Artist Interviews 2023

Film Reviews by Jessica Jerskey  
By Jessica Jerskey

The Double Life of Veronique (1991)

Through its use of powerful symbolism and evocative imagery, 'The Double Life of Veronique' is a work of art. It explores the intricacies of human existence and seems to cast a spell upon anyone caught in its lure. Directed by the late Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski, known for his exploration of complex emotions and the mysteries of life, the film follows the story of two women who despite never meeting, share a mysterious and profound connection that transcends time and space.

The protagonist is a young Polish opera singer named Weronika, who is on the cusp of musical success. She experiences a deep, inexplicable connection and a striking resemblance with a woman who lives in France named Veronique. The film explores the paths of the two women as they navigate their lives and come to terms with their unique existence.

What makes this film so captivating is its incredible use of music and color to convey emotion and meaning. The haunting soundtrack, composed by the legendary Zbigniew Preisner, ranges from haunting choral pieces and melancholic strings to powerful percussion and overwhelming brass, perfectly underscoring the film's themes of longing, loss, and transcendence. The songs in this film will evoke feelings and emotions like the subtle yet powerful base notes of an exotic scent.

Kieślowski was heavily influenced by the works of French directors like Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut, and 'The Double Life of Veronique' shows their influence in his use of elliptical storytelling and naturalistic performances. The film is a true masterpiece, blending music, color, and cinema into a breathtaking exploration of the human soul.

Symbolism is present in every frame of the film, from the use of mirrors and reflections to the recurring imagery of the puppet. Kieślowski expertly weaves these symbols together to create a rich tapestry of meaning. It is a film that demands multiple viewings and rewards with a deeper understanding of the human experience with each viewing.

Last Night (1998)

“Last Night”, directed by Don McKellar in 1998, is a film that will leave you feeling thoughtful, emotional, and questioning what truly matters in life.

It follows the lives of several people in Toronto as they navigate their final hours before the world ends. While we never find out why the world is coming to an end, it is fascinating to see how each character chooses to spend their last hours. The film focuses on how different people react to the impending doom, as they are forced to confront their fears and regrets with very little time to process.

Each character's final moments are memorable, from a family spending their last “Christmas” together, to a man longing to satiate his carnal desires with as many people as many times possible. These choices showcase the range of our choices and emotions, and how we all cope with our inevitable end.

David Cronenberg's guest appearance as a gas company executive adds a level of irony to the film, highlighting how large corporations can often contribute to our downfall, but he remains working for the city until the end. He provides the only sense of stability and normalcy in a time when all seems lost. Not needing a large budget or special effects to convey the strong themes depicted, this film is a thought-provoking cinematic journey, and a reminder of the importance of human connection. It stands the test of time due to its performances, thought provoking writing, and the timeless narrative of humanity’s fragility.

Overall, Last Night is a must-watch masterpiece of indie cinema, and for those of you who have not seen it, I am excited for your introduction to this cinematic gem.

Manhunter (1986)

"Manhunter" is a stylish 1986 noir crime-thriller directed by “Miami Vice’s” Michael Mann. The movie, based on the novel "Red Dragon" by Thomas Harris, stars William Petersen as FBI profiler Will Graham, who is tracking down a serial killer nicknamed "The Tooth Fairy," portrayed by Tom Noonan.

One of the most prominent traits of "Manhunter" is its stylishness. Mann, along with production designer Mel Bourne, and cinematographer Dante Spinotti, create a world that oozes allure and sophistication. The film's soundtrack, with its electronic rhythms, and songs by bands like Iron Butterfly and The Prime Movers, adds to the overall mood and elevates the movie to a work of art.

The cast, featuring William Petersen, Tom Noonan, Joan Allen, and Brian Cox, deliver memorable performances and are included some fantastic scenes. A blind woman stroking a tiger, a blaze Brian Cox lounging in his monochromatic prison cell, and a gigantic killer with a fish net obscuring half of his face. Mann's use of locations, (including an Atlanta art museum turned into an insane asylum and artist Robert Rauschenberg's seaside home), adds to the film's visual impact. Although the film seems to miss the mark as a standard thriller, it hits the nail on the head in terms of style.

In conclusion, "Manhunter" is an aesthetically stunning film with a killer (yes pun intended) soundtrack and awesome cast. Mann's focus on visual style may be odd and distracting to some, but as history seems to be repeating itself stylistically, this film is right on board with today’s trends.

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