STAND ñ BY FOR TAPE BACK-UP

NOW Magazine - Hot Docs - - Reviews -

(Ross Suther­land, UK). 63 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNNN Stand By For Tape Back- up isn’t a doc­u­men­tary, re­ally. Tech­ni­cally, it’s the filmed ver­sion of a theatre piece, direc­tor/cre­ator Ross Suther­land’s off­screen mono­logue set to the stut­ter­ing, de­graded vi­su­als of an old VHS cas­sette his fam­ily used to record TV broad­casts in Eng­land in the 80s. But even this pre­sen­ta­tion, with Suther­land’s voice echo­ing in a dark theatre, con­fess­ing his alien­ation and de­pres­sion while frag­ments of Ghost­busters and the video for Michael Jack­son’s Thriller stream past us, has the in­ti­macy and hyp­notic pull of live per­for­mance.

Images roll back and forth while Suther­land’s voice- over de­con­structs and re­con­tex­tu­al­izes them: slowed down to a frac­tion of its speed, Bill Mur­ray’s hall­way con­fronta­tion with that weird green ghost be­comes as in­ex­pli­ca­ble and hor­ri­fy­ing as it was to Suther­land as a child, and a com­mer­cial for ATM bank­ing folds in on it­self to con­vey a soul- dead­en­ing pe­riod in his life when he worked a ser­vice job and hated ev­ery sec­ond of it.

It all builds to a re­mark­able re­lease of emo­tion, as the best live theatre does. But it works damn well as a record­ing, too. Apr 24, 6:15 pm, TIFF 3; Apr 25, 1 pm, TIFF 2; May 3, 6: 45 pm, TIFF 3

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