Hot Docs 2024 Review | Eno

by Andrew Parker

Reviewing the creatively pieced together documentary Eno is pretty much impossible because the movie I saw will never be seen again. The film itself will keep on existing – and by any metric it’s a good one – but the specifics of the version of Eno I saw are constantly changing and shifting. Not even director Gary Hustwit (Helvetica, Urbanized) knows what form Eno will take next.

To explain, Eno – a film about pioneering, boundlessly creative musician, producer, and visual artist Brian Eno – is constantly being mixed and re-mixed live in the room by a predictive machine that attempts to never offer up the same footage in the same way twice. The machine known as BRAIN ONE (get it?) makes the film up more or less as it goes along.

What emerges is a worthwhile experiment and sort of live performance film befitting of its boundary pushing subject. The actual meat of Eno is about what people would expect: sit down interviews with Brian at home discussing his process and what excites him, archival materials that parse his collaborations with Roxy Music and other famous artists, and some silly anecdotes to keep things light and fresh. It’s an experiment that points out that the order these bits and pieces come in don’t matter because a full picture still emerges.

Regardless of the gimmick or one’s thoughts on the use of generative technology as an editor, Brian Eno is a splendid figure to spend some time with and learn from; an artist who still finds joy in little things, is capable of chuckling at the past, and who has no fear of failure. Hustwit’s film is a great reflection of the man himself. The next time Eno plays, who knows, it might be a bad movie because of how it was assembled, but the pieces themselves are likely to remain quite good. The joy is in the adventure of discovery.

Monday, April 29, 2024 – 6:30 pm – Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema

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