Sunday, November 13, 2011


I have read the book, Zack, and the structure is as you describe it. I have an idea what to expect, too, so I'll be weighing in on the film when I catch up to it.

I spent my Sunday morning earning my Béla Tarr merit badge. The Hungarian filmmaker's name is legend among hard-core cinephiles for his epic-length black-and-white films such as Werckmeister Harmonies and Sátántangó, which are filled with long tracking shots and not a great deal else. The film he had at LSIFF is The Turin Horse, which Tarr has said will be his last, and it was the first Tarr film that I've been able to see. Supposedly it takes place in the Italian countryside in the late 1880s, but it really takes place on an alien landscape with a howling wind that blows nonstop. The main characters are a farmer (János Derszi) and his daughter (Erika Bók) trying to survive on their farm, though it's hard to imagine anything growing in the world they live in. Their carthorse is gradually becoming sicker. And that's pretty much it, for almost two and a half hours. They get dressed, they pull up water from the well, they eat a single boiled potato each day. The only things that relieve the monotony are a visit from some Romani people and a garrulous neighbor who harangues the farmer with a lot of rhetoric about the godlessness of the universe. It's another slow-moving film, and though its visuals are neatly composed, I found considerably less to chew on than in Once Upon a Time in Anatolia or in Meek's Cutoff, another extremely deliberate film where not all that much happens from earlier this year.

The movie probably left me in the wrong frame of mind to see Believe You Me, a Texas-shot indie flick about a schlubby newspaper photographer (Matt Dixon) in Corsicana who's put on paid leave after his teenage brother's suicide and volunteers at a suicide hotline, where he fields a call from his brother's schoolteacher (Julie Mitchell). I got the sense that the film had some funny jokes but fell down during the more serious moments, but I'll have to catch the flick again some time when I haven't just sat through a Béla Tarr film.

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