Thursday, June 2, 2011

Rendez Vous d'Anna

I've seen a couple of movies by Chantal Akerman. They are all like this. Long and mostly plotless. It's like she likes to push the bounds of cinema, taking it into new directions that are simultaneously banal and beautiful.

Her scenes are more like moving paintings. I kept on thinking of Rothko's subway and Lucien Freud.

She skips over the things other films concern themselves with, focusing on the interim.

There is one scene in which Anna lies in bed listening to the radio for a solid two minutes, which in film feels like forever.

There are a lot of trains and traveling, but also four major conversations.

The first is with a German she picks up and almost has sex with. He tells her about Communism in the 20's and then Nazism in the 30's and all of the aftermath that changed his country.

The second conversation is with her friend Ida who talks to her about the importance of having children.

And then she gets her turn to talk, to her mother about maybe being in love with a woman, or at least kissing her.

The fourth conversation is with her boyfriend or husband, Daniel. "We can't affect what happens. We're just carried along by the current," he says.

I really wished she had never gotten a chance to speak, because I wanted to use this quote from Apathy and Other Small Victories by Paul Neilan: "I've been accused of [being a good listener] all my life. It's like someone who prays every night saying God's a good listener. Just because you're talking to us doesn't mean we're listening." Because basically all four conversations are actually monologues. They just talk and talk.

There are some interesting moments to watch that feel like they are orchestrated to complement the characterization. Like the automatic doors that open and close. Or when she's walking in the train and she seems to get smaller and smaller going through smaller and smaller doors like Alice in Wonderland. Or how there are so many shots of the backs of people's heads. Silhouettes back-lit by lights the car is driving towards.

(Painting credits: George Tooker - Subway, Mark Rothko - Entrance to Subway, Lucien Freud - Girl in a Blanket, Rene Magritte - Not to Be Reproduced, Edward Hopper - Morning Sun)

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