Dr. Henry Harriston is a successful psychoanalyst in New York City. When he is near a nervous breakdown, he arranges to change his flat with Beatrice Saulnier from France for a while. Both ... See full summary »
Chantal Akerman, the Belgian filmmaker, lives in New York. Filmed images of the City are accompanied by the texts of Chantal Akerman's loving but manipulative mother back home in Brussels. ... See full summary »
Chantal Akerman films her mother, an old woman of Polish origin who is short lifetime, in her apartment in Brussels. For two hours, we will see them eating, chatting and sharing memories, ... See full summary »
Jack and Julie live in a bare flat in Paris. At night, Jack drives a taxi while Julie wanders around the city, and in the day they make love. One day Julie meets Joseph, the daytime driver ... See full summary »
Hotel Monterey is a cheap hotel in New York reserved for the outcasts of American society. Chantal Akerman invites viewers to visit this unusual place as well as the people who live there, from the reception up to the last story.
In a 360° circular panoramic shot the camera slowly pans an entire apartment (or house). When it first passes the bedroom there is nobody there but each time it shows the room again Chantal... See full summary »
If you ever wondered how comedy at the hands of Akerman would look like, it's right here. It's the gentle kind that might make the edges of a smile curve upwards, not the kind that will elicit guffaws of course. It goes without saying.
It is in fact a twist on the kind of movie she usually makes, about a woman who waits and frets as walls of self cave in, here rendered for amusement. A woman returns to her apartment to find a friend she had allowed to stay is still there. She wants him gone now so she can have peace of mind but she's too reticent to make a scene.
It's Chantal herself on screen playing a filmmaker working on a script, so another way for her to tell us about solitary life she probably knows well and bugs her. It has the tone of intimate quiet I like about her, the sense of diary and fecund waiting; a tone she shares with other women filmmakers I like like Varda and Kawase.
Unable to concentrate on her writing, she begins plotting on her typewriter about ways to avoid him, like how early to wake up to have finished breakfast before he comes in, writing the movie we watch in fact.
Another notion. She eavesdrops on a phonecall he makes and looks slightly piqued to realize it's to another girl they know. Is this all about her finding ways to not express feelings she would like to?
When he finally goes, the loneliness of the empty flat offers no solace, the opposite. We see her set up a camera that feeds back images of the building outside, the withering function of memory, of the self inhabiting images that anticipate instead of facing the real thing.
What we see is a self who continuously moves about a house, doing everything except moving out of its own way of expressing itself truly. The movement is funneled into a story about the self- inflicted woes of having to do so of course; it's a comedy about being fettered in this way.
But the point remains, one that links back to Jeanne Dielman. Is life kind of hopeless that way, vague, opaque, to be tacitly accepted as disheartening? It's where I part ways with her, although I accept her whole as a genuine person, a gentle soul speaking about real things. I think she only really managed to rise above the fog in Meetings of Anna.
Here she offers a small gesture. She writes again the morning after; okay. But how truly to move out of our own self when that's all that stands in the way of expressing ourselves? I'm reminded here of one of my most cherished Buddhist koans that speaks about the guest and the empty house.
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