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So You Think You Can Realism?
September 1, 2009 8:16 AM   Subscribe

We're all familiar with the thrilling, pulse-pounding, edge-of-your-seat spectacle that is Chantal Akerman's Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Essay containing spoilers), and we've all run out to buy the new Criterion Collection DVD, and of course, we often spend our time fantasizing about what it would be like to lead the glamorous roller-coaster ride that is Ms. Dielman's life. Well, now you can make those fantasies a reality: "In honor of the release of Jeanne Dielman on DVD, we’re sponsoring the world’s first Jeanne Dielman–Criterion Collection Cooking Video Contest. Make a video of yourself (or someone else) cooking 1) meat loaf, 2) cutlets, or 3) potatoes, and upload it as a video response to Jeanne Dielman–Criterion Collection Cooking Video Contest on YouTube."
posted by Greg Nog (27 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
LOL Spoilers.
posted by Mister_A at 8:18 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, shit; there's also a spoiler in the comments section of my third link. So, uh, careful there.

Also not to give too many other spoilers away but yeah she ends up making the meatloaf
posted by Greg Nog at 8:22 AM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I just received this Criterion DVD yesterday, actually (though I haven't ever seen the film), and I'm pretty sure the copy on the back of the case had what I suspect is a massive spoiler (it mentions that [rot13]gur cebgntbavfg gheaf gevpxf[/rot13]). Of course, in the context of a film that seems so centered around the relentless depiction of mundanity, knowing even the slightest plot element could be considered a spoiler, I suppose.
posted by Prospero at 8:27 AM on September 1, 2009


We're all familiar with the thrilling, pulse-pounding, edge-of-your-seat spectacle that is Chantal Akerman's Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles


Well, duh.
posted by grubi at 8:33 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm going to wait for the Michael Bay helmed remake.
posted by dortmunder at 8:47 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I love art films...I love independent films....I love foreign films.

That having been said, I don't think there is enough pot in the world for me to smoke to sit through that after reading the LA Times article. I have to endure enough mundane things in my own life, so why would I sit through this?
posted by GavinR at 8:48 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


GavinR: " I don't think there is enough pot in the world for me to smoke to sit through that"

I like to think that I have a reasonably long cinematic attention span. For example: I'm a fan of Antonioni and Rivette. But I've never been able to make it more than 20 minutes of Ms. Akerman's work.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:54 AM on September 1, 2009


I love that film. I keep forgetting its name, however, so whenever I'm telling anyone about it there's a good five minutes of me going: "It's calle... uh... name... a woman's name and then her address and, uh... it's Belgian, I think."
posted by Kattullus at 9:20 AM on September 1, 2009


whenever I'm telling anyone about it there's a good five minutes of me going: "It's calle... uh... name... a woman's name and then her address and, uh... it's Belgian, I think."

That actually sounds more exciting than the film.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:23 AM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I love Akerman's I You He She.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:47 AM on September 1, 2009


I'd never heard of this film -- to tell the truth, I'm not well versed in art film at all -- but if the whole thing is like the utterly gorgeous meatloaf clip at the Criterion page, I am going to sit whit-knuckled on the edge of my seat for all three hours. Seyrig's performance seems truly fascinating to me, and as a viewer I am not unwilling to be challenged a little.
posted by majick at 10:03 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


So I'm not the only one to not be able to sit through that thrill ride. I feel better now.
posted by flippant at 10:05 AM on September 1, 2009


As I have gotten older it gets easier to watch films like these.

I am fascinated by the implicit social contract that comes with any artwork. What do we demand of someone who decides to show us something, unconditionally? What do we consider courteous or rude coming from an artist?

Is it insulting for a filmmaker to expect us to sit and watch a slow unfolding of events? Is it patronizing if they tack on a love interest and a happy ending? Different films reward different kinds of viewing, and I think we should consider the possibility that we may find it rewarding to learn how to watch some kinds of films, similar to the way we need to learn how to read poetry, or how to listen to orchestral music.

The prevailing trend in all of the arts is instant accessibility, that threatens to devolve into absolute superficiality. By learning how to watch, appreciate, and enjoy an exceedingly slow and well made film, I can have an experience that has no substitute, and no analog, in any medium. Similarly - learning to listen to atonal 20th century music, to read experimental poetry, to look at abstract painting; I can, through a challenging, perhaps even painful process, bring myself to a place where I can have experiences that are beautiful and not otherwise possible.

Mind you I am not trying to reaffirm the class argument that goes implicitly with so much praise of "higher culture". Just because a piece of work requires you think more and requires a better education to appreciate does not make it automatically better. What I am arguing for is the fact that a piece that demands more of you can actually be better, and can earn a right to demand more of you because it can give that much more back if you put in that effort.

Of course, with this kind of work, a good critic who you can trust is much more valuable. When we work that much harder to appreciate something, it is that much more a disappointment when it fails to pass muster.
posted by idiopath at 10:28 AM on September 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


I love that Jeanne Dielman... exists. I think it's a fabulous experiment with the limits of cinematic realism.

There is not enough money in the world to get me to ever watch it again. Jeanne Dielman... makes Celine et Julie vont au bateau look like Iron Man.

Back when I was teaching English, students in the advanced film courses would come to me, their eyes hollow with terror, and say "Professor {Name} showed us this...movie...today" and I would say "Jeanne Dielman..., right? It's not all like that."
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:36 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


As I have gotten older it gets easier to watch films like these.

Interesting. My experience is exactly the reverse: I'm 44 and I think "I only have 50 or 60 years left on this planet, tops, and this is not an investment of time I'm willing to make here."

When I was 22 or whatever, time felt infinite to me, and I would happily sit through Robert Wilson theater extravaganzas, Tarkovsky films, you name it. Now I stand in front of the microwave saying "A whole turkey cooked in 20 minutes? Who HAS that kind of time?!?"
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:41 AM on September 1, 2009


We're all familiar with the thrilling, pulse-pounding, edge-of-your-seat spectacle that is Chantal Akerman's Jeanne Dielman...

quoi
posted by jquinby at 11:06 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would not have heard of it if not for Rich's insanely amazing liveblog of watching it on FourFour last week.
posted by kittyprecious at 11:22 AM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Best part: "43:40 – Full of inconsequential minutiae, this is like Twitter: The Movie."
posted by kittyprecious at 11:23 AM on September 1, 2009


I have to say, I was actually quite excited when I saw this post. I'm not planning on running out to buy the film anytime soon, but I might consider it.. or at least Netflix it. I still remember when I first saw it... also in college. Our professor warned us that it would take two sessions to see, that we are not gonna wanna see the second half and urging us to stick it through. It really was a singular experience and really affected me. I wonder if it would have the same impact.

Also, I want to see if actually putting the disk in and playing it would make my PS3 cry.
posted by tittergrrl at 11:30 AM on September 1, 2009



When I was 22 or whatever, time felt infinite to me, and I would happily sit through Robert Wilson theater extravaganzas, Tarkovsky films, you name it. Now I stand in front of the microwave saying "A whole turkey cooked in 20 minutes? Who HAS that kind of time?!?"


Spoiler alert!!!
[hover here]
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:26 PM on September 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Most films are made for public screenings on the big screen. But in the case of 'Jeanne Dielman...' this is even more so and that is because a main component of the film is that it requires the viewer to be in her space and in her time frame without interuption. And therefore, a certain level of boredom is actually required for the film to work best. It really adds to the mood of the film as it builds and builds toward the end.

On DVD I feel many will tune out or turn off or come back later. One should really not escape a film once it starts - but we all do. Just know that with 'Jeanne Dielman...' once you escape you sort of ruin the whole effect.
posted by Rashomon at 1:50 PM on September 1, 2009


Jeanne Dielman... makes Celine et Julie vont au bateau look like Iron Man.
Huh. Celine et Julie Vont au Bateau may have been over three hours, but it felt much shorter to me...
posted by pxe2000 at 4:36 PM on September 1, 2009


I went to film school in France with a woman who was a friend of Akerman's and who worked with her as a tech.

She was able to explain things like shot choices, sound codes, etc., in a really cogent inside-track sort of way that gained her a lot of respect in the room.

Realism and the apparatus required to present same is still a matter worth discussing.
posted by Wolof at 1:00 AM on September 2, 2009


makes Celine et Julie vont au bateau look like Iron Man.

Celine et Julie vont EN bateau
posted by eatyourcellphone at 1:27 AM on September 2, 2009


Er, that's Céline rather than Celine.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 1:27 AM on September 2, 2009


they call me MISTER bateau
posted by Greg Nog at 8:21 AM on September 2, 2009


Er, that's Céline rather than Celine.

Immutable law of the Internet: every correction of someone else's typo will contain at least one typo of its own.

But, yeah, I meant Céline et Julie vont en bateau, not some cheap porn with a similar ripoff title. (Do they do that in France? Because I love it when they do it here in the US.)
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:27 AM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


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