The Man from London by Béla Tarr

This film has been around for about a year I think but was shown at the 2008 Cambridge Film Festival recently. The brochure said it would be slow moving, in fact ‘glacial’ was the word used and yes, this was an incredibly (and beautifully) slowed down film, from the very slow pan from the water upto to the bridge of a ship docked in a dark and misty small harbour in an unnamed French port town, through to the slow and mannered declarations of the old old detective from London, sent to solve what in reality is a rather minor crime. This is black and white at its best, as has been said before, a homage to noir. What struck me was how mannered all of the acting is. It is deeply unnatural but very arresting and much, refreshingly, is left unexplained at the end. I wonder what the Simenon novel was like, and how much of the mood has been devised by the director. The cast includes Tilda Swinton in a rather strange minor(ish) role. This is definitely worth seeing.


El Saltador in Almeria in southern Spain is a beautifully restored farmhouse. H and I spent a week there at the end of July. It is in the middle of the deserts that the spaghetti westerns were filmed in.



Our flight from Stansted was delayed by 4 hours so we arrived after dark which is exactly what we didn’t want to do as we knew that the drive up to the farmhouse was along twisty roads high in the mountains. Unexpectedly the GPS that I bought with us took us straight to the location. There was a huge sense of relief when the headlights picked out the name of the village we were heading for when I thought that we were probably miles away. The hostess had some food luckily left over and we had bought a bottle of wine on the way, so after midnight we sat outside on the veranda with delicious beef and beautiful red wine.

We found a routine for the week, breakfast

followed by 2 or 3 hours of work (H) and meditation for me (I had just bought Mindfulness in Plain English). I had a whole hall to myself.

The coast was nearly an hour’s drive away.