The Clock by Christian Marclay

Christian Marclay: The Clock (2010): Single channel video, duration: 24 hours. Purchased 2011 with the generous support of Jay Smith and Laura Rapp, and Carol and Morton Rapp, Toronto. Jointly owned by the National Gallery of Canada and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  Courtesy the artist, White Cube (London) and Paula Cooper Gallery (New York).Christian Marclay: The Clock (2010): Single channel video, duration: 24 hours. Purchased 2011 with the generous support of Jay Smith and Laura Rapp, and Carol and Morton Rapp, Toronto. Jointly owned by the National Gallery of Canada and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Courtesy the artist, White Cube (London) and Paula Cooper Gallery (New York).

Shortly before 10:10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 23, 2012, I had breakfast with Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney. Or, rather, I watched as Dana Andrews' hard-boiled police detective arrived at the home of Gene Tierney's enigmatic femme fatale with a bag of groceries under his arm in the 1944 film noir classic, Laura. And then, before I knew it, Peggy Cummings and John Dall, as a Bonnie-and-Clyde-esque pair of bandits, were psyching themselves up to rob their boss a few minutes before 2:00 p.m. in another '40s noir classic, Gun Crazy.

Where did the hours go? How is it possible to lose track of time when you are, in effect, watching an enormous timepiece? Such is the hypnotic power of Christian Marclay's celebrated film The Clock (2010), which is on view at the Power Plant until Nov. 25, 2012, and is definitely the must-see artwork in Toronto this fall.

Being a long-time fan of Marclay's work, and having been blown away by his retrospective at DHC/Art in Montreal back in 2009, I would be lying if I said that I wasn't in a state of breathless anticipation all summer, awaiting the arrival of this film down on the Harbourfront. The Clock is everything I've read and been told it is – an homage to cinema, a tour-de-force of film and sound editing, a masterpiece – but, as I was sitting in the dark (for a total of six hours), I gradually realized that The Clock is also about us – our foibles and social habits, the rise and fall of our emotions and the stereotypical views we have of each other, all reflected back at us in impeccably paced and selected snippets from classic films (and, occasionally, television; imagine my surprise at spotting Richard Dean Anderson as special agent MacGyver). The well-off generally don't rouse themselves until 11:00 a.m., and sun kissed, pot-smoking hippies laze about just as late in the morning, as well. Before noon, Emma Thompson's asking for a cocktail is frowned upon but, by 1:30 p.m., alcohol is freely consumed. And, if you're going to have a breakdown or blow something up, it seems the best time to do so is on the hour. – Bill Clarke