Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 44: Thu Feb 13

No1 Les Rendez-vous d'Anna (Akerman, 1978): ICA Cinema, 7.30pm

Here is the ICA introduction:

A Nos Amours continues the Chantal Ackerman retrospective with Les Rendez-vous d'Anna (1978), a polished, forlorn fable of isolation.

Anna Silver is a filmmaker. Her mother and sick father live in Belgium. Her frequent travels mean that hotel rooms are home as much as anywhere. Visits to the parental home are fleeting affairs - confessional intimacies between mother and daughter must be taken wherever they can. Pick-ups are easy-come-easy-go affairs. Commitment is provisional. 'Anna, where are you?', a voice enquires. Anna may not know or much care.

The reflexive, seemingly autobiographical nature of all these components needs no underlining, and this hall-of-mirrors effect can be superficially disorientating. But a true bearing is sustained by the luminous, painterly miracle of wonderful image-making, and the sure sense of a great mind at work, exploring the alienating topographies of contemporary Europe.

Here is dislocation amid the faux-comforts of hotels; endless peregrinations according to inescapably rigorous train time tables; nomadism as a form of deferred existential crisis. And a growing, nagging suspicion that for Akerman, indeed for any sensitive being, the spectre of the Nazi’s final solution haunts the trains and soulless places of Europe. A profound work of art that finds Akerman exploring a new Bressonian idiom, that plumbs the well’s depth.

Chicago Reader review:
The succes de scandale of Jeanne Dielman brought Chantal Akerman the opportunity to make a film for the French major Gaumont; the result was this moody, terse, haunting feature about a woman filmmaker (Aurore Clement) on a promotional tour of Europe. In each city she takes the chance to look up relatives, friends, and ex-lovers, but none of the meetings is wholly satisfying; some block to communication always remains. Akerman's use of long takes and open spaces delineates the gulf that separates her characters from their environment and from each other. While the atmosphere of anomie may be familiar from countless European art films, it is Akerman's intense emotionality, held desperately in check by her precise camera style, that makes this effort something special.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is an extract.


No 2 White Material (Denis, 2009): Hackney Picturehouse, 6.30pm

This is part of the Claire Denis retrospective at PictureHouse Cinemas. Details here.

Chicago Reader review:
In a fictional African country, a helicopter hovers over a French coffee plantation, bringing news to the stubborn white owner (Isabelle Huppert) that France is pulling out and leaving the country to civil war; refusing to evacuate until her crop has been harvested, she takes her chances with the rebel army and its child soldiers. This haunting drama by Claire Denis (Beau Travail, 35 Shots of Rum) burns with a mute fear and rage at the ongoing atrocities in central Africa. In keeping with the title—an African character's reference to French material goods—Denis seems at first to be mapping the usual postcolonial tensions between native Africans and European entrepreneurs. But as the characters are all swallowed up by war, their little world gradually polarizes into humanity and savagery, with the young (including the woman's unstable grown son) notably inclined toward the latter. With Isaach De Bankole, Christopher Lambert, and Nicolas Duvauchelle. In French with subtitles.
JR Jones

Here is the trailer.

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