So much of what makes art “art” is in its presentation, i.e. by exhibiting an artifact of human imagination in such a way that it encourages a certain depth of interpretation of its form and content from the eye of the beholder. But the “Levitated Mass”, a monolithic sculpture by Michael Heizer, doesn’t come from the imagination, but the land itself. It’s a part of a subcategory of art commonly referred to as “earth art”, which is sort of an artistic extension of the scientific field of geology.
Doug Pray’s new documentary explores the excavation of the titular 340-ton rock in Riverside County, California to its 106-mile conveyance to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The monumental boulder was discovered in 1968. It was just over four decades later (in 2012) that Heizer got together 10-million dollars of private funding to green light this formidable 11-day trek across 22 towns and 6 counties on a 295-foot custom-built red transporter surrounded by its own convoy, in a challenge that would test the grip of Atlas himself.
The most engaging part of Levitated Mass is the structure’s pilgrimage to its rightful place in LACMA. At these moments, we feel like we are participating in something special. As a road movie about a vehicle inching slowly along the busy American county roads, Levitated Mass fondly calls to mind memories of David Lynch’s The Straight Story. However, the documentary doesn’t win points for its interviews with local bumpkins, who share the most inchoate views of art and the subject at hand. You want to yell at the screen: bring in the experts! But overall, Levitated Mass is still a thoughtful documentary for those interested in the subject. (Parker Mott)
Born to Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity
Elizabeth Streb spent years honing her art and craft: creating an action and movement empire off of asking how she could credibly make herself and other human beings fly and challenge the perception of human ability and motion. Thus, the Streb Lab for Action Mechanics was born, an extreme academy for art and acrobatics.
It’s hard to describe exactly what Streb does without seeing it. Comparing it to something like Cirque du Soleil would be shorthand because the acts being mounted by Streb and her dedicated team of “pop action” performers are far more advanced and dangerous. Those acts and the passion and desire (and sometimes sadness and rage) aren’t the centrepieces of Catherine Gund’s film, but the film going audience will certainly gain a better appreciation for the artform.
The focus here gets placed squarely on the life Streb has already lived and that the performers are currently living. Streb is a great subject, and some of the dancers have interesting moments, but overall it’s a film about the power of dedication and the wonder of human agility. It’s not a deep documentary, but the subjects in play becomes memorable on both visual and emotional levels. (Andrew Parker)
Also at The Bloor this week:
Halloween (and the end of the month) is upon us, which must mean it’s time for the legendary return of The Rocky Horror Picture Show shadowcast for several sure to be insane holiday shows. There will be screenings on Friday and Saturday at 11:30pm, and two shows on the 31st (that will be sure to sell out, so act fast) at 7:00pm and 10:30pm. If you haven’t seen Rocky Horror with an audience, this is the perfect time. If you haven’t seen it on Halloween, you almost haven’t seen it at all.
The other big thing this week is election day in the city of Toronto, so go out and do that. Our only advice is that you shouldn’t vote strategically (which is the dumbest thing anyone could do), and then head down to The Bloor for a special party where you can either celebrate your candidate’s victor or drink the night away in sorrow if they lose (until 10:30pm when the bar closes). The doors to the party open at 6:00pm, tickets are free (2 per person, available now from the box office), and the evening will include a screening of results coming in and a panel discussion with local artists and activists. And it’s all hosted by comic Pat Thornton, who’s funny enough on his own without even having what’s sure to be a crazy election night going on directly behind him to fuel his material.
On Saturday morning at 9:00am, there’s a free screening (with donations accepted) of the documentary Wretches & Jabberers, a look at adults living with autism, with the director and subjects present for a post screening Q&A.
On Saturday at 6:00pm, Reel Asian and the Munk School of Global Affairs will hold a special symposium on post-war Korea with a screening of Jiseul and a discussion with Toronto filmmaker Min Sook Lee and special guests to follow. The Sundance award winning documentary screens only once and tells the story of a 1948 uprising that led to an unprecedented number of executions for those involved (signed off on by the U.S. government in) and of the survivors who fled for their lives.
The Music on Film series continues on Tuesday at 6:30pm with a screening of Fados, a 2007 film that rounds out Portuguese filmmaker Carlos Saura’s trilogy of music films centred in Lisbon. The film, once again sponsored by The Royal Conservatory of Music, will also include a post-screening performance by fadista Jennifer Bettencourt and discussion with Portuguese musician Louis Simao, moderated by Mervon Mehta, The Royal Conservatory of Music’s Executive Director of Performing Arts.