Chantal Akerman – Saute ma ville AKA Blow up my town (1968)

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I saw this first film by Ackerman on french channel Arte and I was fascinated by its simplicity of conception and execution. Ackerman gives a wonderfully quiet example of small, no-budget, personal short film which can be a lesson for any young and fresh student of film or anyone with a great passion( but not much means) for film-making and recording the world with a camera. young Ackerman plays in the film and from the first minutes you get the mood and the means together as the soundtrack of the film is solely composed of constant humming of some tune by -supposedly- the main character who is a lonely girl living in an apartment. This is one of the most ingenious approaches to the composition of film music I have ever heard! and you wonder if it has been repeated again. We follow the girl entering the building, up the stairs and into her small kitchen and very soon realize that we will only see HER. She keeps humming and even makes appropriate noises when attending to things in the kitchen. The obsession with the kitchen leaves one wondering ” Can a kitchen really drive someone mad?”. Here domestic life of a lonely woman seems like an unbearable and crushing prison with no hope of redemption( a theme that Ackerman returns to it later with great force).When the girls cooks and cleans and gradually makes a mess of everything you get a comical view of quiet breakdown rarely seen. Fixed camera position is in accord with a claustrophobic mood and also relates to a documentary style camera which the film emulates to some extent. This is a film about what we may -and usually will- call domestic hell ,though it never loses sight of intrinsic humor of the situation. I love Ackerman’s performance and her determination to be a filmmaker, standing on her own feet and making an amateur film a must-see. Continue reading

René Vautier – Avoir 20 ans dans les Aurès AKA To Be Twenty in the Aures (1972)

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Summary
In 1961, a group of pacifist Bretons are sent to fight in France’s war against Algeria. Reluctant warriors, they are moulded into killing machines by the inspirational lieutenant Perrin and soon find their first taste of conflict. One of the group continues to rebel against the folly of the war and goes on the run with an Algerian prisoner. For all concerned, the experience will not be easily forgotten – for those that survive, that is… Continue reading

Kaneto Shindô – Daigo Fukuryu-Maru aka Lucky Dragon No. 5 (1959)

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Quote:
Daigo Fukuryū Maru (第五福龍丸?, Lucky Dragon 5) was a Japanese tuna fishing boat, which was exposed to and contaminated by nuclear fallout from the United States’ Castle Bravo thermonuclear device test on Bikini Atoll, on March 1, 1954. Kuboyama Aikichi, the boat’s chief radioman, died half a year later, on September 23, 1954, suffering from acute radiation syndrome. He is considered the first victim of the hydrogen bomb of Operation Castle Bravo.

Five years after the accident, the Japanese film director Shindo Kaneto made a film titled Daigo Fukuryu Maru. The actor Uno Jukichi played the role of Kuboyama Aikichi. Director Kaneto Shindo spoke at a screening of his 1959 film ”Daigo Fukuryu Maru” (Lucky Dragon No. 5), emphasizing the need to abolish nuclear weapons and to continue educating youth about the devastation they cause. ”Nuclear arms have been an issue since World War II,” the 91-year-old told an audience of over 90 people, citing this week’s multilateral talks in Beijing on North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. ”They can wipe out the human race.” Continue reading

Chantal Akerman – Les Années 80 AKA The Eighties (1983)

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IMDB:
Another Masterpiece by Chantal Akerman, 18 November 2009
10/10
Author: kubrick2899 from Concord, North Carolina

THE EIGHTIES marks the turning point in Chantal Akerman’s career. It stands as the end of her more experimental films of previous years and as the beginning of her more mainstream efforts of later years. The bulk of the film consists of auditions and rehearsals for a musical. In the final act, we get to see some segments of that musical. It’s a wholly original and brilliant motion picture experience. Like most of Akerman’s films, though, it’s not for everyone. Her films are experiences for those who aren’t into mainstream cinema. The songs in the film are catchy and unforgettable, and it’s a special treat to see Akerman herself pop in a few times and give the performers some direction. The only downside of this film is that it’s only available on an old VHS. The Criterion Collection has gotten a hold on her earlier films; maybe some day they’ll get a hold of this one, as well. Another interesting aspect to this film is that it serves as a prelude to her next feature film, GOLDEN EIGHTIES or WINDOW SHOPPING. Continue reading

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