Tuesday, June 02, 2009

3 Hours and 21 Minutes of Good News

Very likely you have already noticed but the Criterion Collection has more than compensated for some recent lapses in taste with their announcement of a forthcoming deluxe edition of Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. What could be more delicious or deserving? I admit some nostalgia for director Chantal Akerman's insistence for so many years that Jeanne Dielman needs to be experienced in a movie theater, where its reframing of domestic labor and quotidian time is by far the most effective; there is no question that the impact of the film will be diminished somewhat, or at least profoundly altered, by screening it in a home format. And yet! If one thinks in proportions of filmic aesthetics and ambitions vis-à-vis mainstream cultural reputation, Jeanne Dielman, for all of its canonization in academic circles, would rank near the top of my list of landmark masterpieces that rarely get their public due. Anyone who's wondered what this film is doing so high up on my all-time best list will now have a much easier time of finding out. Huzzah to Criterion!

(If you dig Jeanne, don't deny yourself the treat of that 5-film Belgian DVD package that premiered a couple years ago and has, up till now, represented the only venue for screening Jeanne Dielman or, I think?, the other constituent Akerman titles on DVD. Les Rendez-vous d'Anna is another particular favorite of mine.)

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Blogger Ed Howard said...

I've got the great Belgian box set and can only recommend that; I love the formalist, minimalist News From Home. But this is definitely good news for the region-locked.

Although as for Jeanne Dielman, despite its undeniable greatness I've always felt some ambivalence about the ending, which shifts it ever so slightly towards something much more conventional than the sui generis work of genius it is for the rest of its length.

2:26 PM, June 02, 2009  
Blogger JKlorfein said...

Sure, the news about the Jeanne Dielman DVD is awesome - but what about that other August Criterion, The Last Days of Disco? I can't tell you how happy I was to here that Kate Beckinsale's appeal is now culturally sanctified.

8:32 PM, June 03, 2009  

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