American Stories | Chicago Reader

American Stories

Chantal Akerman's compendium of Jewish jokes, filmed in English in a vacant lot in Brooklyn, with a cast that includes Eszter Balint (Stranger Than Paradise), Judith Malina, and Max Brandt. It's not as visually striking as most of Akerman's work, and the jokes often don't come across as funny, but it's steeped in the brooding melancholia and the nocturnal, insomniac ambiance of Toute une nuit, one of her best films. Fans of Akerman's work won't want to miss this; its distinctive bittersweet taste lingers (1989).

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