Monday, October 5, 2009

A Movie a Day: Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Ackerman, 1975)

Or "that really long French cooking movie," as my girlfriend and I have taken to calling it because we can't pronounce anything in French to save our lives.

So today I watched, for the first time, Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, and already I’m trying to find ways to scrub it out of my head. A thoroughly punishing, often unpleasant experience of being trapped for nearly three and a half hours, I nevertheless believe that my reaction is absolutely what writer/director Chantal Ackerman intended. It’s a film that sticks with you, prodding you to answer the many unanswerable questions it raises. After two hundred minutes, do we really know Jeanne much better than we did after the first sixty? How much can you know about a person just by watching two hundred minutes across three days? Very little, I would say, no more than we understand Charles Foster Kane after observing snippets from his entire life. They say we’ll always be fascinated by that which we can’t understand. They’re so, so right.

Alain Resnais’ Muriel is next from Netflix, and I'll spend half the day trying to solve its many aspect ratio issues. Between then and now, I need to watch Miller's Crossing or something…less draining. At some point I’ll get back to writing about things other than whatever I watched on a given day, but until then, stick with me.

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