Possibly inspired by the existential play No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre, this story about five people living in close quarters in a small apartment conveys the same angst as Sartre’s well-known story about the nature of hell.
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What a wonderful world it isn't, here as elsewhere for Tarr. Still, this film plays differently, being as richly colorful as it is emotionally claustrophobic. Essentially a chamber piece -- all of the action takes place in the same apartment, with the only hint of an exit being provided by the professor as he's dragged away by police -- Almanac breathes an air of Strindbergian despair. The devil is comfortable there.
This film made me wonder why Tarr decided to work in B/W for the rest of his career, the style here is amazing, if there was one thing to frown on his previous works was the lack of polish in terms of visuals, and here not only he seems to take care of that but shows a genuine skill as well.
More reminiscent of Fassbinder than any other work of Tarr's that I have seen. Beautiful artificial lighting illuminates the often jarring mise en scène (against the actors and camerawork). There is some terrific dialogue here - an element of Film that I usually despise - and also some beautiful and inventive compositions. Just misses out on 5 stars.
Seems as though most of Tarr's more interesting works (though all that I've seen have a good level of interest) focus on the notion of dead people trying to come alive, and this is one of his most striking examples of that such idea. A truly beautiful and yet utterly painful, enigmatic, stylized film.