Monday, May 22, 2006

Tomorrow We Move

(2004, Chantal Akerman, seen on DVD)- Akerman's latest feels like a more comedic companion piece to her 1975 masterpiece JEANNE DIELMAN, 23 QUAI DE COMMERCE, 1080 BRUXELLES. In both films, the protagonists thrive on routine, and both films observe the effects that breaks in routine can have on them. Happily, Charlotte (TOMORROW's principle character, played by the adorable Sylvie Testud) is better able to negotiate the chaos than Jeanne- rather than DIELMAN's climactic act, Charlotte merely becomes frazzled and tries to find ways to escape, with varying degrees of success. Charlotte is a writer trying to hammer out a commissioned erotic story, but she is impeded by her life- her flighty mother (Aurore Clement) who has moved in after her husband's recent death, the jam-packed apartment in which they live, her lack of contact with the outside world, and her relative lack of experience in love. So, craving order, she decides to find a new, quieter apartment (hence the title). Much of the film's second half is devoted to Charlotte showing the apartment to various people, and Akerman turns this sequence into a mini-masterpiece of farce, with viewers showing up one right after the other and Charlotte and her mother doing their best to put them at ease, field questions, and show them around. The viewers of the apartment include characters played by Lucas Belvaux (a gruff, slightly obtuse man on the outs with his wife) and Natacha Regnier (a cheerful pregnant woman who feels like an earlier version of Amy Adams' character in JUNEBUG). By the end of the film, Akerman has redefined the film's realities, with touches of magic realism (the childbirth scene) and a musical finale that positions the apartment as a haven of femininity. In short, a delight from beginning to end. Rating: ***1/2.

And speaking of moving, I'm currently looking to move back to Columbus. I was apartment- and job-hunting last week, and I plan on checking out a few more of each in the next couple of weeks, so my days with mom and dad are numbered. Much to everyone's relief, I'm sure.

Also, good DVD-related news. The big recent announcement for nerdy types is Abkco Films' upcoming release of three of Alejandro Jodorowsky's best-known works on DVD- FANDO Y LIS, THE HOLY MOUNTAIN, and EL TOPO. No set date yet, but there's a promo reel on their site (not work-safe). I've never seen any of these, but I've always wanted to, and now I'll finally get the chance.

In addition, good news for people who are mental midgets (that's me) and like giggling (hey, that's me too). One of the greatest prematurely-cancelled but now-classic series of all time is getting released on DVD in October. I refer of course to POLICE SQUAD! In Color! So while there may be more snob-friendly releases in the pipeline (Criterion's YI YI, for example), you can be sure I'll be shelling out my twenty-some dollars come October to grin like an idiot.

2 comments:

Steve said...

So does that mean that the rights issues that have plagued El Topo have been sorted? Awesome. Any chance these films get to capture a wider audience is cool by me. (The Holy Mountain is, like, the biggest headtrip ever.)

Jason_Alley said...

That is so awesome about those Jodorowsky films - I've been wanting to see those for years and years.