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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Thursday, October 08, 2015

entry arrow11:51 PM | The Lonely Women of Chantal Akerman

The films of Chantal Akerman are not an easy to like, just as much as their creator had been famously prickly in real life. (She was kinda homophobic, too, and had apparently died a suicide.) And she had disdained, for example, the labelling of her films as feminist tomes -- although feminists are her biggest champions because her films say so much about the experience of being woman alone in the traffic of the contemporary world. One of her most accessible films is also one that can test the patience of any regular moviegoer: Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975) -- and yes, thats the full title -- is famously slow and lengthy, clocking in at more than three hours in its matter-of-fact documentation of the daily life of the titular character as she goes about her regular business of keeping house, baking potatoes for dinner, and entertaining johns in her sideline as apparent prostitute -- and responding to all these with the same sense of clockwork precision and ritual bordering on resignation, until the twist in the last third of the film. (I watched this film last year by doing housework myself, and it was a strange and immersive meta-experience.)

Saute Ma Ville (1968) is her first film, made when she was just 18 -- and in this short film, she had already established that voice singular to her. It may be a pseudo-comedy of a young woman trapping herself in her own apartment, but its implications and its end are shocking and sad.

And here's a revealing interview Akerman did for the Criterion Collection, where she talks about the seed for Jeanne Dielman -- and those last words she uttered, as she thought back to the acclaim she won at 25 over that film, are chilling and insightful.

Rest in peace, Ms. Akerman. You have been needing that peace for quite a while now. And thank you for your strange films.

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