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Almanac of Fall

7. Almanac of Fall (Béla Tarr, 1984). Béla Tarr has made a career capturing the poetics of communist doom. His characters are either desperate to leave or miserable for having decided to stay. Almanac of Fall, which opens with a heart-wrenching Pushkin citation about the strangeness of the land and the treacherousness of the familiar, focuses on the love-hate (though mostly hate) relationship between a resilient mother and her irresponsible son, who’s as vicious in his fits of rage as he’s incessant in his demands—for money. The film includes an eerily quick rape against a refrigerator, an unlikely blowjob scene between elderly lovers, and a stunning worm’s-eye view shot of a domestic fight in which the camera sees through the kitchen’s concrete floor as if it were looking into an aquarium. This is the kind of film that gives us the frightening sense that the truly traumatizing events have already occurred, and that what we witness is just the aftershock of a history of violence so systemic it’s become the only possible mode of communication.




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