Szabadgyalog

[Screenshot]Oy. I have tried to give Béla Tarr a fair shake, and with the exception of a few beautifully cinematic scenes in Werckmeister Harmóniák, I’ve come up empty. It is possible the problem here is me, but his work feels awfully empty at the core, particularly when he’s trying for a cinéma vérité style, which he seems to interpret as an excuse to never have any sort of plot or character development.

The characters in Szabadgyalog are infuriatingly static and profoundly unlikable. It’s thus awfully hard to get even remotely invested in the story (such as it is). The cinematic style is muddy, and the subs occasionally mysterious in a poorly-translated way.; some of this may be the fault of the localizers, or of the state of Hungarian cinematic technology in the ’80s. Wherever the blame lies, this is a difficult film to become engaged in, and I’d rate it a failure, emotional-investment-wise.

See also: IMDB.

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The New World

[Screenshot]This was recommended to me as somewhat less intolerable than the average Noble Savage flick. I actually found it more intolerable, for reasons which are, I will concede, totally orthogonal to the whole Noble Savage thing.

It is painfully tedious. Plot proceeds at a snail’s pace, and a story which, although not trifling, is not entirely subtle either, is would about far too much mood-setting and scenery porn. On cinematic aspects it’s good (albeit with a disappointingly limited score), but all the camera-competence in the workld can’t make up for an unfocused directorial vision.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.

$9.99

[Screenshot]Let’s not mince words: $9.99 is distinctly short on technical appeal. It’s stop-motion, fairly crudely done by the high standards of modern stop-motion artistry. Nonetheless it is largely successful: it has a freshness of design and a strong enoguh script to overcome its primitivity and even turn it into a certain charm. It helps that the voice-acting is, overall, excellent and characters feel distinct. Even in the limited execution of the medium, the characters are actually quite expressive. I’m finding it difficult to give it a definite genre, though: it’s modern realism liberally larded withh the fantastic, which is textbook “magical realism”, although I know some people who detest that name. It’s generally heartwarming, in spite of its often-discouraging plot arcs. The original work was apparently a book of short stories, but the little vignettes here feel interwoven without contrivance.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.