Sunday, January 24, 2010

In Case of a Fire

This article was originally published November 27th 2009 here on Ottawa Film Review. It is slightly modified.-D.D.

The Adjuster (Atom Egoyan, 1991)
*** (A Must-See)

The internationally known Canadian artist and filmmaker Atom Egoyan will be in Ottawa on Thursday January 28th at 7PM at the Libary and Archieves Canada to introduce his 1991 fourth feature The Adjuster to accompany the official book launch of Tom McSorley's monograph Atom Egoyan's: The Adjuster (University of Toronto Press, $16.95).

Tom McSorley’s new book is a revealing examination of Atom Egoyan’s fourth feature The Adjuster. McSorley describes The Adjuster as “a dark drama about the complex and intense relationships between an insurance adjuster and his clients”. As the executive director of the Canadian Film Institute in Ottawa, Tom McSorley in the last couple of years has helped program screenings at the Library and Archives Canada of Atom Egoyan’s first and latest feature: Next of Kin (1984), and Adoration (2008). The book is part of the Canadian Cinema series whose goal is to “bring scholarly reflection on Canadian cinematic tradition and contemporary Canadian film”.

McSorley’s monograph on The Adjuster begins with a short history of Canadian cinema. The 1982 government Capital Cost Allowance (CCA) lead to the post-tax shelter generation of Canadian filmmakers who would spearhead a creative resurgence in national film. The Toronto Festival of Festivals - now more commonly known as the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) - emphasis on Canadian content (e.g., “The Northern Light”, “Perspective Canada”) was a launch pad for the Toronto New Wave filmmakers emerging work, Atom Egoyan at the frontline. McSorley connects The Adjuster with Egoyan’s first three films Next of Kin, Family Viewing (1987) and Speaking Parts (1989) emphasizing thematic continuity, an expansion from video to a Cinemascope widescreen and growing international attention. The analysis of the film is illuminating. Specifically its examination of the fire motif, the influence of the Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni, the absurdist theatre tradition, and finally pinpointing what exactly is the integral aspect of The Adjuster viewing experience. The quality of not knowing.

Tom McSorley’s monograph on The Adjuster came out in September and feels really fresh with its references to Adoration that was released in May 2009. The book launch at the 2009 TIFF, the programming of The Adjuster as part of the festivals “Open Vault” retrospective and an upcoming film Chloe emphasize Atom Egoyan importance as a Canadian filmmaker and rich body of work that has consistently been getting more international attention and quality appraisals. If you have not yet seen The Adjuster, it is well worth seeing. If you want to better appreciate it and understand its role in the context of Canadian cinema, read this book.-David Davidson

(Canadian Film Institute, Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street,28/01 & 6/02)

No comments: