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HUMANITIES 527 Generally, the flavour of the conference which comes through in so many of the contributions is of homage and reminiscence. One feels that TomDalymayhavecaptured the mood when he said: 'Ithinkthereare too many of us old people here, happily talking to each other ... I am sad that there isn't a contingent of two hundred young people arguing and pushing and twisting and turning to dump the rest of us and do something ... for the future' (p 61). So two more books can be added to the Grierson/NFB shelf. Neither escapes the aura of reverence which so often hangs over this august combination. However, we may be sure that under the aegis of McGill's Grierson Project, the record willbe made even more complete as the years go by. But it is difficult to suppress Tom Daly's hopes for the advent of a more argumentative young contingent to inject vigour into the analysis and debate. (DAVID CLANDFIELD) Seth Feldman, editor. Take Two Irwin Publishing. 310. This collection of twenty-eight essays on Canadian cinema is a sequel to Canadian Film Reader, also edited by York University film professor Seth Feldman (with critic Joyce Nelson) seven years ago. In the interval between the two books, a Canadian film scholarship in two languages has begun to develop while the hopes for a viable film industry have crashed. In his preface to Take Two, Feldman invites us to read the book 'as evidence ofa cinema culture that has learned from its struggles.' Just what it has learned, or rather, what its academic critics have learned, is, on the testimony Feldman puts in this volume, questionable. Take Two has five parts. The first, imposed by the publisher, consists of popular movie reviewing by Robert Fulford, Martin Knelman, and Jay Scott capped with a past director of the Council of Canadian Filmmakers Council, Sandra Gathercole, lamenting the lack of a coherent federal film policy. All together, these articles go about the regular business of saying that Canadian cinema in the 1970S was a bust, that it was beset by commercial grovellers and cowardly politicians. The middle three sections, one each on English, French, and National FilmBoard production, make up the core'evidence' of Take Two. With few exceptions, these essays testify to an intellectual consensus formed around the film criticism of Professor Peter Harcourt of Carleton University . His method is auteurism, a critical approach that takes the value of films to lie in the'personal visions' ofthe director. Auteurism did not arise in Canada but has circulated widely through the English-speaking world 528 LETTERS IN CANADA 1984 since it arose in Paris during the early 1950S. Although it has been subjected to rigorous critique over its thirty-year career, the confident form of it that Harcourt applies in his four essays here retains all of its innocent celebration of the visionary filmmaker. As he has said often, Harcourt believes that the strength of Canadian film lies in the handful of auteurs who arose against all odds in this country and that our film criticism should concentrate on disclosing the glories oftheir work. As the huge Toronto film festival retrospective of Canadian cinema, for which Take Two was a companion last fall, and as the several essays each by . James Leach and Piers Handling show, the Harcourtprogramme hasbeen the determining one for Canadian film criticism. Unfortunately, becauseit puts aside the complex ofconventions arising from powerful institutions (like the NFB) as mere obstacles over which Canadian auteurs just leap, and because it takes their works to be a single splendid unity, this type of criticism often devolves into an academic publicity writing. This is the effect of Harcourt's own essay about Allan King and Handling's essays on Derek May and Michael Rubbo. (Indeed, the book Handling edited in 1983, The Shape of Rage: The Films of David Cronenberg, -exemplifies the extent to which such an undifferentiating criticism can go.) The exceptions to such criticism in Take Two, the pieces by David Clandfield on Quebec documentary and Feldman's own wide-ranging (and probably seminal) essay, 'The Silent Subject in Englis4-Canadian Film,' stand out sharply as alternatives to Harcourt's work...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 527-528
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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