I own a tee shirt which proclaims, “I survived Satantango.” Given to me by a sympathetic friend, it refers to a seven-hour, black-and-white film by Hungarian director Bela Tarr. Its tone is called “miserablist.” Yes, not only seven hours, but seven miserable hours of bleakness.
I like to joke about it, but I’m actually glad I saw Satantango. It’s moody and mysterious, but also enjoyable. As I like to say, things happen in that movie now and then, and I’ve seen plenty of art films where nothing ever happens, where two or three hours seem endless—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 it’s much shorter! I actually like bleak works of art and liked The Turin Horse. If you do, too, or you’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 Chopin’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. Impromptu’s Saturday at 5:30, and Marjoe’s at 8:30.
Sunday’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 Bergman’s The Silence (Thursday at 8:25 pm; Friday at 7:00 pm) probably won’t cheer you up either. It’s dark and cryptic, but at least it’s also erotic!