Friday, April 21, 2017

THE AFTER MOVIE DINER EPISODE 217: TAPEHEADS

It's one thing to appear on a podcast focused on movies & diners (two of my all-time favorite things). But it's a whole 'nother thing to be on a diner-centric movie podcast to talk about one of my all-time favorite movies.
On the most recent episode of The After Movie Diner John Cross & I discuss the underrated cult gem that is Tapeheads. Click the image below to go to the episode.

Enjoy...

http://aftermoviediner.com/feed/podcasts/the-after-movie-diner/217/tapeheads

ZEBRAS IN AMERICA EPISODE 4!!



We are finally up on iTunes! Make sure to subscribe, download and leave positive comments & reviews.

On episode 4 (technically episode 5 but we had a temporary glitch with episode 4) we discuss Eliza Hitman's It Felt Like Love and of course we branch out to a million other movie-related sub-topics.

enjoy...




Friday, April 14, 2017

BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS: A MOVIE THAT ALMOST WORKED


Breakfast Of Champions is Kurt Vonnuget’s story of car salesman “Dwayne Hoover” and obscure aging author "Kilgore Trout" (a Vonnegut regular). Dwayne Hoover is on the verge of a nervous breakdown while Kilgore Trout is on the eve of receiving an award for his mostly overlooked writing. It was adapted for the screen in 1998 and I’m almost certain no one has thought about it since then. …Except me. I don’t like Alan Rudolph’s adaptation but I also kind of secretly do. Whenever it comes up in conversation (…conversations that I usually initiate) I always talk about how terrible it is yet I still own the DVD that I purchased at full price. In the 14+ years that I’ve owned it, I’ve had countless opportunities to get rid of it (I’ve been giving away quite a few DVDs in the last 5 years) yet it still sits in my collection. I just can’t let it go. One of the reasons I keep it is because I like to re-cast the movie in my head every time I watch it. It’s a fun little exercise that makes the viewing experience easier. Alan Rudolph’s ensemble cast is an all-star lineup (on paper) made up of folks like Bruce Willis (Hoover), Albert Finney (Trout) Glenne Headly, Barbara Hershey, Nick Nolte, Buck Henry, Michael Jai White, Omar Epps, Lucas Haas, Owen Wilson and countless others. However, my cast is made up of folks like Tom Hanks (Hoover), Willem Dafoe, Forest Whitaker, Gianna Michaels and a few more odd choices under the direction of Steven Soderbergh. Lucas Haas’ role as Dwayne Hoover's son "Bunny" would remain. That casting was spot on in my opinion. I would also keep Albert Finney on board as Kilgore Trout only with a slightly toned down performance. And if not Albert Finney I’d probably cast Werner Herzog in his place.

Part of my fascination with this movie has to do with the similarities between director Alan Rudolph & Kilgore Trout. Rudolph & Trout are the kinds of artists that are respected by their peers and small cult audiences. Rudolph is/was a personal favorite and/or friend of legends like Robert Altman & Martin Scorcese (Altman & Rudolph have worked together on more than one occasion). The way in which Kilgore Trout’s work is re-discovered & re-appraised in Breakfast Of Champions is no different from Rudolph’s work. He’s the kind of filmmaker that will get ignored while he's active then suddenly get a career retrospective at a major repertory arthouse theater like The Lincoln Center or The Brooklyn Academy Of Music.

Alan Rudolph's cameo in Robert Altman's The Player
Robert Altman was originally supposed to adapt Breakfast Of Champions in the last 70's. Perhaps Altman had something to do with Alan Rudolph directing it years later...

Breakfast Of Champions is another example of how an all-star ensemble cast doesn't always guarantee that a movie is going to be good. We’ve all seen people get excited about a movie because the cast is stacked. Look at the movie of discussion. Doesn’t something co-starring Buck Henry, Omar Epps, Lucas Haas & Albert Finney sound interesting? Sure it does. But names don’t make a movie great. We’ve seen this over & over. From Southland Tales & The Ten to The Grand & Grand Budapest Hotel (admit it – that movie is overrated and coasts on its quirkiness),these types of movies sometimes fall flat. I understand the hype behind ensemble casts but that’s still no reason to think a movie is going to be great. The acting, chemistry, ambiance, story, direction and so many other things have to be on point. Unfortunately, none of those things were really on point in Alan Rudolph’s film (there’s some irony in my criticism of ensemble casts given Steven Soderbergh would be my go-to director for this and he’s kind of the king of ensemble cast movies).
It should be noted that a lot of the cameos & small roles in Breakfast Of Champions are made up of the supporting cast of the Bruce Willis-starring Armageddon (both movies were made around the same time so I imagine Bruce Willis had something to do with this).



Breakfast Of Champions is bad and entertaining at the same time. Now…I don’t know about you guys but the combination of something that's bad and (genuinely) entertaining is sometimes interesting. This movie is bad because it feels like Alan Rudolph and his team sat down in a pre-production meeting and said something like; “Guys – we’re going to make a weird movie”. I’m sure that didn’t really happen but no matter how you rationalize it, this movie’s weirdness & surreality comes off super forced to the point where it’s kind of embarrassing. It’s the kind of weirdness that a clueless/basic film blogger would compare to David Lynch because apparently weird in cinema = David Lynch. I’m willing to bet there are people out there who saw this movie and said something like; “David Lynch should have totally directed this!” But I don’t think David Lynch could have adapted this successfully either. And I’m a David Lynch fan saying this. Lynch adapting Vonnegut is almost like Scarlett Johansson doing porn. It sounds intriguing but the final product would more than likely be disappointing.


Perhaps this particular Kurt Vonnegut story wasn't meant to be a movie. This isn’t the only Kurt Vonnegut story to be adapted for the screen. Prior to this, we got Slaughterhouse Five in 1976 & Mother Night in 1996 (another Vonnegut adaptation starring Nick Nolte). As a movie Breakfast Of Champions is short considering the source material. Less than two hours just doesn’t cut it. I know Slaughterhouse Five is only 100 minutes but the word count for Breakfast of Champions is a lot more than Slaughterhouse Five.

Breakfast Of Champions is kind of like Uma Thurman’s scene in Nymphomaniac stretched out in to a feature length film. There’s something “off” about the whole thing but you recognize & respect the dedication so you keep watching. No matter how much of a misfire most of the performances are, you have to respect specific actors like Nick Nolte & Omar Epps who really gave it their all…


And maybe that’s why I’m so attached to this movie. No matter how terrible it is, the actors in this movie did not phone it in. It’s kind of like when your math teacher would give you points for “showing your work” on a test even if you got the answers wrong. Certain actors in this movie really did step outside of their comfort zone. I normally like when people stay in their lane and stick to what they’re good at but every once in a while that gets boring. Michael Jai White will probably go down in history as a varsity letterman of the direct-to-video action market but at least he has this one strange movie under his belt. Omar Epps will probably forever be remembered for his roles in “urban dramas” like Juice & In To Deep (probably Love & Basketball as well) but he also has some random stuff under his belt like this & Brother. Nick Nolte will forever be remembered as the quintessential disheveled grumpy guy, but his performance as "Harry" is a break from the norm. I want to call his performance a breath of fresh air but nothing about Breakfast Of Champions is a complete breath of fresh air (I still have a soft spot in my heart for it at the end of the day).

All the pieces were there to adapt this movie in to something good but all the parts didn't fit for whatever reason(s). It’s like a relationship between two good people. Sometimes it just doesn't work and it's no one's fault...

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

ZEBRAS IN AMERICA EPISODE THREE!!



This is a good one!

In the third episode of Zebras In America we delve in Get Out and other films concerning race & racism. Hopefully Armand White listens to this.

Enjoy...


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

ZEBRAS IN AMERICA: EPISODE TWO!




Hopefully you enjoyed episode one (thank you to all those who listened and downloaded). If you're still on board, here's the follow up episode where we discuss everything from Claire Denis to Post Tenebras Lux.

Enjoy...


Monday, April 3, 2017

WHITE FACE (A NEW SHORT FILM FROM MTUME GANT)



Between Moonlight, I Am Not Your Negro, Get Out & Atlanta, there is a lane/audience for White Face – the latest short film by director Mtume Gant about racial identity (which is an understatement to say the least). I don’t mean to be that guy to compare one “Black movie” to another “Black movie” but all the aforementioned films deal with racial identity on some level so it only makes sense to mention White Face in the same breath. The only difference is that White Face is much more transgressive and (intentionally) uncomfortable. So in a sense, you could say White Face created its own lane outside of the aforementioned movies & TV shows.
While many young/new/up & coming filmmakers model a lot of what they do after the obvious sources like Spike Lee & Ava Duvernay (which is fine I guess), White Face is a more progressive (dare I say dangerous?) film that draws more (possible subconscious) inspiration from the likes of Charles Lane, Wendall B Harris & Melvin Van Peebles.
The story of a Black character in white face is going to get an immediate comparison to True Identity (Charles Lane) and/or Watermelon Man (Van Peebles), but White Face is specific to 2000-now. Back in the 1960’s when Watermelon Man was made you were hard-pressed to find a Black American who would vote for an openly bigoted racist presidential candidate (like the main character in White face). But today we really do have Black people (and other people of color) openly supporting an openly bigoted racist president like Donald Trump (he’s also sexist and just an all around terrible human being but we’re just focusing on race right now).

If you think certain elements of White Face are too far-fetched - like a Trump supporting Black person - look no further than someone like Steve Harvey...

The problem with all this is that there is an office in this country called the ‘president,’ and you have to respect the office. You really do. Whether you want to or not. You have to respect the office. They got laws... -Steve Harvey




The basic plot of White Face – the story of a trump supporting Black man ("Charles") who walks around in actual White Face - reminded me of the lyrics in the second verse of the Ras Kass song; “The Evil That Men Do”

In eighty-one I remember the night
I covered myself with baby powder, so my black ass could be light
Cause God is white, and Bo Derek is a ten
I hate my black skin, it's just a sin to be a nigga - Rass Kas

This song was released in 1996 and there haven’t been many (or any?) verses before or after to address issues like this in such an unapologetic way. There are plenty of Hip-Hop lyrics calling out other Black folks who have the illusion of inclusion but very few to take on the first person perspective of questioning their own identity as a Black person. This is similar to White Face. Throughout the film we see Charles study white people (most notably his next door neighbor that he spies on through a peep hole) in an effort to perfect his self-adopted white identity.
With all the recent success of predominantly Black films right now, there are very few non-sympathetic Black characters. Even Denzel Washington’s portrayal as Troy in Fences has some sympathetic moments. Right off the bat White Face gives us a hateable/dislikeable main (BLACK) character to counter Chris (Get Out) and all the Chirons (Moonlight) of the present cinematic universe. Contrary to what a lot of modern-day cinema would have us believe, some black characters can be antagonists, villains & “bad guys” (it should be noted that the main character in White Face is certainly dislikeable but, given his mental state, some viewers who are more forgiving than me might feel sorry and maybe a little sympathetic for him).


This is a racially & politically charged film but it’s also very much about the moving image itself (a lot of films that set out to deliver a “message” sometimes fall short in the visual department but that isn’t the case here). When you put aside the very heavy plot and just look at some of the standalone images you’ll see that Gant has a unique eye and an appreciation for visually stimulating imagery…





While I cringe at words like "better", White Face is definitely a maturation & progression from Gant's previous short film S.P.I.T., which is always a good thing (I imagine filmmakers want to grow with each project).


Neon lighting (in conjunction with Scott Thorough’s Hal Hartley-esque score) also plays a huge part in the film’s comically unsettling ambiance…





To say that you enjoy stuff like Get Out or Atlanta but find issues with White Face would be a little strange to me. It’s almost like loving the music of A Tribe Called Quest but hating De La Soul. Sure you’re free to like and dislike anything you want but at the same time, examples like the ones I just gave kind of make me a little perplexed. Do you like Quentin Tarantino but dislike the work of Takeshi Kitano, Martin Scorsese, Jean Luc Godard & Jim Jarmusch (just some of the many filmmakers that helped birth Tarantino’s style)? No. The same should apply to White Face. The exploration of the complexities concerning racial identity shouldn’t stop at stuff like Get Out & Moonlight. No one should be satisfied. There needs to polar opposites to all the popular films concerning race right now and White Face is very much that. It isn’t safe and everyone wont like it but I’m almost certain that is one of the goals behind this project. Race isn’t easy & simple so why should films on the same subject be?


Sunday, April 2, 2017

WRONG REEL FLIXWISE DOUBLE FEATURE

Even though I started a Podcast (along with my friend Scott Thorough), I assure you that my output on this site, as well as my regular guest appearances on other podcasts, will not stop.
Case in point - here are two recent podcast appearances I made on Wrong Reel & Flixwise, respectively.

Listen as I discuss the importance & artistry of side-by-side movie comparisons with my friend Martin Kessler on Flixwise: Canada (click on the image below to go to the episode)...



After that, head on over to Wrong Reel to listen to an all-star lineup consisting of myself, John Cribbs, Chris Funderberg, Kevin Maher & James Colebrax where we discuss the selected filmography Tobe Hooper (click the image below to go to the episode)


Monday, March 27, 2017

ZEBRAS IN AMERICA EPISODE ONE!!



Marcus Pinn likes movies. Scott Thorough likes movies. Marcus writes about movies (Pinnland Empire, The Pink Smoke), and Scott sometimes scores movies (Newlyweeds, Manos Sucias). They both have a background in hyper underground rap music, and enjoy sandwiches. Through a deep love of rap music, wrestling, and dissecting low and high brow cinema, Marcus and Scott developed an interesting kinship. After a bar conversation about movies where a stranger interrupted to tell them how much they enjoyed listening, they decided, “hey let's see if other people want to listen to our zany thoughts about film”. “Zebras In America” is a stream of consciousness rap on film and anywhere it may take a conversation.
-Scott Thorough

Enjoy...


Thursday, March 23, 2017

KEVIN GEEKS OUT ABOUT MONKEYS: UNCLE BOONMEE...


Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is a Thai film set in the jungle which makes it a monkey movie by default (Monkeys & Thai jungles kind of go hand-in-hand). There are monkey's all over this film...




Monkeys even serve as the default soundtrack to this movie. Uncle Boonmee doesn’t have a traditional score or a soundtrack using standard instrumentation. The ambient jungle noises (which feature lots of monkey sounds) serve as the default background music.

Uncle Boonmee also has a coincidental connection to quite a few other monkey-based movies and monkey-based urban legends.

Take the most iconic/memorable shot from the movie. Right away, what are we reminded of when we look at this side/profile shot of a humanoid/monkey looking directly in to the camera?

Bigfoot…

Uncle Boonmee/Big Foot

Now…things don’t have to be identical in order to be a reference. I know Bigfoot doesn’t have red eyes and he was walking through a forest rather than a jungle, but unless you’re a very nitpicky person I think you can see the similarities.


But it doesn’t stop there. Take some more notable images from Uncle Boonmee like this one…

Uncle Boonmee/Princess Mononoke

To me, this is an obvious subconscious nod to Princess Mononoke. I mean – from the way the monkeys are gathered around each other to the obvious red eyes, there’s no way in my mind that director Apichatpong Weerasethakul wasn’t aware of this cartoon. The similarities are too strong.

Uncle Boonmee also has some strong connections to another monkey-heavy film in the form of Jumanji. Here we see characters from both films transitioning to monkeys...

Uncle Boonmee/Jumanji

And this isn’t the first time Apichatpong referenced Jumanji (in reality I’m pretty sure he didn’t really reference Juamnji but in my mind I like to think he did). In his 2005 film Tropical Malady (another Thai film set mostly in a jungle) we witness one of the main characters transition in to an animal...

Tropical Malady/Jumani

And still – it doesn’t stop there. Uncle Boonmee has some visual similarities to Harry & The Hendersons

Uncle Boonmee/Harry & The Hendersons

As well as the art of Max Ernst…

Uncle Boonmee/Max Ernst 

So even though Uncle Boonmee is the epitome of what a modern art house film is (slow, minimal dialogue, weird, surreal, strange, mildly pretentious, etc), it still branches off and connects to more popular/accessible movies.

It is my personal opinion that Uncle Boonmee is one of the five best movies of the decade so far, but that doesn’t mean I blindly recommend it to any & everyone. Those key words I just used do very much describe this movie (slow, minimal dialogue, surreal, strange, mildly pretentious, etc). But if you have an open mind I do recommend checking it out (after having a cup of coffee and a strong attention span). And perhaps if you think of the subconscious influences & references to more popular films like Juamnji, Max Ernst & Harry & Hendersons, perhaps it will help you enjoy Uncle Boonmee a little more.

King Kong


Now…I picked this movie because I have a strong personal connection to it. I admit that when Kevin first asked me to be on this show I just blindly accepted without having a movie in mind. I just love these shows so much I wanted to be a part of it. But after a day of thinking it over, I realized this was the movie to cover. I don’t really have much of an opinion or attachment to stuff like King Kong or Planet Of The Apes outside of the subconscious racial undertones that both movies have.
If I could just divert for a second and be the black guy to talk about racial stuff for a minute, it doesn’t take too much deep thought to perceive that both movies could be seen as alternative theories about white people’s fear of Black people. The N-word isn’t the only racial slur that people have used to describe Black people over time. Monkey has certainly been used as coded language to describe black people. And when you take a movie like Planet Of The Apes which deals with a group of monkeys taking over the world, or the way black people are depicted in King Kong – it really isn’t too far-fetched to see the possible racist undertones. But that’s a whole other conversation that we don’t need to get in to right now. Sorry if I ruined King Kong or Planet Of The Apes for everyone in the audience right now. I’m certainly not implying that if you like these movies you’re a racist or anything like that. I could totally be clutching at straws with my theories on these films.

Back to the movie at hand…


Uncle Boonmee is about more than just monkeys. A big subplot of this movie deals with the main character dying from Kidney disease which is something both my father & I struggled with (we both had kidney transplants). I mention my father because 5 days before I was supposed to present at the January show about rip-off cinema he passed away from an unexpected heart attack (sorry for bringing the mood down). After I called my family & close friends, Kevin was the next person I called. Obviously out of courtesy I had to call him to let him know that I wouldn’t be able to do the show but it hit me how powerful it is that Kevin was one of the first people I called regarding my father’s passing. So Kevin Geek’s Out will probably always make me think of my dad in some form.

On a lighter note, I will say that my father wanted to come to the January show and he was super excited to see me present (he liked movies quite a bit). So I’d like to dedicate this presentation to my dad. Without him I probably wouldn’t have the obsessive love for cinema that I have today.


I don’t want to leave things on a completely down note so I end this presentation with a hilarious monkey-themed scene that got cut from Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back…

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

THE SCHOOL OF TARKOVSKY PART 7 (NURI BILGE CEYLAN EDITION)

Stalker/Distant
Look...I love these Tarkovsky comparisons (I love all good movie comparisons for that matter). But at a certain point it’s easy to take an image of a horse or a guy standing in a field of weeds and compare them to another similar image of a horse or a guy standing in a field of weeds (especially within arthouse cinema).
In this latest edition of The School Of Tarkovsky we’re going to concentrate on the influence Andrei Tarkovsky had on one specific filmmaker in the form of Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Putting aside the fact that both filmmakers have a similar slow meditative approach, there are certain particular moments, scenes & shots in just about every Ceylan film that could be interpreted as a (subconscious) nod or (intentional) homage to Andrei Tarkovsky.
It seems like the more popular movie comparisons have become the more pushback they receive by cynics & skeptics (like some of the simple-minded folks in the confessions of a cinephile group on facebook). This is understandable in my book so instead of one or two vague references that could be drawn between any two films, we’re going to narrow things down a bit (if you still have doubts about the similarities between Tarkovsky & Ceylan or Tarkovsky’s all around influence after reading this then I don’t know what to tell you).


Enjoy…


TARKOVSKY (LEFT) / CEYLAN (RIGHT)
Andrei Rublev/Winter Sleep

The Mirror/Distant

Nostalghia/Once Upon A Time In Anatolia

Solaris/Once Upon A Time In Anatolia

Sacrifice/Small Town

Solaris/Once Upon A Time In Anatolia

Stalker/Photo taken by Ceylan

The Mirror/Once Upon A Time In Anatolia

The Mirror/Three Moneys

Stalker/Small Town

Stalker/Distant

Solaris/photo taken by Ceylan

WRONG REEL EPISODE #242: EBONY & IVORY BUDDY COP CLASSICS

Check me out on the latest episode of Wrong Reel where James & I discuss classic eboby & ivory buddy cop movies like Lethal Weapon, Nighthawks, The Last Boyscout, Blazing Saddles and so much more.

Enjoy (click the image to go to the episode...)


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

THE WHOLE HISTORY OF MY LIFE PART SIX: UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES (THE PINK SMOKE)



Check out the latest (and most personal) installment of the Whole History Of My Life series over at The Pink Smoke where I talk about my father, kidney disease and Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (click here or on the image above).


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

LA BAS



Agoraphobia:
an anxiety disorder characterized by symptoms of anxiety in situations where the person perceives the environment to be unsafe with no easy way to get away.
Those affected will go to great lengths to avoid these situations. In severe cases people may become unable to leave their homes.



I know this is a stock/cliché statement for just about any Chantal Akerman film but...La Bas is not for everyone. It is truly an acquired taste. If you are not familiar with, or a super fan of Akerman’s work, La Bas could very well be seen as a study in agoraphobia (imagine a film told from the perspective of Robert Crumb’s brothers in Crumb). The entire film, which straddles the line between documentary & fiction, is shot from the inside of an apartment from the perspective of a shut-in (Akerman) accompanied with Akerman’s own raspy voiceover narration. So you can see how that would be considered “boring” to the average person/movie-watcher. La Bas is essentially a film about a person observing her neighborhood from insider her apartment while reflecting on her current existence. It’s totally understandable if that doesn’t sound appealing. However, to a Chantal Akerman fan this is a quietly important film that not only bridges the gap between her early/classic films and her final film (No Home Movie), but it also gives some (possible) insight in to her own psyche.

In no way do I want to over-analyze and/or romanticize Akerman’s suicide but depression, melancholia, loneliness & sadness were all common elements in her work (not every film but still…). And it is my opinion that her (personal) work was a reflection of her own self more than the average filmmaker who sprinkles autobiographical bits of themselves in to their movies. Les Rendezvous D’Anna is about a female filmmaker doing the festival circuit with her latest film (that has to be autobiographical). News From Home is a loose documentary chronicling late 70’s New York City (Akerman had a few stints living in New York City). No Home Movie is a documentary chronicling her mother’s day-to-day life (Akerman’s sister also makes an appearance midway in to the film). She was also known to work with subjects who take their craft quite seriously (Pina Bauch).

Chantal Akerman's movies are also quite intimate...

UP CLOSE & PERSONAL: TIGHT SPACES IN THE CINEMA OF CHANTAL AKERMAN
Je Tu Il Elle
Hotel Monterey
Les Rendezvous D'Anna
News From Home

The up close & personal feel of Akerman’s early work is seen all throughout La Bas. Saute Ma VilleJe Tu Il Elle are shot primarily in small apartment kitchens & elevators while La Bas takes place in a seemingly tiny & darkly lit apartment. In Je Tu Il Elle we see Akerman looking out of windows quite a bit. In La Bas we see a first person perspective of Akerman looking out of windows. Is LA Bas a loose sequel to Je Tu Il Elle? Is Chantal Akerman playing the same “character” from her 1967 film, or is La Bas just a continued exploration of her personal life on film?

looking out of a window in Je Tu Il Elle (vouyerism is a common theme in Akerman's work)
deeper/closer vouyerism in La Bas

While Akerman released some films between La Bas in 2006 and her final film in 2015, I stand by the statement that La Bas bridged her later work with her early work. Half of No Home Movie is set in her mother’s kitchen just like in Saute Ma Ville. No Home Movie brought things full circle and La Bas was simply the arc that connected everything because it shared the same claustrophobic, isolated, intimate feel as the aforementioned films.


Full circle: dining in the first & last films of Chantal Akerman
Soute Ma Ville/No Home Movie

Depression:
a mental disorder characterized by at least two weeks of low mood that is present across most situations. It is often accompanied by low self-esteem, loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities, low energy, and pain without a clear cause. People may also occasionally have false beliefs or see or hear things that others cannot. Some people have periods of depression separated by years in which they are normal while others nearly always have symptoms present. Major depressive disorder can negatively affects a person's personal, work, or school life, as well as sleeping, eating habits, and general health.



It goes without saying that you had to be suffering from depression when suicide comes in to the picture but I truly wonder how depressed she was. There were many speculations surrounding Akerman’s suicide ranging from a failed relationship to her dissatisfaction with how her films were received/criticized over the last decade or so (we’ll never really know). But based on her constant work & output up until her death in conjunction with the more textbook description of what depression is – I see some discrepancies…

No matter how disappointed she may have been with the criticisms of her later films, it still didn’t stop her from putting out work pretty regularly (it should be noted that both IMDB & Wikipedia have her filmography incorrect with quite a few gaps). While working as a filmmaker she also taught film. I know enough from other filmmakers to know that teaching film rather than actually making them can be a little frustrating because it feels like a "step down", but, if I’m not mistaken, Akerman taught and made films at the same time which seems pretty motivated to me. But who knows? People hide their unhappiness in many different ways so there’s no point in trying to get to the bottom of “why?”. But I am fairly certain that La Bas is a peek in to the depressive side of things. I like to imagine Chantal Akerman made it during a depressing yet motivated/functioning period in her life. This is honestly a film she could have made without a crew. The lighting is mostly natural using the sunlight from all the windows in the apartment. And when there is no sunlight things get so dark to the point where you can’t see anything. So I doubt there was a lighting person on this film. A lot of the shots are long & uninterrupted so I don’t see the editing process being to grueling or tedious either. There isn’t even any music. I wonder if La Bas could be “registered”/considered for a dogma95 certification (by the time this film was made the dogma95 movement had died out so I doubt anyone would have taken notice).



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