Published May 01, 2016In 1976, Canadian daredevil Ken Carter decided to do the impossible: drive a rocket-powered car off a concrete ramp and sail across the St. Lawrence River. The plan was to land in a bed of roses on the other side.
Carter would never accomplish his death-defying jump, but the stunt was so absurd and weirdly poetic that it struck a chord with Canadian composer and double bassist Mark Haney, who, inspired in-part by the tragic figure and his impossible feat (as well as Roger Waters' over-the-top debut solo album The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking and the Star Wars read-along books and records of his youth), decided to turn the amazing true story into an experimental concept record that perfectly blends high art with sensational, trashy entertainment.
Both men's passion projects are the subject of John Bolton's docudrama Aim for the Roses, a film that takes two totally disparate cultural moments in Canadian history and makes them equally entertaining, enthralling and thought provoking.
Made up of archival footage (primarily the 1981 documentary The Devil at Your Heels, which chronicled the events leading up to Carter's jump) and interviews with the album's major players, as well as theatrical footage of Haney and co. performing parts of the record, Bolton approaches both subjects like they're cut from the same cloth, highlighting their similarities and whimsical delusions to show the endless array of connections to one another and their love of their respective crafts. The results are stirring, and should resonate with viewers, no matter their interest level in unusual motorsports or the complexity of musical composition.
Although it's unorthodox in its subject matter and execution, Aim for the Roses is a well-constructed and captivating look at the limits of creativity and those who choose to fly right past them. (Opus 59 Films)