Chantal Akerman – Hôtel Monterey (1972)

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. . . Miss Akerman’s ”Hotel Monterey,” a 65-minute silent film that shares the bill with ”News From Home,” was shot in 1972 in the corridors, elevators and on the roof of a seedy lower Manhattan hotel.

The film is even more obsessive than ”News From Home” in its search for beauty amid shabbiness. The porthole windows of elevators and the dim lights at the ends of hallways are viewed as spiritual beacons in an environment glowing with arcane romantic secrets . . .

— N.Y Times Continue reading

Chantal Akerman – La chambre (1972)

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. . . It is always the act of isolation from another space that brings into sharp focus Akerman’s themes and aesthetics. Jacques Polet has pointed out that the 360-degree pan in La Chambre maps out a literal movement of encirclement completed once the pan reverses, as if the camera had demarcated the minimally essential space for the performance . . .

— from essay on Akerman by Ivone Margulies found here. Continue reading

Chantal Akerman – Toute une nuit AKA A whole night (1982)

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Toute une nuit presents a series of brief, disconnected, near silent vignettes that capture the inherently intimate episodes that transpire throughout the course of human relationships. A woman (Aurore Clement) deliberates on placing a telephone call to an absent lover before deciding to hail a taxicab to his apartment. A man and a woman sitting at adjacent tables of an anonymous bar exchange reluctant, fleeting glances as they wait in vain for their respective lovers to arrive, and eventually succumb to an impulsive, awkward embrace. An unconcerned young woman smokes a cigarette as she sits in a diner with two young men before being confronted to choose between them. A hurried man misses an opportunity to meet his lover outside her home. A middle-aged couple awaken to the noise of an off-the-air television set and decide to go out for the evening. A woman hurriedly packs her belongings into a suitcase and sneaks out of the apartment only to return home at dawn to her oblivious, sleeping husband. Lovers consummate their relationship or part to their separate ways at entrances and stairwells of impersonal apartment buildings. Continue reading

Jean-Luc Godard – Un Film Comme Les Autres AKA A Film Like Any Other [English version] (1968)

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What can be verified about the film are two 16mm reels of equal duration composed of two parts: A colour component (which makes up the bulk of the film), illustrating a group of five “students from Vincennes and workers from the Renault plant at Flins”.[10] The group sit in a field outside a large tenement block on the outskirts of Paris and discuss politics, the objectives of the May revolt, and the potential steps involved in achieving revolution in France. The second component of the film is comprised of silent black and white ‘documentary’ footage from the events of May intercut with the colour ‘live’ action in the field. Each of the black and white sections illustrates the May events that the participants discuss, and acts as a complement to their conversation. Continue reading

Jean-Luc Godard & Jean-Pierre Gorin – Le vent d’est AKA East Wind (1970)

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Two voices. One French, one American. A political tract concerning the issues of Communism in the workplace and ideals of freedom and equality, post-May, 1968, is recited back and forth over an obscured image of bodies slumbering in what appears to be a garden. The image is pastoral and idyllic in presentation, suggesting an almost abstract quality devoid of time and place. After a series of static images that simply observe these scenarios – largely with no real movement within the frame – we see a small group of actors preparing themselves for a film. As we continue, these actors, who speak Italian and are dressed in period costume, wander through this idyllic location as the narration goes on to discuss a cinema of revolution and the history of politics in cinema dating as far back as Sergei Eisenstein. Through this, the filmmakers are able to reflect on the notions of politics and history in both a cultural and cinematic sense; creating in the process a film that collapses elements of genuine historical fact, and superimposes them over the struggles and issues of the present day. Continue reading