, 96min, OmdU
In the first section of Chantal Akerman's <![CDATA[<i>]]>Golden Eighties<![CDATA[</i>]]>, a number of actors are seen on videotape, rehearsing lines that are intentionally absurd. The camera studies the auditioners intently as they invest meaningless dialogue with unwarranted passion (''Actually red is not my color, you see,'' one woman declares emotionally in a clothing store). They seem to be speaking about a broken love affair, a tryst that takes place in a shop's dressing room, and the glories of Canada, among other things. The screenplay is by Miss Akerman and Jean Gruault, whose motives here are no less obscure than those of their characters.
As directorial instructions are issued from off-camera, the actors continue to strike poses we understand to be excessive and false. And the lines, repeated in different ways by different auditioners, begin to take on some slight meaning of their own. Songs and dances are also haphazardly rehearsed, the songs with lyrics of flawless silliness, the dances emphasizing the desultory clacking of high-heeled shoes on a tile floor.
This rehearsal stage of <![CDATA[<i>]]>Golden Eighties<![CDATA[</i>]]> goes on for nearly an hour, which may seem long until it is noted that Miss Akerman had 40 hours of material from which to sift. Though the early stages of the film triggered a sizable exodus from the press screening of ''The Golden Eighties,'' which was shown last night as part of the New York Film Festival, the last few minutes were livelier. At this point, the brief musical that has been rehearsed is finally unveiled. Facetious in the extreme, it takes place in a shopping mall and features singing shampooists in a beauty parlor and other curiosities.