You Are Not Alone | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

You Are Not Alone 

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This program of experimental films includes Jerome Cook's densely layered Midnight Son (1991), a short but affecting homage to the spirit of old horror films that begins with high-contrast black-and-white images of a landscape featuring trees and a rapid river. The whites seem to overwhelm the blacks, creating a sense of light as power that recalls the creepy formalism of F.W. Murnau's 1922 vampire movie Nosferatu. At other times the image becomes extremely grainy, giving the film the lush visual feel of old movies, what Cook calls "the sense of life inside the frame." The sound track includes a text--written by Cook and spoken in English and Czech by Vilem Kriz--that we understand as a fictional version of Bela Lugosi's autobiography. "Actor, addict, Dracula, morphine," Kriz intones, as this halting depiction of a tortured life is paralleled in intense and fragmented imagery, including shots of Lugosi filmed off video. When Cook starts to include color shots of the 1991 fire in the Oakland hills, the metaphorically searing light of the black and white becomes a real fire that seems to consume the world, and the title becomes a clear reference to both Lugosi and a blaze strong enough to make night into day. Also on the program are films by Mark Street, Emily Breer, Ulrike Reichold, Jean Gagne, Peter Rose, David Rimmer, and Ariana Gerstein. International Cinema Museum, 319 W. Erie, Wednesday, April 19, 7:00, 654-1426.

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