Leonard Cohen In 1967 Movie – The Ernie Game

While Leonard Cohen’s music has been featured in more than 50 movie soundtracks,  Cohen himself has rarely been part of the cast (other than in documentaries about him).

In The Ernie Game, however, Leonard Cohen plays a cameo role – as a singer who performs “The Stranger Song.”

The Wikipedia entry on The Ernie Game, a 1967 Canadian film (shot in Montreal) by Don Owen, is instructive:

Called “One of the most innovative examples of personal cinema to come from English Canada in the Sixties” by the Cinematheque Ontario, The Ernie Game was part of a proposed trio of works intended to celebrate the Canadian Centennial. The film centres around Ernie Turner and his attempts to survive in the world after he’s released from an asylum. He grows increasingly alienated and his fragile mental state declines, moving between two women, ex-girlfriend and current lover. “The Ernie Game provides a resonant portrait of mental illness,” writes Steve Gravestock of the Cinematheque, “its pathologically narcissistic protagonist representing Owen’s most nightmarish vision of the artist as fraud and pariah.”  Owen risked his career at the NFB when he surreptitiously turned what was to have been a half-hour educational film into the of the few English-language dramatic features made in Canada during the 1960s.

Produced by the National Film Board of Canada, The Ernie Game received the Etrog Awards, now known as Genie Awards, for Best Direction and Best Feature Film in 1968.  It was also entered into the 18th Berlin International Film Festival.

Cast:   

    Jackie Burroughs – Gail
    Anna Cameron – Social worker
    Leonard Cohen – Singer
    Corinne Copnick – Landlady
    Rolland D’Amour – Neighbour
    Judith Gault – Donna
    Alexis Kanner – Ernie Turner
    Derek May – Ernie’s accomplice
    Louis Negin – Ernie’s friend

Leonard Cohen In The Ernie Game

The video is configured to begin at the start of Cohen’s performance.

Note: Originally posted May 7, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen Reads Prose Poem From Beautiful Losers In 1967 Film: Poen – Video & Commentary

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Poen

Excerpt from The Poetry of Leonard Cohen Illustrated by Two Short Films by Josh Jones (Open Culture: July 18th, 2013)

Beautiful Losers’ dense system of historical references does put one in mind of Ulysses, but the language, the syntax, the eagle flights into the holy and dives into the profane, remind me somewhat of another Buddhist poet of Canadian extraction, Jack Kerouac. Cohen even sounds a bit like Kerouac, in the short 1967 film, “Poen,” an experimental piece that sets four readings of a prose-poem from Beautiful Losers to a montage of starkly provocative images from black-and-white film and photography, Goya, and various surrealists. Made by Josef Reeve for the National Film Board, the short reels out four different recorded takes of Cohen reading the poem. At the end of each reading, he says, “cut,” and the film fades to black. Taken from the novel’s context, the poem becomes a personal meditation on meditation, or perhaps on writing: “My mind seems to go out on a path, the width of a thread,” begins Cohen and unfolds an image of mental discovery like that described by Donald Barthelme, who once said “writing is a process of dealing with not-knowing…. At best there’s a slender intuition, not much greater than an itch.”

Excerpt from Deep Cuts: Leonard Cohen by Margaret Barton-Fumo  (Film Comment: Feb 6, 2017)

“My mind seems to go out on a path the width of a thread and of endless length…” opens the prose poem excerpted from Cohen’s novel, Beautiful Losers (1966). Cohen begins to recite the poem four times, getting further into the text with each try. A rapid montage of black and white still images accompany his voiceover up until the fourth iteration of the poem, which includes archival footage of people shooting guns, war zones, and general destruction. Each image connects in some way to a line of the poem, an individual word or interpretation, and each series of images is different from the next. The camera zooms and pans penetratingly over the shifting images, creating a live collage that both augments and is augmented by Cohen’s multivalent poem.

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1966 Film, Angel, Features Leonard Cohen’s Music Performed By Stormy Clovers

angel2The National Film Board of Canada site offers this summary:

This is a film about a young man, a girl and a dog, in which the visuals are overexposed or, more technically, given a high contrast. The girl tries to fly with wings more symbolic than practical; the young man and the dog make similar attempts. Music by poet Leonard Cohen, played by The Stormy Clovers.

Also see Introducing The Stormy Clovers – And Their Songwriter, Leonard Cohen

Excerpt from The Poetry of Leonard Cohen Illustrated by Two Short Films by Josh Jones (Open Culture: July 18th, 2013)

In … Derek May’s Angel, a young couple portrayed by Cohen and an uncredited woman scuffle in the snow and play with her floppy, polka-dotted fabric wings. The look of the film is extremely high-contrast with only pitch blacks and pure whites, distorting perspective and effectively creating a vast landscape of continuous snow. Bordering on twee, Angel features music written by Cohen and performed by The Stormy Clovers, Cohen’s early backing band. The instrumentals sound very much like that of Cohen’s debut album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, which was released the following year.

Wikipedia adds

The film features music by Leonard Cohen, performed by The Stormy Clovers. Awards for the film included the Genie Award in the arts and experimental category.

The YouTube description of Angel follows:

A man, a woman and a dog take turns donning wings in this 1966 experimental film that both mocks and embodies the spirit of its decade. Featuring music and an uncredited appearance by Leonard Cohen. Short film directed by Derek May included as a DVD bonus on “Ladies and Gentleman… Mr Leonard Cohen” (The National Film Board of Canada, 2006).

Note: Originally posted Jan 3, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” Helps Exotica Make Best Movies List

exoticaPaste magazine’s 90 Best Movies Of The 1990s by Michael Dunaway (posted July 10, 2012) lists Atom Egoyan’s Exotica:

54. Exotica (Atom Egoyan, 1994): Backed with Mychael Danna’s haunting score and the dark, pulsing rhythm of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows,” there’s no escaping the hypnotic trance of the puzzle that is Atom Egoyan’s Exotica. Folding a collection of stories over themselves in space and time, Egoyan probes the lives of initially mysterious characters in a strip club and an exotic pet store, moving ever closer to their misfortunes and mental scars. Filling the film with one- and two-way mirrors, Egoyan forges a ring of characters who can’t clearly view themselves and others at the same time.—Jeremy Mathews [bolding mine]

Exotica and Dancing At The Blue Iguana, another movie about strippers featuring Leonard Cohen’s music, are both discussed at A Contemplation Of Leonard Cohen’s Music In Soundtracks Of Two Movies About Strip Clubs

Note: Originally posted July 11, 2012 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“These aren’t just performances for Cohen, they’re his way of reconnecting with his art and self. It’s a personal ritual, and that makes ‘Bird on a Wire’ an essential part of Cohen’s legacy.”

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“Bird on a Wire” is a time capsule of a specific period in Cohen’s career. But it also neatly illustrates the singer’s personality in an accessible and compelling way. It’s that rare concert doc that isn’t for established fans only. Viewers may feel like they’ve been thrown into the deep end with Cohen and/or may not be immediately won over by rousing live versions of Cohen’s (by-now) famous standards. But there’s a lot of shrewd observations about Cohen spread throughout a lightning-quick 105-minute runtime. When you see Cohen try (and fail) to sing to his Jerusalem audience, you’re seeing the artist struggling to stay on the ground. These aren’t just performances for Cohen, they’re his way of reconnecting with his art and self. It’s a personal ritual, and that makes “Bird on a Wire” an essential part of Cohen’s legacy.

From Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire Review by Simon Abrams (RogerEbert.com: January 18, 2017). This is one of the few articles about this film that considers its cinematology and reviews it as a movie rather than focus on the story of the loss and recovery of the documentary. Recommended reading.

Credit Due Department: Graphic atop this post contributed by Dominique BOILE.

“Framing the film with a pair of brilliant Cohen songs almost renders the remainder of Natural Born Killers irrelevant”

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Framing the film with a pair of brilliant Cohen songs almost renders the remainder of Natural Born Killers irrelevant. In about ten minutes’ worth of music, Cohen has already said everything that the film intends to say, and manages to do so with an eloquence that really can’t be matched by all the fancy editing and film tricks in the world.quotedown2

 

From Exit Music (For a Film): Leonard Cohen, “The Future” | Popdose: A consideration of Cohen’s “The Future” and “Waiting fo the Miracle” in the soundtrack of Natural Born Killer. Note: Originally posted October 16, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric