Sunday, June 28, 2009

The 40th Anniversary

Nothing I could say would be enough. But I do have a profound and humbling sense of my debts.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Expanded by Popular Demand...

Okay, this is my last post about the Best Picture announcement, but since so many of you clicked over to my speculative chart for 1999-2008, and since I seem to be nearly alone in feeling pretty sanguine and optimistic about the promised change, I have now made it a speculative chart for 1987-2008. Yes, every once in a while, something ghastly potentially happens (à la Legends of the Fall or Good Morning, Vietnam) but just as often something awesome potentially happens (à la Hoop Dreams and Au revoir, les enfants in the same years).

The real story here, though, are the lists of what still doesn't qualify, even in a double-capacity race. It's hardly the case that a ten-wide field opens the door for "every" movie with critical raves, Globes or SAG support, ardent followings, Oscar-friendly nobility, pop-phenom status, big studio pushes, unembarrassing box-office windfalls, or middlebrow "sleeper" support automatically qualify. It's a really exciting toss-up in years like 1987-1989, and weird anomalies still occur. For instance, even the expanded list in 1996 maintains, I think, a bizarrely anti-studio line-up, and plenty of "lone director" nominees survive: Egoyan, Scorsese, probably Hallström and Kieślowski...

I can't take this chart any further, since 1987 was as early as I remember following all the critics' awards, ten-best lists, and other buzz as it all transpired. Just a few years further back, and I'd be almost totally tone-deaf to how the PR, the release schedule, and popular word-of-mouth actually played out. Again, I'm sure there's plenty to debate about my cuckoo choices, but I look at these lists and still feel that a Best Picture nomination would "mean" just as much in relation to these ten films as it does in relation to the current lists of five. No loss of horse-race drama for those of us who get off on that. More races where the historical winner might have had a tougher fight, for better or worse. This is going to be great!

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Two More Grouchy Notes...

...about the expanded Best Picture category and its epidemic debates and discourses around the Oscar blogosphere, including here. I have already made clear that a movie getting nominated for Best Picture and no other award seems eminently likely and perfectly fine: when that very thing recently almost happened, the nominee in question may not have been top-drawer artistry but it was a welcome breath of fresh air in the category and a much-beloved movie. Earlier single-nom Best Picture nominees like Trader Horn, Five Star Final, Grand Hotel, The Smiling Lieutenant, She Done Him Wrong, The Ox-Bow Incident, and Libeled Lady were sometimes among the best movies included in those line-ups, and even at worst offer some valuable time-capsule glimpses of what Hollywood felt boastful or proud of in those years, besides its standard fare. Snatching lead acting noms for the legendary Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt back when those categories only admitted three names apiece probably "should," in some Oscar bloggers' minds, have made The Guardsman a shoo-in for Best Picture, but I think the single-nom Lubitsch movies that bested it are at least as good, and certainly more historically interesting. So please, let's worry less about this possibility. For a film to pull off this trick in the 00s or after, if it even happens, will hopefully require that the film be something special to a lot of people, or something different from the rest of the pack. All things considered, that could be good, right?

More worryingly, I'm reading some commenters who are dismayed that a movie without a "major" nomination for directing, acting, or writing could "sneak in," no matter what other, presumably "minor" nods it scores. Even a movie that had one acting nomination, as The Dark Knight did, has been mentioned on one blog as a possible "sneak" in the new system. I.e., a movie that has plenty of nods, but not in the "right" categories, might trespass into a category where, by Oscar logic, it has no business.

Surely it is high time for Oscar bloggers to acknowledge (and we all need to) that Editing, Sound, Cinematography, Score, Art Direction, and Visual Effects are "major" crafts, and if you take either the industry or the art of filmmaking seriously, there's nothing less "major" about them than about acting or writing. Believe me, I understand what you mean, and as we know, I idolize great actors as much as anyone. But I'd also venture, in the abstract, that a film with some of the best editing of the year and some of the best sound work of the year is on average a better film than a film with one of the best performances by a leading actress and one of the best adapted screenplays. Or at least as good, anyway. We're not helping Oscar stay more "relevant" by perpetuating these lame shorthands for what "counts" as film art and what doesn't. Some of the same folks who claim to want to see Oscar broaden its horizons into less parochial "genre" fare turn around and slag off exactly the categories where these "genre" films often cop the most recognition, and make their most earnest stabs at lasting popular or artistic value.

Someone is bound to say, "But what about Best Director? Certainly that's major," to which I will reply, we all know films have been scoring Picture nods without reinforcing Director nods forever. The new change doesn't structurally change that, it just creates more films without (heavily politicized and genre-influenced) director nods. I suspect that Apollo 13, Sense and Sensibility, and Moulin Rouge!, lacking Director nods, still got more Best Picture votes in their years than did Il Postino or Gosford Park, which had them. It's not an absolute test of being in or out of contention, and as we've all been discussing, the new size of the Best Picture race, which only requires 10.1% of the general vote to win, might redraw all those rules anyway. Let's wait and see.

It will be pointed out, more than fairly, that my sidebar keeps readers up to speed about what I've seen most recently in the Picture, Director, and Acting categories, and no others. Guilty as charged, but believe you me, if Editing weren't quite possibly the most egregiously misunderstood category in Oscar history, and if Cinematography and Sound hadn't had a dozen or more nominees for so many years—many of them harder to find these days than almost any Picture or Acting nominee, because DVD and video distributors buy right into, and even create, the same "major category" discourse that we too often perpetuate—I'd have them right up there, too. But still, egg on my face. I'm grumbling at myself, not just at you.

In the meantime, "high-profile" and "most publicized" are great synonyms for what people mean by "major" or "important" categories. Let's try to use them, but let's also try to raise the profile and increase the publicity for these other categories while we're at it. While this news, off season, has suddenly got everyone talking Oscar and people are paying attention, let's seize the opportunity to be thoughtful and disciplined about how those of us who are silly and misguided enough to still give a rat's a** about the Oscars actually go about characterizing the awards we purport to love, and the artistic labor of important filmmakers, marquee names and otherwise, that they ostensibly honor.

P.S. I'll return to a better mood tomorrow.
P.P.S. Or maybe I won't, because look at this. If you need to know why this is a problem, Nathaniel can tell you.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Double Trouble

So the Oscar sites have all been on fire today about the Academy's surprise announcement that next year's Oscars will feature ten nominees for Best Picture rather than the five-wide roster the Academy has observed since the 1944 awards. Clearly, the Academy and, by extension, ABC hope that fans of a wider swath of nominated movies will now tune into the struggling telecast as invested fans; less clear is whether the move to a longer field necessitates that Oscar will be less parochial about what kinds of movies it votes onto the center-ring ballot.

Almost as clearly, the studios, distributors, and marketing wings want to give twice as many movies a chance at recouping their multimillion-dollar Oscar nomination campaigns by winning the right to honestly advertise themselves as a "BEST PICTURE NOMINEE" in all capitals in their TV promos, trade ads, and newspaper listings; less clear is whether the post-nomination "bump" is as big as it used to be, and whether doling out twice as many nods will actually diminish the persuasive pull of the "Best Picture" badge to the increasingly few ticket-buyers who even care about that kind of cachet.

Fans of the announcement appear hopeful that Oscar will now have more room to shape a more diverse list of Best Picture nominees, which the homogenizing ballot procedures for Best Picture often dilute into a narrow stable of consensus picks and fall/winter studio darlings with big campaign budgets. Less clear is whether Oscar voters will now get to rank ten films rather than five at the nominating stage—which could lead them into more challenging, off-consensus titles, or could further dumb down the list, since not everyone in AMPAS is as diligent about hunting down ambitious, off-radar titles as a lot of Oscar bloggers are—or whether the final list of ten will still be synthesized by consolidating every voter's preferential list of five.

My 2¢: I'm totally okay with this. Best Picture has always been a highly compromised category, even by the Academy's inherently conservative standards, so I don't really feel like anything's being taken away from me or from Oscar. The Best Picture race functions best as tony advertising, either by making populist fare look "good" to the highbrows or by giving wider mainstream exposure to niche-marketed middlebrow "art"; if twice as many movies can take advantage of that platform, deservedly or otherwise, fine. In a sense, the change will offer an exciting crystal ball into just a bit more of the larger picture of what the members liked.

Most importantly, I don't think we can predict anything with confidence, and certainly not with uniformity, about what kinds of movies will or will not qualify now in the expanded race, which will probably still shift from year to year, based on all the same variables that already shape the yearly cycle as we know and (hate to) love it. I'm sure some years will now yield a more boring list than they otherwise would have; some years will get a spicier variety than the top five would have reflected. We may still get "lone director" nominees (they did in '38, with Angels with Dirty Faces), and there may still be surprising misses (like My Man Godfrey, with its notorious noms for Best Director and all four acting trophies, but no Best Picture citation, despite a ten-wide field).

We still won't know as much as we think we do: if Chocolat had gotten a nod in a ten-wide field, I still would have assumed it was the "tenth" nominee and had no idea the Academy had actually voted it fifth. Even more intriguingly, we may now be privy to more Libeled Ladys and Test Pilots and Ox-Bow Incidents that will newly reveal themselves as fan favorites within Hollywood, even though you wouldn't have known it from their meager nomination tallies across the overall board.

William Goldman never goes out of style: Nobody knows anything. But this hopefully means a slightly bigger party.

As an interactive thought experiment I've drafted what I believe would have been, under the new rules, the ten-wide Best Picture fields during the last ten years—based on an entirely personal and unscientific meld of nominations in other categories, pre-Oscar laurels and buzz, release timing, studio backing, and subjective hunches. To my mind, some of these are much more interesting fields than what we actually saw, some much worse, some about the same. Which serves to me as "proof" that it's not worth cheering or moaning about today's news. Let's just see what happens... though I must admit, this little exercise, in its concreteness, convinces me even further that a wider Best Picture field can only be more interesting for Oscar watchers, even when it means more jaw-dropping inclusions and doubly painful snubs.

But in the meantime, what do you think?

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tracey Takes On...

...a long, dull day of transcribing notes toward my manuscript. Thank God my reconnection with Tracey for yesterday's Meryl Streep post spurred me to look for more of her on YouTube. I try to avoid blog posts with so little content, but what could I add to the teats of Helen Mirren and the confusion of Judi Dench?


Monday, June 22, 2009

Marvelous Meryl Streep

I promised a return to cinematic matters, though if anyone wouldn't mind a movie blog casting a more-than-occasional eye toward stage drama, it would surely be Meryl Streep. And let's add a few more "surely"s: surely you love her, surely you have been following Nathaniel's month-long tribute to her 60th anniversary on the earth, and now that the big day itself has finally arrived, surely you have already relished his advice about how to celebrate, at least twice. While he's been up to all that public cheerleading, I have quietly (as my sidebar reveals) been filling the holes in my Streep-viewing, to include the PBS taping of Wendy Wasserstein's Uncommon Women...and Others, the only thing she did in 1979 that I don't recommend you watch, unless you're an absolute completist, which would certainly be understandable.

In any event, Uncommon Woman that she certainly is, I've added this tribute to my Best Actress Special Section as a commemoration of her 60th birthday. I hope you enjoy it, I hope you rent widely and adventurously from her back catalogue, and I hope she's got several more decades of time-capsule performances left to share with us.

P.S. If you'd rather hear sensational tributes from people who actually know Meryl, try these from Nora Ephron (perfection), Carrie Fisher, Shirley MacLaine, Diane Keaton, Kurt Russell, Clint Eastwood, Kevin Kline, James Woods (Meryl meets Don!), Robert De Niro, Goldie Hawn, Claire Danes, Jack Nicholson (mooing), Jim Carrey (long, and bad video quality, but very funny), Mike Nichols, and the uproarious Tracey Ullman... and then Meryl says thank you.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

I Know and You Know...

...that the movie-fiends who constitute the vast majority of this blog's readership aren't necessarily so interested in my takes on ten-, twenty-, thirty-year-old plays, maybe even one-year-old plays. Plus, the plays project is intended as more of a reading journal than anything—they're just dashed-off thoughts after I finish a script and mull for a bit—so without going all Jim Crow, I like the idea of partitioning out those entries more formally. So, I built an addition onto my house. As Mae West famously said, "Why don't ya come up some time and see me?"

Two blogs might be asking for it when I don't always have time for one, but I'm not promising very regular updates over at the Playhouse, and as Mae West also said, "Too much of a good thing can be wonderful." She also said, "It's better to get looked over than overlooked," but to help you know when to look, if you're at all interested, I'll toss a head's up into the sidebar over here.

Soon: back to some cinematic matters at hand.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Plays of the 00s: The Ride Down Mt. Morgan

Too often when conversations turn to the seminal greats of American theater, you hear people saying "Oneillwilliamsmiller" as though it's some German compound word and as though it names some indivisible, uncontested trifecta of major artists. I beg to differ, and if The Crucible is pretty stunning and The Price, at least in memory, was a tautly compelling push-pull among family members sifting through their own debris, I often find Miller raging awkwardly against Big Ideas that elude the ambitions of his intellect or the poetry of his words. I appreciate enormously the vitality of his best writing. He's as unashamed as Philip Roth—his partner in self-canonizing, red-blooded literary expostulation—to push angrily lofty speeches into the mouths of his characters, and to limn them with clear allegorical gestures to The Deeper State of Things. But for the same reasons, he can be embarrassingly overwrought, often at the same time he's being astonishingly clichéd, particularly given how complacent he often seems about White American Guyness as an Olympian vantage for diagnosing the ills of the soul and the forces of the world.

The Ride Down Mt. Morgan—like True West, another play that took its sweet time landing on Broadway—does a good deal of spouting about, but also from the vantage of, a bullish, philandering narcissist of a certain age who's landed himself in a full body cast while speeding down a snowy mountain in his Porsche, racing to get home to his wife. In context, a pressing question, though less so than it might be, is, "Which wife?" This is because Lyman Felt has spent the last ten years keeping two conjugal spheres in play, one in New York City and one upstate, one child apiece. You will not be astonished to hear that one wife is an acerbic Protestant who's often self-conscious about her truculence and her deep familiarity to her husband of several decades, and the other is a Jewish sexpot who kept a surprise baby at Lyman's own encouragement and has held things down in Elmira ever since the kid, named after two of Lyman's ancestors, was born. You could say plenty about the stock binarization of these gals, about the hazily sketched dotingness and vituperation of his grown daughter, about the fact that Lyman's intense and recently sustained injuries are the first, immediate tip-off that Mt. Morgan really wants us to worry about his pain as the grand dishonesties of his life come to light (with increasing media attention, though this is reported rather than dramatized). One might well complain about Miller's insistence that Lyman's nurse be a black woman, and that she console him, even kiss him on the forehead when everyone else has stamped off in righteous indignation—this despite his purple fantasies about "white thighs" and vaginas commemorated as "cathedrals," and despite his smarmy quickness to share a likely double-edged compliment he once scored from James Baldwin, back when Lyman used to write. Two flashback scenes involving a man-eating shark and a man-eating lion have to be read to (not) be believed, and even they are less dismaying than lines like, "I am human, I am proud of it!—of the glory and the shit!" or a recurring thread wherein the ghost of Lyman's father passes through his hospital room to smother him or beat him, accompanied by seismic reverberations from beneath the stage, pitched to rattle the whole theater.

The Ride Down Mt. Morgan is a desperate play, knocking around with real fury at its own indulgent conceits, besotted with its lead character both despite and because of his enormous flaws but struggling nonetheless even to glimpse almost any other character. The dialogue often sounds like badly translated Ibsen or Bergman, and the nomination for Best Play in 2000 was likely an inevitability of a thin Broadway season or a chance to honor a key American figure whose work swelled to a remarkable popularity on Midtown stages in the late '90s and early '00s. But it's too easy to shrug the play entirely, whatever its arrogance or its shortcomings. One can imagine a careful, vitriolic actor, maybe a Frank Langella (though not, I would guess, the Patrick Stewart of the '00 production) redeeming Lyman into a fascinating enigma of self-love and self-excoriation. If the right director got deeply interested in the tough problem of Lyman's truth-telling even amidst a life's work of lying—he's a shit, but he's not wrong that every lover will eventually lie to their beloved, or that magnificent happiness is often dependent on subterranean dishonesty, or that the outrage of victims can be just as preening as the convenient self-exoneration of traitors—you might find a stirring night of uneven but unsettling theater inside The Ride Down Mt. Morgan. If you found some ways to give the women more to do with their silences, if you dropped the incongruously macabre dreamscapes, if you cast the nurse as a white man so that Lyman had to seek solace from someone unexpected, you could shave a lot of crust off of Morgan and release a lot of the ferocity and verbal force of the play's best moments, and of what Miller clearly wants to get at and worry over. I don't trust Arthur Miller, and I wish that playwrights twice as subtle and talented didn't have to fight four times as hard for comparable prestige. When it comes to uncomfortable waiting-room dirges, I'll take Albee's All Over over Mt. Morgan any day. Still, even when his premises seem self-serving and his images and his language lack for grace, you can't say that Miller's plays aren't about anything. There's often, as there is in this one, a tough, muscled heart inside that it's worth trying to hear.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Plays of the 00s: True West

This always happens in June: I feel glum about the mediocrity of what's spilling out of Hollywood, and, post-Tony Awards, I start pining for more theater in my life. Crabby and contrarian to the last, I still prefer reading plays to seeing them: the possibilities seem so much more endless, simultaneously multiple, while you're staging the script in your mind, mouthing and timing different line-readings as you go. They're also incredibly commute-friendly. 45 minutes northbound in the morning, 45 southbound in the evening, and you've absorbed a whole tale, a whole style and imaginative orientation.

As a long lead, then, on the deluge of "Best of the 00s" features that are bound to swell toward the end of the year, I've decided to orient my play-reading by revisiting as many texts as I can that were honored with major critics' prizes and nominations during the past decade: Tonys, Drama Desks, Obies, New York Drama Critics Circle, Outer Critics Circle, and, across the pond, Evening Standard and Olivier Awards. I am also following some inside tracks when I can to overlooked gems from each year, especially well-regarded works that push against the daunting whiteness and conservative theatricality that often prevails on Broadway and (I'm guessing?) the bulk of the West End. I'm always on the hunt for contemporary material to teach, so this spelunking serves a pedagogical purpose, too. Mind you, I'm giving myself plenty of time and not committing to any particular pace—which will, uh, hardly surprise my regular readers.

Given all that preface, it's both anomalous and strangely necessary to start with True West, a play first performed in San Francisco in 1980 but invisible on Broadway for 20 years. Starring the then-upwardly mobile Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly, who famously alternated the leading roles, this production, guided by recent Tony magnet Matthew Warchus, earned True West a Best Play nomination in 2000. I'm not as big a Shepard nut as some people; anyone that prolific is bound to swing unpredictably above and below par. But True West is a pretty dazzling experience even on the page. I'm delighted to see a mordant statement about outer-Hollywood desperation that bends into unsettling opacities instead of cheap punchlines or dowdy, careworn pessimism. By the end of the play, Austin and Lee, the aspiring screenwriter and the restless gate-crasher, are wading through an indoor pond made of stolen toasters and smashed typewriters and smushed bread, and Shepard's text has walked a fine line between plausibly psychologized escalation and menacingly heightened theatricality to carry us into these weird tableaus. An Author's Note in the script disavowing exaggeration and insisting on psychological realism stands weirdly at odds with the strange conceits built into the stage directions (an Astroturf floor, a strictly red-and-white costume aesthetic for a key character), and you can imagine the actors having a field day in the best sense, a real calisthenic workout, honoring Shepard's edict for realism while toying with all of the script's suggestions of symbolism, gestalt, and stylization.

It's also a pleasure to see men, rather than women, cast in a scenario about uncanny slippages and overlaps of identity. The convincingly fraught fraternal rivalry between Austin and Lee holds down the "realism" angle while the metaphysical mysteries of the play keep tugging it into allegory and experiment. I didn't quite buy a pivotal monologue about chop suey and false teeth, but you could easily stage the piece such that you don't have to believe this story outright; you also have the option of making Lee's harebrained script ideas truly harebrained or Manny Farber-ishly gripping, and either alternative would excitingly redraw the flexible emotional lines of the script. One thing I wouldn't do is tamper a bit with the surprising, haunting understatement with which a semi-surprising character enters, hovers, and exits in the last scene. I was expecting some fireworks or revelations, maybe even a Guignol tableau à la Buried Child, but the cool, distracted indifference of this character is both funnier and scarier than more obvious dramatics could have been.

True West, like a lot of Shepard I've read, reads as rough-hewn and frontier-friendly Pinter, in structure and theme if not in language, but the play has its own dramatic, plastic, and verbal identity, and its occasionally blunt figures turn out to be more subtle and shiftable than they seem. How much of what's coming can Austin predict from the outset? Is a fourth character's unexpected partiality to Lee a reality or a false rumor, and is it earnest or bullied? Certainly Austin speaks more often in clichés than Lee does, and yet Lee is (or could be) the more familiar archetype of the id-driven lout. Where can we go with those observations? Are these men really "becoming" each other, in reviewer-lingo, by the end of the piece, or are we watching a single evening of recreational dabbling in each other's habits and life-projects? What backstory actually precedes what we see? What will possibly happen after? What does all this have to do with the vanished West, with America, or are those allegorical pressures as highfalutin and hollowly compulsory as the storytelling cheats that Austin and Lee haggle over in their script? True West manages the neat trick of carving out a strange, severe, and specific niche of its own while generously furnishing its interpreters, on the stage or on the page, with a wide and genuinely thought-provoking series of unresolved questions and viable possibilities. Shepard didn't win the Tony, and if it turns out he didn't deserve to, that means at least two great plays were Tony-nominated in 2000.

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Monday, June 08, 2009

Congratulations, Marcia Gay

I missed the Tonys last night, and the academic quarter system reaches so far into June that I've mostly had to abandon my once-customary practice of reading all the nominated plays before the big night, a delicious treat that this guy obviously swiped from me. I'll eventually catch up with the ceremony from someone who taped it—or, what do they say now, DVR'd it? But I do want to congratulate Marcia Gay Harden on her win as Best Lead Actress in a Play. Sometimes I totally get what Marcia Gay is doing with her roles and sometimes I totally don't, but I increasingly like that about her: you can't quite call what you're going to get. And I think she is ingratiatingly patient, thoughtful, generous, candid, and articulate in this interview about God of Carnage and the Tony experience, beautifully sailing through the frequently smug or tactless questions posed by Tom O'Neil (and that's even before his cell phone goes off mid-interview).

I'm not saying I necessarily would have voted for her, having seen none of the nominated performances, and acknowledging the formidable talents of Jane Fonda, Harriet Walter, and the transfixing Janet McTeer—one of the actresses I most often recruit when I mentally recast movies, feeling sure she'd do better than the bigger names who often snag the key roles. (Leaving Hope Davis off this list sounds like more of a dig than I mean it to, but Secret Lives of Dentists aside, she's often on a different performing wavelength than I am.) Meanwhile, speaking of mental casting, I'll look forward to reading God of Carnage and imagining what Marcia Gay might have done with the meaty part. Maybe one day I'll see for myself? More to the point, I appreciate how honest she is about wanting to win but also how sincere and reflective she is about how actors feel about these contests, and how different that often is from what we awards-mongers might project onto them, or what we over-emphasize among ourselves. Chastening and admirable. Well put, Marcia Gay—and, incidentally, way to look like a million bucks on your big night!

P.S. Lovely to hear that, one way or another, Neil Patrick Harris' first, ahem, outing as an awards-show host coincided (or not?) with a major bump upward in the ratings, and that Bret Michaels, bless him, is recovering just fine.

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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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