Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the hep hangout for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Please join us for our first get-together of the new season. There’s no cover charge and your name is on the guest list. We’ve still got a few seats available, so come on in before they’re gone. There’s a two-drink minimum, but it’s bring your own beverage.
BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.
The Cubs lost to the Reds tonight, 7-6 after some frankly incomprehensible managerial decisions by David Ross. The first was leaving Drew Smyly in the game in the fifth inning when he was clearly struggling. The second was having the Cubs’ leader in home runs over the past two seasons try to bunt with two on and no out in the seventh. I don’t agree with bunting in that situation, but it’s a defensible call. What isn’t defensible, in my mind, is not pinch-hitting with Nick Madrigal if you’ve decided to bunt.
Honestly, I’d ask a question about tonight’s game but I can’t think any question that wouldn’t have over 90 percent voting one way. But this is a place to talk about that if you want, so feel free to do so in the comments.
Last week I asked you who you thought would be the Cubs’ MVP for the 2023 season. The vote was extremely close with Nico Hoerner coming in first with 24 percent of the vote. Right behind him were both Seiya Suzuki and Dansby Swanson, who each got 23 percent.
Here’s the part where I talk about jazz and movies. You’re free to skip ahead to the baseball question at the end. You won’t hurt my feelings.
Tonight we have a live performance from the jazz fusion group Yellowjackets from 2019. This features Russell Ferrante on keyboards, Dane Alderson on bass, Bob Mintzer on sax and William Kennedy on drums.
I don’t think I’d ever make it as a film critic. I say this because a few months ago, the once-a-decade BFI Sight and Sound poll of the greatest films of all-time came out. While there are several organizations that do polls like this, the Sight and Sound poll is generally considered the most prestigious. There are a few reasons for that. One is that the poll dates back to 1952 and thus, has only been conducted eight times. The second is that they get a wide variety of critics from all over the world to vote in the poll—and in recent editions, they have made a bigger effort to expand the voting pool beyond white men from Europe and North America.
The influence of this poll is demonstrated by the way Citizen Kane has long been considered the greatest film of all time. While the 1948 Italian film Bicycle Thieves won the first poll in 1952, every poll from 1962 to 2002 put Citizen Kane in first place. Orson Welles’ masterpiece dropped back to second in 2012 behind Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.
In the 2022 poll, however, Vertigo was knocked down to number two and Citizen Kane to number three by director Chantal Akerman’s 1975 film Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, which won the poll. I had heard of this film before but I’d always stayed away from it because of its running time of nearly 3½ hours. Plus, I was a bit unclear about what the movie was about other than a woman named Jeanne Dielman who lives at 23 quai du Commerce in Brussels.
But because it won the poll, I decided I should watch it. And I figured I should watch it before the baseball season started because watching a 3½ hour movie between games is a bit of an effort.
After having watched it, I can say this: They didn’t ask me, but I wouldn’t have voted for it.
It’s hard to describe Jeanne Dielman (which is what I’m going to refer to the film from now one) without giving it away. It’s about a middle-aged widow raising a teenage son by herself and supporting herself and her son through prostitution. But I can’t really say much more about it without spoiling it.
But what I can say is that the film is very long and very dull.
Don’t get me wrong—the film is supposed to be very long and very dull. This is not the work of a filmmaker gone wrong. Everything in this movie is exactly the way it is supposed to be. And if you’re feeling bored through it—well, you’re supposed to be bored. This is the first film I’d ever recommend you bring a book to.
This is a very arty film with a very strong feminist message about what life means for a woman like Jeanne Dielman. It’s a portrait of the soul-crushing existence of a woman with few or no options. Many a reviewer has noted the hypnotic nature of the slow and deliberate nature of the film. And yes, I was mesmerized by the film a few times as well. You can get sucked into it for stretches of time. But eventually, I would go back to being bored.
Now I like a lot of very “arty” films. But this one might be a bit too “arty” for me. And Jeanne Dielman is very much a form of avant-garde art.
However, and I can’t stress this enough, I can’t stop thinking about it. Two weeks ago I watched this movie over two days and thankfully, the film has some really good stopping points if you don’t want to sit through it for 3 1⁄2 hours in one stretch. And I’ve probably thought about it every day since then. Now some of that is my trying to figure out what I could possibly say about it, but some of it is that it really is a thought-provoking film. But I guess I’d like to intellectually stimulated and entertained at the same time in my art films.
But yeah, the fact that I can’t stop thinking about it is evidence that it’s a very good movie. It’s just not for me, I guess.
Why would Jeanne Dielman end up as the number one movie in the Sight and Sound poll? I can only guess, but I do have some ideas. First, it is unlike almost every other film out there and any film that is like it is probably copying it. For professional film critics who watch hundreds of movies a year, seeing something that is truly fresh and original is probably something that brings great joy, even if the film itself is not very entertaining. And yes, Jeanne Dielman is definitely original.
Secondly, I don’t deny the film really is very-well made, even if it’s not for me. But I’m sure that for many critics from different backgrounds than me, it has much more resonance.
I am glad I watched Jeanne Dielman. For one, as I said, it’s given me a lot to think about. Now I’ve seen it and can talk about it. I can see its influence on other filmmakers. Also, I do think it’s possible that a few years down the line, I’ll remember Jeanne Dielman much more fondly. For example, the memory of the ordeal of sitting through it may fade and while the thoughts it provoked in my head remain.
Should you watch it? That’s a question you have to ask yourself. If you’re curious, I’d say “go for it.” Depending on your stamina, you may want to watch it over a few days like I did. I’m certainly not denying it is a great movie, just that it’s intentionally really, really dull. You’re always waiting for something to happen and it may or may not. (Again, I don’t want to spoil anything.)
Certainly if you consider yourself a film buff, you should watch it just to check it off your list like I did.
Don’t decide not to watch it because the film is in Belgian French. There is not much actual dialog in the movie. You would miss learning about Jeanne’s background if you turned the subtitles off, but you’d still get the point of the film.
The film is currently available on HBO Max and the Criterion Channel. I’ve also seen some versions uploaded to YouTube, but since they have shorter running times than the actual film, I suspect the small amounts of nudity in the film have been edited out of those uploads. Or they just speeded it up. I’m not sitting through another three hours to find out.
I hate to include a clip because I don’t want to spoil anything, but here is Jeanne Dielman preparing veal cutlets. If you want to be surprised by Jeanne’s method of preparing veal, don’t watch this.
Welcome back to everyone who skips the music and movies.
While the Chicago Cubs are off to a 1-3 start, the Iowa Cubs are off to a 3-0 start. So tonight I’m just going to ask you “Which Iowa Cub should be the first one called back to Chicago?”
The following players are off to good starts with the I-Cubs. Now admittedly, all of this is a small sample size. Jeremiah Estrada has faced three batters so far. He’s retired all three of them and struck out two of them, but it’s still three batters.
Is this an overreaction to just a few games? Of course it is. But better talk about this then try to defend the decision to have Patrick Wisdom bunt.
So who should be the first I-Cub to get the call to Chicago? I’m not asking you who they should replace, but if you want to go into that in the comments, be my guest.
Which I-Cub should be the first called up to Chicago?
This poll is closed
Someone else (leave in comments)
Thank you so very much for stopping by. I hope that we’ve been able to cheer you up a bit tonight and keep you entertained. Please recycle any cans and bottles you may have brought. If it’s gotten cold out there, be sure you stay warm. Get home safely. Tip the waitstaff. And join us again tomorrow for more BCB After Dark.