Entries tagged with “Turkish cinema”.

Ise yarar bir sey‘ by Turkish director is a combination of art and road movies quite different from the other films (not too many, unfortunately) that I have seen coming from Turkey. If I am to compare her style with a cinematographic school that I know better, I would pick the Romanian ‘minimalist’ cinema of the last 10-15 years. ‘s focus is very much on the details of everyday life, her actors are all very well selected and directed and the insight to their psychologies and motivations is deep and sympathetic. The overall vision does not avoid symbolism, as well as a critical but not necessarily direct approach to reality.


source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6214084

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6214084


The heroes of the film are two women belonging to two different generations, who meet in a railway station before taking together the train on an overnight trip to a remote city on the seashore. The elder one is in her 40s, she seems confident and cultivated, and likes to observe life and other people with an empathetic look. She declares to be a lawyer, and we later understand that she is also a poet, a detail that we discover gradually and which plays an important role in the story. The younger one is in her 20s, she is a nurse who dreams to become an actress, vulnerable and under stress because her trip has an unusual goal – helping a friend of a friend to die. Somehow obliged at the beginning by the closed enclosure of the traveling train (where more than half of the action takes place), the two women forge a dialog that helps them know each other and us understanding piece by piece who they are. At the end of the train trip the poet joins the younger woman in her deadly mission. Is this by curiosity? Maybe to understand what makes a man want to die? Or rather to avoid his death and the potential torment that the young woman would go through if she performed the deed – forbidden by conventional moral and by laws?


(video source Binbir Dizi)


I liked the film, but I should warn other that this is not easy stuff. has a sure hand as film director, the cinematography is beautiful, the acting is excellent. There is a lot of quality of the poetic kind in this movie, but it is slow developing, it asks to be discovered, and some of the best stuff comes by the end, and is buried in characters development, in off-screen or loudly read text including some poetry, with situations that are interesting on the psychological plan, but far from spectacular. One scene, the 25 years reunion of the high school colleagues that the elder woman attends (that was the initial goal of her trip) offers a one shot very sharp view through the middle class of the Turkish society, and this is the one that reminded me similar scenes in two Romanian movies. It’s beautiful and interesting, but somehow detached from the rest of the film. There is also no decisive conclusion to the story, the message seems to be about life and death being part of the same unique universe, but this is left to the viewers to reach. It may also say that beauty is in the details of life as observed by the principal character, but it may not be worth clinging to it at any price.


Some of the best film achievements have come and will come from places which are under social and political pressure and are being created by film directors who are deeply involved in the life of their countries and have both the talent to make cinematographic art out of their questions and fears, and the courage  to make films that reflect their concerns and reach their own audiences as well as the international ones. “Abluka” (Frenzy) which is only the second film of director was released in 2015, one year before the failed coup and the political actions that followed it in Turkey. It presents a deeply disturbing and dystopian view of the realities of a country hit by terrorism and answering it with the means of force. Hard to say if this is the reality of today or a projection in the future, but after all there are many people who consider the world we live in with its violence, terrorism, repression a dystopian version of the world we used to know and live in ten or twenty years ago, and maybe here we see (or dream as in a nightmare) a cautionary version of the world of tomorrow.


source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4895740/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4895740/


The lead characters of the film live in a miserable slum in the outskirts of a big Turkish city, a typical incubator of violence and terror. We see in the background the shining towers of a modern city and do hear the explosions of the terror attacks that hit it but the life of the two heroes are obviously buried in poverty. They are in a figurative and non-figurative manner the scavengers of their world, performing some of the unwanted jobs that support the system: the older brother just released from prison collects garbage and is a police informer, the youngest one kills stray dogs.  A third brother had disappeared suddenly from their lives a decade ago. They try to adapt and do their best to survive, but they have a hard time communicating, even with each other, and the pressure of the world around overwhelms them. The sliding slope of their lives seems inevitable.


(video source The Match Factory)


The story plays permanently with the balance between sanity and insanity, between reality and and the nightmares of the two heroes. From some point ahead it becomes unclear if what we see on screen is reality, or the nightmares of the two brothers, or maybe the life around became one big nightmare. The wonderful acting of and , makes us share their fears and claustrophobia. The situations the two find themselves are difficult but are not their fault, and actually, if we try to understand their personal perspectives, each of them makes sense. They try to do their best to play inside the system while keeping their human feelings.  So, if the two characters behave rationally maybe the insanity belongs to the world that surrounds them? the world that surrounds us? This film with its grim vision and the tragic fate of its heroes is not easy to watch, but it is true and impressing, the work of a talented film maker.

This is my first encounter with work from Turkish director Nuri Bige Ceylan, and one of my first with the Turkish cinema, most of my previous experiences were with films made by Turkish directors living in Europe (Germany especially) and dealing with the lives of the communities of exiles and their relations to the society around and the one back home. ‘Once Upon a Time in Anatolia’ has a 100% focus on the life of a remote community in the hills of Anatolia, far not only from Europe but also from the lives of the majority of the Turks in big cities like Istanbul or Ankara. The subject however does touch the relation with Europe and with the modern society as it describes a police and judicial procedure of reconstructing a crime committed in a setting that does not seem to have changed too much for many decades or even centuries, with the evolving tools of the modern state.


source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1827487/


Interestingly this beautiful film brought up to me similarities with the Romanian cinema, another ‘peripheral’ movement in the landscape of European cinema which saw a breakthrough and underwent the experience being ‘discovered’ in the last decade by art film festivals. The subject and even the style reminds the – maybe – best film in the history of Romanian cinema – ‘Reconstituirea’ by Lucian Pintilie, also a story of a process of justice slowly developing in a natural landscape, with the focus more on the souls of the heroes than on the action itself. The attention paid by the director on his characters, the deepness of the psychological analysis, and the excellent support of the actors look very much like some of the best products of the ‘new wave’. In the case of ‘Once Upon the Time in Anatolia’ the three principal characters (the police chief, the public investigator, the doctor) enjoy all splendid performances from the three actors – Muhammet Uzuner, Yilmaz Erdogan, Taner Birsel. As the story develops we learn more and more about the characters, their personal stories and their fears, their hidden secrets.



(video source CinemaGuild)


The story development is slow, and whoever has expectations for detective action should pick a different movie. This film is about men living in a remote place, their lives and emotions, their relation with nature and with the society around them which is not immune to change, but changes come at its own pace. The rhythm of the film borrows something from that pace, viewers need to be warned and ready to pay the price of some patience, but those who will do it will be highly rewarded.