Chantal Akerman

Jeanne Dielman

Looking for any excuse, Landon Palmer and Scott Beggs are using the 2012 Sight & Sound poll results as a reason to take different angles on the best movies of all time. Every week, they’ll discuss another entry in the list, dissecting old favorites from odd angles, discovering movies they haven’t seen before and asking you to join in on the conversation. Of course it helps if you’ve seen the movie because there will be plenty of spoilers. This week, they spend a few days with Chantal Akerman‘s delightfully uptight Jeanne Dielman at her home at 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. In the #36 (tied) movie on the list, a woman of incredible order provides for her son by sleeping with men for money, maintaining a spotless home and cooking hearty meals day in and day out. When she ruins dinner one night, it destroys the comfort of her routine. But why is it one of the best movies of all time?

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Culture Warrior

There has been a heated debate happening in the world of art cinema criticism, from the printed words of Sight and Sound to the blogspots of grad students, about the status and function of a continually dominating aesthetic known as slow cinema. The discussion basically goes like this: on one hand, slow cinema is a rare, unique and truly challenging methodological approach to film that exists to push the boundaries and expectations of plot and pacing to an extreme antithetical to expectations conditioned by mainstream filmmaking, disrupting the norm by presenting a cinema that focuses on details and mood – in a way that only cinema can – rather than narrative; on the other hand, slow cinema has become such an established and familiar formal approach witnessed in art houses and (especially) film festivals (like Cannes, where such films are repeatedly lauded and rewarded) that they have devolved into a paint-by-numbers approach to get an “in” into such venues rather than a sincere exploration of the potentialities of cinematic expression, and furthermore the repeated celebration of slow cinema devalues the medium’s equal potential to manipulate time by condensing it or speeding it up (‘fast’ cinema).

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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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