Reviews written by registered user
|3 reviews in total|
It seems people who have had experience with strokes or other brain
injuries are the first to be weighing in about this film. I thought it
was an excellent, commendably honest look at the confusion and
frustration which are common components of the injured brain. (In my
case, I experienced a fractured skull with subdural hematoma when I was
just entering my teen years. It took a full year of therapy for me to
fully recover.) I was spared aphasia, yet I experienced hemi-paralysis
and remember vividly the cognitive distortions and unreal-seeming
surprises that occurred, much as they to do the brave Lotje in the
All in all, I thought this was an outstanding film, and wish nothing but the very best for the brave young lady who documented her experience.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Having thoroughly enjoyed the first volume of Gil Rosselini's video
journal, which he whimsically titled "Kill Gil, Volume One," I was
delighted to see Volume Two show up on cable TV last week. With the
same light-hearted, pragmatic resolve with which he faced a horrendous
infection from Staphylococcus aureus in Volume One, Gil is forced back
to into hospitals in Switzerland to undergo more surgeries, more rehab,
and more endless hours of pain, paralysis, and tedium. In spite of
being seriously ill, Gil presents us with music, laughter, wry
observations on his condition, and a deep appreciation for the many
people who try to help him cope with his incredible maladies. By the
end of Volume Two, Gil seems to be on the mend.
It is with some shock that I read here on IMDb that Gil finally succumbed to his long battle with Staph on October 3. Just as Gil was careful to emphasize his gratitude for all who helped him or visited him, it seems fitting to say thanks in return to Gil Rosselini for sharing his wisdom, his dignity, and his abundant humor.
Trying to describe unfamiliar music is an automatic exercise in
futility. Music is its own language. It must be heard to be understood.
And when the music in question is Olivier Messiaen's "Apparition of the Eternal Church" (Apparition de l'Église éternelle), a ten-minute solo organ piece written in 1930 by this enigmatic and unique French composer -- well, forget it. Descriptions are not merely futile; they're downright impossible.
Well, not really. Filmmaker, musician, and writer Paul Festa has done the seemingly impossible in this brilliantly conceived and executed documentary about this one piece of music. And then some. Festa goes beyond the music to explore it's impact on a couple of dozen people who hear what is, essentially, the language of a strange and bold new world.
Festa includes, among these subjects, everyone from musicians and scholars like Albert Fuller (a renowned harpsichord and organ virtuoso who taught at Julliard), Harold Bloom ("The Western Canon," "How to Read and Why"), and Richard Felciano (who studied under Messiaen) to non-musicians hearing the piece for the first time, including filmmaker John Cameron Mitchell ("Hedwig and the Angry Inch" and "Shortbus"), Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), and Rabbi Angela Buchdahl.
And what do these subjects do? It's simple enough on the surface. Festa puts headphones on them, and they listen to the Apparition of the Eternal Church. Their only instruction is to react spontaneously. To describe what they're feeling, what they're seeing, and how the music is affecting them.
This is where the film becomes simply amazing, as powerful in its own way as the music it's exploring. As one who first heard this piece of music two decades ago, I've since listened to it at least a hundred times. Many of the film's subjects described the piece in the ecstatic, joyous terms that I might have used. Others, though, had radically different experiences.
Somehow in the process, Paul Festa has managed to capture the essence of these experiences (none of which are tame), and to distill them for us in a captivating and insightful look into the language of a new and shocking world of emotion, passion, and vision.
If at all possible, see this film! You'll never listen to music the same way again.