Alan Zweig (Canada, Focus on Alan Zweig)
Thursday, May 5, 9:30 p.m.
The Royal (608 College Street)
Eleven years after its initial release on the festival circuit, Torontonian Alan Zweig’s seminal documentary Vinyl has only increased in significance. Circa 2000, when MP3s where still a techie novelty, record collectors seemed like fussy Luddites too stubborn to upgrade to CDs. But nowadays, as the vaporization of music into the digital sphere has stoked a revival in record collecting, Zweig’s film seems almost prophetic. Vinyl seems to grab anyone with a few hundred LPs by the lapels and scream, “Don’t be like this!”
Through interviews and sometimes-candid/often-indulgent confessionals (which would become his trademark), Zweig catalogues the tics of the vinyl collector. But he’s less interested in records (let alone music) than what exactly drives people to compulsively dig through dirty old crates of records. Some of his subjects understand the connection between their hobby and certain patterns of social anxiety or introversion. One interviewee (Toronto Star film/literature/culture critic Geoff Pevere, incidentally) can lucidly explain his motivations for dumping his entire collection because he couldn’t stand the thought of anyone else thumbing through it, but others are less clear-headed and self-aware.
Vinyl diagrams how compulsion feeds collecting and vice versa. Looking at it now, it seems to make a strong case for tossing all your LPs, just like Geoff Pevere, and streaming songs of Grooveshark. But the lessons learned are only part of Vinyl‘s continued appeal. A decade-plus later, the quirks of these cratediggers still prove astonishing, hilarious, and sometimes, terrifying.