Damnation | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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This is my first encounter with Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr (Family Nest) and I hope it won't be my last. People who don't have much use for the existential gloom of Antonioni and Tarkovsky are advised to stay away, because many of the hallmarks of that relentless black-and-white style and vision--lots of rain, fog, and stray dogs; murky and decaying bars; artfully composed long takes made up of very slow and almost continuous camera movements; offscreen mechanical noises--are so forcefully present here that one might argue that the film makes a voluptuous fetish of gloom. The rather bare story line in the middle of this--a reclusive loner (Miklos Szekely) is hopelessly in love with a cabaret singer (Vali Kerekes), hopes to find salvation in her, and gets her husband involved in a smuggling scheme so he can spend some time with her--seems almost secondary to the formal beauty of Tarr's spellbinding arabesques around the dingiest of all possible industrial outposts. The near miracle is that something so compulsively watchable can be made out of a setting and society that seem so depressive and petrified (1987). (Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton, Saturday, October 28, 9:00, and Sunday, October 29, 7:30, 281-4114)

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