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By David Nagler | February 9, 2004

Saying that Grant Munro’s films are charming is like saying David Lynch’s films are strange. Which is to say, you’d only be scratching the surface. However, for the viewer unfamiliar with Winnepeg-born Grant Munro (probably most people, with the exception of cinephiles and Canadians), Milestone’s new 2-DVD collection Cut-Up will give any interested viewer the ideal introduction.

A filmmaker, actor, animator, editor, and all-around character, Munro had the good fortune of having much of his work funded by the National Film Board of Canada, enabling him to make films as varied in subject and style as they were in length. There is a youthful quality to most these films, regardless of whether or not he directed and conceived them, or if he simply acted in them. This more than applies to the delightfully playful animation of “The Animal Movie” and “Christmas Cracker,” but the oddly compelling graveyard documentary “Boo Hoo” and the harrowing anti-war film “Toys” showed that Munro could be serious and thought provoking as well.

Many of the films were evidently made for public service, tackling such topics as smoking, election campaigning, and using machinery properly. These films have mixed results, but the innovation present is undeniable, to which partial credit must be given to equally influential filmmaker Norman
McLaren, who collaborates with Munro on a number of these and who Munro pays homage to in his own “McLaren on McLaren.”

Bonus features include drawings, photos, and interviews with Munro about his life and each of the twelve films, making the collection a wonderful tribute to a diverse talent, whose infectious joy is evident in his work.

Want a test? Try to watch Munro’s exuberantly awkward dance across an empty stage to the music of The Six and Seven-Eighths String Band of New Orleans in the rediscovered film “Six and Seven-Eighths” without smiling. It will prove extraordinarily difficult.

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