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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:06 pm 
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Location: London, UK
Did anyone notice a striking similarity between the DVD menu image of Je tu il elle and Love Affair from the previous set?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:08 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am
When you go through art school or film school, you often come across student work that struggles with the form of the short film, often the critical mistake of a student is assuming that short film is just a shorter version of a feature film. But this is like saying that photography is just a faster version of painting.

La Chambre is basically a perfect short film. Eschewing narrative, Akerman manages to make you reflect upon and critique yourself and examine how you've been programmed with genre and narrative conventions and expectations. As the camera repeated itself, each repetition brought a new array of expectations, whether it was expecting a horror jolt or a comic disruption, the methodical continuity, repetition and gradual focusing variations plays upon the viewer's anticipations and in denying them, caused this viewer to reflect upon the nature of archetypes and 'scripts' that the viewer is imposing perhaps often in spite of the actual film itself. And by the end of the film, you realize how the absence of sound has become a rather brilliant use of sound--in the way that a painter might aggressively use negative space--and structurally this negative-aural-space underpins the entire success of the piece. It's a brilliant examination of form, and an absolutely essential short film.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 6:34 pm 
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For about 45 minutes of Hotel Monterey I was riveted, I felt like the film flew by, the way Brakhage films often do. It's an almost meditative experience, your mind isn't wandering, necessarily but it's creating fabulous associations and interesting reactions to the silent images my brain relentlessly labeled ominous and foreboding. The film feels steeped in horror iconography without ever doing anything to promote the horror, it left me with an exhilerating cognitive dissonance the whole film.

Then, like a sugar crash following a high, my attention began to waver, sleep began to assault my consciousness with an insistent forcefulness and exactly at this moment, Akerman changes it up and begins moving the camera down hallways. This has the timing and effect so that it kicks the viewer out of any soporific somnolence and makes one pay attention again. While the film's conceit may be aggravating to the vast majority of audiences (who really want nothing to do with experimental film as a rule), Akerman shows she has a mastery over audience nontheless. The film left me feeling as though my spectatorship had been critiqued, and had probably been found wanting. The act of looking itself becomes what the film is, I think; and in disrupting the conventions of looking, you get the sense that Akerman is looking back at us.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 9:15 pm 
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Je tu il elle is a pretty phenomenal film, you see the filmmaker taking the forms and function of her earlier work and synthesize it in unexpected ways to make one of the finest filmic expressions of alienation I've seen.

the film opens on a woman, alone and isolated. Based on the narration she's withdrawing and going through depression as her alienation deepens. it seems she has just gone through a breakup and is dealing with the emotional trauma she's experiencing in her own deeply internal way. She writes her lost love a letter. Then writes a longer one. and so on. It feels all too familiar to one person I knew in college, who did the same.

In the film's second movement, she leaves her room, but becomes no less isolated. She hitchhikes to wherever it is she is going, and spends long silences with the trucker who picks her up. The trucker is the first person to speak on camera, and to complete her dissociation from his company, she never speaks to him on camera, only internally narrates some of her thoughts on him. This companion clearly does not provide any companionship, and while she is constantly looking at him, he is as distant from her as though he were a fictional character on the unseen tv they watch while they eat.

Then, in the third movement, she arrives at an apartment. A woman's apartment. she is told she' can't stay, but then is given food and then is allowed to stay the night. Though narration is not provided, we presume this is the person that broke her heart prior to the first movement. They sleep together, and their sex is frank and familiar. For the era it feels shocking--bold and declarative, the film chooses not to eschew or demur or evasively hint at their relationship. Just as the film unflinchingly declared the bleak realities of her depression, it unflinchingly shows their (what I presume to be) breakup sex. Take from the scene what you will. I found it poignant, possessing the same distant sense encompassing the rest of the film, but it is also different, closer, she is more vulnerable here, with someone she has learned to trust. And ultimately she leaves on her own terms.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 10:59 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm
I love Je tu il elle. I first saw it at a Feminist Film Festival in around 1990 that included lots of great, challenging works (old standbys such as Riddle of the Sphinx, Film About a Woman Who. . . etc.), and this was by far the most divisive film they screened. The small room started out with 50 or more people in it and ended up with six. I found Akerman's quiet concentration mesmerizing: I'd never seen a narrative film quite this minimal before and it left a deep impression. When I saw it again much later, I was shocked by how funny and lively some of it was (the first section in particular).


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2015 1:58 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am
You're absolutely right, the humor was one of the best aspects of film, a sort of sardonic self deprecation that was tremendously refreshing and perfectly pitched to the tone and content of the film. So much of the opening scene of the post-breakup depression was bleakly funny, and the humor is similarly peppered throughout, even in the finale sex scene. 

I'm glad that I watched News from Home after Jeanne Dielman and Je tu il elle. The film certainly belongs stylistically with Hotel Monterey and Le Chambre.  The film's unseen protagonist reads us her mother's letters, and after watching Jeanne Dielman, one cannot but help but feel as though she is the one writing the letters, even if it's not a very good match, given the letter she writes to her sister in Canada.  The film uses the visual strategy of Hotel Monterey for its first half, opting for still shots of an empty or mostly empty New York city often at dawn and dusk or deep in the bowels of subway stations. Then, at presumably the point at which the narrator decides to return home the film begins to move, literally, the city begins to fill up and the camera rides through the streets of new york or on a subway, or watches subway trains arrive and depart.

In an interesting editing choice, in the aforementioned subway arrivals and departures, Dielman cuts out the handful of frames of their entrance and exit.  So you hear the train approaching, then there is an imperceptible cut, and then the train is rushing by as it slows to a stop, then you see the train depart and it rushes by, but before you can see the tail of the train wipe-reveal the other side of the platform there's another imperceptible cut and the exit of the train is removed. I imagine some of this was for editorial expediency, it allowed her to "cut" unbroken takes to choose the arriving or departing people that most interested her, for whatever reason, but there's also a nice psychological effect as well because it's subtly disruptive and disconcerting without being obvious, a slight sense of it being slightly wrong.  and I think we're meant to take that impression from the scene, the dislocation that ultimately causes the unseen reader to return home.

and she apparently does, as the final shot of the film is an extremely long and beautiful take of riding a boat out of New York City, it's elegant and brilliant. 


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2015 2:44 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am
Les Rendez-vous d'Anna is more akin to Jeanne Dielman than any of the other films in the eclipse set, it continues that film's combination of experimental film and documentary narrative. The film is excellent but in its maturity it is more interesting than exciting (in the way that je tu il elle was exciting). The film recalls her earlier films, and initially I wondered if this was more of a narrative reworking of Hotel Monterey; but after about a half hour of Anna, the main character, being depressed in her hotel ala Jeanne Dielman, the narrative begins to unfold. The film's title quickly becomes clear from this point on, as the next hour unfolds as a series of rendez-vous with a trio of characters who talk to Anna, and she mainly listens.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
First, we have the local who loves her films, and is somewhat in love with her, he pours out his life story to her, but she moves on to the next town on her list. There she meets an old friend at the train platform and listens to her tales. Then she arrives back at her home town and meets her mother and stays the night with her--interestingly she strips naked to sleep with her mother and Anna this time has the monologue, as she details a recent tryst with a woman. I doubt there's ever been such an... oedipal... coming out scene between mother and daughter in cinema, it's magnificently bold and startling, even today.

Following this confession of the change in her life that has apparently left her in the state she was at the beginning of the film (pining for her lover), she returns to her big city home and her husband/lover, and we see the sequence of events that lead to their breakup, but first she must get him some tylenol for his headache--you see he couldn't perform in bed because of the headache (riiiiight). Finally, she returns home to her empty apartment, and in a wonderful closing moment we listen to all the messages on her answering machine, ending the film with an ambiguous message from the mysterious recent lover.


The film is richly detailed, and I imagine it really rewards repeat viewings as there are probably embedded elements of the first hour that only really gain their full resonance and power when you've seen the entire film and know where it's going. Was her lover trying to call her as well, meeting the same frustration and blockaded lines that Anna met? It's almost a visualization of missed connections.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 2016 10:37 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
Location: NYC
Just watched this again, and around 16:33 an advert bearing the unmistakable cover for David Bowie's Low whizzes by. So sad how both of these artists are now gone within months of each other.


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