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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

THE MAN FROM LONDON (2007)

The crepuscular cinema of Hungarian Bela Tarr, with his distinctive slow-crawling camera shots & long, long takes, works unexpectedly well in this adaptation of a typically succinct, character-driven Georges Simenon novel. There’s a real kick in watching Tarr’s art-house √¶sthetic tethered to the genre elements of a detective story; here, the ensuing bad karma that attaches itself to a misappropriated attach√© that's naturally stuffed with illegal cash. Grimly beautiful, as if Dante had reserved a Circle of Purgatory for monochrome cinematography, the film doesn’t haunt you the way other Tarr films can, the closure of finding a solution works against the resonance of staring inside something unknowable. But it's good to see Tarr trying on a different mask.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: If the dubbed English voice of the Inspector sounds familiar, that’s because Edward Fox does the vocal honors. And don’t be fooled by Tilda Swinton’s billing, she’s only in a few scenes. Probably for the best, since her meticulous specificity as an actor doesn’t quite align with Tarr’s need for a broad brush dipped in thin grey wash.
DOUBLE-BILL: Don Siegel’s scandalously underrated CHARLEY VARRICK/’73 is tops in detailing the karmic conniptions caused by a cash-loaded briefcase.

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