So...what is your sleeper movie? I might submit a little known, recently produced gem called 'The Woman Chaser' as one which fits all your qualities. Perhaps even 'Dersu Uzala', one of Kurosawa's most poignant and tangible efforts. Or even 'Woman in the Dunes' if we stretched the analogy a bit. As pointed out above, Herzog's films capture a certain quality which alludes to the atmosphere that you describe (although they are not in B & W).
The movie I am refering to is DEAD MAN with Johnny Depp that is the one described in my post. An Oops would be in order here. Interesting responses though, considering I mangled the original post:o)
Aguirre, Wrath of God IS similiar in many ways. It is ultra detailed, crisp, and it follows a journey into the unknown. I happen to like and admire Dead Man more, though. I found it more captivating.
"Oasis"...Korea.... Shockingly and yet evocative movie about a quadroplegic woman and a slightly autistic man (just check the theme.) Beautiful and its own ways. Acting here makes all Hollywood movies sound like a cruel joke.
"The Color of Paradise" and any other Iranian/Persian movie. All of them are EXCELLENT. The art of storytelling with movement.
"Spirited Away"....animation....the imagination of the director, forgot his name, makes me wonder whether such person can exist and also be a person.
"Chilseowon"....Korea..... winner of the 2002 Cannes for best director. Life of a controversial painter in a period political upheaval. Great insight at the traditions of the less known Hermit Kingdom as well as excellent dialogue, cinematography.
"HATE"....a black and white French movie about the rough Unfrench innercity lives of three friends. Shocking, makes you think whether the inner cities in the US are really THAT BAD. It will shock you. Funny and sad.
"Failan"...Korea...2001...can a relationship like this exist? Talking about love and the power of memory. IT WILL MAKE YOU WEEP.
"The Lives of Others." German with English subtitles.
Takes place in East Germany before the wall came down and depicts the stifling control the Stasi had over the East German citizens. One of the best movies I've ever seen.
I too like Jim Jarmusch, but Dean Man not so much. Nor the soundtrack by Neil Young; he shoulda had Ry Cooder do it. I prefer Jim's other recent B & W, Coffee and Cigarettes, with Tom Waits and Iggy Pop.
A fairly recent B & W I love that fits your criteria is The Man Who Wasn't There by The Coen Brothers. Really, really great.