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 wall as the people who live there, from the reception up to the last story.
A lonely widowed housewife does her daily chores, takes care of her apartment where she lives with her teenage son, and turns the occasional trick to make ends meet. However, something happens that changes her safe routine.
Contre l'Oubli (Against Oblivion) is a compilation of 30 French filmmakers, Alain Resnais and Jean Luc Godard among them, who use film to make a plea on behalf of a political prisoner. Jean... See full summary »
Chantal Akerman followed famous Choreographer Pina Bausch and her company of dancers, The Tanzteater Wuppertal, for five weeks while they were on tour in Germany, Italy and France. Her ... See full summary »
Occasionally very moving, and sometimes very beautiful
The issue of Mexicans trying to cross illegally into the US in search of work and hope is examined with a mix of styles by Akerman, something like her approach in 'Sud'.
Long, wordless images, give us a poetic sense of time and place -- sometimes still, sometimes tracking endlessly (one shot is nearly six minutes).
Intercut with these are affecting interviews with people on both 'sides' (literally and figuratively) of the issue. From those in Mexico who have lost loved ones forever as they wandered in the desert, to the US sheriff who provides a strikingly cogent sum up of the situation, and a powerful blast at current INS policies that have led to many deaths without stopping the problem, even as he also explains the emotional threat these 'intruders' represent to the rural Americans who live near the border.
This doesn't have quite the power of 'Sud', perhaps because the issue is more complex and diffuse, but it's still a powerful call for human caring trumping political concerns, told in a unique,slow, meditative way. It will drive some people crazy with it's pace and refusal to act like a 'normal' documentary, instead of a tone poem. But, for me, Akerman's work rewards patience by leaving you with not just ideas or impotent anger of agreement or disagreement, but complex, haunted feelings that stay with you for days.
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