Damnation (1987): stricken by hopelessness a man seeks salvation in his desire for a woman, who he then betrays to the authorities, betraying his own humanity in the process.
Werckmeister Harmonies (2000): a strange carnival comes to town during a corrupt election which erupts into mob violence.
Arty black & white; very long takes; very slow pans & zooms; characters muttering profound aphorisms; a general mood of existentialist angst. At first Bela Tarr seems like a throwback to the days of Antonioni, Bergman & Tarkovsky. Surely you can't make movies like that now, in this ironic post-modern post-Tarantino world? After awhile, however, you realise Tarr's precursors are more likely to be Fassbinder & (early) Kieslowski and what might seem pretentious & old fashioned is actually as hard as nails & utterly contemporary. Which is why Tarr is having such an influence on younger American "indie" directors like Gus Van Zant. If you want to present the confused horror of the modern world without resorting to cartoon violence then Tarr's aesthetic is as good as any right now.
Damnation gets better with each viewing. It is a remarkable film & what seems initially like heavy-handed plot, characterisation & dialogue turns out to be very clever, complex & twisted. The movie would be worth watching just for the elaborate set piece dolly shots - really! Werckmeister Harmonies throws in another old-fashioned element: allegory & symbolism (& of course these films could be seen as a comment on the degeneration of the old Eastern Block), but again there are some remarkable scenes (such as the horrific mob attack on a hospital) which continue to haunt long after viewing. If you like classic European art house movies then you should certainly investigate Bela Tarr. This Artificial Eye edition is basic but it's great to get the two movies in one package.