MENTAL HYGIENE: THE FESTIVAL OF CLASSROOM GUIDANCE FILMS, 1941-1961 Rating: NNN
As someone who's old enough to have actually seen some of these films in their last tattered days on the high school circuit, I'm not sure that anyone, with the possible exception of curator and presenter Ken Smith, would actually want to sit through 40 films depicting the right way to behave as presented in high school classrooms over almost three decades of difficult American social history.
Cheaply shot and woodenly acted, these short, didactic, humourless films present an ideal world in which everyone aspires to being like someone in a black-and-white sitcom, only with less edge. Of course, they're marketed here as unintentional comedies -- which is true, for a while -- and as sociological documents. Also true.
The Bloor offers six separate programs, and if I had to pick one, it would be the Friday-night collection on Courtesy, Conformity And The Bomb. There's almost nothing more sickeningly funny than films on nuclear war designed to be shown in schools. Alternatively, you could just rent The Atomic Café, the early-80s compilation of "duck and cover" films.
All programs will be introduced by Smith, whose book Mental Hygiene will no doubt be available in the lobby. (Bloor, October 25-27)