|Raindance Film Review: NYman with a Movie Camera|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Saturday, 29 September 2012 12:29|
Director: Michael Nyman
Who watches Man with a Movie Camera and thinks "I'll remake that"? The answer is as unlikely as the question: Michael Nyman. Yes, the very same. After years of accompanying Dziga Vertov's 1929 original from behind the keyboard, The Piano's composer has put down the ivories and picked up a camera to come up with his own version. You could call it a remake - but the word cover seems more appropriate.
Kicking off with the full Russian titles, Nyman's manifesto remains the same: to create a pure form of cinema without story or script. He then works through the film, replacing each shot with a modern equivalent collected by his lens over the last 20 years. But it's nowhere near as mechanical as it sounds: what could be a laborious exercise in visual duplication feels surprisingly fresh and new. It makes Gus Van Sant's shot-by-shot remake of Psycho look as embarrassingly lazy as it is.
It helps, perhaps, that Nyman knows the film well enough to adopt the titular role: his score, already tailored to fit the original film, propels his photo album along - familiar driving piano rhythms that rush alongside shots of modern machines and busy traffic women.
But the fun comes from the playful images. People line up chairs for a concert in the first scene, unaware of the mayhem that's about to unfold - mayhem that, of course, has nothing to do with them at all. But still we try to invent connections. And so we see a guy operating a camera jib, apparently following an old woman as she ambles down the road. Later, he's directly positioning a skyscraper, jiggling it up and down. Nyman even interacts with Vertov's images, placing snippets of black and white Soviet life on moving billboards in technicolor 21st Century car parks.
The most striking moment, though, involves a pianist himself. Combined with shots of lively dancers, Nyman makes the women tip-tap all over his keys. It's as impressive now as it was almost 100 years ago. Just like the superb Samsara last month, Nyman with a Movie Camera proves that even without a plot, images alone can bewilder and beguile. And he makes those images dance up and down the piano like it's 1929 all over again.br />
NYman with a Movie Camera takes a well-worn standard and lets it strut to a new tune. A vibrant cover of a cinema classic.