Chronic and More: Films by Jennifer Reeves | Chicago Reader

Chronic and More: Films by Jennifer Reeves

Chronic, the longest film on this program of six of Jennifer Reeves's films, is a highly personal, somewhat autobiographical 38-minute meditation on “the suicidal mind.” Near the beginning multiple images from a moving car echo an earlier film about suicide, Stan Brakhage's Anticipation of the Night, in their depiction of an alienating daily world; Chronic also ends with a shot that recalls the immolation that ends Robert Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly. This isn't the first film to convey a disturbed mind through a pastiche of visual styles, but Reeves does it effectively and often movingly with a camera that seems both playful and emotionally subjective. An image superimposed on itself suggests divided consciousness; a camera that moves rapidly toward and away from a boy (his T-shirt says “Boy”) indicates a sexual ambivalence. Spoken texts add another level of ambivalence, the strangely jaunty music still another. The rapidly shifting tones and moods of this work both give it energy and suggest the “unquiet thoughts” of a mind that hasn't found a resting place. Reeves shows commendable breadth in this and the other films on the program—Elations in Negative, Taste It Nine Times, Monsters in the Closet, Configuration 20, and The Girl's Nervy—which all have a similar energy. Reeves's bisexual identity is often a theme, but each film has a different subject and style.

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