Critical theory is not known to zing and hum with the menacing eloquence of Dashiell Hammett, but Double Cross: the Hollywood Films of Douglas Gordon (Art Gallery of York University/ The Power Plan) by Philip Monk, Canada’s most steely art curator and critic, comes close. Douglas Gordon, an artist and Turner Prize winner best known for his video appropriations of film noir, is gumshoed by Monk until all secrets are revealed.
Whether he is stretching Hitchcock’s Psycho out to twenty-four hours long or isolating nuances in Martin Scorsese’s film Taxi Driver, Gordon offers reconfigurations of Hollywood films that are mirrors on fire, with reflections not of the clichéd gaze but of the mirror itself. Unlike any other crit-book this year, Double Cross breezes by with an economy of words and the precision of a stiletto, drawing us into the world of an important artist and presenting the ramifications of his work.
Enjoy the dark ride, while being hoodwinked with plot twists and surprise endings that are more dime-store mystery than textbook tedium.