May 22, 2007

Cannes. The Man From London.

"Based on a novel by Georges Simenon..., The Man From London is not, in spite of its title and Tilda Swinton's prominent place in its cast, an English-language film," notes Premiere's Glenn Kenny; Swinton's dialog has been dubbed by a Hungarian actress. "This creates a peculiar, international-productions-of-the-60s effect in what is essentially another [Béla] Tarr immersion into the black-and-white bleakness of Europe and, natch, man's condition.... Those who luxuriate in Tarr's acutely conjured melancholia (and I am one of them) will swoon. As for the Cannes jury - the movie is in competition - I suspect they'll pass."

The Man From London

Andre Soares points to early positive word at Film de Culte, where Yannick Vély calls it "a sensation. From its sumptuous initial sequence, the Hungarian director attempts to put the viewer under hypnosis." Run that review through Google and you'll discover that this film's a divider, not a uniter.

Updates, 5/23: Sátántangó strikes Mike D'Angelo (ScreenGrab) "as about four hours of masterpiece and 3.5 hours of deadly self-indulgence. Since then, his self-indulgent side seems to have taken over. Several of Man from London's few dozen shots left me breathless, but the film as a whole feels oddly mummified; it's almost as if Tarr filmed his idea for the movie rather than the movie itself, if that makes any sense."

For Variety's Derek Elley, London "seems a hostage to its plot rather than a true Tarr reverie on human desire and greed, with less of his spiritual underpinnings."

"Made with clear indifference to the viewer and essentially an exercise in cinematography, London has no possibility of connecting with any but the most tolerant art house habitue," writes the Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt.

Updates, 5/24: "If anything, at 135 minutes The Man From London feels too short," writes Manohla Dargis in the New York Times. "The production began on a tragic note when Humbert Balsan, one of the producers, committed suicide after shooting commenced in 2005, leading to financial crises. It's hard to know how his death or the money woes affected the film, but it feels unfinished, as if a reel or the inspiration for this specific story had gone missing. As always with this filmmaker, there are moments of crystalline beauty, but they remain isolated from one another."

"The movie is bizarre and lugubrious, but mesmeric, with a strangely compelling and all-but-silent contribution from Agi Szirtes as the co-conspirator's wife," writes the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw.

"The term 'film noir' gets thoroughly redefined in Bela Tarr's The Man From London, a mystery story cloaked in such stygian darkness that some viewers may succumb to eye strain before its enigmas are unfolded," writes Jonathan Romney at Screen Daily. "Despite a coherent, economical plotline, this film's sheer slowness may prove too punishing for many viewers, especially given that the film is in a more introspective register than its predecessor Werckmeister Harmonies (2000)."

"While Tarr's miserabilia occasionally reaches occasional poetic heights and builds to a potent finale of loathing and unaccountability, the film doesn't bear its weightiness in a compelling way," writes Anthony Kaufman at indieWIRE.

"For all the dazzling fluidity of the camerawork, the film itself lumbers along wearily and with a surprising lack of grace," writes Dennis Lim at IFC News.

Updates, 5/25: "Personally, I found most of it exquisite," writes Patrick Z McGavin at Stop Smiling. Even so, "The film is not quite at the level of Tarr's two previous features (very little else in the current cinema is as well)."

Fabien Lemercier interviews Tarr for Cineuropa.

Cannes @ 60. Index.

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Posted by dwhudson at May 22, 2007 4:15 PM