XL Popcorn – Jeanne Dielman / Los Olvidados

So continueth the dictated film reviews! Damn this wrist!

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Title: Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
Director: Chantal Akerman
Year: 1975
Country: Belgium

In many ways, watching Jeanne Dielman is a bit of a comedown after watching Peking Opera Blues. We go from the pageantry of the Chinese opera house to the humdrum of a Belgian widowed housewife. Over the course of 3 hours 20 minutes we watch three days in the life of a selfless woman.

That’s what she is; utterly selfless. In order to pay for the upkeep of her son and her home she prostitutes herself out. By the way that the director uses long shots to depict daily chores in real time you are under the impression that things have been like this for the majority of the six years since her husband’s death.

It’s one of those films where we ask the question: is everyday life art?

Watching it whilst knowing the conclusion means that you spot things you might not do. For example, because I know that on the second day parts of her mundane façade start to crumble the fact that she forgot to put the lid back on her money pot really stuck out to me.

It has been said that men lead lives of quiet desperation. If that is true, what the hell are you calling Jeanne Dielman’s life. I mean, there’s not exactly a lot of warmth coming from the son that she daily has to prostitute herself to keep happy.

Similar to Shoah this is a hard film to give a rating to. There is a strange magnetism from watching the life of an everyday person when you know they’re going to commit something out of the ordinary. I guess that is why people watch The Real Housewives… but this somehow feels less scripted.

los-olvidados-11Title: Los Olvidados
Director: Luis Buñuel
Year: 1950
Country: Mexico

I’m not sure how long I will be able to keep this run of unique countries going, but I’m going to do my damnedest. The year is 1950 and we’re looking at child poverty in Mexico City. It is an exercise in realism with child actors taking on roles of, essentially, street thugs. It feels like a precursor to the Brazilian film City of God in that it is unflinching in its portrayal.

Considering that this film comes from the master of surrealist movies Luis Buñuel it is impressive to see something so real. The again he did direct ” land without bread” so I am not exactly surprised. The surrealist tricks to creep in every now and then. For example, there is a very trippy slow motion dream sequence involving a slab of meat and a billowing white dress. There is also a moment when an egg is thrown directly at the camera.

I can see why, at the time, the Mexican film boards were not too pleased with of such a honest and negative portrayal of their capital. Then again if this is such an issue then it should be solved, surely? He actually portrays the Mexican government official as a caring man. He could have been Pedro’s salvation if only the streets of Mexico City had allowed it.

It is a real thinker of a movie. The scale is wider than Jeanne Dielman, however they are as affecting as each other.

Progress: 476/1007

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