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Ladies and Gentlemen Mr. Leonard Cohen

Ladies and Gentlemen Mr. Leonard Cohen






Join us at the Rio Theatre for a celebration of Leonard Cohen  – as seen through a curated collection of four short films produced by The National Film Board of Canada between 1964 – 1977. The “gem” of the bunch is Donald Brittain and Don Owen‘s 1964 film LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, MR. LEONARD COHEN, a documentary portrait of Cohen (in his pre-musician days) as a poet and stand-up comedian.

Monday, January 30
Doors 6:30 pm | Movie 7:00 pm
Single tickets $10 in advance HERE | $12 at the door

*Minors are welcome in the balcony! (If there are minors in your party, please ensure you purchase the appropriate “balcony” ticket. Must be 19+ w/ID for bar service and main floor seating.)
**Groupons and passes OK! Please redeem at the door.

ANGEL (Derek May, 1966 / 7 mins / PG) ANGEL falls in the broad and uncanny category of “NFB experimental film.” Here, a girl, a man and a dog are messing around with a giant pair of polka dot wings. That’s pretty much as far as it goes, in terms of storyline, but the highly stylized black-and-white visuals please the eye and yes, Leonard Cohen wrote the music. (The song is performed by the Stormy Clovers.)

POETS ON FILM NO. 1 (Bozenna Heczko, Elizabeth Lewis, Janet Perlman & Gayle Thomas, 1977 / 8 mins / PG) This short film is part of a series of animated shorts illustrating works by Canadian poets, including “Riverdale Lion” by John Robert Colombo, “A Kite Is a Victim” by Leonard Cohen, “Klaxon” by James Reaney and George Johnston’s “The Bulge.” Leonard Cohen’s poem, “A Kite is a Victim,” read by Paul Hecht, is paired with vivid colour drawings by Elizabeth Lewis. 

POEN (Josef Reeve, 5 mins / 1967 / PG) How many words is a picture worth, again? POEN, a peculiar film with a peculiar premise, gently pokes at this question. What you have here is one single poem (a prose poem from Leonard Cohen’s novel, ‘Beautiful Losers’) being read by the author four times in a row; the poem producing a distinct emotional effect every time it is read following the poet’s rendition and accompanying visuals. What makes this short fresh and thought-provoking is the image sequence that illustrates each rendition. Not only are the visuals quirky and interesting to look at in and of themselves, but tracking the degree to which the evolving word-image pairings shifts the poem’s meaning, or at least open new avenues for interpretations, is deeply intriguing. The result is trippy – but definitely good trippy.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, MR LEONARD COHEN (Donald Brittain & Don Owen, 1964 / 44 mins / PG) Over three quarters of an hour [LADIES AND GENTLEMEN…] follows the prodigal son on one of his visits back to Montreal. (The rest of the time, the young artist dwells in Greece with a doe-eyed blonde.) Cohen is 30, dapper, confident to the point of cockiness. He already has 4 books out, a way with women, and a growing reputation. The camera tags along as Cohen reads poems in front of crowds, hangs out in bistros (where girls in beehives sip on stout Molson Export bottles), wistfully walks around Mount Royal Park, and enjoys a shave and a bath in a “$3 hotel room” (where he is seen in turn 1- bare-chested, 2- sporting a pair of tightie-whities, and 3- ordering a cheese sandwich and a glass of milk in flawless French.)

Between discussions about the I-Ching, being vegetarian (something that helps him “feel honest about petting a dog”), and visiting Havana at the height of the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the film suggests Cohen is nothing but perfectly poised for even greater success. Captured by Brittain, the man’s very being – eyes, hunched shoulders, hands and all – appear to already contain the seeds we now know sprouted, proliferated and bloomed so brightly thereafter. A must-watch for any Cohen fan.

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