HEROIC TIMES – Review by Diane Carson

Heroic Times animates the Hungarian Toldi trilogy. Released for the first time in the U.S., in a 4K restoration, Hungarian writer/director József Gémes’ 1983 Heroic Times brings a folklore legend to life. Gémes chose oil painting for his gorgeous, animated film, an adaptation of János Arany’s nineteenth century poem trilogy celebrating folklore hero Miklós Toldi, a fourteenth century nobleman and warrior serving Hungarian King Louis the Great.

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WERCKMEISTER HARMONIES – Review by Diane Carson

Directors Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky (also Tarr’s spouse, production designer, and editor) took as their inspiration the László Krasznahorkai 1989 novel The Melancholy of Resistance and created a masterpiece, Werckmeister Harmonies. Characteristic of Tarr, the camera relies on extended takes, a total of only thirty-nine shots in this two hour twenty-five minute film, the opening shot alone over ten minutes.

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TWILIGHT – Review by Diane Carson

Hungarian director György Fehér has less name recognition than Béla Tarr with whom Fehér worked for years as scriptwriter and producer. That should change with the first U.S. release of the 4K restoration of Fehér’s 1990 masterpiece Twilight. Through prolonged scenes, minimal dialogue, unhurried reframing, and evocative music, Twilight establishes a thoroughly immersive atmosphere with profound emotional impact. The barebones plot begins with an experienced, soon-to-retire detective being driven to the forested site of yet another murdered young girl, this time eight-year-old Anna killed with a razor blade. When a schoolmate confirms details of one of Anna’s drawings, the man called “the giant” becomes the primary suspect. Developments complement bewildering discoveries as the search progresses.

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PREPARATIONS TO BE TOGETHER FOR AN UNKNOWN PERIOD OF TIME – Review by Diane Carson

The intriguing title suggesting an unusual, challenging film will follow, Hungarian director Lili Horvát’s Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time delivers on that promise. For the first image on screen is the last stanza of Sylvia Plath’s poem, Mad Girl’s Love Song, in which the speaker wonders if “I made you up inside my head.”

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PREPARATIONS TO BE TOGETHER FOR AN UNKNOWN PERIOD OF TIME (TIFF20) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Plot-wise, Preparations to Be Together For an Unknown Period of Time is a film almost temptingly easy to reveal too much about, which in a movie where the process of discovery is the central point would significantly remove many of the elements that make it so intriguing. Eschewing typical cliches, what we discover here instead is a neurological exploration of the crush-turned-romantic-obsession that pivots around the subjectivity of falling in love

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SON OF THE WHITE MARE – Review by Diane Carson

Based on Hungarian folktales, director Marcell Jankovics’ Son of the White Mare offers wildly inventive, psychedelic animation with astonishing artistic flourishes and dazzling storytelling. Its opening statement, “In memory of the Scythians, Huns, Avars and other nomadic peoples,” sets the stage for a trip to “a land far, far from here, almost at the gates of Hell.”

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SATANTANGO – Review by Diane Carson

With minimal action, at seven and a third hours, Hungarian director Béla Tarr‘s Sátántangó presents an astonishing, microscopic look at the raw human condition. In a most telling and an appropriate description, Irimiás, a central figure, says, “Think of me as a tragic researcher investigating why everything is as terrible as it is.”

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