Wednesday 16 January 2013

High Steel

The answer to yesterday's riddle-me-ree: all were born with a caul. There now!

Wednesday is film day on Salvēte! and if you're ever at a loss for something new to watch a good place to start is the website of the National Film Board of Canada -

There are thousands of wonderful free films here, and very few duds. It was our own John Grierson who helped to set up the NFBC and his high-minded Reithian values still hold good. You're spoilt for choice, in fact, so let me make a  particular recommendation - the films of Don Owen. As a novice young director he worked with W. H. Auden on Runner (1962), a short lyrical documentary about the Canadian athlete Bruce Kidd. I know that 'cool' is a near-universal term of thoughtless approval and lacks purchasing power. But Runner, with its luminous black and white cinematography and jazz score is cool, really cool.

A later film, High Steel is on the NFBC website, a brilliant and hair-raising study of the fearless iron workers labouring hundreds of feet up building skyscrapers in New York. What starts as a conventional account suddenly changes direction and . . .  but see for yourself. It's just 13 minutes long.

Owen also made a very good film about Leonard Cohen before he was famous (Cohen, that is). It's also on the NFBC site.

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