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 Female Gaze: Charu and Maiden Check Out Female Filmmakers 
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You guys (GIRLS) didn't mention the odd repetition in ALG. Like when the boss is giving her translation work to someone else or something (AUTUMN MARATHON AGAIN), she plays the same bit of conversation like three times, from three different angles. And she drops the bank (or train station?) pen like three times in a row. But that's her own repetition, not a formal one. So was the son's friend on the phone with his teasing repetition about what was said. I don't really get it. This isn't reaching, there were a bunch of other deja vus, I've just forgotten them.

As for the end scene, I thought it was odd the film continued after her telling him that parrot anecdote showing us her accepting/conceding the son's leaving, but we didn't get his realisation/honesty that we get in the final moments. Do you two think he would have stayed? I'm sure he still goes to his father.

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Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:12 am
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Trip wrote:
You guys (GIRLS) didn't mention the odd repetition in ALG. Like when the boss is giving her translation work to someone else or something (AUTUMN MARATHON AGAIN), she plays the same bit of conversation like three times, from three different angles. And she drops the bank (or train station?) pen like three times in a row. But that's her own repetition, not a formal one. So was the son's friend on the phone with his teasing repetition about what was said. I don't really get it. This isn't reaching, there were a bunch of other deja vus, I've just forgotten them.
The high jump, too. Sort of John Woo-like, isn't it? Haha. I can't explain it, but it works. Not really related, but my favorite moments in the film were his recollections (in stark silence) of the girl's hair ribbon and his mother putting on makeup. So beautiful!

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Do you two think he would have stayed? I'm sure he still goes to his father.
He needs to. It's the right thing for him. If I had to guess, she'll get what she needs from his offer to stay, and then will be able to properly encourage him to leave the nest.

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Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:23 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
It's small, but beautiful. And, yes, the sound (and silence) was very good. In her later films, the sound gets more... bombastic. I still love it though.

About the communication issues, I thought that they understood each other extremely well, despite their differences and the normal strains of that age. The one piece missing is how much she really needs him, which is what he gets to see at the end. I kind of hope he still goes to his father, though. Is that terrible?

I loved the way the words explode out of him when he's alone! When he's with people, he's trying so hard to appear wise and mature. He's very young.

They have a typical amount of communication issues for a mother and son, I reckon. I agree about the fundamental character differences though, her "flighty" acting and chatting in contrast to his very male shrugging, silence, and burst of nonsense when alone. Most sons refuse to answer their badgering mothers and try to appear cool around others. Still it's clear he's grown an affinity for his father from the possessions lying about the house and yearns to fulfill that promise. I too want him to go to his father. I don't think it's awful to think that. I was sympathetic towards the mother, mind you.

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Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:23 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
He needs to. It's the right thing for him. If I had to guess, she'll get what she needs from his offer to stay, and then will be able to properly encourage him to leave the nest.

Totally agree.

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Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:26 am
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Trip wrote:
Most sons refuse to answer their badgering mothers and try to appear cool around others.
That look he gives her when she tries to hand him the nail file on the bus. Hahaha!

Trip wrote:
Totally agree.
:heart:

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Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:27 am
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OT, but are you familiar with Fiona Apple, Maiden? I've never heard you talk about music.

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Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:27 am
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Trip wrote:
OT, but are you familiar with Fiona Apple, Maiden?
Not really. I've heard a bit from her. Why?
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I've never heard you talk about music.
And there's a good reason for that. :P

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Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:32 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
Not really. I've heard a bit from her. Why? And there's a good reason for that. :P

Was just listening to her and posting and wondered.

What's the reason?!

Also, totally down for Akerman.

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Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:34 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
He needs to. It's the right thing for him. If I had to guess, she'll get what she needs from his offer to stay, and then will be able to properly encourage him to leave the nest.


I thought he'd leave anyway and it's what I wanted for him. I think she knows he should leave but the parrot anecdote still doesn't convey (to me) complete acceptance. I love how her struggle comes to the fore in that ending scene with her childlike refusal to give up her seat at the performance. Mirroring what she senses is a loss of her place in the world if her son moves away. But hearing him say that he loves her and would stay was I think necessary for her to be able to truly let go and start afresh.
That song at the end was beautiful too especially in context.

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Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:34 am
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charulata wrote:
That song at the end was beautiful too especially in context.

Yes! Prob what lead me to tears.

Yeah acceptance wasn't the word I wanted to use. Conceded?

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Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:38 am
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Trip wrote:
What's the reason?!
Well, my musical taste is weird and all over the place: classical, pop, electronica, bluegrass. But I've never been passionate about it like I am with books or movies.

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Also, totally down for Akerman.
Yay! I'd better get watching...

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Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:40 am
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Trip wrote:
Yes! Prob what lead me to tears.

Yeah acceptance wasn't the word I wanted to use. Conceded?


Yeah, I knew what you meant absolutely. Watching the movie, I got that too. That conversation seemed like a reconciliation of what was the essential conflict in the film, right? And it's a lovely ending in and of itself. But then the movie goes on and I was wondering where it was going and then we get that gorgeous heartwrenching ending. :up:

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Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:44 am
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Oh and I also wanted to say that I love the actress who plays the mom. All those small gestures - that half smile as tears are welling up in her eyes, fumbling to light up her cigarette when she's ready to tell the son he can go.

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Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:47 am
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But I've never been passionate about it like I am with books or movies.

I used to be like that, but now I probably explore music more than books. This is partly due to how time consuming literature is.
I'm glad everybody responded well to A Long Goodbye, since I indirectly recommended it :P Really should join in the discussion. The Asthenic Syndrome is a bit long for me, so I grabbed Three Stories instead.
There's also an unsubbed film of hers which looks superb (Poznavaya belyy svet), I'm no JMS, but I'll try to watch it at least. Brief Encounters also looks intriguing, and the lead actor, a legend of Russian music, was once in an acting group with my grandma :D


Fri Jul 06, 2012 2:48 am
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MrCarmady wrote:
I grabbed Three Stories instead.

Yay :).

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There's also an unsubbed film of hers which looks superb (Poznavaya belyy svet), I'm no JMS, but I'll try to watch it at least. Brief Encounters also looks intriguing, and the lead actor, a legend of Russian music, was once in an acting group with my grandma :D


I have Brief Encounters here to watch and hope to get to it soon. If you post something about it, it'll obviously encourage me (and Maiden) to do the same :).

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Fri Jul 06, 2012 4:19 am
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Image

If you've been meaning to watch an Akerman or two, this would be the perfect time.
Charulata and I will be starting the conversation tomorrow.

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Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:15 am
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Ah! I have all three ready for viewing, hopefully I can make it for one or two beforehand...if not, then once it's started. If I don't get to at least one within three days, yell at me.


Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:14 am
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OKAY, NO NEED TO YELL AT ME

Watched Portrait of a Young Girl...in Brussels. I'll bite my tongue until you start discussing it, but I will say I liked it. :)


Fri Jul 13, 2012 12:56 pm
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This'll be good.


Fri Jul 13, 2012 3:10 pm
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elixir wrote:
Watched Portrait of a Young Girl...in Brussels. I'll bite my tongue until you start discussing it, but I will say I liked it. :)
You are the best. :heart:

I hope someone watched I, You, He, She.

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Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:34 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
I hope someone watched I, You, He, She.

:shifty:

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Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:38 am
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Colonel Kurz wrote:
:shifty:
Ooh.

You and Char can explain it to me. :P

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Sat Jul 14, 2012 1:35 am
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I don't know about that... :oops:

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Sat Jul 14, 2012 1:37 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
You are the best. :heart:

I hope someone watched I, You, He, She.

Now I've watched this as well. Don't think I'll be able to explain it to you though, haha.


Sat Jul 14, 2012 7:28 am
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elixir wrote:
Now I've watched this as well. Don't think I'll be able to explain it to you though, haha.
Is this a contest?

I think you're winning.

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Sat Jul 14, 2012 7:44 am
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lol no. And I already lost by not watching the previous one! Plus, discussion...

I've always been interested in seeing more Akerman, this was a good push.


Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:01 am
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        Maiden checks out Chantal Akerman

Since I've also seen Jeanne Dielman (1975) and La captive (2000), I feel like I can cautiously begin to get a sense of how she's changed. In the early films, I feel like she's always playing stylistic games, with oddly configured conversations, off-screen action, disconcerting silences and repetitions. Not that these games aren't effective; she obviously proves herself the master of that kind of manipulation in Jeanne Dielman. But, in the latter two, the emphasis feels different, more fluid, more normal. Maybe she's still playing games; in fact, I'm sure she is, but they're more inherently entertaining so I don't necessarily notice them.


        Image Image

I, You, He, She is divided into three (strangely, not four) artificially staged segments, the first of which is pretty baffling. If I never see anyone eat a 10-pound bag of sugar again it'll be too soon! After being trapped in that small, dirty room for weeks, it's a relief to move on to the segment with the truck driver. This part has some nice moments from the truck driver's life story, but mainly evokes that sense of escape and freedom. I did have a small shock when she asks for a cigarette and doesn't know what to do with it; for the first time I realized how young she's supposed to be. Finally, we reach the third section, which I'm guessing is the raison d'etre of the entire movie, as much as any gigantic, climactic chase set piece in a blockbuster. What momentum there is has built up to this point, and it's clear that all the planning, design, and lighting went into this one scene. And it pays off! The girls are a moving sculpture, the scene is tactile, visceral, and satisfying aesthetically and erotically.

Backing up a bit, my shock when her age was revealed leads me to the idea that these three segments could be seen as entirely disconnected from each other. I mean, I know the narration links them chronologically, but as far as I can tell, "she" could be a different person (or age) in each one. Certainly her level of experience/knowledge of the world seems greater in the third than in the second. And the first one is almost completely divorced from reality. (How many weeks did she live on sugar?) What do you think is the structure connecting the three segments?



        Image Image

I found Meetings with Anna visually fascinating, but, again, emotionally difficult. Anna is a strange, socially awkward woman, but no one around her seems to notice this. As she drifts through various cities and train stations encountering people who pour out their life stories, I experienced a confusing sense of déjà vu. Aha, it's The Portuguese Nun! In fact, I think the first scenes are almost identical, as each woman stares into the camera, and the man at the front desk asks about her work. While the awkwardness is maybe a bit more extreme and artificial in Nun, Anna is even more of a cipher than the lead in the Green film. The ineptness of all her interactions is compounded by the strange way so many of the conversations are shot. It seems to be a game: let's film a conversation where neither party looks at the other, or where we can't see one of the people, etc. The general air of awkwardness smothers every encounter.

I was particularly struck by the many lovely symmetrical shots. If I had to guess, I'd say they represent the order she's imposed on her life, which helps her maintain a sort of contentment in the face of loneliness and disappointment. It's no coincidence that her meeting with her mother is the most symmetrical of all. But notice that, when her emotional balance is disrupted during her final encounter, there's little or no symmetry to be found.



        Image Image

While I enjoyed all three of these films, Portrait of a Young Girl was my favorite by quite a bit. The actress who plays Michele is lovely to watch; her expressive face, after the largely unreadable leads in the other two, is a breath of fresh air. Superficially, this is very similar to Claire Denis' 60s segment for the same series, but again, I greatly prefer this one. Michele is a terrific character, full of passionate enthusiasms, and her constant chatter quite organically covers a lot of ground, giving their specific circumstances the added weight of context.

The end caught me sort of off-guard, even though it was obvious from almost the first moment that the central relationship was between Michele and Danielle. But, here's the thing: I realize Michele is in a position to know that the other two are perfect for each other, but I can't help wondering if Paul will be disappointed. They had such a lovely connection. What if he truly likes her? Will he be sad? Haha, what am I thinking?! Akerman doesn't write fairy tales, and there isn't a man on the planet who wouldn't prefer the prettier friend.

I did love this scene on the tram, where the camera pans slowly back and forth between the girls, seemingly untethered to their conversation, but cleverly saying as much or more than the dialogue:

        Image Image

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Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:46 am
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        Charu checks out Chantal Akerman

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Je, Tu, Il, Elle | 1975

The title seems to convey the meaning perhaps? A film where everyone is reduced to pronouns and abstraction. They are also separated, alone as the title suggests albeit connected briefly. The film breaks down into three segments, each involving an interaction between the "I" in the title (played by Akerman herself) and three other characters. In the first, she is writing a letter either to an unknown "you" (or to the viewer?). In the second, she hitchhikes and gets a ride from the "he" in the title who shares with her … and in the third, she meets up and has sex with a former lover, the titular "she".

The protagonists also traverses 3 distinct spaces during the course of the film. Any action in the first segment is situated in a single room. The second segment takes place mostly in a truck and bars and rest stops where they halt and the final segment is set in the lover's apartment. Two of those spaces end up feeling more claustrophobic than the third.

The first segment is almost oppressive in its depiction of loneliness and alienation. The protagonist remains barricaded in a rather bleak, sterile room for the first third of the film writing and rewriting a letter that remains unfinished. She spends her days and nights crouched in a corner or lying naked eating spoonfuls of sugar out of a brown paper bag. Right up until the end, she is without identity - not just personal but also cultural, ethnic or religious. She performs a series of repetitive activities - moving a bed around the room, letter-writing, taking off her clothes, eating sugar - all without any context. The B&W photography is high contrast and Akerman frequently appears merely as a shadowy silhouette, a ghost inhabiting the space.

The segment is also interesting in its use of narration. Sometimes the words anticipate an image, sometimes they even contradict it and sometimes they're about something else altogether. Any sense that the voiceover is a direct address is thus undercut - voice and image serve as counterpoints to each other (thereby avoiding redundancy). In the very first scene when she says she painted the room blue, nothing in the frame changes color (I know it's black and white.. but even in grayscale, there's no change).

I read the first segment as the enactment of difficulty with personal expression and writing. Both extremely isolating activities that require the discipline of staying locked in while the artist struggles to break free of this self-imposed imprisonment.

In the second segment, we see her hitchhiking. Here, the heroine is secondary and the man takes over the film. Here Akerman exchanges narration / voiceover for monologue as the man first gives her instructions on how she should give him a hand-job, something she complies with seemingly without question. He then moves on to a soliloquy detailing the banalities his domestic situation and sex life. This segment again reinforces how the film avoids giving the protagonists much of a sense of identity. At one of their stops, the trucker is addressing his acquaintances in the bar and yet the diegetic music, the movie playing on the TV in the bar, the bar chatter - they swallow up the actual conversation/dialogue.

The third segment is possibly the most tender of the three. The protagonist ends up at her former lover's apartment. The girlfriend goes on to feed her and they eventually have sex that in contrast to everything we saw and heard in the second segment, is sensuous and passionate.

So what do the three segments add up to after all. To me the predominant theme seemed to be a quest for connection - through the letter in the first part, through conversation and mechanical / emotionless sex in the second and finally through the (more emotional and fulfilling) sex with the girlfriend.

Am yet undecided as to whether the contrast between the second and third segments signal any kind of rejection of heterosexuality.

Regardless, I loved this one. The long takes that implicate us as Akerman literally performs in front her camera, the exposing of self and her dual positions in front of and behind the camera, the stunning use of diegetic sound (the classic Hollywood film in the background, the traffic sounds, kids playing outside the window) and the denouement that to me at least was evocative of Denis's Vendredi Soir.

Image
The Meetings of Anna | 1978


This one was probably the most challenging one of the three for me in terms of trying to really grasp what it's about beyond a portrayal of the alienation / feeling of emotional emptiness that seems to plague the central character. Here again, the spaces that the character inhabits seem to be crucial to the film. We frequently see Anna alone in train stations (when everyone else is going the other way), in long corridors, alone on a bed with an empty bed beside her. In others, there's near-perfect symmetry as she is composed alongside another person often right at the center of the frame.

That said, as the title suggests, she has various meetings in the course of the film. She encounters several people and has long conversations with them and several of these conversations seem to be about performing or projecting herself to these characters in a certain way. But then again, only two of these 4 encounters really involve Anna talking to another person. The other two have the people she is meeting telling her (and us?) stories. What I didn't get however, was any sense of real fulfilling connection at the end of these conversations even though she does seem to be affected by these interactions.

At the end of the film, Anna lies in bed listening to voice messages left on her telephone and as alone as when we first encountered her in the film.

Also stylistically, the voyeuristic audience implication thing that's so central to Je, Tu, Il, Elle is repeated here as well. We often see characters facing the camera as they are speaking and in some instances, they even avert their eyes as though aware of an audience besides Anna.

Image
Portrait of a Young Girl in the 60s in Brussels | 1994


This is probably the sweetest of the three or maybe it's just my inherent love for the basic idea behind this series where filmmakers attempt to recapture the days of their teenage years. Michele, a shy teenager hangs out with a boy she meets in a movie theater and they make out, talk, shoplift, go to a party and just do awkward, sweet, young people stuff.

While it has the same acutely observational style of the other two films, this one feels a little less conceptual to me - a bit more free in a way that fits the conceit of the film. I love the rambling discussions, the way she brings up Proust and Kierkegaard and Akerman's refusal to dramatize this interaction and instead just let us revel in its freshness.

It feels more like a companion piece to the other films in the series this is a part of (I've only seen Denis's U.S. Go Home and Assayas's Cold Water) with its use of pop music and that lovely climactic party scene. It's also the most narratively focused, perhaps with an arc in the relationships and so on?

But that documentarian style, the use of different spaces to reveal the psychology of the character, the focus on characters' faces - all of those are right in line with the other two films we're discussing here. Also, that end twist is right in line with Je, Tu, Il, Elle :).

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Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:56 am
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yee

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Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:23 pm
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charulata wrote:
The title seems to convey the meaning perhaps? A film where everyone is reduced to pronouns and abstraction. They are also separated, alone as the title suggests albeit connected briefly. The film breaks down into three segments, each involving an interaction between the "I" in the title (played by Akerman herself) and three other characters.
That makes sense. I really struggled with the title. :P

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The segment is also interesting in its use of narration. Sometimes the words anticipate an image, sometimes they even contradict it and sometimes they're about something else altogether. Any sense that the voiceover is a direct address is thus undercut - voice and image serve as counterpoints to each other (thereby avoiding redundancy). In the very first scene when she says she painted the room blue, nothing in the frame changes color (I know it's black and white.. but even in grayscale, there's no change).
Good observations. I forgot all about the narration. This segment was so baffling for me. I guess I thought it was depicting depression, though I could be misreading it entirely. She doesn't seem to accomplish anything if it's about writing/art.

I felt less negative toward the truck driver than you did. She seemed to want some kind of sexual connection with him (based on the voice over) but was very inexperienced. What did you think about the fact that they seemed not to be in France? The radio and TV were American, and, like you, I couldn't make out words in the bar. Strange!

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Am yet undecided as to whether the contrast between the second and third segments signal any kind of rejection of heterosexuality.
I thought it felt more like a celebration of the one, not a condemnation of the other. And maybe she just wanted to prove that a scene like that could be erotically pleasing to everyone, regardless of their orientation. And I think she succeeded!

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That said, as the title suggests, she has various meetings in the course of the film. She encounters several people and has long conversations with them and several of these conversations seem to be about performing or projecting herself to these characters in a certain way. But then again, only two of these 4 encounters really involve Anna talking to another person. The other two have the people she is meeting telling her (and us?) stories. What I didn't get however, was any sense of real fulfilling connection at the end of these conversations even though she does seem to be affected by these interactions.

Yes, such strange conversations, with such empty results.

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At the end of the film, Anna lies in bed listening to voice messages left on her telephone and as alone as when we first encountered her in the film.
What do you think really happened with Daniel? Was she crying out of disappointment, worry, unfulfilled love?

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While it has the same acutely observational style of the other two films, this one feels a little less conceptual to me - a bit more free in a way that fits the conceit of the film.
Ah, "more free." That's what I was trying to say. Yes.

Did you like the other two Tous les garçons... films more than this one?

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Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:24 pm
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
I, You, He, She is divided into three (strangely, not four) artificially staged segments,

I wondered about that too and in particular about the "You" in the title. At first, I thought that it perhaps refers to the person the letter is addressed to but then given how the segments feel so much like performance (so carefully staged especially that first one with explicit references to mise-en-scène with the moving of the furniture and so on) that perhaps it applies more to the viewer than to anyone in the film.

Shieldmaiden wrote:
the first of which is pretty baffling. If I never see anyone eat a 10-pound bag of sugar again it'll be too soon!

Hahaha. I loved that segment (as stifling as it is) mostly because I was transfixed by how deliberately and yet vulnerably she exposes herself to us (both literally and figuratively). I especially love the shot in the dark as she walks across the room and her seemingly bigger, heavier shadow follows her.

Image


I think though that I also related a little bit too much to the feeling of being trapped (by choice) trying to write. Vivid callbacks to my dissertation writing days and while I didn't eat sugar out of a bag, there was a lot of microwave Ramen in my life at the time :shifty:.

Shieldmaiden wrote:
The girls are a moving sculpture, the scene is tactile, visceral, and satisfying aesthetically and erotically.

Absolutely :). Like lovely marble sculptures come to life.


Shieldmaiden wrote:
Backing up a bit, my shock when her age was revealed leads me to the idea that these three segments could be seen as entirely disconnected from each other. I mean, I know the narration links them chronologically, but as far as I can tell, "she" could be a different person (or age) in each one. Certainly her level of experience/knowledge of the world seems greater in the third than in the second.

Yeah, I really didn't assume any chronological or even narrative continuity / links between the three. Purely a thematic progression. I know the end credits identify the lead with one name, Julie. But I don't recall us ever learning her name in the film itself?

Shieldmaiden wrote:
It seems to be a game: let's film a conversation where neither party looks at the other, or where we can't see one of the people, etc. The general air of awkwardness smothers every encounter.

This was the least effective of the three for me. I kept feeling like I'm supposed to connect with Anna's sense of alienation (based on the visuals and her drifting from one encounter to the other, the tears in her eyes and so on) but I never connected with any of it emotionally, which wasn't the case for me with Je, Tu, Il, Elle despite all the formal rigor in that one. Anna's loneliness, if that is indeed what the film is depicting, her uncertainty, her quest for a real connection (like the one she describes to her mother lying in bed next to her) - I could only absorb them at a superficial sort of level. Except for the one scene in the taxi when she is forced to confront a genuine emotion, an unexpected sense of concern for someone she perhaps thought was just someone she was having sex with?

Shieldmaiden wrote:
While I enjoyed all three of these films, Portrait of a Young Girl was my favorite by quite a bit.

While I liked this one a lot as well, it perhaps suffered for me because of its similarity to the Denis and Assayas segments which I just happened to watch first. I prefer Je, Tu, Il, Elle to this one - enigmatic as it is.

Also, in the Tout les garcons series - Assayas, Denis, Akerman in that order for me.

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Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:27 pm
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
I, You, He, She is divided into three (strangely, not four) artificially staged segments, the first of which is pretty baffling. If I never see anyone eat a 10-pound bag of sugar again it'll be too soon!


Ha, ha. Yes, watching her eat all that raw sugar made me nauseous. I was struck by the originality of that film, both in structure and content.

Meetings with Anna didn't do much for me.

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Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:38 pm
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charulata wrote:
I loved that segment (as stifling as it is) mostly because I was transfixed by how deliberately and yet vulnerably she exposes herself to us (both literally and figuratively). I especially love the shot in the dark as she walks across the room and her seemingly bigger, heavier shadow follows her.
I enjoyed it, too, for the most part. I just couldn't figure it out.

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I think though that I also related a little bit too much to the feeling of being trapped (by choice) trying to write. Vivid callbacks to my dissertation writing days and while I didn't eat sugar out of a bag, there was a lot of microwave Ramen in my life at the time :shifty:.
Haha!

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This was the least effective of the three for me. I kept feeling like I'm supposed to connect with Anna's sense of alienation (based on the visuals and her drifting from one encounter to the other, the tears in her eyes and so on) but I never connected with any of it emotionally, which wasn't the case for me with Je, Tu, Il, Elle despite all the formal rigor in that one. Anna's loneliness, if that is indeed what the film is depicting, her uncertainty, her quest for a real connection (like the one she describes to her mother lying in bed next to her) - I could only absorb them at a superficial sort of level. Except for the one scene in the taxi when she is forced to confront a genuine emotion, an unexpected sense of concern for someone she perhaps thought was just someone she was having sex with?
I don't know if we're supposed to connect with Anna. I certainly didn't. I did feel like something – what was missing maybe – was sort of filling up the space, and there was a lot of space in the film. Maybe that's just another way of saying I loved the way it looked. But I'll rewatch this one, despite my lack of emotional connection.

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Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:45 pm
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
I guess I thought it was depicting depression, though I could be misreading it entirely. She doesn't seem to accomplish anything if it's about writing/art.

Oh yeah, she certainly doesn't accomplish anything after all those drafts . Not to mention pouring sugar all over them rendering them unusable! I just felt like the depression was related to an inability to communicate. My art thing is a stretch certainly :P. After all she is merely writing a letter. But given that it's Akerman playing herself and moving stuff around and framing herself a certain way and so on - I ended up thinking about it as a struggle to create but perhaps more accurately, it's just a struggle to communicate.

Another thought that occurred to me is that her initial attempt at communicating with someone is entirely internal. Lock herself up and try to put things into words. The encounter with the trucker has her taking a bigger risk. She is actually going out into the world and putting herself in situations where she listens and performs actions that are unfamiliar to her. An ellipsis from this to the third segment could potentially be read as growth wherein she has assimilated these experiences and found her own way to connect joyfully with another as an equal.

Shieldmaiden wrote:
I felt less negative toward the truck driver than you did. She seemed to want some kind of sexual connection with him (based on the voice over) but was very inexperienced. What did you think about the fact that they seemed not to be in France? The radio and TV were American, and, like you, I couldn't make out words in the bar. Strange!

I have no idea where they were although that's par for the course given that the film stays silent on names, timeline etc as well. But she did deliberately have us hear the American TV and radio which sticks out in the film, no?
As for the truck driver, I just found his complaints about his life really tiresome :).

Shieldmaiden wrote:
I thought it felt more like a celebration. Like she just wanted to prove that a scene like that could be erotically pleasing to everyone, regardless of their orientation. And I think she succeeded!

I agree. It doesn't feel political.

Shieldmaiden wrote:
What do you think really happened with Daniel? Was she crying out of disappointment, worry, unrequited love?

All of those, I thought. Even though I'm not sure she's in love with him necessarily. But some imbalance in terms of their emotional investment / connection that she hadn't realized or acknowledged until then?

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Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:46 pm
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dreiser wrote:
I was struck by the originality of that film, both in structure and content.
It's definitely original. I love how the third segment is maybe the most carefully structured of the three, yet the most full of life.

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Meetings with Anna didn't do much for me.
I liked it, but I'm struggling to find the words to explain why. :P

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Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:55 pm
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
I did feel like something -- what was missing maybe -- was sort of filling up the space, and there was a lot of space in the film. Maybe that's just another way of saying I loved the way it looked. But I'll rewatch this one, despite my lack of emotional connection.

Yeah, I want to rewatch it as well in the hope that I'll enjoy it beyond the visuals.

Back to the lovemaking scene in the third segment in Je, Tu, Il, Elle, in this unreadably formatted interview with Akerman, she talks about it and I'm either reading this wrong or she's suggesting that the way the scene is shot isn't very aesthetic? Wut?
Quote:
Interviewer: What impressed me was the lesbian love-making scene, but as much, the scene with the lorry driver, because it's even more rare to have male sexuality talked about in a film. What kind of feedback have you had?

Akerman: It's strange - from some women who have problems about their own lesbianism. They say it's not like that - you know, it wasn't charming or nicelooking. That was one point - like it wasn't shown in a very aesthetic way, which for me makes it strong.

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Sat Jul 14, 2012 1:02 pm
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charulata wrote:
Another thought that occurred to me is that her initial attempt at communicating with someone is entirely internal. Lock herself up and try to put things into words. The encounter with the trucker has her taking a bigger risk. She is actually going out into the world and putting herself in situations where she listens and performs actions that are unfamiliar to her. An ellipsis from this to the third segment could potentially be read as growth wherein she has assimilated these experiences and found her own way to connect joyfully with another as an equal.
Oh, I really like that! This gives it the thematic unity I was looking for.

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All of those, I thought. Even though I'm not sure she's in love with him necessarily. But some imbalance in terms of their emotional investment / connection that she hadn't realized or acknowledged until then?
That sounds right. And, yet, the last scene, with her answering machine, takes away any sense that she'd made progress. It's hard to tell, though.

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I'm either reading this wrong or she's suggesting that the way the scene is shot isn't very aesthetic? Wut?
Huh! That makes no sense. I could see that someone might complain that it wasn't realistic. It was so very staged, and there was barely any actual sex. But the beauty is inarguable, surely!

Overall, I'd say I didn't have any big turn-around on Akerman. I still find her clever, and admirable, but hard to love.

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Sat Jul 14, 2012 1:03 pm
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
This gives it the thematic unity I was looking for.

Yay!

Shieldmaiden wrote:
Overall, I'd say I didn't have any big turn-around on Akerman. I still find her clever and admirable, but hard to love.

I'd watched the same two as you (Jeanne Dielman and La Captive) coming into this and I think this did help move me closer to love on that scale mostly because of how much I liked Je, Tu, Il, Elle. I think my next two Akermans are going to be News From Home and D'est.

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Sat Jul 14, 2012 1:19 pm
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D'Est is meant to be one of her very best. I wanna watch all these things and will!

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Sat Jul 14, 2012 1:20 pm
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Trip wrote:
D'Est is meant to be one of her very best. I wanna watch all these things and will!


Soon (i.e. before we move on to the next) pls :heart:?

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Sat Jul 14, 2012 1:23 pm
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Meetings of Anna is one of my favorites that I've seen from Akerman, it's cold, passionless, almost surgical in its examination of human interaction. The film's better qualities are hard to really describe precisely because they tend to be things we associate as negatives in dramatic filmmaking, but the precision, the use of space, the sharp, awkward conversations all work towards creating a rather unique bit of film-making.


Sat Jul 14, 2012 4:29 pm
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I found Je, tu, il, elle very trying at first. Akerman does enough with compositions to make one room interesting enough for so long, but I'm just not sure this kind of thing is for me. And yes, that sugar...haha. One review I read suggested that part of this self-imposition was part of a rejection of domesticity (linking it to Jeanne Dielman in a manner, the only one I've seen), but I'm not sure I'm sold on that really, or at least there isn't much context within the film for that though perhaps one can draw this connection externally nonetheless? Just bringing it up. I guess what's most striking in this and Jeanne Dielman is the extremely formal experimentalism that feels almost stifling artificial to me, that somehow still is able to register (female) vulnerability, among other things. I did find the scene with the bus driver to be a relief from the first half hour, and while I supposed I didn't think of the film in tradition narrative terms, I still nonetheless saw the move to that section as a transition from self-imprisonment to one of escape. And surely one of the most interesting scenes in the film, and perhaps a lot of this is owed to its contrast to that real time (how long was it? 15 minutes?) lesbian encounter at the end of the film, is the one where he awkwardly instructs her how to give a handjob. When she's (Julie) is with the girl, it certainly feels more intuitive and loving, and even though still shot with formal precision (just a few shots), it does somehow feel freer in a way from the rest of the film. I'm not sure I'd call it erotic exactly (I've seen some call it anti-erotic, and I'm not sure about that), but yeah. So, it's a film I found frustrating at first, but rewarding in the end, though I didn't love it.

The Meetings of Anna to come up soon. I also have News from Home ready for viewing (and D'est definitely seems like a film I'd like, though there are a few others I may be interested in first/also).

And yes, I did like Portrait of a Young Girl...in Brussels more than Je, tu, il, elle, even if it is less experimental and ambitious, but I don't know, I guess I'm a sucker for these kinds of films and I do think it's done very well with some very nice compositions itself (that tram ride was a highlight--I also liked when they went into Michele's cousin's (?) room also the ending was very nice, also). I've also seen the Assayas and Denis is the series, and the former is a personal favorite, but I would put this on par with the Denis, I think (not sure which one I'd choose). I love how Akerman captures Michele's overdramaticness (all that talk about death! and how no one notices she's pretending or how she actually feels! etc.) but all in a very tender and sensitive way, I think, and her connection with Paul feels true even as she herself believes that she's not as strong as a fit as her friend would be, which hardly seems so obvious to me as a viewer! Especially after the good times the two had. I don't know, I found the writing to be really sharp with the scenes with Paul and Michele walking, so those never bored me, thankfully. I just read up quickly [eek! I mean that I scanned quickly *again* after already giving it a read-through!], and you think no man would prefer the "prettier" friend??? I'm not so sure! I mean, it's a bit unfair since we get to see a lot of Michele and little of her friend, but I liked her! I mean..you know, haha. I hardly think she's ugly if we are talking physically (she's pretty) anyways!. Overall, I did find the film to be very sweet and concise, involving (in getting to see these somewhat private conversations) and touching.

Looking forward to seeing more!


Sat Jul 14, 2012 5:10 pm
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News From Home is my favorite Akerman. I thought about it nonstop on my first NYC trip, in '06.

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Sat Jul 14, 2012 5:23 pm
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Boner M wrote:
News From Home is my favorite Akerman. I thought about it nonstop on my first NYC trip, in '06.

:heart:


Sat Jul 14, 2012 6:01 pm
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Das wrote:
Meetings of Anna is one of my favorites that I've seen from Akerman, it's cold, passionless, almost surgical in its examination of human interaction. The film's better qualities are hard to really describe precisely because they tend to be things we associate as negatives in dramatic filmmaking, but the precision, the use of space, the sharp, awkward conversations all work towards creating a rather unique bit of film-making.
I like the idea that the various people were laid out on a laboratory table, under a cold light and a strong lens. And, yes, the space! I felt all those spaces, the huge rooms and the crowded train corridors. I actually enjoyed it much more than my write-up made it sound. It's so strange, and I like strange!

elixir wrote:
So, it's a film I found frustrating at first, but rewarding in the end, though I didn't love it.
Same! I love how the responses to that third segment have been all over the map (historically, not here). So much for my theory that it was something everyone would respond to equally.

elixir wrote:
and you think no man wouldn't prefer the "prettier" friend??? I'm not so sure! I mean, it's a bit unfair since we get to see a lot of Michele and little of her friend, but I liked her! I mean..you know, haha. I hardly think she's ugly if we are talking physically (she's pretty) anyways!
She's adorable, and, yes, Paul really connected with her. But I think he'll be perfectly content to have her as a good friend, while sleeping with Danielle. That's the way the world works. Too cynical?

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Sat Jul 14, 2012 10:51 pm
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Das wrote:
Meetings of Anna is one of my favorites that I've seen from Akerman, it's cold, passionless, almost surgical in its examination of human interaction. The film's better qualities are hard to really describe precisely because they tend to be things we associate as negatives in dramatic filmmaking, but the precision, the use of space, the sharp, awkward conversations all work towards creating a rather unique bit of film-making.


Yeah, that use of space and framing is one of the things that stood out to me the most. And I did like and admire this idea of a colder, more impersonal examination especially because based on her other films, somehow I think that she still brings autobiographical elements into her films. Anna is after all a filmmaker. I also really like how it provides a contrast against Je, Tu, Il, Elle. In both films, I think the filmmaker is observing some version / aspects of herself (I *AM* speculating admittedly). Except that I think that in The Meetings of Anna, she is able to distance herself from the proceedings even more. Step out of it and merely observe.

I like both of them. I think I just have more of a penchant for less distanced, more muddled (for lack of a better word) observation. Feels more vulnerable to me.

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Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:22 am
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elixir wrote:
And surely one of the most interesting scenes in the film, and perhaps a lot of this is owed to its contrast to that real time (how long was it? 15 minutes?) lesbian encounter at the end of the film, is the one where he awkwardly instructs her how to give a handjob. When she's (Julie) is with the girl, it certainly feels more intuitive and loving, and even though still shot with formal precision (just a few shots), it does somehow feel freer in a way from the rest of the film.

I do like the contrast the handjob scene offers to the lesbian scene. in the handjob scene, we don't really get to see or hear :shifty: what's going on between them. His dispassionate narration is all we get and the camera remains transfixed on his face. She is doing this voluntarily but she is off-frame and not the focus of the scene. I think for me, it supports the idea that this (and other encounters like this) are stepping stones to her more central role, a more confident embracing of sex in the third segment by which time she doesn't need no instructions clearly.

Shieldmaiden wrote:
Paul really connected with her. But I think he'll be perfectly content to have her as a good friend, while sleeping with Danielle. That's the way the world works. Too cynical?


Maybe I'm being too optimistic but I think Paul would rather be with her. He'll survive this party absolutely but I really think she really fascinated him.

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Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:39 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:

She's adorable, and, yes, Paul really connected with her. But I think he'll be perfectly content to have her as a good friend, while sleeping with Danielle. That's the way the world works. Too cynical?

lol, nice catch!

Well, I'm sure he'd ultimately be content with that (he is pretty young still), it was more the idea that everyone would necessarily prefer the friend! I don't know, perhaps cynical...I don't feel experienced enough to say, haha.

edit: and for what char said, I do agree Paul would prefer to have seen Michele at the end, and not her friend...but I was trying to speak more generally above


Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:41 am
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I liked the truck driver.

I have basically nothing to say. It's that kind of film that makes me just want to watch action movies all the time. She had nice boobs. I thought the love-making was quite ridiculous, all that wrestling like a bad night's tossing and turning. Just scissor already, you know?

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Sun Jul 15, 2012 2:35 am
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Post Re: Female Gaze: Charu and Maiden Check Out Female Filmmakers

The truck driver is played by Niels Arestrup, btw.


Sun Jul 15, 2012 2:38 am
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