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Boogie-Doodle

March 20, 2010

We had glorious weather the past week in Toronto – sunny and warm, although of course I was stuck inside for much of the week. On Friday, the temperature hit a record high.

Finally, the weekend arrives, and… it snows.

Which means, it’s time for Boogie-Doodle:

Boogie-Doodle is the earliest Norman McLaren film on the NFB website; it is an experimental film that was made without a camera. McLaren later made a much more famous film, Begone Dull Care, using a similar technique – but part of me prefers Boogie-Doodle, if only because I spent many hours in school doodling, and wish that some of them could have boogied.

Other recent NFB viewings:

Gateway to Asia A short bit of war-time propaganda, this film introduces viewers to British Columbia’s natural resources, its growing economy, its contribution to the war effort, and its interment camps for Japanese Canadians. Definitely a slice of history.

The Apprentice I might call this a bizarre animated short from Richard Condie, but all of his films are extraordinarily bizarre so the term is redundant. But I think this is one of his less successful films; it has a few interesting ideas, but seems to get stuck on a lack of purpose midway through.

Varley A short introduction to the work of Fred Varley. Kinda weird, in that rather than just interviewing him, they have him try to “act” out a typical morning, which I don’t think really works.

Still, it’s a decent introduction to his work, plus it’s a chance to see a member of the Group of effing Seven in the flesh, which is what the NFB was made for.

The Railrodder I had seen this before, years ago. Buster Keaton made this little film shortly before he died, in which he travels across Canada in a railway track speeder. Keaton is my all-time favourite actor, and The General is one of my favourite films, so of course I’m thrilled that he made it.

I wish they had done more with it, but what are ya gonna do. There’s really no sense of place between Ontario and the Rockies; I have no idea where he is half the time.

And the littering… well, it was the 60’s, so it’s forgivable – but it’s still pretty ugly to watch.

The Northern Lights A documentary about the aurora borealis. It’s OK, but there’s not enough science in it for my liking. Much of the film is devoted to the myths of the northern lights have been passed down through generations – I’m sure an interesting film could be made on that topic, but the stories presented here didn’t grab me.

Caribou of Northern Canada A short doc about one year in the life of a herd of caribou. Pretty straightforward, narrated by the ubiquitous Big Important Voice – not exactly March of the Penguins. But it a packs a lot into 13 minutes, and is worth watching if you have any interest in the subject (FYI – caribou don’t keep a harem, just in case you were wondering).

Canada Vignettes: The Maple Leaf The Canada Vignettes series featured about a dozen short – really short – films in the late 70’s, that have been played millions of times on TV. This is one of the better ones, and animated short in which the maple leaf transforms into dozens of faces in the span of just a minute.

Canada Vignettes: The Egg Another animated short, The Egg is pretty awesome.

Canada Vignettes: The Horse I don’t get this one; neither the story nor animation is of interest. And this series worked best without any narration.

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