Free Today: Watch Online the Pioneering Films of the Late Chantal Akerman

Those who watch and dis­like Chan­tal Aker­man’s best-known film, Jeanne Diel­man, 23 quai du Com­merce, 1080 Brux­elles, often com­plain that “noth­ing hap­pens” in it. But in my expe­ri­ence of intro­duc­ing it — nay, evan­ge­liz­ing for it — to friends, it usu­al­ly only takes a sol­id view­ing or two of that 1975 three-hour-and-twen­ty-minute tale of a Bel­gian sin­gle moth­er’s days and nights spent cook­ing (a short clip of which you can see above), clean­ing, and pos­si­bly engag­ing in pros­ti­tu­tion to feel — or at least in the imme­di­ate after­math of view­ing, feel — that in no movie but Jeanne Diel­man, 23 quai du Com­merce, 1080 Brux­elles does any­thing tru­ly hap­pen. Every oth­er movie plays, by com­par­i­son, as if on fast-for­ward, or like a set of filmed Clif­f’s Notes.

Clear­ly, Aker­man saw, and real­ized, a wider sto­ry­telling poten­tial in cin­e­ma than do most film­mak­ers. So much worse the loss, then, when she died ear­li­er this month, leav­ing behind a fil­mog­ra­phy con­sist­ing of not just her ear­ly mas­ter­piece Jeanne Diel­man, which she direct­ed at just 25 years of age, but a vari­ety of fea­ture films and shorts made between 1968 and this year. As a trib­ute, the cinephile-beloved home video com­pa­ny The Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion has, for a very lim­it­ed time, made all of their Aker­man films free to view on Hulu (unfor­tu­nate­ly, for view­ers in cer­tain ter­ri­to­ries only), includ­ing 1978’s Les ren­dezvous d’An­na, embed­ded just above, 1972’s Hotel Mon­terey and La cham­bre, 1975’s Je tu il elle, 1976’s News from Home

… and of course, Jeanne Diel­man. If you plan to enjoy a free Aker­man marathon on Hulu thanks to Criteron, you’d bet­ter do it soon, since they’ll only remain free to view through the next day. And do invite all your most cin­e­mat­i­cal­ly adven­tur­ous friends to join your side, as with most auteur films, the inter­est that does­n’t lie in watch­ing them lies in argu­ing about their mer­its after­ward. You can hear one such fun con­ver­sa­tion on a 2011 episode of The Cri­te­ri­on­cast, a pod­cast ded­i­cat­ed to films released by the Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion, just above. It actu­al­ly fea­tures yours tru­ly as the spe­cial guest, dis­cussing Jeanne Diel­man with the reg­u­lar pan­elists. Do you side with the likes of an Aker­man par­ti­san like me, or does your opin­ion most close­ly resem­ble one of the oth­ers who does­n’t take quite such a rich expe­ri­ence from their every view­ing? Today, you can find out where you stand on this and oth­er of Aker­man’s fas­ci­nat­ing works for free. And you can always find many more free films in our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

An Ambi­tious List of 1400 Films Made by Female Film­mak­ers

120 Artists Pick Their Top 10 Films in the Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion

Slavoj Žižek Names His Favorite Films from The Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion

What Films Should Get Into The Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion? Video Series “Three Rea­sons” Makes the Case

Col­in Mar­shall writes else­where on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­maand the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future? Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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