I own a tee shirt which proclaims, â€œI survived Satantango.â€ Given to me by a sympathetic friend, it refers to a seven-hour, black-and-whiteÂ film by Hungarian director Bela Tarr. Its tone is called â€œmiserablist.â€ Yes, not only seven hours, but seven miserable hours of bleakness.
I like to joke about it, but Iâ€™m actually glad I saw Satantango. Itâ€™s moody and mysterious, but also enjoyable. As I like to say, things happen inÂ that movie now and then, and Iâ€™ve seen plenty of art films where nothing ever happens, where two or three hours seem endlessâ€”even longer than seven.
The Turin Horse, showing at the Cinematheque this weekend Friday at 9:00 pm and Sunday at 6:30, also by Bela Tarr, is similarly bleak and mysterious. But itâ€™s much shorter! I actually like bleak works of art and liked The Turin Horse. If you do, too, or youâ€™d like to try something different from the usual art-film fare, see this film.
More accessible are Impromptu, a period piece about composer Frederic Chopinâ€™s relationship with the (female) writer Georges Sand, and Marjoe, a pioneering, Academy-Award-winning, 1972 documentary about a very young, charismatic preacher and healer. Impromptuâ€™s Saturday at 5:30, and Marjoeâ€™s at 8:30.
Sundayâ€™s presentation, Sparrows, a 1926 silent melodrama starring Mary Pickford, features editor and scholar Kristel Schmidt to introduce the film. It screens at 3:30. It looks to be bleak, too, but uplifitingly and sentimentally so.
Ingmar Bergmanâ€™s The Silence (Thursday at 8:25 pm; Friday at 7:00 pm) probably wonâ€™t cheer you up either. Itâ€™s dark and cryptic, but at least itâ€™s also erotic!