MOVING PICTURES FESTIVAL OF DANCE ON FILM AND VIDEO Rating: NNNN
This is the 15th and final year for the Moving Pictures festival, so be sure you catch its impressive swan song this weekend.
Of all the performing arts, dance works best on a screen, and MoPix co-founders Kathleen M. Smith and Marc Glassman have always chosen works that stretch the limits of both movement and film.
The fest opens tonight (Thursday, November 2, at 8 pm) with the premiere of MoPix fave Mose Mossanen's Roxana, a lush period film inspired by Daniel Defoe's novel. National Ballet star Greta Hodgkinson plays the opportunistic title character who sleeps her way up the social ladder, leaving a handful of men (danced by Rex Harrington and Christopher Body) and one frustrated woman (actor Sheila McCarthy) in her wake.
The film takes a while to find its footing, with some early scenes weakened by Hodgkinson's acting inexperience. But once choreographer Roberto Campanella's dances kick in - from a subtle erotic solo by McCarthy to stately duets and a sexy orgy on a bed - the piece takes off. As a bonus, there are some gorgeous costumes evoking 50s and 60s haute fashions, and stunning locations that'll have you playing the Name That Southwestern Ontario Setting game.
Also on the bill are two very good shorts. Maclean's magazine film critic Brian D. Johnson's Tell Me Everything is a poetic, sensuous look at hands that miraculously makes you aware of your other senses, while Pascale Marcotte's Revolver Tango starts out as a beautifully timed duet about adultery and murder and ends with a drop-dead punchline.
Tim Southam's Perrault Dancer (Friday, November 3, at 7 pm) screened two summers ago on Bravo, but it's worth another look for its remarkable insights into the legendary Montreal choreographer Jean-Pierre Perrault, who died in 2002.
A half-dozen of Perrault's dancers explain the highs and lows of working with the man, who often showed up at rehearsals with no ideas and then made them stay late after having sudden brainstorms at the end of the day.
The dancers are a uniformly articulate and sensitive bunch, illuminating Perrault's aesthetics and revealing the psychological and physical costs of creating Perrault's groundbreaking works. Those pieces, including the masterpiece Joe, are excellently illustrated with generous excerpts.
The strongest example of an extraordinary duet between film and dance is One Flat Thing Reproduced (Friday, November 3, at 9 pm), Thierry De Mey's film version of William Forsythe's bravura piece for an ensemble and 20 metal tables.
To a sizzling soundscape, the dancers attack their gymnastic-like moves under, over and across these desks with breakneck speed and accuracy. The movement is complicated on its own - the rehearsals must have been a nightmare - and De Mey knows exactly when to pull away to give us a panoramic view or get up close to show us a significant detail. (MoPix runs to Saturday, November 4, at the Gladstone Hotel.)