The Lynch pinned

WEIRD SCIENCE: THE IDIOSYNCRATIC ARCHAEOLOGY OF PETER LYNCH at Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas West) from Friday.

WEIRD SCIENCE: THE IDIOSYNCRATIC ARCHAEOLOGY OF PETER LYNCH at Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas West) from Friday (June 20) to 28. For times, see Indie & Rep Film, this page. 416-962-3456. Rating: NNNN

To say that Peter Lynch is a director fascinated by obsessive outsiders is a dramatic oversimplification, but it’s still completely appropriate. Lynch’s films are devoted to characters, whether real and invented, who make it their mission to unearth a secret or solve a problem. Whether the problem in question actually needs solving is usually beside the point.

The best example of Lynch’s fascination with self-styled mavericks is also the director’s best-known film, Project Grizzly (screening Tuesday, June 24, 7 pm). A 1996 portrait of Ontario mechanic Troy Hurtubise, who devotes himself to building the perfect bear-proof suit after surviving an encounter with a grizzly, the film delves with surprising empathy into its subject’s near-suicidal need to recreate the scariest moment of his life.

In Cyberman (June 26, 7 pm), Lynch’s 2001 profile of U of T prof Steve Mann, the director again allows his subject to control (or at least influence) the way he’s depicted in the film. The inventor of a wearable rig of uplinked cameras that constantly broadcast his experiences live on the World Wide Web, Mann sees himself as a visionary who offers humanity a bridge to an interactive, uploadable existence through his own example.

The theme of vision metastasizing into destructive obsession reverberates throughout 1998’s The Herd (June 28, 9 pm), Lynch’s examination of a 1929 reindeer drive undertaken by the federal government that turned into a six-year odyssey of confusion and egomania.

Tapping the likes of Don McKellar, Colm Feore, Mark McKinney and James Allodi to re-enact the events, Lynch constructs his most dramatic feature to date. It’s about the folly of good intentions in the face of an un­caring natural world, but also about human beings’ need to literally imprint themselves on that world at almost any cost.

Lynch explores his own relationship to history, in a manner of speaking, in 2003’s A Whale Of A Tale (June 27, 9 pm), which starts with the filmmaker’s discovery of a curious bone in downtown To­ronto and evolves into an epic quest for impossible answers.

Cinematheque Ontario’s retrospective – which pairs Lynch’s features with his playful shorts – opens tomorrow night with a talk by the filmmaker, who will also present a screening of Billy Wilder’s surrealistic drama The Lost Weekend (Friday, June 20, 7 pm) – another story, Lynch says, of “characters who go off the rails.”

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