CHRISTIAN MARCLAY at the Power Plant (231 Queens Quay West), to November 25. 416-973-4949. See listing. Rating: NNNNN
In Christian Marclay's The Clock, the relationship between time and cinema is examined to an obsessive degree that is nothing short of mind-boggling.
Over three years, Marclay assembled nearly 10,000 separate clips from a vast selection of iconic movies, TV shows and experimental films. Each segment notes a specific time of day, either through a timepiece, an image or dialogue. There's a segment for every minute of a 24-hour day, and Marclay has placed them in chronological order.
Even more astonishing, the film is screened so each sequence corresponds precisely to real time. Walk in at 3:30 am and the film for 3:30 am plays; walk in at noon and you'll see the noon clip. The Clock, in other words, is exactly what it claims to be.
If you think this sounds dull, be forewarned. The Clock is astonishingly addictive. Not only are time references a brilliant way to drive the plot forward, but the vast scope of cinema excerpted keeps you engaged. Stars appear at different points in their careers, and subtle patterns emerge.
The film mirrors human rhythms as well as clock time. In the early morning, hungover characters throw alarm clocks; nearing evening there are women disappointed with their absent husbands. The relentlessness of time is organically underscored by habit, ritual and the odd surprise.
Marclay has been a lifelong collagist and relentless remixer of old media, be it sound, film or image. He's used his superbly honed sensibilities to create a new film with its own logic, rhythm and aesthetics, in which time is the protagonist.