Szabolcs Hajdu – Délibáb AKA Mirage (2014)

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Synopsis: “Mirage tells the story of an African football player in a small Hungarian town, who commits a crime and has to flee. He finds refuge on a farm deep in the Hungarian flatland. Soon he realizes that the farm is a modern slave camp where he is forced to fight for his freedom and ultimately his life.”

Quote:
The Hungarian plains might as well be Sergio Leone’s American West in Szabolcs Hajdu’s Mirage, an atmospheric fable whose setting feels like no place, any time. Isaach De Bankolé, as the loner who shows up here for reasons we never learn and contends with a gang of slave-driving farmers, carries a film that is philosophically related to but more satisfying than Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control. The picture should draw well at fests, but is willfully obscure enough that, sans an auteur whose name is known in the States, it may be a hard sell here. – John Defore, Variety Continue reading

Béla Tarr – Szabadgyalog aka The Outsider (1981)

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The central character of Szabadgyalog, nicknamed “Beethoven,” is a violinist who has been kicked out of music school in Debrecen and now makes his living as a disc jockey. The problem of marriage and responsibility again provide a central focus. At the beginning of the film, a woman gives birth to his illegitimate child and he loses his job at a mental hospital. He marries a second woman but their lack of income provokes a crisis in the relationship. Here the couple have a flat and living with parents is one of the options. Will he, his wife asks, be a permanent outsider despite his talents? Eventually, she sleeps with his brother. Continue reading

Béla Tarr – Öszi almanach aka Almanac of the Fall (1984)

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From New York Times Magazine:
Possibly inspired by the existential play No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre, this story about five people living in close quarters in a small apartment conveys the same angst as Sartre’s well-known story about the nature of hell. Like the 1962 movie version of the play, Oszi Almanach is also garishly lighted, with scenes red-tinted on one side and blue-tinted on the other. Close-ups show a dermatologist’s interest in skin, an example of the kind of bizarre abstraction that underscores the alienation in this film. A single, older mother owns the apartment, where she is tended by a nurse who has brought along a presumed lover. The sick woman’s son lives there too, constantly thinking about how to get his hands on his mother’s money. The last member of this unhappy family is a former teacher now down on his luck and out of work. The three men and the nurse are dependent on the sick woman, on her money and her apartment, just as she is dependent on them. Yet these individuals are two-faced, scheming, and prone to anger. Unable to break away and leave, at the same time they find no solace in staying — making a difficult two hours of misery for the average viewer to take on without a therapist.
by Eleanor Mannikka Continue reading

Béla Tarr – Panelkapcsolat aka The Prefab People (1982)

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“It’s the rawness of the film that makes us believe we are unquestionably seeing the truth.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A heavy going realistic slice of life domestic drama that is filmed in black and white. It’s a followup to Béla Tarr’s other domestic strife tales Family Nest and The Outsider. This one keys in on marital strife. It’s about a struggling young couple’s confrontations and their own inability to freely communicate with each other. Tarr was evidently influenced by the works of Ranier Werner Fassbinder and John Cassavettes. Continue reading

Béla Tarr – Werckmeister harmóniák AKA Werckmeister Harmonies (2000)

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Synopsis:

This story takes place in a small town on the Hungarian Plain. In a provincial town, which is surrounded with nothing else but frost. It is bitterly cold weather – without snow. It is twenty degrees below zero. Even in this bewildered cold hundreds of people are standing around the circus tent, which is put up in the main square, to see – as the outcome of their wait – the chief attraction, the stuffed carcass of a real whale. The people are coming from everywhere. From the neighbouring settlings, from different holes of the Plain, even from quite far away parts of the country. They are following this clumsy monster as a dumb, faceless, rag-wearing crowd. This strange state of affairs – the appearance of the foreigners, the extreme frost – disturbs the order of the small town. The human connections are overturning, the ambitious personages of the story feel they can take advantage of this situation, while the people who are condemned anyway to passivity fall into an even deeper uncertainty. The tension growing to the unbearable is brought to explosion by the figure of the Prince, who is pretending facelessness and is lying low behind the whale. Even his mere appearance is enough to break loose the destroying emotions. The apocalypse that sweeps away everything spares nothing. I does not spare the outsiders wrapped up in scientificness, does not spare the teenage enthusiasts, the people who have philistine fears for ease, the family – nothing that the European culture preserved as from of attitude in the last centuries. Continue reading

Béla Tarr – Kárhozat aka Damnation (1988)

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Synopsis:
In a small Hungarian town lives Karrer, a listless and brooding man who has almost completely withdrawn from the world, but for an obsession with a singer in the bar he frequents. Tarr’s immaculately photo-graphed and composed film is about eternal conflict: the centuries old struggle between barbarism and civilisation. Continue reading

István Gaál – Sodrásban AKA The Current (1964)

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Quote:
Director Istvan Gaal’s feature film debut was well received in the international community as well as his native country, Hungary. Sodrasban/Current is about a group of young people who have vacation around a small town. They spend their time playing around, taking life lightly. One day while they are diving at a nearby swimming area, they discover that one of their friends is missing. After an extensive search for the boy, his drowned body is eventually found and identified. This tragic incident changes the children’s perspectives of their lives as they now consider their own mortality, marking the end of their youthful innocence. Continue reading