Some 30 years after his sole foray into filmmaking, avant-garde stage director Richard Foreman, he of Ontological-Hysteric Theater fame, picks up where he left off, this time in the digital world, with “Once Every Day.” Shot in six days and edited over a year’s span, “Day” consists of an eclectic, sporadically compelling mix of disparate sounds, images, groupings of people and written words proceeding in no ostensible order and following no perceptible logic. Channeling ’50s-’60s experimental cinema, the pic has bowed, fittingly, at Jonas Mekas’ Anthology Film Archives.
Stony-faced thesps appear in closeup, arranged in tableaux, and obey whispered or matter-of-fact offscreen stage directions whose meanings remain mysterious: Actors are told to lie down, loom over one other, cover their faces with handkerchiefs or run to a bookcase to snatch up or redeposit stuffed animals. The pic feels like a deconstructed theater piece, using cinematic means — wipes; split-screens; irises; zooms; jerky camera movements; degrees of graininess, color or focus — to generate dissonance and fragmentation. Snippets of dialogue (“Help me!”) or cryptic pronouncements (“an original idea … may not be the best choice”) teasingly hover around significance.