Very Nice, Very Nice
Format: 35mm Black & White
Runtime: 7 min
National Film Board of Canada
Arthur Lipsett’s bold and brilliant first film was a revelation – a harsh critique of contemporary culture, it was presented in a rapid-fire montage style unique to Canadian cinema at the time. The film’s innovative style was highly influential and has since become familiar, but it still stands up today as an eerily insightful anti-technocratic statement.
After working for two years in the National Film Board’s animation department, the twenty-five-year-old Lipsett embarked, for his own amusement, on a sound experiment in which he created soundtracks composed of snippets from other films (including many works from the Candid Eye series). He then added a collage of still photographs: some are outtakes from NFB films and others were clipped from magazines, but most of the images are pictures Lipsett took himself in Paris and New York City. The result is a wry and cynical commentary on modern life – that also manages to mock the NFB Unit B ethos.
A central work in the development of experimental cinema in Canada, Very Nice, Very Nice is a rigorously composed film in which each image is richly suggestive and perfectly suited to Lipsett’s bleak vision. The film is not without moments of humour, though it ends on a bittersweet and cautionary note. Very Nice, Very Nice received an Academy Award® nomination for Live Action Short Subject and was cited as an influence by such prominent filmmakers as Stanley Kubrick and George Lucas.