

This is a very difficult achievement, and perhaps only possible by stripping back and stripping back so that the images ring clear as a bell.
The stilt legs and dress become: ‘Spaghetti straps hook my bare white shoulders./ Crinoline lace scratches my naked thighs…’.(Vintage). A much more sexualised image; the imagery of this piece also reflects a more teenage awareness, and of one’s place in the family and world. The adult world in turn is a lived-in place: ‘I see that elf. The doodle you were doing/the summer your dad and I split up.// the eyes, the red crosses. With eyes/ like that, how could she see anything?’ (Doodle).

Some commentators find modern women’s writing lacking in abstract thought, concentrating on the body, the immediate. I would suggest they look to the implicit approach of the poems. As here, the thought goes into the approach and choice of subject matter and treatment. So that in the latter part of the book we perhaps get the impression it is the theory that is now addressing us: ‘I often dream of terrible ponds,/ frogs the size of Jack Russells……………and when my eyes//look back at me, deeper pupils pulse/like passing sails, strips of mist/ clouding the bars in the water. Mother/ I’m here, Mother. Mother, I’m here now.’ (The Terrible Pond).

The Debaucher is a device, like a spirit of misrule, for allowing the writer to shift frames of reference: ‘The debaucher is not necessarily/ a person. It can be a memory,/ or the absence of compelling/ memory, or deliberately selective/ memory. It can be fear/ because fear keeps us from choosing…….’. (The Debaucher part 3). In part 5 we are more implicitly in Debaucher territory: Maybe he’s with me, but how can I know?/ If, when you are forty years old,/ attempting to finish/ a poem about being led astray,/ and you get a call from your childhood friend/ who’s ditching work………’
What follows is very a much slacker poem. The writing is much more open-armed, explicit in its concerns, whereas the previous writing was implicit in its concerns, and to a certain extent exclusive in its range.

Jason Camlot has a wonderful way with formal structures; nearly half the book is taken up with the sonnet form: the ADIOS SONNETS. He also has a gift for ballad: ‘When my soul flies east down the Metropolitan/ Towards those of Leonard Cohen and Oscar Peterson,/ Aldo Nova and Corey Hart/ Get my corpse a seat at the back of the 80 bus/ (use the transfer attached herein for that purpose),/ Send it down L’avenue Du Parc’. (Petition to Be Entombed at St. Viatuer Bagel – to the tune of “Supplique por etre enterre sur une plage de Sete” by George Brassens.)
He has crazy takes on poems by Lamartine, Victor Hugo, Baudelaire, Verlaine as well as The Song of Roland, and even this as a Peanuts cartoon.

Whereas Catherine Graham is a poet of the intimate voice, the treasured, internalised experience, Jason Camlot is delightfully wayward; he is an intelligent writer, and at times overly prolix, but ultimately enjoyable. A Jewish background, and Francophile awareness, adds an edge to the mix.