Before he became one of the planets great cinematic formalists, Hungarian dyspeptic Béla Tarr (Werckmeister Harmonies) was a hard-bitten, post-Cassavetes realist, working in the mid-70s subgenre known as documentary fiction. His early work is intimate, improvised, desultory, and inflamed with class rage. Just as despairing as his later films, the four titles in this retrospective are more feet-on-the-ground and never indulge in metaphysics. Beginning the midweek series, Family Nest (1977) is a spiteful, multigenerational drama of life on the dole; it was the film Tarr made before he went to film school. Next weeks The Outsider (1981) traces the aimless social descent of an off-the-grid violinist more concerned with boozing than with holding a job. Showing later this month, Prefab People (1982) is the best of the series (which also includes 1984s Almanac of Fall), an unrelenting, smell-the-sour-breath portrait of a blue-collar marriage dissolving under pressure from Communist-era poverty, masculine inadequacy, and restless depression. Family Nest continues through Wed., Jan. 9; series runs through Wed., Jan. 30. See www.nwfilmforum.org for full schedule and details.
Tue., Jan. 29, 7 & 9:15 p.m.; Jan. 30-23, 7 & 9:15 p.m., 2008