Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

22 Dec 2013, 11:46 a.m.

Long Takes, Spit-Takes

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2013 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

A week ago, I saw the excellent Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles at the museum.

Akerman's singular avant-garde epic -- which surveys with unprecedented detail the mundane daily routine... Akerman creates a portrait of an enigmatic woman's inner life by focusing on her chores (cooking, cleaning, letter-writing)...
It is 201 minutes long. It's amazing, immersive. The main character does super-mundane things efficiently, and the first act feels like a graceful dance. Then we see her competence decrease on a frazzled day -- the first time she dropped something, I think I literally gasped. There's at least one single take in there that's seven minutes long; I think some are longer!

Then on Friday Leonard and I saw Children of Men at the museum, my third time and his first. Children of Men also has several very long takes, but they tend to include killings, mostly by gunfire. A lot of people die in this movie. I walked out shaken.

As I emerged into the lobby, I muttered, "That was pretty intense." And then a stranger said, "A little more exciting than Jeanne Dielman, huh?"

I laughed very hard.