From the Bressane straight into another movie opening with a long take, wind overloading the mic. Sometimes long static shots of empty rooms – but this one goes even further than the Bressane, if that was our goal. Consumer-grade looking and sounding, despite the evident care that went into editing.
Chantal hangs out with her mom… later, her mom is not doing so well. In the kitchen they talk about escaping Belgium during WWII, and on skype they talk in circles. One great bit when Chantal zooms all the way into the screen during a skype call to see her own reflection overlaid on her mother. Otherwise, I have to say I preferred the documentary.
Andréa Picard in Cinema Scope gets it, and links it to Akerman’s memoir and her gallery work that came out shortly before the feature:
In No Home Movie, it is as if Chantal Akerman, perhaps for the first time in her career, has revealed the core of her work and her wounds in the most naked of ways: her frequent focus on confinement, repetition, and confrontation; her longing to be elsewhere; her dizzying instability.
LNKarno opening night is an Akerman doc, watching as prep for LNKarno closing night No Home Movie. I ended up enjoying the doc, with its discussions of editing strategies in the feature, more than the feature itself. I am a sucker for these things.
Akerman worked at a gay porn theater’s box office, raising money for her early shorts, then stole boxes of expired film to shoot Je, Tu, Il, Elle. “My mother was at the heart of my work,” flashbacks to News from Home. Wonderful to see Saute ma ville, which I just watched, intercut with Jeanne Dielman, discussion of their similarities and her mother’s take on the latter feature. Gus Van Sant, whose Last Days was Akerman-inpired, weighs in. The doc has the same closing credits shot as True Stories.
It’s cool when you end up on netflix, though you’d prefer it not be because your friend’s daughter was the primary whistleblower in a sexual abuse scandal.
Respect to athletes, none for US olympics gym admin/staff.
Louisiana and Mississippi, cutting between different threads. After the lovely and gentle Stop the Pounding Heart led to the intimate look of The Other Side led to the racist militia at the end of that movie, it’s nice to reset and spend time with the New Black Panther Party. And after a month of watching movies on the laptop screen, it’s nice to see this on the big(ger) screen, experiencing as close as I’ll get to cinema this summer.
Michael Sicinski on Mubi via letterboxd:
As with Minervini’s previous films, there is something both startling and a bit disconcerting about the degree of access he achieves, as well as the fact that his camera crew is almost never acknowledged. How does he get so close, capturing key emotional moments like Judy’s cousin Michael finally visiting his mother’s gravesite, or Judy herself meeting a fellow addict and describing her years of abuse? One of the things that Minervini accomplishes in What You Gonna Do…, both with these scenes, the New Black Panther meetings, and in some consciousness-raising moments in Judy’s bar, is a careful depiction of free black discourse, the kind of discussion about identity, politics, and culture that a community can have when they are not worried about how outside listeners will misconstrue their words.
I know we have to be precious about everything now, and make time in our redlining documentaries for a guy to play a flute solo, but it’s sometimes nice to choose a topic, do the research, and put out a well-edited interview/narrator doc about that topic and how it fit into the history and culture. It’s also nice to take a thing whose name is synonymous with failure and close your doc with women who say they loved the failed thing, and it was the best thing in their lives, and you believe them and it makes you love it too. The topic here was a complex of high-rise low-income housing in St. Louis, which would’ve been great if it’d stayed 1956 forever, but instead turned into a Colossal Youth ghost story mixed with a The Wire crime scene, before being demolished in 1972.
The lost, final Maysles film appeared online for a week during the Great Quarantine, was recommended by True/False enthusiast Alissa Wilkinson, so we watched. Filmed on eastbound and westbound legs of the Empire Builder railway route, so I had that Aesop Rock song in my head (“hi-ho silver, high-pass filter, live from an empire builder”). The movie picks up stories from several regular characters, with one-off scenes of riders in between, gradually building several cross-cut/cross-country journies – a woman going home to give birth, a woman returning to her family after years away, a couple of young men fleeing North Dakota to be with their loves, an aged photographer seeing the country for the last time… somehow all these people and more opened up to a camera crew on their train ride.
The five members of the Sudanese Film Group in Khartoum reenact scenes from classic movies, pretend to film each other, hold public screenings of Chaplin’s Modern Times – and almost Django Unchained, until the authorities find out.
A warm little movie, slow-paced but engrossing. Played this year’s True/False with director in attendance, but it didn’t fit into our schedule.
Very observational doc of exams week at a university in Argentina – the same school Solaas attended. Some students do alright, some completely space on the works they were supposed to study or memorize, and some get caught trying to bullshit their way through a debate, their better-prepared colleagues caught on camera smirking at their attempts. A few perfectly opportune shots, students having an emotional moment, or swaying in and out of frame while calling parents on cellphones. Opening short Partial Differential Equation (Kevin Jerome Everson) was well suited to the feature – straightforward doc in a higher learning facility, observational to the point that you start focusing on the mathematician’s fingernails instead of the work. A morning screening, so the very ambient 3-piece Saltbreaker opened.
Part of the same Landmark series where we caught For Sama – this one was much less bloody and despairing. Beekeeper has enough to deal with, uneven harvests and pricing and sales, an ailing mother, before a swarm of neighbors arrives one season and ruins everything. The movie only gets better the more you read about its making, though I can’t find the article that said the nomad family threw stones at the camera crew for the first few weeks. Nominated for two oscars tonight – I don’t know its chances, just hope Hatidze was flown in from Macedonia and given one of those $215k gift bags.