At long last, a film for people who enjoyed Godard’s Film Socialisme but wished it wasn’t so conventional! All kidding aside, the influence of Uncle Jean can be felt in Richard Foreman’s jarring sound design (some of which should be familiar to spectators who have experienced his avant-garde theater work) and—even more so—in his use of on-screen text. Eschewing narrative, Once Every Day gathers a group of performers in a Buffalo warehouse and has them execute a series of exercises and tasks. Where almost all films hide the signs of blocking, Foreman calls attention to his instructions to the actors, leaving them on-screen, although the directions themselves are sometimes borderline inaudible. Once Every Day constantly makes us aware that we’re watching a film; you could call it Brechtian were there any drama to distract us from. Instead, Foreman offers up a series of cool video textures. He seems nostalgic for the snow and grain of low-grade DV, simulating the fuzz-o-rama of a third-generation VHS dupe without going as far as Harmony Korine’s Trash Humpers. The only clue regarding an overriding concept comes from an intertitle about a Chinese herb called “O-X,” which, if taken daily for a year, creates unbreakable bonds between people. Are the actors of Once Every Day on O-X? Even if its ultimate meaning remains elusive, the film is enthralling.
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