The film world received dreadful news this week when it was discovered that the famed Belgian filmmaker and pioneer of modern feminist cinema Chantal Akerman had died. She is well known for her breakout film, directed at age 25, Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), which depicts several hours in the domestic life of a single mother who is also a sex worker. This film, which runs for 3 hours and 45 minutes, founded Akerman’s enduring reputation as a cinematic radical and innovator, demonstrating her austere minimalist style that features long, static takes and restrained editing.
Mitigating the sad circumstance of Akerman’s passing, the Criterion Collection, an American film distribution company known for its discriminating supply of virtuoso filmmakers, has made its entire catalogue of Akerman’s work available for viewing on Hulu for free.
In addition to Jeanne Dielman, five other Akerman films may be currently viewed on Hulu: La Chambre (1972), Hotel Monterey (1972), Je Tu Il Elle (1975), News From Home (1976), Les Rendez-vous D’Anna (1978). In these films her dedication to experimentation is clearly evidenced with Hotel Monterey consisting of 65-minute depiction of a ride in an elevator. Don’t miss the chance to see them by waiting too long; these films are available for viewing only for the next 12 days.
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Jeanne Dielman is 3 hours 15 minutes … not three hours 45
Thanks for the correction.
Hotel Monterey is not a 65-minute elevator ride (that was maybe 5 minutes of the movie!). It’s several long takes of different parts of a hotel, shots timed only by Akerman’s breath.
The Criterion description follows: “Under Chantal Akerman’s watchful eye, a cheap Manhattan hotel glows with mystery and unexpected beauty, its corridors, elevators, rooms, windows, and occasional occupants framed like Edward Hopper tableaux.”
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