Friday, August 22, 2008

Forgotten VHS #10- "Toute Une Nuit" (Chantal Akerman, 1982)

I find it really hard to understand why so few of Chantal Akerman’s film are available in the United States. From her 1975 classic Jeanne Dielman to her 1993 D’est, both considered among of the best of Akerman’s career (if not the best of each respective decade), Akerman’s films are hard to find, yet each of her films I have seen, other than the disappointing Sud (1999), is more poetic, attentive, and hypnotic than almost any other singular filmmakers’ work. The same goes for Akerman’s 1982 feature Toute Une Nuit.

Although Toute Une Nuit is not as personal as Akerman’s most powerful films, her methodic filmmaking, sly humor, and obsession with relationships is firmly on display in her pseduo-conceptual work. Toute Une Nuit, like most Akerman films, contains minimal dialogue, and slowly tracks over two dozen characters as they move around urban Brussels passionately connecting with one another, if only for brief moments. It is hard to imagine Richard Linklater’s great film Slacker working, or even existing, without Chantal Akerman. While Toute Une Nuit is still only available on VHS, it is worth seeking out (and can be found on Amazon for under $5!) It is a good introduction to Akerman’s work (although I think News From Home (1977) would be the best introduction) and has quietly thrilling aspects that have become part of Akerman’s signature voice.

by James Hansen

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