Genius Within a Tribute to Glenn Gould, Oxymoron

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Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould
Directed by Michele Hozer and Peter Raymont
Lorber Films
Opens September 10
Lincoln Plaza and Quad Cinema

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Michele Hozer and Peter Raymont's portrait of idiosyncratic Canadian piano prodigy Glenn Gould bedecks their subject's early grave with homage. Gould's ex-lovers, few true friends, and biographer come forth to tell what they saw of the musician's phobic, closely guarded mind. Early press portraits show a striking, messy twentysomething who, after debuting singular Bach interpretations, became a pianist second in fame through the 1950s only to Jerry Lee. But this overwhelming performer gave no concerts in the last two decades of his life. (He died in 1982 at age 50.) Like other lone-wolf icons of his vintage, Gould withdrew—more effacingly Canadian in his eccentricity than Brando, he shied away from world tours for the gray, private, Presbyterian Toronto of his youth. His playing trickles over his refracted self-presentations: Inner Life shows the charming interviewee, the virtuoso incanting over his keyboard, the studio-monk audio artisan, a host of costumed alter egos in home-movie skits—while original footage has a stand-in suggesting the bundled, vagrant-like man of later years, wandering empty landscapes. Devotees will perhaps find something new in this deep pool of archival footage, and newcomers will get an appropriate introduction to the beguiling charisma of a most media-savvy isolationist.

 
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