| At the MFA: JANUARY 21-23, 27|
After watching a seven-minute shot that ends with an old shopkeeper staring dumfounded into space while a man behind her methodically and endlessly chops a piece of meat, I had to wonder whether this latest film from Béla Tarr (co-directed by Ágnes Hranitzky) is a self-parody. It has the same long takes, hypnotic, meandering camera, rain-slicked black-and-white photography, squalid poverty, and hapless, gaping characters as his masterpiece Sátántangó.
What it doesn't have is much in the way of content. The Man from London purports to adapt George Simenon's novel of the same name, in which Maloin (Miroslav Krobot), a railroad switchman, witnesses a murder and retrieves a briefcase full of money, a set-up established in a one-shot, tour-de-force 15-minute opening scene, the brilliance of which completely overshadows any narrative interest. Fair enough: in lieu of a story, Tarr evokes the beauty of cinematic form and the exhilaration of simply watching.