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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.
I love movies, but often when watching films it's hard not to feel jaded. There are so many times I've watched a film and found it decent but boring, or even with good movies seen all the places where the director has straight up lifted pieces from other works. What a pleasure it can be then to watch a film from a director like Akerman, someone who doesn't care for the rules of cinema, straight up smashing them for her own pleasure.
D'est is a travelogue, a sort of moving slideshow of images taken as directed by Akerman in Germany, Poland and Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Not that you would know this if you just stumbled across the film. With nothing, not even a title card to explain what is going on, Akerman presents these images of people, sometimes in their own homes, but mostly in public spaces, usually waiting for the bus. There are no markers except the clothing to place us, and little in the way of signage to tell us where we are. There is no narration and the little dialogue said is in various different languages, untranslated. Most of the time what Akerman chooses to show us is people waiting in line for the bus, interacting with the camera by pointing at it or laughing at it, or on various occasions screaming at the camera until it rolls indifferently on. It is like the opposite of everything we are told is cinematic, it is just every day non-actors going about their lives, usually in moments of transition that are likely part of their routine and not something they think about too much. And somehow it is the most cinematic thing of all, to watch these people going about their business.
It is an odd film, completely atypical, but if you surrender yourself to the images you will find yourself in a sort of meditative trance as you contemplate the people and their surroundings as documented by Akerman.
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