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NOVEMBER 18-DECEMBER 9
She’ll drive you to distraction—by refusing to distract you. Chantal Akerman’s willfully monotonous films can imprison you in something very close to cinematic stasis, and only sometimes provide a way out. Her best-known film, the three-hour Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Dec. 2, 2:30 p.m.), ultimately provides a catharsis, but that catharsis is not necessarily the point, and many of her other films don’t even have that; the recent From the East (Nov. 19, 1 p.m.) merely tracks blankly through the former Soviet bloc, to numbing effect. Yet Akerman’s best films, which include Dielman, do come out the other side of tedium, and some—like the buoyantly minimal Night and Day (Nov. 26, 6 p.m.)—are even sprightly in their arch way. This retrospective of Akerman’s work, which is rarely seen in Washington (or almost anywhere else), ranges from non-narrative almost-documentaries like Hotel Monterey (Nov. 18, 2:30 p.m.) to the playful early short Blow Up My City (Nov. 19, 6 p.m.) to an actual musical, The Golden Eighties (pictured) (Nov. 25, 2:30 p.m.), albeit one concerned with some of Akerman’s traditional feminist and modernist themes. At the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th & Constitution Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 737-4215. (Mark Jenkins)