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News From Home

News From Home. Chantal Akerman. 1976. ⚅

This is from Criteron’s Eclipse series of releases. I think they brand it as “hard-to-find art movies”, but it’s really their budget line of releases: It’s boxes of unrestored movies that they expect won’t sell much.

And that’s fine! I’d rather have a box unrestored Chantal Akerman movies than no Chantal Akerman movies.

Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, is, of course, one of the best movies ever made, but I haven’t seen any of her other movies. So I’m all excited!

Especially after having just seen eight Fast & Furious movies.

[twenty minutes pass]

I love this.

It’s basically just long uninterrupted shots of New York streets and stuff, with a voice-over reading the letters from a mother to a daughter who’s moved to New York. (We only get one side of the conversation.)

It’s so minimal, it shouldn’t work, and yet it’s absolutely fascinating and thrilling.

Of course, one part of the fascination is just being able to watch New York in 1972 in this unhurried way. It’s a city of romance… and not in the romantic way.

[forty minutes pass]

Oh, I’d so love to see a 2K restoration of this. I’m guessing it was filmed on 16mm? So there’d be so much more detail than on this indifferent DVD transfer. The New York Chamber of Commerce (or somebody) could finance it! Who wouldn’t want to watch ninety minutes of gorgeous footage of Manhattan in 1972?

OK, my enthusiasm with this film may be due to how much I love being in New York, but… I don’t think so? It’s just so… it’s… it’s just to *there*. This is what we want, this is what we get. It’s just so… present. I love all the awkward reactions from the people when they see there’s a camera there. And the colours. And how everything is different, but the same.

And the sort of narrative being slowly weaved by the letters from home.

[the end]

I you had set out to engineer a movie I would adore, it’d basically be this movie. I absolutely totally love this: It’s pure genius, I think. (Mind you, I’m really drunk as I’m watching/writing this.) It’s just so amazing… all these long, long takes of Manhattan, somehow imbuing everything with significance…


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