Mark Lewis at Monte Clark (55 Mill, building 2 ), to July 23. 416-703-1700. Rating: NNNN
There was a time when cinema was such new territory that audiences didn't understand a simple pan between two actors. Now, filmic language has grown so complex that we unconsciously register thousands of references every time we channel-surf. Mark Lewis uses minimalism to untangle the hyper-accelerated language of film. A series of his works at Monte Clark (a different film showing every week) moves at a stately pace while exploring basic camera techniques.
We're accustomed to being tweaked and rattled at the local Cineplex, so it's puzzling viewing at first. Lewis's meditative pace grows on you, though, especially when its focus is on modest moments of visual epiphany.
In Tilt/Zoom/Pan, carefully orchestrated events unfold, starting from a dirty puddle. The camera tilts upward to reveal the Toronto skyline over an industrial lot. A cloud of dust starts to contract miraculously into itself, and a red truck appears driving backwards. Lewis uses old-school techniques like time reversal and dislocation with state-of-the-art finesse, making them eerily new.
Deadwood's Molly Parker stars in Rear Projection. Standing in front of a projection of the Howling Wolf diner in Algonquin Park, she conveys a wistful noir stoicism as the scene behind her gradually shifts from summer to winter. For a moment she appears to be floating at a different speed from the landscape, with dreamlike, dislocating effect.
These elements create a condensed meta-film, bled of its narrative but evoking classic cinema.
Rush Hour demonstrates that the simplest tricks are the most effective. Holding his camera upside down on a London city street, Lewis catches pedestrians and their shadows as they walk in the early morning and late evening. In a world turned upside down, people's elongated shadows appear to trade places with their bodies. It's a reminder that images, too, are a form of shadow.