Ladies and Gentlemen ... Mr. Leonard Cohen
Format: 16mm Black & White
Runtime: 44 min
National Film Board of Canada
Throughout his career, Owen devoted much of his work to exploring the creative mind. His portraits of artists have much in common: they equate art and play, emphasize the anarchic aspects of creation, critique the repressive nature of English-Canadian society and stress the sheer amount of work that goes into making art. The films in this programme also reflect an internationalist concern; the artists involved had either achieved success abroad or chosen to leave Canada, or both.
One of the liveliest films produced by the NFB during the sixties, Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen follows Cohen as he returns to Montreal to “renew neurotic acquaintances.” A profile of an artist on the rise, the film is invigorated by Cohen’s mildly absurdist, self-deprecating humour. Owen’s attempt to proffer the perception of art as serious work is deflated by Cohen, who claims he hardly ever writes any more. His obsession with pop culture – exemplified by his interest in Top 40 radio, cheesy genre flicks and sleazy tabloids – lampoons the romantic notion of the serious, tormented poet.